BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – Owning a hotel in Bristol was in the cards for world-renowned poker player JJ Liu following news that a Hard Rock casino would be coming to town.
Liu is now the proud owner of the Bristol Arcadia Inn on Lee Highway.
Originally from Taiwan, Liu is a real estate developer, broker, and investor who formerly worked as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. But she’s made her mark on the world of poker. Her tournament winnings are listed as totaling more than $3.3 million. One of the most successful female poker players in the world, she’s also a member of the Women’s Poker Hall of Fame.
“This is a game involved with a lot of people, with making decisions. It’s just so much fun, I love to compete,” Liu said.
She’s been around the globe for tournaments, but Liu said Hard Rock casinos have been some of her favorite venues to play. Then Bristol’s gaming referendum passed last November, greenlighting the development of a Hard Rock Hotel and Casino at the site of the former mall.
Liu visited Bristol for the first time in November and moved quickly to buy a local hotel for sale a few miles away from the Hard Rock development.
“I understand the business can bring in a lot of opportunities here, so I was very excited,” she said.
Liu purchased the former Comfort Inn off Exit 5 back in January, renaming it the Bristol Arcadia Inn. From its country music heritage to Bristol Motor Speedway races, she was proud to invest in the community. She’s already seen her 84-room hotel booked out during the recent race weekend.
“It’s amazing. This is such a nice place to live. You know I travel all over the world, and it’s just such beautiful place…Bristol, I think, is paradise,” she said.
Developers have said the Bristol Hard Rock property will feature a casino, hotel tower, restaurants, indoor and outdoor concert venues, and more.
Liu knows poker tournaments can draw in thousands of visitors to a town.
“Two weeks ago in Fort Lauderdale, Hard Rock Casino, all the hotels sold out,” she said.
“Usually they have tournaments for months to two months. This is a great event for business.”
Liu looks forward to the Hard Rock property opening, and having friends and family stay at her hotel when visiting.
The hotel owner said the transition to becoming the Bristol Arcadia Inn went smoothly, as the staff of the former Comfort Inn were able to retain their jobs.
“A lot of people they work here, 15-20 years at most. People here are very nice, very loyal. It’s just incredible community,” Liu said.