By John Katsilometes
Friday, Aug. 17, 2012
Jonathan Segal is blessed with a sunny disposition, the ideal personality to run an entertainment company. But he’s not uniformly cheery all the time.
Segal sometimes lapses into the doldrums, and when he’s in a dour mood, he turns to music. The difference with Segal is the entertainment center on which he plays that music: the vast sound system at Bagatelle Beach.
“I’ve been playing a lot of Robbie Williams lately,” says Segal, who has plugged his iPhone into the soundboard of the 75,000-square-foot pool club. As Williams sings, “I sit and wait / Does an angel contemplate my fate?” the chief executive officer for One Group can relate.
There are two nuggets of news to report from Bagatelle, the entertainment playground that is preying on Segal’s mind at the moment. Chiefly, the nightclub and dayclub complex that is physically linked to Tropicana won’t be completed for about two months. The pool space, stage, volleyball court and adjoining supper club won’t be fully open to the public until mid-October at the earliest.
“I’m devastated. Devastated,” Segal says when outlining the updated — and further delayed — opening schedule.
However, there is one event that will throw open the volleyball area of Bagatelle, and it’s a great show for volleyball fans. The 2012 National Volleyball League’s Best of the Beach tournament is Sept. 13-15. The event, which organizers hope to make an annual showcase in Las Vegas, will serve as Bagatelle’s sneak preview.
Seven sand courts at Sunset Park also are being used to stage preliminary rounds for the event, which will draw the Top Eight men and women from the U.S. Olympic men’s and women’s squads, with the chief exception being gold medalist Misty May-Treanor, who retired after teaming with Kerri Walsh Jennings to win a third consecutive gold medal in the 2012 London Summer Olympics (officials are still hoping to persuade May-Treanor to take part). Jennifer Kessy and April Ross, Olympic silver medalists from London, also will participate.
In all, the Top 40 men’s and women’s players will compete, including top U.S. players from the London Games. The tournament will serve as the first opportunity for the public to see any facet of Bagatelle; those interested in purchasing ticket packages or who want to know more about the event can hit the National Volleyball League’s official website. A total of $100,000 in prize money is being offered, and the final day will unfold into one of the great Las Vegas traditions: a pool party.
The volleyball event will help allay some of the tension being felt at Bagatelle in its oft-delayed opening.
The hope from the One Group, when it bought the nightclub and dayclub from the Trop in March, was to be open by Memorial Day. That was soon pushed back. In late June, Segal specified a new target of Aug. 1, which seemed wildly optimistic even when he made the announcement. Then it was Segal’s hope, briefly, that the club would be open by the end of August.
The reality is that Bagatelle won’t open fully to the public until the second week of October, at the earliest. It is not the ideal period to open a Las Vegas entertainment complex centered on a giant outdoor pool area -- featuring two swimming pools -- but those are the cards the One Group holds at the Trop.
“This project grew, and it became a lot more than we originally anticipated,” says Segal, who just this month tabled a One Group entertainment project in New York to focus on Bagatelle and also is racing against a December deadline to open the sports-themed restaurant Heraea at the Palms. “Bagatelle is our top priority right now.”
Blame the delay on a sluggish permit-approval process to finish the kitchen at Bagatelle Bistro Supper Club, which is being built into the circular structure that opened a couple of summers ago as Club Nikki. The One Group has been waiting for that permit for weeks. Without it, construction workers cannot finish the supper club, one of the key amenities to the Bagatelle operation on the easternmost parcel of Tropicana.
Outside, work has progressed at the rapid pace Segal and his company like. The second pool is in place. The “Bagatelle Blue” deck chairs pop brilliantly from an eggshell-white exterior color scheme. The 1,500-square-foot stage and the deep-with-sand volleyball court are in place. Segal is planning an outdoor concert on that stage, overlooking a project that is double the size of the old Nikki Beach territory, for Bagatelle’s official opening.
“We have done so much work out here, and it will be beautiful,” Segal says. “It is beautiful now, actually.” Outside, it is. But the main restaurant space is still several weeks away from being finished and little more than a concrete shell where 260 guests can eat and dance under a 12-by-12-foot chandelier.
That mid-October opening is still a little soft in the planning stages -- no formal event is on the Bagatelle calendar.
But there is that volleyball tournament.
“We’re very optimistic about opening in the right way,” Segal says. “There is a lot of energy on the south side of the Strip and where we are next to the Tropicana. When we’re opened, everyone will be very impressed.”
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