On The Record Las Vegas Grand Opening Dec 28 – Lady Gaga

Every new Vegas nightlife venue that has arrived in the past few years has demonstrated the same trend, gradually sliding away from the stereotypical Strip megaclub experience characterized by vast spaces and big-name DJs and toward more intimate and layered environments with varied programming.

“I was kind of surprised after we went to Vegas a few times and there wasn’t anyone approaching nightlife the way we’re doing it,” says Mark Houston of Houston Hospitality, the LA outfit teaming with MGM Resorts to fashion this fresh experience at Park MGM. “Obviously we’ve been spending a lot of time there and really enjoying taking in the show. I think we’ve touched on a lot of different experiences you can have in Las Vegas, and they’re all incorporated in this space.”

Twin brothers Mark and Jonnie Houston are known for crafting incredible levels of detail in their distinct LA venues, which include ’80s-styled spot Break Room 86, their first restaurant Butchers and Barbers and speakeasy Dirty Laundry. In Las Vegas, they’re holding tight to their style and point of view and creating a club on a different scale.



“It’s been both challenging and exciting,” Jonnie says. “We’re grateful to have MGM as partners and for them to give us this opportunity, and I don’t think Mark and I could have done it without that support. Vegas operates on a different scale. My brother and I design and build and conceptualize all our own venues in LA, and in Vegas we’re not allowed to touch anything. Everything has to be pre-planned. And what comes out of your brain doesn’t always translate correctly, so we have to be on-site to catch things and walk people through our process.”

On the Record begins when you enter a two-story record store off the main casino, across from Park Theater. After the Lady Gaga afterparty on the 28th, expect to see many more collaborations between the theater and music shop, which will operate four days a week. Lil Dicky headlines the show on New Years Eve.

Once upstairs, a speakeasy-style door provides your first interaction with an 11,000-square-foot space (club capacity is around 1,000 people) that feels like a collection of different, tiny, thematically related venues. An illuminated walkway reminiscent of the iconic “Billie Jean” video guides your entry. Walls are decorated with retro-collages of speakers, TV screens and cassette tapes. Three cozy karaoke rooms beckon, as does an enclosed brick-lined patio equipped with a vintage British double-decker bus that had to be lifted by crane into the new space; it has a bar and DJ booth built inside. The main room features three flexible stage-like spaces to accommodate varied entertainment, including a DJ booth built out of a chunk of an old Rolls-Royce. The fireplace-equipped living room will play a different music mix spanning genres and eras, and the hidden vinyl parlour will host guest bartenders who will create a cocktail based on guests’ musical selections.

“One thing Mark and I wanted to accomplish was to create multiple layers and experiences within the venue,” Jonnie says. “It seems like [in Vegas] you have to choose to either go Downtown for a nice, cool swanky bar or go to [the Strip] and a mega-nightclub, but there’s no place to find layers in one venue. It’s like the perfect movie. If you can laugh, cry and be scared and go through all these emotions, that’s something we’re striving for.”

“We’re just excited to be able to create something that complements Vegas,” Mark adds. “It’s not like competing. I think we’re all elevating these different experiences for people to enjoy and we’re hoping to do something that fills a void people are looking for.”


Las Vegas New Construction + Upcoming Grand Openings

Lined with some of the most upscale and luxurious hotels and casinos in the world, the Las Vegas Strip is the ideal picturesque image of the sin city that we all envision in our minds. Within its scenic concentration of resort and casino real estate also lie world-class residential high-rise buildings, restaurants, unique entertainment complexes, a skyline that is to die for, and the most highly-rated live music performance venues and nightclubs that exist. Nevada is also home to some of the world’s biggest music festivals, including Insomniac Events’ EDC Las Vegas (Electric Daisy Carnival), Life Is Beautiful, and Burning Man, not to mention The Killers live from the front of Caesars Palace in the center of The Strip as part of a Jimmy Kimmel Live concert series, earlier this year.

Things are only getting better from here for the famous scenic strip. Over the past couple of years, the Las Vegas Strip has gained the most traveler attention to its date, and is now one of the most iconic tourist destinations in the nation. With an increase in tourism comes the need to supply the strip with more of these modern and upscale hotels, resorts, and casinos, so that visitors can embark on the once-in-a-lifetime experience only the city of Las Vegas can provide for them.

Luckily, brand new deluxe hotel, resort, and casino openings have been announced, as well as both completed and ongoing renovation plans for a few existing properties as well. The strategic business and architectural planning that is put into the building and reconstructing these extravagant buildings requires an exquisite amount of time (and billions of dollars), but we hope to witness all these new upcoming changes by the year 2020. From here on forward, visiting and residing at the Las Vegas strip will be more preeminent than ever before.

In fact, some of the most recognized properties have already revitalized under months of reconstruction. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino revamped its Casino Tower’s 575 guest rooms this past year. The company wanted to accentuate guest rooms with a design that would incorporate the true atmosphere of the casino and high-roller lifestyle, which is the property’s main attraction. All with views of the sparkling Las Vegas skyline, the new suites now demonstrate walls full of light gray, white, and plum tones and a contemporary design style. These renovations have attracted some of the hottest live music performers to the property, with several surprise acts to be announced in the near future.

Planet Hollywood also recently completed its renovation project this past summer during the month of June. All 2,496 rooms were redesigned to represent the successes of Caesars Entertainment Corp and its existing luxury properties. The newly designed rooms consist of brighter and more vibrant interiors full of color and mosaic portraits along their walls, as well as a true to life photograph of the night-time city skyline to bring about the vibrancy of Las Vegas nightlife within all guest rooms. Exceeding $100 million dollars, these Planet Hollywood renovations are the first of Caesars’ Las Vegas properties to officially be completed.

Another prominent Caesar property, The Flamingo, is currently undergoing renovations as well. The Flamingo’s 1,270 new rooms will speak for the hotel’s name themselves, featuring flamingo pink colors, gold accents, and contemporary-retro designs all throughout. Being that the property just celebrated its 70th anniversary last year, the company decided that it was time to spice things up and enliven the property without straying away from incorporating its history into its new design structure. Official renovation completion is in 2018, but luckily construction is going quickly and smoothly, meaning guests might even be able to experience the dashingly restored Flamingo property by the end of this year.

The acclaimed MGM Grand, one of the largest hotels in the world, is currently undergoing a $130 million dollar renovation on the strip in order to exceed competing properties in available overall space and guest capacity. The ongoing renovations will expand its already grand conference room and meeting space, introduce a new courtyard for private events, and spawn eleven breakout rooms. All of these alterations will supplement the property’s existing Marquee Ballroom and Grand Garden Arena, and will guarantee an increase in event related business demands for the company.

By the end of 2018 after undergoing a two-year, $450 million makeover, the noted Monte Carlo Hotel will transform into the new Park MGM, which will be MGM Resorts International’s newest luxury brand. In an interview, MGM’s CEO Jim Murren expressed his interest in the investing and remodeling of the Monte Carlo, as it has been actively operating since 1996. According to him, the hotel will remain open during reconstruction as the Monte Carlo until further notice. Murren is thrilled to reinvent the property’s original concept entirely to bring more life to the Vegas scene, and stated that “this a top-to-bottom, stem-to-stern type of re imagining with incredible talent that is not here, and that’s really why Las Vegas is doing so well because people continue to search for these one-of-a-kind moments and what they’ve never seen before.” The new Park MGM is about to present a new wave of coexisting lavish hotel brands to the strip, as it is teaming up with the NoMad hotel brand and its also luxurious style such as those of its properties in New York City and Los Angeles.

Wynn Resort and Casino is also revamping and will bring about a notion that the strip has never seen before. The property will be featuring its new Paradise Park concept, consisting of a 20-acre lagoon, a white sand waterfront and boardwalk, additional convention space, a new tower for about 1,000 new rooms, and fresh entertainment attractions. These striking add-on features will all reside alongside the resort on a 130-acre golf course owned by the company. It will be the first aquatic themed resort within the Las Vegas Strip borough. CEO Steve Wynn stated the importance of bringing about new concepts to his pre-existing operations, as he quotes, “If you’re not growing, you’re going backwards.” Construction for their new project is set to launch early this December and property owners expect the finishing touches to be completed by 2019.

Predominantly all prominent Las Vegas hotel properties such as the ones mentioned above are all clustered in the strip’s most popular southern segment. To create a new wave of real estate property trends, a few relatively new and currently in-the-works properties are opening up in the northern part of the strip, which will heat up a neoteric area away from its original hot spot.

What was supposed to be the luxurious SLS Las Vegas hotel, a leading brand also existent in South Beach and LA, unfortunately did not gain as much popularity on this segment of the strip as investors had hoped for. Fortunately, W Hotels (now under the Marriott International umbrella) took on a decision to expose the W Hotel brand to the sin city as an expansion of the existing SLS Las Vegas, which opened up earlier this year. The concept of this new refined W property is that of “a hotel within a hotel”, with opulent aspects of the SLS still in tact (dining and nightlife included) mixed with those of W Hotels, all creating a spectacular revamped property for high-class guests.

With W Hotels being a highly-recognized signature brand worldwide, the brand’s complementary hotel amenities exist at this new Las Vegas property as well. The hotel’s new service components include upscale social and nightlife venues such as the WET rooftop pool and The Living Room Lounge, the largest meeting space any other W hotel property holds, a 24 hour FIT gym, and its pampering Away spa. W Hotels couldn’t have made a better decision than with W Hotel Las Vegas, as this is the type of pretentious hotel brand the city was missing.

Shortly after the grand opening of the W Hotel, the opening of Las Vegas’s newest and most original property to date followed. The Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino, an independently owned boutique property with 203 rooms, debuted its brand new and unique property concept in the northern cluster of the strip. The hotel was built to reflect authentic and traditional Asian culture and its prominent relationship with gaming, a huge aspect of what Las Vegas is all about. Property owners discussed that although the hotel’s main target market includes gaming fanatics such as Asian Americans and wealthy travelers from overseas, all are welcome to dwell into everything The Lucky Dragon has to offer. Its owners decided to make all aspects of the property as authentic as possible, from its ethnic dining options down to the language hotel employees use to greet and communicate with guests.

Throughout the hotel, guests will find common Asian table games such as Pai Gow poker, Baccarat, traditional slots, and a high-roller VIP gaming luxury area. Not to mention an indoor-outdoor Tea Garden “Cha Garden” featuring an exquisite tea sommelier, and a spa which promotes traditional Asian regional treatments such as acupuncture and reflexology among many others. The success of the hotel’s dining and entertainment venues have been so immense that the property disclosed its “Jazz Saturday” events at Cha Garden with happy-hour priced food and beverage options and live music, as well as its “Hot Manila Nights” which will take place every Friday at Dragon’s Alley, a venue placed strategically next to the main casino floor.

The Lucky Dragon features a lodging and entertainment image that Vegas has never witnessed since its upbringing, and a larger competing property nearby has fabricated a similar concept, except it is not set to open until 2020. Resort World, a $7 billion project owned by Genting Group (a powerful Malaysian based company) is under way to become Las Vegas’s newest grand property, with 3,500 rooms on an 86-acre lot. Similar to the Lucky Dragon, Resorts World’s main thematic attraction reflects Asian cultures and lifestyles but in a larger and brighter light. Originally, property owners hoped to incorporate old Chinese architecture and design concepts throughout the resort, but in the end decided to shift towards design elements that would attract millennials and represent a more modern Asian culture, such as the types you would find in Shanghai, China.

The resort’s amenities are rumored to be “the future” of hotels, resort, and casino properties and what better city to debut futuristic and celestial lodging features than Vegas? As of now, final specifics regarding these hotel amenities have not been released, but there has been talk about the property’s main areas featuring live panda bears, an enlarged 56 story high traditional Chinese lantern , an old-style Chinese garden view from certain guest rooms, artificial outdoor water landmarks, a 150,00 square foot casino, and even an astral sphere that will take selfies of guests once they are checked into the property. This coexisting mix of traditional and innovative Chinese-Asian flare designs will bring a new light to what Vegas resorts and casinos are all about, and will change the Vegas hotel operations game in the near future once the property hosts its grand opening in 2020.

Vegas will always be Vegas, but with all these ongoing development reconstructions and upbringings, who knows if the typical lodging scene in the sin city will change once and for all. For many, anytime Las Vegas is mentioned, hotels and resorts such a the Bellagio, Caesars Palace, and the Venetian are the first few that naturally come to mind. However, these state-of-the-art properties such as the ones described above are possibly a catalyst to property trends and design modules that the city is to demand highly down the line. Las Vegas already attracts a certain crowd, a crowd that loves to party, gamble, indulge in prestigious lodging and dining, explore exclusive entertainment venues and events, and witness the unimaginable. What’s to come for the Las Vegas Strip in the next couple of years will be revolutionary for the sin city in terms of lodging and entertainment, and will offset a new wave of modernized destination trends never seen before.

New Nightclub On The Record Coming to Park MGM Las Vegas

On the record, twin-brother L.A. nightlife impresarios Mark and Jonnie Houston are coming to Las Vegas with their new nightlife concept, On the Record.

Known for creating multilayered entertainment spaces — such as Good Times at Davey Wayne’s, Black Rabbit Rose and the carnival-themed, politics-tinged Madame Siam Sideshow Emporium — that blend drinking, dancing, design, socializing and cool hidden “speakeasy” entrances, the fraternal twins have been considering Las Vegas for years. But a space in Park MGM (formerly the Monte Carlo), a resort developed in partnership between MGM Resorts and Sydell Group, helped seal the deal.

“Sydell made the intro to MGM Resorts, and we were courted by them for three years,” says Mark Houston.

The duo’s popular Break Room 86 is located inside Sydell’s Line Hotel in Koreatown.

“As avid visitors, we said, ‘Why not do Vegas?’” Mark says. “There is a demand for something new and to add another layer that the town doesn’t have right now.”

“In the past, when Mark and I went to Las Vegas there haven’t been a lot of [nightlife options] that appeal to us — we go to nice dinners, see a Cirque show, get a massage, do a little gambling,” says Jonnie. “There was nothing that drew us — it was the same nightclubs. We want to create an immersive experience to take people out of the norm. We want people to go out and have a good time.”

At 11,000 square feet, On the Record, situated across from the Park MGM theater (where Lady Gaga will also debut her residency New Year’s Eve), will be the largest venture to date for the Houstons but small by Las Vegas mega-club standards. But the brothers are quick to point out that they aren’t trying to compete with such hotspots as Marquee and Hakkasan (averaging around 50,000 square feet). “I do love those places for what they are and I do appreciate them,” Jonnie says. “What they do is amazing, and they are great at what they do.”

Divided into three main spaces but offering multiple experiences, On the Record will incorporate the hallmarks of the Houstons’ existing venues and is sure to lure Hollywood fans as their L.A. spots do (Joaquin Phoenix, Robert Pattinson, Billy Idol).

“[The norm right now in Vegas is] one big room with one DJ, bottle service — and if you don’t have a table, you may feel pushed aside. We want to create an experience where everyone feels important,” Jonnie says, adding that OTR will allow partiers “to escape and explore so you are not stuck in one room.” He compares it to “the best date I have ever had…. Every place you go a different piece of magic happens.”

“The entry of the space is a fully functioning record store,” says Mark. “As kids, we went to Tower Records and picked out records. On the Record is nostalgic and driven by our experiences. You had to work for it; vinyl had a raw, gritty vibe versus a download.” He adds that there will be a hidden entrance from the store into the club, a design that’s “something we haven’t done before.”

Inside will be a main room with hidden VIP areas and a reservation-only “speakeasy within a speakeasy,” which Mark calls the “jewel box.” The outdoor patio does not face Las Vegas Boulevard.

“[The vibe is] ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s — it is a journey,” Jonnie says. “Within the rooms there [will be a mix of ] DJs and opportunities for bands to bend their genres.”

As with their L.A. spots, the brothers will design the space themselves and curate found items that work with the theme. On the Record will offer bottle service and other types of communal imbibing like punch bowls. Food will be served by a yet-to-be named partner and the cocktail program will be a combination of their team and other mixologists.

“When I go to L.A. and see them doing such a good job of creating a vibe and an experience that is different, then that’s what gets me excited,” says Sean Christie, president of events and nightlife for MGM Resorts International. “I supported them to build infrastructure in Las Vegas so that we can have the best of both worlds, which is their creativity, their unique spin on the way they see the world, the types of places they do in L.A. — and then combine that with the expertise that I have related to nightclubs and Las Vegas.”

Over the last decade, Christie created some of the desert city’s most well-known and profitable nightclubs for Wynn Las Vegas — such as Blush and Encore Beach Club — and later served as executive vp business development for Wynn Resorts. He joined MGM Resorts in early 2018.

“I think the things that have really worked in the last 10 years are entertainment-driven concepts driven by DJs, artists or famous people — names that cause people to buy tickets, prepay for tables and make their itinerary based on a calendar, much like you would decide to see a live show,” Christie notes. “But I found myself sitting in Break Room 86 and I was having a lot of fun and I thought it could work. It was unexpected, and I’m a hard customer to please. We’re inundated so much with technology, and because of things like vinyl — lo-fi things — [On the Record] evokes a certain amount of nostalgia and imagery that hits your soft spots.”