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Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 | 11:28 p.m.
There were tears at 10:30 this morning when nightlife kingpin Victor Drai finally said “time to close” the doors and turn off the lights. His 16-year-run of the extraordinarily successful Drai’s After Hours at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon had come to an end -- a temporary end.
Drai’s will now be mothballed for 15 months as the building above the basement club is transformed into a new, chic boutique hotel reportedly run by the swank Gansevoort Hotel from Manhattan’s trendy and hip Meatpacking District.
“It was the biggest night of business we did since we opened,” Victor told me. “It was very sweet. I was touched that people just stood there with tears running down their face. They didn’t want to leave.
“But we will be back, I promise. First, we hope within a week to confirm that we will have a temporary Drai’s at Bally’s until the new hotel reopens.
“Then we will open the two new floors atop the existing structure with the best pool daytime club on The Strip and a breathtaking nightclub. We’ll be closer to the Bellagio Fountains than the rooms at the Bellagio themselves!”
Caesars Entertainment will spend $185 million on the conversion -- $20 million just for the new furnishings in the rooms. Check out my Las Vegas Sun colleague Ron Sylvester’s story of today’s hotel closing. The casino will be updated and will include a new porte-cochere entrance on Flamingo. A new second-floor restaurant from a prestigious L.A. group also will be added.
Victor and I go back 25-years to his original Drai’s restaurant in Hollywood when he was dating English actress Jacqueline Bissett and making movies such as “The Man With One Red Shoe” starring Tom Hanks.
He showed me the renderings of his new 65,000-square-foot rooftop club complex. It is stunning, and he vows that it will be completely unique from what he created for Steve Wynn with Tryst at the Wynn and XS at the Encore.
“The clubs will open spring of next year. I will have Drai’s reopened in the basement for New Year’s Eve. Nothing will be changed. We’ll freshen up all the fabrics, the furnishings, the carpets, but it will be identical to the way we close it tonight.”
He plans to keep the temporary Drai’s space at Bally’s, but with a new concept unique to The Strip that I’m sworn to secrecy about for now.
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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