'Virgin Hotel' coming to Las Vegas as Richard Branson buys Hard Rock

Billionaire Richard Branson has purchased the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. (Brad Boyer / FOX5)

Billionaire Richard Branson has purchased the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The property off the Las Vegas Strip will be rebranded over the next several months as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas by the end of 2019.

Branson announced the purchase Friday at the casino-hotel.

The property has about 1,500 rooms and suites. It will remain open during renovations, which are expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Virgin Hotels purchased the property with a group of partners, including Los Angeles-based investment firm Juniper Capital Partners. The terms of the purchase from Brookfield Asset Management were not disclosed.

The only Virgin Hotel opened so far is in Chicago. Others are planned for several cities, including New York, Dallas and Washington D.C.

The property will remain open during the transition, Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal said.

"What we love about the Hard Rock, it's an iconic hotel, with people who have delivered great service over the years and we are so excited to be working with the team here during this process," Leal said. "Renovations will be phased in, one building at a time, some closures expected during phasing."

"We're going to bring all the signature Virgin values including our famous tone of voice, playfulness, and certainly add to an already amazing experience here in Las Vegas with an iconic property."

"We look forward to operating this iconic property, and give it its farewell, its proper farewell that its earned over 23 years. Our passion lies in this fantastic asset and beautiful five acre pool deck that we have that will be transforming, but it's also the people," Richard Bosworth with Bosworth Hospitality Partners said. He said hundred of millions of dollars will be spent in the transformation.

"This has been very much part of Vegas for many years, it's an iconic hotel, it was the place to come for many years, and it will be the place to come for many years in the future. It's going to be a wonderful challenge, we're going to have a lot of fun doing it. What we've found is every single person that works here is completely delightful," Virgin founder Richard Branson said.

He said the guitar sign might be replaced with a giant 'V'.

"I think Virgin is all about fun, entertainment, not taking ourselves too seriously." "We wouldn't have come to Las Vegas unless we could have found a property that was very Virgin and I think that's what we've achieved. I don't think there's any other property that we would have swapped it for," Branson said.

As for the rock memorabilia, "It's part of the deal, we will treasure it. Some bits will go into storage but its part of history and we have a responsibility to look after it," Branson said.

Branson said he's unsure if they will rename entertainment venues. "We'll see. 'The Joint' has a fun name that's been around for a long time. Could be the 'Virgin Joint' or 'Virgin Spliff'."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Copyright 2018

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