More than a year ago, the Hard Rock Hotel closed with a big party on a weekend in early February 2020, ending 25 years in Las Vegas. In its place after a $ 200 million renovation, Virgin Hotels will open tonight at 6 p.m. after several delays due to the pandemic. The redesigned hotel looks brighter and is based on the surrounding Mojave Desert with cactus and desert tones, an open Porte Cochere with built-in lift, and light and airy colors that reflect the atmosphere of Las Vegas off the Strip.
Richard “Boz” Bosworth, President and CEO of JC Hospitality and owner of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, said he had hired 1,600 people and 1,300 Hard Rock Hotel employees had returned. Another 400 to 500 will come on board over the next six weeks when the new Elia day club and resort pool open. The resort buried Rehab, the legendary adult pool party, and the lazy river to create a five-acre pool complex with a boardwalk with restaurants and sidewalk cafes that flow into the pool area around the resort.
“You can hear the energy. You can hear the buzz. This noise is team members. These are local Las Vegans back to work and it was probably one of the most exciting aspects of the trip for me today, ”says Bosworth as he prepares to open the resort.
Unlike other major casino openings, Virgin Hotels remain low-key with live entertainment like DJs, street performances, and more, rather than a VIP night that will happen later. Even with state-mandated capacity of 50 percent, Virgin expects crowds to explore the new resort and its 12 dining options.
A 60,000 square foot casino owned by Mohegan Sun, the first Native American tribe to operate a Las Vegas casino, features 650 slot machines and more than 150 table games.
Hard Rock’s famous Center Bar has disappeared at the entrance to the resort. It will be replaced by what Bosworth calls “off-center”, the bar in the Commons Club and a more private Shag Room to the right of the entrance. “The Commons Club Bar and Shag Room really are the heart and pulse of the mood when you enter from the drinks and entertainment perspective,” he says.
Those familiar with the layout of the Hard Rock Hotel will find no other footprint in the casino. Straight ahead, Nobu returns from Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa after a renovation that opens the space with a new bar. The Hakkasan Group’s Casa Calavera is taking over the former Pink Taco room with Mexican cuisine, a collection of tequila and mezcal, and the Day of the Dead decor, which is really meant for selfies. A terrace pours out onto the pool area.
Mr. Lucky’s now houses the kitchen in the Commons Club, a 24-hour restaurant with American food and British accents. Next door, Pizza Forte from the Ferraro family returns.
On the way to the parking garage on Harmon Avenue, guests will find Kris Yenbamroong’s Night + Market, a Thai restaurant with a Californian feel. “We didn’t bring Kris in because he came from a location in Los Angeles, because we don’t think that is always translated in Las Vegas. Las Vegas has a tendency to be telling you what’s being translated here, and just because it’s LA based doesn’t mean it translates in Las Vegas. Kris’ food and service is absolutely fantastic and I have no hesitation in saying this, it will be the best Thai dining experience in Clark County, ”says Bosworth, who says he visited Yenbamroong’s Venice Beach location.
What Bosworth calls the “first family of steakhouses” is also returning with Michael and David Morton’s One Steakhouse, taking over their former MB steak room. The bar area on the ground floor now offers space for 100 people, which is open to the casino floor. The new whimsical mood lighting in the restaurant is a must as it changes color as the night progresses. Upstairs is the atrium with cantilevered windows that can be opened for an outdoor experience.
Not everything opens up immediately. Todd English’s Olives, which is taking over the former 35 Steaks + Martini rooms, arrives in May, while the Kassi Beach House with Italian cuisine and a poolside terrace, Afters Ice Cream and Money, Baby !, a sports bar overlooking the pool , to open in April.
• Everything you should know about opening restaurants and bars in Virgin Hotels [ELV]
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