Wednesday, May 21, 2014 | 5:05 p.m.
When nightlife czar Victor Drai opens the doors this Memorial Day Weekend to Drai’s Beach Club and Nightclub, his luxurious rooftop palatial playpen at the new Cromwell boutique hotel, it’s more than a 10-year dream come true.
“Ever since I opened my After Hours club in the basement, I always thought the roof would make the perfect place for a nightclub,” he told me during an advance private tour Tuesday afternoon ahead of today’s ribbon cutting at the Cromwell. “I dreamed it, I plotted it, I created it in my mind.”
“I made the dream come true. But it’s become far more than I ever dreamed. It’s become bigger. It’s become better. It’s become more incredible.
“The end result is that there is no other club in America like this one — maybe not anywhere else in the world. Nobody can duplicate this; I couldn’t even do it. This will change the face of tourism in Las Vegas. We now have a reason — an attraction, a super club — to be open year round.
“I maybe could build similar on a beach right by an ocean. But even there I couldn’t guarantee the weather 11 months of the year. There’d be rain. I wouldn’t have anything this massive at 65,000 square feet on a beach anywhere.
“Tell me where you have 40 million visitors a year? Everywhere else in the world is seasonal. Maybe three months tops. Here in Las Vegas, we are the only destination with year-round visitors. Now with this club, even more will be coming to see it.
“I am confident because there is no other place like this in the world. We will be No. 1. I have built it for the next 10 years. Nobody in Las Vegas can do what we have created here.”
There is no question that Victor and his Drai’s Beach Club and Nightclub are perched atop the Cromwell as reigning royalty at the crossroads of the busiest boulevard in the world. The Cromwell is a complete transformation of the former Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon.
My pal Larry Ruvo of Southern Wine & Spirits, who also received a sneak-preview tour, said: “Victor has created something absolutely extraordinary. It is definitely unique and will have people from all over the world coming here in awe and disbelief.”
Six dedicated high-speed elevators whisk party guests up to the 11th floor arrival area where two richly decorated hallways divide — one into the sprawling nightclub zone and the other out onto the beach club. Guests depart from the 10th floor so that there’s no elevator traffic congestion.
The nightclub opens to the north with majestic and stunning views extending right up to the Red Rock Mountains. The curved walkway to the dayclub opens onto the dual views of the Bellagio Fountains and the Caesars Palace forecourts. It’s unobstructed, which means the sun shines by day and the stars and moon glow by night.
“I wanted the perfect flow for everything the moment you walked into the club,” Victor told me. “Everywhere you look, it is a take-your-breath-away moment. You can see all the detail right down to the plants around the palm trees. It’s amazing what you can do when you have money to spend!”
The 4,500 platinum party people are entertained from two DJ booth, one at a white-curtained archway outdoors and another monster booth in the 30-foot-plus-high-ceilinged two-floor nightclub. There are seven control-table operators behind DJs for extraordinary visuals on the 270-degree wraparound video walls — and the first-ever ceiling video panels I’ve seen. This is master control for everything from special effects to fireworks displays to light-up-the-night skies.
VIP tables, booths and seating areas around the dance floor are complemented with private balcony areas all with black imitation-crocodile coverings highlighted with pink and orange. It’s not just high-roller comfort; this is multimillionaire comfort.
Outside in addition to two large pools are five smaller pools alongside a row of private cabanas with showers and bathroom facilities. One other large pool on a raised balcony with circular daybeds overlooks the Strip facing south. Lunch and snack service are served daylong. Bars appear to be everywhere, and I can assure that Drai’s will never run out of champagne.
Victor’s dry run for friends and family is Thursday evening, and Caesars Entertainment on Friday evening has its celebration for execs, VIPs and Giada de Laurentiis, who has her second-floor restaurant Giada there. Giada opens for dinner reservations June 3. Regular guests will enter Victor’s nightclub and beach club after 11 p.m. Thursday.
He will relocate his After-Hours club (3 to 11 a.m.) from its temporary home at Bally’s next month to the Cromwell basement. (Yes, those guests will be going home as guests arrive for his daytime upstairs party!) Victor told me in an earlier interview that he mothballed the furniture downstairs during the transformation to the Cromwell. The Bally’s location will become his new LGBT club Liaison, the casino industry’s first gay club, opening shortly after the move is complete.
There is no question that Victor has built a royal palace for a nightclub.
“It is the superstar itself,” he summed up. “It’s what I wanted. The dream not only came true, it also wound up being better than what I dreamed. I don’t think you’ll find anything like it anywhere in the world now or for many years to come, maybe never. I am a very happy man.
“Let’s go drink champagne!”
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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