Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

December 21, 2006

Fairway Villa Report, December 2006

Posted by Mike E

I just came back from another trip in a Wynn Fairway Villa. It was an amazing experience--far better than the first time I stayed in the villas. I've even thrown in some photos and videos of the trips events.

(More after the jump.)

I fly out on Southwest from Orange Country and land at 7:20pm without problems. I�m sitting at gate C8 staring at the slots and bars waiting for my friend Rami�s flight out of Austin to land. The hour-long wait is pure torture; I want to hit the slots or get a drink while I wait, but we�re set to pull an all-nighter tonight without a room and have to conserve our energy.

Rami arrives and is one of the first ones out. He�s one of my best friends and living a couple states apart, I don�t get to see him as often as I�d like. Needless to say, I�m excited to have 48-hours of utter debauchery ahead of us.

We rush to the baggage claim to meet our driver, grab our stuff, and head straight to Wynn. I get �tunneled� for the first time but it�s nothing to worry about when you�re in a limo champagne toasting to the events ahead.

We arrive at Wynn Tower Suites and rush over to Corsa Cucina as we�re the last ones in our party of 11 to show. Dinner at Corsa was very nice. While it didn�t blow me away overall, I might still return. The calamari appetizer was superb and I had the veal as my entr�e. Quite frankly, the veal looked like vomit on a plate�I actually think they forgot to apply any garnishing to make the dish look presentable. What it lacked in visual appeal, however, it made up for in taste. Service was great once we began eating, but I couldn�t get over the waitress literally yelling at the table, �Can I have everyone�s attention please!� when she was ready to say the specials. I�m not trained in waiting tables, but in my experience, a good waitress would impose themselves with a smile and in a matter of seconds, everyone would understand that she needs our attention. That aside though, we all enjoy ourselves and Hunter, our friend Kevin, and myself decide to split the table�s bill down the line three ways. At $273 (gratuity automatically included) per split, it�s still pricey considering that it�s one of Wynn�s more casual restaurants.

We walk over to Resort check-in to get a room for my friend Jeff and his girlfriend Kristi. I had made three different reservations through American Express Platinum for this trip which entitles you to a $40 breakfast credit each morning, one $80 lunch credit, room upgrade when available, 4pm check-out, and if your play warrants it, you can still get outstanding balances comped off your room bill. Considering that their room rates were competitive with booking through the hotel directly, the card paid for its $395 annual fee in this single trip.

Jeff and Kristi go get squared away while I give Rami the grand tour of Wynn. Near the Country Club, I find myself half-smiling and dazed staring at the South Fairway Villa security door nostalgic of my stay in one last year. I look back at Rami with a half-smile: �If I win at baccarat tonight, we�re upgrading to these��

We head to the main lobby and meet with Jeff and Kristi as well as my old elementary school friends Becky, Ryan, Lindi, and Sylvia. It�s really amazing to have them in Vegas with me�I�ve known some of them for nearly 20 of my 24 years on this planet and while we lost contact for nine of those years, we got back in touch again and are now closer than ever. Here�s a picture of a few of us (I�m taking the shot).

We head to Tryst which isn�t totally packed, but still very busy considering it�s one of the slowest nights of the year. After a bit of dancing, I need a shot so we head to the bar. I pick up a shot of Patron Silver for Rami and Goose for me (I should say, my preferred vodka is Stoli, but when pulling an all-nighter, you want to stick with the smoothest options to stay safe). It comes out to $30 for the two shots and then Jeff tells me that he�s got a giant bottle of Goose in his room that we can use. I just wanted to smack him for telling me that after ordering.

Tryst allows reentry so we head towards Jeff�s ghetto Resort room and down a few shots. On the way, we see a group of young friends in the lobby ready to take a picture. My friends stop to stay out of the way, but I run up and put my arm around the shoulder of the last guy at the end and pose with them. The guy taking the picture stops for a moment and looks confused. I step away and say, �Just kidding guys!� and they coax all of us to get in the shot with them. I love how Vegas just breaks all social norms and you can pull things like that.

Anyway, we make it up to the room and lounge around for a while. Maybe I�m getting old, but good friends, a good buzz, and good conversation is better than any nightclub. We head back down to Tryst to pick our coats up from the coat check. There we dance a bit more until the club starts emptying out and we make our way to the high-limit room.

My friends don�t gamble too much so I have my own �entourage� following me around. Of course, I don�t look like much of a big shot when I practically beg the pit boss to lower the baccarat table�s minimum to $100 while nobody was sitting on it. They wouldn�t do it on the big table ($500 was the minimum), but they did allow me to play at that level on an empty midi table (same as mini baccarat, but you can touch the cards, same rituals, etc).

We all take a seat but I�m the only one playing. I bet bank, get the banker cards, slide them over to Jeff, and tell him to blow on them. This silly ritual works for a bit as I hit three naturals in a row within a six-bank run. I play a bit longer and the cards aren�t in my favor so I wind up breaking even. I�m feeling generous so I look back at Rami and say, �Breaking even is like winning in Vegas so yeah, we�re getting a Fairway Villa.�

Then someone gets the brilliant idea to raid the penny slots and milk drinks. Talk about extremes. We march our way from the high-limit room to the bank of penny slots near the south entrance and proceed to loose a dollar or two until the cocktail waitress comes by. I tipped her a ten at arrival and tell her to get back soon because we want to move on. Sure enough, she�s back as soon as she can and we take our drinks and find a seat at Parasol Up.

After more lounging around and a trip to Jeff�s room for even more drinks, it�s morning before we know it. This all-nighter is actually turning out to be pretty easy and I know I�ll be doing it again.

We head to Terrace Pointe for some breakfast and I slowly chew away at my lobster benedict as I watch senior citizens full of energy start packing the restaurant early in the morning.

It�s 8am now and Rami and I march into the Tower Suites lobby looking like shit. I see Matt (my good friend of previous trip report fame) working the desk and approach: �Matt, I need a two-bedroom Fairway Villa!�

�Let me guess: you won big on the baccarat tables last night?�
�I guess you could say that.�

The process takes a while as upgrading to the villas is a little tricky. They hold a lot of them for casino guests obviously and to add more difficulty to the matter, the furthest nine villas on the north wing are completely closed off due to Encore�s construction. Matt speaks with his manager for several minutes until he hangs up with a big smile: �We unblocked a casino guest�s room for you and have a two-bedroom in the south wing [better view] available to check into right now. Here�s the rate right now. Let me go out back and see if I can get it lowered even more for you�.

Matt, I know you�re reading this. You�re awesome. Thanks man!

I also have another Resort room booked through Amex for another set of friends coming in so Matt calls his manager yet again and gets them upgraded to a Tower Suite. As tired as I am, all this �hooking-up� I�m receiving gives me a second-wind.

Matt walks us over to the villa and takes the ground-floor route. For those of you who don�t know, the ground-floor Fairway Villas are at an even higher level of luxury. To access them, you need to go through two keyed security doors just to reach the hallway. Matt walks us through before taking us to our room on the second floor. The hallway is a very minimal gray decorated with giant vases�you can tell they are priceless works of art and not cookie-cutter hotel d�cor produced en masse. Butlers and service doors are everywhere. I take a peek inside one and while they�re not the biggest high-roller accommodations, I can easily see why they demand a $300,000 credit line during the slowest times just to be considered.

We take the elevator to the second floor and open up to Villa 205. Yup, they were clearly expecting a high roller to stay here because they have snacks with Chinese characters all over them, fruit plates, various teas, and things you can�t really find here easily in the states like coconut soda and general welcome amenities all set-up and complimentary. Matt�s about to leave so I reach for my wallet and try to tip him. He notices and literally runs for the door. I chase after him and beg him to accept the tip and he says that whatever I tip him will wind up as credit to my room. Too cool.

I could write half a page describing the suite as I have done with a one-bedroom from last year, but this time I�ve got some video. Before clicking the link, I should warn, we�re a little drunk and have been up for over 24-hours. Our voices are cracking, our speech slurred, and sometimes I say thing that don�t even make sense (�Parlor-sized room?� or ��Him� bathroom?�).

Here it is.

I should mention, I make a remark in the video about an �open bar� but when I called the front desk just to make sure, they said that they would indeed charge me if I indulged. The snacks and drinks aren�t on sensors though like they are in the other rooms so maybe they just do a stock check later.

The start of a beautiful day�

Life is tough�

I finally pass out on the bed at around 10am once the excitement wears off slightly and wake up at 11am. Considering that I only got an hour of sleep, I�m surprised at how refreshed I am.

I hit the steam shower and spend a good half hour in there. Afterward I get a call from some of my other friends who are spending one night at Wynn. I meet them at the Tower Suites entrance, check them in to their room, and then head to the villa. As the rest start to trickle in, we make a lunch reservation for the Country Club for twelve people. Lunch was superb as it has always been all nine times I�ve eaten here. Rami and I had the $16 Angus burger with fries and agreed that the food and service was better than Corsa Cucina from the night before. It baffles me why someone would spend over $20 at the lunch buffet down the hall when such a nice restaurant exists for the same price.

Back to the room for more drinks and Ryan comes around with a few cigars. This pretty much takes us well into the evening. Rami and I had a thing about having to wear the robes under any circumstances while in the villa. You�ll notice that I accessorized with a coat.

We start to get hungry so I suggest Okada. At this point, I�d like to thank my friends who most of which are reading this. Not once was there a complaint like, �This looks too expensive,� or �How about a buffet instead?� That to me is a huge downer on a trip and I�m glad to say that we were all in a splurging mood.

Dinner at Okada was fantastic. It was my third time eating there and the service and food were both superb. I split the second least expensive sake (I forgot the exact name), two orders of yellowtail, and one order of vegetable tempura. Needless to say, I was stuffed and the bill came out to only $90 with a very generous tip. We all agreed that Okada is extremely reasonable for the quality that you get.

Us guys head out to the ABC Store across the street in the Fashion Show Mall and we pick up another bottle of Goose and some wine before going out. The ABC store is extremely overpriced, but $38 for a 750mL bottle is better than $15 shots.

Back again at the villa, we get ready to hit MIX. We have the option of two cabs or one limo so we pack the limo. While in there, I throw out an old joke to Lindi and Sylvia: �Hey, I spent $1200 at the pet store the other day��

�Huh?! What did you get?�
�Well, I spent $600 on this python and $600 on this python,� I said as I kissed each of my biceps. Dumb joke, I know, but I was in a cheesy mood.

It led to a dare from the girls. I had to approach a girl on MIX�s dance floor and ask her if she�d like to �feel my python�. After the girl gets over her initial shock, I�d flex my arm in front of her and she�d have to feel it.

It was on.

We get to THEhotel and make our way to MIX. Once the dance floor gets a few people on it, I get �the look� from the girls to make good on my dare. So I go on the dance floor, approach three girls and say to one of them, �Excuse me, would you like to feel my python?� Then I roll up my sleeve and flex for her. After she feels my bicep she says, �Now you can feel mine,� and jokingly flexes for me. I have no idea why I didn�t ask her for her number. I�m an idiot.

After a nice glass of Macallan 12 and some dancing, we head up to Foundation Room. Jet has stolen its Monday night steam, but it still gets a good crowd without too long of a wait. More dancing ensues and again, I have to give another �shout out� to the girls with me for being able to handle themselves so well at a nightclub. I usually have to play bouncer all the time, but none of them were afraid to blatantly reject a guy.

We make our way down and they say, �Mike, lead the way.� Don�t ever tell me to �lead the way� as I will always lead you to a baccarat table. Sure enough, one hand on banker and it�s the easiest $90 dollars I�ve ever made ($5 tip). Nice.

We head back to the villa and just lounge around and watch some TV before calling it a night. It began snowing and I�ve got to say, I consider myself to be really lucky to watch such a rare sight on the balcony of my Fairway Villa; easily one of my most memorable experiences in this town.

Morning comes and I say my good-byes to my friends. Because of my upgrade, I only have the villa until 1pm so I let their rooms stay open since their checkout times are at 4pm and Rami and I have a later flight out. I call the front to see if I can get spa passes and it�s no problem.

I still had my $40 breakfast credit through Amex which is only redeemable before 10:30am. It�s 10:26am so I call room service and order pancakes, French toast, two glasses of orange juice and a pot of coffee. The bill comes out to $35 after the credit (I tipped another five even though gratuity was included as the server was superb). 40 degree Fahrenheit weather or not, we�re determined to enjoy the food outside and it�s easily the best breakfast ever.

We grab our luggage and move it in the Tower Suite that my friends are no longer occupying and head to the spa for some detox. Now I�m nice and relaxed and want to finish big so I walk into the high-limit slot room and play one pull on a $25 machine. Stupidest move of the trip.

Before we know it, it�s 5pm and we head for the airport marking the end of my 35th trip to Vegas. It wasn�t the absolute craziest trip (that award goes to Halloween night) and I splurged more than I ever have, but my friends made it worth it and it holds the title for the best trip ever. Only a villa at Encore with the same people could possibly top it, but we�ll have to wait a couple years for that trip.

Some final thoughts and observations:

Wynn�s art collection at the resort has changed a bit. No longer are the Picassos up in the Resort registration, but they�ve gone back to the original paintings that once hung there. The Mondrian behind the Tower Suites concierge has been replaced by a striking Warhol. My personal favorite, the self-portrait of Rembrandt, remains intact inside the VIP lounge.

I saw no major signs of wear at Wynn that have recently been reported. In fact, they were changing the hallway carpets the entire time I was there.

Who needs to toast drinks only? We not only toasted champagne and shots, but also cigars, and sushi rolls.

So now I have two stays each in the leading reservable accommodations in Vegas: Skylofts at MGM Grand and Fairway Villas at Wynn Las Vegas. The winner? The Fairways. With this recent stay, I�ve come to realize that the room is finished to a much higher standard and while this is more subjective than anything else, I find the d�cor more welcoming than the �lofts. Sure, the Skylofts have the Maybach and the butler, but the Maybach�s novelty is gone after a couple rides and I never really used the butler. If I had to fault the villas, I�d say that the trek to anywhere other than the Country Club, golf course, pool, or convention facilities is pretty significant. Still, having an elevator that opens up to the world of Wynn Las Vegas is way better than one that opens up to MGM Grand.


Read archived comments (40 so far)
December 21, 2006 4:40 PM Posted by hail2skins

Great report Mike! I especially enjoyed the video, and wondered whether you liked the Skylofts or Fairway Villas better, which you answered at the end. You're right, Encore is too far away............lets hope it raises the bar a notch.

December 21, 2006 5:32 PM Posted by mike_ch

Once again I can live vicariously through your trip reports. Until I came to this board I thought things like who-you-know (aka "being friends with somebody can get you all kinds of stuff for free") and some of the VIP treatments were merely myth created to give Las Vegas some snazzy advertising. I've said it before, I'll say it again: It's almost like a long "What happens here..." ad, although if this were a commercial you would have gotten her number. ;)

I didn't realize you were my age, so you either work your ass off or were born into a fortunate family, or both. Thanks again for sharing the bounties of your highrolling and see you at the penny slots. :)

December 21, 2006 6:24 PM Posted by Five Hundy

I never tire of reading your trip reports. Nice job, Mike.

December 21, 2006 8:18 PM Posted by detroit1051

Hi Mike. A couple questions for you. I noticed on the video that the ground floor villas' patios and pools were visible from your balcony. Wouldn't those guests feel a lack of privacy knowing guests upstairs could see them? Maybe it's no big deal, but I wouldn't like it...but, I can't afford to stay in the villas anyway.

Also, "...the furthest nine villas on the north wing are completely closed off due to Encore�s construction." Are they closed because of construction noise, or is the space they occupy going to be part of some connector to Encore?
Thanks for your report.

December 21, 2006 8:56 PM Posted by Mike E

Thanks for the comments guys.

Mike, you�re 24? Wow, you�re quite eloquent for your age. If it really were a Vegas commercial, I probably would have won my $25 slot pull :-).

Detroit, good observation. I really wonder if those pools get used at all. Yes it was cold outside, but you could see the water vapor rising off them the whole time so I know they were warm and yet, I never saw the one directly below or on either side of me being used. Matt told me that while some may feel uncomfortable, it�s not uncommon for the ground-floor patron to invite the peasant above to join them for a dip (especially when beautiful girls are involved�). I did see the pool below me being cleaned and wished the person a good morning. Never, and I mean never, had I received a more genuine and happy response from someone in maintenance (or in other words, someone who�s not in the front line when it comes to customer service); Steve Wynn really knows how to infuse his employees with pride and I�m sure everyone in Villa Services regards their position highly. As far as the furthest nine villas being closed because of Encore, I was told that the noise is just unbearable and no other reason. I�d assume dirt and dust play a factor as well. I�m sure there are other reasons, though.

December 21, 2006 9:39 PM Posted by John

Fantastic trip report, Mike.

I knew you were going to end up in a Fairway Villa. I really can't wait to stay at Wynn again, a year is just too long, especially after you stay at the Venetian.

December 22, 2006 12:29 AM Posted by motoman

Ditto on living vicariously through your reports. Man....

Noise and no other reason?!? (Well maybe Lawyer Bait, i.e. lawsuits; or whiny patrons. Grr.)

Hell, somebody here make 'em an offer!....I mean, I wear earplugs at work and know folks who wear 'em to sleep, so, biggie, right....? I sure wouldn't complain!

December 22, 2006 9:18 AM Posted by Nathan Boone

excellent report! hey mike, do you have your friend's contact info? the one that works at wynn? i had a few questions for him. i'm a sophomore in college and hoping to get an internship in vegas this summer and would love for it to be at wynn. thanks!

December 22, 2006 12:45 PM Posted by Mike E

Nathan, he's currently on vacation right now. When he gets back, I'll ask him if he's okay with me giving out his contact info.

December 22, 2006 1:33 PM Posted by MARLYMARR

Mike, that was the best report i've read in a long time. I'm glad you had such a great time at favorite hangout!

December 22, 2006 5:30 PM Posted by mofobes

awesome report. i just started listening to the podcast and reading blog. i love it. you seem to really get the most out of your trips, the halloween trip was unbelievable.

December 22, 2006 9:22 PM Posted by ashuri

Mike E...

Great trip!!! Had two questions for you:

1) Are you of Armenian descent(have to ask as I am and suspect you are)

2) Could you provide me with info. on your contact at Wynn...I am going to propose to my girlfriend and would love to even get a tower room!!

December 22, 2006 10:49 PM Posted by Mike E

Hi Ashuri,

No, I'm Persian. Close though :-).

As far as sending over his contact information, to be completely honest, I don't think he'd appreciate that of me. Like I had mentioned to Nathan, when he gets back, I'll ask him if it's okay, but all the upgrades I was receiving are thanks in part to not only him, but also American Express, and the fact that the hotel was only at 65% occupancy. They are VERY watchful of who gets upgraded and I suspect having a good track record with Wynn gave me weight in convincing the management. If there's a specific room I really want, I don't fall back on my contact and reserve it from the get-go.

Best of luck to you on your proposal!

December 23, 2006 7:52 AM Posted by Redneck

I wonder if we will ever get to see photos of the apartment villas ( the ones built on top of the low rise structure). Also regarding those villas, I have seen a few of the fabulous life programs on Vh1 that mention the wynn, bellagio etc talking about their top end suites, and none of them mentioned their "super" villas. They acted like the fairway villas were the best at wynn, the chairmans suite at the B, the skylofts at MGM etc.

December 23, 2006 8:24 AM Posted by Mike E

I did see the VH1 special. They really exaggerate for the sake of Hollywood. "The Fairway Villas will cost you $5000 a night and have attracted the likes of Richard Branson, but you can't stay there. You have to be invited."

Uh... no.

I'd hate to post a link to some unprofessional personal website that I can hardly understand (Hunter, feel free to remove if you wish), but here's a slideshow of the apartment villas I found some time back:

December 23, 2006 12:22 PM Posted by mike_ch

Keep in mind people that VH1 specials are targeted to 99% of the time will book "Deluxe Room." (hey, sounds like me!)

I always suspected that some of these ultrarooms are built just so that the resort has something they can brag about. They don't actually want somebody using it every night.

December 23, 2006 12:42 PM Posted by MARLYMARR

The villa is beautiful but im not too crazy about the color scheme. Must be nice to afford such luxuries.

December 23, 2006 1:45 PM Posted by charlie



All I can say is...Pace yourself! What the hell have you got to look forward to at 30 besides a night at The Mansion or staying next door to (or with) Steve.

Regardless, F'ING AWESOME on th 2 BR Fairway.

Everyone (yes including you, King Leo), Happy Holidays and a Blessed New Year.

Watch out. 2007 is the year of Uncle Sheldy. My gut tells me Palazzo will be AWESOME. Superior to WLV in a Bellagio kind of way. A modern Bellagio...WATCH OUT!

So much to look forward to...

December 24, 2006 8:00 PM Posted by Nathan Boone

Thanks Mike! I would appreciate any help you or your friend could give me! I went to Wynn's employment website but couldn't find anything regarding internships. I sent an e-mail inquiring about so hopefully I'll hear from them soon. I know that the Venetian has internships but honestly, I would rather work for Wynn! Just from what I've heard, it seems like he treats his employees really well. Merry Christmas everyone!

December 24, 2006 11:00 PM Posted by mike_ch

Have a very merry days off from work! :)

And BTW, baby Jesus have mercy tonight may have been one of Bellagio's busiest nights since the month it originally opened. I don't know how to explain it, but cars were backed upon the rightmost southbound lane going all the way around onto Flamingo ave and past the semi-hidden north entrance. Once you got past Bellagio, the traffic knots disappeared.

Bally's was markedly more busy, but Bellagio was a total MESS. Paris' parking lot was nearly full when we pulled in and packed when we left. Bally's was unusually more busy than normal but then again I avoid weekends for a reason so maybe I'm not the right one to know. Bellagio was basically bodies everywhere, though. The curious thing is that the garages were filled mostly with California plates but the crowd did not appear to be typical SoCal weekenders.

Congratulations to The B, I did not enjoy my time out tonight (either in gambling fortunes nor in comfort due to the crowd) but I'm sure tonight will account for a bump in the ol' MGM quarterly report.

December 25, 2006 7:24 PM Posted by KY

I didn't even know about the "apartment villas." So there's those, plus villas at Bellagio and Mirage, and The Mansion. Any others on that level? Also, can you see the Mirage villas on any photos of the hotel, like how you can see the Bellagio ones sometimes?

December 25, 2006 7:41 PM Posted by Mike E

KY, while not on the ground floor, there are the Hilton Sky Villas which are the largest accomodations in town. Caesars also has the Artemis and Neptune Villas located above Cafe Lago which I've searched for on Google Earth, but can't really find. They're also working on (or may have completed?) some "sky villa" type accomodations at the top of the Augustus Tower which is supposed to top everything they have.

No real press photos of The Mirage catch a glimpse of their villas as they're all located in the back of the property.

December 25, 2006 8:39 PM Posted by John

Speaking of villas, I've been wondering, and keep wondering if CityCenter is going to have some sort of "Villa-esque" accomodation, or if they are going to have some variation on Sky Lofts? Maybe "Elevation, A Collection of Specialty Lofts."

I'm surprised that we haven't seen or heard anything about the Caesars' Augustus Villas, since that interview on the Strip.

Also, I know Encore will probably have the entrances to the North Fairway Villas, but I've been wondering if Steve is planning another set of Apartment Villas? Hunter?

December 26, 2006 8:15 AM Posted by detroit1051

Mike_ch, thanks for your report on the crowds at Bellagio on Christmas Eve. I got an email from a friend who walked the Strip Christmas Day afternoon. His observations were similar to yours. He said traffic on the Strip was bumper to bumper. Bellagio was so crowded it was impossible to tour the Conservatory's Christmas exhibit and that the walkways were all jammed and slow moving. The line to the Buffet extended around the corner to where the room elevators are.
Forum Shops at Caesars were all open and packed. He also commented on the large number of Asian visitors in town.
From your and his report, it really sounds like year-end will be very strong.
Thanks for all your "live" reports. It really helps us get a sense of business levels.

December 26, 2006 8:39 AM Posted by mike_ch

Detroit, no problem. Yesterday's Norm column says Michael Jackson was at Forum Shops, which could explain a lot of the madness. However, I didn't really get to see his fanfare.

Myself, I felt like I had been transported to Macau because of all the Asian tourists. However I can only assume many of them were not from overseas because of the parking lots. Bellagio's was full and Bally's/Paris was full of California plates everywhere. This was likely because of a series of concerts from some Seoul pop-star named Rain at the Colosseum. If that's the case, boy did he draw a crowd because every resort at LVB/Flamingo (although I did not go to Ceasars) seemed to be packed and running out of room.

As far as traffic, though, you're friend is partially correct. It was the rightmost southbound lane to turn into Bellagio that was absolute insanity. Bumper to bumper from the gates at the entrance all the way along the lake and around Flamingo intersection, then continuing down Flaming past Via Del Nord/North Entrance and nearly to the overpass.

All other lanes were clear, so when we realized that everyone was trying to get into Bellagio, we jumped out of the lane to go get into Paris instead. From what I could tell, Aladdin's lot was still a graveyard, the knot of humanity seemed to really be focused on this one intersection.

December 27, 2006 11:05 AM Posted by Leonardo

Does someone know if the Villas are noisy because of the Encore construction?
BTW, great review Mike E

December 27, 2006 11:32 AM Posted by Mike E

Leonardo, when I called before my trip to inquire about rates, they told me that all of them suffer from a little construction noise. I suppose the north wing is worse with Encore and the south wing gets its share of Palazzo, but I didn't hear a thing.

December 27, 2006 4:04 PM Posted by motoman

"Thanks for all your 'live' reports. It really helps us get a sense of business levels."

Ditto. (Might've guessed the Asians were due to clever marketing around the [American] holiday season but you answered that.)

It seems impossible the valley could support projected growth in coming yrs. when traffic is already getting unmanageable. (Any idea why it was concentrated on Bellagio this particular day?)

Saw a story about the coming fight over water on of all shows, "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly" on PBS. The Water Authority lady looked evil and baldly claimed that draining the northern aquifers wouldn't harm the area's ranchers, who know for themselves that their meager efforts have already done harm.

The show claimed that the Strip is actually a small user overall, that the major resorts "recycle" (no details given) and that there's an aggressive water management policy in town. When detroit mentioned water-saver showers at Bellagio, I thought those were/should be std. I love coming to Vegas -- more now since our initial Wynn visit and coming to this blog -- but awareness of such issues does give me some pause. In my own city we have suffered from the "If you build it, they will come" mentality and we have land and water aplenty.

(Sorry for the rant. It's at least as relevant as certain recent architectural musings, since without water, it wouldn't matter how "amazing" the buildings are. And I'm still not convinced Average Joe Tourist cares much about such esoterica.)

December 27, 2006 4:25 PM Posted by Leonardo

Tks, Mike E. I am thinking of going to LV sometime in March, before Spring break. Keep us informed about your adventures around Vegas. I too enjoy gambling and Vegas nightlife ;o)

December 27, 2006 6:00 PM Posted by mike_ch

motoman: "It seems impossible the valley could support projected growth in coming yrs. when traffic is already getting unmanageable. (Any idea why it was concentrated on Bellagio this particular day?)"

For all I knew, Caesars could have been as bad since it was the epicenter of both a celebrity visit and a major event. I did not get close enough to see what crowd levels there were like. I only went to Bellagio and Bally's/Paris.

Bally's/Paris was hopping but it was more like a big convention/rodeo/whatever weekend. There was lots of people to dodge while walking but I never had trouble finding a slot machine to play. True to the stereotype, the Asian invasion meant that tables were usually filled and had a few spectators while it was still fairly easy to find your favorite theme of slot machine.

Bellagio was really busy at the north end (I was thinking to myself that I now knew what opening week may have looked like) but completely unmanageable the further south you walked. The bus station street corner just outside the marquee moving walkway next to the Cosmo site was more crowded than I had ever seen it before. What was a very busy night at the north end of Bellagio (buffet line spilling out along the wall, for example) was a complete and total meltdown by the time you reached Table Row. By the time we reached the Fontana Lounge area and the beginning of Table Row, one of my party members began to feel too claustrophobic. And to be fair a lot of people that night didn't seem to have much of an idea of personal space even when there was plenty of room until they wanted to take a picture of someone in front of something, and then they wanted a kajillion feet of clear space to take the shot.

I took one last glance towards table row towards Petrossian and it looked like chaos. Going back out through Bellagio shopping was harder than it was going in, especially since people kept trying to clear space to get pictures of their friends and relatives in front of giant christmas ornaments and "welcome to Bellagio" signs, etc. I began gauging my distance to the door by number of touristy photo opportunities. "We're two gigantic gift boxes and a vase away from the door."

One final comment about the night: You know this display ? You see those peg-like things that stick out from the ornaments at the bottom level? Yeah, they don't have rings and hooks attached to them down there but it still hurts like HELL to be slammed into one by the flowing river of the crowd on a busy night.

I don't know why Bellagio was so busy (did all the people going to see Rain go there instead of Caesars? Or are these the ones that couldn't book Ceasrs?) but I do know two things: One is that I've never seen a megaresort pushed to such extremes before (hope to never again) and that it looked absolutely DEAD down by Monte Carlo. Woof.

December 27, 2006 8:23 PM Posted by John

I'm sure it has, but I've been wondering if Monte Carlo has been suffering, due to the loss of the MC-Bellagio tram. That thing has to be the one inter-resort transit system, that has seen the least amount of use, on the strip, and it was such a nice system. I mean, we had it, 2002, in order for the Spa Tower. When the Spa Tower was complete we got the tram back, but only a little over a year after it re-opened, it closes to make way for City Center. I guess we can be happy though, that there will be a transport system, back in place, when CityCenter is open, in 2009.

December 27, 2006 9:07 PM Posted by mike_ch

Monte Carlo's whole strip frontage was closed off with cyclone fencing over the summer so even the buses couldn't get to it so I imagine it will be a less than hopeful year for that property between sidewalk project, the tram going away, and now the citycenter construction just outside.

On the positive, the Cafe was given a refurbishment and the buffet and the food court were both closed and covered in curtains when I last visited a few weeks ago. The Hyper Mart sundries store was gone, too.

Still, that hotel should probably just go ahead and change it's name to "Future CityCenter Expansion Opportunity."

December 27, 2006 9:37 PM Posted by John

Wait. I haven't been that far south for quite a while, have they been remodelling the MC's strip frontage? If so, that should really be something to see.

On another note, I've always wondered why Steve partnered with Mandalay Resort Group, to build Monte Carlo. In fact, I've wondered why he even went to build Monte Carlo. That whole area would have been perfect to create the original vision Steve had for what was the land CityCenter is being built on. I honestly wonder if we would have seen an expansion of Lake Bellagio, into something larger and more unique, or if we would have seen the "island" concept realized, or if that land would have been developed into what became Wynn? I don't know, and I guess no one ever will.

December 28, 2006 8:10 AM Posted by mike_ch

Monte Carlo is covered in the book Super Casino, but basically sometime after Luxor opened, Circus-Circus had it's own little Night of the Long Knives when Bill Bennett (most recently the previous Sahara operator) backed off his own retirement plans and axed all his political enemies, which were his own hand-picked lieutenants for the most part. He intentionally damaged the company stock and badmouthed the other executives along the way, but got the control he was going after.

Two of these guys, Glenn Schaeffer (who basically was responsible for MRG's popular theme casinos) and Mike Ensign (father of Nevada Senator John Ensign, which probably means the family knew somebody in politics prior to John's election in 2001) got back together to build Monte Carlo in cooperation with Wynn.

Exactly what motive Wynn had for working with them, I can't remember at the moment. The book might not have given one. Again, I wouldn't be surprised if it was political favors that made them bedfellows, since Wynn was known to have powerful friends all over the place doing things for him during his time at Mirage.

December 28, 2006 11:15 AM Posted by Devon

Wasn't Monte Carlo basically free money for wynn. All he put into the deal was the land and then Mandalay designed and built the resort. For only supplying the land Wynn got 50% of the profits, a pretty good deal. Also, didn't the Monte Carlo project build a relationship that was going to last into a 3-way parnership in Wynn's Atlantic City site?

January 2, 2007 10:11 PM Posted by DavidF

OK so late to the party, but better late than never...

A Great trip and a great time had by all, I totally know where you are coming from when you decided to go to Okada and its great to have friends like that....

And its true, conversation in a wonderful suite, or a classy bar can beat out the clubs anytime, but maybe that�s the old fart in me and it sounds like you had a good mix of both.

Yes Wynn is the better all round package and experience, for a Vegas hotel room, the Fairway Balcony cannot be beat, save for a Strip view room perhaps. I can see where you are coming from with the Skylofts, I think the with the rooms and the architecture its a case of what you like best, classic or contemporary, and the service, well I would agree its down to whether you use it or not, but variety is the spice of life!!!

At the end of the day, you have just set your bar higher for next year :-), will it be the Lanai, or the Atrium?

January 2, 2007 11:57 PM Posted by Mike E

Call me a stubborn mule, but after getting an e-mail by mistake confirming me for a stay in a ground-floor Fairway back in April (which at the time I was in no financial situation to take them up on the offer), I'm still not convinced with the "casino patrons" only story I keep getting from Wynn. Having peeked into those ground-floor villas myself, I'm only more interested; that spread in Wynn magazine (for those of you who saw it) doesn't even do those accomodations justice--they are truly stunning. So to answer your question David, those are "next in line". I know that to get a definite answer, all it takes is an e-mail or a letter to the "right people", but I just haven't built the courage to do it (yet).

As for the Apartment Villas, there's still a strong chance of getting a tour, but dreams of staying in one are behind me.

I must say, The Mansion is slowly nudging its way into my must-dos...

January 18, 2007 3:11 PM Posted by motoman

Finally got around to viewing the video and I have to say your technique is excellent. Exceptional camera work (slow pans, no jittery moves, good room coverage) and very clear descriptions. Drunk and sleep-deprived? Heck, sober YouTubers should look at this as an instructional video....

January 18, 2007 4:34 PM Posted by Mike E

Thanks moto. I actually thought I did a pretty horrible job, but I appreciate the feedback. Over 2200 views--I'm famous.

January 18, 2007 10:37 PM Posted by Hunter

And that doesn't count all the people that have read it here.

I don't usually post stats in public but this story has been viewed 38,426 times on this site so it is certainly getting out there. Those strong numbers come from the fact that the blog gets pretty good Google search placement and thus a lot of Wynn searches are being directed here.