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Party on? Companies host extravagant bashes at ICSC, while others temper their own events

 

On the descent into the Wynn Hotel and Resort’s Intrigue nightclub, brokers and real estate folk were greeted by two people dressed in kaleidoscopic mirror-glassed suits, one on stilts, the other balancing on an oversized gym ball while juggling batons.

“It’s like the real estate market on steroids,” said Sam Viskovich, Reonomy’s vice president of marketing, who was attending the party hosted by Marcus & Millichap, and is a first time attendee of the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual four-day convention in Las Vegas.

But despite the raucous reputation of the convention’s party scene known in previous years, the 2019 events were significantly more tempered. At the same Marcus & Millichap event in 2018, people dressed as trees and walking on stilts meandered through the club while dancers took the spotlight on podiums.

For longtime ICSC veterans like Kazuko Morgan, vice chairman of retail at Cushman & Wakefield in California, excess at the convention has largely been replaced by early mornings at the gym and mellower affairs.

“People in general are much more…I don’t want to say sedate. It’s just different,” she said. “Now, it’s curated cocktails with caviar,” a small, carefully-selected guest list, and a number of people claiming to be heading to SoulCycle at the Wynn for an early morning spin, according to Morgan.

It’s a stark contrast to previous years, according to Morgan, who recalled lavish parties with “women coming out of champagne glasses.”

While the retail market has been suffering, attendees attributed the toning down of the convention’s party circuit to a scaling back on spending by firms in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and bans on events hosted by title insurance companies, Morgan said. The title industry has been known for its wining and dining of clients, and in New York, the state recently moved to ban those companies from treating their clients to entertainment and meals.

After the pool parties kicked off on Sunday, thousands of people scuttled across the strip to various events. About 70 people attended CIM Group’s bowling tournament at the Brooklyn Bowl in the LINQ casino. Others attended dinners before heading home for an early night.

But these events were not without a handful of extravagant exceptions.

CoStar’s party at Kaos Nightclub in the Palms casino was the talk of the convention, where the data giant put on a full-blown concert with Vegas-born rock band Imagine Dragons. At Marcus & Millichap’s event, the top-40 playlist blasting across the club’s artificial lagoon was enough to lure some brokers and real estate folk onto the dance floor, before the lights flashed on at just before midnight, signaling that it was time to go home.

After a jam-packed day on the convention floor Monday, parties again took off. Newmark Knight Frank threw its annual show at Marquee Nightclub in the Cosmopolitan casino. The flashy event stood in stark contrast to the goings-on several floors up in the same hotel, where Avison Young and Lee & Associates had leased a four-story apartment – complete with staged bedrooms and a hot tub overlooking the Las Vegas strip – for its party.

As the hot tub gurgled in the unusually cold Vegas night, one broker debated how to spend the hours before his 6 a.m. flight back to New York.

“I can’t sleep,” he said, before ultimately deciding to head to a 2 a.m. Chainsmokers concert.

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