This is a trip report from reader detroit1051. What I've done is to throw my new comments on Wynn into the mix as he discusses certain aspects of the resort. It's fairly long so you have to click through to read the contents. Enjoy.
I was at Bellagio three nights, June 16 through 18 and then moved to Wynn for three nights, June 19 until the 22nd. Here are some observations. As a preface, let me say I have gone to Bellagio at least four times a year since opening. This was my first trip to Wynn.
[Ed: This was my second trip to Wynn and stayed two nights. I did visit Bellagio but was not a guest
Bellagio is still an inviting place that has maintained most of its quality under MGM Mirage ownership. However, many changes made after Steve Wynn's departure reflect MGM Mirage's ability to maximize operating results. This has resulted in Bellagio becoming somewhat of a high-end MGM Grand but still very nice.
[Ed: I feel like Bellagio has lost a lot of what made it special. It just doesn't feel like Steve Wynn's
Bellagio's Spa Tower and expanded convention/meeting space connects almost seamlessly to the original building. The level of trim, crown moldings, carpeting lighting and plumbing fixtures and marble floors, while looking good, do not have the 'cost is no object' quality that was Steve Wynn's trademark. In fact, traces of Steve Wynn are disappearing from the entire property as renovations are made. I'm not saying this is bad; it's just different and will please MGM shareholders.
[Ed: I AM saying this is bad, even if it makes my MGM stock go up. BTW, the Spa Tower was part of the
original Bellagio master plan - that is part of what makes the whole resort seem well integrated.]
Bellagio's porte cochere entrance modifications have been finished. Large seashell type fountains stand on either side of the revolving doors into the hotel lobby. They are attractive. I can't remember what, if anything, was there before.
The Conservatory is ready for the 4th of July with its Liberty Bell theme and summer flowers. It's very attractive, and there are now signs identifying all the plants and flowers on display. Animatronics have become bigger parts of each exhibit. This one has two huge baby birds in a nest. It's cute but maybe too cute for a garden exhibit. I suspect Steve Wynn wouldn't have approved gimmicks like this. It is apparent that MGM recognizes the value of the Conservatory as a draw to Bellagio and doesn't spare any expense on the exhibits.
The Baccarat Bar is closed for renovation and has black construction curtains surrounding it. I could see that the stone entrance railing is intact but the furniture and carpeting are gone. This is probably tied into the construction going on in the Keno Room. It is closed permanently. An outsider told me it will be replaced by a high-limit Blackjack pit. If that is correct, high-limit table play will be centered around the Baccarat Bar.
The $5 and $10 slot area in the space between the High-Limit Slot Room and toward the Buffet entrance has been reconfigured. The original, raised carousels in which slot attendants worked when Bellagio first opened have been removed and all slots and VP placed in smaller rows and carousels. It is an improvement.
The renovated Poker Room was busy all weekend but looks more crowded and less comfortable than before. I haven't seen MGM Grand's new Poker Room, but Bellagio's does have the MGM corporate look to it, in my opinion.
[Ed: I think the new signage for the Poker Room is crap. It looks terrible.]
Lunch at Sensi, the newest restaurant, in the Spa Tower, was excellent. The room is divided into separate areas around the glassed-in show kitchens and is casual but very comfortable.
[Ed: I've had an excellent lunch and a so-so dinner at Sensi.]
Restaurant prices on the Strip have gotten out of control. For example, Michael Mina (formerly Aqua) now charges $19 for a moderate glass of Chardonnay. The scallop appetizer has gone from $17 last year to $24 now and the lobster pot pie entrée went from $52 to $73. Michael Mina lost its chef and many employees to Wynn, and the change shows. The bar was always a friendly place to have a drink or dinner when dining alone. The new staff didn't appear very friendly. Maybe with such a large, sudden turnover, they need some time to get acclimated.
I stopped for a drink at Picasso one evening. It's the only Bellagio restaurant that didn't lose any staff to Wynn. Like the Conservatory, MGM recognizes the value of Picasso. Prices for the two fixed price selections haven't increased as much as in other restaurants. I believe they were $110 and $120.
Bellagio's housekeeping service, including nightly turn-down, was excellent.
The renovated rooms are fine, but the dark armoire/entertainment center/closet/mini-bar dominates the room. One minor change, but noticeable to me, is the quality of bathroom towels. They are not as thick as when Wynn opened the property. Several clean towels had rust (or worse?) stains on them.
I planned this trip to Bellagio to take advantage of a weekend slot event in which a BMW, Mercedes and Land Rover were given away at a Saturday night drawing. I liked the way Bellagio planned and executed it. There were 200 invitees, and each got one drawing ticket for the BMW which gave everyone the same shot at winning. Tickets for the other two cars were based on the number of Players Club points earned from Thursday through 6 PM Saturday, with one ticket for each 1,000 points. I know that one invitee had more than 1,000 tickets so there was some heavy play. Everyone got at least full RFB, but the heavy players got suites and who knows what else. The group dinner, drawing and music were all first class, but it's a small expense for Bellagio considering the play the weekend generated.
Wynn is like Scotch, an acquired taste. I took a fifteen minute walk through Wynn while I was still at Bellagio and was disappointed in what I saw. However, I came to appreciate the property during my three days there. This is not saying everything's flawless. It's not.
[Ed: No, it is not perfect but it is growing on me even more this second time around. I think some parts are downright fantastic and others still do have some issues.]
I drove to Wynn at 10 AM Sunday and parked in the new self-park garage. When I entered, I was reminded of Bellagio, same speed ramps. That's where the comparison ended. The entrance to the garage elevators to the casino from each parking level was an extreme disappointment. If first impressions are important, Wynn has some work to do. Unlike Bellagio, the elevator lobbies in the garage are not enclosed and air conditioned. They are open and poorly decorated. The walls are only partly finished in Wynn's new favorite color, chocolate brown, but it's a depressing choice for an elevator entrance. Moreover, cinder block walls are visible and, on one level, a chain link fence adds to the problem. The elevators themselves don't increase visitors‚ expectations. The casino entrance from the garage is equally non-descript, through heavy doors. Once inside, I was partially blocked by the number of people filling the hall at the entrance to the Ferrari showroom. The hallway was also congested due to the number of people looking over the rail into the poker room which was busy all the time. The poker room looks great, and I've been told has the most comfortable chairs of any room in the city. The problem is, the chairs are so large, only nine can sit comfortably at a table, not ten.
[Ed: It is true that the entrance from the parking garage is very average. I'm sure Wynn's not losing too much sleep over it though. My guess is that most of the target guests arrive via limo, taxi or valet their cars... Still, Bellagio's parking garage is much nicer.]
Also unlike Bellagio, registration for the Resort Tower (standard rooms) is not anywhere near the entrance from the garage. One has to walk with bags around the edge of the casino to the front of the building near the main valet entrance.
Registration was prompt, but I checked in at 10 o'clock on a Sunday morning. I had been told I'd have a high floor, golf course view room, but because of the early hour, most people hadn't checked out yet. Rather than wait, I chose to take an 11th floor Strip view room. It was fine for me, but it was more like a casino roof view room. This is not a complaint. I could have checked my bags and waited until early afternoon for the reserved room to be ready.
[Ed: Last time I was in the Tower Suites so this was my first check-in for the 'Resort Tower'. I checked in late on a Wednesday and also had no wait. I got the room I asked for, high floor and a Strip view. Last time we had a view of the course so I wanted to see the other side.]
The standard Resort Room was excellent. When I had first seen photos of the orange carpet and walls and the Andy Warhol prints, I wasn't enthused, but I was very impressed with the décor after seeing it in person. Las Vegas‚ image of luxury often seems to center around ersatz European formal décor and furniture. I'm no expert on California, but Wynn's hallway and room décor was much more contemporary. For lack of a better term, I'd call it California modern, more like Palm Springs or Beverly Hills. The room was very comfortable, and to me, much nicer than Bellagio's standard rooms. The floor to ceiling windows make the room much more open than the smaller windows at Bellagio do. The fact that the king bed faces the windows is a smart idea. The desk, next to the windows, is great for laptops. The outlets and cable connections are built into the wall behind the desk surface rather than being an add-on as at Bellagio. More importantly, the desk chair, styled like the two straight chairs at the table, has wheels. The small sofa/loveseat with ottoman is comfortable. The Gateway TV lies flat against a side wall and swings out for comfortable viewing from anywhere in the room. It‚s a 30‰ screen and can purchased in the hotel at Gizmos for $1800. The remote control may seem a little confusing to some, but once I figured it out (I'm no engineer), it was fine.
[Ed: Wynn's rooms are my favorite for standard rooms in Las Vegas. The bed is extremely comfortable and Detroit is right, the large windows make the room feel very open.]
What was missing from the room? The armoire, thankfully. The room is good sized and seems larger without a hulking piece of furniture sitting there. Another good feature is a real, two door closet in the entry hall between the bathroom and the bedroom. Plenty of room for hanging clothes and a large enough safe for laptops. The drawer space isn't as large as at Bellagio, but it's enough. Three drawers are in half a cabinet which also houses the minibar. There are also drawers in the two nightstands.
The bathroom is large and has both a stall shower and tub. The shower has a bench, and the showerhead is superior to Bellagio's. It's more like the original ones Steve put in when Bellagio opened. It's probably not as water efficient, but it was great. The sink counter has two sinks with a lower area in the center with a pull out vanity chair. I'd prefer one big, uninterrupted counter, but I suppose the center section is designed for make up. The toilet is in a separate, small room with telephone. There is a small Gateway TV in the bathroom wall which had a good picture but has one major defect. The channel can only be changed by clicking up or down on the remote, one channel at a time, and you can't click it rapidly to move up the dial. Each channel has to register before you can move to the next one. Sort of frustrating to go from NBC (3) up the dial to CNBC.
[Ed: I didn't notice the TV remote problem until Detroit mentioned it but it is true - major pain to change channels.]
One minor example of where the almost $3 Billion went: The towels are heavy Turkish cotton with an embossed pattern. They're much better than the current Bellagio towels. Wonder how many will head home in guests‚ luggage?
Early housekeeping problems have been fixed. Daily service was excellent as was the nightly turn-down service.
[Ed: Agreed. Housekeeping was MUCH improved in the last two months. In fact, I would say service in general is way up in last two months.]
The 'mountain' left me cold when viewed from the Strip. I know Wynn's focus was to have everything look out from the inside, but the mountain creates a barrier which in some ways is as off-putting as Aladdin's Strip façade.
[Ed: I don't find it that off-putting but I do think that more could have been done to make the mountain look better on the Strip side... Adding a waterfall or something could really make the Strip side look like less of a giant green wall.]
The main gate drive and Valet entrance are seriously flawed. I watched many times from my room when the drive was clogged with cars and cabs. There aren't enough lanes, and cars stack up under the porte cochere. Many times, passengers exited their cabs from the traffic lane and walked up the drive to the entrance. How could such a mistake happen? I know Wynn doesn't have the front property like Bellagio does, but surely Steve realized he needed to get people and cars in and out. I believe the mountain footprint was so sacred that everything else was compromised.
[Ed: You may be on to something with the mountain. There is certainly a problem with the main gate. It's just too small to handle the volume required and it is painfully obvious.]
The Suite Tower drive and valet are also under-sized, but there is less traffic there other than the limos. The drive is already torn up, probably for more limo access.
Restaurants: Because of some off property dinners, I only had breakfast and lunch at Wynn in the Country Club Grill, Red 8 and Corsa Cucina.
[Ed: I've eaten at Bartolotta, SW, The Buffet, Terrace Pointe Cafe, Wing Lei and Corsa Cucina. All of the estaurants were fantastic with the exception of the buffet, which was just average. Bartolotta is my new favorite Italian restaurant in Las Vegas.]
Country Club Grill is terrific for breakfast. It is at the end of the long hallway past the coffee shop, buffet and meeting rooms. You can honestly forget you're in a casino hotel. The room looks like a golf club grill and has both inside and outside seating overlooking the golf course and spectacular 18th green waterfall. The food and service are excellent and fairly moderately priced. It is a great setting. Bellagio has nothing that can compare to it.
Red 8 is a more upscale version of Noodles at Bellagio. Two sides are open to the casino, and it was very good for lunch. Casual, comfortable atmosphere.
Corsa Cucina is the casual Italian/Mediterranean restaurant near the Ferrari store and poker room. The food and service were both excellent. The décor doesn't lend itself to the food with all the car racing themed photos and pictures. It's already going to be renovated.
[Ed: This space was originally designed for the 'Ferrari Cafe', which died on the vine.]
Now, The Buffet. Six friends and I decided to meet there for a late lunch/early dinner at 3:15 PM just before the change over to dinner. I was charged an 18% tip because of the number of people. That was fine except the service didn't warrant any tip. First, let me say the food selections and quality were equal to Bellagio even as they changed from the lunch to dinner items. However, the service left much to be desired. We had to ask the server on two occasions to clear the dirty dishes to make room for the new. One fork is set at each place. Don't other buffets have at least two? When the server did remove the old dishes, she plopped each dirty fork on the bare table top. Now, that may seem picky, but shouldn't a first class buffet either give you new utensils each time or at least have a clean napkin or something to put them on? We're not talking about the $4.99 buffet at the Plaza for cryin‚ out loud. The other glitch that someone reported on shortly after opening hasn't been fixed. When the lunch selections are changed over to dinner, an employee goes up and down the food line with plastic baggies filled with labels for the different items. They must not be organized because she kept fumbling with the labels, and many things were never labeled correctly. When I saw marinated mushrooms labeled as King Crab Legs, I figured I'd better just keep my mouth shut. I had already made enemies with the server. Food excellent; service disorganized.
[Ed: I had great service and average food. I guess mileage varies.]
I didn't eat at any of the fine restaurants, but I did look in. Their locations and settings are all over the property, but this is where Steve shines. They all take advantage of the water and the mountain. Okada, the high end Asian/Japanese restaurant juts out into the water toward the mountain. It is a spectacular, tranquil setting; same with SW Steakhouse and Daniel Boulud which are on the lower level. Wynn has raised the bar on fine dining in Las Vegas. Whether these will contribute to his bottom line remains to be seen, but they certainly will draw high-end customers and players.
[Ed: The high end restaurants that I have tried are fantastic.]
The bars and lounges didn't have the same sense of greatness compared to Bellagio. There is nothing I saw which compares to Bellagio's Petrossian Lounge, off the main hotel lobby, and nothing as inviting as the Baccarat Bar. Wynn has the 'B Bar' next to the Baccarat room but it looked rather sterile to me. The Parasol Up and Parasol Down bars are casual, but their locations, at the top and bottom of the circular escalators are too congested. The walkway between the Parasol Up and the circular escalators is too narrow. The large two story windows overlooking the water and mountain draw sightseers who jam up the area day and night. I'm sure they're already trying to figure out how to streamline the traffic flow.
[Ed: This might be my biggest gripe with the property. There are no places to walk up and get a drink. HUH? Major error. It seems like bars and lounges was a serious after-thought in the design of the public areas.]
As one gets used to the casino layout, it begins to make sense and is quite easy to navigate. Everything is set in quadrants with the high limit table games, baccarat and high limit slots at the end of the casino furthest from the front entrance. Table play was heavy almost all the time with many minimums above $100. When Wynn releases the Quarter, revenues should continue strong, but at what cost? That's the question. The $5 and $10 slot/vp floor is well laid out and naturally has more up to date machines than other casinos including Bellagio. Wynn has more multi-line video slots with multi-denominations which encourages heavier play. One night, someone had seven jackpots going at the same time on video slots with titles you normally associate with nickel games. This guy, however, played them as either $5 or $10 games, playing as much as $450 a spin.
[Ed: I agree, the casino is very well setup and I already feel like this is my fave place to play.]
The separate high-limit slot room with mostly $25 to $5,000 machines was poorly designed. It is across the aisle from the other slots and next to the high-limit table areas. The room is not very open to the casino, so it doesn't invite players in. The room is expensively designed but is separated into what amounts to three separate rooms, all of which feel isolated and are not in the line of sight of the attendant and the small cage. This is in contrast to Bellagio's high limit slot room which is open on two sides, to the craps pit and to the $5 slot area. I learned from someone outside Wynn that the room will be reconfigured with walls taken down to make it more open. I believe that's probably true. It seems Wynn hasn't been afraid to make changes if they will improve the customer's experience and/or enhance revenues.
The Red Card players club worked fine, and comps are similar to Bellagio (which may not be what Wynn originally intended.)
Suite Tower: Wynn is almost like two hotels in one, sort of like a Mirage and Bellagio in one building. As nice as I found the Resort Tower, the Suite Tower has a totally different atmosphere. The registration area, VIP check-in and the public areas look more Bellagio-like than Bellagio itself. Very first class. The 'privileged' can access the high limit table and slot areas from the Suite Tower reception area without having to mingle with riff-raff like me <g>.
[Ed: I agree. The Suite Tower is truly a better experience and very well done. After having tried both it and the Resort Tower, I can justify the extra expense.]
Pools: Very open and attractive but more informal than Bellagio's. The entire pool area looks less expensive and more generic than I expected. The entrance from the hotel rooms is convoluted. Take the hotel elevator to the Spa level, walk through the Spa to the pool elevators. Not very convenient, especially Friday when there was a brief power outage at the hotel which screwed up the pool elevators. After making the trek from the hotel elevator to the pool elevator, I was told to go back to the hotel elevator, go down to the casino level and then walk down the stairs to the pool At least when I finally got there, I didn't have need for the treadmill. I assume the Suite Tower's two private pools are more easily accessed. The 'European' pool was doing a brisk business and there's no question about it being topless. It's right next to the outside blackjack tables. Some hands were obviously lost because of the distractions.
[Ed: I really like the pool area. I think Bellagio's pools are too sterile, as if they are to be looked at instead of interacted with. Wynn feels more inviting and the cabanas are very well setup.]
My conclusion: I grew to like Wynn very much, but it is still a work in progress. Is it better than Bellagio? In some ways, it was more comfortably casual but in others a little disappointing. Wynn's gardens and entrance from the Strip can't compare with the expansiveness of Bellagio, but customers and players who have gotten bored with Bellagio after six years may look to Wynn.
[Ed: While it is true that the grandeur of Bellagio is hard to match but I feel very comfortable at Wynn. It feels good to be here and I see myself coming back here often. One of my favorite Vegas locales, The Mirage, is starting to get butched by MGM MIRAGE and I need a new place to call home!]
I don't see how one property for the foreseeable future can sustain Wynn's share price, and recent pressure reflects that. Will Encore be built, and when? It's already being delayed.
[Ed: Encore is coming. Groundbreaking is set for December. It was discussed a bit in the casino design sessions I was in and I got to talk to Wynn's head architect about it for a few minutes.]