Say Goodbye to Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas, Hello to Virgin Hotels Las Vegas

Hard Rock Hotel & Cafe in Las VegasThe new year is ushering in another major change, as the iconic Hard Rock Hotel will be closing its doors Monday, Feb 3, to make way for Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Hard Rock Hotel originally opened its doors on March 9, 1995. The $100 million property included a 28,000 square foot casino and an 11-story hotel with 339 rooms.

The café portion of the hotel was demolished a couple of months ago, and the hotel will officially be making its major renovations to the hotel portion next Monday. The new Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is scheduled to open its doors this fall.

Virgin Hotels Las Vegas will include 60,000 square feet of fully-renovated casinos, over five acres of luxe upgraded outdoor space and pools, new world-class restaurants, lounges and bars, as well as 130,000 square feet of remodeled meeting, event and convention spaces.

The renovation includes a huge design shift from the current rock vibe with what’s being described as a “desert cool design.”

Wayne Klesmer, a Las Vegas local, says this of the city bidding farewells to historic properties and making way for new ones:

“They come and they go. I think we get something better. Like when they tore down Desert Inn, unfortunately I never saw Desert Inn, but now they got the Wynn and they got the Encore.”

Tribal Casino Management: A Las Vegas First

In a first for the Las Vegas gaming corridor, a Native American gaming enterprise will manage a casino when the Hard Rock Hotel transitions into Virgin Hotels Las Vegas this fall.

“It’s historic, the first time a tribal gaming operator will be managing a casino in Las Vegas,” said David G. Schwartz, gaming historian at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “This speaks to the growing economic power of the tribes, as well as their increasing expertise in gaming management.”

The Mohegan Tribe owns MGE, which opened its first casino, the Mohegan Sun, in Connecticut in 1996. MGE also has locations in Washington state, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Louisiana. MGE is owner and operator of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun.

“The timing was right (to enter the Las Vegas market),” Maria Kontomerkos, MGE’s CEO, said. “MGE’s portfolio of major strategic partners such as Live Nation and Paramount Pictures combined with our international reach ideally position us to drive business to the Las Vegas market.”

“Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, as an extension of the Mohegan Tribe, pride themselves on traditional principles, in sync with modern values. We are excited that Virgin Hotels Las Vegas will be their first entry in the Las Vegas market,” said Richard “Boz” Bosworth, president and CEO of JC Hospitality, owner of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. “MGE further expands on our commitment to partner with best-in-class operators for the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas transformation.”

Final Farewell

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will have its final rock with a couple of events starting Thursday. They’ll commemorate the casino’s 25-year history in town, with a final toast on Saturday.

Every day, guests will have the chance to win memorabilia pieces, such as signed guitars and gold records. There’s still a Hard Rock Cafe on the Las Vegas Strip in front of Park MGM and T-Mobile Arena. That location is expected to stay open.