The destination that caters for every human desire is poised for one of the world’s most exciting festival projects, but that’s just the start…
When it comes to event trends, Vegas doesn’t keep its secrets for long. The entertainment Mecca has championed world-wide phenomena from Cirque Du Soleil to megastar residencies, but Access’ recent trip to the tax-friendly State of Nevada unearthed some game changing projects.
Not to be left behind by the trend for ‘festivalisation‘, Area15, set to open in 2020, is taking the concept into futuristic dimensions.
Billed as an ‘immersive bazaar’, this experiential retail and entertainment complex by day will double as a must-attend night spot where artists are put ‘front and centre’. The project is also well-positioned for the much-billed merging of events and retail, with areas dedicated to VR and AR experiences aimed at forward thinking companies.
AREA15 is a joint venture between real estate development firm Fisher Brothers and creative agency Beneville Studios, both of New York. The project signed Meow Wolf, a multi-media production company based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as its anchor tenant. Meow Wolf (of which Game of Thrones author George RR Martin is one of the biggest investors) creates immersive, interactive experiences focusing on ‘story and exploration’ through fabrication, painting, sculpture, architecture, virtual and augmented reality, sound, performative experiences and interactivity.
Creatives on the project (see boxout) have backgrounds in companies including Live Nation, and cite inspiration from festival experiences including Burning Man. The space will include input from arts collective Beowulf who will build art exhibits, and activations. The events on offer will include deep house and EDM festivals, drone racing, TED Talks, and even a barbecue competition.
Access took part in a hard hat tour of the space, located next to Interstate 15, and spanning 11,705sqm, with 6,317sqm of leasable ground floor space and up to 5,388sqm of mezzanine space. Area15 will also boast a 3,716sqm outdoor event space suited for live music, festivals, corporate events, and e-sport tournaments, positioned adjacent to the retail and dining options. The indoor and outdoor event space has the capacity to accommodate up to 3,000 guests at a time, with plans to host more than 100 events per year.
Ashley Treviso, marketing manager at AREA15, told Access that the project is breaking all the norms of retail and events. “All our tenants bring new experiences, and won’t be considered unless they are pushing boundaries. How a visitor chooses to interact with the space is up to them. They can solve a mystery, or use our VR elements to, say, walk through a fridge into an ice land, or into an enchanted forest where they can see and feel their surroundings. Immersive theatre has taken off in LA and New York, but this is a first of its kind, and you can spend a day here.”
VR company Nomadic will have a tenancy in AREA15, offering experiences that incorporate physical props, such as buttons, levers and environmental effects, to complement the fantastical world that players will experience within their VR goggles. Nomadic will occupy 557sqm next to AREA15’s anchor tenant Meow Wolf.
“Our core experience is festivals, and all our event spaces, allow for branding and creating atmosphere you want. Ryan Kruger, formerly of Live Nation, was bought in to head up partnership strategy, and was tasked with deciding on the vibe we want to create. He brought a lot of house and techno leverage to bear,” continues Treviso.
“The outdoor space is covered with space for a stages, grids for wires, and entrances for driving in food truck. ‘Emporium’ on the second floor has space for 500 guests, and downstairs there’s more semi-private space for 200, overlooking our 23ft tall Japanese maple tree, complete with LEDs.”
The talent behind Area15
Access runs-down the experience making Area15 a must-see attraction.
Ryan Kruger, managing director events and entertainment
Kruger brings 25 years of entertainment industry experience to Area15. He oversses all entertainment and events hosted at the complex. Prior to joining Area15, Kruger created or co-created numerous world-renowned music festivals including The Digital Dreams Music Festival, The World Electronic Music, ÎleSoniq Music Festival and Further Future. He also founded Electronic Nation, the electronic music division of Live Nation Canada. Most recently, he co-launched a new music festival called Vujuday in Barbados. Kruger is known for his work with Live Nation and Destiny Events Productions.
Josh Baro, senior sales manager
Josh Baro brings his successful track record of meeting and exceeding sales goals. Baro focuses on booking events in the complex’s unique spaces. Before joining Area15, he was an event sales manager and part of the opening team for Topgolf. Prior to that, he handled all sales for Airstar America where he was the sales assistant.
George Jaramillo, event operations manager
Possessing a rich background in event planning from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles and for nearly 10 years in Las Vegas, George Jaramillo is now charged with executing event operations at AREA15. Previously, Jaramillo was at Wynn Las Vegas where he was an event manager for luxury dining and special events. He also brings extensive club experience as Jaramillo has worked numerous, top grossing nightclubs in the world including XS and Encore Beach Club.
Tara Engler, community partnership and programmes manager
Engler’s role is expanding to include community outreach which entails cultivating meaningful relationships and cross-promotional partnerships within the local community. In addition, she is building an enhanced philanthropic presence in Las Vegas by reaching out to Southern Nevada-based organisations to develop partnerships for 2020 and beyond. Engler brings more than 15 years of travel and tourism experience. She moved to Las Vegas from the East Coast where she served as a production coordinator for Disney Theatrical Productions; destination services manager for NYC & Company and client relations and studio manager for Beneville Studios, AREA15’s current creative agency.
AREA15 wasn’t the only venue that pointed the way for future innovations. MGM, the legendary worldwide media giant, is onto a winner with On The Record, a nightclub and event space located in the Park MGM and created by Los Angeles twins, Jonnie and Mark Houston.
Combining nostalgia with a sense of playfulness, On The Record replicates the joy of hanging out in a record store or a long-lost musical hub, and features a speakeasy, a giant red London-style bus, karaoke rooms and a club experience. It can host events for up to 750 people.
The club’s facade is styled as a record store entrance off the main casino floor; it includes three rooms, featuring both indoor and outdoor spaces, providing space for dancing—or relaxing and exploring On the Record’s cocktail menu. When Access experienced the space, rap veteran KRS One made an appearance, turning up as if by magic from behind the bar where a secret stage is revealed via a revolving mechanism.
Festivals and major events underway
Vegas’ evolution from casinos to creative curation has been a deliberate path. Access spoke to the LVCVA, which promotes Las Vegas as a destination for leisure and business travel, about the destination’s changing face.
LVCVA’s vice president of business sales John Schreiber says: “We’re getting around 750,000 visitors from UK, and our total visitors are around 19% international. Festival-wise, Vegas is buoyant. Electric Daisy Carnival is our largest, and continues to grow. It recently changed dates, and is now in May, as in June the heat was a little excessive. It clocked in 300,000 attendees, and I see more potential visitors coming as the Raiders’ Allegiance Stadium comes online.
“Life is Beautiful festival (20-22 September) has been fantastic too, and I iHeartRadio festival (21 September) has further diversified the product offering.”
Always synonymous with boxing and UFC, Vegas has now hosted the National Hockey League for the last two seasons, as well as NASCAR, which has two races in the spring and fall.
Raiders entrance then will be significant, bringing 42 million visitors to the city, via the 6th busiest airport in North America. “We have 150,000 hotel rooms within five miles,” adds Schreiber. “You can’t find a city with those numbers anywhere in the world. Magnate Shell Andelson dream to bring the Raiders here was finally realised, and we’re bringing the draft here in 2020.”
Vegas has also attracted the world’s foremost innovators, including Elon Musk, whose Boring company recently began work on LVCVA’s convention centre, which is due to open in 2021. “They’re currently in the back corner of the South Hall. It’ll be on the eastern side of the building. They’re just relocating storm drains and utilities before they start lowering the mining machine into the ground for the boring,” Schreiber says.
“There’ll be three stops, one underground station (Station 2), and tunnels stretching a little over a mile, taking around three minutes to travel from start to finish. 4,400 people per hour are slated to travel in the tunnel. The goal is to be open in CES 2021.
“It’s an exciting time for sure, and I was in Hawthorn, California to experience the tunnel prototype, and we also took in SpaceX’s headquarters. We’re the first commercial application for The Boring Company, and once people experience it, it’ll be an attraction in itself.”
Visitors will be riding in Teslas, which will eventually operate autonomously. Elon Musk has delivered an alternative to traffic issues at a low cost. “It will be better than subway or train or monorail. We’re going to use Tesla’s model 3 and model X and a high capacity vehicle. There’ll be two tunnels going either direction. In Nevada we’ve already granted autonomous vehicle licensing, with autonomous BMW 5 Series operating in Downtown.”
Meanwhile, Schreiber ran down some of the big things coming to Vegas in the coming years, including the MSG Sphere in late 2020. Designed for concerts and events, the space features 16,000 seats and laser pointed sound.
Already in action, however, was Hyde Lounge at T-Mobile Arena, which is leading the way for major event hospitality. Located high above the event action with two exclusive Tower Club event spaces, the Stella Artois Lounge and Grey Goose Lounge, the 1,672sqm space also features an intimate lounge experience complete with bottle service, plush banquette couches, high-energy DJs, VIP elevator access, a selection of culinary treats, and skyline views of the famed Las Vegas Strip.
Despite this sort of opulence, Vegas has taken a giant u-turn in terms of sustainability. Access learnt about Wynn hotel’s awe-inspiring green innovations when we sat down with Pedram Pakneshan, assistant VP of convention sales at the Wynn Las Vegas. He discussed the property’s switch to 100% renewable power, a Herculean effort not without its bureaucratic obstacles. “Vegas is experiencing a renaissance in events and we’re at the forefront of figuring out our client’s needs. We opened our own solar field in December, 400 miles north of here, spanning 160 acres, and we create enough to power 75% of the entire resort’s peak electric demand. By the time the new resort upgrade opens in 2021 there’ll have been enough innovation, alongside our new solar roof, to run the entire resort,” he says.
“Our big blue chip clients were demanding this change, but now even the smaller ones require things like zero waste. It’s the right thing to do, but we’re the only strip property who can retire energy credits on behalf of our convention clients, so we’re putting together some new packages to get zero waste or carbon footprint. Second, food sourcing all comes within 400 miles of the resort and our recycling programme ensures a single stream, all goes into one bin, separated on property. On average 42% of resort waste is recycled, but for events, that’s closer to 90%. We also have a network of non-profits working to get rid of specifically built items for events.
“The only thing we were unsure about is straws, so we created our own sustainable straw that biodegrades in 90 days, so we created the change ourselves. Our ‘to-go ‘packaging is in our stores is made of the same material. This is really great, because everything else at our events is reusable china, or glassware. We’re looking at using aluminium next for bottles that don’t not leave the property. It’s a higher cost upfront, but when you have 1000s per month it is worthwhile.”
As our trip continued, Access experienced some popular consumer and business attractions. The Lip Smacking Foodie Tour gave us a taste of the destination’s eateries; Maverick Tours’ helicopter ride over The Strip was awe-inspiring; and those keen to escape the hustle should head to the zip-lining experience in the Nevada desert: Bootleg Canyon Flightlenz.
Vegas is still at the forefront of events, then. But it’s advancements won’t remain a secret for long.