The Las Vegas schedule has been filled with many anticipated openings. First off was Circa Las Vegas downtown at Fremont street. I was lucky enough to be one of the first into the casino that night. The next openings involve a heavy Hilton presence. Resorts World, set to open later in 2021, will include three different Hilton brands in one: Conrad, Hilton, and LXR. But first up is Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, which has a partnership with Hilton as part of The Curio Collection. I was fortunate enough to be there for opening night to see what all the excitement was about. It did not go as planned or what I envisioned, to say the least.
I made a reservation for January when the hotel was scheduled to open the first time. For that booking, I used Hilton points. That target date got pushed back, as I think spring was a better opportunity for the hotel. This new booking started off with a dud as it could now only be booked via Virgin Hotels. On top of that, they were requiring a three-day minimum at $190 per night plus taxes and fees.
No point options were available. I began checking the website everyday and eventually stumbled upon this special offer for diamond members. No point options were available but for a grand opening I was willing to splurge a bit.
The cost was still the $190 a night plus taxes, but did not include the three night minimum. I booked via the Hilton site. I did make one mistake in that Hilton took a deposit, which went on my Hilton Aspire card. While I did earn 3x points per dollar, I would have preferred to put it on my Amex Green card or Chase Sapphire Preferred card as I prefer earning Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards over Hilton points. Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is not charging a resort fee. That is probably a great idea based on my experience.
I was not sure about rooms and did not try and research what the locations would be. I went with the one available at $190, which was a King Chamber Opal Tower.
I was following Virgin Hotels on Twitter and saw they mentioned a 6pm opening. Having not received any emails about my reservation outside of the confirmation. I reached out to Virgin Hotels on Twitter to ask about check in times for hotel guests.
I arrived at 12 PM to the hotel. There are actually two check in areas as I later discovered. There is one where I arrived at the parking garage. They were directing all arriving traffic to this location so it was the only location I could arrive at. I later discovered there is one at the main entrance as well. You can view my first steps in here. This entrance includes a long walkway, past a VIP area, and into large lobby and sitting area.
Now, this is where the issues began. My room was not ready. Normally, I would not expect to be checked in early for a normal hotel stay. However, this was day one and nobody would have stayed in my room before. Also, they did tell me to show up at 12 PM. At this point, as much as I wanted to see the room, I was fine with waiting a little bit and seeing the property. I was told I would receive some kind of upgrade and was also thanked for being a Hilton Diamond member.
The wait for a room lasted hours. I made several trips to the front desk. They actually told me at one point they would put in a priority with housekeeping. I asked priority for what? It was day one! There is no room to clean. She just repeated they would put in priority request with a confused look on her face. That was at 2 PM. I saw some others waiting as well and becoming as frustrated as I was. But, I also saw many people that appeared to be VIPs or influencers or maybe with the welcoming crews that were being given keys and off to their rooms in seconds.
I only received my room at 4 PM, after multiple trips to the front desk. When receiving my room keys, I was informed I was in a Canyon Chamber Deluxe king room. I honestly did not care at this point after waiting four hours for a room at a brand new hotel on day one.
After the long wait, my excitement had faded. Additionally, seeing the property and the unfinished condition it was in had soured me even more (more on that later). Still, getting in to a room after the long wait was a relief. You can view my video room tour here, and I posted plenty of pictures on our Instagram and Twitter accounts. The hallways were very bright in what I can only describe as bright Southwestern orange and reds. The door numbers had a cool three dimensional look to them as well.
When I entered my room my first thought was it's really bright. I also thought of an IKEA store. The lights had no dimming feature on them. All on or all off. The room was very large and spacious. Normally, I would not be so critical of a room, but lets face it, it's new and it's Virgin Hotels. I was expecting more than this no matter what size the room was. The space also looks like a nightmare for housekeeping and maintenance with all the white walls and curtains. I always appreciate a large TV, though, and the living space and bedroom had those.
Mini Bar Area
The mini bar and kitchen storage area was very bare and walls were empty with no artwork. It was as if they were supposed to still be finishing the rooms today and gave up. The mini bar itself had no pricing or any list of items. The guys at Miles to Memories had discussed on their YouTube channel mini bar prices perhaps being customer friendly. I had no way of knowing whether this was the case without a price list.
The little wipes looked tacky to me. A coffee maker and utensils of some kind would have been a nice touch here. Why there are all the shelves and space available in this area is beyond me.
The bedroom was the one area I did like. It felt more like it had some pop with the artwork. It still did not feel like something Virgin would do but I did like it. Having two closet areas was nice.
I really liked the spacious bathroom. It had a large jetted tub and huge walk in shower. As a tall person, I appreciate large showers and bath tubs. I think the only thing missing in this bathroom was a double sink. It looked as if there was enough space for it, though.
The room does provide some great views of the Las Vegas Strip, which I was lucky enough to have. The eye sore, however, is the unfinished property and their concert area or whatever they are going to call that. The VIP party they were having that night even looked dull for a Virgin-type event.
Overall, the room was huge, so I can't complain there. As I mentioned, there were some odd things like the lighting and bareness of the living area. The living room and bedroom have large doors that cannot open all the way because of child safety mechanisms attached. I would have loved to open the doors and enjoy the cool Vegas breeze and outdoor music. The large rooms would be a perk for having a group gathering and I see that as a huge positive depending on the price point and use of Hilton status.
Rest of Property
One of the frustrations along with waiting for four hours for my room was that there was literally nothing to do while waiting, as the property is far from finished. The casino was not opening until 6 PM and I struggled to actually find any dining options open. The pool areas was basically non-existent and still under construction.
I tried to walk around and get plenty of pictures but was eventually told to leave by security when I got over near the VIP party set-up area. They had no idea if any of the outdoor dining would be open. Somehow I was able to freely roam through all the other construction areas. I also posted videos over on our Twitter page.
I was able to sit down and relax at the only dining option open, which was Casa Calavera, a Mexican restaurant and bar. Their website describes it as traditional Mexican cuisine complemented by a twist of energetic social ambiance. Guests can anticipate a relaxed open-air, feet-in-the-sand experience from a dining perspective paired with a stylish, pre-party nightlife atmosphere.
It provided a really cool atmosphere, which featured hand blown glasses with skulls. The bar had usb ports and the service was friendly.
This dining option is run by the Hakkasan group in Vegas. This is a bit unique as the rest of dining options appear to be ran by Virgin to compliment the casino being run by Mohegan Sun. So definitely an odd combo in my mind with three different entities, and at least one employee thought so too. As that employee said, “I may get three paychecks form three different places.” I was told by another employee they were called in early that morning when the management found out hotel was letting guests in at 12 PM. Just another lack of communication perhaps.
I also had the chance to try the Pizza Forte later in the evening. It was good, reasonably priced, and had fast, friendly service.
I was told the only other thing I would have access to without reservations was the Kitchen Commons Club. I attempted to check for dining reservations for other options a week out with no luck. It seemed like the VIPs may have had them all booked.
You can check on all the dining options for Virgin Hotels here.
I walked around a bit during the day and it definitely felt bright and spacious. Plenty of construction going on right up until the opening.
One confusing part was the signs directing you to areas of the hotel. They were very dark and not well-lit at all. Those became hard to see. Safety precautions were in place with plexiglass between the slot machines. However, once the opening night crowds flooded in, it was way too crowded for my liking. I really wanted to venture in more closely to the Casino after opening but it was just too crowded for me. I did see some performers throughout the casino during the evening though, which was a nice touch.
The Sportsbook was very small in my opinion, but not a focus of this property judging by its size.
I stopped into one of the bars and found it to be welcoming and cozy, with the perfect place to relax for an evening beer or cocktail. Opening night led to crowds that were probably too big for safety, but they did have tables spaced out. Service seemed lacking with perhaps not enough staff out in the lounge areas. It took me almost 30 minutes to order a drink. There is an area directly next to this called Shag Room, which had large velvet couches and a really cool looking vibe as well, especially for groups.
Overall, he hotel appeared to have enough bar and dining options if everything is open. I do not expect crowds to be like they were for me on opening night. Although, I have heard of a special opening again in May when the pools are actually finished and Richard Branson himself visits.
Overall, I was disappointed in not only Virgin Hotels, but their handling of opening day. A four-hour wait on day one when there is no room to clean is unacceptable. The hotel was basically a large scale construction site where you could almost roam freely while crews were busy filming and socializing with their influencers and VIPs. There were scarce dining options for arriving guests and no communication on why rooms were not available. I had no idea the pools weren't ready nor that the property was unfinished.
The outdoor space was a mess, but the gym was completely finished as was the Juice Bar next to it. I did receive reports from someone that they tried to order a juice and the employee claimed they had not received any training.
I was underwhelmed by what Virgin did with the décor and rooms. If you want to overpay for a new off-strip location where you might be able to get a large room, then this is the place. However, at this time, I see nothing that would make me want to come here, even more so while there is no pool.
Am I being too critical about what I experienced? Come over to our Facebook group and let us know your thoughts.