The Last Nights Of The Playboy Club
original at VegasChatter
It remains one of the most iconic and recognizable brands in the world yet after six years The Playboy Club at the Palms is closing. Sometime in June. When, is not quite clear. Nor is the future of the lounge or its staff.
What happens to the Bunny icon on the outside of the Palms tower? The Bunnies themselves? All under wraps. Rumors are rampant — *cough* Cosmopolitan *cough* — but who knows? (*cough* Cosmopolitan *cough*)
Recent fact-finding missions to the Palms (it was for research, people) to gently prise nuggets from the staff ended with a genuine consensus of — who knows? We did, though, discover a few surprises and were able to take a look-see at what the closing of a dynasty looks like. It’s not the fall of Rome — and we certainly believe what we heard, that another Playboy Club in Las Vegas will rise again — but, if it’s on your bucket-list to visit the only U.S. Playboy Club, time is running out.
For Palms staff, the closing felt almost inevitable. An erosion of business over the last few years, particularly early in the week, was obvious as much to visitors as workers. The final straw was the reduction in gaming tables, the removal of slots and the carefully worded Human Resource hints that other opportunities were available within the Palms casino. Our casual conversations implied that fired Bunnies had a little bit more of a heads up about the Club’s slowdown than perhaps had been shared with us.
The other consensus of opinion was “it’s time.” Time to move on. The Club needed to be re-vamped at some point so a move necessitates a kick-start. Plus, “it’s business.” A steady, reliable influx of foreign visitors visited the club, but regular and repeat patrons were disappearing. The ultra-lounges and the just plain new were proving a bigger draw. Once visited, it seemed maybe once was enough.
Located on the 52nd floor of the Palms, many patrons run out their own personal clock, waiting around to go one floor up to the Moon nightclub at 11 p.m. After that, it normally thins out again at Playboy. Gambling is only available Thursday through Sunday. That was news to us so, on one of our visits, we entered a ghost town. Really. For a while, it was one person — us. You have two bar areas, the remaining gaming tables when in use, and the lounge waiting for bottle service. Plus two bunnies. Two.
A night like that makes it to hard to raise a ruckus. We counted two unattached women in a two-hour time period. They lasted about five minutes. The other clients were mostly couples or combo-ed couples plus, how shall we put this, less than top-tier single males. Many were foreign tourists. Ladies, it wasn’t exactly the millionaire’s club. And for gentlemen, at its worst, you have potentially no single women, food or gambling. The music was also a surprise. Far more hip-hop than say, Ghost Bar, and surprisingly at a tangent to the older customers we saw enter the place.
Another issue is Palms drawing away its own customers. Downstairs in the casino, a Playboy Party Pit features blackjack from Thursday to Sunday with ladies in full Bunny uniform. Enough to sate the visual curiosity of many male visitors and un-inspire a cover-charge trip upstairs.
The visual links to Hef and his empire are surprisingly muted. It’s all about the bunny icon. The retinal burning neon is the big eye-catcher. Hef appeared three times a year at the club. Palms executives visited often and were supportive and friendly to the Club. The folks working here loved it and we even heard the word “family” a couple of times. It’s an understanding, but melancholy wind down for long-time workers. (Palms and Playboy people, the staff you have now, will be GREAT at the new place. Don’t forget them.)
As it coasts to closure on its name, a possible future became very apparent from our conversations. You combine those two with the competitor that currently most inspires: Hyde. Yep, that name came up a lot.
So, the closing isn’t a surprise. All parties are more than aware of the shift in the Vegas market and audience over the past six years. It’s all under consideration for the future. No one on-site was willing to admit any conjecture for their new home, but on the Strip we’ve repeatedly heard certain rumors. *cough* Cosmopolitan *cough* Let’s say if something were to be announced over the summer, it won’t be until next year before the Playboy ears rise again over the city. It was almost a too-perfect fit. Playboy and Las Vegas. They’ll re-think, re-group and be back.
And, note to our fourteen year old self, if you read this via the time machine we’re working on. Yeah, one time you’ll talk to a Playboy bunny at the Playboy Club about that time… she did… and then… and then after when she… and then that happened… and yeah, that was a cool story to hear. (See, the mythology will never die.)
The Playboy Club at Palms is located on 52nd Floor of The Fantasy Tower. It opens at 9 p.m. Cover charges change depending on day and event schedule.