Nightclub Hall of Fame Victor Drai
Victor Drai is the epitome of self-starting entrepreneurial success. From humble beginnings, Drai’s business savvy was evident by the age of 16 when he started an extermination company. He became a restaurateur in the south of France at 19 and added fashion to his portfolio of success when he created a clothing company by the age of 22. From business owner to movie producer to restaurant owner and more, today Drai is regarded by many as the “father of the Las Vegas afterhours scene.” A nightlife mogul, Victor Drai is the creator and founder of Las Vegas’ mega clubs Tryst and XS, and the visionary owner behind Drai’s After Hours and Drai’s Beach Club • Nightclub at The Cromwell in Las Vegas, as well as the celebrated new Sunset Plaza restaurant, Rare by Drai’s in Los Angeles.
Prior to solidifying his firm foothold in the Las Vegas nightlife scene, Drai forayed into the entertainment industry. During one of his trips from the U.S. to Paris, he had a chance meeting with legendary actress Jacqueline Bisset, sparking a long friendship and opening doors in the industry. The two remained close, and Drai eventually stepped away from the clothing company he was operating to pursue a bold new beginning in the United States. After several years in the U.S., Drai hit cinematic gold with the first motion picture he produced, the 1984 romantic comedy The Woman in Red starring Gene Wilder, Kelly LeBrock, Gilda Radner and Charles Grodin. He followed that with such popular films as The Man with One Red Shoe, Folks, The Bride and the blockbuster Weekend at Bernie’s, all of which were produced solely by Drai.
Concurrent with his producer credits, he opened several successful restaurants, including his renowned Los Angeles flagship Drai’s in 1993. In 1997, Drai capitalized on a Las Vegas opportunity and opened Drai’s on the Strip restaurant which quickly became the hottest table in town. Two years later, Drai added a nightclub element to the restaurant, transforming it into Drai’s After Hours. The club’s 1 a.m. to early morning schedule and format pioneered the after-hours venue concept.
In 2007, Drai took over faltering club La Bete at Wynn Las Vegas and with his vision and attention to detail completely remodeled it to create the impressive Tryst nightclub. Soon after, he eliminated the restaurant element and focused solely on his two nightclub jewels- Drai’s After Hours and Tryst nightclub.
Victor Drai What was the overall concept for the space?
I had been imagining a rooftop club for over 15 years. I always felt what was missing from the Las Vegas nightlife scene was a spectacular rooftop space. I wanted to create a multi-tiered, experiential concept where the club was the actual star – not just the DJ’s that played there, so Drai’s Beach Club & Nightclub was designed to have a ‘wow’ factor from the minute you enter. I designed it to take advantage of the fact that we have the most spectacular views imaginable, as well as unobstructed sun during the day. Thankfully, Caesars decided to create The Cromwell and my vision was able to become a reality.
What were some challenges involved in bringing it to life?
There is always a challenge to create something that has never been done before. Designing and building the most technologically advanced club featuring multiple pools, private cabanas, and state-of-the-art light and sound systems is hard enough… doing it on a rooftop makes it more difficult. We definitely had to overcome engineering and budget difficulties, but along with our partners from Caesars, we never compromised on our mission to build the best nightclub in Las Vegas.
How did the team overcome those challenges?
We worked as a team! Michael Gruber and myself worked with the team at Caesars to overcome any hurdle that came our way. There was never a point where anyone ever said ‘it can’t be done.’How did the final product differ from the original vision? Originally, there was talk of the entire hotel being branded Drai’s, but then we all realized that we should focus on the rooftop and make it the best it could be. It’s the collective goal of everyone involved with The Cromwell to literally make Drai’s the crowning jewel atop this amazing new hotel. Overall, I’d say the final product is remarkably close to my original dream and concept.
What will be the new normal for rooftop spaces going forward?
Well, for Las Vegas (and maybe anywhere) we believe we have created something that cannot be duplicated. There is no other property like The Cromwell available in Las Vegas (maybe not even in the country), but rooftops will always be developed as the lure is too great to ignore. However, we have gone well beyond what will ever be considered normal for rooftop spaces.