Sasson in 2014
Real estate developer
Andrew Jacques Sasson (born 1970 in Walton-on-Thames, England) is a British-American nightlife entrepreneur, hotelier, and real estate developer. He is the founder of The Light Group, and gained prominence as a trendsetter in the high-end nightclub, lounge, and restaurant industries. He is well known for his highly successful, innovative ventures in New York City and Las Vegas.
Early life and early career
Sasson was born in 1970 and grew up in Surrey, which borders South London. At the age of 15 he began working at his family’s restaurant in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. He learned about the hospitality industry – from food service to day-to-day operations – and spent his nights exploring Spain's nightclub scene. He studied at Florida International University for a year, and then remained in Miami, immersing himself in Miami nightlife and working as a doorman at the nightclub Velvet, learning the behind-the-scenes business of that industry as well.
The Light Group
Sasson moved to New York City in 1995, and opened his own nightclub, Jet Lounge, in SoHo. The success of the club spawned Jet East and Conscience Point in the Hamptons, and Jet 19 on the Lower East Side. In 2000 he opened Light, a midtown Manhattan after-work and late-night lounge and restaurant.
Following these successes, and having cemented his brand of high-end clubs, Sasson moved to Las Vegas. With business partner Andy Masi he founded The Light Group, to establish his trademark vision in youthful affluent hospitality and clubbing there, in 2001. The Light Group entered into partnership with MGM Resorts International, and its first venture was the Light nightclub at the Bellagio. Light was the first legitimately upscale and innovative nightclub to open within a hotel, and was the first nightclub in Las Vegas to offer its clientele high-end bottle service. The success of Light was followed by the Caramel lounge at the Bellagio, and Mist lounge at Treasure Island, and in 2004 by FIX Restaurant & Bar at the Bellagio.
In 2005, The Light Group opened JET Nightclub and STACK Restaurant & Bar, both of which marked The Mirage as a leading venue; and in 2007 they added BARE, an exclusive European-style sun-bathing pool lounge. In 2006 Sasson became director and chief operating officer of India Hospitality Corp., an Indian hospitality and leisure company, and held the position through 2010.
At the Monte Carlo, The Light Group opened two distinctive restaurants: Diablo's Cantina in 2007 and BRAND Steakhouse & Lounge in 2008. In 2008 at the Bellagio, The Light Group opened The Bank, a small exclusive nightclub, and Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Bar, featuring award-winning chef Akira Back. At The Mirage, The Light Group acquired the Beatles Revolution Lounge, created by Cirque du Soleil, in November 2008.
Also in 2008, Sasson sold a 50% stake in The Light Group to the Dubai firm Zabeel Investments. The sale netted him nearly $100 million, and the additional income placed him at 784 on the Sunday Times Rich List of Britain's wealthiest people. In 2009 The Light Group opened several nightclubs, restaurants, and lounges at Las Vegas's new CityCenter.
The Light Group closed JET Nightclub at The Mirage and re-opened it as 1OAK on New Year's Eve 2011. In 2012 and 2013, company revolutionized Mandalay Bay with five new venues: KUMI Japanese Restaurant & Bar; the 24-hour restaurant Citizens Kitchen & Bar; dinner, cocktail, and nightlife destination Red Square; LIGHT Nightclub featuring Cirque du Soleil; and DAYLIGHT Beach Club.
In Miami, The Light Group opened two venues at the Delano Hotel in 2012: Bianca, an Italian restaurant with a cuisine based on organic farm-to-table ingredients, and FDR, a nightclub.
By 2014, The Light Group owned and operated 20 nightlife, daylife, and dining venues at the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Aria Resort & Casino, The Mirage, and the Monte Carlo, as well at as Miami’s Delano Hotel. In early 2015 Hakkasan acquired The Light Group, including Sasson's remaining 5% interest in the company.
In 2004 Sasson ventured into real estate in Las Vegas, opening Panorama Towers – a luxury condo tower which helped pioneer the Las Vegas high-rise market. The 300 units of its first tower sold out in eight weeks. Panorama Towers expanded to over 900 units, and Sasson sold his share in the development at the peak of the Las Vegas real estate market.
As of 2016 Sasson is an investor in, and on the board of directors of, Independent Sports and Entertainment (ISE). The company, formerly Relativity Sports, is an integrated sports, media, entertainment and management company that represents more than 300 top athletes in the U.S.
Regarding his role in transforming the culture of Las Vegas, the Financial Times in 2008 described Sasson as an innovator who "built a small but fast-growing empire that has played a role in changing the city’s image and reputation". FT went on to say that he had been instrumental in changing the city into "a culinary and nightlife hotspot, attracting hordes of young, affluent people eager to eat, drink and party. Gambling remains popular but to many younger Sin City visitors it is now a secondary pursuit, overtaken in revenue terms by food, beverage and entertainment sales."
In 2010, Sasson was listed as one of "Nightlife's Biggest Players", and cited as a highly successful empire-builder. He has consistently been noted for his meticulous attention to detail and service, and for his vision of focusing on a wealthy, youthful, fashionable clientele, including the new generation of Hollywood celebrities. Sasson also pioneered the pricey amenity of high-end bottle service in Las Vegas – one feature of his typically high-end, luxury ventures.
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