Wynn Las Vegas club named No. 1

Steve Wynn, Victor Drai and twin brothers Cy and Jesse Waits have reason to raise a champagne toast to their XS success.

Barely a year old, the megaclub at Encore at Wynn Las Vegas has been named the No. 1 club in the nation. Sister club Tryst finished fifth.

The Las Vegas nightclub industry not only swept the first five spots — Tao at The Venetian was second, Pure at Caesars Palace, third; and The Bank at Bellagio, fourth — but almost one-fourth of the Top 100 were local clubs.

Drai, in an interview with Vegas Confidential on Friday, said the idea for XS came after Tryst put up stunning numbers when Wynn Las Vegas opened six years ago.

"Tryst was such a success Steve wanted to do one for Encore," said Drai, who had recruited the Waits brothers to help operate Tryst.

Drai, who grew up in Paris and experienced the party vibe of the French Riviera, sold Wynn on the idea of an inside-outside concept, featuring a pool in good-weather months.

"The outside element is very important," he said. "We ended up grossing over $100 million between the two clubs."

XS raked in an astounding $70 million. Drai said the biggest nightclub success story of the past decade was Light nightclub (now The Bank) at Bellagio.

"They were doing $12 (million) to $15 million. Then Pure came in around $40 million, and then we came along and blew all these numbers away."

The awards will be presented March 8 during the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas.

"Clearly, Las Vegas maintains its dominance as a nightclub destination," said David Henkes, vice president of Technomic, the Chicago-based hospitality market research firm that partners with Nightclub & Bar magazine on The Top 100.

They team up to provide the industry’s only ranking of leading nightclub, bar and lounge venues based on total revenue.

Las Vegas had seven clubs in the Top 10. LAX at the Luxor was ninth and Jet at The Mirage was 10th.

The other locals that made the list:

11. Lavo at the Palazzo. 12. Body English at the Hard Rock Hotel, now closed.) 13. Moon at the Palms. 14. Ghostbar at the Palms. 16. Drai’s After Hours at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall. 28. Christian Audigier at Treasure Island. 31. The Playboy Club at the Palms. 32. Rumjungle at Mandalay Bay. 36. Rain at the Palms. 37. Blush at the Wynn. 45. Studio 54 at MGM Grand. 49. Krave at Planet Hollywood. 52. Stoney’s Rocking Country. 94. Tabu Ultra Lounge at MGM Grand.

In other nightclub news, Gilley’s is coming back, bull and all.

A Las Vegas cousin of the famous Texas saloon opens April 16 in a new home, Treasure Island, and with a new mechanical bull ready to take on all comers.

The popular country honky-tonk was a huge attraction at the New Frontier for years until owner Phil Ruffin sold it and bought Treasure Island for $775 million.

It will be going in the former Tangerine nightclub space now occupied by Christian Audigier the Nightclub, which overlooks the Sirens of T.I. gunbattle.

Treasure Island is holding a Gilley’s job fair Feb. 10-12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in its convention area. All attendees must complete an online application (http://careers-treasureisland.icims.com/jobs/intro) before attending.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

As a massive fan of tapas, I was sorry to hear that Café Ba-Ba-Reeba at Fashion Show mall is closing Feb. 15. The ChicagoTribune.com food Web site, The Stew, reported the news Friday. Parent company Lettuce Entertain You has plans to put a Mexican restaurant in the Strip-front space. … Larry Johnson, the Cincinnati Bengals running back, is the guest DJ at Drai’s After Hours on Saturday. … Speaking of the Rebels, Imperial Palace headliners Human Nature, the Aussie icons, are singing the national anthem today for the UNLV-BYU showdown at Thomas & Mack Arena. Get there early.

THE PUNCH LINE

"Last night I had a horrible dream that I was riding to work in a Toyota and Rip Torn was driving." — David Letterman

Norm Clarke can be reached at (702) 383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.

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