The Palms makes a play to become Vegas’ new party spot

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Kaos, the new daylife and nightclub space at the Palms Casino Resort, features a pool area with 39 cabanas, many of which have their own private pool.
Kaos, the new daylife and nightclub space at the Palms Casino Resort, features a pool area with 39 cabanas, many of which have their own private pool.

Over the past year, the Palms Casino Resort has been gradually rolling out the results of a $690 million reinvention. First there was a new casino floor with a centerpiece bar designed by Damien Hirst. A signature steakhouse followed, along with an updated concert hall and fresh rooftop lounge where ghostly Dustin Yellin collages stand like sentinels around the dance floor. Chefs Marc Vetri and Michael Symon debuted new restaurants, the Fantasy Tower’s hotel rooms had a stylish update and the famous themed and penthouse suites have been completely renovated, now going for up to $100,000 per night.

Gradually the construction walls have come down, and the new Palms has taken shape: a contemporary casino-resort that could double as a fine-art scavenger hunt, the kind of place you feel cooler just for having walked in the door.

But one of the renovation’s most ambitious projects has until recently remained out of view, stretching along Flamingo Road, hidden behind work barriers. On April 4, Kaos was revealed. Expect crowds.

Kaos is the Palms’ new daylife and nightclub campus, an approximately 100,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor landscape entirely devoted to showing partiers a good time.

“It plays a major role, if not the biggest role, in driving awareness and visitation,” said Palms general manager Jon Gray. “It’s our largest traffic-driving opportunity. It can fit up to 8,000 people.”

To maximize that opportunity, the Palms worked with Friedmutter Group Las Vegas and the Rockwell Group to create a space that emphasizes both performance and design.

A Damien Hirst bronze statue -- the 60-foot-tall, headless creature dubbed “Demon With Bowl” -- sits above the water on a platform in the center of one of two main pools surrounded by 39 cabanas, many with their own private pools. Swing chairs out front add a fun touch, and individual audio controls enable visitors to adjust the levels of their cabana speakers, so they can rage as hard, or as soft, as they want.

Gray points to the high-end furnishings and finishes as giving the pool an elevated feel often missing from spaces that need to survive day after day of sunshine, pool water and spilled drinks as well as an intuitive layout that encourages movement.

“The flow is something we spent a lot of time obsessing over,” Gray said. “We want people to spend time exploring.”

A giant glass wall will open the nightclub to the pool deck, and other as-yet-to-be-named art pieces will make an appearance. But when it comes to Kaos’ design, “it’s hard to top the ‘Demon,’” Gray said. “You’ve got to see it to believe it.”

If anyone can upstage an oversize denizen of the underworld, it’s Cardi B. The 5-foot-3-inch rapper is one of the statement-making names on Kaos’ entertainment roster, a first-time Las Vegas resident performer who, alongside fellow residents like G-Eazy, Skrillex, Marshmello and Jauz represents a wide-ranging booking strategy for the new club. The Zac Brown Band is playing Sunday night of the grand opening weekend. Gray said future crossover bookings with the Pearl Concert Theater are likely.

“We’ve already seen the ticket sales. We’re trending way ahead of pace,” Gray said, pointing to general admission passes in the mid-$200s for Cardi B and high-dollar table requests at upwards of $40,000.

One of the club’s advantages is opening relatively late in the dayclub era of Las Vegas. Gray said that allowed the Palms to design a space for how the industry has evolved, making it a performance-driven venue that caters to both talent and attendees. The 14-foot custom DJ booth sits on a moving base that rotates a full 360 degrees, enabling the DJ to perform to both the nightclub and dayclub sides with the flip of a switch.

Talent is booked four days a week, and a massive LED screen -- the largest in Vegas at 270 feet tall -- spans the hotel’s Ivory Tower, broadcasting the scene to clubgoers as well as to anyone passing on the street.

“It’s truly like throwing a music festival every weekend,” Gray said. “There’s no bad seat in the house.”

And this house will stay open throughout the year. Come wintertime, a climate-controlled dome will cover about half the pool deck, creating a space that can hold more than 3,000 people until summer hits and the true chaos arrives once again.

“We’re setting ourselves up nicely to be the nightlife leader in Las Vegas,” Gray said. A very calculated kind of Kaos.

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