- Nikki Beach owns some of the most famous luxury beach clubs in the world.
- From Saint Barth to Miami, the properties are frequented by too many celebrities to name.
- CEO Lucia Penrod told Business Insider that every guest is treated like a VIP – but some A-listers have some pretty unique demands.
- From making it “rain Champagne” to treating a guest like a Caesar for the day, she shared some of the most outrageous ones with us.
- Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.
Picture this: you’re on a white lounger by a pool, listening to the sound of the ocean. There’s mellow music playing, and you have a glass of rosé in hand. Suddenly, Leonardo DiCaprio pulls up a chair beside you – he’s just there to relax, too.
This is a scenario that’s not entirely unlikely at a Nikki Beach beach club, of which there are 14 around the world.
Lucia Penrod, CEO of Nikki Beach worldwide, told Business Insider the family-owned-and-operated business started as a tribute to her husband Jack’s daughter Nicole, or Nikki, who died in a car accident at the age of 18.
“It was a business, but a tribute to a beautiful life that left too young,” she told Business Insider. “We decided as a family that instead of spending our entire lives mourning her life, we would celebrate her life.”
It began as a garden by the sea in Miami Beach, where the duo raised butterflies.
“She loved birds and animals [so we] created this magical garden by the sea and called it Cafe Nikki,” she said.
At the time, the modelling and film industries were booming in Miami – and Nikki Beach “took on a life of its own.”
“Every celebrity you can imagine was in town filming, directing, doing business,” she said. “We had Leonardo DiCaprio when he was 18 years old.”
She added that celebrities like DiCaprio started to come to Nikki Beach because they “felt safe and loved the vibe of the place.”
Since there was a beach right behind the garden, the couple eventually decided to expand the property to include that, too.
“When we expanded it to the beach, people were saying “it feels like we’re in St. Tropez, in the Mediterranean,” she said – so her husband decided they should launch another location in St. Tropez.
The third launch was in Saint Barth.
“From there global expansion just took off,” she said. Now, there are 14 beach clubs and four hotel and resort locations including the US, France, the Caribbean, Spain, Thailand, Monaco, the UAE, Turkey, Italy, and Greece.
The six pillars of Nikki Beach
There are three divisions of the business; the Beach Clubs, with headquarters in Marbella, Spain; the hotels and resorts, headquartered in Barcelona; and lifestyle, under which an e-commerce platform, ShopNikkiBeach.com, will launch in May.
There are also six “pillars” Nikki Beach focuses on, according to Penrod – music, dining, entertainment, fashion, film, and art.
“Our DJs go through good training,” she said. “We avoid hardcore bump music. The music plays with your senses. They read the crowd.”
She added: “When you come and spend time and money with us, we want to make sure you have the best time of your life.”
She said that “fabulous food” is part of the package, too.
“It’s not Michelin-starred food, it’s homestyle,” she said, adding that Bono was among the guests who complemented their cuisine.
The beach clubs also have “art in every location,” are home to fashion shows and boutiques, and often host film premieres or interviews with the Hollywood foreign press.
However, Penrod stresses the vibe is “very simple,” describing Nikki Beach as “a very feminine brand.”
“We don’t stress in creative, latest, coolest, or newest decorating styles,” she said. “We want people to feel at home.
“The basis of the brand is organic – the basics are mainly white furniture, cushions.”
She added that in memory of Nikki, “everything we do is to make sure ladies feel safe [and you can] spend time as a group or with girlfriends.”
The VIP treatment
“When you talk to our customers, they say the staff make them feel at home. [Whether you’re a] big celebrity or [not], everybody feels like a VIP. It’s one of our main elements of making people want to keep coming back.”
While everyone may feel like a VIP, there are some A-list guests that require a bit of extra attention.
“Some of our VIPs have special requests, [and we] go out of our way to make sure they get exactly what they want,” she said. “We don’t have concierge services [but] if you are a good customer we’ll go out of our way.”
She said this can involve anything from bringing in specially-designed dishware embossed with a family name to planning wild parties.
“Celebrity guests expect to party like everybody else,” she said.
“One gentleman came in and wanted to celebrate his wife’s birthday with a surprise party. He wanted 1,000 bottles of Champagne around the pool to be used for spraying, then had a helicopter full of rose petals [drop them in the pool] when they started opening the Champagne.
“It was incredible.”
She added that another VIP guest wanted to be “Caesar for the day,” so they got him a throne and the staff dressed in costumes.
“Another one wanted it to rain Champagne, so we got a huge crate and lifted [him] higher, [then] got a hose connected to Champagne, and Champagne was raining at Nikki Beach and he was directing the rain.”
‘Celebrities were a big part of forming who we are’
Penrod said that while they “try to make everybody feel like they’re the most special person in the world,” celebrities have a special place in the business.
“Celebrities were a big part of forming who we are,” she said.
Every year, the company hosts an all-white anniversary party – a tradition that started with Naomi Campbell.
“When we first opened in St. Tropez it happened to be Naomi Campbell’s birthday party,” Penrod said. “She’s friends of a good friend of mine.
“She came in and was undecided what she wanted to do. She first wanted all pink, all green, then said she wanted it all white.
“We went out of our way to get everything white, and everyone had to dress in white. It was freezing that day, [so] every shop in St. Tropez ran out of white jackets because everyone had to wear white.”
She said the party “looked like heaven, like you were in the clouds.”
“It goes so perfectly with our celebration of life, so we said ‘from now on, that’s it.’ Naomi was a big contributor to what we do today.”
20 years of epic parties
In 2019, Nikki Beach is celebrating its 20-year anniversary – and, naturally, there will be some pretty epic parties.
“We’re going to host our 120 best customers from around the world for an invitation-only dinner party during Cannes, creating our own special show,” she said, adding that every other Nikki Beach location will also host a big party throughout the season.
The brand has also created a coffee table book, a fragrance, and an album.
“We are shocked and surprised at the growth of the company,” Penrod said. “There was no business plan. It’s a brand that started as a tribute from father to daughter and grew organically.”