Is the Vegas nightclub experience defined by massive crowds, a packed dance floor and long lines of partiers waiting to get in and have fun?
That appears to be the definition according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Governor’s office, which have mandated that casino dayclubs and nightclubs remain shuttered during the current Phase Two of the pandemic reopening and recovery plan. It is unclear if clubs will be allowed to operate in a traditional way whenever Phase Three kicks in, but some venues have adjusted to the restrictions and are moving forward in a different fashion.
After a successful first week of daytime operations, the Marquee Pool—an apt name for the operational alteration at the Marquee Dayclub space at the Cosmopolitan—is set to open nighttime business this weekend, planning on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. until late to go with daytime business hours of 11 a.m. to sunset Friday through Sunday.
Massive crowds? The pool is capped at 50 percent capacity and didn’t go above 400 people during its first weekend back in action; the venue can hold approximately 1,800. Packed dance floor? Try no dance floor. That space is covered with physically distanced tables and daybeds. Long lines? Reservations are required, so that familiar queue on the Cosmo’s second floor is nonexistent.
“The Marquee Pool experience is living up to the guidelines [the] Gaming [board] gave us. They set the parameters and it’s up to us to create the best form of experience,” said Tao Group partner Jason Strauss. The company operates Marquee, Tao at Venetian and other restaurants and clubs on the Strip and around the world. “Obviously there are a lot of restrictions but they’re all things designed to keep our staff and guests safe. The [first] weekend had a great vibe and all our guests were raving about the experience and we were just so happy to be back. It was such a positive experience that it gave us the confidence to open up at night.”
Marquee Pool is not at all like the wild pool parties of Marquee Dayclub. It’s essentially an amped up Las Vegas resort pool experience with high quality drink and food service and a relaxed but energetic atmosphere powered by a live DJ. Guests must be 21 and over with reservations, bottle service is available and food service—always a strength at Marquee relative to the rest of the Strip’s dayclubs—is emphasized.
Both day and night operations make use of the 22,000-square-foot space on the resort’s rooftop. The only difference in programming is that guests are not allowed to swim in the pools at night.
Strauss said that while resuming operations in this different form didn’t allow the company to bring all of Marquee’s staff back to work, the increase in table service requires a lot of staffing.
“As far as management and service staff, it’s the same amount or maybe even more, but there is some staff that [normally] manages the general admission crowd and of course we don’t have as much a need for that,” he said. “It’s pretty close but it’s not fully staffed.”
Marquee Pool is one of the first Strip daylife and nightlife venues to resume operations. Intrigue and Encore Beach Club at Wynn have made the adjustment, and the Go Pool portion of the Flamingo’s swimming pool complex has reopened as an extension of its resort pool experience.
It seems as if people in Las Vegas and everywhere else are more comfortable socializing, eating and drinking in outdoor spaces. Don’t be surprised to see more Vegas dayclubs temporarily transforming into something new and different to accommodate that need. Strauss said Tao Group’s Lavo restaurant at Palazzo has seen high demand for patio dining since it reopened last week.
This relaxed pool experience could serve as a bridge to the future of Vegas daylife, but it’s too early to tell what that future looks like.
“Expectations are not set because there’s such a new dichotomy on how to enjoy this kind of hospitality at this time,” Strauss said. “Everything is moving so quickly, it’s hard to predict. If you told me a month ago we’d be opening Marquee Pool I would be surprised, but now seeing it and living it and seeing how functional and enjoyable it was, that’s really positive.
“I think it’s going to take a while and there will need to be these great examples of people saying we went there, we had a good time, we felt safe and the word will spread.”