In Las Vegas, hotels are making a financial splash by swimming in cash.It’s a classic sunny afternoon in the parched Nevada desert. The sun beams down like a laser, the sky is an unbroken field of blue, and thermometer mercury easily clears 100 degrees. It may not seem like the perfect weather for a party. But, from one end of the Las Vegas Strip to the other, big-name DJs spin dance music, Grey Goose vodka flows from chilled bottles, and revelers pack the swimming pools. Muscles, tattoos and microbikinis seem to be everywhere. If these waterfront bacchanals feel a lot like daylight versions of Las Vegas’ notoriously rocking nightclubs, well, that is precisely the point.
Traditionally, swimming pools in hotels have lost money and existed purely as amenities for guests. But in Vegas, by implanting casino pools with the same party-hearty attributes as the nightclubs, executives and promoters have found that they can turn their desert oases into serious moneymakers. And in Vegas, it’s all about the dollars.
“A conservative number, revenue wise, is that a pool can generate $1 million per week — and that is with just a few days of operation,” says Joseph Magliarditi, a former president of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Over the course of a season, Magliarditi says, they generate $20 million to $40 million in revenue — with money made through a combination of admissions, cabana rentals, drinks and bottle service.
Just like the nightclubs that inspired them, Vegas’ hottest pools are tightly designed to attract certain demographics. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino runs at opposite ends of the spectrum. Most notoriously, the hotel is known for a weekly pool bash called Rehab, in which the emphasis is on bash and the clientele skews young. Attracting a completely different crowd is the recently opened rooftop pool, an intimate spot situated alongside the hotel’s new luxury tower known as HRH. “It will become more exclusive than any other pool club,” Magliarditi says. “We’ll accept a limited number of people, and not everybody will be able to get in.”
The newest entry in this market is the Marquee Dayclub, an offshoot of the nightclub of the same name, inside the ultracool and freshly opened Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The resort made a splash with its opening this past New Year’s Eve. Jay-Z, Coldplay, John Mayer and Kanye West all performed on the same stage. Come summer, its affiliated pool club promises to make a similar, more literal splash.
The challenge for the Marquee guys is to outdo their other Vegas operation, Tao Beach. It’s aligned with one of the premier restaurants in America (Tao Asian Bistro) and attracts the crème de la crème of Las Vegas’ day-partying elite. No less an expert than professional poker player and man about town Antonio Esfandiari describes it as one of his favorite summertime parties on the Strip. Tao Beach, with its southeast Asian theme, draws attendees and reaps huge profits by offering amenities like employees who go around spritzing the guests, frozen pops made from fresh fruit, and gratis sunscreen in the cabanas, which run thousands of dollars per Saturday afternoon.