The question of the day is this: If the Hard Rock were to return to Las Vegas, where would it go??
The Las Vegas rumor mills are busy talking about a lot of things. One of them is the idea that the Seminole Indians, the tribe that owns the Hard Rock brand, want to bring the resort back to Las Vegas and they want to put it someplace on the Las Vegas Strip.
If this is true, where would be a good place to put it?
A Little Hard Rock History
The Hard Rock Casino Resort opened in Las Vegas in March 1995 as the world’s first rock-n-roll-themed hotel. It was owned by Peter Morton, one of the founders of the Hard Rock brand. He controlled the American naming rights to the Hard Rock brand west of the Mississippi River.
The Hard Rock Resort was an instant hit even if it was one mile off the famed Las Vegas Strip. This was THE place for those who wanted to see and be seen (long before Instagram and selfies!) The Gods of rock music came here for shows, events, and be gawked at by their fans. Sports legends even made it a point to have events here. All the “A list” celebrities made it a point of either staying here or at least being seen hanging out here.
It also had a famous or infamous pool scene. Some of the first “day-club pool parties” started here. The weekend version of the pool parties was called Rehab and they even made it into a reality show. Rehab brought in top musical celebrities and hot bikini models as well as those who thought they were celebrities.
The top dogs don’t always stay top dogs.
The Hard Rock may have started the day clubs and pool parties, but the resorts on the Strip started to quickly cut into their action, Then came the Palms Resort. The Hard Rock killer.
This new place opened in 2001 with a larger, more aggressive marketing for celebrities. Plus it was an easier place to find from the Strip. The Pams pretty much killed off the Hard Rock business.
In 2007, the Hard Rock resort was sold to an investment group as the competition for parties and celebrity sightings intensified on the Las Vegas Strip. Peter Morton ended his involvement in 2011
In 2018, an investor group including Virgin Hotels buys the property. The Hard Rock Las Vegas closed for good right after the Super Bowl in February of 2020. The property is being extensively remodeled and will reopen later this year as Las Vegas’ first Virgin brand hotel.
The Rest of the Story
In 2006 the Seminole Indian tribe from Florida buys the Hard Rock café and casino business. Basically, they owned The Hard Rock brand worldwide, except for whatever operations Peter Morton had set up west of the Mississippi River. Meaning they did not own the Hard Rock Resort Las Vegas brand.
They were turning the Hard Rock brand into a family-friendly brand and the Las Vegas office wasn’t of their liking with all the “wild parties” and its well-known late-night debauchery.
In May of this year, the Seminoles using their corporate name “Hard Rock International” acquired the Las Vegas Hard Rock brand. Giving them worldwide control of the Hard Rock name.
Now it is rumored that they are shopping around to see if they can bring it back to Las Vegas and if so, where to put it.. The rumor says they want to be on the Strip this time. Good Choice! But where on the Strip?
That’s the Big Question!
This Is Las Vegas, Not Florida
During the time of the Rehab reality show, the Seminole Tribe tried hard to distinguish their brand from the Las Vegas brand. It was said they really didn’t like the pool scene. Even if that’s what was driving the business. And to be honest, the Rehab parties were drawing in some unsavory people and those with less than admirable intentions!
So now, if the rumors are true, are they wanting to bring back the Las Vegas version of the Hard Rock brand? Or are they wanting to bring their generic playbook they use in Florida and use it to operate here?
Speaking from experience, I can tell you that if they plan to bring their Florida Hard Rock version to Las Vegas (family-friendly), they may as well stay home. It will fail in Las Vegas. Las Vegas is in its own universe and a lot of retailers learned the hard way that what works elsewhere, doesn’t work in Las Vegas. Doing business here, you need to bring your “A” game and take that up a notch or two if you want to succeed here on the Strip. Name alone will not mean success.
My Choices for Locations
Ok, so let’s say they are going to be looking to bring back the las Vegas Hard Rock. That’s what I base my choices on. is that they want to be a serious player in the Las Vegas Strip market. They want to be the king of cool and regain the crown of “The Hot Spot” for Vegas celebrity sightings, amazing concerts and the coolest pool parties on earth.
The Original El Rancho Site
This site sits right across from the Sahara resort at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. It has stood empty for over 60 years. The El Rancho was one of the first “resorts” to open outside of downtown Las Vegas and it met with an unhappy ending. Supposedly the owner did not like the mob coming in and gambling, and they “86’d” the wrong guy. A few hours later, the main structure went up in flames. And nothing has succeeded there ever since.
Today it is owned by Phil Ruffin. He’s the Oklahoma oilman who bought the Treasure Island and Circus Circus from MGM. Just prior to the shutdown, he had the lot rented out for events and concerts. So he was already making his investment back really easy. Not sure if he would want to sell, but if so….
The location would be just a bit on the small side for what the Hard Rock would need to build on but it could work.. What the location lacks in size, makes up for in location. A near-perfect location for the traffic and for marketing to both the Fremont Street fans as well as the hardcore Vegas Strip crowd.
The Old Frontier Site
Again, one of the original resorts on what became the Las Vegas Strip sat here and was a very popular place with a rich history of entertainers playing there. This is where Elvis Presley was boo’ed off the stage in 1964 and the last place Diana Ross and The Supremes played together.
Like the El Rancho site, The Hard Rock would be built to their specifications and take a few years before it could open up and start generating cash flow.
The location is perfect for the Las Vegas brand of a Hard Rock-style resort. Sitting across from one of the newest and hottest pool party locations, the Encore Beach Club. The resorts in that area are filled with the prime tourist that the Hard Rock would want in their resort. Young, urban, big credit card limits and always wanting to be with the “in” crowd. You have the Wynn, the Encore, and the new Resorts World. Not to mention being in front of the popular Trump International.
The Tropicana Resort
The “always for sale” Tropicana was my original favorite choice and for so many reasons. Mainly, it’s currently being shopped around by its owners.. Looking for a possible new owner. And its perfect location for growth opportunities.
If Las Vegas ever gets to reopen, the south end of the Strip is about to enter into a high wave of redevelopment with the opening of the new Allegiant Stadium and the expansion of business surrounding the stadium. Getting in now would save them millions.
The Tropicana has separated buildings, the refurbished pool(s), and the open land for further expansion. They could literally walk in tomorrow and start making money. You have an area for families, you have an area for the club crowd and you have an area for the party crowd.
Open up immediately, get the money flowing and as you do, take the open land and start to expand or remodel. Make it how you want it to be with no downtime.
The New Entry is The Palms
What was once the undisputed champion of places in Las Vegas to see and be seen, The Palms has fallen on hard (ownership) times. For most of the first decade of this century, This was the place to party. It was built for tourists and locals alike to come to play, party, see the celebrities and be where the action was.
The now-shuttered Palms Resort awaits possibly a new owner who knows how to maximize its opportunities!
The resort had multiple sized event venues from intimate party lounges to all-out, let’s open the roof and party under the stars (the roof on the second tower actually did open! )
In its two towers were hotel suites like no other place on earth. The fantasy tower was appropriately named. One of its more famous fantasy suites was the Hugh Hefner Playboy Suite, also known as the Sky Villa. The two-story Sky Villa on the top floor billed at $40,000 per night, is listed at number 5 on the World’s 15 Most Expensive Hotel Suites compiled by CNN!
It also had/has multiple restaurants for every taste and almost every budget. Multiple nightclubs, the casino, and the famous concert venue, The Pearl. The Palms has so many options for how to spend your nighttime in Las Vegas, you could get a headache thinking about them all!
The third tower is the Palms Place condominium. separately owned. It is connected to the Palms main tower by a private walkway. Palms Place was and still is home to some of the swankiest condominiums and private homes in Las Vegas. Many of them are available for rent online!
Today it is closed with the current owners telling the world that they have no plans to reopen it. After extensive remodeling, the owners (Stations Resorts) have a place that is so far out of their comfort zone, that they are feeling clueless and are scared about what to do with all of its possibilities and opportunities. It needs to be the new Hard Rock!
Better than the Tropicana, Hard Rock resorts could open tomorrow morning and have parties started in the afternoon and a big named concert on the same evening. No need to remodel or expand. It’s all there, waiting for someone with experience in marketing to that crowd, to bring it back to life. And it has a killer view of the Las Vegas Strip!
There is no better place to put the Hard Rock back in Las Vegas other than right here!
Do You Agree? If the rumors are true, Where do you think it should go?