I love my readers. Fortunately for me, I live relatively close to Las Vegas. It's easy to get there, even by car. Still, a town that moves this fast, there's bound to be some changes that I can't report in real-time.
That's where you guys come in... Mike E. has reported back with the latest from Wynn Las Vegas (Corsa changes, high limit stuff, etc...) and The Mirage (new nightclub, restaurants, paint). Not only are you getting the boots on the ground updates, it's a great read.
Follow along after the jump to check out Mike's excellent contribution. I also have a couple of comments at the end...
The parents both had their birthdays a couple days apart in late December and as a gift, I promised to take them to Vegas for a night. My dad hadn’t been since June and my mom hadn’t been since August of ‘04 so she was well overdue. Vegas trips with the ‘rents are always a little more mellow, but this trip had a few very memorable moments, one in particular that I’ll never forget.
My brother drops us off at John Wayne Airport for our 8am flight. We land in Vegas and I make sure I’m ahead of the pack because my parents don’t know I have a limo waiting to pick us up. I approach Jim of Presidential Limo and hand him the bags. My mom turns the corner only to see a tall gentleman taking the rest of our luggage from the baggage claim (for the record, we only had carry-on for our 36-hour trip, but our flight was so full that there wasn’t room for anymore luggage on board). Not knowing that Jim was our driver, my mom runs over once he sees him handling our luggage thinking that someone is mistakenly heading off with our bags. My dad is laughing hysterically and then it dawns on my mom that we have a limo waiting. Dad and I finish an entire bottle of champagne in the 15-minute ride to Wynn LV. We approach the Tower Suites entrance where Jim presents my mom with a rose. They loved the experience and I tip Jim accordingly.
Check-in is a breeze and we’re up in our room in no time. The baggage and rollaway is brought up and I find the rollaway to be nearly as comfortable as the already outstanding room beds. We then head down to show my mom around and grab some lunch at the Country Club Grill. My mom had never eaten there and she loved it. She mentions that the setting feels more like you’re in North Carolina than Vegas. This is a detail I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning, but would make for a strange coincidence later that night, as you’ll read. While leaving, I see Steve Wynn chewing an employee out. I don’t know what that was all about, but I did point him out to my parents. My mom said I should approach him, but it obviously wasn’t a good time.
We head to the casino and gamble for a bit. The parents hit the slots and then take a nap in the room. I hit up the pai gow poker and sat next to the world’s most annoying guy. He could hardly speak English, but could be heard from across the casino floor telling everyone how to set their hands and was a total stiff. The dealers, the floor, every player at the same table and even other tables were getting annoyed by him. I lost $600 and he looked to have won $300. I get up to leave and he does too. He looks at me and says, “Yoo goo la to me,” which I translate as “You’re good luck to me.” You just don’t tell a drunk guy that’s lost nearly half his bankroll in an incredibly annoying 2-hour session something like that. I smiled and mouthed an F-bomb to him which I’m sure he understood. The dealer chuckled and I tipped one last toke before heading up to the room for a nap.
I’m up about an hour later and gamble a bit more. This session went much better and I won $300, but was still down overall. I meet up with my parents and we head over to see the water show. Afterwards, we hit the dinner buffet which I thought was fantastic (as always), but my mom didn’t like it since she’s not big into seafood and that limits your options significantly.
It’s off to the room again so I can get dressed for Jet, the new nightclub at Mirage. The parents just want to stay at Wynn so I’m on my own. It’s around 10pm and I head out early to make sure I get into the club, but as we are exiting the elevator, my mom spots Steve Wynn eating dinner at Tableau so she demands we wait in the lobby and speak to him. I oblige and after a while, he walks by with a few friends. They’re talking business and he doesn’t see us. We get up to leave, but then he stops at the rotunda between the Tower Suites lobby and the Villa Atrium to say his good-byes to his friends so we stop as well. My dad is over the idea so he heads towards the slots. My mom hangs out with me for a while. After Steve says his good-byes, I approach and say, “Mr. Wynn, it’s an honor to be a shareholder” and extend my hand. Talk about kissing ass… He shakes my hand and says, “Really? I’m a shareholder, too!” Nice to know he’s got a modest sense of humor. His cell phone rings and he starts talking to someone about getting his jet set up and then he’s put on hold. To score further points with him I ask, “Where are you headed, Macau?” He whispers quietly, “New York.” Then he starts talking on his cell again and walks towards his villa. My mom leaves with a smile that I got to meet him. I start following Steve. No, I was not stalking him—the taxi stand for the Tower Suites is located just outside the entrance of The Villas where he lives (not the Fairways, the massive ones that house the whales) so we were both headed in the same direction anyway. As he turns the corner towards the elevator, he hangs up and I casually say, “It was nice meeting you, Mr. Wynn.” He turns around and says, “Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry I cut you off!” He approaches me as he puts a breath strip on his tongue. As most of you know, his vision isn’t exactly great so he gets very close when he speaks to you. My heart starts racing as Steve Wynn, the billionaire responsible for making Las Vegas what it is today, is approaching me and is about to start a conversation. I would have been happy with a “Hi, nice to meet you,” but no. I’ll try to remember as much as I can…
Wynn: What’s your name?
Wynn: Mike, so nice to meet you. How old are you?
Wynn: Is this you first time staying with us?
Me [with a huge smile on my face]: It’s actually my fifth. I brought my parents here for their birthdays on this trip.
Wynn: That’s great of you to do that! Where did you guys eat?
Me: We had lunch at the Country Club.
Wynn: Isn’t it fantastic? It’s like you’re eating in North Carolina.
Huh? Didn’t my mom say the exact same thing when we were there? Crazy. Anyway, the rest of the conversation continues with him critiquing his own work with Bellagio and Wynn LV. He continues telling me about this project being his first design from the inside out and essentially what he’s been telling reporters if you follow his interviews. I comment on how I love the Tower Suites and my proximity to the front desk, elevators, the pool, and Tableau. “And you don’t walk through a casino,” he picks up where I left off. “During the whole construction, I was worried about whether or not I made the right choice, but then I realized that whole ‘making the customers walk through the casino’ is bullshit. If customers want to gamble, they’ll find the damn casino.” He continued, “This resort is all about intimate spaces. The most affluent travelers don’t say, ‘I want to go to the biggest hotel.’ They say, ‘I want to go to the best hotel’ and that’s what we’re trying to create.” He also mentions how the fountains of Bellagio make for a wonderful tourist attraction, but a poor guest experience since they have to walk long distances inside the building because of it. One thing that really stood out for me is that he accepts Wynn LV as flawed but yet the best work he’s ever done and that he’ll continue to strive to create better designs. I hardly added to the conversation because when Steve Wynn speaks, you listen and he spoke to me for a good 20 minutes before wishing me a goodnight. I must say I have a new admiration for this guy. Not a snob in the least and a joy to speak with. I walk out of the Villa Atrium a little shaky and probably a bit pale. The cab hailer and the guys at the bell desk are all smiling because they saw exactly what had happened.
I get in a cab and head out to Mirage. It’s about 10:45pm and there’s a short line to get in to Jet, or so I thought. I’m in by 11:15 so it’s not too bad, but since Jet has its own entrance apart from the hotel, the other side was line after line filled with locals. Since they’ve got three different rooms with three different sounds, it brings a very diverse crowd—from the well-dressed clubbers to the tattooed punk rockers—I thought that was awesome. After walking through a dimly lit hallway, I find myself in a gorgeous club with a ceiling that sporadically turns different colors with the beat, a huge dance floor, and a stripper pole right in the middle. Tonight is “Pole-A-Palooza”—the girl who can work the pole the best wins $10,000. The main room plays hip-hop, but there are also two smaller rooms on each side of the club. One plays house music, the other was playing hip-hop as well, but they advertise rock. The club has got at least 20 dancers who wear hardly anything and work the crowd. I got a shot of Grey Goose, but the bartender filled a normal glass about halfway. Now that’s what I call a shot! But for all it’s got going for it, there are some major design flaws as well. On two adjacent sides of the main room are bars where people will obviously stand to get a drink. Between the bar and the sunken dance floor is a narrow walk way. Between people at the bar and people leaning against the rails checking out the action on the floor, there was complete blockage and this at only 11:30pm. Having bouncers tell you to keep moving every freakin’ second gets annoying pretty quickly. I’m out of there by 11:45, but either way, Jet is sure to be a success. I’d go back if I wasn’t by myself.
So I start walking around Mirage to check out the changes. I might get thrashed for this, but I really like what they’ve done with it so far. Stack and Fin are gorgeous. The high limit slots and tables area look great. The villa and lanai entrance is now unmarked and strategically made to look like an entrance into a meeting room for guest privacy. The whole casino is more modern and the clientele seems to have shifted to a younger crowd, but that’s probably because of Jet. Of course, the classic vibe that we all know and love is most important and I’m happy to say I felt it, however, I didn’t really play there to give a better assessment. All the signature Wynn canopies, which Bellagio and Wynn LV have, are gone at Mirage leaving the ceilings bare. This is understandable as those would not work with the new décor, but they really need to get something on there to enhance those ceilings—maybe similar light fixtures to the ones they have in the high limit room. The only other critique in my quick walkthrough is that the main line for Jet extends deeply into the main lobby which turns it more into a circus rather than a tropical oasis during club hours.
I catch a cab back to Wynn and gamble a bit more for the night. I do pretty well again and am about even for the trip so I walk off and crash relatively early. The next morning I’m up by about 10:00am. Did I just sleep for 7 hours in Vegas? Guess so. I call down to the front desk and get a late check-out and then I’m connected to a host who knocks $100 off my bill. Score! I head down to check-out and persuade the receptionist to give us spa passes since our flight is scheduled to leave at 8:45pm. Another score! We check our bags in at the bell desk and then we head to the Red Card desk for three comped buffets. This trip is coming out cheaper than I thought. The lunch buffet, I discovered, is hardly any different than the dinner only there are no king crab legs or bananas foster in the dessert section. My mom might not have liked the buffet earlier, but hey, free is free.
We gamble a bit more where I proceed to lose $100. My dad and I hit the spa to detox while my mom continues playing. We’ve still got three hours until our flight and since it’s starting to get dark outside, I thought it might be a good idea to go to Mix. Since it’s still early, I know the crowd will be older and my parents will like it. We grab our bags and wait for a cab to take us to THEhotel. It doesn’t take long before I realize Oscar winner Adrien Brody is standing next to me waiting for his car from the valet. He was busy in a conversation, but I made eye contact and nodded. The valet brought out a brand new Corvette which seemed kind of strange. I don’t think he’s a resident of the Vegas area and I wouldn’t think he would drive to Vegas, let alone by himself. Nevertheless, he seems like a great guy and a good tipper.
We arrive at THEhotel and check our bags in as we head to Mix. There we have coffee on the patio and my parents absolutely love everything about the place. Later they get the itch to go play at Mandalay Bay while I challenge myself in sweet-talking my way into Foundation Room. A minute later I’m in an elevator by myself going up 43 stories while singing Sade’s “Smooth Operator”. The place is stunning as always, but I had enough to drink and just relaxed on the patio for a bit.
I come down to find my parents and we walk back to THEhotel where we grab our bags and head to the airport. I knew which side of the plane I needed to sit on to see the strip. As the twinkling lights grew smaller, I decide I should lay off the trips for a while. Five jaunts to Vegas since May ’05 can really burn a guy out, but I know I’ll get that Vegas jones back very soon. Hope you enjoyed the read!
I know there have been a lot of reports on Wynn LV recently, but I think several things need mentioning as there have been big changes these last few weeks…
There is a much more abundant display of fresh flowers throughout the property. Most notable is in the hallway towards the Country Club and the main guest registration with a display in the center.
To promote Avenue Q, I saw a couple cast members walking around with their puppets on their arms having conversations with one another as they walked through the casino. Very clever.
The scuff marks some of us have been complaining about have been significantly reduced in the public areas and elevators.
They are addressing the issues with the fading color on the casino carpets and were changing the ones in the hallways as I was there.
Corsa, Cucina and Bar looks beautiful. It’s dark and modern, but with a more woodsy flare—sort of hard to explain, but definitely a huge improvement over what it was before. Even though it’s open for business, I still saw a few spots getting renovated while they were closed.
Tryst looks awesome from upstairs. It was closed the night I was there so I couldn’t go down, but it must have the nicest line area of any club in town.
The B Bar is now a high limit blackjack pit. Two different dealers told me it’s going to stay that way permanently. Although that’s unfortunate, they’ve done a great job making it fit in with everything else.
Speaking of high limits, the high limit areas finally have curtains and new, dark brown carpeting. The space looks much more inviting to the high limit player and more intimidating to the low limit gambler.
With the lack of lounges and piano music, I’m thinking about just grabbing drinks at Tableau and hanging out in the Tower Suites lobby when the pianist is playing.
The new invited guest area in the Tower Suites has it’s own frosted glass door. The old invited guest area was still in use as well.
This one is for the car fanatics, but Bentley has recently put on the market one of the world’s fastest sedans called the “Flying Spur”. Wynn has placed a huge order for them to pick up VIPs. Whereas before they only had 4 Bentley Mulliner Arnage RLs, I saw those as well as a few Flying Spurs with the highest numbered license plate reading “Wynn 12”. Assuming they skip 4 and 5, I guess they now have at least 10 Bentleys in their fleet to pick up their top players.
The outdoor patios near Parasol Up/Down have switched their furniture from those awful plastic tables and chairs to nicer rattan with plush white cushions. This is both more comfortable, matches the exterior better, and encourages intimate seating.
Thanks again Mike...
Too bad about the bar/lounge situation at Wynn Las Vegas. I still consider that the biggest design flaw and I hope that Encore doesn't have the same problem.
Regarding the Parasol furniture, my understanding is that is is seasonally changed so we might see the plastic crap again.
I'll be back at The Mirage next week to see the new stuff for myself and to see how it 'feels'. It will be my first time staying at The Mirage since Wynn opened. Hopefully it's still a great experience, I like having good options.
Along with a report, I'll be taking lots and lots of photos, as always. Look for that report in about 10 days.