Early returns positive after Nikki Beach bets on Reno
August 13, 2007
Nikki Beach, an upscale club that cultivates a global brand name, took a chance when it opened a venue at Grand Sierra Resort and Casino last month.
The brand had honed an upscale image catering to the rich and famous in global tourist destinations such as South Beach Miami, Marrakech, Cabo San Lucas, Marbella, Spain and the French Riviera. The company questioned how Reno would fit in, says Vic Sutter, Nikki Beach’s local director of operations.
“We were a little hesitant of the market,” says Sutter, a 27-year-old transplant from Miami. “We looked at some of the (existing) clubs, the sizes of them. Some of them had trouble filling out their rooms, and that is a giant space out there for us to have. For us to be packed, we have to have 2,000 people in there. We were concerned, but we are really excited about the numbers. Once I saw the market I saw there was definitely a niche for us to lie into. I thought we could definitely have at least 1,000 a night, and we have had far beyond that.”
The Nikki Beach pool area and club venue spans nearly 84,000 square feet, says Heidi Baldwin, director of marketing for Grand Sierra Resort. Attendance for the first month, which can be loosely tracked by the wristbands given to each patron, stands at 10,000 patrons and at $20 per person cover charge, that’s a significant revenue source. The club is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
“We purchased 10,000 bands and we are out of them, so that is a good sign,” Sutter says. “Plus, that doesn’t even account for daily attendance from hotel guests and some of the locals.”
With drinks costing between $6 and $10, and some specialty drinks costing $11, alcohol sales also have been considerable, says Sutter. He adds that sales of bottles of pricey wine and other spirits are one of the club’s prime sources of overall beverage revenue.
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“People have been very hesitant about VIP bottle service in Reno. No one has really done it correctly or been successful at it. Half of our sales are VIP bottle sales,” he says.
Nikki Beach laid the foundation for the club’s success through an aggressive and early marketing campaign, says Sutter, who spent a great deal of time getting the word out with people around town.
“We did a lot of that grassroots. Maybe the brand wasn’t known here, but (people) were able to look at the Web site, look at the parties, and word of mouth spread and kind of gave us some legitimacy. The Nikki Beach brand is all over the world. That branding and that concept have been proven throughout the years.”
Few big night clubs in Reno have had long lives, and among those that have come and gone are Eddy’s Fabulous Fifties/America Live at Second and Sierra streets as well American Bandstand on Center Street.
Sutter says the club must constantly change its entertainment offerings in order to keep its momentum.
“We are an event-driven company, we always have been,” he says. “That is how we cater to celebrities.”
“I told my staff that we are going to hit a plateau,” he adds. “Maybe we won’t be doing 1,700 a night, we’ll only be doing 1,000. But that is still a number that is controllable, and it’s amazing to have 1,000 people in your club.”
Nikki Beach originally planned to renovate and operate several floors of condos at Grand Sierra Resort, but has since given up that plan in favor of a Nikki Beach resort and hotel at the property in future. Meanwhile, says Baldwin, the final top floor condo renovations were completed in the same fashion as the rest of the floors.