Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

November 28, 2006

Reader Trip Report: Wynn Las Vegas November 2006

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to reader mike_ch who sent in the trip report from Wynn Las Vegas that you will find after the jump.

The photos that go with this report are now online:

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So, about a week ago, we got an email inviting us to two nights at Wynn.


For the few who didn't know, I live in Las Vegas and although Wynn once gave us free rooms because we forgot to forward them our new address (like everyone else, Wynn loves throwing rooms at Californians for a few weekdays) it was truly confusing to see another one coming to us now. How could such a thing happen? I have one guess which is that they really want to get as many rooms filled as possible so they can boast a high room occupancy. I'm a fairly frequent visitor to the Wynn casino because I've had some pretty decent flow there over the months. They've given me free play money over the past few months, so one week I come in and lose $60, and the next week win that back and $20 more. So maybe if they thought they threw me a couple nights, I'd bite and it wouldn't be too painful for them since I'm a fairly loyal customer with their casino. I chose Sunday and Monday nights so that I could get my FreePlay on Monday. I'd also be closer to the center of town which is great for us because we live in the remote suburbs of the northwest and the center of town, where all the industry is, is a long way away. That would shorten commute times for everyone.

Unfortunately, I received some sort of illness from bad food at a nearby taco stand on the way there so I wasn't roaming town quite like I normally do. Check-in was quite short. Room 3164 was at the very end of the hall, next to the corner room. The room was pretty much normal. That said, the Wynn is going to figure out sooner or later what parts of the hotel hold up over time and what doesn't. The place has been quite used and abused now and you can see it, from that piece of broken trim on the door in the registration area to the shower handle in the room not staying in place, dropping into the off position unless I set it straight up or beyond into scorching hot territory. For some reason, the beds didn't have that pillow with the Wynn logo stitched into it. Being at the end, we got a great view of everything from Stardust to Boulder Station. Speaking of Stardust, although the tower is just an inky blue blob at night again now that the auction is over, they did leave the marquee sign to light up each night. So you can go and get it in your Strip night-shot pictures while you still can.

Encore is down below. On weekdays the construction makes a lot of noise. I can't really tell where the casino is supposed to be on Encore, since it's just nothing but honeycomb style rooms from the bottom up. Doesn't seem to make much sense. I guess I should give it some more time?

The gambling was bad. The machines took a lot of money, even some of my favorite machines refused to pay out anything. The dealers, despite current circumstances, seem genuinely happy and interested with the players. We took a pounding to thank them for the room for a few hours but finally ran across the street to Treasure Island. Of course nothing has changed much at Treasure Island. It still looks like a blown-up version of Golden Nugget with ultralounges. They're slowly adding newer and newer slots in the corner by the bridge to Fashion Show Mall and the escalator to the Mirage tram. On Sunday night, a machine was shut down and out of order, and Monday night (one would expect slot techs to come to work that day) it was still out of order and now the one next to it was out of order, too. So that wasn't a positive sign. Anyway the gambling at Treasure Island, what little there was, limited to a few video slots that paid out better than the ones at Wynn.

Dinner was at The Coffee Shop off the TI casino. I've had a number of less than great experiences here since MGM took over, and service was still lackluster. I had to give my begging stare at waiters to get drink refills, many of which ignored me, and then a guy in a suit went by. You know how in good restaurants when a guy in a suit sees something needs to be done he'll roll up his sleeves (metaphorically) and do some work himself? I've seen it happen a few times, including at Red Rock, but it didn't happen here. Suit Guy did his best to not look in my direction. BUT, it should be noted, the turkey sandwich (yes, turkey after thanksgiving, I know) was excellent. For all I know it might not be the healthiest option, but golly it tastes good! Recommending the sandwich, but be prepared to conserve your drink while being ignored. Then back to Wynn for more lousy gambling.

Coming back in, I saw the lingerie store near the entrance to the Esplanade that opened up a week ago. I take some pictures for this report, and get bizarre looks from people in the hall. I guess there's some things in Vegas that you just don't do. At least the place wasn't open at that hour.

Unlike most the tourists in the casino, visiting the strip is more an extension of my life than a departure from it, so I had to go to bed in the early evening before all the good-looking and interesting people flood the casino at night. I stopped by the newly-renovated The Cafe for a nighttime snack, a cinnamon roll and water. To make the obvious Bellagio comparison, last month I had a warmed-up roll and a cup of fountain soda at Palio for somewhere between $6-$7 and it was quite good. The roll at Wynn came in a plastic wrapper, was barely warm, very difficult to cut through (I eventually gave up with the plastic fork and knife and started tearing pieces off by hand), and though I paid less for water for than I would have for a bottle of soda, I wound up buying some bottled water that claims to come from Fiji or something. The total cost was $9, and I couldn't help but think that this was not worth it. It reminds me of my Zoozacrackers burger meal last year, where I paid $4 for a bottle of soda that was $2.50 in the drugstore. Basically, if you're eating at one of these quick-stop places in the Wynn, bring your own drink or buy one at the Drugstore or else prepare to take it in the wallet. I think the sandwiches at Sugar & Ice are probably worth the money, though.

I can NOT sleep on the Wynn beds. I don't know if it's because of the pillows or the mattress or what. I bought a nice Beautyrest mattress last year (think a current version of the older Heavenly beds at Westin) and considered a Wynn bed at the time, and boy I'm glad I didn't get one. I only get about five hours of sleep on this bed, every night. I'm not sure why, I just don't sleep, and it's bizarre because I find the other furnishings quite comfortable.

The next day, I had to run off and take care of personal matters for a good number of hours. I departed around 5 in the morning, which means the casino is a total dead zone. The dealers in this shift are not quite as happy as the ones at 6PM, as there's just nobody down there. I needed breakfast, and I didn't have much cash on me, which meant having to eat at Wynn (ack!) just to charge the meal to the room. I bought a newspaper and then went to the Terrace Pointe Cafe, where they were happy to just see somebody. I have heard so much on other sites (VegasTripping, perhaps?) about the pancakes at Wynn, and I tried some on our last stay here but couldn't remember them. Maybe all the rave reviews are about the pancakes at Tableau, because while these were better than your IHOP pancakes they weren't significantly better than pancakes down the street. Also, the entire dining room is now non-smoking. I don't know if they're just getting ahead of themselves on the question 7 ban or not, but it's nice to hear since my last time at Terrace Pointe was ruined by two women who inexplicably started smoking in the middle of the non-smoking section while nobody with a nametag dared to challenge them.

When I returned around noon I decided to stop by Treasure Island and ride the rail over to Mirage. I ate at the Cravings buffet for lunch, which is when I always have buffets. I had heard about a year ago on the Five Hundy podcast that Tim recommended the Mirage buffet over the TI one because it's worth the extra cost. Of course, I've tried the TI buffet and wrote my opinions on it in the RV database. It's basically almost but not quite as good as Golden Nugget, which is $5 less. The extra $3 for Cravings IS well worth it. However, I'll still continue to check into Aladdin for my high-end buffet needs. But if you like seafood, and/or particularly don't care about a meager dessert selection, this is the better buffet for you than Aladdin. It's also good if you want a custom-order gyro/panini station or a built-in bar with your buffet. Being that I didn't want any of that, I thought the prime rib was good and the waitress was overworked but trying her hardest. An RV review will appear soon.

On the way back walking through TI, the old Krispy Kreme near the the tram is now "TI to go," a sundries store that also still sells those doughnuts. I was unimpressed by the dessert section at Cravings, so I picked up a $3 bag of jellybeans (more than the supermarket $1 special, but less than the $7 they want for such candy at Wynn) and headed back to the room to watch some TV.

Palazzo is still coming along. There's now some exterior facade tilework appearing on the ground floor buildings, but just on my last trip by I noticed that the exterior facade was just beginning to crawl up the hotel tower skeleton, and it looks like they're also repainting the skeleton honeycomb of the tower white. Why?

Later on I did some gambling, the gambling was better but not quite good enough. We ate dinner at the Terrace Pointe Cafe, my second time there for the day. They don't have a chicken sandwich, so I tried a turkeyburger (yep, more turkey) that was full of flavor and seasoning and also came with a mountain of french fries. Between the buffet and how rich the food is, I just wasn't able to eat much of it and a lot must have gone to waste. Oh well. I'm a pretty bland guy when it comes to my food, but I like to be a little more adventuresome at Wynn because the restaurants are typically full of good meals and as long as there aren't any pickles or onions involved I'll be pleasantly surprised at what I've ordered. While the low-end of dining at Wynn, Terrace Pointe represents pretty much the high-point of my taste for food, and I was pleased that things have improved so much over our visits there from 8-12 months ago.

After some more 'less than excellent but not altogether terrible' gambling, we packed things up and checked out early. What can I say, we missed our old beds and I'm STILL feeling sick from the bad food I ate on the way there.

Conversation at checkout:
Wynn employee: Oh, so you're a native here! How was your stay?
"Well, I expected to lose money, but I was hoping I would do so a lot slower than I actually did."
Wynn employee: Fantastic!

And that sums up my Wynn experience. Since my last stay, restaurants have gone from a gamble good/bad experience to solid offerings on the low end, and I'm sure the high end fancy places must be nice. However, watch out for the casual drop-in places like the bakery and deli. The casino service is still as prompt as ever, but the rest of the people in the resort, from security to doormen and so on, seem to ignore me or give me attitude as though I'm a suspicious person, and I have few positive notes to chime in about them. I can begin to see where some of the Wynn detractors get their feelings from. WLV makes a big deal about how particular they were in choosing everything for their resort, but choosiness doesn't impress me at times with the costs they always seem to demand. While what they offer is usually not bad, only now and then do I think it's actually good. The weird thing is that I like Steve's other properties, I feel they're usually just as nice (MGM TI changes aside) and Mirage and TI never make me feel like I'm too cheap or too unwanted to hang around even when I'm a guest at the hotel. Of course, Bellagio usually treats me even worse as a visitor, but of course I'm a total rube for it's villa theme, it's visual flair and the dancing waters, so two weeks after swearing it off forever I'll look over at the lake, get sentimental, and return.

Wynn will keep me as a fairly regular casino customer so long as our give-take relationship (which on this visit was mostly take) continues, but I can no longer see myself as eagerly recommending it to one of our wealthier friends who stayed at Bellagio last time. But maybe it's my regular casino visits that desensitizes me to the rest of the resort, as I seem to be at Wynn as often as I am at Red Rock now and I suppose that makes it less impressive. I suppose you can't always Wynn.


Read archived comments (11 so far)
November 28, 2006 7:09 PM Posted by mike_ch

A few extra notes:

1) I got my political initiatives screwed up, it was question 5 that was the smoking ban. Oh well, you can tell how politically-savvy I am, huh? :)

2) I forgot to mention it here, and I almost called the podcast voicemail line to rant about it over the phone, but the soundtrack at Wynn SUCKS. Almost every song (save a few jazzy tracks) has the same "tisk-tisk-bum tisk-tisk-bum" sound that doesn't sound good over the casino noise, nor is comfortable to eat to, nor is even comfortable to be walking around hearing everywhere. Please bust out the pre-MGM Bellagio playlist or something, because this music is the reason why disco is dead.

3) I went into Harrah's to sit down and play a little there for the first time and found out why I've never done it before. Almost all machines seem to be very close to a heavily traversed walkway, and the facilities were dirty. Even in places where the casino was putting on it's best, it still felt very Reno.

4) I walked by Tableau again one morning thinking about breakfast, but decided against it since I was sick, ragged-looking, and a good deal in the negative numbers on gambling. I looked inside and it was as empty as when Hunter and I had a meet-up there, even though it was the proper breakfast hours. Sure seems quiet. I like how that has the feel of a serene retreat in the mornings. Now let's hope they don't go to dinner-only service as a result of how empty it is.

5) This year seems much more cheerful for the holidays than the past. It seems like the casinos historically doesn't dress up for the period, leaving it up to the Fashion Show Mall, but everyone seems to be in gear for it this year. Bellagio has their usual holiday stuff in the shopping area, ditto for Wynn which also turned their usually dull (to me) forest area into a winter wonderland. Even MGM Grand turned off their top-40 muzak for Burl Ives, Bing Crosby and others. And locally, Red Rock has really decked their halls with a lot of wreaths, decorations, etc. Even the buffet has it's own Christmas tree.

November 28, 2006 8:51 PM Posted by MGK

I think that white stuff on the Palazzo's skeleton is the fireproofing layer that they spray on a building's steel frame. One thing that I really noticed between most Las Vegas hotels and The Palazzo is how different their structures are. The Palazzo's skeleton consist mainly of a steel frame, while most other hotels', like Bellagio's Spa Tower, Caesars Agustus Tower, or Wynn, structure consist of concrete. Does anyone here know if their is a reason in the difference (cost, strength, etc...)?

November 28, 2006 9:42 PM Posted by Mike P.

Wynn has been playing the same couple dozen crappy pop songs as background music since the place opened. According to their financials the casino is making piles of money -- why can't they afford the royalties to some new music??

mike, if you're a local surely you are a video poker expert. Wynn continues to have the best video poker inventory on the strip while Caesars and Bellagio have significantly downgraded this year. That's enough to keep me going back to the casino even though my play earns me no decent offers at all.

Mike P.

November 28, 2006 10:54 PM Posted by mike_ch

Nah, I learned the basic strategy of Double Bonus VP and sometimes play it there, but not often. The fact is that the Apple II graphics and crap sound that comes with IGT's video poker machines (the industry standard) bores me quickly. I hit a flush or a full house or two eventually and leave.

If I decided I really needed to make money from my casinos foremost, I'd get into VP, but I'm often there for entertainment more often than not. And for my weekly freeplay moneys I've made some nice pulls off slots like Double Top Dollar. On Monday I turned their $25 credit into $120 profit, which would have been a great result on a weekly afternoon visit but simply covered a portion of the previous night's losses when spending the whole day there.

November 29, 2006 12:29 AM Posted by Mike E

Thanks for the update, Mike. Hilarious conversation at the end.

November 29, 2006 10:28 AM Posted by Brian Fey

I like the music at Wynn for the most part. I guess I am in the minority here.

I was told Palazzo went Steel, because its much faster than concrete. But this does not make much sense to me, as the core is still concrete. What do I know about building a high-rise building?

November 29, 2006 10:40 AM Posted by Hunter

It's funny you mention this topic.

I was just contacted by the structural steel sub for Palazzo because they wanted to use some of my photos in promo materials.

In return he's going to send me a bunch of info on the project. Cool.

November 29, 2006 12:59 PM Posted by Mike P.

Brian, spend more than a couple hours in the casino and you'll know why people hate it.

I wonder how Tableau is doing. We've eaten lunch there several times and it seems to do decent business then -- it's never full, but they serve enough tables to probably justify staying open. I'd hate to see them close for breakfast because they put out coffee for a few hours before opening. That saves me 8 or 9 bucks most mornings.

Mike P.

November 29, 2006 5:08 PM Posted by Nate

Hunter, if you don't put the info on here about what you find out about palazzo's construction then I'd love for you to e-mail it to me. Thanks!

December 3, 2006 3:26 PM Posted by motoman

Nate, I'm sure Hunter will post a report here on the Palazzo construction as we're into that sort of thing. (....right? ;-)

We've kicked this horse before, but I'm with Brian and MikeE in that the music in Wynn fits the surroundings, even though it's not what I might listen to elsewhere. (Though I don't doubt it must drive the help nuts!) The real tragedy remains the dumbing down of the music track at the Bellagio Fountains. If MGM has found it makes the place more "accessible," so be it....

December 3, 2006 3:32 PM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, I'll be posting anything that I get...