Business Traveler USA reporter David Yeskel interviewed Richard “Boz” Bosworth, President and CEO of JC Hospitality, owner of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas as well as Joe Hasson, Casino General Manager for Mohegan Sun Casino Las Vegas at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas at its May opening to uncover what the Virgin brand can offer Las Vegas and how the brand departs from predecessors and neighboring resorts for the discerning Las Vegas visitor. You can gain other insights on Las Vegas from Yeskel’s Twitter roll: https://twitter.com/thevegasguru_
BTU: After looking at the Las Vegas hospitality market for so long, why did Virgin choose this property?
RB: It allowed Virgin to be part of a project with a known gaming operator (Mohegan Sun) and hospitality operator (JC Hospitality).
BTU: Other than reservations and marketing support, what are the advantages of the Curio Collection by Hilton soft branding?
RB: The affiliation with the Hilton sales operation is a big advantage in the MICE space.
BTU: Is it fair to say you’re looking for a slightly different target clientele than the previous Hard Rock’s demo?
RB: It’s not about an age; rather, it’s an energy. We actually cater to five different guest types: conference and meeting attendees Sunday through Thursday; leisure guests on the weekend; casino guests; entertainment and recreation guests; and food and beverage guests interested in our unique dining program.
BTU: Did the room refresh cover all hard and soft goods – in all three towers?
RB: Chambers and suites in all three towers were completely gutted and replaced with all-new FF&E, hard and soft goods, including Virgin’s patented “Virgin Hotels Signature Bed”.
BTU: Why was Mohegan Gaming chosen over other potential casino operators?
RB: JC Hospitality understood and formulated the operating plan and actively solicited Mohegan as the preferred casino operator for this project.
BTU: Was the F&B collection designed to appeal to a broad cross-section of guests?
RB: Yes, and the majority of our food-and-beverage outlets are owned by JC Hospitality and managed by the respective operators.
BTU: Is JC Hospitality the majority owner of the property?
RB: Yes, and Virgin Group is a limited partner.
BTU: Is your unique (for Las Vegas, that is) value proposition (no resort fees, included WiFi & parking) aimed at a specific target demo?
RB: It’s aimed at all Las Vegas visitors.
BTU: What advantages (over other LV casino-resorts) do you have for MICE business?
RB: We are an entrepreneurial group with offices on property, dedicated to bringing back Old Vegas personal connections along with a modern facility and offerings. Our space is also very versatile and can easily transition from business into recreational usage, as demonstrated by our “Event Lawn.”
Joe Hasson, Casino General Manager for Mohegan Sun Casino Las Vegas at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas
BTU: Why choose Virgin Hotels Las Vegas for the Mohegan tribe’s first Las Vegas casino?
Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) viewed this resort as a great first opportunity to enter Las Vegas. MGE partnered with JC Hospitality, the resort’s owner, to bring the Mohegan brand to the reimagined and refreshed resort. With a long and storied history of hospitality at this site, and with a rich culture and a talented team of legacy team members at the ready, Mohegan’s brand and culture were and are natural fits, along with Virgin Hotels, the Hilton Curio Collection of hotels, AEG Presents entertainment and a bevy of unique and talented restaurant partners at the resort.
BTU: What do you see as your competitive advantage over Strip resorts’ casinos?
Competitive advantage comes in many ways. Unlike other start-up businesses, the people at this resort measure teamwork and know-how counted in decades of experience previously having worked together. Mohegan was privileged to be able to have such a talented and veteran team awaiting the reemergence of this resort. Team members at Mohegan Sun Casino Las Vegas have worked at this location, on average, for more than 13 years, with many being day-1 experts dating back to the original resort’s debut in 1995. That kind of legacy talent instantly creates and restores a bond and relationship with guests who have enjoyed this resort since its original days more than 25 years ago. Familiarity with coworkers also levers this resort’s capabilities to promptly problem-solve and resolve the challenges that new resorts invariably face upon start-up. While newly refreshed from bottom to top, unlike a brand new resort, there’s an instant feel that conveys and resonates a desired sense of familiarity. It’s all based on people who know people.
BTU: What percentage of Blackjack tables will offer 3:2 payouts on a natural? And will those only be single- or double-deck games?
The vast majority of Blackjack games at Mohegan Sun Casino Las Vegas offer 3:2 payouts on a natural 21. After all, this is a place that holds appeal for local guests as well as to discerning destination travelers since its earliest days. Mohegan is pleased to offer price points and rules of the games that appeal to a wide array of guests who are in the know about casino odds.
BTU: Will you be introducing any skill-based games to attract younger players?
We already have skill based games. Let’s never forget that most table games have an element of skill that best positions savvy players to enjoy a win. On the slot side of the business, most would agree that video poker is a game where a skilled player can craft an edge. Mohegan Sun Casino Las Vegas now offers more than 100 video poker games that have wide appeal.
BTU: Will you be introducing any machines that use holograms and/or 3D animation?
While we offer many of the latest video displays that slot manufacturers are quick to tout, we’re particularly pleased that several of our Wheel of Fortune themes feature 4D video technology. With Mohegan offering more than 18,000 slot machines for play throughout its many locations across the company, MGE quickly comes to know what’s popular nationwide. Meanwhile, all casinos continuously introduce the most popular games available, and Mohegan Sun Casino will be quick to adopt the newest technologies.
BTU: What other ways do you plan to innovate in the casino for resort visitors and locals?
Virtually all of our guests will be pleased with the completely refreshed resort. From remodeled hotel rooms (all 1,500 have been reinvented,) to the unique and responsive service style and ambiance of Virgin Hotels, Mohegan Sun Casino is pleased to be the gaming partner at a welcoming resort for Vegas-bound travelers.