The ONE Group Goes Tropical

New York-based hospitality company the ONE Group has announced that it is acquiring—not operating, not managing, but buying—the night and dayclub portions of the Tropicana Las Vegas, which will become Bagatelle Beach and Nightclub later this spring. This is the third regeneration for the clubs since pool season ended; the partnership with Nikki Beach, announced with much fanfare last winter, ended after a single summer, and Nikki’s successor, the Trop-managed RPM lasted barely a financial quarter. The pool, SPF never even opened.

Shuffling nightclub brands isn’t necessarily unusual, but ONE’s acquisition of real estate within the Tropicana is. ONE Group CEO Jonathan Segal says this is a typical deal for his company, though, and he credits the vision of the Tropicana’s owners with selling him the club businesses and giving him a long-term lease on the physical space.

ONE is no stranger to Las Vegas; it operates STK, the “flirty, fun, feminine” steakhouse at the Cosmopolitan. And ONE’s partner, Bagatelle America, has already operated Bagatelles in New York and Los Angeles. But Segal insists that this isn’t another case of a nightlife concept spawned in the Meatpacking District foisting itself on Las Vegas.

“We opened strong at the Cosmopolitan,” he says, “because we worked with the community, industry, and residents. It wasn’t a case of us coming in thinking we know how to do everything We listened to the community and worked with them. With Bagatelle, we will use same approach. We’ll work with locals, community and the industry to make everyone feel welcome, and we’re going to operate consistently with our other properties.”

While the Tropicana’s going to be out of the day-to-day operations of the clubs, Segal says that he will retain a good working relationship by making sure Tropicana guests are well taken care of. Although Bagatelle is a separate entity, he says there will be some co-marketing down the road.

So is this Nikki Beach 2.0? Segal says nothing could be further from the truth.

“This is going to be different to all the other pool parties, which are amazing, but they are just pool parties. Bagatelle created the Champagne Brunch. Bagatelle Beach is going to be an outdoor restaurant, serving complete Mediterranean meals throughout day—think light fare and lots of rosé. We’re catering to a market that wants to have fun but doesn’t want a traditional pool party. It’s more sophisticated, more stylized and, I think, more fun.

“We’re putting in new bars. The bottom bar, for instance, will have a stage where we can hold a concert for two to three thousand people. You can have dinner and enjoy a concert outdoors. That’s totally different, it’s never been done.

“The market needs something different. Just like we redefined the steak house by making it girl-friendly, we can redefine the Vegas pool party by combining a different dining experience with the pool, the sun and day beds. It’s a whole new paradigm.”
But isn’t this the Tropicana we’re talking about? It’s not a property that has screamed sophistication in the past.

“The Tropicana is a fine hotel,” Segal responds. “They’ve spent a lot of money and the room product is excellent. And ask yourself: If they’ve done this deal with us to bring a different aspect to the property, don’t you think they’re looking at other opportunities?”

Segal thinks that he’ll succeed by providing something different and, as he puts it, not taking any share from his competitors.

It’ll make 2012 a very interesting summer for the crowded daylife scene, to say the least.