Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

As some already know, I spent some time last week at Encore Las Vegas for what Wynn Resorts called 'Media Week'. Over the course of 5 days of events, various forms of media were invited to come stay at the hotel and participate in all sorts of events from back-of-house tours to eating in the restaurants.

After the jump for more, including a link to the audio extra...

Some of it was free-form - we made our own restaurant reservations and ate at our leisure - but they did have a whole set of structured opportunities, many of which were things that the average guest would never see. We participated in a design tour similar to what I saw in December, a back of house tour that was just utterly fascinating and then also stuff like what you're about to hear - a design 'roundtable' featuring the heads of Wynn Design and Development along with the principal consultants used to create Encore Las Vegas.

For those that are wondering, yes, Wynn Resorts did cover the invitees costs for quite a bit of the trip. If you're curious, there was no quid-pro-quo and at no point did anyone suggest that I write or not write on any specific topic. PR was available to answer questions and I was able to lay the groundwork for a few interviews you may see here or on the Vegas Gang in the coming months.

I'll talk more about the food, spa and room in upcoming posts - after a few more days on the property, I have a much better idea of its strengths, a few of its weaknesses and other random dissertations.

The roundtable audio is here (this is also in the Vegas Gang audio feed if you are a subscriber):

Also, if you're interested to see a video of Encore during the day, when the light is streaming in, check this out (once on the page, click on 'Watch in High Quality'):

After dinner on Wednesday, I ran into Steve Wynn. He was walking the Encore Esplanade all by himself, checking out the view. We only had a few minutes but we did talk for a bit about the special glass used all over the casino level. It is a special formulation, designed to reduce glare and making the impressive views possible both day and night, even with a ton of exterior lighting.

Separately, I ended up in a conversation with Wynn D&D architecture head DeRuyter Butler on Friday evening. He was actually looking into a few 'issues' that have popped up post opening to see what can be done to fix them. The conversation included discussion on 'tricks' used to stay within code (I guess there has to be a fire exit within 200 feet of any point inside the casinos, which is hard with a big floor like Bellagio - he used an underground tunnel to satisfy that requirement over there).

I didn't have my notepad but one of the tidbits from the conversation that was particularly interesting was the revelation that the concept for 'Switch' was determined *after* the underground concrete had already been poured. They had to do some concrete cutting to make space for the massive floating walls that make up that restaurants signature attraction. This is in addition to what you hear on the recording as they talk about other changes late in the design and construction process.

Lastly - thanks to Steve Friess for letting me steal his headline idea.


Read archived comments (30 so far)
January 18, 2009 9:04 PM Posted by Jackie

My husband and I visited Encore on opening night and were really impressed. It is such a beautiful place inside. I am looking forward to reading your future posts about it.

January 19, 2009 1:25 AM Posted by steve_c

encore room 6310.... O m g

January 19, 2009 12:48 PM Posted by Mike E

Excellent audio, Hunter. Thank you for sharing that with us.

Steve_c, if I have my bearings right, you're right next door to the Sky Casino, right? Don't resist temptation...

January 19, 2009 12:59 PM Posted by Hunter

For those that are curious, the Encore Sky Casino is indeed designated as a 'private gaming' area and as such, they have the power to keep the public out if they choose.

January 19, 2009 2:05 PM Posted by TC from Boston

Hunter, not that i doubt whether or not your views would be skewed also if you don't feel comfortable..... I am just wondering how much of your most recent stay was on Wynn's dime?

again if you don't feel comfortable leave it be but I am just curious.

January 19, 2009 2:12 PM Posted by Hunter

It's really not what I want to make these comments about but it's not a bad question and I have no problem answering...

They covered the room, the food, tickets for Le Reve and a spa treatment. Going into it, I wasn't really sure what they were covering beyond the room - it was explained in a letter on check-in.

I'll talk about this more when I write up some of my other thoughts but I honestly don't think it impacted my feelings.

Before this trip I had already stayed at Encore as a paying guest, eaten in some of the restaurants on my own dime and also (my wife) tried the spa. Actually, having done both, I was curious if I could find any difference in the experience - were they giving us 'extra special service' because they knew we were supposed media? I don't really think so but there were a few things that normal guests wouldn't get... again, I'll talk about that in a future post.

I came in as a fan of the property and left as one also. One thing about having someone else pick up the tab, with food especially, is that you end up trying stuff you ordinarily would not, as there is not the same consequence. I think in at least that sense, it's a positive as I get to share more details.

Also, as I said, there was zero (literally) pressure to write anything or not. You'll just have to take my word on that one.

I've got a few more posts planned about some of the restaurant details, more reflection on the guest experience and some other info, hopefully for the next few days. I also have some more audio, though the quality is not anywhere near as good.

January 19, 2009 3:22 PM Posted by steve_c

mike e... Yeah we're right next door to the sky casino... Its been really tempting to see whats beyond those doors.

January 19, 2009 3:24 PM Posted by Hunter

You should go peek - I did... They won't tackle you or anything, they may just ask you to leave.

January 19, 2009 3:32 PM Posted by steve_c

i am here til friday so i may go check it out right before i leave.... This has to be the best room on the resort side.... Top floor right on the strip. Plenty of photos to come.

January 20, 2009 12:18 AM Posted by steve_c

any photo requests? I think its been well covered already... But honestly photos do not do this place justice.

January 20, 2009 4:16 AM Posted by detroit1051

Steve, I'd like to see any photos you have of Encore's walk-up bars, including the high limit bar. I'm curious to see how their entrances flow from the casino or public areas. Ditto for the restaurants. If you have all of your photos on a public album, like Webshots or Flicker, I'm sure many of us would like to look at them all.

January 20, 2009 2:54 PM Posted by hail2skins

Detroit, I don't recall if Hunter had publicized the shots he just took on his last visit.......they are excellent.

January 20, 2009 3:19 PM Posted by Las Vegas Best Deals

Nice pics of Encore. But my favourite is still Bellagio. It rocks !!

January 20, 2009 5:24 PM Posted by detroit1051

Hail, thanks. No, I had seen some of the early photos but not the entire album. I agree, they are excellent.

January 20, 2009 6:33 PM Posted by charlie

Great Pics. What's really cool is that if you look closely into the High Limit Bar you can see Mr. Roarke and Tattoo greeting everyone.

January 20, 2009 10:07 PM Posted by steve_c

odd. They are redoing the first slot area right when u walk in from the encore esplanade. They had all the slots removed from that area yesterday... I wonder what they are doing back there... also sunday was the last day for the volcano show at mirage until mid february. It says closed for renovations.

January 20, 2009 11:19 PM Posted by steve_c

detroit- i'll post everything up on my webshots on friday... Didnt bring the computer this time. My username over there is stevecovington.

January 21, 2009 3:08 AM Posted by steve_c

Are they trying to save money? Bill's (Barbary) turned off ALL exterior lights around 2 am.... Which was freaky while coming down the escalater... It got very dark and very fast.... TI also has all of its exterior tower flood lights off, with only the sirens cove and the tower sign lit... The fashion show also has the annoying ipod commercials turned off and those giant LCDs are pitch black..... Wtf?

welcome to 2009 folks.

January 21, 2009 11:52 AM Posted by GREGRIO

I was at Wynn last week and checked out SWITCH,
...quite curious I was. HO HUM, it's pretty anticlimactic
and the palce is quite pricey. There's two wall that 'entertain' . They're covered in fabrick, different textures/colors and when they drop, it's an open air viewing area. When the come back up...they have different cloths on. The serving staff 'was' also going to change cloths too, but that idea has been nixed...takes too much time.

January 21, 2009 1:19 PM Posted by Brian Fey

When I was listening to this last night, I wondered since Wynn has put everything on hold, if he would keep such a huge staff at Wynn D&D. I guess now we know the answer. I guess Wynn does layoff.

January 21, 2009 1:34 PM Posted by detroit1051

I just made time to listen to the design rountable audio extra. I'm no expert on design or designers, but the conversation conveyed to me what is unique about Steve Wynn and his properties. It was clear that design decisions were not corporate exercises, but labors of passion. I can't picture a similar discission of fabrics, butterflies, hummingbirds, etc, etc, taking place at other companies like Harrah's or MGM. Very interesting audio.
The mention of acoustic glass was interesting. Was there any discussion of the price differential? And, as more people stay at Encore, I hope we hear reports on how effective it is in minimizing sounds from XS reaching guest suites.
Thanks for the recording Hunter.

January 21, 2009 1:40 PM Posted by Hunter

That's what I ended up talking to Wynn about - the glass. He told me he 'costs a fortune' but that was the extent of it.

January 21, 2009 1:48 PM Posted by detroit1051

The LV Sun story on Wynn layoffs that Brian alluded to has a photo which answers the questions we had the other day on the location of Trump, Wynn and Fashion Show Mall.

January 21, 2009 3:51 PM Posted by Dram_man

I thought I should add this here as well. While the podcast was great, I am not too impressed with what I have seen with Encore. It seems like they just copied the Wynn Macau, but with a slightly less asian theme. The carpet, the red chandeliers, the gaming "salon" ideal....

January 21, 2009 8:23 PM Posted by mike_ch

Well, all the companies USED to design their spaces with a more artistic looks-to-cost ratio, but since themes were thrown out and replaced with Trendy Spaces, one of the benefits is that it doesn't cost much money to paint everything black and hook up a glowy sign.

January 21, 2009 10:26 PM Posted by chuckmonster

@dramman the casino as expected is similar to Wynn Macau... the rest of the joint - bars, spa, public areas & rooms - are completely different and insanely more detailed. it kinda makes wynn macau look black and white in comparision.

January 25, 2009 10:02 AM Posted by eWorm

@GREGRIO, If you only saw the walls that move up/down, you only saw a fraction of the transformation... you missed the paintings/wall ornaments, and the best part, the ceiling.

January 30, 2009 11:18 AM Posted by detroit1051

Encore Esplanade's development:

February 1, 2009 9:37 PM Posted by detroit1051

Hunter, did you meet this reporter from Maui on your Encore tours?

February 1, 2009 9:41 PM Posted by Hunter

I did not but it sounds like the same set of activities. There were quite a few people from all over the world (literally).