Here's a short review from my most recent trip including tours of both the Duplex Apartments and Sky Casino at Encore. Enjoy and feel free to skip to sections that interest you.
I put in four strong gambling sessions at the tables, but the most memorable was at Encore's pai gow poker table to the left just as you enter from the strip porte cochere. I saw this table with a minimum of $10 several times throughout the trip and if you're a scotch drinker, you can get Macallan 18 comped here! $30 per glass drink + slow game at low minimums = positive expectation. We passed a couple hours here, I made about $200, and we even got three comped dinners at the Terrace Pointe Café with a spread of only about $15 to $50 per hand.
I'm sick and tired of reading about the state of the economy, especially as it pertains to Vegas, but it's so refreshing to see people genuinely appreciating tips like never before. Just how appreciative? At that same pai gow table where the Macallan flowed freely, we were dropping a buck every now and then to the dealers when luck was down and playing for them when the cards seemed in our favor. The Sky Casino came up in conversation and I casually mentioned how I'd love to see it (took only a peek last trip before getting the stare down from security). Sure enough, the pit boss called her shift manager down and he took us up for a tour...
Places I Shouldn't Be In:
Playing in the Sky Casino is by host's invitation only to those with a credit line of $300,000 or more--far from this 20-something year old with a $1000 bankroll. It's got five "salons" of varying sizes, a private cage, private restrooms, butlers running around, most of the popular table games with the exception of craps, and of course, jaw-dropping floor-to-ceiling views of north and south strip from Encore's top floor. But despite the views and a level of luxury literally rivaling that of a palace, unless I truly cherished my privacy or could take over one of the salons with my own entourage of friends, I think I'd keep all my gambling downstairs no matter what my credit line; the Sky Casino is a little too reserved, even for my tastes.
I also got to see a "Duplex Apartment" suite which is Encore's top accommodation and was recently featured in the April 2009 issue of Architectural Digest. The entrance of the 5800 square foot room is dramatic and your attention is immediately drawn upward to the bi-level chandelier hanging from a ceiling of gold mosaic tile. The living room features a 72-inch flat panel television on the right, a bar spanning the entire wall's length at the left, and breathtaking 20-foot floor-to-ceiling windows directly in front. Down a long hallway is one master bedroom while at the opposite end is a game room with pool table. Along the way is a butler pantry with kitchen and its own entrance to keep the service as transparent as possible. Up the grand staircase (should you not opt for the elevator) are identical master bedrooms on each side with views of the strip and the entire Las Vegas valley. The walls are fully upholstered in brown mohair. Despite many traditional touches, the suite feels casual and contemporary. I thought by seeing the suite, it would help me un-justify the cost of reserving one. I thought wrong.
The greatest thing about Society Café is the complimentary warm pretzel bread and dipping sauce. It's more memorable than the excellent entrées.
The last restaurant left for me to try at Encore was Botero. There's been plenty of reviews singing its praises all over so I won't get into too much detail other than to say that I plan on returning again and again. Phenomenal meal, phenomenal atmosphere. It's by far Encore's most popular restaurant and for good reason.
Wazuzu wazawezome. Much better experience than the first time dining there.
Despite all its struggles, Tableau still remains one of, if not the top breakfast spot in town.
We hit XS on Monday night, the local industry night that gets packed. A friend of mine walked us in and we got a table with a comped bottle of champagne plus the option of two-for-one prices on anything else off the bottle service menu. As the champagne ran dry, the club started picking up, but $450 for two one-liter bottles of Kettle One is a bit much for five already-drunk friends. What's awesome about XS though is that it's overbuilt even by the economic standards of two years ago. That means that there are always tables available and as long as you're ordering drinks from the bar to bring back, they won't give you a hard time for sitting in them. In fact, on a beautiful night like ours, I'd say a good 10% if the tables inside the club were available and every single one of the 30 or so cabanas out by the pool were unoccupied.
Wynn has likened the vibe of this club to St. Tropez numerous times. I couldn't agree more. The combination of cabanas, daybeds, blackjack tables, and chairs in the water makes for a true homage to the club's name. And that's only what you'll find on the outside. Inside, the layout is Tryst on steroids. Behind every booth for bottle service is a flat space where everyone is encouraged to climb up on and dance. The bathrooms are massive--never a line for the ladies and the attendants really earn their tips; the moment I finished washing my hands, I had one attendant drying them while another rolled a lint remover all over my coat. This place really makes you feel pampered once inside.
I don't think Foundation Room is long for this world. Its big night is Monday nights, but it's now competing with XS, Jet, and Privé. We headed up on a members-only Sunday at around 10pm and were literally three of about thirteen people in there total.
Another friend had a table at Body English as well which we joined in on, but arriving drunk and having been stuffed at Botero had me near-sick the whole night.
Check-in for Encore on a Sunday morning was an absolute zoo. I actually don't mind the waiting as much as I do standing around that many disgruntled people--totally kills the good vibes you get from finally arriving. They told me they would call me when my room would become available and of course they never did. I went back at 3pm and after another half hour, I begged to upgrade to Tower Suites. At only $50 per night, that might have been the best money spent on the trip.
Resort check-in procedures at Encore really need to change. I understand that they are trying to set themselves apart from other hotels by calling the bell desk for you to have your luggage sent to the room and it's also a nice gesture when they take a map out and draw your path to the elevators when they're literally steps away, but it's just not worth the expense of a half hour or more wait.
It's nice to have the power back to the consumer, but it breaks my heart to see the skeletal foundations of Echelon and Palazzo's condos or the extra smile from employees in tip-dependent jobs.
Thanks all for reading. I'd be happy to answer any questions.