Photo by Hamesh Shahani
You would never know from looking at him that Jesse Waits came from any kind of humble beginning. His tailored suits don’t reflect his small-town upbringing in California and Hawaii, nor does his high-status position as managing partner of Tryst and XS Nightclubs reveal his experience as a snowboard instructor or Peace Corps worker. But perhaps that’s part of his charm: Underneath the celebrity is someone who’s surprisingly grounded.
Along with his twin brother, Cy, and their business partner, Victor Drai, Jesse helped build an ultra-decadent nightlife empire at Wynn Resorts, filling Tryst and XS with masses of well-heeled jet-setters and Hollywood A-listers. But after Drai left to pursue other interests and Cy was caught up in a highly publicized legal snafu a year and a half ago, Jesse found himself flying solo—the first time in six years without his twin by his side.
“It was an adjustment,” says Jesse, who forgoes the vices that got his brother in trouble. He rarely even drinks, except on special occasions.
The 36-year-old is too busy moving forward, working long days to keep his venues at the top of the nightlife food chain, using close relationships to secure exclusive DJ residencies and high-profile festival tie-ins. XS hosted last year’s official closing parties for both Electric Daisy Carnival and Identity Festival, and its Sunday Night Swim and Monday industry nights are already well known for pulling in big-name artists.
A longtime fan of electronic dance music, Jesse welcomed the shift in Vegas’ music scene, combining resources with Sean Christie’s intra-property venues, Encore Beach Club and Surrender, to snag the biggest DJ talent in the industry. So far, the talent roster consists of more than 30 top DJs, including a Deadmau5 residency shared between XS and Encore Beach Club.
While this kind of collaboration isn’t often seen in competing nightlife groups, the two have successfully put Wynn Resorts on the map as the ultimate destination for electronic-music lovers—day or night.
“I think we’re just more powerful when we do things together,” Jesse says.