Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

Last month, several renderings (since removed) of the exterior of the Switch Beach Club at Encore were revealed. They didn't offer much in the way of a surprise - escalators, sweeping stairs and arches, all in the Wynn D&D aesthetic, matching their recent work.

Today, the sleuths at turned up a few more renderings - this time sketches of potential interiors. My first impression: hmmmmmm.

Roger Thomas, my vote for one of the best interior designers on the planet (and the best casino designer ever), talked a bit about his intentions on a recent episode of The Strip Podcast. These renderings match that conversation pretty well, lending them additional validity.

These leaks have tempered my excitement about the project's design. Granted, a pool day club is not my personal idea of a good time but I was expecting more. Something special - to match Encore's spa, restaurants, casino and guest rooms, all of which are A+.

I was hoping that whatever came next would at least make me forget losing the beautiful tree-lined, flower ringed atrium that Encore opened with.

Is it possible these aren't final? Yes, it is. The source is solid though - this guy has worked with Wynn D&D and it's predecessor Atlandia Design for years. Perhaps the structure, as built, will be a stunner. I plan to be there opening day to see for myself (Mike E is letting me borrow his Speedo).

Will this project end up being a bit of a dud, at least in terms of the 'evoca-tecture' that Thomas is known for? I hope not... but now I'm a bit worried.

Thomas' work is about creating moments - I hope this is a good one.


Read archived comments (33 so far)
March 16, 2010 10:12 PM Posted by atdleft

I'm keeping my hopes up for this. Wynn does have a record for exceeding expectations. But yes, my expectations have been lowered a bit by the pool drawings. Surrender looks great, but SBC looks a little dull... What makes it different from Tao or Bare or Moorea?

March 16, 2010 10:36 PM Posted by Mike E

Despite the enormous budget and typical Wynn D&D superlatives, I never thought this place would be the new XS. XS is a step above Tryst. This is a step above Blush.

Roger Thomas' best work? Far from it, though I'd imagine we'd be far more impressed if it was built with the resort and wasn't a desperate attempt at capturing summer "day life" revenues. But does it blow away its direct competition like Bare, Rehab, and Wet Republic? Definitely.

March 17, 2010 12:17 AM Posted by mike_ch

Well, I liked the renderings, this isn't very inspiring but I'm not sure it's final. I can't help but think those curtains are going to fade like mad in the desert sun.

Mike E, I dunno man, I think the Mandalay beach party, which I observed this weekend, would be more fun than this. I was honestly hoping that Wynn's people would finally have the old Mandalay beach wavepool thing fully topped with this offering, but it's not.

Now then, the interior club, that is just SLEAZY! And I have a sad feeling this is final since the hiring ads for the Beach Club in LV Weekly and elsewhere around town have used a Surrender logo with an S styled like a snake, just like the one in the ceiling. Roger Thomas made some great stuff when he had direction, I mean I have walked into Bellagio over 200 times and still suck in the atmosphere every time I go, but I'm starting to suspect Wynn is now just telling Roger to be himself and make what he thinks looks good. And this looks like he was trying to design a brothel or something. Leopard print? Stripper poles?

I don't mean to say that he's a bad designer, but I'm not sure he knows what the target audience for a place like this wants to see.

March 17, 2010 6:54 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

With these kind of reactions, I understand why WYNN is so secretive. You guys are brutal. I think the finished product is going look much better in person. I also think the target market is going to love it.
More inportantly, when is the last time that RT & co. missed? We all think he is the best in the business and I can't rember a real design failure. There may be some that didn't make money, but I don't remember a flat out, design failure.
I sure hope Hunter and CSM aren't gonna wear the speedo at the same time. My stomach has been a little queasy since I first saw mention of this. Thankfully, I don't have to worry about that. Due to a negoiated settlement, I am legally banned for 26 more years from wearing a speedo in 37 states.

March 17, 2010 7:24 AM Posted by hail2skins

The renderings look OK to me. When it comes right down to it, isn't the place supposed to be a pool area? Is it predominately going to service Encore guests during the day and act as an alternative to the existing pool area? If so, the main objective should be to provide a large enough "body of water" with the real estate you have to make it worthwhile, and it looks like the EBC does this.

I guess I'm trying to figure out what the expectations are here. You all are familiar with the pool areas of the big resorts in town and their layouts. If you could describe what you'd envision the EBC to look like or how you think it should be laid out, I'd like to hear what you think.

March 17, 2010 7:34 AM Posted by jay

I said it before and say it again. Wynn is known to innovate and this isnt innovation. The drawings look nice, but nothing spectacular. Looks like another pool area. Rehab has a special niche and clientel. I dont think wynn is looking for that type of young crowd that Rehab gets. This is a huge waste of real estate and money. Time will Tell.

March 17, 2010 7:54 AM Posted by Brian Fey

I totally agree with Jeff.

Hail - i hope you're right, but I have a feeling this pool will come with a daily use charge, similar to Bare and Wet Republic at MGM. I just can't see myself paying $20 a day to use a different pool, but we'll see. I really hope I'm wrong.

March 17, 2010 8:45 AM Posted by Hunter

Jeff, you really think these mild criticism of designs in progress is 'brutal'? Come on... I spent a paragraph saying how great a designer Thomas is. This discussion is anything but brutal.

I was hoping for a game changer - a category re-definition for the pool day club scene. The Surrender club looks downright trashy, as some others have said. Leopard print carpet? I hope that's not final.

There seems to be a double standard here. Brian, I have a feeling that if you saw this and someone told you it was an LVS project, you'd be saying that it looks okay but that Wynn could do so much better. Maybe I'm wrong but there appears to be a double standard.

The pool itself looks like a concrete hole. How about a fountain in the middle or something? How about some water features in general?

BTW, I'm virtually certain there will be a usage fee for this amenity, for hotel guests and the public (though it may be cheaper for guests and they will have preferred access for busy days).

Maybe it will be amazing in person but when I see a Wynn design and my first reaction is 'meh', then that's something I think is worth discussing. These guys don't get a pass just because of their resume - everyone is capable of misfiring, even Wynn D&D.

BTW, don't beaches have sand? Why are they calling it the 'Beach Club'?

March 17, 2010 9:07 AM Posted by Andy

These renderings make me think that Steve Wynn is redoubling his efforts to make Encore the spot for beautiful young people and the creepy old people who like to watch them. Like others have said, these spaces are not classy, but I think that they are vaguely trashy by design. Encore's target audience is not the same as Wynn's target audience.

I understand the profit margin on night clubs and beach clubs is through the roof, but aren't there a lot of resorts following this model now (like, almost all of them)? It's tough for me to imagine there are enough 20-something, well-off, L.A.-types to keep all these clubs busy.

March 17, 2010 9:16 AM Posted by Brian Fey

The club does look pretty Blah. But the pool area is ok. Yes I love The Mirage pool as much as any, I love the free flowing form, and the waterfalls, but to be honest, that look doesn't really go with the new Wynn look & design. And way to call me out Hunter, thanks a lot, "Friend" :) You know i'm bias and partial towards Wynn Resorts what did you expect!

March 17, 2010 9:35 AM Posted by atdleft


Yes, there probably are enough LA/OC/SD hipster types to keep these clubs going. Otherwise, Wynn wouldn't build one.


As I said in my comment, Wynn has had a reputation of late of lowering expectations before mightily exceeding them. I do think this may be the case again. I hope you're right... And you need not worry about moi wearing speedos on opening day. :-)

Hunter & Mike C-

I don't think you're being too harsh on the pool, but I do think you're being too harsh on Surrender. I'm actually digging the "trashy chic" here. I've been known to hop on a stripper pole when I get crazy in the club, so I wholeheartedly endorse it!

(I just hope Surrender will have a "gay night" playing endless Lady Gaga & Beyonce tracks!) :-D

March 17, 2010 10:18 AM Posted by mike_ch

atd: There's a fine line between being sexy and slutty, and I just think that decor crosses it. It's just trying too hard.

I've only ever been to the Hard Rock about three or four times, but twice were for concerts and when I come out, the place is almost a whole different world than it was when I came in. As I've said before, other hip Vegas places seem to ask their guests to make their fantasies, while the Hard Rock seems to serve them up to them. I don't think I've ever seen so many underdressed Vegas residents as I have there, and I can't help but imagine their HR often runs into girls from the seedy underbelly industries.

The same seems to be going on here. I think a lot of this relies on where you come down on the concept of strippers in casinos. We've talked before about how the Nevada government would outlaw having strip clubs in casinos and how for the past decade or so they've been working "burlesque" and the like into the resorts to sort of be there without going all the way. I myself would prefer casinos strip club free, so the presence of hired girls wrapping their legs around steel poles just isn't really doing it for me.

That's about all I think I can say. It just takes it too far. I guess I was hoping for a typical lounge, perhaps with some inventive tech ideas like some of MGM's bars, plugged next a sandy pool area like Mandalay (I can't imagine fitting a wave machine into that small of a space, so we'll leave that one out for simplicity.) Instead they seem to be passing EyeCandy completely and heading for Olympic Gardens.

I admit that there's a bit of an 80s gay bar thing running through there, but I didn't want people to think I'm slamming Thomas for being gay. But it does express perhaps my problem in the earlier post. The people who are going to be using this beach club are, let's face it, far and away mostly straight and mostly young. And while Steve Wynn and Roger Thomas have been able to design spaces that they find personally appealing and find loaded-for-cash young people (whichever ones still exist in this economy) appreciate it too, I think that may have hit a wall here.

Perhaps they should have outsourced this, or let their "next generation" of designers like Todd-Avery Lenahan take this one. After what he made for the Encore Spa, I think his take on something like this would rule the town.

March 17, 2010 11:20 AM Posted by atdleft

Mike C-

"The people who are going to be using this beach club are, let's face it, far and away mostly straight and mostly young. "

Not exactly. I agree with you on the young part, but not necessarily the straight part.

Steve Friess and other gaming reporters have talked about Vegas' efforts to recruit more LGBTQ tourists. IMHO, we're FAR underserved with only one LGBTQ-friendly club on The Strip (Krave @ PHo) and a handful of clubs on "The Fruit Loop" at Paradise & Naples, and Commercial Center on Sahara. Other "mainstream" Strip clubs are now starting to do "gay nights" to capitalize on the LGBTQ market, and since Wynn is being more aggressive these days in courting LGBTQ travelers it may be quite smart and VERY lucrative for them to at least do a "gay night" at Surrender and perhaps consider making this or another Wynncore club a full gay club.

"I can't help but imagine their HR often runs into girls from the seedy underbelly industries."

I've been to HRH numerous times, and they don't attract any more "people of questionable repute" than any Strip casino. Remember that they and The Palms cater to the younger jet set, and Wynn is trying to tap into their customer pool by hipping and glamming up the Encore scene.

"the presence of hired girls wrapping their legs around steel poles just isn't really doing it for me"

The stripper poles are NOT there for people to just take their clothes off and do lap dances for cash. Rather, it's more of a fun element (where patrons keep most of their clothes on). When I occasionally get on one at one of The Fruit Loop clubs or back in Cali, I don't actually Strip... I just dance with friends. That's all the stripper poles are for.

"There's a fine line between being sexy and slutty, and I just think that decor crosses it."

I'm sorry, but I also have to disagree with you on this. Some people think Lady Gaga and Rihanna go too far with their fashion, but I and others applaud them for pushing the envelope and doing something different. That's why I also give Surrender a green light. It's different, and I think it will be fun. I just wish Roger & Steve & the whole Wynn design crew also push the envelope some more with the pool area.

March 17, 2010 11:21 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

"I was expecting more"' "a dud"
"best work? Far from it" "desperate attempt"
"SLEAZY" "I'm not sure he knows what the target audience for a place like this wants to see".
I'd say that's in the same ZIP code as brutal. Seriously, though, I think Wynn designers and researchers are the best in the business, and Victor Drai is considered by many as a genius in regards to nightlife and club design. I can't imagine where they wouldn't know exactly what the target audience wants. In my mind, the vibe they want is "Sexy, middle-aged decadence", people with more money that the Rehab crowd, who are more sedate, and want to look at the chickies on the stands with the poles. I also know I am not the target audience, so I don't feel like I am in any position to question them. Plus, drawings don't do much for me, anyway.
The upshot for me is that, much like a Mercedes SL, I think it is going to look very good in person and be very successful.

March 17, 2010 11:25 AM Posted by John

Are we seriously having a discussion about creating a tasteful Vegas nightclub?

March 17, 2010 12:07 PM Posted by mike_ch

Well, I stand by assertion that it's half between pretentious and slutty looking, but I guess for everything there's some people.

atd: My point about Hard Rock is that they seem to be putting the most amount of slutty in the product. Are there loose morals going on at Palms? Yeah, among guests, I suppose. But I've never seen a casino with employee dancers wearing uniforms of almost nothing at all. While Palms and the like are sexy, the management there is not as, uh, determined to sex the place up as the Hard Rock. And that's kind of what I was trying to say.

I think Lady Gaga videos are great, but I wouldn't want to be in one. :)

March 17, 2010 1:20 PM Posted by detroit1051

EBC and Surrender aren't being designed to appeal to me, but I can have an opinion. EBC looks uninspired . If it looks spectacular in the flesh, so to speak, I'll eat my words. Surrender DOES look sleazy and trashy.. It may be the exact reason it might be a huge success with young tourists looking for adventure (but not too much of it).
I can't imagine Steve Wynn jeopardizing his customer base by letting EBC and Surrender become another Hard Rock Rehab. My exposure to Rehab is only through the trashy cable TV series on it. Surely, Steve isn't looking for that market.
My question/concern is how EBC and Surrender will flow into Encore. When I look at the property map, I wonder if there could be any negative effect on Sinatra, or is there enough separation? I assume Switch will become an extension of EBC and Surrender drawing the same clientele.
What about Encore's casino and the high limit baccarat area? How will traffic move between Wynn/Encore and the beach club, nightclub? Is it possible that Steve is so disappointed in Encore's gaming performance that he might subtly steer the players into Wynn freeing up Encore's ground floor into mostly a 20-something's playground?

March 17, 2010 1:32 PM Posted by Hunter

The pedestrian flow is going to be interesting. A couple things to think about:

• I don't think Sinatra will be that impacted. It's tucked away enough to be separated.
• It will be interesting to see how the flow is handled into the casino, with what I assume will be a long line.
• There will be exterior access too and you can see that they are working on converting the former emergency exits between Switch and Society as well.

March 17, 2010 3:04 PM Posted by hail2skins

Hunter, I agree that I wish there were some water features. That's why I prefer the pool area at Bellagio to Wynn......I like the fountains in the center of the two smaller pool areas at the B, as well as the layout of "separate" pools at the B, while at Wynn you just have the dogbone shaped pool and then the Euro pool on the other side of the Cabana Bar.

And I hope you're wrong about there being a usage fee for this place. Sure, the place will be separated from the Strip by a wall, but I do have to wonder how much noise is going to be audible from the Strip during the day.....certainly won't add to the tranquil environment some people look for at pool areas.

March 17, 2010 4:06 PM Posted by steve_c

Where exactly is Surrender going to be located? From the interior rendering, it almost looks like this could in fact be the former atrium space. It's a similar size, and that domed bar in the background across the pool looks like that larger structure that's parallel to the old entry doors.... but those windows on the left make we wonder if that's the atrium on the other side, or a redesigned Switch.
If this is in fact the former atrium space, then what a pity.

Any ideas?

March 17, 2010 4:26 PM Posted by JK

is anyone else just getting some business site when you try to load the pictures?

March 18, 2010 5:09 PM Posted by the_logician

busted links. not real to begin with maybe?

March 18, 2010 5:15 PM Posted by Hunter

They got taken down, likely because they are real.

The source is extremely solid.

March 18, 2010 6:18 PM Posted by atdleft

I'll second Hunter here. Most likely the pics were taken down b/c they were the real deal. Still, they have a little over 2 months left until the grand opening and the final product may not 100% resemble these drawings.

March 19, 2010 4:49 PM Posted by David McKee

"The best casino designer ever"

I second that emotion, especially since business has been taking me to and through Thomas' Bellagio quite a bit lately. To go from that casino floor to Aria's ... the less said, the better.

March 20, 2010 11:02 AM Posted by Sam

Does anyone else find the people, and placement of people, in the nightclub rendering to be sort of hilarious? It's not a serious complaint, I just can't stop laughing at it. The bartender looks like some sort of stern middle school teacher, the woman in the bikini is just standing around on that platform, and Sleazy McSleazerson is sitting by himself in a booth paying more attention to the random slow-dancing couple than to the lady in the long sleeves who's looming over him.

Again, it's not like this matters; I'm sure they just plop down a few folks to give a sense of where the activity will be. I'm just sayin', if I walked into a place in the middle of the day and saw that scene, I'd high-tail it out of there pretty quickly.

March 20, 2010 3:37 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Well, Sam, I think that old buddy Sleaze had noticed that Long sleeves looks like Megan Mullally from Will & Grace (who is from OKC and my age, 51), while the couple are dirty dancing so slow and hot that Miss Bitchface is fixin' to tell them to get a room.
Not that I was really paying attention, though.

March 20, 2010 5:15 PM Posted by mike_ch

Sam: This concept artist's older drawings for Wynn Las Vegas showed all women in nightgowns, if I remember right.

That may be deliberate though, because while it never reflects reality the Wynn PR people like to try and recreate those drawings with people (probably employees as the guests.) All women are wearing evening gowns and men jackets, for some reason blondes seem to have prominence while brunettes are in the background, and why are people just standing around in the left of the pathway?

I would like to preface by saying that I do not believe this was in any way deliberate, but also notice the diversity of the cast. To paraphrase James Earl Jones, I'd like to maintain the current level of minority representation on the committee, so let's go for a stroll.

March 25, 2010 9:26 AM Posted by the_logician

A final rendering is usually stamped "Final". Due to the lack of any documentary evidence, it is conceivable that these are [i]blue-sky[/i] drawings or even, perhaps, rejects.

March 25, 2010 9:28 AM Posted by Hunter

Certainly possible.

Though it is important to note that none of his other renderings, which are exact replicas of the finished projects, are stamped 'Final' or anything else.

April 17, 2010 1:13 PM Posted by eWorm

The big red monster (construction wall dividing the casino and where the atrium used to be) is being torn down as we speak. The cabanas are being finished and are now cleary visible from the strip. Looking great!

April 17, 2010 1:22 PM Posted by Hunter

Nice! Looks like I picked a good week to be at Encore. I'll be there all week and taking photos.