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Closer Look

September 18, 2012

Prince Harry's naked escapades expose latest Las Vegas makeover


"It's been quite a lifestyle shift," Murren said in an interview. "Fewer people during the day are just hanging out by the pool. They want to do something different, and that's why these day clubs have been very profitable for us."

Las Vegas accounted for eight of the 10 top-grossing bars in the U.S. in 2011, according to the trade publication Nightclub and Bar and the consulting firm Technomic. At No. 1, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas's Marquee Day & Night Club, generated revenue of as much as $80 million.

"People are spending differently," Murren said. "The $500 bottles, they're less frequent, but the sheer volume of people that are willing to spend quite a bit of money has increased."

The Las Vegas club scene began to grow in significance in the 2000s when venues such as Light, a now-defunct disco at MGM's Bellagio, and Rain at the Palms Hotel began collecting cover charges and setting minimum food and beverage orders to reserve tables, according to Neil Moffitt, CEO of Angel Management Group, which will run Hakkasan.

Lately the focus is on exclusive contracts with internationally known disc jockeys. Wynn Resorts has signed agreements with 36 DJs, charging fans as much as $100 for a ticket to see Tiesto and deadmau5, who makes "more than Sinatra at his peak," CEO Steve Wynn told Rolling Stone magazine this year.

Advanced ticketing gives club operators a sense of how many people will show up on a particular night and makes the venues more accessible to the masses, according to Sean Christie, who manages such properties at Wynn Resorts. That's important as the size of the clubs and the number of people required to fill them has grown.

"The old days of holding the door and having a huge line to make the club look a certain way — that drove people away," Christie said. The beach club at Wynn's Encore cost $70 million, including its outdoor showers with stripper poles.

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