Las Vegas-based Nick McCabe has helped created some of the world’s most successful clubs and restaurants, including the five-level Hakkasan Nightclub and Restaurant at MGM Grand Las Vegas and the Michelin Star-winning Hakkasan Cantonese restaurant in Mayfair, London. Now the 41-year-old CEO of Hakkasan Group has extended his reach to Bali, launching Omnia Dayclub and Japanese restaurant Sake No Hana.
The Hakkasan Group operates 60 venues across four continents. Before being appointed CEO, McCabe was President and COO of Hakkasan for four years. He joined the company in 2013, following its acquisition of Angel Management Group (AMG), a Las Vegas-based entertainment and nightlife company helmed by his long-time friend and mentor, Neil Moffitt. McCabe had been with AMG since 2007, where his final role was Vice President of Strategy.
McCabe has always been fascinated with the entertainment industry. Born in Newcastle upon Tyne in the northeast of England, he graduated with honours in graphic design from the University of Teesside. In 2005, he made a big impact on the nightlife scene in Miami by launching an innovative nightlife and lifestyle website, CoolJunkie. The portal spread nationally through sites in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
The success of the website caught the attention of Track Entertainment, where he became a partner and COO. During his time there, he oversaw projects for brands like Pepsi, Bacardi and T-Mobile. This inspired him to create a music marketing company, The Big Idea, in 2007.
Located on the limestone cliffs of Uluwatu, Omnia Bali is touted by McCabe as “a new world of daylife entertainment”, where “glittering infinity pool curves meet endless ocean views, exclusive Bungalows with private plunge pools and VIP Cabanas tucked behind the DJ Booth offer next-level luxury and insider access, while the swim-up bar and generously oversized Pool Beds let you bask in the pool party scene.
“The Cube is the cinematic piece de resistance: a tower of shimmering silver which comes to life after dark when it lights up the horizon, creating unforgettable sunset hands-in-the-air memories of perfect island days.
“The culinary heartbeat of the dayclub is Sake no Hana Bali, a modern Japanese restaurant which has its flagship in the centre of London. Sake no Hana’s philosophy is anchored in the principle of ‘shun’; the moment of perfection when everything is at its peak.”
Highlights of an exclusive interview:
Why did you move into Bali?
We knew the location of the first Omnia Dayclub had to be something very special. Bali was on our radar as it’s without doubt one of the world’s most beautiful islands and has a unique energy. We also knew that the island would have an audience that would appreciate a dayclub such as Omnia with world-class talent and five star service. The icing on the cake was the cliff top site in Uluwatu. Judging by the number of posts on social media within just a couple of months of opening, we’re confident Omnia Bali is one of the most photogenic dayclubs in the world.
How do you see Bali’s potential?
Bali is about as close as you can get to paradise on earth. It’s increasingly attracting sophisticated travellers, who are looking for memorable experiences and this demand will undoubtedly help Bali fulfill its potential when it comes to becoming a destination for foodies or people looking for a certain lifestyle.
Do you have any plan to open a restaurant or a cluB outside Bali, such as in Jakarta?
Absolutely, our partnership with KAJA includes three new venues opening within the Alila SCBD Hotel in Jakarta, including Asia’s first Omnia Nightclub, Hakkasan and Sake no Hana. Our plan is to raise the bar for entertainment in Jakarta.
What inspired you to Become an entrepreneur?
My love of music was what inspired me and drove me to start my career in the entertainment industry. I have a background as a designer and drew on this to create my first company, a dance music site called CoolJunkie.
It was my key to being able to get into clubs but also ended up opening a lot more doors for me. I sold this company to Track Entertainment and ran the Miami side of their business running events for major brands such as Pepsi which gave me invaluable experience.
What was your ambition when you started your career?
I love music – it’s why I’m here. My ambition was always to work within the music industry in some way. And this hasn’t changed now that I’m a CEO rather than a recording artist. I still get as much pleasure walking into the DJ booth in one of our clubs as I did when I was producing my own tracks.
Talking about music, early in your career you were a musician and signed record deals as Anjo. Does music still play a big part in your life?
Music still plays an integral part in my life, but in a different way these days. I’m no longer creating or producing records, but Hakkasan Group has long-standing relationships with some of the world’s most in-demand DJ’s such as Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki and Tiesto. I’m not sure I’ll ever produce music, but I love working with such talented artists.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
The biggest challenge is staying on top of the game and that comes down to innovation and hard work. We continually try to upgrade the experience in every single one of our venues and we ensure Hakkasan Group is setting trends rather than following them.
The opening night of OMNIA in Las Vegas was definitely a highlight in my professional career. We took everything we’d learned over the course of our careers to create the world’s nest nightclub. Hakkasan had aspirations to go beyond just being a London restaurant brand and it was immensely satisfying to have been part of making this happen.
Who is your main mentor and what were the most important lessons you learned from them?
I learned a huge amount from Neil Moffit, the former CEO of Hakkasan Group, who I first met in Miami in 2005. Having worked together on a number of events and festivals, we both felt that Vegas had so much potential. We were determined to raise the bar for DJ-oriented events by improving the experience and introducing a new level of service that was previously only really available in five star hotels. This introduction of bottle service and VIP tables help legitimise the idea of someone over 35 being in a club. I like to think that together we helped changed the game for entertainment in Las Vegas.
What do you think is really exciting about the nightlife and lifestyle Business nowadays?
The nightlife industry has never felt more relevant than it does now. Experiences have become so important for people these days, even more so than possessions, and nightlife can play a huge part in giving people these memorable, epic experiences. If you look at Vegas as an example, nightlife is now one of the main reasons that people come here. It’s helped the city remain one of the world’s most popular destinations.