Cory McCormack Heats Up Vegas at Hard Rock
Vegas is known for its unparalleled take on night (and day) life, and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino has been stepping up to the plate, most recently debuting its 14,000-square-foot Vanity Nightclub on New Year’s Eve and continuing its hugely successful Rehab pool party along with the rocker club Wasted Space. Vanity opened in the throes of the recession but has seen success by catering to the ladies, from its luxurious bathrooms that include an on-site hairstylist and a soon-to-open complimentary Champagne lounge. Cory McCormack, senior director of nightlife development at Hard Rock, opened up on Hard Rock’s club scene success, its difficulties and what’s in the works for the once-popular Body English space.
Cory McCormack and Jason Giambi
Nightclub Confidential: Where did you get the idea for the design of Vanity?
Cory McCormack: I wanted to take all the best parts of the best clubs and put them all together in one. Charles Doell, aka Mr. Important [Design], and I collaborated and worked off of his original concept.
NCC: What is your favorite aspect of the design of Vanity?
CM: The Golden Corner -- aka owner’s booth [made of gold leather] -- and, of course, the chandelier [a cyclone chandelier made of more than 20,000 lit crystals].
NCC: Did you use any ideas gleaned from clubs as inspiration?
CM: I took what worked in Body English and made it better and changed what didn’t work. In Vanity we modified the booth setup, so each party has their own booth and their area is clearly defined and spacious.
NCC: What is your target audience for the club, and how does that demographic differ from others in Vegas?
CM: I think that the target market is the same for all Vegas clubs: lots of girls and guys with money.
NCC: What makes Vanity different from other clubs in Vegas, overall?
CM: You can’t walk into Vanity and say, “Oh this is just like club X, or this reminds me of club Y.” Vanity’s design is unique and fresh to Vegas.
NCC: What was your biggest challenge in opening Vanity?
CM: The permitting process was the most difficult in keeping our target opening date.
NCC: Is there anything that, looking back, you wish you had done differently?
CM: Yes, I would have done less value engineering in the budget. There are a few finishing items that were deleted from the scope that I wish we had left in.
NCC: I know Vanity opened on New Year’s Eve this year, against some competition from Haze and Eve. How have things been going so far?
CM: So far Vanity has been very successful. We are exceeding budget year to date and have definitely made our presence known in the Vegas club scene.
NCC: The bathrooms are absolutely amazing — an often overlooked part of creating a bar/club concept. Why did you focus on them so heavily?
CM: We wanted to make Vanity as female friendly as possible. Every time a decision needed to be made, I would ask, “What would a 25-year-old girl want?”
NCC: Do women actually use the features like the manicurist, hair stylist and makeup artist? What are the costs associated with that — both for the customer and from your club’s standpoint? Does it pay off for you financially, or is it more something to set you apart?
CM: These services are an amenity that we provide to our female guests. There is no charge…just like the free Champagne bar that we will have in the ladies lounge coming soon. I feel that they already have [paid off], as we receive nothing but compliments and praise on the women’s lounge.
NCC: Body English closed just before Vanity opened. Any plans for that space?
CM: We have plans to eventually renovate the space into an after hours club, to open in the spring of 2011.
NCC: Rehab is now open — how has that been going thus far?
CM: Rehab is a monster. Last year, in a downtrodden economy, Rehab posted a 25 percent increase in year-over-year revenue. In 2010 through the first five Rehab Sundays, we are up 27 percent [over] last year.
NCC: Wasted Space seems like a good fit for Hard Rock. Have you seen success, and do you have any further plans for the club?
CM: Wasted Space is a perfect fit for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and acts as a great alternative complement to Vanity. With both venues, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino provides an option to all party seekers.