How dayclubs became integral part of Las Vegas party scene

Ten thousand dollars means different things to different people, especially in Las Vegas.

For some, it’s a car to take them to work. For others, it’s a shiny piece of jewelry. In some casinos, it’s a pair of chocolate brown $5,000 chips. And in 2003 at the Hard Rock Hotel, it was the total amount of liquor sales at the resort’s sprawling pool complex on an average summer Sunday. Today, at several pools in Las Vegas, $10,000 dollars is the bare minimum a patron should be prepared to spend if he or she wants to be considered a “baller,” the highest level of partyer in the big-money world of Las Vegas dayclubs.

“When you call (a dayclub), it might be listed as $7,000 to get that celebrity cabana,” Nightclub & Bar magazine editor David Klemt explains. “But we all know it’s going to cost you $10,000 or $13,000.”

What you get for that money, of course, is more than the basic tentlike lean-tos that once passed for luxury digs at Las Vegas pools. Today’s most coveted cabanas are more reminiscent of small luxury apartments, complete with refrigerators, flat-screen TVs and video games. Some have their own hot tubs or private pools. And someone is always nearby to mix drinks from pricey bottles of liquor or uncork even pricier bottles of Champagne.

To be sure, one doesn’t need to spend that kind of cash to have an amazing time at a dayclub.

“That’s a really big misconception,” Tao Group’s Jason Strauss insists. “There’s different tiers of availability. Anybody can come into these venues and pay a standard cover charge, which is usually in the range of $40 to $60.”

Truth be told, on a slow day without a well-known DJ on the bill, if you buy your ticket in advance, you can get into some clubs for even less. But the big spenders are becoming more commonplace.

“If you get a $20,000 tab, no one is surprised anymore,” says Joe Bravo, the Hard Rock’s director of nightlife and daylife.

‘It’ll never work’

How did we get from those $10,000 Sundays to an industry that generates hundreds of millions of dollars over a 20-week season? It all started in 2004 with Chad Pallas, then the Hard Rock’s executive director of nightlife.

“I was going to Lake Mead every weekend because I had bought a pontoon boat,” Pallas recalls. “And I was driving back one weekend thinking I can’t keep doing this.”

That same day, Pallas got a call from a group of exotic dancers who wanted to get into the Hard Rock Pool but weren’t allowed in without a room key.

“Why don’t we not only let girls like them in,” he remembers thinking, “but also get outsiders to pay to get in?”

The answer was a Sunday pool party called Rehab, aimed primarily at nightlife industry workers starting their weekend.

“I remember getting invited to the first Rehab, and it may have been Chad Pallas who called me,” Bravo says. He had just finished a Saturday night shift as a doorman at Studio 54. “And I said ‘Dude, it’s 114; the last thing anybody wants to do is drink booze in 114 degrees. This is crazy. It’ll never work.”

‘Something kind of naughty’

But Rehab did more than just work. In its first summer it grossed $1.5 million, nearly four times Pallas’ goal. By 2008, that figure was $9 million.

Imitators quickly followed. The Palms launched Ditch Fridays, which targeted out-of-towners to fill an otherwise slow pool day.

“It became a cool marketing ploy,” Klemt says. “On Thursday in L.A. at work, you should plan to be calling out on Friday because you’re on the road coming to the Palms.”

In 2007, The Venetian saw the potential in turning over a portion of its pool complex to an independent club promoter.

“Tao Beach was the first dayclub experience that was fully, seven days a week, dedicated to that sophisticated high-energy experience,” Strauss says. “We were really the first to make an actual venue out of it.”

From there, the investments got bigger and bigger. MGM Grand and Wynn-Encore built Wet Republic and the Encore Beach Club from the ground up to serve exclusively as dayclubs. In 2014, Marquee took the dayclub year-round by erecting a dome over its pool. And one of the most anticipated aspects of Station Casinos’ renovations of the Palms is its top-secret dayclub, which is under construction and not expected to open until the 2019 season.

“There’s something kind of naughty about partying during the day,” Klemt says, when asked to explain the phenomenon. “This is what rich people back in the day used to do, have lives of leisure and drink during the day. And now we can do it.”

The next wave

What does the future of dayclubs hold? Here are a few predictions.

Communal cabanas: What if VIP treatment was inclusive rather than exclusive? That’s the idea behind Tao nightclub’s recent introduction of a communal VIP area with shared bottle service.

“Tao has a section that’s roped off,” Nightclub & Bar magazine editor David Klemt explains. “It is a VIP section, but it’s not your VIP section. It has a (certain) capacity, and you can buy into it. It’s good for single tourists who want to see what a Vegas nightclub is but don’t want to be general admission.”

He believes the idea could easily spread to pools, “because a communal cabana setup isn’t a terrible idea.”

Live music: DJs have always ruled the dayclub scene, growing more and more prominent as EDM has exploded in Las Vegas. But Strauss thinks they may soon cede a bit of their stranglehold over pool entertainment to live performers from other genres.

“I think live performances from real notable and relevant performers will start coming more and more during the day. Because much like nightlife, the genres of music are becoming much more diverse, in the form of pop and hip-hop and Latin, and not only electronic music.”

Double-decker cabanas: Klemt reports that Omnia’s sister property in Los Cabos, Mexico, recently debuted two-story cabanas. Is that a preview of what the Hakkasan Group property has planned for its Las Vegas dayclubs?

“I expect that to come here eventually,” he says. “Wet Republic will have to have a multilevel, almost condo for you to party in at the pool. And then the rest of them will have to have it too.”

Year-round parties: While Marquee Dayclub wasn’t open during the most recent offseason, its previous year-round parties under a tent were seen as successful by the Tao Group. As a result, a lot of people expect other pool parties to begin operating during the cold weather as well.

“I will guarantee you that the upcoming new dayclubs in this market are all going to try to grab that piece of the business,” Tao Group’s Jason Strauss predicts, “because it was so successful at the Cosmo.”

Contact Al Mancini at 702-387-5250 or amancini Follow @AlManciniVegas on Twitter.

Entertainment Videos
Andrew Carmean will be the only local participant in upcoming demolition derby
Andrew Carmean, a demolition driver, will be the only local participant in upcoming derby at the Plaza Hotel. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masso Osteria first anniversary in Las Vegas
Scott Conant was in town Tuesday to host a one-year anniversary party for his Red Rock Resort restaurant Masso Osteria.
Baked Alaska a specialty at Favorite Bistro in Las Vegas
Award-winning pastry chef Claude Escamilla makes Baked Alaska with strawberry sorbet and vanilla gelato and flames it at Favorite Bistro at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Chili cooks face fierce and friendly competition at Nevada cook-off
Forty chili cooks competed in the Nevada State Chili Cookoff in Pahrump on Sunday, March 17, 2019, with the winners advancing to the World Championship Chili Cook-off in Des Moines, Iowa. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Arcade ‘speakeasy’ leads to secret door and Banksy art in Las Vegas
Arcade ‘speakeasy’ leads to secret door, Banksy art in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hazel in Las Vegas serves modern takes on traditional cocktails
Hazel serves modern takes on traditional cocktails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas celebrates St. Patrick's Day
Tonight the city lit the Welcome sign green, McMullan's Irish Pub and the Guinness store also prepare for this weekend's St. Patrick's Day festivities. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Reuben sandwich at Served in Henderson, near Las Vegas
Matthew Meyer, chef/owner of Served, makes a Reuben sandwich with house-brined corned beef, house-made sauerkraut and gooey melted cheese at his restaurant in Henderson, outside Las Vegas. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Las Vegas day club season returns with big-name DJs
Rick Ross, March 23, at Daylight Beach Club at Mandalay Bay The Chainsmokers, March 30, at Encore Beach Club Marshmello, April 6, Kaos Dayclub at the Palms Chuckie, May 11, Marquee Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Calvin Harris, May 11, Wet Republic at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Pizza expert Chris Bianco makes meatballs in Las Vegas
Chris Bianco, who was the keynote speaker at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, demonstrates meatball making for expo attendees. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas pulmonologist talks about new movie dealing with cystic fibrosis
Dr. Craig Nakamura, Director of Cystic Fibrosis Center of Southern Nevada, talks about the upcoming romantic drama “Five Feet Apart” where both of the lead characters suffer from cystic fibrosis. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
World Pizza Champion crowned in Las Vegas
At the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Italian pizzaiolo Federico De Silvestri took the top prize and more than $12,000. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Italian wins Pizza Maker of the Year at Pizza Expo
Federico De Silvestri of Verona, Italy, wins the finals in the non-traditional pizza category during the International Pizza Challenge at the International Pizza Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center Thursday, March 7, 2019. De Silvestri went on to beat winners from each of the four other categories — traditional, pan, pizza Napoletana and Roman — to win Pizza Maker of the Year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Good Pie Coming To Arts District
Local pizzaiolo Vincent Rotolo says Good Pie is coming to the Arts District. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Local comedian says "It's ok to laugh, ...the comedy club is dark."
K-Von, a half-Persian comedian, talks about his style of comedy which keeps audiences entertained.
Pizza Dough Throwing Competition
Contestants participate in the World Pizza Games at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Wednesday night. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
World Pizza Games showcased in Las Vegas
The World Pizza Games, part of the International Pizza Expo, drew competitors from all over the world to Las Vegas to compete in events such as dough stretching and box folding. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Pizza competitors dazzle at international expo
The International Pizza Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center included the first rounds of the World Pizza Games. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas showcases products and trends
At the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, vegan and gluten-free menu choices and compostable packaging were highlighted, as well as Detroit-style and Roman-style pizza. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Chef Dan Krohmer talks about a new restaurant
Chef Dan Krohmer talks about the construction of his new restaurant at Fremont Street’s Fergusons Downtown complex in downtown Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Neon Museum lights up the Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign
The Neon Museum in Las Vegas flipped the switch on its latest acquisition Monday night, the Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
A Taste of Eataly Las Vegas
Executive Chef Nicole Brisson gives a tour around Eataly Las Vegas, located in the Park MGM. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Order a pretty purple cocktail at North Italia in Las Vegas
Order a pretty purple cocktail at North Italia in Las Vegas (Janna Karel/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Towering triple decker sandwich at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas
Jonah Resnick, executive chef of Sadelle’s, the newest restaurant at Bellagio in Las Vegas, serves a daunting concoction of roast beef layered with house-made cole slaw, turkey and more cole slaw, on rye bread. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Paris Las Vegas Debuts New Eiffel Tower Light Show
The Paris in Las Vegas unveiled its latest Eiffel Tower light show, Wednesday evening. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video: Las Vegas Omelet House Marks 40th anniversary
Omelet House at Charleston Boulevard and Rancho Drive in Las Vegas, which opened in 1979, is a locals’ favorite, known for fluffy six-egg omelets. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Golden Knights' Ryan Reaves readying new beer
Ryan Reaves, a forward with the Golden Knights, has plans for a second beer, a lager, through his 7Five Brewing Co. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Bellagio Adds Lady Gaga To The Fountain Playlist
Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” has been added to the rotation of classic tunes played for the dancing waters at Lake Bellagio. The song debuted at 6 p.m. Monday. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Comedian uses laughter to bring understanding about AIDS
Comedian Brandon Cox Sanford talks about how he uses his comedy sketches to bring light to his AIDS diagnosis. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
20th anniversary of the House of Blues in Las Vegas
Sasha Rincon-Camacho, regional marketing director, talks about the 20th anniversary of the House of Blues in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Home Front Page Footer Listing