Wednesday, March 5, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Standing under scaffolding and in the rubble of a dust-strewn construction site 11 stories high above the Strip, one worries that there is no possible way it will all be transformed perfectly for a Memorial Day Weekend opening.
But nightlife czar Victor Drai promises me that he’ll be right on schedule: “We’re right on target with everything — 80 days to go, and it will then be the most beautiful nightclub you have ever seen.”
He would know, having created XS and Tryst at Steve Wynn’s Strip hotels Encore and Wynn, respectively. “Every idea I’ve had in my head almost the last 20 years of nightlife that I was never able to do before will now be done here,” he said.
Now “the King of Clubs” is taking on the challenge of building his own hotspot, which will be even larger than XS — and it will be the only rooftop dual-floor dayclub and nightclub on the Strip. It’s a 65,000-square-foot double venue split over two levels at the new Cromwell hotel transformed from Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon and before that the Barbary Coast.
The club’s cost is reportedly at $100 million, and the pools will require 59,466 gallons of water. It will open at the first standalone boutique hotel on the Strip with its 188 suites on Memorial Day Weekend that starts Friday, May 23.
Victor, 66, and I have known each other for 30 years from his early days in Los Angeles when he dated actress Jacqueline Bisset and was then married to actress Kelly LeBrock (“The Woman in Red,” “Weird Science”) as he produced Hollywood movies (“The Woman in Red,” “Weekend at Bernie’s”).
Playtime at his Drai’s restaurant in Hollywood was a far cry from the construction boots, jeans and the hardhat he wore to walk me over to the edge looking down on the Bellagio Fountains last Wednesday.
“We’re closer up here to the water than the guests in their hotel rooms,” he chuckled. Six dedicated elevators will each whisk 20 partygoers at a time from the Cromwell porte cochere and casino floor to the rooftop every 30 seconds.
A spectacular view complete with 10 magnificent palm trees welcomes them on arrival to the 11th floor before walking down to the 10th floor club and pool areas. By day, it’s so unobstructed, sun lovers will get the tanning rays from sunrise to sunset from the east and then the west.
Victor showed me where the luxury cabanas will be situated: “We have 25, each with their own luxury bathrooms. Ten of the VIP bungalows are on the top deck and 15 others on the mezzanine level. Some of them have their own pools. There’s one private pool just for five private bungalows.
“We have a total of 40 poolside daybeds. The main pool is divided into two big pools with a walkway between, but it’s higher than any other, so everybody can sit around. Otherwise, you’d lose that space, and it wouldn’t be fair for people who can’t afford a table. We had to build a very strong structure for all the water.”
The nightclub’s DJ booth will be outside for daytime party hours. Victor also has a special fireworks attraction. Every time a customer spends $5,000 or $20,000 on champagne or other drinks for his group, fireworks will shoot off from the 11th floor rooftop.
“For a $100,000 customer, they’ll get their own 10-minute firework show — whatever they want, whenever they want,” he said.
The dayclub will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. It will then close for three hours of cleaning, and the nightclub will reopen at 10 p.m. and run until 5 a.m. His 17-year Drai’s After Hours nightclub will remain with its former hours of 3 to 11 a.m. or noon if necessary when he reopens it after the Cromwell is completed.
Currently located in Bally’s, that space will become his new gay club Liaison. His new Indigo Lounge also is at Bally’s.
“I’m not changing very much of Drai’s After Hours. It will be the same as it was. We basically mothballed it knowing we’d reopen when the Cromwell opens. We’re ready for that the same week.”
For now, Victor is here full time. When the new club is open, he’ll shuttle back and forth to Los Angeles, where he has another Drai’s nightclub and is planning to open the old Nick Blair’s restaurant on Sunset Strip.
He’s genuinely excited about his new spectacular club: “We’ve designed this indoor/outdoor venue to make all guests feel like VIPs. Nobody in town has the stunning views we have. The $5 million lighting displays will be the most incredible ever seen in Las Vegas. The club is absolutely the star bathed in pink and black with the most incredible sound system in the world.”
“Our outdoor DJ booth will be a main focal point beneath a dramatic archway surrounded by billowing curtains. It’s the ultimate attention to details with each element at every vantage point,” he told me. “You’ll find iPhone chargers at your table.
“It really will be an unparalleled 24-hour party experience with exciting day and nightlife happenings 24/7 — and nobody else has that in Las Vegas.”
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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