Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels looking to expand to Las Vegas

Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder, arrives on a Virgin America flight from Los Angeles at McCarran International Airport Monday, April 22, 2013. The flight marked the start of new Virgin America service between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Virgin Hotels, part of the Virgin Group founded by billionaire Richard Branson, could soon be entering the Las Vegas market, likely purchasing an existing hotel property.

A spokeswoman for Virgin Hotels company confirmed the company was looking at locations here.

“Virgin Hotels, in partnership with Bosworth Hospitality Partners, LLC and Juniper Capital Partner, LLC, is in the due diligence phase on an asset in the Las Vegas market,” said Amanda Caskey, a senior director with a public relations and marketing agency representing Virgin Hotels “With that, they, collectively, have been approached for additional opportunities in the market. There are no additional details to share at this time.”

Caskey did not specify what property Virgin was looking at.

Richard Bosworth, the founder of Bosworth Hospitality Partners, confirmed a deal is imminent.

“We are highly energized right now in pursuit of procuring a Las Vegas casino hotel resort,” he said. “Due to confidentiality concerns I cannot share any specific details. However, we are completing our confirmatory due diligence.”

Bosworth has a long standing relationship with Juniper, but just began working with Virgin in February. Juniper Capital Partner did not return email requests for comment.

Branson calls Las Vegas a “mainstay destinations for our travel companies and our customers. Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays, and now Virgin America, have all been bringing happy holidaymakers to Vegas for many years, and I’m sure we’ll continue for a long time to come.”

On the Juniper website, the company describes itself as “an investment firm with a predisposition towards distressed or out of favor assets with attractive valuations...Juniper Capital investments typically require substantial repositioning.”

On his LinkedIn page, Bosworth’s describes his company as “a hotel, casino, and restaurant investment platform” and touts (among other achievements) his personal experience with acquisitions and renovation and repositioning of hotels.

Anthony F. Lucas, a professor in UNLV’s hotel administration schools, said Virgin would be a good addition to the market.

“I do hope they come here because they’re great. I love what they’re doing,” Lucas said. “I like any business that’s savvy enough to think like a guest. That’s what makes Wynn better than anyone else...and he is.”

“Just like Wynn, Virgin identifies pain points for customers and tries to figure out a way to fix them.”

Brent Pirosch, the director of the gaming group at commercial real estate company CBRE, said he thought Virgin would be a great fit for Las Vegas.

“Absolutely,” Pirosch said. “Any brand that’s got recognition outside this market is good and especially one that’s considered a sexy aspirational lifestyle brand is going to do well here.”

The Virgin transaction would follow other recent Strip casino/resort deals.

Last month, Golden Entertainment finished its purchase of American Casino & Entertainment Properties, which owned the Stratosphere. Last August, the Fontainebleau was sold to Witkoff and New Valley LLC for $600 million, and last June Alex Meruelo and Meruelo Group announced it was purchasing the SLS.