We’ve officially entered my favorite time of the year to be in Las Vegas. The next five or six weeks should bring perfect temperatures to do anything all day and all night. While the weather is never bad in Las Vegas it can get a bit hot during the day in the summer and chilly at night in the winter.
This stretch of weather isn’t long but it’s a great time to be outside. It’s so perfect outside during the day that a major business conglomerate held a press conference outside on Friday. Let’s actually start the news here because there’s a lot to discuss.
Virgin Hotels officially announced that, in partnership with Juniper Capital Partners and Fengate Real Asset Investments, they’ve purchased the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel. The property will be renovated over the next year or so and be rebranded as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, in the late fall of 2019. The casino will still be called the Hard Rock until it reopens as a Virgin Hotels Las Vegas in late fall next year.
The plan is to give the guest rooms, restaurants, and public spaces a facelift. The purchase price hasn’t been revealed but they expect the cost of the upgrades to be in the hundreds of millions. This is a fairly significant renovation budget. For reference, The Meruelo Group will spend $100 million renovating SLS Las Vegas over two years and Stratosphere will spend $140 over three years for their renovations.
The press conference wasn’t very detailed and the press release doesn’t offer too much specific information. However, Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Group was asked about venue changes and said that he likes The Joint name and even joked about renaming it the Virgin Joint.
The press release does point to one specific venue opening. Photos on yelp of the Commons Club in Chicago look like it would be a good fit to replace the Center Bar.
There were zero details on the casino revealed but Branson said they are currently looking for a casino partner. Virgin will not operate the casino so there might be some co-branding involved with the casino. It’s also possible that they hire a company like Navegante Gaming to oversee the casino.
Branson did say they’d like the property to appeal to locals and tourists alike. Perhaps the casino partner will add some good video poker and 3:2 blackjack games. He told Conde Nast Traveler “You’re not going to walk into slot machines the moment you walk into a Virgin Hotel like you do the Hard Rock, but we’ll be tasteful, fun, and we’ll get the right balance there.”
Based on the statement above I think we’ll see less gaming when you walk into the casino from the valet and more gaming towards the garages and hotel towers. This isn’t a strange design aesthetic. Most casinos have the lobby and check-in area a little offset from the gaming areas.
Last but not least, all of the memorabilia from the Hard Rock was sold to Virgin with the hotel and casino. Expect to see rock n roll live on in some way moving forward at Virgin Las Vegas.
Premium Outlet Mall Charging Some People To Park
Here’s a quick update because fees are fun. The Premium Outlets in downtown Las Vegas are now charging non-residents a $5 parking fee. Locals don’t have to pay to park. However, many are upset about this because they don’t have a reason to complain about. Most tourists are upset because they don’t drive here and have nothing to complain about. Of course, some will be affected by this. You can read more mall parking here.
Visitation To Las Vegas Down In February
Approximately 3.1 million people visited Las Vegas in February. That’s an overall decrease of 0.6% from February 2017. However, convention visitation increased 11.2%. Despite the large increase in conventions, hotel occupancy during the week (when most conventions take place) was down 1%. Weekend hotel occupancy actually increased 0.9% for the month. You can see the quick report here.
The most interesting part of this report is usually the Average Daily Rate for hotel rooms each month. That isn’t in the February report. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is currently updating their accounting for the new year and didn’t release the information.
Mabel’s BBQ Coming To Palms
Eater has more information on the Michael Symon BBQ restaurant coming to Palms later this year. It will cost nearly $6 million just to build the restaurant. High construction costs often lead to higher priced food. Expect to pay more than fifty cents for a rib at Mabel’s.
The new BBQ restaurant will be located next to the Race & Sports Book. Mabel’s will have patio seating that they’re calling a beer garden that looks out to Flamingo Rd. This new restaurant might be open in September. Football, BBQ, and beer sound like a good time.
Here’s a short video that looks at Mabel’s original location in BBQ hotspot Cleveland. I’m not sure if the food is good but I agree with Symon about good BBQ meat not needing sauce.
In an effort to streamline your April Fool’s Day reading, I have a handful of quick hits to get you out the door.
- Mojave Max is a big turtle. He’s the Punxsutawney Phil of Las Vegas but a different animal. Read more here.
- A 350,000-square-foot expo center will be built next to the World Market Center in downtown Las Vegas. Like all meeting, convention, and expo spaces this could be another excuse for a “business trip” to Vegas some day. Read more here.
- DraftKings is looking for a casino sportsbook partner in New Jersey. Keep an eye on this because there could be a Las Vegas connection. Read more here.
- Planet Hollywood and New York-New York add 000 roulette. Worse odds is bad but roulette is worse. You can also play 000 roulette a The Venetian and The Palazzo. Read more at Vital Vegas.
ZorkFest – Memorial Day Weekend
Featuring Anthony Curtis of Las Vegas Advisor talking about “The LVA Way.” Also, Gilbert Ott of God Save the Points, Richard Kerr of Award Travel 101 and much much more. You do not want to miss this! Be sure to check out the BIOs of all the great ZorkFest speakers and our detailed schedule page. Travel Smarter!
Need a Room? Memorial Day Weekend
May 24th to May 28th 2018
The special TravelZork ZorkFest Treasure Island booking link is open to ALL TravelZork readers.
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Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas – Suite Escape Stay 2 nights and get the 3rd night on us.
IHG (Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Crown Plaza) Stay in the Moment 25% off sale
Ends 10/21. Dreams Resorts & Spas sale – Southwest Vacations
Ends 10/21. Caesars Entertainment sale – Southwest Vacations