Let’s cut to the chase. Will it be easy or hard to park/valet at the new SLS Las Vegas? Are the clubs good? Will they be affordable to all of us or only to corporate credit card groups?
I have tentative answers after touring the three beautiful, boutique-y nightclubs and two pretty pools right before SLS was set to open, at midnight Friday, while interviewing Mio Danilovic, vice president of nightlife operations.
Question: If you’re going to have locals, then how’s the parking here? One good thing about being on this Sahara Avenue part of Las Vegas Boulevard is it’s not Flamingo Road, which is the devil.
Answer: Our valets are ready. We have self-park off of Paradise. We’re really trying to account for all the cars. (And) you can take the tram. The tram ends here.
Q: You have two big things to think about. One: How are you going to accommodate 8 gazillion people at first? And two: How do you keep some net-number of that, long term?
A: Quality. Giving them a wonderful experience. Treating them with that love. We did that at Hyde Bellagio. (Danilovic has overseen Hyde Bellagio for three years.)
We know the product we’re providing is great. The key is to get them here, show them a wonderful experience, and we guarantee they’ll be back.
And we’re positioning ourselves, pricewise. Both in the clubs and the restaurants, you have an offering that’s very approachable. You can buy a gourmet pizza for $10. You can buy cocktails like you can at any other locals casino.
We’re not comparing ourselves pricewise to the Bellagio or the Wynn. We’re comparing ourselves to a locals approach. That’s going to be our backbone. That’s who we want to have here.
Q: What have you learned from Hyde Bellagio that you’ve brought here to SLS?
A: Working at Hyde allowed me to really learn the ins and outs of the city and get to know people, which is the No. 1 thing. “Who do you know?” “Do they like you as an operator?” “And are your respected in town?” Because if you’re not, a lot of people won’t help you out.
Q: Your clubs have a lot of booths (with prices like $1,500, $2,000, $5,000 and $15,000). When you have booths like this, it sounds to me you’re very confident in the recovery of the economy.
A: We’ve seen a big upswing in the economy here in Vegas. You look at the competition, you look at what people are doing, and you try to provide a product that’s more fun and just better.
And there’s a lot of people who like to spend their money, especially in this town.
Then you’ve got a lot of gamblers, some very successful ones, and they obviously like to show off, so we’ll take it.
Q: The last time my girlfriend and I went to Hakkasan, we went to the bar and stood in line for 10 minutes and didn’t make any progress. They had two bartenders for, like, 100 people.
Doesn’t it make more sense to just have more bartenders and make more money?
A: It’s not just Hakkasan. Around town, you see a lot of places like that.
Every inch of the bar is going to be maximized. We train our bar staff and our bar backs and our cocktails to immediately recognize the customer and work really fast to get you what you want.
We’re not going to save on five house employees, on the budget. We’d rather put them on the bar and make sure they’re pumping out drinks and satisfying customers.
Q: I said this to Hakkasan, but they didn’t do it. Why can’t you sell drinks to people in line waiting to get in the club?
A: A lot of issues come up (at other clubs) because you can’t sell until you check their IDs, to make sure they’re 21.
But here, since (general admission clubbers) will walk through a long hallway, we’re going to check IDs at the front and put a bar outside and sell cocktails and shots out there, so you’re not waiting forever.
So, thanks for the idea, but we’re right there with you.
Doug Elfman’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.