Key Las Vegas Nightlife Execs Decamp Wynn & MGM Resorts for The Palms

Tony Tran
Ronn Nicolli and Ryan M. Craig

The move brings top players Ronn Nicolli and Ryan M. Craig to the $690 million Palms remodel project, which will see major nightlife and dining openings in 2019.

Las Vegas nightlife industry veterans Ronn Nicolli and Ryan M. Craig have joined the team at Palms Casino Resort, which began unveiling a $690 million top-to-bottom renovation in May.

In tandem with this news, Red Rock Resorts, owner of Station Casinos, which owns Palms, has issued a statement that twin brothers Cy and Jesse Waits, co-managing directors of social experience have departed. "Red Rock Resorts announced today that [Cy and Jesse Waits] have jointly agreed to terminate the employment arrangements previously entered into by the parties in connection with, among other things, the dayclub/nightclub and restaurants that are scheduled to open over the succeeding months at the Palms Casino Resort." This recent change in structure comes on the heels of the announcement last month of TAO Group leaving the project as the operator of a planned 100,000 square-foot nightclub/dayclub and Las Vegas outpost of their New York City restaurant Vandal, all set to open in first quarter 2019.

With the Nicolli and Craig's appointment, the resort will run nightclub and dayclub operations on its own without the help of an outside partner. Plans for a restaurant to replace Vandal have yet-to-be announced.

Since the first phase of the Palms remodel was revealed in May, the property has been banking on cool factor with a heavy dose of social media friendly moments -- transforming the resort into a destination that, it touts, "mixes classic Vegas hospitality and extraordinary new art, culinary, music and entertainment experiences featuring world-class partnerships." The highly Instagrammable art collection blends Blue Chip works from the likes of Basquiat, Warhol and Hirst with contemporary and street art notables such as Murakami, KAWS and Revok. Dining collaborations include chefs Bobby Flay, Michael Symon and Marc Vetri.
 
"We are extremely excited to welcome Ronn and Ryan to the Palms team," says Jon Gray, Palms general manager. "Each has made incredible contributions to best-in-class nightlife and hospitality venues and offerings in Las Vegas and we are confident that their wealth of experience and dynamism will add significant value to the property going forward."

Nicolli takes on the role of senior vice president of creative strategy for Palms Casino Resort. He will be responsible for developing marketing and branding strategies for the new nightclub and dayclub venues and drive hospitality marketing initiatives across the property.

Nicolli is a former senior marketing executive for Wynn Las Vegas. During his time at the resort and under the leadership of Jesse Waits, Wynn Nightlife and its venue XS became the top nightclub in Las Vegas with a roster of the biggest names in electronic dance music including Afrojack, Skrillex, Deadmau5, Sebastian Ingrosso, Tiësto, Avicii, Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Axwell, Steve Angello, Alesso and Marshmello.

Craig will serve as senior vice president of nightlife, daylife and events, leading nightclub and dayclub venue operations. He was most recently at MGM Resorts as a senior nightlife executive and prior to that played a key role in Victor Drai's empire, which included the construction and launch of Drai's Beachclub and Nightclub at The Cromwell. He also worked at Wynn's Tryst and XS nightclubs under the Cy and Jesse Waits regime.

Station Casinos, helmed by former UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, acquired Palms in 2016. According to a spokesperson, more details about the nightclub and dayclub are forthcoming, although the Las Vegas rumor mill has been churning for months now that the resort has made major offers to many Las Vegas nightclub headliners.

Citywide, there is a push away from the typical Las Vegas "nightclub" experience -- moving beyond bottle service and DJs. Leading this charge is MGM Resorts, which is bringing Los Angeles nightlife-experience creators Jonnie and Mark Houston, known as the Houston Brothers, to its Park MGM project On the Record, opening New Year's Eve. The intimate 11,000 square-foot venue will be fronted by a fully functioning record store, feature pop-up performances, play music spanning the decades and offer many of the interactive elements present in their Los Angeles venues such as Break Room 86, Black Rabbit Rose and Madame Siam.

The transformation of Palms is expected to be complete by second quarter 2019.


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