Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

December 19, 2008

Steve Friess/Steve Wynn Audio Tour + Map

Posted by Hunter

Steve Friess has posted the audio from his Encore tour with Steve Wynn. Along with the audio, which I heard last night - it's great, he's posted a map of Encore.

Find them both at


Read archived comments (42 so far)
December 19, 2008 5:20 PM Posted by Hunter

What do you guys think of the map?

I got a copy last night and I must say it's pretty close to what I expected.

Happy to see a bunch of 'saddle up bars'.

December 19, 2008 6:18 PM Posted by John

It's always fun to listen to Steve/Steve chats. Being as this was for an upcoming resort is all the better.

I stayed at the Wynn Tower Suites the past few days and it was amazing as usual. The girl at the front desk casually got it out of us that we were staying for my girlfriend's birthday and had the kitchen whip together a little Wynn-inspired birthday cake. Talk about classy. The service and help of every staff member was just amazing. Classy, but not snobby whatsoever.

Anyway, while in the room, Wynn Resorts issued a new issue of their magazine almost completely dedicated to Encore. I know most of the pictures of the place are rather 'hyper-real', but boy, if the rooms and environs look half as good as they are in that magazine, that place is going to be at the top for quite a while.

December 19, 2008 7:40 PM Posted by mike_ch

It took five resorts, but he finally figured out that people associate luxury with not having to criss-cross the casino to get to everything.

WLV was always a bit of an overrated place to me. Sorta Bellagio, but without the abundant details and with many of the same flaws, such as the haul from registration to elevators. From what little I've seen and what I see in the floorplan, Encore actually lives up to the hype.

December 19, 2008 7:43 PM Posted by JK

I like the fact that you don't have to walk through the casino to get from the lobby to your elevators. It sounds like Steve Wynn really hit a home run with Encore. The Lobby Bar sounds like a great idea.
I'm a little confused with the atrium. Based on the floor plan, it doesn't look like it would be really big, but yet the leaked renderings and overhead shots show a very very large atrium. What happened to all of the flowers in the atrium? In the floor plan, it only looks like there is one "island" of flowers, Wynn has five "islands".
Not a fan of letting other people use Encore's pool, but other than that, it sounds great.

December 19, 2008 7:47 PM Posted by Hunter

I think it's bigger than it looks on paper but we'll know for sure soon.

December 19, 2008 7:52 PM Posted by Hunter

Breitling told me that he thinks this is Wynn's best work so far... That's the kind of high praise I'm hearing again and again about Encore - basically take Wynn, improve the parts that aren't perfect and you have something along the lines of what they tried to do at Encore.

December 19, 2008 8:07 PM Posted by John

Has anyone else heard about the Duplex Suites? I haven't heard a thing about them or read anything on the site concerning them and have only read about them in Wynn magazine.

Any word on those two-story suites we heard about so long ago?

December 19, 2008 8:09 PM Posted by Hunter

They're up there, in the Encore Tower Suites area.

I'm supposed to be getting a full briefing from Wynn PR and I'll try to get that answered if it's not on the tour.

December 19, 2008 8:27 PM Posted by Mike_E

I'll give the audio a listen a little later tonight, but just studying the map I've come up with my own rants and ravings:

Layout looks awesome though it seems like there's really only six "chambers" not including baccarat. I was kinda' hoping for more. I was also expecting resort check-in to be lining LVB somewhat. Interesting how much VIP stuff is towards the front of the resort. But then again, for three years, I've considered the LVB entrance as "the front". Cleary I've been wrong all this time. No walking through the casino to get to the rooms for anybody though. Very nice.

Very pleased with the number of lounges. Hopefully none of them will be of the "oontz oontz oontz" variety, except of course, if you count XS as a lounge.

Sad to see the Tower Suites don't seem as "tucked away". I could be wrong, but there isn't any private entrance for the baccarat and obviously no private pool. Also, it looks like they may actually have to make an effort to keep the riff raff out since it's so open to the casino.

I remember Jeff Simpson saying their would be two ultra high-end ones which I'm assuming will be on the spa level. Maybe it's that unmarked space overlooking the longer pool near the car rental facility.

The wall of glass doesn't look to be quite as spectacular as we had all been hoping unless the Eastside Lounge doesn't obstruct the views from the casino at all.

Calling it the "Encore Theater" is a hell of a stretch, especially since it's not even continuous with Encore's meeting rooms.

Looks like Resort check-in gets greeted by a wall of glass overlooking the pool. Nice. Convenient for the self parkers, too.

My guess with Switch is that its walls will move very much like the Tree of Prosperity's ceiling in Macau. Guess I'll find out soon enough.

Overall, great design for what little space they had. I think WLV is more thoughtfully designed, but then again, I couldn't grasp just how thoughtful it was until I stayed there. Maybe Encore will surprise me.

December 19, 2008 8:42 PM Posted by Hunter

I've had an extra day to digest the floor plan but even after giving it a bit more thought, my opinion hasn't changed - it looks like a very nice design.

'Looks' is the operative word at this point though... Until I see it for myself, I can only guess.

I remember looking at the WLV map for the first time. It looked like a pretty traditional casino layout but when I actually saw the interplay between the Tower Suites, high limit slots, baccarat, Tableau and private gaming, I realized there was some interesting new work at play. Combine that with Alex and Wing Lei being semi-isolated from the casino, it was not out of 'Casino Design 101'.

Encore seems like even more of a departure and looks like a genuinely nice step forward. The casino is smaller, which fits my taste better anyway - the D.I. had a very nice sized casino (except for the ceilings - too high for my taste) and this seems more like a modern Desert Inn than a typical Strip megaresort, if there is even such a thing anymore.

The design set aside for a minute, I hope that the amenities outshine any design advances or gimmicks. Better rooms, fantastic new restaurants, what sounds like a killer spa and a pool environment meant to cater to changing tastes - there's a lot to digest.

I doubt everything can work and be a home run - Encore will probably have it's La Bete, it's Corsa and it's Lure. Some things will probably be re-developed. Still, this looks closer to what I was originally expecting at WLV.

I think the two hotels together represent a significant draw on the high end of the market.

December 19, 2008 8:51 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Just starting to watch the Robin L. Interview. Is it snowing behind Wynn in Encore? :) What is that watering the plants or what?

December 19, 2008 8:53 PM Posted by Hunter

It's snow. He's sitting in Sinatra which has an outside area by the corner of the property. These interviews were done on 'snow day'.

December 19, 2008 9:16 PM Posted by Steve Friess

I saw the two-story suites off-audio with a PR attendant later the day of this interview. basically the each of the Desert Inn-end end-units of Encore are suites -- one-story and two-story ones alternating all the way up to a penthouse at the top floor. They are also, I'm told exclusively for "casino guests" and they're called apartments. The two-stories have three mammoth bedrooms and fully appointed connected bathrooms , two on the second floor and one on the first floor, and the parallel room from the first-story bedroom has a billiard table. Also of interest is that every room above the basic rooms in the hotel have a massage room with a table and audio system. There are two editions of the basic rooms, which are 150 sq ft bigger than the basic rooms at Wynn LV, one is a queen bed and a partition with a cutout that has a large TV on it. On the other side of the partition -- closer to the window -- is a couch and desk, and the TV is on a 360-degree swivel. The other version, the two queen bed is laid out largely like a standard hotel room anywhere else except bigger with a couch area tucked into the inner corner farther from the window and a wall-mounted TV that can be pulled out, similar to Wynn LV.

Also, has it been noted yet that there's a Sky Casino -- a $500-min-bet casino at the top floor? Other than Palms' Playboy casino, which is not high-limit, is this new for Vegas to have gambling with a view?

December 19, 2008 9:20 PM Posted by Hunter

Yup, the Sky Casino is a direct transplant from Wynn Macau but as far as I know, nobody has actually seen it yet / reported on its details. Depending on how they designate it with with the state GCB, they may or may not be able to restrict access, even if limits are high. If it's not explicit 'private gaming', I intend to try to at least see the room before being cut down by the stares of dealers and pit bosses who know I don't belong there.

The Palms is the only other spot doing gaming with a view in Vegas, you're right.

December 19, 2008 11:06 PM Posted by Phil

Strictly based on the map, I found it interesting that he left some elements out of Encore that essentially forces you to go to Wynn. Case in point, the sports book, chinese food, men's clothing. In that specific respect I think of Encore as an expansion and not a separate complete hotel. I don't find that negative, its just different. Take for example Palazzo you essentially can stay in that casino and not have to go to Venetian because it has all the ameneties, whereas Encore and Wynn share ameneties.

December 20, 2008 1:26 AM Posted by Steve friess

oh my god. I totally forgot till I saw the last comment to mention that there's a sports book kiosk in the encore casino. You can place bets and get odds and I think some scores but not watch games there. Is that unique?

December 20, 2008 5:07 AM Posted by Brian Fey

So these amazing flowers and gardens I see behind him, are outside? I figured he had one of the interior gardens behind him.

December 20, 2008 5:43 AM Posted by TC from Boston

Looking over the map it was interesting seeing that there will now be two Chanel Stores...also I agree with Mike E about the tower suites....going to be interesting how they keep the riff raff out in both ends...seems like any hotel guest can just wonder in there from the casino or just drive up from the driveway...where over at WLV if you end up in either side of the tower suites (drive or casino) you have to try to get there

December 20, 2008 7:21 AM Posted by Hunter

Steve - I can't think of another hotel with a satellite sports book like that.

Trevor - The new Chanel store carries a different line (see Steve's audio).

Brian - I believe those interviews were shot inside Sinatra, which has an outside area that is suitable for dining in good weather.

December 20, 2008 7:36 AM Posted by TC from Boston

boy is my face red.....i just started listening

December 20, 2008 7:51 AM Posted by Phil

I'm still a little confused about Society Cafe, seems like a typical coffee shop, but is also a high line restaurant too during evening hours? If thats correct how I'm reading it, maybe they partition part of the restaurant off for fine dining. Maybe I'm hearing that wrong and its just normal.

Second thing, for those of us that appreciate the days of old when you had lounge acts or a simple piano player for that manner, I wonder if any of those lounges are set up for entertainment. I remember Wynn when hit first opened had a small jazz band in "B" bar when it opened, but that didn't last long unfortunately. I'd love to ask Wynn one time, why is not favorable to have that anymore.

December 20, 2008 7:57 AM Posted by Hunter

I believe Society is supposed to be a couple of notches above the Terrace Point, which was a notch or two above other coffee shop type dining outlets.

Breakfast and lunch items probably a bit higher end than other coffee shops and a dinner menu that looks more like a cross between a coffee shop and fine dining.

Supposed to be $20-$35 for entrees at dinner so maybe that helps answer your question.

December 20, 2008 8:23 AM Posted by detroit1051

The map is very helpful, but it reinforced my original perception that Encore is an expansion of Wynn Las Vegas instead of a separate property as it has been promoted. I, also, am surprised by the location of the high limit areas. I never expected them to be so near the Strip and main entrance to Encore. In looking at the Tower Suites registration area, it may be more secluded than it looks. The Resort registration area is open from the walkway; it looks like the walkway widens into the registration area. However, the Tower Suites registration area may be accessible only through doors from the walkway. Also, the area between Tower Suites and Sinatra, overlooking the gardens, could make a good location for a lounge/lobby type area similar to that in Wynn's Tower Suites. Well, you'll find out in two days.
Which restaurant is Mark LoRusso's (Tableau)?

December 20, 2008 8:25 AM Posted by Hunter

Mark LoRusso will be at Botero Steak.

December 20, 2008 9:07 AM Posted by charlie

I'm back for an Encore.

Steve, the interview is pure gold, especially the call from Clint Eastwood and the 'Heely's incident'. You obviously have the respect of Mr. Wynn, which is a testament to the quality of your journalism.

Likewise, I'm very excited about this property; it is both a throwback to the Vegas of old, and a game changer for the future.

Quick question - can Encore handle 4000+ guests for breakfast? Where?

You guys enjoy!

December 20, 2008 10:12 AM Posted by Steve Friess

TC: Wynn explains the difference with this Chanel. It's not open yet, so I can't be sure how right he is, but he says its a different inventory. Also, I specifically asked if Society was the Encore's Terrace Pointe and he said no, it's better than that, etc.

Keep this discussion going. As I read it, I remember little things I saw that weren't in the audio, like the satellite sportsbook. (Was that in the audio? I can't recall.)

December 20, 2008 10:16 AM Posted by mike_ch

While I'm not sure any resort that can handle 4000 guests for breakfast (MGM comes closest with two cafes and a buffet), you do raise an alternate question from me which is where the room service is coming from. Is it being cooked in a kitchen at Encore? Normally the coffee shop kitchens also handle room service (notable exception: Sands' places, where room service is one of the few kitchens LVS actually operates themselves) but now he's doing this "not a coffee shop" thing.

I must be too political after the last election, because the posts here about how big players and tower suites guests might be bothered by the sound and presence of people with less disposable cash on them (a.k.a. "riff raff") causes me to have to suppress a tiny voice that wants to go on a political rage about how "more money = better than" is a foolish philosophy.

My socialist, anti-elite political leanings are probably why I've always had a serious issue with this decade's Wynn hotels. Pretty, yes, but even someone who has no money left in their budget can walk to Bellagio and get quite a show. I've always thought that does a much better job of selling the hotel to those who think that moderate is good enough ("ooh, look at the flowers/water! I want to spend whatever to stay here next time") then hiding everything behind velvet ropes and obscure doorways, all the while talking up about how it's like no thing on Earth and oh man if you only had the money for it you'd know it's awesome.

I know this sort of gives me a bone to pick with all of Vegas and it's income/class disparity, but it's no more unusual than any other vacation destinatio. In the past the casinos have been good about actually keeping the VIP stuff quieted down for the comfort of the VIPs and to minimize guest envy, whereas the Wynn Resorts vision revels in it.

Riff Raff

December 20, 2008 10:23 AM Posted by mike_ch

By the way, after that last post, I just want to make it clear: I totally know this isn't a political board. I like to touch on my beef re: Wynn vision, because it's relevant to our content as a Vegas blog.

Since there's just us regulars here right now, it's probably unnecessary, but I don't want to come back here in a few hours and find that we've got a foaming argument over Mike E's AmEx perks or whatever. :D

December 20, 2008 11:24 AM Posted by Phil

Mike brings up some interesting points about where the room service kitchen is. I guess thats only important to those who see the operation side of business equally interesting as design.

I know that map is not to scale, but assuming its close all the restaurants seem on the small side. Being very familiar with the size of all the Wynn joints, not one of Encores match any of Wynn's in size, again it could be just a map out of scale thing.

Last, I didn't know they put the Italian watchmaker Panerai in Wynn lobby. Is that up now or is that in the works?

December 20, 2008 1:24 PM Posted by detroit1051

What a great interview! I'm never sure whether Steve Friess is an innocent, or he pretends to be naive to coax more information out of Steve Wynn. Regardless, Friess is a master interviewer.
I wondered at the beginning whether there would be fireworks when Friess talked about Adelson opening Venetian and Palazzo in "a bunch of pieces", and Wynn thought Friess was accusing him of the same because a few shops and the theater wouldn't be open December 22. It was classic when Wynn said, "I work hard; I don't want a confrontational interview; now do you want a tour?" Friess and Wynn make a great pair. Just terrific! Kudos to both.
The map really helped as they walked through the property. Wynn's comment that "grandeur was Bellagio, intimacy is Wynn" was a perfect statement..
It's clear Sinatra will be the premier restaurant in Encore. It was interesting to learn how closely integrated Botero and XS will be. Botero will almost become an extension of the nightclub at night, so if one wants a more quiet steakhouse, they're better off walking to SW in Wynn..
Now I'm more enthused than ever about experiencing Encore. Friess and Wynn are both Las Vegas treasures.

December 20, 2008 1:27 PM Posted by Hunter

The original plans showed a kitchen downstairs for room service. I assume that got built.

December 20, 2008 3:02 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Dear Riff Raff.
You're on dope. I spent last Saturday afternoon downtown, mainly 4 Queens and El Cortez (Sidebar-Gold Spike is really going to be a nice little place, check it out when you're downtown. Nice people and very safe). Saturday evening at Wynn until Jersey Boys started at Palozzo. My $900 a week self was treated just as well at Wynn as downtown. Wynn's gift ,IMO, is being more things to more people than anyone else in Las Vegas. I find the air of snottiness to be higher at Bellagio, through Mirage, than Wynn. And that is where the other guys can learn a lesson. The middle class drives all of Las Vegas, and whoever makes them feel the most high class wins.

December 20, 2008 4:09 PM Posted by mike_ch

Jeff: I would say, though I forgot to mention it, that the staff at Bellagio won't give me the time of day, but I've had conversations with Wynn employees that go on for several minutes.

I've sort of been feeling that the middle-tier places have been charging more and offering less lately, which is why if I eat on the Strip I'm either eating at Circus Circus or at Bellagio, but hopefully the economy will turn that around.

December 20, 2008 4:27 PM Posted by JK

The staff at Wynn have always been very kind. I had a very long conversation with one of the housekeepers on our first visit and it really hooked us on Wynn. Mostly because they can give service that is more than a smile and a wave. The staff at Wynn really go above and beyond.

I am so worried about the Encore pool. I really enjoy relaxing at a pool that isn't wild like the XS pool is going to be. I just hope Mr. Wynn doesn't forget about those who come to Las Vegas to relax and not party every day. He is not the Hard Rock or Palms and nobody expects him to be. Besides, the reason that young people party at Palms' pool all the time is because it is 100% hip and they can actually afford to stay there.

December 21, 2008 4:31 AM Posted by Mike E

First interior shots of Encore!!

December 21, 2008 4:36 AM Posted by hail2skins

R-J photos.....some new ones include the atrium and spa:

Inside Sinatra:

Think you guys really have something to look forward to tomorrow!

December 21, 2008 5:29 AM Posted by detroit1051

The detail in Encore is unbelievable in the photos Mike E posted. The sign, photo 3, looks weak, or isn't it finished?
Photos 4,5 and 8 show the magnificent detail of the public spaces, but do they remind anyone else of either Riyadh or Dubai?

December 21, 2008 7:22 AM Posted by MGK

Detroit, the detailing in Encore will surely look stunning in person. Photos 4, 5, and 8 really remind me of the Villa Atrium at Wynn, just larger. Overall, this is a pleasant surprise for me, as I expected the gardens at Wynn to look more like this.

On a side note, does anyone know if the that structure directly to the left side of Steve in photo 4 is the high limit gaming?

December 21, 2008 7:44 AM Posted by Hunter

The Villa Atrium at Wynn Las Vegas is one of my very favorite rooms in the entire place so I'm thrilled to see that style continued.

I would say those chairs to Steve's left either have to be high limit gaming or the Switch Bar as he's standing in the front atrium.

December 21, 2008 12:59 PM Posted by Don

So it sounds like non-hotel guests who go to XS in the afternoon will be able to use the pool. Am I hear/reading that correctly?

December 24, 2008 2:14 PM Posted by rlonjohnson

I also noticed on the map that there is a Panerai store in Wynn. Is it open? Never noticed it before if it's always been there.

Makes sense since Panerai makes Ferrari-licensed watches.

December 24, 2008 2:15 PM Posted by Hunter

Don't believe it is open yet.