Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

September 4, 2009

Vegas Gang #36 - September 3rd, 2009

Posted by Hunter

The latest Vegas Gang Podcast has been published.

We discuss:

* Encore Beach Club
* FBleu Sale Rumors
* City Center Condos
* Frank Fertita Jr.

and more...

Feel free to leave comments below. I feel like I was supposed to put something in the show notes and I can't remember what now...

Oh, here's the LV Weekly article on Vegas Mate:


Read archived comments (25 so far)
September 5, 2009 8:45 AM Posted by JK

I'm curious to see how pedestrian entrence will be effected during construction. I'm going to be staying at Encore next March/April and I don't want to have to walk through construction dust and whatnot while this thing is getting built.

September 5, 2009 8:48 AM Posted by Hunter

Fortunately, the building has quite a few other points of ingress and egress so they should be able to direct folks to other entrances... I know what you mean though, hopefully minimum disruption.

September 5, 2009 8:58 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I will admit that the arsonist has gotten me so worked up that I'm sure what day it is, but I don't think it is the 9th yet. Especially since that would be my oldest sons birthday, and he's training to go to Afganistan at the first I
of the year, which would compound my guilt factor.

September 5, 2009 9:00 PM Posted by Hunter

Did I say the 9th on the show?

Thank your son for his service and I wish him the best.

September 6, 2009 7:35 AM Posted by Phil

The following is a broken record at times around here, but listening to the podcast comments about Encore saying "trust us" on the concept, and how a lot of us commented negatively (myself included) on this blog, I do think from a design standpoint we all do trust Wynn, thats not the issue. I think what some of us are tee'd off about is what that type of crowd that concept brings to Encore. Sure there are nice people who attend these venues for a few drinks and a good time, but its been well documented the past few months the bad apples these places draw and thats the issue, not the design. Call it a country club attitude or whatever, but I think there are a lot of frequent customers to Wynn want that type of environment, the country club. What makes Wynn special is he has created a concept of a "hip" country club that nobody else has been able to do. The balance of hipness and country club is such a fine line and the Beach Club in many peoples eyes represents a cross of that line, hip becoming trendy, cool brazilian tunes becoming booming bass, people dressing well walking into Wynn instead of sandals and t-shirts, thats the worry. I so look forward to what they come up with and whether it will change people's opinion. My gut tells me the Beach Club will be hugely successful, Wynn next year will be boasting saying its the most profitable beach club in the world and the complainers will still be here.

September 6, 2009 9:38 AM Posted by Hunter

I totally understand your trepidation. I think until we have a little more info, there's not much else we can speculate about.

It will all be about the specific features included and how they decide to market/position this amenity. The billboards leaving the airport will probably give a pretty good indication of the kind of customers they are shooting for.

September 6, 2009 11:42 AM Posted by detroit1051

Terrific podcast with great topics; all very interesting!
Not having seen Encore, I especially appreciated Chuck Monster's enthusiastic support of the Beach Club project. It took away some of my negative doubts.
Was glad to hear good words about Alan Feldman. I heard him once at a meeting in Detroit, and I liked Jeff Simpson's description of Feldman as "...brilliant at what he does."
Fontainebleau is a total unknown, but PENN might do well if the price were right.
I'd never heard any speculation or rumor before that MGM might some day be interested in taking back TI. Interesting.
Regarding CityCenter's challenges, I was disappointed to see the story this week about potential problems in fire systems installed by Siemens. Will CityCenter be affected in any way?

September 6, 2009 6:13 PM Posted by mike_ch

Ultimately, the market will have some influence in what Wynn builds. The question is where is he on the curve.

He was in the right place at the right time with Tryst, but I don't know if Encore really needs a Rehab event. At this point what they need is some customer manipulation through good deals, or better odds, or something.

It seems to me that the average customer prefers Wynn over Encore, and they aren't going to be able to keep charging more for Encore like it's the better property for that much longer. Either when the Wynn rooms are renovated they'll up the price on them, or else when the market returns Encore stays closer to where it is now while Wynn shoots up in price.

Eventually it needs to be established that Encore is the place you go when you can't afford Wynn, not the other way around.

September 6, 2009 6:47 PM Posted by Hunter

I disagree.

My very informal poll of people I know that have stayed at both places all prefer Encore.

I think the fact that it's new, we're in a down economy and it's location all contribute to an environment where it's impossible to say if the general public thinks WLV is the superior segment.

Of course, they could just eliminate price differentials altogether and treat them as the same property from a marketing perspective, though I think they're a long way off from doing something like that.

September 6, 2009 9:58 PM Posted by JK

Having just stayed at Encore in the past month and at Wynn two years ago, I have to say I prefer Encore. I think the vibe when you walk into the atrium feels more polished and up-class than when you walk into the Wynn Esplanade. That is my first impression and it stuck (despite the room "not being ready" at 5:00 in the afternoon and when it was ready, they put us in a king room instead of two queens). Encore really feels a step above Wynn, mostly because it isn't as big, is new, and what in my opinion are more upper class design elements (drapes and natural light). I believe that they should be priced the same because I believe that once Wynn renovates their rooms to Encore's standards, they will be close to par based on offerings.

There are things more desirable about Wynn and more desirable at Encore such as the pool at Encore I think offers a more relaxed, yet up-beat environment and they have free umbrella's available to every guest which is a very nice touch in the 110 degree weather. At Wynn the Tower Suites seem more desirable because they evoke an "I am the only one getting all of this" feel when you go through the atrium that the casual Wynn-walker wouldn't even stumble upon and have the semi-exclusive restaurant accompanied by two private pools. In Encore, the ice-machines are at the end of the hallway (east-side) which doesn't really seem like a big deal, but it is a real hassle when you are on the far west-side of the tower. When you walk outside of Encore, you have the clientele of Circus Circus, Riviera, ect walking down from their end and it doesn't feel quite as up class on the outside (although it doesn't feel touristy like the outside of Bellagio). Switch Beach Club has the potential to add more party to the environment, and while I don't mind the party environment in low doses, making Encore a party hub doesn't sound very high end and exclusive.

Once FB and whatever Echelon and The Plaza are going to be open, foot traffic will be more prominent in Encore and the west entrance would be used more often. I know while staying at Encore we used it four times a day at the least and having to go through another structure instead of it having it's own entrance doesn't seem exclusive. I could go on and on. Mr. Wynn might be laughing in our faces a year from now saying "I told you so!" It's almost like a movie adaptation of a novel where the director has a vision and can't please all of the fans of the novel entirely, but in the end of all things, the film achieves critical and commercial success.

September 6, 2009 11:05 PM Posted by mattk

I think it's clear that square footage-wise, Encore doesn't have enough pool. When I stayed at Encore and rented a cabana, I opted for one at Wynn tower suites where there's at least some elbow room. As long as they can eliminate the sounds of traffic and the fumes from the Deuce, I think the remodel makes a lot of sense. If you're worried about the "beach party" scene and how it will affect the Wynn demographic, consider the Euro pool at Wynn. It's got DJs, it's topless, it's got lilypads - it's meant to be the high-energy alternative. But by Vegas party pool standards it's pretty sedate. I would expect the same sort of vibe at an Encore party pool.

Honestly the only thing I worry about is that Wynn/Encore will be one of those resorts with constant, never ending construction. Where the jackhammer noise and the pardon our dust signs never go away. Like Caesars, or recently Venetian. Wynn would probably already have bulldozed the golf course if the economy hadn't gone south. I guess as far as resorts go I prefer finished products to constantly evolving ones.

September 6, 2009 11:34 PM Posted by mike_ch

Okay, priced the same seems fine.

I just don't get why they wouldn't promote Wynn as top joint. It's the company flagship, it is (to use the commercial) the one with his name on the side of the building. It should be the best, and if it isn't, it should be brought up to that standard after the next possible renovation.

September 7, 2009 12:23 AM Posted by John

I don't really care what they do with the entrance. If they keep the rooms up to snuff and keep the atrium, they can build a sodomy lounge, it wouldn't matter to me a bit.

September 7, 2009 11:32 AM Posted by Sean

I've stayed at Wynn many times, and have now stayed at Encore twice. Encore is the superior property, although there are aspects of Wynn that are fantastic too. From a design standpoint Encore is even more luxurious and high-end, with wonderful one-of-a-kind pieces all over the place. But aspects of Wynn, such as cocktails at parasol down in the evening are truly fantastic, as well as the restaurant selection.

I quite enjoy the pool at Encore, the European pool that is. I had a cabana on Wednesday afternoon, and it was upstairs and received sun all afternoon, which was nice. On Friday the pool scene started to get quite busy with the SoCal types coming in for the long weekend. But I wouldn't say that it was a party, and there wasn't much European action going on either.

I've stayed in the Resort Side, and now the Tower Suites. We paid the $50/night at check in to be upgraded to the tower suites. The check-in at resort side is a dog and pony show. They simply have to fix it. It took forever to get to the front of the line.

On the Tower Suites side, on the other hand, the number of employees outnumbers the amount of guests in the lobby. I think there are a total of 5 or 6 rooms on each floor, depending if you have a duplex entrance or not. It really feels like a boutique hotel -- but, and this might be ironic, it's almost too small. The porte coche has very little action. At Wynn the house cars are parked outside and limos are coming and going, lots of fancy cars. It's great viewing. At Encore's, simply because there are fewer guests at the Tower Suites, there isn't as much action. And while the distance from the valet to the elevators to the pai gow tables is even less (and that is appreciated), it is missing that one "wow" room such as the tower suites atrium at Wynn.

As was mentioned, the tower suites at wynn are secluded and most guests wouldn't even know where the heck they are. At Encore you can see them, so it's a more visible exclusivitiy (those doors to the lobby are very cool). But in my opinion, the upgrade is significantly more defined at Wynn than at Encore.

HOWEVER, and this is a big however, when I stayed Resort side at Encore last time, I had a 61st floor view south towards....Wynn. I couldn't see past it. On the Tower Suites side, I was on the 23rd floor, and I had a spectacular view of the the strip looking past Wynn. The tower suites are nestled on the west side of the tower, and so the strip can actually be viewed. At the resort side all you can see is Wynn (which isn't bad, but not a strip view).

All in all I prefer staying at Encore. I'm not entirely sure that the tower suites upgrade at encore is either worth it or even necessary, but at Wynn it is both necessary and worth it.

On a side note, I asked around at Encore about the Beach Club construction, and I was told that the Atrium would not be affected -- for what its worth.

September 7, 2009 4:10 PM Posted by parchedearth

I think there is a distinct possibility that FB and to a lesser extent Echelon are never completed. In the bankruptcy court, FB's estimated value at completion was less than the cost to finish the construction. Even if the current debt is wiped out, it is not obvious to me that someone will be willing to face an automatic loss in taking over the project. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on whether this is a real possibility. And if so, would the state have to take over the building and demolish the current construction? At some point it (10years+) would need to be dealt with. Also, how long can Echelon sit before the already completed construction becomes worthless and has to be torn down and started over. If the thinking is 2 more years before it starts up again, those beams will have been exposed and rusting for 3 years. Maybe someone has an idea of other major constructions projects around the world that have been left unfinished for an extended period of time.

September 7, 2009 4:11 PM Posted by Hunter

One of the most famous unfinished skyscrapers in the world:

Still, not sure how fair it is to compare Las Vegas to North Korea.

September 7, 2009 7:13 PM Posted by Matt K

You know I'm starting to regret my condo purchase at the Ryugyong.

September 7, 2009 7:20 PM Posted by Brian Fey

I don't know any Wynn regular who prefers Wynn to Encore. Yes they both do have their selling points. There's no question, the Tower side works better at Wynn and has more to offer. But lets face it, Wynn's rooms are pretty plain, when compared to Encore. And even though they will jazz them up after the remodel, they won't be able to pull off a division of the room, like Enocre has, because the rooms at Wynn are not deep enough. I will say I wish they hadn't settled for the smaller tubs at Encore, as they are really pretty tiny actually.

I just don't see how FB doesn't get finished at some point. I realize the math isn't' there, but look at Cosmo, a project that's almost never mentioned on this site. Cosmo wasn't near that far alone, when it went south, and the bank finished it. I don't know if a Carl Ichan, or a Phil Ruffin, buys FB, or even a Goldman Sachs, but someone will take that, I'm almost sure. I just really hope Echelon gets back on track, and I'd love to see anything happen to the Plaza lot. Even it the projects are not Wynn caliber, They will still help drive traffic to the north side of the strip, and offer more options for those of us that stay at Wyncore. The Palazzo has be a great addition to the neighborhood. We hit it at least once per trip, for a meal, usually at Grand Lux.

September 8, 2009 4:23 PM Posted by parchedearth

Encore is obviously a nicer property, but Wynn has some location and access advantages. Last trip to Encore I had to wait over 10 minutes for a cab at the main hotel entrance and there was no line in the middle of a weekday. Wynn also has much more energy, better lunch (and dinner) options, a sportsbook, the various waterfalls, and a golf course.

Cosmo has the potential to be a really great property. They were almost fortunate to get in and out of bankruptcy before the economy tanked, commercial credit dried up, and banks were willing to writeoff huge losses. I don't know if it would be the same result today. If Cosmo can hire a good hip management group (e.g. similar to the Palms or HRH) and overcome the driveway/pedestrian flow issues, it has a great location and the design to be a favorite.

September 10, 2009 4:45 PM Posted by laguna

Cosmo was never in bankruptcy.

September 10, 2009 4:46 PM Posted by Hunter

Technically it was foreclosed, correct.

September 11, 2009 1:05 PM Posted by JK

Well, no matter what property you prefer, they are both great enough to have the 2010 AAA Five Diamond Award. I just got the update on facebook.

September 14, 2009 6:50 AM Posted by detroit1051

If Steve Wynn does name Encore's new club, "Wet Kiss", I'll know he has totally lost it.

September 14, 2009 11:13 PM Posted by mike_ch

Seriously? No, Wynn wouldn't do that. Would he?

Really, a name like "Wet Kiss" is hopping on the Hard Rock bandwagon right there. It summons up the same imagery as "Pink Taco."

September 17, 2009 12:11 AM Posted by o0000

I'd like to see what exactly this pool is going to offer. I personally would never pay a cover to go this pool or any other, when you can get pretty much the same thing over at the Wynn or Encore pools for free. The scenery there was pretty damn good over labor day. I don't need a DJ or celebrities in cabanas when I go to the pool. I'm sure others will fall for it, but with room rates what they are, you could probably just get a room at Wynn or Encore with the money you'd blow on cover for a few guys.