Bathe in luxury: The creators of Tao unveil Lavo

A rendering of Lavo
A rendering of Lavo

Scantily clad lady in a bathtub? Check. Restaurant/lounge/nightclub combo? Check. DJs Five, Reach and Vice behind the decks? Triple check. But we’re not talking about Tao, and that’s where major similarities end. Las Vegas Weekly’s Line Pass was back at the Palazzo this week for an exclusive in-person tour of the much-anticipated Lavo Restaurant & Nightclub, brought to you by the makers of Tao.

Multiple entrances into Lavo are discreet in design—save logo-emblazoned canopies and a mirrored frame for the nightclub’s entrance—so subtle you may miss them completely. However, if you know where you’re going, convenience is the first factor partner Jason Strauss emphasizes. He estimates the stanchions and ropes are approximately 23 feet from the valet parking, a welcome relief for socialites in stilettos tired of stumbling to Tao via the Venetian’s cobblestone floors. Though 40/40 (yeah, it’s still there) and Dal Toro Ristorante are also close by, Lavo will be the first major club with such convenience.

Inside, guests will be awed by unobstructed views of the AvroKo-designed space. “The people in the lounge will see people going in to the nightclub, and the sight lines are so dramatic. It is going to provide some amazing energy for the lounge, restaurant and nightclub,” says Strauss. High-stained, aged-wood paneled ceilings with fabric teardrop chandeliers are suspended over the 3,000-square-foot lounge. “The inspiration is from a famous nightclub in Paris called Les Bains Douches,” Strauss says. “What made it interesting was an actual restaurant with the basement of an actual turn-of-the century bathhouse. That’s what inspired Lavo, and ‘Lavo’ means ‘to bathe’ in Latin, so it goes with the concept.”

Behind the restaurant host stand, a water feature flows back and forth between ancient pots. (We’ll keep our fingers crossed this feature doesn’t meet the same fate as Dos Caminos’, which exploded before its opening and has yet to be replaced.) Outside is Lavo’s balcony with available hookah service. Lavo patrons can wave “hello” to clubbers at Treasure Island’s Christian Audigier The Nightclub while sipping on a Saggio cocktail or dining on fare from Chef Ludo Lefebvre.

Throughout Lavo is a collection of unique lighting fixtures, area rugs, Moroccan tile and decorative accents. “Two months ago, our partner [Rich Wolf] put on a backpack and had a blank checkbook,” Strauss says. “He was literally [in Morocco] for two weeks going into little bazaars.” The furniture is about two inches lower than usual to reflect a casual Mediterranean dining experience. Aged water-stained brown leather is used for the lounge seating, as well as paneling on the wall leading up the stairs to the nightclub catwalk. Antique brass towel rings hint at the bathhouse concept, but a copper tub with live bathing-beauty “voyeur experience” between the lounge and restaurant solidifies the theme. A private dining room for 20 also exists.

As with the lounge/restaurant, impressive ceilings prevail in both the bar area and over the dance floor of the club. “Much like the imaging we got from every Turkish bathhouse, there were these giant domes with different beams of light that come when the sun is over the dome,” says Strauss. “We’ve re-created that.” The dance floor is bordered by tables; a second raised VIP area has windows with additional views of the Strip.

The nightclub will be open Tuesday through Sunday, and the restaurant will be open daily. It was originally slated to begin operating earlier this year, but legal troubles (a dispute between Wolf and partner Marc Packer and Lavo’s landlord, Las Vegas Sands Corp., over complaints of slow construction) and increased building-inspector scrutiny (remember CatHouse’s ceiling? The Monte Carlo fire?) have pushed back the grand opening until a tentative September 13. (A soft opening is hoped for before Labor Day.)

“Any company could come out here and just do another club with a chandelier and curtains and name it some name that’s just kitschy and fun,” says Strauss. “We do concepts.” If their success with Tao is an indicator, Lavo has the potential to become another Vegas must-see.

(Originally published in Las Vegas Weekly and at LasVegasWeekly.com.)

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