Richard Branson celebrates the opening of the Virgin Hotel in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Billionaire businessman and investor Richard Branson marked the opening Thursday of the new Virgin Hotel Las Vegas, promoting weekend events that began with a show headlined by Christina Aguilera.

Branson, the English entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin brand, sprayed champagne with the governor of Nevada. Steve Sisolak and other celebrities gathered to celebrate what organizers called the “Unstoppable Weekend,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

The property and centerpiece, Mohegan Sun Casino, opened on March 25th after spending $ 200 million and more than a year renovating the former 1,500-room Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Branson thanked the governor, a Democrat, for viewing the remodeling as an essential construction business and for continuing it during the pandemic shutdown ordered in March 2020.

“We wouldn’t be open for another 18 months if you didn’t have the initiative to keep us going, so thank you for that,” he said.

The 70-year-old airplane tycoon, hot air balloonist and head of the space research company said he decided against one of his signature daring stunts while visiting Las Vegas.

He jetskied over the fountain pool at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino to promote his airline in 2010, and he cut his hand and tore his suit pants when he was sliding down a zip line by the side of the Palms Casino Resort Tower in October 2007 .

“I almost killed myself in Vegas jumping off the roof of the Palms building on a windy day,” he joked on Thursday.

Richard “Boz” Bosworth, president and CEO of Virgin resort owner group JC Hospitality, said executives had waited for the social distancing and capacity restrictions of COVID-19 to be lifted before holding the opening ceremony.

“We wanted liveliness. We wanted a party and we wanted it to be safe, ”he told the Review Journal.

Branson begged people to get the COVID-19 vaccine so they could travel to Las Vegas.

The Associated Press

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