Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 | 4:30 p.m.
Rival nightclub owners are stunned with the megabucks war the new monster venue Hakkasan is waging at MGM Grand. The restaurant and nightclub is nearing completion of a $100 million-plus makeover of the ex-Studio 54 space into the world’s largest and most luxurious entertainment and dining experience.
Hakkasan was set to open for New Year’s but now is planned for early spring because of even more luxurious additions. It started the Las Vegas superstar DJ wars by signing four worldwide toppers, including DeadMau5 and Tiesto, to two-year deals in a $65-million-plus contract package.
“I’m going to be completely candid,” one Las Vegas nightclub operator told me. “Several of the clubs have been talking among ourselves, and we can’t compete with their numbers. There’s no way any of us could make money and throw these sky-high contracts up to steal the DJs they’ve got.
“They’re cleaning up the entire market. They’e going to take all the top staff from every club in town. They will completely change nightlife business in Las Vegas. They’re going to put several clubs out of business; not just one, but several!
“But what’s more incredible is how can they make money themselves with these kind of costs. Where are all the people coming from to put butts in seats, as we say? Who is throwing this kind of giant money around today? Perhaps the bigger question is why it’s being thrown around?!”
Hakkasan was created by 50-year-old Hong Kong restaurateur Alan Yau, who moved to England when he was 12 and barely able to speak English. Today, he owns a chain of Thai restaurants, Chinese noodle bars and the ever-growing, Michelin-starred Hakkasan empire with venues in London, Mumbai, the Middle East, Miami, New York , San Francisco and soon in L.A.
The 75,000-square-feet, five-floor Las Vegas platinum playpen is so huge with its restaurant, lounge, nightclub and daypool components that it will require 500 staff members, with a seven-day job fair starting Jan. 14. The property boasts rich interiors and distinctive modern Chinoiserie for a luxurious contemporary environment.
It’s a venture with Angel Management Group, which operates Pure and Venus adult pool at Caesars Palace, Tabu Ultra Lounge and Wet Republic at MGM Grand, LAX and Savile Row at the Luxor, Coyote Ugly and Dick’s Last Resort at New York-New York and Social House in Crystals at CityCenter.
But now for the ultimate Wicked Whisper & Racy Rumor! Las Vegas nightlife insiders have begun asking about the fortune involved in the huge construction costs and giant star DJ paychecks -- “Where is it all coming from?” one highly reliable insider asked, and then he gave me the amazing answer, which has been confirmed by another knowledgeable source.
“The Hakkasan venture is bankrolled and backed by a mega-wealthy Middle East billionaire. He was a regular high roller at another luxurious Las Vegas nightspot but became disgruntled when he was turned down for a specific table that he wanted one night. He said he was disrespected; he said he’d open his own place to teach them a lesson.
“So he backed the project and told Angel Management that it didn’t matter how much it took to make the Hakkasan project in Las Vegas the best in the world. He said it was an unlimited budget. He wanted to ensure that his previous nightclub hangout knew they’d done the wrong thing by him.
“He’s going to ensure whatever it costs that they learn a lesson. He will have the best club in the world, and nobody will ever match it. He wants the world’s top, best DJs, and he’s got them in contracts to ensure nobody else can have them.
“All because they wouldn’t give him the table he wanted. Incredible! Only in Vegas! We are the Nightlife Capital of the World, and now he’ll have the biggest and best of the lot.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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MGM Grand, a AAA Four Diamond resort, offers 5,044 rooms and suites.
MGM Grand features KÀ by Cirque du Soleil; Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club; and world-class entertainment at the Grand Garden Arena and Hollywood Theatre.
The resort offers signature restaurants by celebrity chefs including Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill and Michelin three star and Forbes Five Star restaurant, Joël Robuchon.
As part of its ongoing “Grand Renovation,” MGM Grand has remodeled all rooms and suites in its main tower and is adding several new experiences to its lineup including Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub, a new upscale dining/nightlife concept (coming in April 2013).
MGM Grand also features a state-of-the-art, non-smoking conference center, the Grand Spa, Cristophe Salon, "CSI: The Experience" and an inviting pool complex featuring the tantalizing daylife of Wet Republic.
Upscale accommodations include The Mansion, an exclusive hotel within the hotel; the luxurious two-story SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand; and The Signature at MGM Grand, a luxury all-suite, non-gaming hotel located adjacent to the main resort.