M Life Spring 2013 : Page 64
COVER STORY Get even more access to Tiësto’s electric vibes when he sits down with host Didiayer Snyder on M life TV, MGM Resorts’ exclusive in-room TV channel, or on the web at YouTube.com/mlifetv. 64 | M life
Explore the food-forward fare and body-moving beats of Hakkasan, MGM Grand’s must-visit new nightclub and restaurant.
When Hakkasan Las Vegas opened at MGM Grand, it wasn’t just the newest dining and nightlife destination on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip – it also became the largest. Spanning five stories totaling 80,000 square feet, Hakkasan Las Vegas merges the prestigious culinary brand with the cutting-edge nightclub expertise of Angel Management Group (AMG) to produce an unparalleled experience for foodies and clubgoers alike.
“What we have done is married the Hakkasan ethos – the quality and the food – with knowledge and experience to create a product that’s purely unique to this market and is not just another nightclub,” said AMG Founder and CEO Neil Moffitt.
While the Hakkasan name may be new to Las Vegas, it is well-regarded around the globe as one of the world’s most popular culinary destinations. Hakkasan’s flagship restaurant at Hanway Place in London opened in 2001, and by 2003 earned a coveted Michelin Star for its modern Cantonese cuisine, setting a high standard that has been carried over into subsequent Hakkasan locations in Mumbai, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Miami, New York City and, most recently, San Francisco.
“In London – which I find an extremely competitive market with great offerings – Hakkasan is in such demand that you would be shocked by the level of celebrities who can’t get a reservation,” Moffitt said. “It’s on the bucket list. You visit London, you visit Hakkasan.”
Although Moffitt is known for his successful nightclub ventures, both with AMG in Las Vegas and with Godskitchen around the globe, he also knows the ins-and-outs of running a restaurant, having gotten his start in the United Kingdom’s food and beverage industry. With such a dynamic background, Moffitt is confident he can help Hakkasan Las Vegas match – and raise the bar on – the established success of Hakkasan’s brand, both with the well-proven dining element and with the brand-new nightlife component.
“We have created a versatile facility that features celebrity appearances and performances as well as every DJ that we wanted,” Moffitt said. “We will remain open to developing new talent and new trends. With the venue, we have the ability to have one trend in one section and another trend in another, where they can either mix or be totally separate.”
In addition to Top 40 and hip hop, there is one musical style in particular the nightclub focuses on and that’s electronic dance music – more commonly known as EDM. In recent years, EDM’s popularity has swept through the United States after reigning in Europe for years, becoming the driving force in the country’s top nightclubs – and its pulsing, uplifting, futuristic beats have taken the Vegas Strip by storm as well.
“With electronic music being as big as it is today,” Moffitt said, “it’s the rock ’n’ roll of Europe. We now have the biggest electronic music festival in the world in Las Vegas – 300,000 people in a weekend is a very strong indication of how Las Vegas has really embraced this kind of music.”
To reinforce both its commitment to EDM and its new dominance among the already incomparable Vegas nightlife scene, Hakkasan has signed the world’s top electronic DJ, Tiësto, as its resident headliner. No stranger to either Las Vegas or the MGM Resorts’ family, the celebrated producer, remixer and performer will bring his “Club Life” experience to Hakkasan for 40 nights in its first 20 months, creating a one-of-a-kind clubbing experience for fans new and old.
“I was looking for a new challenge,” Tiësto said. “I’ve loved Las Vegas since the first time I came here. I love the city – it’s a dynamic, energetic city – especially the nightlife. It’s so beautiful. I always wanted to be a resident here, but I’ve never had the opportunity to do it right because dance music wasn’t big enough. Vegas was not ready for EDM, but now they are, and I’m excited about it.”
Tiësto is so excited, in fact, that he’s eschewing his residency in fabled European nightlife mecca Ibiza to focus on his residency at Hakkasan Las Vegas. It’s fitting – and somewhat ironic – because Ibiza is where the then-relatively unknown Tiësto scored his first weekly residency at a club promoted by none other than Moffitt himself.
“I first started working with Tiësto in 1998, and I’ve been involved with his career pretty much since inception,” Moffitt said. “I’m extremely proud of him, I’m extremely proud of his achievements, I’m extremely proud for whatever role I played in it. I trust him and he trusts me. I know that every night he’s going to step into the DJ booth, he’s going to give it 100%, the customer is going to leave totally fulfilled with the experience of Tiësto, and he knows that we are delivering to him a platform where he can move the needle and continue to evolve while giving his fans what they want.”
That experience includes being given wide latitude to fully realize the “Club Life” atmosphere inside Hakkasan Las Vegas, from the design of the DJ booth, sound and lighting, to bringing in hand-selected talent, to creating music mixes that deliver to clubgoers a transcendent vibe unlike any other.
“The ‘Club Life’ mix is all about what my vision is of a club,” Tiësto said. “Not necessarily just about me, but musically, vibe wise, what I think the club lifestyle should be about. Everything super over-the-top, the best of the best. Everything with the latest techniques: lights, sound, production, the decoration. And music wise, I’m going to develop new artists and play the best I can every week.”
In addition to his appearances at Hakkasan Las Vegas, Tiësto’s residency also includes more than 20 dates at WET REPUBLIC Ultra Pool also at MGM Grand, where the legendary DJ will bring a modified version of his “Club Life” experience into the sun revelers.
“It’s a completely different experience,” said Tiësto of playing a daytime pool party. “You don’t have the lights and the visuals going on, so it’s more vocally driven music, a lot of party music. It’s awesome, but it’s a very different vibe and I am influenced by where I am, so that will definitely shape my set in a different way.”
Tiësto will be joined – both at Hakkasan Las Vegas and WET REPUBLIC – by some of the world’s most acclaimed and in-demand Djs, including Toronto-spawned Deadmau5, who brings his iconic, mouse-like headgear and heart-pumping dance music to MGM Grand’s night- and daylife venues for 20 months. Also poised to set the sound systems on fire are energetic DJ/producer and Dim Mak Records Founder Steve Aoki and GRAMMY Award-winning DJ, producer and songwriter Calvin Harris, who has committed to an epic 46 dates at Hakkasan Las Vegas and 22 at WET REPUBLIC.
“I have worked with Neil Moffitt for years and I have a lot of faith in his vision for Hakkasan Las Vegas,” said Scotland native Harris. “I am excited to be part of this historic venture. It will be a new era for Las Vegas and for the dance music scene.”
If EDM is the star of the show when it comes to the nightclub side of the Hakkasan experience, then there is no doubt that the food-forward, Chinese-inspired menu that has pleased palates around the world is the headliner on the dining side. Visitors can expect to find global favorites such as stir-fried, Black Pepper Beef with merlot or Roasted Silver Cod with champagne and Chinese honey. That said, Moffitt expects there to be a few surprises on the Hakkasan Las Vegas menu.
“At each Hakkasan there are some items that are unique to the venue,” Moffitt said. “The menu is similar, but never the same. There are core dishes, the fundamental backbone, but Chef Ho Chee Boon is very much into developing new dishes for new markets.”
In addition to their 15 years of collaboration, another thing Moffitt and Tiësto have shared for years is a mutual love of Hakkasan simply as customers. As fans of the cuisine, the two nightlife powerhouses could not be happier to be involved in bringing the brand to Las Vegas.
“I’ve been to all the Hakkasans around the world,” Tiësto said. “I love the food. It never gets boring; they have so many dishes. I love the duck, the soups, the meats. The ribs are amazing. I will eat there every time I play.”
The food is not the only aspect of the original location being imported and improved upon at Hakkasan Las Vegas – so is the design philosophy. Taking cues from Hanway Place’s rich, sultry, Shanghai-chic aesthetic, MGM Grand’s iteration plays up those strengths through ambient sounds, scents and lighting, providing the perfect setting for Hakkasan’s high-end, yet accessible, atmosphere.
“Globally, you can expect to find a New York banker, a middle-class couple, an eclectic mix of people,” Moffitt said. “That was something we had to keep in mind when we designed the menu. It has something for everybody – it’s something we wanted to achieve there.”
Indeed, although the nightlife aspects of Hakkasan Las Vegas will be distinctive from the restaurant core, the quality of the Hakkasan experience will resonate on all five levels of the venue in one way or another.
“We have multiple floors, so the closer you are to the restaurant in proximity, the more DNA of the restaurant you will feel,” Moffitt said. “The further you get from the restaurant, the more independent you will feel, but you will always feel like you are part of the Hakkasan DNA.”
With such quality “genes,” there is little doubt the Hakkasan Las Vegas experience not only lives up to the high standards established by the restaurant globally, but ups the ante both for the brand and for Las Vegas dining and nightlife.
“Hakkasan is timeless,” Moffitt said. “We’ve created something that’s hot today, but will remain hot in the future. Hakkasan is destined to top the bucket list for people visiting Las Vegas.”
What we have done is married the Hakkasan ethos – the quality and the food – with knowledge and experience to create a product that’s purely unique to this market and is not just another nightclub.
Hakkasan is timeless. We’ve created something that’s hot today, but will remain hot in the future. Hakkasan is destined to top the bucket list for people visiting Las Vegas.
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