LOS ANGELES (
) -- It's official: The nightlife recession is over.
From Las Vegas to California to New York, a new batch of restaurants and nightclubs are setting up velvet ropes, pressing napkins and prepping the finishing details on their autumn grand openings.
City Center becomes Vegas epicenter:
Vegas is facing the reality of its booming past as MGM Mirage City Center prepares for an unveiling beginning Dec. 1. A massive urban landmark that probably sounded like a better idea in a real-estate bubble than the harsh reality of a recession and hospitality glut,
has not only transformed the Vegas skyline but also the dining and nightlife landscape with a fresh batch of eateries and nightlife venues.
December 1 ushers in a new era of shopping chic in Vegas with the opening of The Crystals at City Center, a retail-and-entertainment center that's home to Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and Mikimoto. The Crystals will also be home to Wolfgang Puck, Mastro's Ocean Grill and Eva Longoria's Beso, a Vegas offshoot of the L.A.-based dining room popular with celebs like Victoria Beckham and Kate Beckinsale.
An artist's rendering of Shawn McClain's new Sage restaurant at Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
The marquee of VIP chefs at
, opening Dec. 16, reads like a who's who of James Beard awards. Three-star Michelin chef Masayoshi Takayama debuts Shaboo, an elegant remake of a classic shahu-shabu dining room along with the more casual Bar Masa boutique eatery. Another new name to Vegas, Shawn McClain of Chicago's Custom House and Spring presents Sage, a farm-to-table sustainable-gourmet eatery specializing in meats and seafood. Other new eateries set to open at Aria Resort & Casino include Michael Mina's American Fish, Le Cirque spin-off Sirio Ristorante, Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Steakhouse and Julian Serrano.
Adding to its cache as the hottest new casino on the strip, Aria has recruited Vegas' premiere nightlife promoters, Light Group (JET, Bank), to manage several venues within City Center. Nightlife revelers will discover the all-new dining concept Union Restaurant, a playful American brasserie with adjacent Deuce Lounge overlooking the main casino floor. Hoping to capitalize on the success of WET at MGM and Tao Beach, Liquid is Aria's new adult-only pool lounge offering VIP cabana service and a summertime scene of DJs and "beach club"-style parties opening in 2010. Haze will be the hotel's VIP nightclub, designed by ICRAVE, offering a grandstand stage for impromptu celebrity performances and nightly dance parties.
Andre Balazs' new NYC penthouse lounge:
The hottest hotel in the Meatpacking District since its opening in July,
recently unveiled its penthouse VIP lounge with a celebrity guest list that included Madonna, Jude Law and Tamara Mellow. Previously called the Boom Boom Room, the name of the lounge was promptly changed to QT due to issues with another San Francisco-based bar by the same name. QT has a new lease on life and a fancy new following that's made it NYC's hotspot du jour.
Not advertised on the hotel Web site and rarely mentioned to the hotel's guests, QT is a VIP destination that feels anything but standard. Dripping in creamy-wood paneling, freestanding fireplace and brass-trimmed bar, the space is tended by cutesy staff in double-breasted white bellman jacket or cocktail dresses. Guests traipse between leather loungers with linear details that recreate '60s lounge culture. Balazs' best hotel lounge to date, the space offers vertigo-inducing views in all directions with a head-on horizon overlooking the Hudson and a section of Plexiglas flooring with suicidal glimpses 18-floors below.
Foodie cult icon makes L.A. debut:
Some call it the Spago killer.
is preparing to make its Hollywood entrance in a glassy two-story dining room and bakery a salmon pizza's toss away from Wolfgang Puck's famed Spago. The ubiquitous chef behind French Laundry and Per Se, Thomas Keller is hardly an L.A. virgin. Keller spent a short stint in L.A., following the closing of his NYC eatery Raykel, where he worked at Checkers Hotel (now Hilton Checkers Hotel) before starting the foodie Bethlehem of French Laundry. Scheduled to open Nov. 18, the Bouchon reservation will surely be the toughest in L.A. It will offer a menu of Fresh brasserie dishes already perfected at existing locations in Yountville and Las Vegas.
Afterward, have your car service zoom you by the new
located in a former S&M den in West Hollywood. Voyeur is the creation of Vegas import Matt Bendik, formerly of Light Group, who unveils an elegant and steamy new dance club equal parts "Eyes Wide Shut" and Dita Von Tesse. The space is a dazzler. A long entrance hall is laid in impressive hand-sewn carpeting that leads to a sultry main bar lined in wide-plank walnut floors and central seating area with a living-room theme. The dance floor is at the back of the club with banquette seating as well as a backroom VIP area with additional bar and alleyway exit to flee from lurking paparazzi.
Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.