Sean Christie

The man behind Encore Beach Club and Surrender talks about getting started in the business at keg parties in Boston, and the emergence of nightlife as one of the city’s dominant industries

Sean Christie has been working in the hospitality industry since he was 7, helping his parents and grandparents at a family-owned restaurant in his native Boston. By the time he was in high school, Christie was turning a profit throwing parties at friends’ houses, and by the age of 19 he began promoting and managing Boston-area nightclubs.

He relocated to Las Vegas in 2000 and was working at the House of Blues before becoming a managing partner at the Light Group. He left the Light Group in 2006 to help Wynn develop a nightlife concept that would eventually become Blush Boutique Nightclub. Christie opened his latest endeavors at Wynn—Encore Beach Club and Surrender—in May.

Why did you get involved in nightlife?

I come from a family of restaurateurs, so I grew up in restaurants. At a very young age I was working in restaurants to earn money so I could go skiing, or so I could do whatever, so I was always exposed to it. When I was in high school, one of my best friend’s parents would go out of town and we would throw huge parties and get kegs and charge $5 at the door so we could get sports jerseys and things like that. When I was 18, I was sneaking into clubs in Boston, and when I was 19 I was managing one.

How does it feel to be successful at the Wynn?

It’s great. The expectation when we went into the project with Mr. Wynn and company was to have that type of success. I don’t really reflect back on those types of things because, generally speaking, I have a problem in the sense that it’s very tough for me to stop and smell the roses. There’s always so many new things we want to do.

What’s been the biggest change in Las Vegas in the past 10 years?

Just the emergence of Vegas being, if not the No. 1 place for nightlife in the world, certainly in the top two. And the fact that the industry has grown by double-digit percentages since I’ve been here. By luck, circumstance or hard work, it happens to be the industry I’m in. As one of the major engines in this town during the recession, the nightclubs took a hit, but the industry grew and has emerged as kind of the dominant industry in town.

If you weren’t in nightlife what would you be doing?

My forte is creativity and marketing. I’ve always been good at just having creative thoughts, so something to do with one of those two. Either using a creative outlet in some way, shape or form, or in marketing because I find both of those things give me the outlet to express my creativity. I can’t sing and I’m a horrible painter, but I’ve got to do something.

What was the perfect storm for nightlife in Las Vegas?

Las Vegas has always been the capital of entertainment. Maybe 20 years ago it was shows. Right now it’s nightclubs and nightlife. It’s a very profitable business in this town, and it has lured the best nightclub operators in the world here. You have a convergence of people who are seen as the best people who are either involved or are owners. Then you have the money. What other place in the world is anyone spending $70 million on a beach club nightclub like we did at Encore Beach Club and Surrender? There’s no place in the world that does that and can do that. People want to be wowed in Las Vegas, so we’ve given them a new platform to experience.

Who are your biggest influences?

It sounds like a cliché, but my parents. They exposed me to work at a very young age to give me a work ethic. I was in my grandparents’ restaurant when I was 7 years old doing inventory with my father so that he would let me go skiing later on the mountain next to his restaurant. I say my biggest influence is definitely my parents, and second to that certainly would be Steve Wynn.

Other than your own, what properties in Las Vegas do you admire?

What’s most fun for me is seeing my friends, so I don’t necessarily look around the landscape of Las Vegas and say to myself, “Wow, I have to be part of that experience.” I think that we’ve all been part of great experiences. For me when I go out in town, it’s more of just seeing wherever my friends are; that’s where I want to hang out.

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