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As We See It

With Bagatelle’s closing, the Tropicana has a chance to refocus on what it does best

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Illustration: Chris Morris

Last week’s news of Bagatelle’s closure hardly came as a shock. While the established brand has found success in cities like LA, New York and São Paulo, Brazil, it struggled to gain momentum in the context of Las Vegas. The experience of Bagatelle, which was located at the Tropicana, highlights the challenges of reinvention in a town that prides itself on just that.

The Strip staple Tropicana, first opened in 1957, underwent a property-wide makeover in 2011, giving the aging casino a fresh, $180 million, South Beach-inspired face-lift. At the center of the renovations, which included new restaurants and updated guestrooms, was the addition of Nikki Beach (and alter ego Club Nikki), a globally successful brand of upscale beach clubs, which launched with a lavish white party in May 2011.

Nikki Beach closed after just four months of fun in the desert sun, and the Tropicana took over, opening its own RPM Nightclub in the Nikki space. After just three months, the Trop closed the club to make room for a third nightlife/daylife destination in the very same space: the One Group-operated Bagatelle.

Yes, renovation on the Strip is a tricky business, and many have opted to implode rather than reinvent. Older resorts are always looking for ways to attract new customers and keep old ones.

A possible lesson here? The Trop already has a loyal clientele that appreciates its recent upgrades, but is still seeking the kind of retail, dining and entertainment options desired by the demographic that Bagatelle, RPM and Nikki Beach targeted.

That doesn’t mean the Trop needs to make way for a third Urban Outfitters on the Strip, begin booking obscure indie bands or scout out chef David Chang for his first Vegas outpost. Instead, it could offer even more for the customers it already has—the audiences watching magician Murray and comedian Gallagher, the people in stitches at the Laugh Factory and definitely the slot enthusiasts already signed up for the Trop Plus Players Club.

The casino has already announced its pool club’s next reincarnation as Havana Room and Beach Club, which will turn the poolscape into a space exclusively for private events. With Bagatelle’s departure, however, perhaps there’s room for new brands and ideas aimed at the Trop’s current demographic. Just think of all those Parrotheads “wasting away again” at Margaritaville right down the street …

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