Thursday, April 18, 2013 | 9:46 a.m.
Approaching nearly $200 million, the new, highly anticipated nightlife venue Hakkasan Las Vegas officially celebrates its ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. today and is setting Las Vegas records before its gala opening a week from now.
How do you spend that kind of money? Well, the conversion of the former Studio 54 at MGM Grand into a five-story palace of pleasures for the ear and the palate is one way to start. That was a $100 million construction and decorating assignment. Ca-ching!
Then there’s the estimated $70 million for the first year of superstar DJ headliner salaries, with the biggest talents of the business booked for Hakkasan residencies. Ca-ching!
Add the costs of hiring, training and supervising a whopping 500 in staff to run the new “king of clubs.” Throw in advertising, marketing and PR campaigns, and top that with an elaborate array of opening parties spanning eight nights. Plus, the family and friends appreciation celebrations. Ca-ching, ca-ching!
Little wonder that Angel Management Group CEO Neil Moffitt, the British brains behind the temple of temptations, says, “Nothing can compete with Hakkasan. There’s nothing like it. It sets a precedent, and the needle is moved.”
Two years in the making, the staggering statistics for the den of delights are mind-blowing. The space measures 80,000 square feet. The White House could fit inside, with 25,000 square feet remaining. The layout of luxury is two restaurants and four nightclubs under one rooftop Asian garden with its own bar and DJ.
It’s long been rumored in Las Vegas nightlife circles that the club came about after a high-roller banker was refused his normal VIP booth at a rival Strip nightclub. He vowed that he’d open his own empire of entertainment not just to get even, but also to ensure that he always had his own table. Nobody has denied this victory of vengeance!
Studio 54 in New York jam-packed A-list celebrities -- Diana Ross, Jack Nicholson, Ryan O’Neal, Richard Gere, Gina Lollobrigida, Calvin Klein and Madonna -- onto its dance floor of decadence back in the late 1970s and mid-’80s. I was there opening night in Manhattan with Brooke Shields as my “date” reporting live for the then-fledgling CNN.
I’ll be there for opening night this evening as we come full circle. You can safely bet your last dollar that Hakkasan will host this time around even more headline names from the starry worlds of music, movies, TV and sports. Although the ribbon cutting is this afternoon and DJ Deadmau5 is unhooked tonight, the new Cantonese restaurant run by chef Ho Chee Boon won’t open until May 3.
Meantime, this weekend’s preview opening stars Hardwell on Friday night, The Bingo Players on Saturday and Tommy Trash on Sunday. The official grand opening a week later features Steve Aoki, Laidback Luke and the return of Deadmau5. And the third weekend with the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Robert Guerro fight? Tiesto, R3hab and Calvin Harris. Bob Sinclair, Nervo and more are still to come.
The list of luminaries behind the wheels of steel outshines anything anywhere in the world. This Mecca of music also is a crowning culinary creation. “By combining our nightlife and entertainment experience with such a reputable name in the culinary world has produced a venue that will provide an unforgettable experience for all. After all the intricate planning, we are thrilled to open,” Neil said.
Hakkasan began as a Chinese restaurant in London in 2001, and its success has cooked up a worldwide dining brand as one of the most successful modern restaurant concepts in the world. There are now two Hakkasan restaurants in London, plus, outposts in New York, Miami, San Francisco, Dubai, Mumbai and Abu Dhabi, where its property investment banker Tasameem is headquartered. The group owns other Asian restaurants from England to India. Hakkasan was the only Chinese restaurant in Europe to win a Michelin star.
Hakkasan Ltd. CEO Didier Souillat said: “Our partnership with Angel Management Group is an invaluable asset to our brand’s first venture into nightlife. It’s been a thrilling process to fuse our award-winning dining program with immersive nightlife elements to create an all-encompassing venue for our foray into Las Vegas.”
Let’s walk through the immense, five-level space inspired by classic Chinoiserie and reimagined for Las Vegas. It starts out with a blue-bathed entryway into a world away from slot machines and gaming tables. The lighting, sounds and scents provide a unique experience from sensual to relaxed.
On the first level is the main dining area separated by latticed woodwork known as “The Cage” that gives guests intimate dining spaces, yet still within the main room’s atmosphere. At the heart of the restaurant is the kitchen, a dramatic culinary theater and the center stage for Michelin-starred chef Boon and his team of wok and dim sum chefs.
Food critics from around the nation and ours here will rave about the stir-fried black pepper rib-eye beef with merlot and silver cod with champagne and Chinese honey. The private dining room on the second level overlooks the main room, giving guests a bird’s-eye view of the awe-inspiring Cage. Reservations are open and filling up fast.
On the third level, the first of the nightlife elements is unveiled. This is the Ling Ling Club, a 10,000-square-foot intimate experience where masters of mixology have Victoria’s Secret models and beauty pageant winners lifting libations. On the fourth level is the main nightclub with oversized VIP booths surrounding the dance floor. One will always be open for the high-rolling banker who has taken the ultimate gamble in Las Vegas!
The design is cutting edge with a custom DJ booth at the dance-floor forefront and a suspended performance area all wrapped with floor-to-ceiling LED screens. Alongside the main nightclub is The Pavilion cleverly created as an outdoor Asian garden. Its waterfall set in lush foliage is a two-story wonder.
The fifth-level mezzanine is more private and VIP with semi-private rooms that still have access to the dance zones. The only way to describe this paradise playground is “beyond bold.” It’s the ultimate creation for AMG that also oversees Wet Republic at MGM Grand, Pure at Caesars Palace, Chateau Nightclub & Gardens in Paris Las Vegas, Social House in Crystals CityCenter, plus, other entertainment nightspots in Atlantic City and the Bahamas.
Here’s the Royal Robin Rundown:
Thursday, April 18: Grammy-nominated Deadmau5.
Friday, April 19: Dutch producer DJ Hardwell.
Saturday, April 20: Electronic Dutch dance duo Bingo Players (Paul Baumer and Maarten Hoogstraten).
Sunday, April 21: Grammy-nominated Tommy Trash (Thomas Olsen).
Grand Opening Weekend
Thursday, April 25: Headline DJ Steve Aoki debuts the first of his six Neon Future parties, a futuristic world of electronic sounds and hard-hitting beats.
Friday, April 26: Deadmau5 returns.
Saturday, April 27: Resident headliner and Grammy winner Calvin Harris partners with GQ Magazine for the first full-blown, celebrity opening party.
Sunday, April 28: Dutch DJ Laidback Luke (Luke van Scheppingen) debuts his “Revolt” event series exclusively created for Hakkasan Las Vegas.
Mayweather vs. Guerrero Fight Weekend
Thursday, May 2: Rising Dutch DJ and producer R3hab (remix artist for Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez).
Friday, May 3: Heavyweight DJ legend and producer Tiesto launches his exclusive “Club Life” residency.
Saturday, May 4: Calvin Harris returns.
Sunday, May 5: Tiesto returns.
As Las Vegas nightlife changes in an extraordinary and mind-shattering way, I will be live tonight on Twitter @robin_leach, then we’ll wrap up the first four-day weekend with photos and reports on Monday.
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.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
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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.