2 new pool parties diving into Las Vegas ‘daylife’ scene

Women dance in the pool during opening day for Tao Beach Saturday, April 2, 2011.
Photo: Sam Morris

It’s the time of year when packs of bikini-clad 20-somethings descend on Las Vegas Strip resort pools with yard-long drinks and hundreds of dollars to spend. It’s pool party season and the most profitable time of year for nightclub operators who are also dabbling in the daylife trend.

Two new pool parties open on the Strip this spring while other hotels are hosting weekend adult-only parties, solidifying dayclubs as a mainstay in resorts’ lineup of offerings.

It’s a trend that started on the yachts of St. Tropez and white-sand shores of Miami’s South Beach, where the partying starts during the morning hours and the booze flows straight through sundown.

It made its way to Las Vegas in 2004 when the Hard Rock introduced its Rehab pool party, which became an instant hit. Patrons lined up as early as 6 a.m. to party poolside.

But the new venues opening this season are targeting a different market, both in their own way.

Nikki Beach at Tropicana is going after an older crowd while Tao Group is focusing on big name DJs and house music with its Marquee dayclub at the Cosmopolitan.

Tao Beach Opens

Tao Group celebrated its biggest opening day to date at Tao Beach at the Venetian earlier this month and opened its 22,000-square-foot pool venue adjacent to Marquee nightclub Saturday.

Jason Strauss, co-owner and operator of Tao Group, said the company is going after a similar customer at its two pool venues, but Marquee will differ from Tao Beach in its entertainment.

“The whole brand of Marquee is really a house music-driven brand. We are going to stick strictly to international, electronica DJs. At Tao Beach, we really segment both celebrity events and DJs. The programming brings a different demographic on each side,” Strauss said.

Marquee’s venue also sets it apart from Tao Group’s other venue. It’s 4,000 square feet larger than Tao Beach and features two main pools with eight additional private pools in the VIP cabanas.

It also connects to the Marquee nightclub, unlike Tao and Tao Beach, which will allow it to keep half of the nightclub open during the day, making it a true “dayclub,” Strauss said.

“It’s really become a tradition to enjoy nightlife during the day and at night,” Strauss said. “At Tao, it’s that same customer who came to Tao Beach, went back to their room, took a nap, ordered room service and is coming back to Tao at night. It is the same for Marquee.”

Meanwhile, the owners of Nikki Beach Club, which will open in May along with a nightclub at Tropicana, said they are taking a different approach from other pool party operators in town.

Nikki Beach co-owner Mike Penrod said you won’t see a billboard for Kim Kardashian hosting her birthday at Nikki Beach or hear DJs blasting thumping electronic dance music to the point of nausea.

Instead, Penrod said, Nikki Beach will be more discreet, with the feel of a high-end restaurant around a pool rather than a nightclub. It will resonate more with the 30- to 40-year-old jetsetter crowd, Penrod said.

“We’re not for everyone. The people that want to go listen to the top DJ who is cranking it at a dance party that’s a little bit a younger clientele, that’s not us,” Penrod said. “In Vegas, it’s very popular to rent a celebrity for an event and market it. We actually do the opposite. We don’t tell you who is coming; we tell you who was there.”

Penrod said they plan on pulling from their database of high-end clients and celebrities from their clubs and resorts around the world to market the Las Vegas venue.

Nikki Beach operates clubs in Miami, St. Tropez, Cabo San Lucas and is opening several luxury resorts in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

“Most of the people that come to our clubs around the world are a lot older. At these megaclubs in Vegas, people wait in lines and save up all their money all year to blow it in one day. We’ll have some of that, but most of our customers are CEOs or own companies,” Penrod said.

The high-end beach club and nightclub Penrod refers to might seem an odd fit inside the new Tropicana, which considers itself to be on par with middle-level resorts such as Luxor and Treasure Island.

Penrod said the hotel reached out to Nikki Beach during its South Beach renovations, and the company felt the hotel’s smaller size would be more attractive to its customers.

“We aren’t going to be the most expensive in town, but we will be more mature. A lot of these companies in town are really great operators but our brand is very specific,” Penrod said.

Other pool party operators on the Strip are in full swing and open a few weeks earlier than last year.

Wynn Resorts opened its Encore Beach Club a month early for its second season. Light Group has opened most of its venues and so has Angel Management Group.

The concept behind the dayclub is that nightclub/pool party customers will spend from day to night. But Nick McCabe, Angel’s vice president of strategy, said that isn’t always the case.

“We are starting to see two different types of consumers. You get people who prefer the daytime party and don’t want to party in the nightclubs and focus their spending during the day. And then you have the separate nightclub crowd,” McCabe said.

Angel is operating nine more venues in Las Vegas than it was this time last year, mostly because of its acquisition of Pure Management Group in September. In addition to WET Republic at MGM Grand, the company now operates the Venus Pool Club at Caesars Palace and Rehab, thanks to a deal with Hard Rock last summer.

“I think this season we’ll really see if this trend can sustain itself. There are so many new offerings that we’ll see if daylife can truly match nightlife,” McCabe said.

Rehab will open for its eighth season on April 17 — but without cameras for its canceled TruTV reality series this year. Whether Hard Rock’s new owners have toned down Rehab’s hardcore party image has yet to be seen.

This story originally appeared in our sister publication, VEGAS INC.
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