Las Vegas in the early aughts was the right place and time for Andy Masi. The town was shedding its previous family-friendly persona, transforming into a culinary destination, and thanks to Masi, nightlife became an entity of its own. Now, he’s reinventing the scene again with endeavors at the Palms, including Apex Social Club and Camden Cocktail Lounge.
Masi’s first Strip endeavor was Light at Bellagio, which ushered in an era of massive, million-dollar nightclubs appointed with big room DJs, banging sound systems and the ultimate see-and-be-seen status symbol: bottle service. Then the floodgates opened: Masi and Light Group opened venues at The Mirage, Mandalay Bay and Aria, each bigger and more extravagant than the last with lines snaking out the door and crowds huddled behind velvet ropes waiting to be part of the scene.
A decade later, Masi, much like Las Vegas itself, is once again in the midst of another transformation. “We went from a place that really had no nightlife to a place with too much nightlife,” Masi says of the city. With his latest company, Clique Hospitality, he’s moved towards smaller scale nights out, including venues like the chic Clique Lounge at Cosmopolitan or the neighborhood-feeling Hearthstone Kitchen at Red Rock Resort, as well as expanded to other markets including San Diego and Washington, D.C. “I saw a higher-end market that was looking for a cool bar, a great restaurant. [They] don’t want to be crammed in with 5,000 people, looking to a DJ.”
The impresario’s latest developments are part of Palm’s $620 million renovation—the 55th floor Apex created its own sort of social feng shui with tables and seating designed to encourage a convivial atmosphere and four giant Dustin Yellin sculptures in the middle of the room. “We’re actually encouraging you to talk to the person next to or in front of you,” says Masi. First floor Camden Cocktail Lounge is inspired by the cool speakeasies from across the pond with cleverly crafted cocktails by talented mixologists, stunning visuals such as a ceiling that glitters with black and gold pebbles, and two pieces by renowned American artist Richard Prince. “You’re going from Real World to high-end art world,” he adds, a nod to the Palms being the first home to MTV’s The Real World: Las Vegas. “Nothing against the Real World,” he laughs. “There was a time for it, but it’s not now.”
Photos Courtesy of Clique Hospitality