Ethan Miller  /  Getty Images file
Alien Ant Farm bassist Tye Zamora performs at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in this file photo. The 647-room hotel and 30,000 square-foot casino sold for $700 million.
updated 5/11/2006 6:50:07 PM ET 2006-05-11T22:50:07

Upscale hotel operator Morgans Hotel Group Co. has agreed to buy the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas for $770 million in cash from the property’s founder and chairman, he said Thursday.

The sale of the 647-room hotel and 30,000 square-foot casino on 41 acres near the Las Vegas Strip will net Peter Morton more than $731 million, he said in a statement.

“It was just time to take the chips off the table,” Morton told The Associated Press. “I’m looking to do some different things in my life. That was it.”

Morton co-founded the Hard Rock brand in 1971, and in 1996 he sold his chain of Hard Rock Cafes to the London-based Rank Group PLC for $410 million.

He opened the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in 1995.

The Morgans Hotel Group, an owner and manager of luxury boutique hotels that went public in February, runs the Hudson, Morgans and Royalton in New York and the Delano in Miami, among other properties.

Morgans CEO Ed Scheetz said the Hard Rock’s location about a mile east of the Strip was a prime spot and would help the company’s entry into the market.

In January, Morgans announced it would partner with Boyd Gaming Corp. to build two boutique hotels with 1,600 rooms on Boyd’s $4 billion casino complex on the Strip. Echelon Place is scheduled to open in 2010.

“We believe that having immediate operating capability in Las Vegas will be a help for our overall intended presence in the market,” Scheetz said.

Morgans did not have immediate plans for a more than $1 billion condominium project that had been planned for a 24-acre site next to the casino. Hard Rock Hotel Inc. stopped sales and offered refunds on deposits for some of the 1,350 units at the condo project in February.

“We’re going to take a look at the whole package with a fresh set of eyes,” Scheetz said. “We may sell off some or all of the land, yes.”

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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