Here are some of my notes from last weekend at Wynn. I know some readers get tired of �All Wynn, All The Time�, but Wynn is an important addition to Las Vegas� casino and hotel choices. So, fair warning. If Wynn bores you, don�t read any further.
Wynn had its first slot marketing invitational weekend last Thursday to Sunday. There were 300 attendees who were given Suite Tower accommodations and full RFB. There was an awards banquet Saturday evening at which a Maserati Spyder (from Penske-Wynn dealership) and two Free Credit prizes were awarded. Each of the 300 attendees received one drawing ticket and an additional ticket for each 2,000 slot points earned from Thursday until 6 PM Saturday.
This was my second trip to Wynn, and I have to say it has grown on me. It�s the only place I want to stay. Sorry, Bellagio.
First, a couple of gripes. The self-park garage continues to be a disappointment. It�s too small, and on Saturday evening, spaces could be found only by driving in circles until someone left. Like last trip, I don�t understand why each level�s elevator lobby isn�t enclosed, air conditioned and better decorated. Is Wynn planning to build a new, larger garage to serve both Wynn and Encore?
The entry from the garage lobby into the hotel is congested because of the continuous line of people waiting to pay $10 to get into the Ferrarri dealership. That, plus the railbirds at the poker room which also cause traffic flow problems.
This was my first time in the Suite Tower. It really is like a hotel within a hotel. Registration is in a large lobby overlooking the pools. It has a large seating area with a pianist in the evening. Elevators were prompt, but like all the others, weren�t air conditioned. With Steve Wynn�s attention to detail, how could this happen?
We were in an �Executive Suite� which is not really a suite according to my definition. It is a 933 sq ft room with a sitting area but without a separate bedroom. There are two full baths, one with a large shower and the other with a Jacuzzi tub. The room is very nice, but I�d prefer a smaller entry hall, one bath and then use the extra space for a separate bedroom. The room was on the 21st floor and overlooked the golf course and pools. It is a spectacular, peaceful view, totally different from the high-energy views of the Strip.
All the restaurants at Wynn, and most in Las Vegas for that matter, are very expensive. Since the weekend included all restaurants, we tried Okada, Alex, Tableau and Bartolotta. All were excellent, but I wouldn�t want to pay for the meals. (Well, I did pay for them indirectly, but that�s another story.) Wynn�s website describes all the restaurants and includes menus.
Okada is a very large Asian/Japanese restaurant operated by Takashi Yagahashi who was the foremost chef in Michigan before coming to Wynn. There are three separate dining areas, the sushi bar, a regular dining room with individual tables and the large Teppanyaki room. The latter two have great views of the water, pine trees and waterfalls. You�d never know you were in Las Vegas. We ordered different appetizers and entrees found them all exceptional. Takashi stopped at our table where I gave him greetings from a mutual friend who is Detroit�s most respected restaurant critic. He seemed genuinely pleased that she had sent her regards. When I asked him if Steve Wynn had given him free reign in the restaurant, he replied that Steve had not once given him any direction or �suggestions.� Takashi appeared very happy with his move to Wynn Las Vegas.
Alex is the most formal, French restaurant at Wynn. Alex Stratta, who previously operated Renoir in The Mirage, continues to offer superior food and service. It�s a little too formal for my liking with multiple servers practically tripping over each other, but the meals were excellent, and the room quiet, if a little monochromatic done in dark brown and maroon. There are two tasting menus, one with three courses, the other with five, which can be ordered with wine pairings for each course. In addition, there were multiple tastings, �gifts from the chef�, etc. Alex is the only restaurant which requests that men wear jackets. I dutifully brought my blazer, but half of the men were in dress shirts.
Tableau is a great restaurant off the Suite Tower lobby. It�s supposedly open for breakfast and lunch only for Suite Tower guests and then to everyone for dinner. The chef and most of the staff came from Michael Mina�s Aqua at Bellagio. The food is very good and the far room is at the edge of the Suite pool area. It was enjoyable seeing and talking with several bartenders and servers I had known from Aqua. They also seemed happy with the move to Wynn.
Bartolotta di Mare is a two story seafood/Italian restaurant in the Esplanade shopping area. We had lunch there and ate on the upstairs level. Downstairs, with mountain and water views, is open only at dinner. The fresh fish, pasta and salads were exceptional. Bartolotta has some of the best food in Wynn.
We had drinks one early evening on the patio outside of Parasol Down. This area overlooks the �screen� with the water feature. It was still a little warm, but I could have sworn I was in northern Michigan looking at the water and pine trees. It�s a great place and is next to SW Steakhouse�s patio. There are a huge number of table there for outside dining. What a great place!
I might as well describe the Saturday evening banquet in this restaurant section. With 300 invitees, there must have been close to 600 at the dinner. It was in a large ballroom decorated in a racing theme with the Maserati on a turntable in the center of the room. There were three or four open bars plus the wait staff also took drink orders. A very good group, Synergy, provided dance music which didn�t overpower the table conversations. It always amazes me when pre-prepared banquet dinners for hundreds of people all come out at the same time and are good. The entr�e was a prime filet which was served perfectly cooked and not dried out. The service was excellent as the servers brought out and removed every course as if on cue. It was a lot of fun with the only downside being that I didn�t win anything.
It�s obviously good marketing to invite regular players for a weekend event and wine and dine them. The expense is more than taken care of by the heavy casino play. Many of the attendees were former and current Bellagio customers. It will be interesting to see whether Wynn can win them over exclusively or whether they will split their play between the two properties. My play may not warrant future invitations, but there were many very heavy players there. As an example, one couple casually mentioned that they budget $600,000 each year for gambling. The high limit slot room which had looked very quiet on my first trip was busy all the time with $25, $100 and even $1,000 slot machines getting a lot of play. The largest jackpot I saw was $250,000 on a $1,000 machine.
On my last trip, I had not been impressed with the high limit slot room. I thought it was chopped up looking with it being divided in three areas. Well, I was wrong. The dividers give a sense of privacy, and it looked great. Shows what I (don�t) know! It also helped because it was so busy all weekend. Most of the slots in the high limit room are typical IGT reel machines ranging from $10 to $5,000. Some of the most popular were the IGT/Barcrest Top Dollar machines in $25 and $100 denominations. Since the Top Dollar bonus is fairly frequent, players don�t get burned out, and they keep playing.
The $5 and most $10 slots are across the walkway from the high limit room next to Red 8 noodles restaurant. They also got a lot of play. Wynn has an excellent selection of slots, both reel and video. Many video slots normally associated with pennies or nickels are available in $5 and $10 denominations. That means on a 45 coin max video machine played at $10, each spin costs $450. In the same area, Wynn has a good selection of WMS dollar video slots which require anywhere from $9 to $60 or more per spin at max bet. Wynn�s slot floor puts the MGM Mirage properties to shame, especially Bellagio. I recall in the MGM 2nd Quarter conference call Jim Murren or someone saying slot floors are being upgraded at all the properties. For the time being, Wynn has a huge advantage. Of course, Wynn also has a good selection of 9/6 video poker in dollar and up denominations.
Wynn�s entire casino floor, both tables and slots, is well laid out and easy to navigate. I think it�s the best in town.
We went to Bellagio for a few minutes one day. The �MGM Grand-ization� of the property continues, unfortunately. The Baccarat Bar has been renovated and just re-opened. MGM has taken what was once a beautiful space and turned it into what looks like a 1950�s basement recreation room. I just don�t get it. The new expansion to the high limit table area is still walled off. I�d be interested in other opinions on the Baccarat Bar. Am I off base?
I�m looking forward to a return trip.