NIGHTS ON THE CIRCUIT: Hot, Wet Fun in The Sun

Pool parties shed some light on Vegas nightlife

Xania Woodman

What's so great about Vegas pool parties, you ask? Everything! Take the hottest bodies you can find and drag them out of the dark, cavernous nightclubs; slip them into teeny bikinis and bright board shorts; feed them strong, fruity, icy, drinks; and lay them out in the desert sun. Rinse and repeat. Add bumping hip-hop, mash-ups and energizing house and you have the recipe for a mind-blowing summer pool party. And since this is Sin City, you may as well throw in some sexy contests, world-famous DJs and performers, models, celebrities and even a little tasteful nudity.

It's simple: When Vegas clubs take on the summer sun, they think outside the go-go box.

First-timers dipping their toes in the water this summer are two of Vegas' hottest new off-Strip properties. The recently opened Red Rock Casino is focusing its efforts on the local market with two pool events that will offer alternatives to tourist-driven parties. Saturday, Cherry Nightclub will open its pool deck—designed by David Rockwell of New York's Rockwell—seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Cherry pool deck, overlooking the lush Backyard (Red Rock's larger pool area), features eight cabanas, complimentary fruit tray, and requisite flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges and speakers for the Funktion One digital sound system. The cabana's middle walls even retract to accommodate bulk partying with a dozen of your best friends. The 10 daybeds surrounding the long, rectangular pool actually rotate to ensure you an even, rotisseried tan. A cover only will be charged Saturdays and Sundays when world-renowned DJ Skribble hits the decks. Late night, the pool deck and 50-seat bar will be accessible during Cherry's normal club hours. Cherry's owner, Rande Gerber, asserts this is "guaranteed to be the biggest weekend pool party Vegas has ever seen. Locals will be checking in on Friday and not leaving till Sunday night."

From May 4 through August 18, a new party starts in the Backyard, hosted by Mix 94.1 FM and DJ'd by on-air personality Tim Stevens. This free event starts at 6 p.m., with Zowie Bowie entertaining crowds with their quizzical but popular combination of Rat Pack covers and hip-hop.

Meanwhile, down at the Hooters Casino Hotel, things are already going swimmingly with its six-month poolside Backyard Bash, beginning at 5 p.m. Fridays and ending 5 p.m. Sundays. Guests are invited to enjoy the hotel's two heated pools, sandy "beach" and 12- and 60-person hot tubs, the larger offering a swim-up bar. At the center of the action is Nipper's Pool Bar, a spin-off of one on Great Guana Cay in the Bahamas, which—if you fish—explains the name. The Bash's three-day itinerary includes fish fries, pig roasts, barbecues and live reggae. And since this is Hooters, there will be calendar signings, photo shoots and poolside model and bikini contests.

But not all the sun worshipping is kicking off at the start of summer. At 3 p.m., April 24, a deal was sealed that in late summer will drastically alter Vegas' traffic patterns. Tao and the Venetian have formed a partnership to create a 15,000-square-foot outdoor pool and entertainment deck in a corner of the Venetian's existing pool complex, which Tao operating partner Jason Strauss explains will be "cosmetically enhanced." Lucky for him, we love cosmetic enhancement! The space will flow directly from the club, be enclosed by a Zen garden and boast a pool and large hot tub. In addition to the shaded bar area, Strauss promises six to eight cabanas "like nothing that's ever been done before." The enclosed space will grant Tao's wish to feature European-style (aka topless) bathing and to keep the party exclusive.

"What's so unique about the venue is that it's going to coexist in both the daytime and the nighttime, and will transition seamlessly," says Strauss. While the ink on that deal dries, the pool's schedule is being discussed. Strauss says it will be open Thursdays through Sundays daytime and Thursdays through Saturdays at night. After checking out the proposed design, Strauss remarks "It instantly transports you to Thailand or Bali."

Not to be outdone, look for the unveiling of three pools in a two-phase opening at the Palms this summer, a collaboration between the resort and the N9NE Group. No longer the Skin Pool Lounge, the as-yet-unnamed pool referred to only as the Pool at the Palms will debut Phase One this month, with the whole complex hopefully open by mid-May. In an intriguing twist, the second pool will be perched on a raised patio over the gaming area, and predictably the third pool—back on the ground—is reserved for VIPs. Rico Romano, N9NE's pool GM, mysteriously comments, "It's going to be ... multifaceted." Things that make you go "Hmmm?"

Other aquatic developments include the Mirage's new adults-only pool addition, rumored to be called Bare, so you can imagine why the kiddies are not invited. Though not a pool party per se, "It is going to be a really cool alternative—great services, great atmosphere and ambiance," says Jenn Michaels, vice president of public relations for MGM Mirage. Expect this hit to drop in mid-summer.

Another adults-only pool is getting ready to open right next door at Caesars. The existing Venus pool is coming under the control of Pure Management Group on May 22 to insure the highest level of quality for Caesar's top gaming clientele, but a limited number of reservations and entries may be made available. Venus pool staff confirmed the area will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to the 21 and over crowd, and will allow European-style bathing. DJs are set to spin Thursdays through Saturdays while guests make use of the cabanas, daybeds and deluxe (think big) daybeds. It has been said local DJs Mikey Swift and Hollywood will be doing duty behind the decks, though staff could not confirm that by deadline.

Bygone pool parties like Moorea and Nirvana are staying that way this summer as neither have anything planned, though sources at both properties say they haven't ruled anything out, either.

Then there's the one that started it all and defined the Vegas pool party phenomena. Rehab's third season kicks off at the Hard Rock on Sunday with $2.5 million in upgrades. A new bridge will increase circulation around the Grotto bar, and extensive work has been done on the cabanas and VIP deck, as well as the oasis' faux rock features. A stage envisioned by Rehab's Jack Lafleur—recently dubbed "Tastemaker" by the Hard Rock—has been built adjacent to the DJ booth for use during live performances. In addition to resident DJs Dig Dug, Mikey Swift and Lafleur, partiers of both the import and local varieties will be treated to a DJ lineup that rivals Ibiza, including Donald Glaude, Bad Boy Bill and Tiesto. In fact, some DJs will have to hop on planes and leave Ibiza for their dates with Rehab.

Not the pool to get a tan at, this is where you go to when you are already browned, toned, oiled up and working it—in other words, in "Rehab shape." Leave it to Vegas to create a term for this state of being. With so much competition this summer, is Lafleur concerned? "This is an established party .... It has the advantage of name recognition. Seasonality increases the hunger for it and nine out of 10 people who leave Rehab say 'I cannot believe how fun that was.' That being said, I am working harder, longer and with more determination that the two previous years combined."

The mercury is creeping ever skyward, the days are longer and summer crowds are poised to descend upon our fair city. Whether you prefer to take your partying in the shade or sun, wild or mild, weekday or weekend, Vegas' hotels and nightclubs have put their money where their pools are to accommodate. Are you in Rehab shape?

Xania Woodman thinks globally and parties locally. And frequently. E-mail her at
[email protected] and visit to sign up for Xania's free weekly newsletter.

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