Sean Christie has been in the nightlife rat race since he graduated high school in Boston. In 2000, he moved to Las Vegas to assist in the opening and management of House of Blues in Mandalay Bay. From 2001 to 2006, he was a managing partner of the Light Group. In 2007, he opened Blush in Wynn, followed by Surrender, Encore Beach Club and Andrea’s in Encore. In that time, Christie has seen the industry’s ups and downs. Now, after a few years of EDM having what he calls a “stranglehold” on the Las Vegas nightlife scene, the current Wynn Resorts vice president of operations says his adjacent properties are going in another direction.
On April 28, Intrigue will open its doors, replacing Wynn’s long-standing Tryst, but the club will move away from high-priced DJs as its main form of entertainment, although XS, Surrender and Encore Beach Club will still cater to the EDM market. Christie is also attempting to carve a niche for millennials with the newly opened Encore Player’s Club, an energetic lounge with gaming in the middle of the casino floor.
With Christie and his team on board, Wynn Resorts is going all in on what’s next.
What can we expect from Intrigue?
We aren’t taking an approach that everybody [else] is doing right now in terms of the way we market the club. One of the notable things about the club is that we have a private club within the club. The private club is going to be invitation-only, and it will be social media-free zone. People are not going to be allowed to Instagram, tweet, take photos—anything like that. We want to truly keep it a private club.
What is the future of nightlife in Las Vegas?
There was a period that the DJs, as a group, had a stranglehold on nightlife here. But everything is a cycle. One genre or one form of entertainment is not going to forever be the prominent format in town. When you look back through the decades at the popular types of music, a lot of times, clubs are defined by the music you play in them. People, after a while, are looking for something different.
What does your new role as vice president of operations at Wynn Resorts entail?
I work on special projects in the hotel. I try to come up with things to drive revenue, to cut costs or to be experiential. One of the things that I was tasked with when I came on board was we wanted to focus more attention on Encore, in terms of the areas that are just slower in the hotel.
Encore Player’s Club just opened, and it’s focused on millennials. What excites you about it?
We have 26 65-inch TVs, two shuffleboards, an amazing pool table and a DJ. We have these interactive tables that have four screens on them that can be TV screens. They can be games. They can be your Facebook. They can be whatever you want them to be, but they are very user-friendly. We needed a better place for people to come hang out, gamble and have more of an interactive experience in terms of gambling. It doesn’t feel like a club in any way, shape or form. It feels more like a cool lounge that has gaming.
What skills did you learn from nightlife have carried over to your non-nightlife role at Wynn?
I come from an entrepreneurial, small-business background. At the end of the day, if you don’t make money, you don’t eat. I never, up until this past year, was ever paid a salary when I had my own company. My deals were always based on, if the place makes a dollar, I make a portion of the dollar. I have always had to hustle. What I bring is a unique way of looking at things: First and foremost—again, in terms of Wynn—it has to meet our standards. Is it going to be profitable? Can it make a buck?
Wynn has been featured in a lot of movies. Is this something we’ll see more of?
Yes. We actually just shot a film on the casino floor in Encore with Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler called The House. The idea behind shooting movies here is that we felt like we could, through film as a medium, expose all of these rich environments that on the big screen—or even small screen—translates so well, because of the way that they are designed and the colors and all the things that make us us.
How has nightlife changed in Las Vegas over the past decade?
The nightclubs in Las Vegas have lost their identity completely. [The DJ defining] how busy the club is, that’s where the nightclub industry is now getting lost. We fork over all this money to whatever DJ it might be—we do not want to be a prisoner to that anymore. DJs are still important for XS and Encore Beach Club and Surrender. There’s certainly a market for it, but we want to start going down a different path and exploring different things, because our customers demand new things. The new thing is actually now the old thing, which is a fun nightclub focused on the customer, not the DJ.