With the debut of Drai’s Nightclub & Beachclub atop The Cromwell fast approaching, now is the perfect time to sit down with one of nightlife impresario Victor Drai’s top lieutenants, Brian Affronti, to see what it takes to ready an $85 million megaclub. Affronti has been an industry fixture for well over a decade, and currently directs operations for all of Drai’s venues, a role he became familiar with when he served as general manager at XS and Tryst nightclubs when Drai was an owner.
First off, how do you intend to top what’s been done at XS?
The one thing with Victor is every time he does something new, he tries to outdo himself, and he does that by creating an emotion or feel, which he expresses through a design that permeates his entire concept. In essence, that’s what will set the rooftop project apart and how he intends to again show everyone why he’s the king of nightclubs.
The rooftop will be a 24-hour venue?
Right, and we will also be retaining Drai’s Afterhours in the basement; [that’s] undergoing a small renovation, but it will have the same look and feel it has always had.
What will set your rooftop apart from the ever-competitive daylife/nightlife fold?
Location—the fact is we’re on a rooftop overlooking the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. In addition, I would say that Victor designs his venues like nobody else, and with Victor’s design behind the venue, you’ll see we’re going to have a much more comfortable vibe. The whole idea is to bring the party back to the nightclub and bring back the idea that the nightclub itself is the star. A lot of focus has been purely on the DJs at a lot of the other venues, and there’s a lot of branding toward the DJ as opposed to the venue, and we want to go back to branding the venue.
With one venue on a rooftop and the other in a basement, do you foresee any issues getting people up and down in an expeditious manner?
It’s definitely going to be organized chaos at the door, but we do have six elevators that are going to be able to bring everybody up and down. Our guests will also enter on the 11th floor and exit from the 10th floor. The idea was to create an entrance that will allow the guest to overlook the entire club before they descend a set of stairs down to the actual nightclub/beach club. We have implemented this design element in order to control the flow, so you don’t have people trying to get in the elevator while others are trying to get out.
Where’s the DJ?
We’ve designed the beach club to have its own DJ and VIP area. The DJ will be facing in from the Flamingo side, so that energy is directed toward the Bellagio fountains and the Valley.
Any decisions made about music programming?
We’ll offer music that appeals to all. We will mix up the format a lot.
The renderings show a private pool for the 11th-floor cabanas.
Yes, that is dedicated for the upper cabanas and overlooks the Strip. The downstairs cabanas will have their own individual pools. The cabanas will also be set up so they can be used as traditional pool cabanas; on the days that we’re not open for the beach club, we will also be open for guests of Caesars Palace. We will have your typical amenities in the cabanas, such as TVs, heaters for the winter and fans for the summer.
Any other special features?
Wi-Fi. With social media being so prominent and important these days, we want to make sure that people are able to communicate while they’re at the club.
Who’s putting together your production elements?
Steve Lieberman, who also designs for and is involved with Electric Daisy Carnival and other festivals around the world.
And the sound system is …
Funktion-One, which is definitely a leader in festival and nightclub sound.
Will Giada De Laurentiis or Drai’s be handling the food at the beach club?
It will be Drai’s. We will have a fully run Drai’s kitchen with Victor, obviously, behind the concept. If it follows our Drai’s Hollywood menu, you can expect to see our sliders, great salads, fruit platters and the like.
What’s your capacity?
The rooftop is going to be roughly 4,500 people.
Can you afford to be selective with such a sizable venue?
That’s a great question. Las Vegas, at a time, was very selective in regard to who was let in. Clubs were much smaller, ranging from 28 to 40 tables, but when you have 150 tables to sell, I think everybody is welcomed into the venue. While we are definitely going to be open to everybody, typically our crowds are good looking.