Las Vegas Sun

April 20, 2014

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Resorts weigh pros and cons of topless pool scene

A volatile mix of Strip debauchery — topless women and pools filled with booze-buoyed partygoers — may be running its course.

Some nightclub managers, who run the poolside dayclubs, say they may be more trouble than they’re worth.

Last summer, Metro Police arrested 11 people at the Rio’s Sapphire Pool, a topless pool run by the Sapphire strip club. The Rio ended up shutting down Sapphire Pool. Even nontopless pools have gotten scrutiny: Officers arrested eight people at a Hard Rock Rehab party last summer for drug and prostitution charges during an undercover enforcement check.

The enforcement followed Planet Hollywood’s acknowledgment last summer of illegal and illicit activities at its Prive nightclub, prompting its temporary closure. That put nightclub operators on notice that lewd behavior at clubs would not be tolerated. Such monitoring is being extended to party pools as well.

Clark County enforcement officers are sending letters to the clubs, reminding them that topless sunbathing must be separate and obstructed from other guest areas, off-limits to minors and cannot been used for contests, parties or special events while topless sunbathing is taking place.

It’s that last part that has caused the most consternation. The topless pool scene has grown to include DJs, dancing and celebrity appearances. Although they don’t call them parties, they have included headlining performers, birthday celebrations and resort anniversaries — the normal kind of fare that’s offered at nightclubs run by the likes of Pure Management, Light Group and Tao Group — which all run topless pools in town.

Hard Rock and Light Group — which operates the adult-only Liquid pool at Aria and the topless Bare at Mirage — each changed their minds about opening topless pools this season. Off-Strip, Green Valley Ranch Resort has also discontinued topless sunbathing at its pool, the Pond.

Light Group President Jodi Myers said one reason it decided against topless sunbathing at its new pool is because the no-party policy limits the club’s marketing. Phil Shalala, vice president of marketing at the Hard Rock, said they felt it was a gimmick that had run its course.

Gaming Control Board member Randall Sayre said regulators will work with Metro again this summer to conduct enforcement checks at pool parties.

“Both Metro and Gaming Control have an ongoing interest in these venues and continue that interest going into the new pool season,” Sayre said.

County officials last summer considered strengthening codes relating to European sunbathing and the definition of pool parties, but no action has been taken.

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