Richard Branson is one of the billionaires on the planet who is hard to hate. The guy pushes forward progressive politics, has some pretty cool brands, doesn't overcharge consumers to use them (Virgin America is one of the most pleasant and feature-packed flying experiences out there, and their ticket prices are consistently amongst the lowest available), has an irreverent sense of humor, is so intent on going to space that he's developing his own space-ships, and just seems to have a lot of fun being Richard Branson overall.
Virgin is expanding into the arena of hotels, with the first one open to set in Chicago next year and plans to aggressively expand into cities where Branson's brand would fit in nicely. The recently launched Virgin Hotels Website (which will presumably offer a tangible product that consumers can actually experience sooner than Virgin Galactic) says the chain will look to draw "high income, well educated, metropolitan, creative class customers." Since this sounds suspiciously similar to The Cosmopolitan's made up demographic they've dubbed the "curious class," it's no surprise that, in addition to cities like New York, LA, and San Francisco, the New York Post reports that one of the cities that Virgin is targeting as a hotel site is Las Vegas.
Virgin Hotel Chicago will be opened in an old building that will be renovated into something new and presumably oh-so-Branson. Will Virgin do the same in Las Vegas and other cities? Will Branson play it safe and near properties with similar demographics like The Cosmopolitan or CityCenter, take a chance on the emerging neighborhood that is Downtown (as I keep hoping the owners of The Ace Hotel chain will do in the near future as well), or try to be a part of the revitalization of the North Strip along with The SLS?
This is potentially awesome news, and while there are no real details on what a Virgin Hotel Las Vegas will look like, that's never stopped me from speculating wildly. Which is why I've come up with the following fantasy itinerary based around a fully Virginized Las Vegas weekend.
(Note... I love Virgin America and many other Branson properties and feel that Sir Richard is actually a super cool guy. The following fake itinerary is for gently affectionate satirical purposes only. So please don't kill me, Mr. Branson, even though I'm sure you have Virgin-branded Drones that could assassinate me with extreme precision or serve me a perfectly mixed Martini, depending which mode you set it on.)
8:00 PM: De-board Virgin America flgith at McCarren with a killer travel package put together by the company. Curse when I realize I could have spent less money without the package but was fooled by the ads with pretty girls.
8:45 PM: Check in to room after waiting in line where the latest Dubstep tracks, selected by DJ Branson himself, are playing. Get free shot of Patron upon checkin and from Clarissa, the beautiful desk clerk. Even though I know it's her job to flirt with the customers, I walk away feeling like I made a real impression and mentally plan to walk past the check in desk later before I hit the bars.
snarky and cooler than though animated welcome video as well as a Branson only channel where the excitable British Billionaire hosts a travel adventure program about all of the cities that his airline can fly you to to stay in his hotels. The best part will be when he starts ranting, in all earnestness, about building the first Hotel on the moon.
10:00 PM: After realizing I've been watching Branson's channel on a loop for a full hour, emerge from my my hypnotic state and head downstairs to eat an overpriced yet delicious meal at a trendy restaurant with a menu created by (INSERT HOT CELEBRITY CHEF OF 2014'S NAME HERE). The fresh muddled (INSERT 2014'S TRENDIEST FRUIT OR HERB) Cocktail is top-notch.
MIDNIGHT: Grab drinks and hit the dance-floor at the space-aged themed Bar, which will probably be called "SPACE" or "PLANET" or something equally sparse and to the point. Dance a little to slightly better than average beats played by bored looking British (possibly French?) DJ as I (try not to) oggle the girls serving drinks in go-go boots and shiny silver skirts.
3:00 AM: Enjoy a midnight snack at a diner that looks exactly like my hotel room that looks exactly like the inside of Virgin America airplanes that looks exactly like what you'd see if you were shrunk down to the size of a bug and crawled through Branson's magificent goatee.
3:30 AM: Fall to sleep to the loop of Branson's channel, which is starting to become as impossible to turn away from as The Entertainment from Infinite Jest.
10:00 AM: Wake up, realize how hungover I am, shut out the blinding Vegas sunlight with automated curtains, go back to sleep.
11:00 AM: Wake up for real, rinse off in shower that seems to have come from the future, head out of hotel room.
11:30 AM: Enjoy brunch at Branson's buffet, "As Many Virgins as You Can Handle." Leave disappointed that it's just a cheeky title.
1:00 PM: Hit the pool, only to realize that it's populated by the Kings and Queens of the Kingdom of Douche. Same bored Brit (or French) DJ is spinning by the pool, making more money than I can imagine making in one afternoon while barely feigning consciousness. But if he looked more engaged, he wouldn't have the job, would he?
2:30 PM: Hit the casino floor. Win maybe $30 playing Roulette and get one free, feel like I've won a moral victory. Blow my winnings and my entire gambling budget playing Blakjack for 10 minutes.
3:00 PM: Exceed gambling budget, lose all of it. Get a second free drink, count that as moral victory.
4:00: Walk through The Virgin Mall, feeling slightly buzzed, sleepy, and disoriented. Snap to my senses before booking $10,000,000 reservations at Virgin Galactic Travel Agency for two tickets to the moon hotel.
6:30 PM: Another overpriced yet excellent dinner at a restaurant with a name chef. It's a cool twist on the American diner from a Chef so young and cutting edge he's not born yet. So yes, he'll be 2 when I dine there after the place opens. Deal with it. Richard Branson is hiring two year old Chefs, and their cooking is amazing.
8:000 PM: Pregame with the help of in-room Ipod Doc and robot that shakes drinks for you. (Note to self: patent idea of drink shaking robot, sell it to Richard Branson, pay for trip to Virgin Las Vegas in 2014 with profits from patent.)
9:00 PM: Queue up to get into Sir Richard's, the hottest nightclub in town of the moment after purchasing VIP pass that promises I won't have to wait in line for too long.
1:30 AM: Get into club. It's like every club in Las Vegas, just more packed. Make eye contact with one or two girls, pay too much for drinks, dance badly to music I'd never listen to. Agree with friends that it was "awesome."
Lather, rinse repeat. Because that future-shower is awesome.