In Las Vegas, bigger is always better. That's why last week's opening of MGM Grand's new mega-club Hakkasan has all of Sin City and those who love it watching.
There is no Vegas night-life venue quite as large as this five-story, 7400-square-metre space. It's a glitzy, all-inclusive playground featuring a Michelin-starred modern Cantonese restaurant, a massive nightclub with elaborate cocktail lounges and an Oriental Pavilion with a two-story waterfall. And it's not just for show - Hakkasan has lined up an A-list roster of resident DJs including Tiesto, Calvin Harris and Steve Aoki.
Hakkasan is so massive and elaborate that MGM Grand President Scott Sibella says it has changed the entire game for the MGM Grand hotel and casino.
"It puts MGM back on the map. It's a game changer for us because it's a very high-end club," says Sibella. "So it's attracting that high-end customer that wasn't coming here before because we didn't have such a club. You can see room rates are up, occupancy is up, restaurant covers are up. And it's only been open a week."
Hakkasan has been about four years in the making. It's the work of Hakkasan Ltd. and Angel Management Group. Hakkasan operates one of the most successful modern Chinese restaurant concepts in the world with locations in London, New York, Miami and Dubai. AMG claims to be the largest night-life entertainment group in North America and has excellent, long-standing relationships with many of electronic dance music's most in-demand talent.
"DJs are no longer DJs, they are producers selling millions of records and collaborating with artists in different genres of music," AMG CEO Neil Moffitt says. "As this music becomes more popular, just turning up and DJing isn't enough anymore. The customer will be looking for more engagement and creativity. We will work as hard as the DJ works to create a show that's unique."
Hakkasan is attractive to DJs, says Moffitt, because the club provides the services of a full technical team to build a thematic night out of lights, sound and other effects. Costumed dancers and models are in abundance and the general vibe of the club is one targeting sensory overload.
Moffitt also points out that no other Vegas nightclub is anchored by a Michelin-starred restaurant. In Vegas fine dining is big business, and the Hakkasan brand - with its sleek, angular furnishings, including futuristic, lighted dining wooden cages - was a natural fit for such an undertaking. The idea is that going to dinner in Vegas no longer has to be a separate activity that is followed by the question of where to go and what to do for the rest of the night. Once you enter Hakkasan, Moffitt and Sibella hope you won't leave until morning.
"We're going through quite a renovation and evolution," says Sibella of the hotel and casino. "We just completed a $US165 million ($A161 million) room renovation, and in the meantime Hakkasan was being built. We want to create one-stop shopping and be the kings of entertainment."
Moffitt says that no cost was spared in creating the club, although he won't confirm the rumored $US200 million price tag published in the Las Vegas Sun. Either way, Hakkasan stands poised to give the other city's mega-clubs, including the lavish Marquee nightclub at the Cosmopolitan and Surrender at the Wynn, a run for their money. However, ultimately, says Sibella, all boats should rise together because of Hakkasan upping the game.
"It's just another reason to come to Las Vegas," he says, adding that the city increasingly sees much of its revenue coming from entertainment, even more so than from gaming. That's how powerful the EDM scene has become in Las Vegas, and Sibella sees it as a movement that will continue at least for another decade.
But for now, after a week of previews, the club is just gearing up for its grand opening weekend featuring Steve Aoki, Calvin Harris, Deadmau5 and Laidback Luke.
"We're still working out how to operate an 7400-square-metre nightclub," says Moffitt. "But I can't go to anyone and ask them for advice because it's never been done before."
HAKKASAN LAS VEGAS RESTAURANT AND NIGHTCLUB
Where: MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas
Hours: All night, Thursdays to Sundays. The restaurant opens May 3 and serves dinner from 5 to 11 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays and from 5 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Price: Ticket prices for shows vary but generally range from $US30 to $US75.
Info: +1 (702) 891-3838; www.hakkasanlv.com