As much as downtown San Diego has matured as a nightlife destination in recent years, its profile pales in the glow of Vegas and Miami Beach, where high-end, over-the-top venues compete for hip, well-heeled club goers, not to mention the hottest DJs.
While a rapid transformation isn’t in the offing for San Diego, it’s likely that the long-awaited opening of the Omnia in the Gaslamp Quarter will do a lot to raise the city’s nightclub quotient while bringing a bit of Las Vegas to downtown. Omnia San Diego has already announced a star studded DJ lineup, including Armin Van Buuren, Chuckie, Afrojack, Tiesto, Martin Garrix, Nervo, Markus Schulz, and more.
The Hakkasan Group, a Las Vegas-based global hospitality and night life firm that last year bought the former Stingaree club on Sixth Avenue, has spent the last six months overhauling the 22,000-square-foot space and transforming it into what the company boasts will be a level of opulence unseen in other San Diego nightclubs.
It will be the company’s second Omnia, the first debuting in Las Vegas earlier this year inside Caesars Palace. Like the San Diego location, the Omnia in Vegas was a makeover of a former nightclub, Pure.
A relative newcomer to the Las Vegas nightclub scene, Hakkasan opened its first club in 2013 — its namesake Hakkasan Nightclub in the MGM Grand — and in January debuted Omnia, more than three times the size of the San Diego club. Hakkasan never disclosed the costs of the Vegas Omnia, although various published reports estimated the investment at anywhere from $80 million to $107 million.
Similarly, Hakkasan executives won’t reveal the company’s investment in its new San Diego location, acknowledging only that it is significantly more than the $7 million spent to open Stingaree in 2005.
The new San Diego venue’s high-end finishes and features are driven by the increasingly competitive Las Vegas market, which has demanded the very best in its nightlife venues, said Nick McCabe, president of Hakkasan Group, which was founded in London. While Stingaree was fine for what it was, upgrades were needed in terms of sound, state-of-the-art technology and improved sightlines for viewing the all-important DJs, he explained.
Toward that end, the former Stingaree, which had been segmented into three different areas, was opened up into one 8,000-square-foot main club floor and a 4,000-square-foot balcony overlooking the dance floor and lined with VIP boxes. Embedded in the walls of the main floor are LED strips designed to pulsate to the beat of the music.
Completing the club experience is a 7,000-square-foot rooftop terrace that’s designed to have the feel of a garden and is furnished with a variety of seating types, including tiered cabanas and sofas along the perimeter.
“There has been a complete sea change in the level of investment in clubs being built in Las Vegas,” McCabe said. “Clubs like XS, Hakkasan and Omnia raised the bar completely. We’re talking about a very luxurious product in keeping with the best hotels in Las Vegas.
“The same thing is about to happen in San Diego. It is a new level of investment and design concentration with a different level of finish customers haven’t seen before. It won’t be as epic as in Vegas but certainly a step up beyond what’s seen in San Diego.”