Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

November 27, 2005

Reader Review: Wynn Las Vegas

Posted by Hunter

Here we are with another installment of our 'Reader Reviews'. This time, reader 'Mike C' has been kind enough to write up his recent stay at Wynn Las Vegas.

So, sit back and enjoy the ride after the jump.

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Wynn LV is a beautiful property and I've enjoyed my time there. I'm only seriously disappointed in a few short service experiences and one bad design flaw. Most other complaints are related to price, and that's more about my expectations than anyone else's, and probably isn't exclusive to this property. Since moving to Las Vegas, it has
retained some of that wonderland feeling but also has sort of become a bit of an accustomed hometown, and so I don't indulge on overpriced luxuries on the Strip as much as I used to. Whereas I previously had no problem paying $6 for a bag if candy as a tourist, as a native I think "I could buy this at Target for $2.50!" and the inclination to spend is crimped comapred to my experiences as an out-of-state visitor.

With that out of the way, onwards...

We stayed in Wynn Las Vegas in a complimentary room in early October. What follows is my report. I've been in Wynn a few times and gambled a bit there but never stayed in the hotel. I've stayed in a regular room in all the other top-tier hotels. In other words, I've never tried THEHotel or the Venetian tower add-on or any of those premium hotels-within-hotels, but have stayed at Mandalay, Venetian, and Bellagio at least once.

I probably don't have to say things like "The conservatory is really pretty" and "the shops are expensive" because I'm sure a lot of people reading know that already. Most everything that people love about the place, from the cleanliness to the interior details were there in full force. One evening I saw the lake of dreams show from the gawker's balcony. It's... Okay, nice to look at although a lot of the effects from the colored lights to the props in the water to the cloth blowing in the air like fire (Pirates of the Caribbean, anyone?) over the waterfall made it feel much more like a surrealist Disney presentation than anything else. I'd still take the Bellagio fountains, yes, even with Elvis music.

We asked for a room looking at the Strip and got room 5656, which gave you a view of the strip but not generally the buildings most people like to look at. We got stretching from the Stardust on the left, with the Hilton in the center, and a variety of off-strip casinos such as Boulder Station and Sam's Town appearing off in the distance. It's nice that the curvature of the tower allows for such views for the side of the building that isn't facing LVB, but you sure wonder what the people who are facing LVB must be seeing.

The room itself may have been rather under-furnished as I didn't see some of the reading materials that other TR writers have found in their rooms. I didn't have that booklet telling you how much it costs to purchase anything in the room and I didn't see any kind of entertainment/dining magazine telling you what's happening this week. Everything else was there, though.

The beds had nice sheets but I couldn't ever seem to get comfortable with them. Previously I wanted to buy one of those pricey Wynn mattresses for my place but after spending two nights on them I'm glad I got what I wound up with instead. What feels like a half-dozen pillows are placed on top of the bed in three types of varying comfort. I placed two together and managed to make something that worked.

The room is quite big and the colors are strange at first but grow on you the longer you hang around the resort. The TVs are better than any other hotel TVs that I've seen, although the main one has only two aspect ratio settings: Normal and Wide. Some kind of a zoom mode would be nice. HDTV channels are provided in addition to a number of cable offerings. Bathroom TV is very nice thought. Another nice touch is the Moods option on the main TV, that lets you play background music to various shots of still photos. The alarm clock has a CD player that proved useful when I came back from MGM with a newly purchased Cirque soundtrack.

Someone mentioned cell phone reception a few months ago and I found that my Cingular GSM phone worked in the room, in the hallway's elevator lobby, and died once I stepped into an elevator. The elevators, by the way, are kind of pretty at the ground floor where they have those actual arrows moving left and right on an arch to
point where the elevator is, like you would expect to see in a New York skyscraper. It's not 117 degrees in Vegas during this week although the elevators were a little uncomfortably warm. It seems a lot of the unnecessary backlighting around the interior had been turned off in some elevators, and these were less warm than the ones were all the lights were running.

All staff in hotel and casino positions were friendly and convenient during my stay. I have in the past visits seen casino staff (mainly at the slot desk) take a long time processing people due to conversations on the phone or some other reason, and while I did see a long line at the Red Card desk once and a while, it wasn't always like that.

One traffic snarl, though, and the fault (believe it or not) is actually design-related: The registration area was just a bad idea. All the best registration desks open up into a large lobby room that leaves plenty of space for people to move about or stand in line. Mandalay Bay's backs up into a large room with live birds. Bellagio's desk faces a lobby large enough to handle the registration desk duties as well as thru traffic and the glass flower gawkers and the tired people sitting on the couch. This isn't exclusive to high-end places, even Luxor has a desk that faces a large empty area to handle traffic.

Wynn made a small uncomfortable room that has two desks facing each other. Capacity is too low with lines stretching out at worst times almost right into each other. There's also two small couches adjacent to each desk and some large decoration in the middle of the room. I honestly would have prefered one large couch in the middle of the room and some small decorations on the side, myself. Whatever the solution, this is something that should be fixed at least on the long-term.

And by the way, if I may say so, I was disappointed to come back and read this blog to find out that the exclusive VIP suites lobby is expanding. The lobby used by 100 people at any given time is being expanded, while the lobby used by around 3000 people in that same period is too small!?! This is backwards thinking, in my opinion. Then again, maybe this is why I don't own a 50 story building with my name on it.

Wynn's casino is weird. It's more elegant looking than my most usual hangout, Paris, but it feels a bit more raucous. Maybe it's the combination of all the lookey loos, the packed together machines, the Bonus Bingo sounds, etc. It probably also is more than a little bit due to the noisy tables being played alongside the walkways than near
the center like most strip casinos. Also unlike most casinos, it has the same "feel" by night as it does by day. Many other casinos begin to develop a bit more soul during the evening, with a (hopefully good) lounge act playing something into the casino and the crowd seems to become a bit more focused on gambling than touring. Mirage
used to have musical acts playing near the indoor jungle even before they turned the area into AVA. And even in it's most stately period, Bellagio had a musical number coming out of the Fontana lounge you could hear from anywhere nearby. Not so at Wynn, where unless you're hanging out specifically very close to certain lounges you'll just get the soundtrack over the casino, which is a mix of anonymous jazzy tunes and slow remixes of songs by the likes of Kelly clarkson and Seal. A Norm Clarke column the other day says Wynn has scrapped all lounge entertainment. Perhaps the cacophony of noises is too much for lounge music at Wynn, but it's a part of why I enjoy Paris/Ballys and Mandalay Bay's casinos so much, as well as a few off-strip ones.

As for the odds, I've done either acceptably or slightly below par at this casino's slots on my brief visits before, but always walked away unscathed for the most part. This was not the case on Sunday night when I did most of my gambling. Our unlucky streak had gotten so badly that my group was joking about how Steve is going to be arrested for these fixed games. I guess all you need is enough snarky criticism about these things, because shortly after I hit the top prize on a quarter machine (if you're curious, "Diamonds in the Rough" on the southwest corner of the room, has a gimmick called "Can't Lose!" with a big green button) for $1,250. We're sadly not one of those people who collect W2-Gs on a regular basis, in fact this was my first. That same day I also saw someone next to me hit five progressive symbols at the Monopoly penny machine with her .75 bet for $900. So now I fully approve of the Wynn casino but I'm kind of embarassed to admit it. :)

The bus service to the convention center and monorail was reliable, although they didn't do anything to warn you that you'd have to cross an intersection to get to it. While that's not unreasonable, they could do more to warn you. There was increased traffic from a convention going on and I saw some older folks who were visibly uncomfortable about having to get across a busy street by themselves.

Something else I noticed from the bus is that Wynn is not evenly decorated all the way around on all sides. Bellagio's "back of the house" buildings are decorated evenly with everything else, and it pays off when you view the place from the freeway. It looks right from any angle. Perhaps with the golf course and everything else,
they decided not to do that this time, but with a $3.7 billion budget I'm suprised they veered so close to the Venetian's "pop up book" effect that only looks right from a few certain places.

The art gallery was worth the admission which appears to have been lowered ($6 GA, $3 NV discount.) This kind of stuff depends on your tastes, but while I'm not actively searching out stuff about fine art, if I run into a venue I'll take a look. It was certainly worth the price. You get to see the paintaings and are given a listening wand and, if you want, can listen to Steve talk about his collection. I went with the audio and it was fascinating a couple times, too long-winded a couple other times, and the rest of the time it simply provided some nice background as to who the person in the picture is supposed to be, or how he ended up with his own Warhol painting. Overall, the gallery has stuff that will please fans of either old masterpieces, impressionist era art, or the abstract. From the tour, Wynn seems to prefer the abstract/cubist a little more than I do, but it's well worth $6, and a downright bargain at $3, especially if you remind yourself that the sweets shop a few feet down is charging $16 for a bite of chocolate.

You'll almost never find me in the fine dining rooms of a hotel, so here's what I tried at Wynn. It seemed overall that quality of service in the eating establishments are a real gamble compared to service in the hotel and casino operations:

The Buffet: This is my second visit to the Buffet. It was a lot less crowded than I've previously seen it. All the food I tried had a lot of flavor and the service was quick at first but slowed down later, particularly when it comes to bringing you the check (which seems to be a huge sore spot in a number of casino restaurants across the city.)

Terrace Pointe Cafe: I came here twice during my stay, and ate here once previously. On that first visit, I figured I wouldn't come back because of the prices. Being able to put charges on your room changes your perspective a bit though, so I had a pancake breakfast here. I was seated at a large table, with a waiter who was very nice and friendly, and all went well.

That evening I had dinner and the night shift just wasn't nearly as good. VERY slow bringing the check and for some reason two ladies were allowed to smoke away in the middle of the room which is supposed to be the non smoking section and it travelled around. Despite the lack of ashtrays on the tables or anything near them to support the idea, nobody got on their case for smoking. This caused two more ladies to want to light up to our right but the waiter told them not to because it was a non-smoking section, appearantly one corner of the room was declared a smoking section out of the blue? I don't know, but the whole thing seemed terribly rude. I thought the other side of the room, to the left of the entrance, was the smoking section. All I know was that breakfast was five times better an experience than dinner was.

Zoozacrackers: I've come into this place once before for a desert but came in before checking out of the hotel so I could have lunch. This is the point where I begun to realize that it's very easy to spend more money than you ought to if you don't stay sharp. Zoozacrackers sells a $10 cheeseburger. That's comparable to the 24 hour coffee shops around the strip, EXCEPT that the coffee shops give you fries and Zoozacrackers charges $4 more for that, so I skipped the fries. And while Zooza's price for a soft drink is comparable as well, you get one medium-sized plastic cup. And that plastic cup costs considerably more than the $2.75 for a larger bottle of coke at The Drugstore (Wynn's all-purpose general store.) I would not mind coming back here for a burger again, but I'd bring in a Coke from The Drugstore and skip the fries.

Another thing that I guess I should mention is the music. I've already mentioned the jazz-meets-pop soundtrack that plays over Wynn's casino. It's fine and everything, but Zoozacrackers has a separate soundtrack that plays more aggressive pop. I sat in a booth near the casino and heard the jazzy music of the casino and Zooza's sound system playing the likes of Green Day and The Killers. On a Friday night when I went in, Zooza had their soundtrack up even louder to the point that I was talking loudly across the table to my company. I think they should just go ahead and put the same music from the casino in here. With the sounds from the machines, the tables, the Bingo event and more, there's no need for extra noise pollution.

Anyway, it's a very nice hotel and I'd love to stay there again although if I were footing the bill I'd probably give THEhotel a try first before coming back here. I'd tell my friends who normally stay at the Bellagio to give this a shot although I don't know how much I'd drop in to further gamble at the casino.

The only problems I've listed that I think are serious are the registration area and the spotty restaurant service. Everything else is a suggestion and the prices I griped about won't matter as much to an out-of-towner who's come to Vegas to spend money and live the high life. I know that's who they're targeting, not me, so I'm trying to figure out how to keep myself in the black and be able to keep coming back here. More W2-G winnings would certainly help. :D


Read archived comments (3 so far)
November 27, 2005 1:36 PM Posted by Mike E

Great read, Mike C! I agree on the registration problem and you're not the first complaint I've heard or read. I think it'll only be a matter of time before they figure out some kind of single-file line to aid organiztion. For all its problems though, in my opinion, it's still the nicest registration area in town in terms of beauty.

November 28, 2005 2:10 PM Posted by blackjack

Great review. I especially agree with your comments about the tables area. It is quite a cacophony of noises and chaos. While I like gambling there, I just don't get a warm comfortable feeling sitting at the tables, as opposed to other areas like the Mirage, where there are pockets of like games.

January 27, 2008 2:44 PM Posted by tony farb

Mike don't you pay upon entering the buffet at Wynn. So how can you wait for the check?