Spend any amount of time on the Strip and you can’t help but observe the creative genius that is the Las Vegas entertainment machine. For a seasonal example, witness the return of the pool party: Lounging lazily in the desert sun with an umbrella drink near some sparkling blue waters has always been a piece of the great Vegas vacation, but only in the last decade has the dayclub emerged as a monster revenue source for casinos and hospitality companies.
The rowdy Rehab party at the Hard Rock Hotel kicked off the trend some 14 years ago, energizing a day at the pool with thumping club music, bikini contests, free-flowing booze and a general endless Spring Break vibe. Today, this type of venue is a must at all major resorts, from the ultracool Marquee Dayclub Dome at the Cosmopolitan — enclosed in the offseason so cooler temps don’t stop the party — to Drai’s Beachclub on the rooftop of the Cromwell at center Strip.
Don’t take my sunblock-slathered, frozen vodka-swilling word for it. Ask one of the pool party guys.
“The people who work in these venues and run casinos understand the volume these things attract, the amount of money they bring in, but people coming out here for the experience may not understand what type of business it actually is,” says Steve Sagan, general manager of the Flamingo’s Go Pool. “People say all the time, ‘You work at a pool. That must be nice. You’re the party guy.’ And I am, but I’m also running a $12 million business that’s just part of something bigger that attracts hundreds of thousands of people.”
The Go Pool is something of a hidden gem along the Strip’s pool party landscape, a friendly venue with lower prices (the cover is around $20) and a come-as-you-are attitude. “It’s just a very friendly atmosphere,” says Sagan, on the job here for three years. “You don’t have to have a daybed or cabana or bungalow to have a good time, and our [patrons’] age ranges from 21 to about 60. But everybody that comes to the Go Pool is here for that party atmosphere, even though we pride ourselves on being more cost-efficient than our competitors.” Sagan’s spot offers DJs daily and the first big event of the season is March 25 when “Thong Song” singer Sisqo headlines. The Flamingo oasis is also readying an April launch of Swimdustry Wednesdays, a locals-oriented night party.
If the 2,100-capacity Go Pool is on one side of the dayclub spectrum, on the more upscale and luxurious end is Encore Beach Club. The Wynn Nightlife hot spot is going bigger than ever this year after some light modifications increased its party capacity from 3,400 to 4,100. I was onsite for EBC’s season opener with DJ A-Trak on March 3 and the place is primed for another huge summer, including an expanded slate of night parties that extend into Surrender Nightclub.
Elsewhere in the dayclub scene, Wet Republic at MGM Grand turns 10 years old this season. Daylight at Mandalay Bay is off to the races and lights up this big March Madness weekend with a Brackets & Bikinis party hosted by Tropic Beauty swimwear models. Tropicana’s Sky Beach Club returns for a second round after making a dent in its debut last summer. And keep on eye on the Palms Pool & Dayclub, which could unleash some interesting programming this season as the resort is under the ownership of Station Casinos.
For a more comprehensive look at Las Vegas dayclubs and pool parties, look inside Industry Weekly, published each week within Las Vegas Weekly magazine.