With trends and novelty driving the pulse of the Las Vegas party scene, perhaps the most interesting thing about Rehab, the famed Sunday pool party at the Hard Rock Hotel, is that it hasn’t changed much since it opened 10 years ago. Its central pool has been expanded and renovated, as has the performance stage graced by the likes of Lady Gaga and Deadmau5 over the years.
By and large, however, the space still looks plucked from the storybook fantasies of a wandering desert nomad, a rock- and palm-encircled paradise complete with waterfalls and sand beaches, and — depending on whose fantasy — some of the most tanned and toned bodies Las Vegas has to offer.
“It’s a pool that takes you out of Vegas and makes you feel like you’re at a beach. The music we bring in keeps it relevant, but the actual atmosphere remains the same, and there’s nothing that really touches that,” says Hard Rock Vice President of Nightlife and Daylife Michael Goodwin of the party, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this month.
Since opening a decade ago as the first incarnation of daylife in Las Vegas, Rehab has transformed the sleepy daytime pools formerly reserved for hotel guests into the bikini-clad counterpart of the signature debauchery and extravagance that takes place inside nightclubs.
The party was born from the mind of former Hard Rock Special Events Director Chad Pallas, who took inspiration from Las Vegas’ burgeoning nightclub scene as a way to drive businesses to the hotel’s lagging Sunday afternoons. The resort worked with local promoters to bring nightclub customers to a Sunday pool party that offered strong drinks, live music, celebrity appearances and a high ratio of scantily clad women to deep-pocketed men.
The formula was no-fail, and by 2007 hotel executives estimated that the party was drawing nearly 3,000 customers each week and bringing in about $6 million over the course of its 21-weekend season.
Today, any resort looking to keep up in Las Vegas’ 24-hour party business touts at least one, if not several, daytime summer pool parties on the weekends. While Rehab helped set the paradigm, the dayclub’s longevity — like its nighttime counterparts — is remarkable considering its place in a crowded marketplace, where success is based on continuously bringing new levels of decadence and novelty to the table.
Goodwin attributes Rehab’s success to an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy that comes more easily to the dayclub experience. He says that sticking to the original formula for success — on-the-rise live music and a beach paradise atmosphere — rather than chasing trends popularized by other pool parties helps Rehab stand out from the EDM- and strobe-saturated pool decks of competitors.
“Nightclubs have a little bit more technology-driven competition. It’s like what’s the newest and coolest visual or sound. There’s a lot of little intricacies that evolve at a lot faster place than at dayclubs,” Goodwin says. “I think a dayclub is based on bikinis, pools, great music, and I think they last longer because of that simplicity.
“We upgrade the cabana space, make sure there’s overall great maintenance and keep the whole thing plush. But we were there from the get-go.”