Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

November 6, 2009

Encore Beach Club Underway?

Posted by Hunter

The Encore Beach Club, which we broke all the way back in August, is finally starting to take shape.

This photo was posted to today (used with permission - thanks blackjacker1979).

Yikes. It appears they've yanked out much of the plush-ness that was the Encore atrium. Here's what it looked like before Paul Bunyan came through:

You can see that even the stuff around the edges of the high limit room is gone. It's slightly out of frame but I assume this tree, an ancient Aloe, is gone too - though I assume moved and not killed as it was over 100 years old. The company has a good track record for preserving these things, some of which are worth tens of thousands of dollars.

I can't imagine that Paige Dixon, Wynn Resorts' chief horticulturalist, enjoys ripping out something that worked as well as this did - it was a small space but one of my favorites in the Wynncore complex.

It seems odd to start indoors on this project - most of the work will be outside. This area is open to the casino, the upscale Switch (though reportedly underperforming) restaurant and the High Limit Slot room. Perhaps this landscaping will be replaced in-kind before exterior work even begins?

Another shot:


Read archived comments (46 so far)
November 6, 2009 8:08 PM Posted by Brian Fey

This really bums me out. I'm hoping we can get some more info pretty soon as to what's happening. I'm a little confused as to why they needed to tear our part of the gardens on the inside, to make way for a outside pool area? Obviously there is a good reason, but I sure don't know what it would be. I still am hoping in the back of my mind, that this Switch Beach Club new pool, might possibly be an indoor pool, which could be used all year around. As some of you may recall, Wynn's original plan for Encore, was to have the first indoor pool area, of any of the major mega resorts.

The budget for this project is $65 million dollars. That's not chump change. I'm expecting something pretty spectacular for this new area. Perhaps it will have a hook, something Encore can be known for, not unlike the Lake of Dreams or the Fountains of Bellagio. Oh sorry, there I go dreaming again...

November 6, 2009 8:25 PM Posted by Hunter

Who knows - the retractable roof idea that got nixed for Encore's main pool might actually work in this smaller configuration.

November 6, 2009 8:47 PM Posted by Mike E

Relaxing near an indoor body of water is what spas are for. A year-round, fixed roof indoor pool would be totally lame no matter how much sunlight shines through that atrium.

Here's hoping the greenery was removed just to facilitate construction, though it pains me to see that a chainsaw was taken to them.

November 6, 2009 8:57 PM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, a fixed roof pool would be lunacy. This ain't Atlantic City!

November 6, 2009 10:29 PM Posted by Art

That is sad, that was a great space. I'm guessing all of that mosaic flooring will be removed as well. I like the idea of doing something different with the exterior here, but couldn't this atrium have been left as a transitional space?

November 7, 2009 5:06 AM Posted by detroit1051

Thanks for the photos. I'll give Steve Wynn the benefit of the doubt, but this project still makes me nervous. Brian, you wrote that the project is $65 Million. When Wynn sought approval, didn't they say the project was 63,000 sq ft? That's over $1,000 a sq ft construction costs. Is $1,000 a sq ft in line for a luxury project? It seemed low to me for something of this magnitude.

November 7, 2009 9:40 AM Posted by parchedearth

If you look closely and compare the before and after photos it certainly appears to me that those are tree stumps surrounded by some sawdust. Apparently not all the trees were worth saving.

I have to assume this area is now walled off from the casino and that Switch will be (temporarily) closing soon. I really like the idea of an indoor/outdoor pool. I was speaking with one of the Encore pool bartenders and apparently a year round pool with a bar is a requirement for five stars. Most properties don't view it as worth it and close the bar (and leave only a small pool area open) during the winter.

November 7, 2009 9:47 AM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, those trees in the middle were straight up chopped down. They were new plantings though - nothing too interesting.

November 7, 2009 10:57 AM Posted by jay

This will be a huge mistake, mark my words here. The type of people WYNN wants at his place and the type this may attract are at the Hard Rock Hotel, and they aren't leaving there. The older crowd may give in to this alittle but like Encore this will be a dead zone too I feel. Wynn is now behind the curve and not ahead of it, which always made him standout and capitalize. This is nothing new, old, and will be a huge waste. Its a shame of the wasted money and time they spent to create this Atrium and it didnt even last a Year? This reeks of NO GOOD as a shareholder, but doesnt Steve now only own about 20% of the company and Okada still has a huge chunk. They should change the name to OKADA's

November 7, 2009 11:49 AM Posted by mike_ch

Last I heard, Steve was buying more of his own stock, not less.

I think a retractable roof pool would be a great thing. I've wondered why nobody has had an indoor pool for a while now. They have it in Reno and Disney made a rather pretty one in Japan for Hotel Miracosta. The downside is that it could look like a body of water in a glass box but I think Wynn's decorations people would be the first I'd trust to make an inviting indoor pool.

Honestly, I could see a pool that looked like swimming in the middle of a stripped-down conservatory. I don't know what plants could exist in a pool room, but if anyone in town would, the Wynn (and I suppose Bellaria [I'm taking this one, Chuck!]) folks would.

I was kind of hoping that this would shut down the extremely gimmicky Switch, but maybe they'll shut off the mechanics and make the restaurant into something more practical. Botero has been stompin' Switch since day one with critics and guests.

I'd still like to see an attempt at cuisine that isn't a staple of luxury resorts, like southwestern (Mesa Grill @ Caesars and Dos Caminos @ Palazzo are the only two in town I know of). Heck, I'd like someday to see a top barbecue chef come to town, but maybe I'm too adventurous for the convention crowd (not really, conventioneers would probably like barbecue before two steakhouses.)

November 7, 2009 1:07 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

That's a good idea, mike-celebrity chef BBQ! I think the "mature" Wynn crowd would be all over this. I bet every reader of this blog has their own choice.

November 7, 2009 1:52 PM Posted by SouthLooper

Maybe they're just replacing the plantings for a Christmas display? The Bellagio conservatory regularly does a major change-over, maybe they're doing that here. I would presume that any construction would be presaged by a temporary wall shielding the casino from the dust.

I got the impression from the architectural renderings presented to the county zoning board that the pool would be one level up. It looked like the driveway and porte cochere on the west side were going to be replaced by a one-story building, presumably with pool deck on top, accessable via the spa on the second floor. I would expect them to make it easy for hotel guests to get to it, and not necessarily connect it to the casino. If this is the case, they won't have a west side door leading into the casino, and can convert the atrium to gaming space. It would make the casino even more secluded and exclusive.

November 7, 2009 2:04 PM Posted by Hunter

Yes, Bellagio does switch stuff out but the Conservatory was designed to support that with elevator beds for the plants, etc... This area at Encore was a permanent set of landscaping and chopping out trees is pretty significant.

November 7, 2009 2:25 PM Posted by SouthLooper

Without those 10 doors on the west side of the casino, where are there fire exits leading all the way out, and not just into another area of the building like the pool or lobby (or eventually the beach club)?

November 7, 2009 2:30 PM Posted by Hunter

There's a direct egress point between Switch and Society, just south of those doors.

November 7, 2009 5:46 PM Posted by parchedearth

Harrah's new tower in AC has an indoor pool area that is gorgeous. It has lush tropical foliage, flagstone decking, a nice bar, cabanas, and they hold parties there at night. Wynn could copy that and kick up the quality an extra notch and I think most people would be pleasantly surprised.

My understanding is the exterior wall of Switch would be knocked out so the restaurant extends into and services the pool area. This could be like a combination of Botero's outdoor seating and XS' extending into the pool area.

November 7, 2009 5:47 PM Posted by Hunter

In an interview after the last quarterly call, Wynn said that the west facing wall of Switch would be replaced with a glass wall, overlooking the new action outside.

November 7, 2009 6:26 PM Posted by JK

I really wish Wynn would just tell us what is going to happen. He is always talking about how he really wants the high-end crowd in his hotel (primarily above the ages of 35). Who thought he would want to attract guests under 35 for the "best hotel in Vegas"? I'm not saying that it's bad to attract that kind of crowd, but it just seems wrong for Wynn resorts. Imagine Bellagio becoming a nightclub haven.

What gets me most about this is how Steve is changing an already great formula. The atrium is my favourite part of Encore, much more interesting than the glass at the end of the casino. Every time I come into Encore from a place like Palazzo, the atrium reminds me that Encore is a step above. It creates the most amazing first impression.

How does an indoor beach nightclub seem for a first impression for a 5 Diamond resort? Hmm...

I want to know how the public entrance will be effected (I often use the Encore main entrance instead of going through Wynn) If I have to use multiple bridges and whatnot a la Venezia Tower at the Venetian, I wouldn't be too happy.

Wynn has never been one to give out too many details on the designs, but at least tell us what is going to happen. What is the concept for the "Surrender Nightclub"? All we know is that Switch will have a glass wall that looks out onto the beach. So I guess that means the beach will be outdoors.
However if they can top the atrium and gives us new areas to explore and marvel at (such as a Parasol Up & Down or the divine elegance of my favourite space "Alex") then I look forward to seeing it, but for once I doubt Wynn can top the atrium.

November 7, 2009 7:00 PM Posted by NavinR

Although the atrium was a wonderful space asthetically, it did seem to be a little out-of-place... it felt wide open while the rest of Encore feels more intimate. I wonder if Wynn always had this as a possible plan--to redo the atrium into something else that he thought was missing after opening.

The photo looks dark, and I thought I read someplace that the atrium is now fenced off from the rest of the casino... was the photo taken "behind the scenes" or is all this still out in the open?

I wonder when Wynn PR will come out with some more info for us all.

November 7, 2009 9:15 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

19 comments in 2 days-I don't think Wynn should say anything. We're doing more than enough talking. Even using-gasp-Atlantic City as a point of reference. Wynn is a promotional genius, second to none, IMO.
When this remodel is done I think we will once again be amazed at how good he is at making changes on the fly.
I think on a slow news week, Hunter could just post "Wynn", and get more comments than any other topic at any time.

November 7, 2009 11:18 PM Posted by John

I don't see what all of the fuss is about. The atrium was pretty, now it'll just another club with overpriced bottle service. The next time I'm out of my mind on pharmaceuticals, I'll just walk on the other end of the property. Problem solved.

November 8, 2009 1:57 AM Posted by autism

Excellent pictures. All the pictures are looking really amazing. Thanks for sharing such article. What is the concept for the "Surrender Nightclub"?

November 8, 2009 8:15 AM Posted by mike_ch

Well, this blog nearly caused me to start writing a new piece called "Let Me Tell You How to Run Your Hotel," but almost every discussion about Beach Club has often turned into a round robin of "well, okay, so long as he doesn't take out that atrium", so this is sort of expected.

I'm not sure this was part of the original plan. I think this is a reaction to the halted construction going on further north. They realized nobody will be using that entrance in the future now.

November 9, 2009 6:45 PM Posted by socalduck

The atrium was gorgeous, and one of the better executed public areas at Encore. However, every time I went through there, it was nearly deserted. While that may partly be a reflection of the bad economy, I do think that portion of the property was a bit of a dead zone, particularly during the day. Most people enter the property either from the Wynn connector, or through the entrance by the front desk, so I can understand the decision to do something different here. I am sorry to see the Atrium go, but I look forward to seeing how they redevelop this space.

November 9, 2009 6:46 PM Posted by Hunter

Socal - I could basically write the same comment myself - I agree.

November 14, 2009 12:18 AM Posted by motoman

As of Nov. 10, there was indeed a construction wall being erected. A purple blazer did say it was for the noise and dust. It is positioned to wall off the entire atrium area, so it certainly looks as though the mosaic floors will be going. (As for outdoors, from my room I could see bulldozers going at the former driveway to the porte cochere.)

I'm close to devastated by the loss of that beautiful space. But without the completion of the other north Strip megaprojects (as mike_ch noted), the utility of that entrance becomes less important. It must have been deemed easy enough to direct cabs and foot traffic to the regular Resort entrance -- I saw a pair of scantily-clad, confused looking young things wander in that way and ask the whereabouts of XS.

I agree with parchedearth that the plan to open the view from Switch ala Botero could only improve that space; I also share JK's concerns that this project seems in some ways a downward move. The name change of Sugar & Ice to Pizza Place is now permanent, and to me represents a severe dumbing down of concept. It couldn't possibly enhance the atmosphere of the Spa to have the entrance to the party pool thru there.

November 14, 2009 9:38 AM Posted by JK

I'm curious to see how the high limit areas and Tower Suites/Sinatra entrances will fit into the new area. They have the atrium feel with mosaic tiles, trees, natural light flooding in through the ceiling, etc. This also makes me wonder if they are keeping the glass ceiling where the atrium (unfortunetly) used to be to preserve continuity. And I still want to know where the new Encore entrance will be. I don't mind walking through Wynn, but it's nice to enjoy the weather and walk outside instead. Making Encore guests use the Wynn entrance is shortening the options in a property that doesn't have many options to begin with.

November 14, 2009 11:23 AM Posted by steve_c

When I stayed at Encore earlier this year, we often used the LVB entry to save time when we were walking on the strip. The walk through the Encore Esplanade and through Wynn got a little tiresome after the first day or so. I can see many reasons why they are removing this entrance... but I think the main reason is to help generate the glow between Encore and Wynn... it forces guests to walk through Wynn to get to the strip, or take the longer route of using the the only porte cocheres.
That being said, I am hoping they have something great up their sleeves, and that the atrium will be back in a modified form. This was truly my favorite spot in the entire resort.. the attention to detail was beyond words. Oddly enough, I took tons of photos of this area and lots of the close ups of the trees, the tall bamboo and the ever changing flowers. It's almost like I knew it wouldn't be like that again.

From the few renderings we've seen, the butterfly adorned porte cochere dome is staying. Would it be possible that this will become the new foyer area for the pool area. They could remove the doors and most of that forward wall completely, and glass in the dome area of the porte cochere, with pool areas on either side. The atrium area could be modified and expanded into this new area, with natural plantings and fountains decorating the area.

Wishful thinking?

November 16, 2009 5:42 PM Posted by A_B

As of November 16 there were cranes bulldozing the porte cochere, in such a manner that it probably won't be saved.

The taxi drivers seemed to be confused too. Most wondering why they're tearing it up when the hotel is not even a year old yet.

November 19, 2009 6:04 PM Posted by JK

After seeing recent pictures, some trees are being put back into the sides of the atrium, which makes me wonder what is happening in the space. Now my concern is that the columns and drapes are gonzo from the casino. It's like taking the awnings out of Bellagio or chopping the Harmon in half. It's almost as bad as MGM's de-theming of almost every hotel they own (by the way, City Center would be even more amazing with its modern design if they hadn't done so). It takes away a major part of what gives Encore its distinction from Wynn. They would be identical now if you replaced red with brown (that is actually how I imagined Encore in the first place until I saw the showroom hallway).
If there isn't any new entrence for Encore, then I'm going to be more disappointed simply because of the inconvenience. Maybe with that walkway above the wynn garage, they can create a pre-spa tower Bellagio staircase into the area near the emergency exit door between Society and Switch (drool).

November 19, 2009 6:45 PM Posted by charlie

if they are going to remodel Encore, I wish they would just use the blueprints/design docs from the encore spa.

as noted, my guess is that this is pretty massive change in function. some thoughts...
1. the high limit slots/bar may become a larger more casual bar adjacent to the atrium
2. the atrium will ample have seating for drinks... potentially breakfast from switch???
3. does the high roller room go away, thus allowing access to the pool area through the outside doors?
4. does sinatra become the high roller room (with more direct access from tower suites)
5. does sinatra move to DB Bistro - a much more grandiose space, where frankie can come alive outside?

November 19, 2009 8:54 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Charlie - You bring up a few good points.

November 20, 2009 4:15 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I wonder if they took down the curtains to keep them from getting too much dust on them during construction?

November 20, 2009 8:17 AM Posted by Hunter

I seriously doubt that, Jeff. They're gone from all parts of the casino.

Also, they have customers at 21 tables about 4 feet from the construction wall, which other than being unsightly, really doesn't impact the interior in terms of noise or dust.

November 21, 2009 6:02 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC


November 21, 2009 6:43 PM Posted by JK

Encore's tweet page describes it as "an exciting new entertainment complex that will feature expansive pools, food & beverage, and nightlife."

November 21, 2009 9:42 PM Posted by JK

And on the new Strip Podcast, Roger Thomas and co. discussed the beach club and answer a few of the questions we have all had. They also discussed the evolution of casino design and that they are starting to look at ideas for Wynn room remodels.
Unfortunetly for me, it looks like there will be not entrance for Encore from LVB. When you think about it, although not many people use it, it defeats the purpose of putting the Tower Suites in the atrium because you didn't have to walk through the casino to get out of the hotel, but now you have to walk through the casino, go through the North Porte Cochere and then back west just to get onto the strip. It would be much easier to at least create two doors that lead to the strip so anyone that wanted to go to Las Vegas Blvd. didn't have go through the "struggle" of walking back and forward. Even walking through Wynn is a roadblock compared to walking out directly towards the Strip and going down a straight line. It wouldn't be so bad if North Porte Cochere wasn't so far away from the Strip... but it is.

November 24, 2009 11:04 AM Posted by Hans

Just had my first visit to the Wynn since Encore was opened, and I was shocked to see no strip access from Encore. It does make sense to limit access, given that all the upscale projects to the north are stalled. Echelon and Fontainbleau guests would have been welcomed, but no need to bring in the Riviera crowd.

There are a number of trees in pots being staged in the tarmac that once was the Frontier. I assume those were from around the port cochere, and not from the interior.

I would not look to HRH as a model for their beach club idea. I bet there is a European model (such as Marbella) that they have in mind (crowd was so international for our visit.) And as long as Fashion Show doesn't put up a 50-floor tower, the front of Encore will get more afternoon sun than any other part of the Wynn property.

November 26, 2009 9:34 AM Posted by Brian

Night shot of Encore's front......looks like the whole porte cochere is history

November 26, 2009 1:32 PM Posted by steve_c

I'm not sure if they added more or not, but those trees in front of the Plaza/New Frontier site have been there since shortly before Encore opened. The Steve had them added to help block some of the empty site and improve the surrounding area. Not sure if they will ever be planted or not.

November 29, 2009 12:20 PM Posted by JK

So rumor has it that the curtains are being removed because they hold too much smoke. I hope Wynn D&D can come up with a type of curtain that can replace the ones that were there before. It would be a shame to see them gone forever.

November 29, 2009 1:36 PM Posted by Mike E

JK, I was thinking it may have had to do with something along those lines. Many blamed MGM Mirage for removal of the tiki canopies in Mirage's casino, but as a few dealers told me, it was mostly smoke related.

November 29, 2009 1:38 PM Posted by Hunter

Wynn claims acoustics, which seems like an odd answer... the full interview should be released soon via The Strip Podcast.

November 29, 2009 2:04 PM Posted by JK

I can't wait to hear that interview. He hasn't said much about Encore for a long time and as much as I don't want the the curtains and atrium gone (by the way, does anyone know if the columns are going? I heard they were) I'm excited to see what new things he has planned, even if I'm not a nightclubber.

November 29, 2009 8:09 PM Posted by JK

Just stumbled upon a photostream on Flickr which shows Wynn and Encore. They painted the atrium construction wall (wait for it)...... RED(ish). The columns are still in the casino and the SWITCH sign was moved slightly. Somebody needs to go for dinner at Switch and sit in the waiting area to try to get a peek at what is happening.

November 29, 2009 8:13 PM Posted by Hunter

There's no view from Switch at all at this point.