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Morgans Hotel Group goes clubbing in Vegas

Morgans Hotel Group is getting ready to rock the dance floor.

In a sign that Morgans is getting serious about making its hotels popular nightlife destinations, the New York-based boutique hotel operator on Thursday announced that it’s buying a 90% stake in Vegas nightclub operator the Light Group for about $47 million, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. The deal’s expected to close at the end of the year.

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With the purchase, Morgans hopes to inject new life into its food and beverage outlets. Customers haven’t been spending as much on food and drink as they did before the recession, and Morgans recently ended its affiliation with its former food partner China Grill.

Morgans now operates 13 pricey boutique hotels such as the Hudson in New York, the luxury Delano in South Beach and trendy Mondrian hotels in New York, Los Angeles and Miami.

But CEO Michael Gross, who this year hired two top Marriott International executives, wants to grow the company and win more management contracts.

Nightlife is a key component to do that, Gross recently told Wall Street analysts during their third-quarter earnings call.

“We want to provide dynamic experiences for our guest in every property,” he said. “It’s essential to enhancing the reputation of our properties both in the eyes of guests and hotel owners.”

He also noted that “food and beverage revenues…remain well below historic levels.”

The Light Group purchase also gives Morgans an influential foot in the door in MGM resorts such as Bellagio, where the Light Group operates the hotel’s Bank nightclub.

Coincidentally, the hotel on New Year’s Eve will also open a new, DJ-driven cocktail lounge called Hyde Lounge Bellagio. It will be operated by a rival operator – Los Angeles-based SBE – just beneath the hotel’s roaring fountains.

ALSO ONLINE:  SBE’s new VIP program covers nightclubs, too

ALSO ONLINE:  SBE to open DJ-driven cocktail lounge at Bellagio

PHOTO GALLERY:  Sneak peek at Hyde Bellagio

Morgans Hotel Group misses Vegas

Morgans currently does not have a presence in Las Vegas, as it sold its share in the Hard Rock in March 2011. But the company misses Sin City.

“Las Vegas is a market we know our customers go to,” Gross told analysts. “That’s definitely something that is high on our priority list.”

Morgans, meanwhile, has already brought the Light Group on to spark life into its non-Vegas hotels. For example, Light Group’s revamping the restaurant, bar and nightlife operations at the Delano.

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