Richard Branson Buys Hard Rock Hotel And Casino In Vegas

“I’m pinching myself,” says Virgin founder.

Sir Richard Branson announced on Friday that he is the new owner of the iconic Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The billionaire founder of Virgin Records and Virgin airlines announced the news barefoot and poolside and flanked by dancers at his new property ,while he popped a bottle of champagne.

"I'm still pinching myself!" said Branson, who turned up in Vegas on the first nonstop Virgin Atlantic flight to the city from London in 2000 dressed as Elvis Presley.

Branson promised that upcoming renovations, which will be completed in late 2019, will be "tasteful, fun". The operation will be renamed Virgin Hotels Las Vegas once the place is transformed, The Associated Press reported.

The giant guitar out front "may not survive". Branson warned, and may be replaced with a "giant V".

Other treasures will be saved. "I come from the rock 'n' roll business," Branson told Conde Nast Traveler, and the famous Hard Rock memorabilia is "something that fortunately comes with the hotel. It's incredible for me to suddenly have this collection."

The Vegas Hard Rock, founded in 1995, "was the place to be for many, many years, and it will be the place to be for many, many years in the future", said Branson.

Branson's Virgin Hotels purchased the Hard Rock property with a group of partners, including Los Angeles-based investment firm Juniper Capital Partners. Terms were not disclosed.

The only other Virgin Hotel is in Chicago, but others are planned for New York, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Nashville, among other cities.

The Vegas Hard Rock has close to 1,500 rooms and suites. It will remain open during renovations.