From Singapore To The US: How This Asian Nightlife Brand Is Taking Over The Las Vegas Party Scene
Six years ago, Singapore partygoers responded with a mix of emotions when news broke that Genting Hong Kong—a subsidiary of Malaysian conglomerate Genting Group—had acquired the country’s most iconic nightclub, Zouk, for an undisclosed amount. Many longtime Zouk fans were sceptical of whether it was the right move for the club, which has become an institution for several generations of Singaporeans since it opened in 1991.
While Zouk’s future seemed uncertain to clubbers, it was never clearer to the Genting team. For Lim Keong Hui, the son of Genting Group chairman Lim Kok Thay, and Zouk’s then-newly minted CEO Andrew Li, the future was in expansion, both in terms of the lifestyle concepts that Zouk could offer as well as its presence worldwide.
“The Zouk brand has such an emotional connection with Singapore, that’s why we’ve been careful with how we grow it from day one,” says Li. “But we also understand that it needs to be a [sustainable] business, so Hui and I tapped on our experiences with nightlife from around the world in order to elevate some of Zouk’s experiences.”
And expand it did. In 2019, Zouk opened its second nightclub in Malaysia, a 34,000 sq ft space in the mountains at the Resorts World Genting. Its first club in Malaysia, situated in the city of Kuala Lumpur, opened in 2004 when the brand was still helmed by its founder, Lincoln Cheng.
In 2020, the temporary closure of nightclubs across Singapore due to the Covid-19 outbreak saw Li and his team responding quickly with a pivot plan. This led to the club opening up its spaces for other purposes, such as spin classes, a restaurant and a cinema pop-up.
This year will be the biggest yet for the Zouk Group. In September, it brings its experiences to the US for the first time with the launch of its newest—and largest—nightclub, in Las Vegas.
Spanning 26,060 sq ft, the nightclub can fit up to 2,160 partygoers, compared to 1,500 at its Singapore location. It has two party rooms—the main Zouk room and the more hip-hop focused Empire—as well as Capital bar, which has an unusual circular design and is connected to all the rooms.
There will also be a state-of-the-art “mothership” ceiling centrepiece, seen in varying forms in all of Zouk’s nightclubs, which can move from room to room and change the backdrop of the venue through lighting effects.
Other tech features of the club include a digital guest list and interactive 3D booking maps, which will let guests see the exact table they are booking.
Alongside the nightclub, Zouk is also launching other entertainment and lifestyle concepts. This includes the Ayu Dayclub, a tropical-themed beach club that will open on July 4 with a performance by Miley Cyrus; Famous Foods Street Eats, a multi-eatery concept serving Southeast Asian street fare that opened its doors last week; social gaming bar Redtail; and contemporary Asian restaurant Fuhu.
At two of these dining spots, there will be food that bears a personal connection to Li and Lim, who are longtime friends. At Fuhu, those dishes are the crispy aromatic duck and Boston lobster noodles, which Li said he and Lim would often have when they were studying at a boarding school in London. “These two dishes always give us strong feelings of nostalgia as we grew up eating them, especially when we were missing home,” says Li, whose family hails from Hong Kong. At Redtail, it's the spaghetti bolognese, which is another favourite of Li's and his idea of “the ultimate comfort food”.
According to Zouk, its Vegas concepts cost upward of US$70 million to build. They sit within the Genting Group’s US$4.3 billion Resorts World Las Vegas development, which is the first big launch the neon-lit Vegas Strip has seen in over a decade.
Last Thursday, the integrated resort started welcoming guests to its hotels and most of its dining establishments as part of its first phase of openings. It features 3,500 hotel rooms managed by three brands, including Hilton and Conrad, as well as a 5,000-seat theatre where Celine Dion and Katy Perry will perform later this year.
Its casino is also reportedly the first in the world to go fully cashless, with plans to eventually allow guests to be able to pay in cryptocurrency.
See also: Is Crypto Doomed To Be Unsustainable? Maybe Not
According to Li, the timing to open a new nightclub—and integrated resort of such scale—in Vegas has never been better. “Looking at the past weekends, there’s been a lot of revenge spending in Vegas, where everything’s open and you don’t have to wear a mask anywhere anymore,” he says. “Also, nearly 50 percent of the US population have been vaccinated, so there are a lot of people who are now ready to go out and party—and Vegas is known for that.”
Indeed, the city has been getting a lot of attention lately; last year, it saw the launch of the US$1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium, which serves as the home base of the Las Vegas Raiders football team. And earlier this year, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s The Boring Company unveiled the twin tunnels that it had built underneath the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) to shuttle people around the massive venue in Teslas. Called the LVCC Loop, it will later be connected to a wider Vegas Loop system that’s still being developed and will have stations located at the stadium, airport and Strip.
“There’s been a lot of things happening in Vegas recently that it feels like it’s reinventing itself,” says Li. “I think the opening of Resort Worlds Las Vegas is almost like the reopening of Las Vegas. The excitement surrounding its launch has been crazy because everyone knows that it’s going to be something special.”
See more honourees from the Entertainment category of the Gen.T List.