A&E

Tao Group’s Hakkasan acquisition will reverberate across Las Vegas and beyond

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Photo: Wade Vandervort

Forget zero to 60. The Las Vegas nightlife scene is going from nonexistent to overwhelming.COVID-19 restrictions are finally loosening up, enough to allow dayclubs and nightclubs to return to regular operations in time for an explosive summer season. And brand-new venues at Resorts World Las Vegas, Virgin Hotels Las Vegas and the Sahara are preparing to steal the spotlight when they open in the coming months.

The cherry on top is the recent merger of Tao Group and Hakkasan Group, two hospitality giants that have shaped the industry in Las Vegas and around the world for years. Tao’s acquisition of Hakkasan was announced on April 28, creating a new company with 61 entertainment, dining and nightlife venues in 22 markets across five continents.

Operations at all Las Vegas Hakkasan venues will continue to be led by that company’s executive team. That means it will be business as usual for the foreseeable future, ensuring the same service and customer experience.

“It should only be better,” says Tao Group partner Jason Strauss. “We both have many years in this business of developing best practices, and we’re going to share those with each other and hold each other accountable in continuing to grow and improve. That should only elevate the experience for the guest.”

Hakkasan executive vice president of entertainment James Algate says the new company’s massive portfolio will create a comprehensive experience for Vegas visitors that can’t be duplicated. “We’re going to be able to service our guests like we’ve never been able to before, because guests can come to us from Thursday night onwards, and we have multiple venues to go to every day and night through their whole stay,” he says. “That’s an incredibly compelling offering.”

Here’s what the combined company offers in Las Vegas: Beauty & Essex restaurant and Marquee dayclub and nightclub at the Cosmopolitan; the newly opened Casa Calavera restaurant at Virgin; Hakkasan restaurant and nightclub, Wet Republic dayclub and the Level Up lounge at MGM Grand; Jewel nightclub and Liquid dayclub at Aria; Lavo restaurant at Palazzo; Omnia nightclub and Searsucker restaurant at Caesars Palace; and the flagship Tao restaurant, lounge, beach club and nightclub at Venetian.

Once business levels ramp up at the club venues, the Strip could see headlining DJs and artists from Hakkasan brands bouncing back and forth to Tao brands. Algate says collaborative programming like that is “certainly something we’ve discussed, and we’re not against it. We want to make sure we’ve got artists in the correct rooms and give them a choice as well. It’s definitely a unique opportunity for those artists to be able to play across the entire portfolio, not only in Las Vegas but further afield.”

Indeed, the national and international ramifications of the deal could be even more impactful for the global hospitality industry. As competitors, the two companies have remained in various stages of expansion in recent years, with Tao branching out from its home base in New York to conquer LA, Chicago, Singapore and Australia. Hakkasan has a significant presence in Miami, London, Los Cabos, Shanghai and the Middle East.

“To tie it back, when we have that kind of international reach altogether, it’s a driving force to bring people to Las Vegas, because people will know and become fans of these brands and experiences. And when they’re thinking about where to travel for leisure or business, Las Vegas will be a prime destination, because they can come experience things they are loyal to in other markets,” Strauss says. “It’s a big win for Vegas and for us, because our goal is always to drive people to the main markets we call home.”

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