"We've had parties that started on a Friday and ended on a Sunday."
Manny Kess knows how to have fun in Las Vegas -- without limits. The VIP host is the founder of The Kess Group, and counts world-famous DJs, athletes, pop singers, movie stars, and even royal families among his clients.
"For one baseball player's bachelor party, we had stripper poles brought to the suite," he recalls. "Instead of having to leave and go to the strip club, we brought the strip club to them."
Kess estimates his company hosted two-thirds of the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos over the summer at some point.
"When Von Miller came in with his friends and family, he just wanted to go to pool parties. Marquee had Wiz Khalifa hosting, and he wanted to hang out with him, so we made sure we got him the cabana next to Wiz. They got to interact, hang out, and have a good time."
But not every customer is a celebrity. People who reach out to Kess are often part of birthday parties, conventions, or corporate groups in town for business.
"We have a laundry list of clients, and we treat the smallest one to the biggest one equally."
The one thing that everyone on Kess' list has in common: they all want to feel like a true Vegas VIP. Below, Kess shares his tips on how to live like a VIP… whether you have lots of money to spend or not.
The Kess Group stays busy hooking people up at the most in-demand nightclubs on the Strip. "In Vegas, these are mega-clubs. There are thousands of people trying to get inside these venues."
If you want to feel like a VIP, you don't want to get stuck waiting in the crowd outside the entrance. One of the best things you can do is make a reservation in advance. "That's going to significantly increase not only the speed of getting in, but also your experience," says Kess.
The most straightforward way to reach VIP status at a club is to have a table. Fortunately, some are less expensive than others. Book early, and you have a better chance to score an entry-level table -- the cheapest ones farthest away from the DJ booth. They sell out first, and that's because they're worth it.
"It's really difficult when you're competing with thousands of other people to just be standing around at a nightclub, hoping to attract a group of girls. The person with a table that's inviting people to join them has a much better chance -- as opposed to a group of guys just standing around at the bar or in a walkway."
No matter which table you book, don't be late, or you might lose your spot altogether.
"Even if you have reservations to these parties, most of them sell out. So if a nightclub opens at 10 o'clock at night, don't assume you can show up at one o'clock in the morning and still have your table. Follow the proper guidelines to make sure your night goes as planned."
So what if you don't have a reservation? Girls can get in without much trouble, but one of the worst things you can do is approach a doorman with a large group of guys. Kess suggests leaving the group off to the side while one person approaches the doorman solo and explains the situation. A nice tip doesn't hurt either -- $100-200 dollars is not uncommon.
Kess says to choose your club wisely. Get familiar with the acts and music at each one. Otherwise, you won't have any fun, whether you're a VIP or not.
"A lot of my athletes who come in are fans of hip-hop, so I'd recommend Drai's, which has live performances and artists like The Weeknd, Chris Brown, and Big Sean, over an XS or Hakkasan, that are DJ- and EDM-driven clubs. On the flip side, if I have a group of executives that are coming in from London who are big EDM fans, they'll love Calvin Harris at Omnia or David Guetta at XS."
Kess says he's a huge fan of Hyde Bellagio, which is perfect for people who aren't worried about big-name headliners and want a more intimate venue. "It's a smaller club," he points out. "So not only do you get a really fun and cool environment, but you have arguably the best view on the Strip, which is of the Bellagio fountains." It also offers UnWined Wednesdays, where top-rated bottles and glasses of wine are half-off from 5-10pm, while the club is in lounge mode. It's a great opportunity to look cool in front of a date... while saving a few bucks.
Most tourist destinations specialize in beaches and lazy days by the pool. Not Vegas. If you want to be a player while the sun is shining, pick a good dayclub. It's like a nightclub… but with a lot less clothing. What most people don't realize is that they'll end up spending a lot more time at a dayclub than a nightclub, which means they sometimes forget to balance all that alcohol with food and water.
"People think if they're just drinking vodka sodas or tequila with Diet Coke, they're getting enough liquid, but that's not the case," says Kess. "You need to hydrate yourself, because the quickest way to get smashed or pass out is by not drinking water."
And if that's the case, you can count on getting kicked out of the pool area by security. It's the quickest way to go from VIP to loser.
Which brings us to...
Face it. Bottle service is a reality, whether you're at a nightclub, dayclub, lounge, or strip club. Ordering it at your table is a quick way to look like a big shot, but it's not cheap. However, you can save a few bucks if you pay attention and look closely at the menu..
"Don't just blindly order something without knowing what it costs," Kess says. If there are a lot of people at your table and you're planning to stay a while, sometimes it pays to order big. "If a regular bottle of Grey Goose is $650 and the magnum bottle is $1,100, you should get the magnum, because it's cheaper, and vice versa. There are certain times where if you get two smaller ones, it costs a lot less than getting one larger bottle," Kess says.
A key to being a VIP is looking sharp, especially at a good restaurant or nightclub. They have dress codes, so follow them.
"Very often, I see guys trying to go to clubs in shorts. That's definitely frowned upon, and there isn't any club in Las Vegas that will allow you to come in in shorts. You have to wear jeans or slacks."
What about women?
"They obviously have a lot more freedom, but I've seen some really crazy outfits. Bachelorette parties can get pretty wild. I've seen groups of girls try to walk up to a club in tutus, but unless it's a themed party or Halloween, leave the tutu at home. Wear a dress. Wear some heels. Look presentable."
But it's the guys who screw up in the fashion department most often, even at a place where it should be easy, like at a dayclub.
"I can't tell you how many times we'll see a group of bachelors try to go to a pool party and wear the Borat-style G-string or a Speedo. Don't do that! It might be funny in your backyard, it might be great for a selfie, but don't come to Las Vegas in a G-string."
If you want to stand apart from all the other customers, be ready to spend money, but don't blow your cash when you don't have to.
Most of the big strip clubs in Vegas offer their own free transportation, including limos and shuttle buses. Kess encourages you to use them because "if the strip club sends you transportation, you're going to skip the cover."
If you take a taxi, on the other hand, you'll be charged a cover, since clubs give cabbies a kickback for bringing customers to their venue. The money you save will be put to better use elsewhere.
"It's better to have a table, and usually less expensive," says Kess, who points out that individual drinks can be pricey at strip clubs. "You get one bottle of alcohol for the group, and it's a lot easier to meet the ladies."
When it comes to hotels in Vegas, everyone wants an upgrade.
"The staff has a little bit of wiggle room," points out Hess. "If you're courteous -- and if you tip them -- there's a chance, especially if you avoid busy weekends or holidays."
Just shake hands and hand over a $20 bill during check-in -- it's money well-spent during your Vegas vacation. Once you're settled in, you may want to hang out awhile. You can have almost any service brought to your room.
"I have clients who have tailors come to their room and fit them for a suit," says Kess. "We've had whatever you can imagine."
And if you have a medical non-emergency and want to skip a visit to the ER, a medical service like RESORTcierge MD will arrange for a doctor to come directly to your room, just in case you need to get a prescription filled or get that, ahem, new nasty rash checked out.
Shows and events
The only thing that will make you feel less like a VIP than having bad seats is having no seats at all. Vegas is known for having popular shows straight from Broadway, big boxing fights, UFC events, and residencies from the likes of Britney Spears, Pitbull, and Mariah Carey. Kess always has top seats for in-demand events, but some of the very best tickets go straight to the casinos.
"They have a certain allotment that can be used at their discretion," says Kess, who points out that high rollers are most likely to benefit. "The casinos distribute them as they see fit, but there's a little bit of wiggle room. So if you're courteous to people, you're taking care of the staff, and you're making a name for yourself as someone who's a nice, respectful person, you'll have a much better opportunity than somebody who's belligerent and rude."
In other words, you can earn a reputation for being a big tipper... without blowing the bank. Word will likely spread around the casino, and karma may come back to reward you in the long run.
You can fly to Vegas sitting in the back of coach, or you can ride in on a private jet. It's not the most affordable mode of transportation, but Cirrus Aviation Services could help get you and your party off the ground.
"That would be one of the companies I would call," says Kess. "It would actually be my first call."
Cirrus Aviation offers deep discounts on "empty-leg flights," which occur when a jet is required to fly to a certain destination without any passengers on board. This usually happens after a group is dropped off in one city, and the jet needs to fly to another city to pick up a different group.
The deals are typically last-minute, but could be a nice alternative for large groups planning an 11th-hour party, and the photos you take onboard could alone be worth it.
Location, location, location
Kess says you can make the most of your dollar in Las Vegas if you know where to look… and sometimes, that can be away from the Strip.
"You can get a much nicer suite at Green Valley Ranch than you would at the Cosmopolitan for basically the same price. Supply and demand comes into play."
Kess is also a big fan of Dream Racing, an attraction at the Motor Speedway that allows you to drive around a professional racetrack in Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and other exotic cars. It's an affordable way to hit the road like a VIP in a vehicle that most people could only dream of owning.
"I send a lot of groups there, especially in the fall and winter when the pool parties are closed, because it gives them something to do that's really unique and fun."
And there's a few gun ranges that bring out the heavy artillery.
"Living in New York, I wasn't able to shoot machine guns, so coming to Vegas and being able to drive 10 minutes from the Strip to a gun range and shoot AK-47s, SAWS, and all these different handguns, to me that's an awesome experience. And I feel like a VIP because I can't do that back home."
Skip the penny slots on Fremont Street and head to one of the nicer casinos on the Strip for a game of blackjack, poker, or roulette. If you want to play with the confidence of James Bond, but don't have Her Majesty's royal expense account, Kess has another tip for you: open up a line of credit before you arrive at the casino. It's much better than walking in with cash.
"The casino doesn't know how much money you brought with you. If you brought $20,000 dollars to gamble, for example, no one but yourself knows that. You don't qualify as a VIP or a high roller until after you've gone through that money and spent a lot of time gambling. If you open up a line of credit for $20,000, they know you're a customer who has the ability to spend that amount of money -- even if you don't. So they'll put you in a different category."
They might even hand you a pair of tickets to the next big UFC fight.
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