Looking Back on a True Gem

James Algate

On the occasion of the one-year anniversary of Jewel Nightclub in Aria (read more about its exciting journey here), James Algate, vice president of entertainment for Hakkasan Group, shares his perspective on the dynamic space, what has worked and what hasn’t and the next 12 months.

You’re the kind of executive that understands the importance of measuring what works and what doesn’t. What have you learned over the last year with Jewel?

As with any nightclub, finding what works is a bit of a trial-and-error process. We are always looking at the current trends and gauging what our guests want. Within the last year we have seen a great deal of success in the live performance aspect of Jewel, which is why we continue to bring these shows to the venue.

I know that measured improvement is important to Hakkasan and you, especially. What do you hope to improve going forward?

We are always looking to improve guest satisfaction to ensure that our clubgoers leave the venue saying they’ve had one of the best nights of their lives. There is nothing more important than providing guests with the best experience possible, which is something we look to continuously improve within all of our Hakkasan Group venues, not just Jewel.

Do you have specific goals for Jewel for the coming year?

We want Jewel to continue to grow its presence as a top nightlife destination for live musical acts in Vegas. Our weekly activation “The Good Life Fridays” has already brought top performers to the venue including Anderson .Paak and Lupe Fiasco, and we’ve also hosted special performances by Drake and Iggy Azalea earlier last year. Since our venue allows for a completely immersive experience through our production elements and intimate setting we want to continue bringing in these types of acts to provide our guests an experience which is unlike what a traditional concert venue can provide.

Any teasers or hints you can give us about future performers/productions?

We have a really exciting year ahead at Jewel, and we love to give our guests an element of surprise. We look forward to announcing new and exciting talent in the upcoming months.

What do you think has set Jewel apart from other Las Vegas clubs?

Our music diversity is one of our most defining factors. I don’t think there’s any other nightlife venue in Las Vegas where you can see Steve Aoki one night and a live performance by a top open-format artist the next. The intimacy of the venue is another element that we see as an advantage, since clubgoers are able to see top artists within such a close proximity.

Do you have hands-on involvement in the club each night?

My involvement in-venue tends to vary depending on the event. Once talent is booked, we have a great team onsite who executes our events flawlessly. However, my main focus is working to find innovative and top-notch talent acts, which directly correlates to guest satisfaction, one of our ultimate measures of success. Having an impressive talent roster can make or break a nightlife venue, as it is a crucial factor in ticket sales.   

What does a given night at Jewel look like behind the scenes?

It takes a dedicated and hardworking team to run a nightclub, and there are many different components that need to come together in order to make it all work. Many people don’t realize the amount of time it takes to facilitate bringing these artists to the venue, launch special activations and strategically plan the events of nightly operations. The talent, marketing, operations and production teams are constantly working together to plan exciting and one-of-a-kind events each weekend for our guests.

Are you part of the production of each individual performance?

While I often work closely with each artist, it is truly a team effort with the rest of the talent team and production.

Jewel is the more intimate of the Hakkasan venues, so the opportunity to see big stage acts like Kaskade in a smaller venue has a unique appeal. Was this a calculated move, to bring these acts to the smaller room?

All of our talent decisions are well thought out as we look to place acts in venues where they will fit the best. Kaskade, who will be debuting at Jewel for the anniversary weekend, often performs at our larger venues Hakkasan and Omnia, but by scheduling an artist of his stature at Jewel it gives his fans a chance to see him in a more intimate setting, which is a completely different offering than any other nightlife venue and creates an unparalleled experience.

What do the artists that play at Jewel have to say of the experience?

Since the majority of these top artists are accustomed to performing to large crowds at music festivals or massive nightclubs, I think it’s safe to say our performers truly enjoy the intimate feel of the venue. The fans in turn appreciate being able to see their favorite artists in closer proximity, which makes for an incredible atmosphere within the venue.

Is there any artist or VIP request that you wouldn’t entertain, or is anything possible?

As Jewel contains the latest in technology, including several immersive design elements, our  residents have true creative freedom while performing and have the opportunity to make production choices themselves. When it comes to our guests and their experiences, we are always looking for new ways to entertain and surprise them. In this aspect, the sky’s the limit.