“Seven years ago, Marquee raised the bar of New York City nightlife with regards to service, design, musical talent, events, quality of crowd …” says Jason Strauss as he steps into an elevator full of construction workers at the Cosmopolitan hotel. He pushes the button for the sixth floor, then adds: “Now, we’re going to do the same thing in Vegas.”
Just weeks after the Strip’s newest hotel debuts, the second Marquee will open its doors on New Year’s Eve with DJ Erick Morillo set to headline. Judging from the sneak peek Strauss gave Vegas Seven, it looks like the club will be a game-changer for Las Vegas, whether the sun is up or down.
Strauss and his other partners behind Tao and Lavo (Noah Tepperberg, Marc Packer, Rich Wolf and Louis Abin) have for the first time teamed up with an outside organization, Cosmo, to up the ante on their brand. Of course, this is hardly Strauss and Co.’s first venture; as of Jan. 1, they will have a Tao, Lavo and Marquee in New York and Las Vegas, plus another New York nightclub, Avenue, and two pizza places.
When the elevator arrives at the sixth floor, four options present themselves: Go straight to the bar (think Tao’s Buddha bar, without the Buddhas); veer right and down the stairwell to the Boom Box Room; go left and check out the main room, which also provides access to the pool area; or make a U-turn and take the elevator up to the Library. Decisions, decisions.
“It’s really like being in four different clubs,” Strauss says. “Big clubs in New York—Palladium, Tunnel, Club USA—their whole draw was you’d go with five friends and just explore and walk the property and find different experiences throughout. And we have the opportunity to deliver that here.”
Marquee bears elements of its predecessors. The main room has hints of Rain, Haze and XS; the outdoor pool and gaming area are reminiscent of XS (and its former-but-now-estranged cousin in L.A., Drai’s Hollywood) and the handsome upper-level Library feels like a warmer, more accessible Noir Bar. But make no mistake, Marquee represents a new generation of clubs and is destined to be a Vegas nightlife legend.
The main room revolves around the DJ booth, which sits before a $3 million, multipurpose stage that incorporates a 40-foot LED video wall, three tiers of concert platforms and a retractable projection screen. The first of two main-room dance floors is surrounded by banquettes that fan out, coliseum-style, providing unobstructed views.
A lobby-like area is tucked around the far side, offering guests casual, living-room-style seating, plus views of the Las Vegas skyline and the go-go dancers doing their thing inside mirrored cases behind the bar.
The main space also includes what Strauss calls “a VIP super-area” with executive-style restrooms. Meanwhile, the restrooms for the rest of us are set off a unisex lounge, and are large and luxurious in their own right, and designed to make long, antisocial lines a thing of the past. Quotes by Tallulah Bankhead and the Marquis de Sade are sure to prompt conversation.
Outside, the pool deck features palm trees, two pools and eight deluxe cabanas that overlook CityCenter. “One of our prize features is that every one of our cabanas has its own infinity pool,” Strauss says. “At night, when we open this as an extension of the nightclub. Instead of having go-go girls, we’ll have go-go mermaids.”
Yes, he said go-go mermaids—and it gets better.
“What really makes this thing over-the-top, in my opinion, is our bungalows,” Strauss says of the three-story buildings on the north side of the rooftop terrace. The overnight accommodations include bedrooms, living rooms, deluxe bathrooms, rooftop decks with hot tubs, wet bars and views of the Bellagio fountains—and all have direct club access.
Back inside, Strauss leads the way to the Library, which he calls the “warm, sexy room.”
“We modeled this after the Rose Bar in New York,” notes the New York native.
This space is designed to be free-flowing (read: no bottle service), with an emphasis on specialty cocktails, mixology and infusions. Meanwhile, there’s a pool table, a fireplace and shelves stocked with vintage chronicles of Las Vegas. (Manhattan’s legendary Strand bookstore curated the collection.)
The fourth and final area is called the Boom Box Room for good reason. “This has a booming—booming—sound system,” Strauss says. Still, it’s a small and relatively low-key space. “Our goal here was to make it feel like a living room. … You can high-five the DJ; it’s very accessible.”
This space provides musical diversity. “If we’re playing house in the main room, this will be hip-hop,” he says. “If we’re playing hip-hop or mash-up in the main room, this will be house, and then upstairs [in the Library], it will be really loungy, eclectic rock and funk and R&B.”
The Boom Box is the only portion of the club that will be open on Thursday nights, but on Friday and Saturday nights, all 60,000 square feet will be in full swing. Strauss isn’t certain whether the pool deck will be operational on opening night—“We’re trying to get it tented,” he says—and Marquee’s industry night is also yet to be announced.
While some questions—including the identities of Marquee’s resident DJs—remain, Marquee is clearly one of the most ambitious and complex nightlife projects in Las Vegas history. It may still be under construction, but the bar has already been raised.