Renovations would impede operations

It seems like temporary casino gaming shutdowns are a theme today. I wrote about some games at Wind Creek Bethlehem being taken out of service during the casino’s rebranding, but what will be going on next year at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is much more extreme. As the familiar off-Strip landmark is renovated to make the change to Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, the property will close completely from early February 2020 until close to the end of the year.

The plan had been to complete the first four months of the renovation in phases so that the property could be kept open. After four months, the entire property would close until everything was done. But as plans were developed, management decided that it would be too difficult.

Hard Rock/Virgin Hotels partner and CEO Richard “Boz” Bosworth said of the decision in a media statement:

We determined that a phased closing of four months, followed by a total closure of four months was not efficient from a construction process nor could we provide a hospitality service experience our guests deserve. Therefore an approximate eight-month closure would be most efficient and ensure a timely opening prior to January 2021. We might be ready in October, but construction is an imperfect process. Until early February 2020 it is business as usual at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas. Virgin Hotels Las Vegas promises to be one of the most exciting, vibrant, and anticipated properties to open in Las Vegas in years.

Company trying to help employees

An unfortunate biproduct of the extended closure is that more than 1,600 employees will be without jobs post-Super Bowl. While no solution is perfect, Hard Rock/Virgin is trying to right by its workers with something called the “Stick Around and Come Back” program.

Naturally, a lot of the staff are going to start getting their resumes out to other casinos immediately, as they don’t want to be stuck come February. Their departures, of course, will make things harder for the casino while it is still open. Therefore, the casino will reward employees who stay until the closing date with a cash bonus of up to 10 weeks pay. In addition, those who want to return to Virgin Hotels Las Vegas when the doors open back up in late 2020 will not need to interview for their old jobs. They can just apply and get their positions back.

Maybe I’ll buy the guitar

Virgin Group acquired Hard Rock Las Vegas in March 2018 with the intention of rebranding it to Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. The immediately recognizable giant Fender Stratocaster out front will disappear, though Virgin founder Richard Branson said that his company’s logo does have a “giant V” that is “sort of guitar-shaped,” so there might be a replacement that somewhat, kind of resembles the guitar. It is kind of a shame, to be honest.

Renovations are expected to cost more than $200 million, up from an earlier estimate of $150 million. The Joint rock club, pool deck, and all 1,500 guest rooms will be renovated, among other changes.

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