The Man Behind The Ever-Changing Las Vegas Landscape
Andy Masi revolutionized Vegas nightlife in the 90's ...and he's doing it again
Andy Masi is basically the reason that Las Vegas is the worldwide nightlife and entertainment destination that it is today. When Masi moved to Vegas in the 90’s the only venue to socialize was the dreary casino lounge; there was a massive void that desperately needed to be filled. Masi explains,“the baby boomer generation was starting to retire and the next generation wanted a space to party and socialize, it was an untapped market.”
Masi and business partner, Andrew Sasson, pitched the idea to MGM Resorts and opened the first-ever nightclub in Vegas, LIGHT, located inside the Bellagio. It was an instant success, which led to the idea for a restaurant to attend prior to the nightclub… and then a cocktail lounge for nightclubbers to attend in-between dinner and the club. This revolutionary concept to localize the restaurant, cocktail lounge, and nightclub under the same roof as the casino establishment is now the standard throughout Las Vegas today.
Masi became the go-to guy for Vegas hotels and casinos seeking to infuse "cool" into properties. With Masi's guidance, The Light Group transformed the hospitality landscapes in the Bellagio, Mirage, Mandalay Bay, Aria, and Red Rock, among many others, with cutting edge restaurants and trendsetting nightlife. By 2014, The Light Group owned and operated 26 venues in some of the most luxurious hotels in the world and had an annual revenue of over $300 million.
“Back then, there was not one major nightclub in the casino. Now, there's multiple nightclubs in every casino. It’s grown to a billion dollar industry. They're building nightclubs that cost $125 million and generating close to $250 million per year.”
During his 14 years as Managing Partner & CEO of The Light Group, Masi's influence was palpable all over Las Vegas. He perfected the ideal nightclub scene, and his concepts are still being emulated by many hospitality companies today.
“The market has grown so much that food and beverage and entertainment has outgrown gaming revenue in Vegas,” Masi explains, “people are coming now to eat drink and spend. There’s a ton of good nightclubs, restaurants, and shows — the entire city changed.”
He sold the Light Group to Hakkasan Group for $36 million. After a short stint in retirement, Masi realized he wasn’t done with Vegas. There was now a different demographic that Vegas wasn’t fulfilling.
“There’s no cool bars anymore!” Masi exclaims, “Everything in Vegas became really big nightclubs with big cover charges and loud DJ’s. Where do you go just to have a drink in a cool place? No one is taking care of that customer. So we started building really cool bars and lounges to fit that demographic, as opposed to a big, loud nightclubs.”
Masi founded Clique Hospitality in 2015, a boutique group that focuses on trendy, cool bars and lounges. In his newest project, Masi is working with Palms Casino Resort to open APEX Social Club, part a $485 million property-wide renovation. The rooftop space, previously Ghostbar, held the unofficial title as the best view in Vegas. Masi’s intent is to capitalize on the unrivaled 180-degree view, while reinterpreting the 8,000-square-foot space into an open-air boutique nightclub.
“As we redevelop Palms from top to bottom including our most iconic spaces, it only makes sense to partner with nightlife leaders, Clique Hospitality, to help bring this vision to life,” says Jon Gray, General Manager of Palms Casino Resort. Masi’s vision for APEX is a space that embodies sophistication by complementing a stunning view with specially-crafted cocktails. The space will incorporate artist, Dustin Yellin’s Psychogeography sculpture series; eye-catching three dimensional humanoid sculptures infused in glass. “It’s the first time we’re having installations in the center of the venue. Four incredible works of art that are really dynamic and unique.”
Masi and Clique Hospitality currently operate 14 venues and shows no signs of slowing down. He always seems to be one step ahead, identifying gaps and reinventing what’s ‘cool.’