Making a Splash

Introducing the new (and renewed) party pools of 2013

Dayclubbing—it’s hard work. The research. The outfit planning. The deciding which of your peeps you trust enough to spend a sun-filled, judgment-free day in your cabana while you’re suited in something your shy side swears might land you in the clink. See? Stressful.

Until a decade ago, the idea that dayclubbing would become a very active verb in Las Vegas was a glimmer in a savvy marketer’s eye. Today, nearly two dozen pool parties have made daylife tourism as inviting as its nighttime cousin for giving us more hours to enjoy bottle service, pampered seating and Champagne showers. With the pull of the pool so strong, and with so much competition (vast or intimate? electrifying or chill? access to a strip club or not?), the ante’s been upped by the Strip’s established party puddles and newbie venues hoping to be this season’s next best thing. Here’s the best of what’s new, newish and renewed.

New: Daylight Beach Club, Mandalay Bay

Music is a given at today’s dayclub, and although we learn as kiddos that water and electricity are most certainly not friends, Daylight Beach Club will prove that one wrong real fast.

The Light Group calls its newest creation a “revolutionary open-air entertainment and nightlife destination” that will enhance daylife with its technology and music. Debuting May 25, Daylight will do that, in part, with a key focal point: a 1,500-square-foot stage (amid 50,000 square feet of flexible outdoor space) artistically rendered in metal and mesh and framed by six LED screens. The Light Group calls it a “true Las Vegas interpretation of one of the most powerful stages in Ibiza.” A roster of resident DJs from the Light nightclub in Mandalay Bay will also cycle through.

Of course, Daylight won’t just mean music. There is water at this party (the 4,400-square-foot pool sits smack on the Strip; no need to trek through a hotel or casino) and plenty of daybeds (70), cabanas (23) and bungalows (2) for your reserving pleasure. For some it’ll be the epitome of a Mediterranean party; for others, a Mediterranean escape. Both seem fab.

Must Do: Eclipse is Daylight’s nocturnal beach party, launching May 22 with musical performances slated for Wednesdays throughout the summer from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. and on the Sundays of holiday weekends.

Renewed: Rehab, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino

Las Vegas changed forever in April 2004, when the Hard Rock Hotel capitalized on two things: the city’s obscene stretch of hot weekends, and a tourist’s dream of cramming as much partying as possible into their trip, even if it was only a day long.

With Rehab, the Strip got its first taste of daylife by moving the party poolside. Ten summers later, Rehab’s reign as Las Vegas’s wildest pool party for 7,000 prevails, thanks to a 5-acre swath of real sand, palm trees and eight water features (all of which achieve that oasis-in-the-desert feel); high-octane concerts by major players; and a shake-it-like-it’s-your-last-day-on-earth attitude every week.

Ever-seeking evolution, this year, the Hard Rock Hotel has added DJ Robbie Rivera’s marathon Juicy Beach Saturdays to the Beachlife party lineup that bookends Rehab Sundays and makes a four-day weekend that only the party-est people crave. Summer Camp Fridays re-create the campy fun you enjoyed as a high schooler (scantily clad poolside games, water-balloon fights and the like). The Nectar Saturdays music festival presents an eclectic mix of world beats; and Relax Mondays offers poolside detox with chill music and atmosphere.

Must Do: Check in to the Hard Rock and stay all weekend. With its roster of daylife and nightlife events, seriously, why leave?

Renewed: Wet Republic, MGM Grand

This year, the MGM Grand marketing team employed an aw-shucks phrase to grab patrons’ attention. “Welcome Home” makes loyalists feel all warm inside while paying homage to the A-lister DJs who played MGM early in their career and returned for a blockbuster summer. But one thing’s for certain about MGM’s long-loved Wet Republic: Its multimillion-dollar, offseason facelift turned it into no home we’ve ever known.

The 53,000-square-foot club refreshed its South Beach feel with deep-navy cushions in every party cabana and VIP bungalow, and on every furniture-like daybed and chaise; but the real reveal involved what could be Wet Republic’s draw for years to come. Within its unique 2,500-square-foot open-air lounge (an unspeakable bonus for getting out of the sun) is Wet Republic’s bar, with a stunning green marble top that’s 35 feet longer than last year. Sure, the bungalows with their private dipping pools, gaming gadgetry and cocktail-serving goodness are alluring. But when you’re boiling and you don’t want to wait for a drink, a bar that’s now more than a quarter the length of a football field will truly make you feel like a VIP.

Must Remember: If you really want to party, snag a spot in the lounge near the newly designed DJ booth that puts the musical guest o’ honor down with the people.

Newish: Bagatelle Beach Club, The Tropicana

Most dayclubs force a choice between entertainment and relaxation, but Bagatelle elegantly pulls off both amid a tiered design that sings of Greece or Ibiza. And despite a pervasive dayclub-minded focus on packing properties with bodies, Bagatelle’s niche could be its attention to a particular breed of patrons: locals.

In three years, this space was three different pools, but what could make Bagatelle the Tropicana’s biggest success is its destination dayclub-allure to tourists who recognize the worldwide brand, and the love it gives locals who could deem it their go-to getaway for its serene layout, convenient parking and spa-like food. “It’s a challenging market, and we wanted to do something different,” says Bagatelle’s owner Jonathan Segal. “People who live here get tired. The fundamental difference is that this is not a party pool.” Except when it is. We’ll explain: Steering clear of big-name performers, Bagatelle is featuring local bands and DJs, the latter of which get to perch atop a waterfall that’s as visible from the shaded, 70-seat, multitiered bistro as it is from Bagatelle’s two pools. And thanks to Bagatelle’s smart parking, Segal likes saying that from your car to your chaise, “you’re 40 seconds to your first drink instead of 40 minutes.” Locals should stay tuned for nighttime events rumored to bring in food trucks for an evening of projected movies poolside. Welcome to the neighborhood.

Must Do: Bagatelle has the Strip’s only two regulation beach volleyball courts, available for scheduled and impromptu games.

New: Sapphire Pool & Dayclub, Sapphire Gentleman’s Club

Put on your pasties! With a capacity of just 800, Sapphire Pool and Dayclub offers the most intimate pool in our roundup, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to see.

Attached to Sapphire Gentleman’s Club (you walk through the club’s entrance to get to the dayclub), the pool is the epicenter of action with chaises, daybeds, 11 cabanas and two hot tubs around a perimeter that makes it easy to see action from any angle. “This pool is dedicated to giving people a really good experience,” says managing partner Peter Feinstein. Some 50-100 of the club’s entertainers walk the pool to interact with patrons (all clothed, if scantily) “to make them feel like they’re part of the party,” he adds. Outrageously friendly servers keep you feeling like you’re really wanted, and planned fun such as Sapphire’s pole dancing classes—classes that let ladies get out of the sun and into the club for some lessons they won’t mind, er, boning up for—round out this primo location for adult fun.

Must Try: The chef Kerry Simon-designed menu is filled with veggie-heavy items and cheat-worthy burgers and sandwiches. Drinks such as the Admiral’s Daughter— made with Yacht Club vodka and fresh watermelon puree—and plenty of Moët Ice Champagne (only served poolside) emphasize freshness and staying cool by the pool.