Virgin Las Vegas Opens, We’ve Got a Hell-Ton of Pics and Video

Las Vegas has a new casino resort, Virgin Las Vegas!

Virgin officially opened at 6:00 p.m. on March 25, 2021, with all the appropriate hoopla.

Here she is, the long-awaited Virgin Las Vegas, formerly the Hard Rock casino.

Virgin Las Vegas

Big guitars are out, modern desert is in.

It’s been a wild ride for Virgin as it’s transitioned from Hard Rock.

In a case of uncanny timing, Hard Rock closed Feb. 3, 2020, just a month before all Las Vegas casinos shut down due to the pandemic. A couple of preliminary reopening dates were set, but were pushed back as the pandemic dragged on.

Now, the doors have flung open at Virgin and we can finally get inside!

Virgin Las Vegas

They’re not sex swings. You are so predictable.

We’ve visited Vigin twice since it opened, to get a feel for the place, and it’s certainly unlike any other casino in town.

Many have commented on the “Austin Powers vibe,” and there seem to be more feminine flourishes than in a typical Las Vegas casino. No, we’re not entirely sure what that means, but when has “understanding something” ever been a requirement for including it in one of our blog posts?

Opening night was a little crazy, but we got acclimated during on our second visit, and enjoyed dinner at one of the more buzzed-about new restaurants, Night + Market.

We love having new restaurants and bars to explore, although, not necessarily in that order.

Here’s a better look at the menu for Night + Market at Virgin Las Vegas.

Our favorite part of Night + Market was our Talesai Mai Tai.

Disco balls for a little drama!

We figured you’d also want to get a feel for Virgin, so we did a quick walk-through of the resort.

We didn’t venture outside to the pool complex, but it isn’t done yet, and isn’t expected to be completed until May.

Here’s our hastily slapped-together video of Virgin Las Vegas. Remember, you get what you pay for!

Rather than bore you with “words,” we’ll just share a few random thoughts about Virgin to keep the photos from slapping together.

There are several new restaurants (including Casa Calavera and the aforementioned Night + Market), some holdovers from Hard Rock (Nobu, Pizza Forte), and a couple of rebranded dining spots as well.

Here’s the menu for Casa Calavera at Virgin. Check out the menu for Pizza Forte.

Mr. Lucky’s is now Kitchen at Commons Club, and MB Steak is now One Steakhouse.

We never got to try MB Steak, but you can bet your rump roast we’re checking out One Steakhouse.

You’ll want to check out the menu for Kitchen at Commons Club at Virgin.

Kitchen at Commons Club has many of the same faces as when it was Mr. Lucky’s.

In fact, most of the staffers you’ll meet at Virgin once worked at Hard Rock. It lends to a family feeling, and we found the service to be quick and friendly throughout the resort.

We had a burger at the counter at Kitchen, and it was solid. We would pass on the creme brulee next time, despite the lovely presentation, including white chocolate lips.

We’re sort of a creme brulee snob. Somebody has to be.

On opening night, none other than Pauly Shore sat next to us at the Kitchen at Commons Club counter. That was surreal to say the least.

Moving into the casino, let’s get the carpet out of the way, for all the casino carpet enthusiasts, of which we are definitely one.

Law of unintended consequences in effect: The carpeting makes dice difficult to spot when they fly off the craps table.

There are also casino chip enthusiasts, so let’s get those out of the way as well.

Come on, Mohegan Sun, please make the $1 chip a tad more collectible.

Fun casino chip fact: If you look closely at the chips, you can see denominations of $25 and up have RFID technology (the little dots). Presumably, at $5 and lower, the cost of including these devices doesn’t pencil out.

We should also take care of the cocktail waitress uniform enthusiasts. You know who you are.

Thanks for playing along, ladies. We look forward to the maskless versions of you.

While we’re in the casino, we should mention the TITO (ticket in, ticket out) redemption machines don’t give coins. You get another voucher to take to the cashier cage. Not a fan, but this practice is increasingly popular in Las Vegas casinos. Some offer the option to donate coins to charity. Virgin doesn’t.

Even if we have to trek to the cage, those quarters add up.

Yes, everything in the casino has Mohegan Sun on it. That’s because Mohegan Sun manages the casino at Virgin.

Mohegan Sun at Virgin Las Vegas is the first native American casino in Las Vegas, and this first foray is seen as a sign the tribe may give casino ownership a shot down the road. Others, like San Manuel, have also expressed interest in owning a Las Vegas casino.

As for the Mohegan partnership, pretty much the whole resort is carved up like that, with deals for each element of the business. This helps insulate the owners from risk, and lets specialists (in gaming, restaurants, entertainment) do what they do best. For example, the hotel portion of the resort is operated by Hilton.

These deals seem to have been seamlessly integrated, so there’s cohesion throughout Virgin, despite different entities running each part of the resort.

The dice tables were getting a lot of action when we played, and table minimums are reasonable.

Let’s dice. Yes, “dice” can be a verb. It can also be an expletive, trust us.

We even tried a couple of sucker bets, including Repeater Bets. We even won. Once. After a few minutes of calling it a sucker bet, the dealers began playing along. It feels like these folks are happy to be back to work, so it adds to the energy and fun of the casino.

We like these repeater bets. We like these repeater bets.

It’s worth mentioning Virgin has a single zero roulette table ($50 minimum) in high limit.

The fewer the zeroes, the better the odds. Long story.

One of the hidden gems of Virgin Las Vegas is a little video poker bar inside the high limit table games room. The bar is called Heat, and it’s easily our favorite place to settle in for some free cocktails and video poker with reasonably good pay tables.

Oh, look, our personal ATM.

There’s no way to cover an entire resort with two visits, so there are many more amenities not mentioned here.

Before we hand you off to our girthy photo gallery, we’ll say our overall impression of Virgin is quite positive. We need to hit Casa Calavera and the steakhouse to round out the dining offerings, and we look forward to checking the venues that haven’t reopened yet (like the pool and theater) when they come online in the next few months.

The resort’s sportsbook, for example, is finished, but isn’t expected to take wagers until May for some reason.

Virgin has some challenges ahead given its off-Strip location, as did Hard Rock.

We’re 34% sure this used to be Smash Bar.

The place is undeniably distinctive, and opening with no resort fees, no parking fees and free WiFi will appeal to some travelers.

Virgin is the first Las Vegas casino to open since Circa downtown. It has a social feel, with lots of open spaces to just sit and hang out, rare for casino resorts. It’s an awkward time to open a resort that encourages human interaction, but there will be a time when commingling is a thing again, and it feels not too far off.

We have high hope for Virgin, and hope our collection of poorly focused images will give you an idea of what to expect during your next visit.

16 thoughts on “Virgin Las Vegas Opens, We’ve Got a Hell-Ton of Pics and Video

  1. David

    Does nothing for me. It’s a “look at me” kinda of feel, not a feel that gives me warm and comfortable fuzzies.

    Reply
    1. Michael Alexakis

      I just ran into a “look at me” kinda young lady in line at Starbucks, I asked her if I could get a warm feel of her fuzzies, she told me that would not make her feel comfortable… Hope that helps…

      Reply
  2. Vice

    As a chip collector, nothing says cheap as an awful $1 chip. Not to mention the whole lot of them are underwhelming at best.

    Reply
  3. Rich

    Unless the Virgin name has some very,very strong drawing power, this will be another SLS type flop that will be re-branded in eight to ten months.

    Reply
  4. Michael Alexakis

    “Reasonable table minimums” at a brand new casino? Those $25 minimum craps tables you have reported on throughout the pandemic are revolting and disgusting, they do not make you want to hop in the car and cross the desert. I would rather hand my money to a homeless person than give a greedy corporation that wants to exploit my desires a single dime. The Mohegan Sun people deserve some credit for bucking a trend, it takes guts to do that. If a casino bullies you into playing minimums above your means, you will remember them in infamy, it will stain your relationship. It’s about time that a casino steps up to the plate for the little people, I will absolutely stop by there on my next trip…

    Reply
    1. Jim

      WTF dude, don’t go or play there if you don’t want to. When did these casinos make anyone play there? Get a clue.

      Reply
      1. Michael Alexakis

        If you like $25 dollar minimums for craps at second level properties like Harrah’s on a weeknight, have at it, I am happy for you that you have that much cash to play with. I have been going to Las Vegas for my entire life, these large corporations raising the stakes during the pandemic annoy many of us. I feel Mohegan Sun deserves credit, Scott is hinting in this post that they have $10 craps, which is good news for a lot of us. I root for the little guy every time, I even root for you Jim, even though you seem to suggest I am way out of line for speaking out against gigantic table minimums…

        Reply
  5. William Wingo

    It’s certainly a lot brighter than Hard Rock. Another blog showed the guest rooms, and they got rid of the guitars, rock star pictures, and psycho-black-and-silver wallpaper.
    Those “no-coin” ticket redemption machines are also common here in Arizona. They’re “popular” with the casinos, not the players. If you have an odd total, just go straight to the cage.
    Single-zero roulette is a nice touch, but (a) does it come with European rules–i.e. “imprisoned” even-money bets when the zero appears? and (b) does this generosity carry over to other games and areas?
    So far, I haven’t seen any information on Video Poker schedules, Blackjack rules, drink comp meters/policies, restaurant prices, “pick-it-up-and-you’ve-bought-it” snack bars in the rooms, etc. Perhaps there’s a reason for that.
    But hey, they just opened, still in the pandemic no less, and this is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let’s give them the benefit of a doubt, at least until some more reports come in. Congratulations, best wishes, and positive vibes to Virgin, Mohegan Sun, Hilton, and all the restaurants, each in their separate managerial niches.
    But I agree with Vice: the chips look like they’ve been left out in the sun.

    Reply
  6. MrBuzzkill

    Were any of the pix from the grand opening? They looked so muted compared to Circa’s tux and decolletage affair which was big daddies, big boobs, and big diamonds everywhere you looked. All the names were at Circa. But I thought the Virgin would out-star them easily. Still, beautiful place. I love that there’s so much table and bar top sans machines. I often eat at the bar here and many of the Vegas casinos have no place to put your food or drinks.

    Reply
  7. Jackson Montgomery

    “For example, the hotel portion of the resort is operated by Hilton.”

    FYI: This isn’t correct. The Virgin Las Vegas is operated by JC Hospitality LLC.

    It’s connection to Hilton is via marketing. Hilton’s Curio Collection are independent hotels and resorts that use Hilton’s reservations systems and frequent guest program.

    But, it is confusing because some Curio Collection hotels are actually managed by Hilton Management Services. The Virgin Las Vegas just doesn’t happen to be one of those properties.

    Reply
    1. David

      Huh? So it’s not a Hilton hotel or managed by Hilton but uses its reservation system. So let’s try and figure it out:

      Virgin doesn’t own the property, the property just pays a fee to use the name??

      The casino is operated by an Indian tribe that has never operated in Vegas before, hence the blah blah chips and layouts.

      The hotel is a Hilton hotel but not managed by Hilton but a fee is paid for their reservation system. https://jc-hospitality.com/about/ Leases the hotel? Or just manages it or?

      It also seems like all the food and beverage is leased out to third parties.

      In summary, the virgin Las Vegas appears to be nothing different than a shopping mall with a bunch of tenants. The mall has lots of lipstick and besides some of the food, it looks like none of the tenants have any Vegas experience. I have to agree it sure smells like another SLS.

      Reply
      1. Marlo

        I think it may wind up being another SLS as well.
        My two previous trips to Vegas I stayed at The Palms and The Hard Rock . What they both had in common was that they both were cheaper than the strip hotels and offered free shuttle service to the strip. Virgin offers neither. Their summer 2021 pricing is more expensive than the strip hotels, which is crazy. The perk of no resort fees and free parking is not much of a perk when I can stay at The Aria for $300 less than Virgin including the resort fee, not to mention MGM properties are currently still offering free parking.
        The rendering of the pools looks top notch though, so maybe that can provide the scene and crowd they are looking for (Hard Rock was infamous for their pool parties) but currently there is no incentive to actually stay at Virgin.

        Reply
      2. Jackson Montgomery

        That’s the wrong JC Hospitality. JC Hospitality LLC is one of the owners of the hotel. Virgin is also one of the owners.

        “The property is owned by JC Hospitality LLC, and is the result of the vision of a group of investors led by Juniper Capital Partners and the Labourers International Union of North America (LiUNA) (investment managed by Fengate Real Asset Investments) along with their partners Dream, Cowie Capital Partners, Virgin and other private investors.”
        https://www.hotelbusiness.com/virgin-hotels-las-vegas-to-join-curio-collection-by-hilton/

        (Many large hotels have multiple owners. Many large hotels also have institutional owners. They tend to be good places for cash-rich institutions like insurance companies, and REITs to put their money.)

        It seems as if you don’t really understand that hotel industry. Hotel groups (Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt) are in the franchise business. The overwhelming majority of hotels are franchises. For example, there are over 6,200 Hilton Hotels but over 5,400 of those are franchises.

        When you become a franchised hotel, you are required to use the reservations system for the chain. You also are required to participate in the frequent guest program for the hotel group.

        Lots of independently-owned and operated hotels will enter into marketing agreements with a hotel group in order to gain access to their frequent guests. For example, MGM Resorts has partnered with Hyatt and Treasure Island has partnered with Radisson.

        All of the hotel groups also offer management services. They do this to provide a complete array of services for hotel owners. Most owners, however, like to run their own hotels. Of those 6,200 Hilton Hotels across the globe, only 306 are managed by Hilton.

        Additionally, JC Hospitality LLC is certainly doing more than you seem to understand. Not only are they running the hotel, they also are in charge of the recreation families and additional food and beverage outlets. Right now, they have 78 job openings on their website.
        https://recruiting.adp.com/srccar/public/RTI.home?c=1204601&d=VirginHotelsExternalCareerSite

        You seem hellbent on bashing this hotel, for some reason. It seems as though your point-of-view may be colored by wildly incorrect information. The Virgin Las Vegas is not collection of tenants like you claim with your mall analogy. Rather, it’s a resort being operated by one of the property owners. Just like other Las Vegas resorts, some third-party companies will be running parts of the resort.

        Personally, I see far more differences than similarities when comparing the Virgin Las Vegas and SLS.

        Reply
  8. David

    Don’t get me wrong, I wish virgin the best and will solicit them. I give every new property a shot. I will report my experience. I really enjoyed Circa too, great value, lots of fun, great games and a good atmosphere. I,just don’t like all the derelicts running around downtown. I doubt I’ll get that at Virgin.

    Reply
  9. Michael Alexakis

    The SLS comparisons are not very valid if you ask me, The Sahara was in a free fall decline over years when SLS became a thing. the Hard Rock was always a decent place with a unique vibe when Virgin came in and did a full remodel…

    Reply
    1. Marlo

      I think the SLS comparison is in regards to the fact that there was big buzz around the hotel when it first opened but that lasted less than a year.
      There was no incentive to stay at SLS. It was at the far end of the strip and its prices were about the same as TheLinq, maybe even more. What would’ve been the perk of staying at SLS when one could be center strip for the same price?
      Right now Virgin is trying to lure people in with free parking and no resort fees, but their prices are higher than strip hotels. For what they are charging they should be next to the Fashion Show mall, not on Harmon Ave.

      Reply

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