Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

May 31, 2010

Encore 2.0: Beach Club and Surrender

Posted by Hunter

Think back to 2005 in Las Vegas.

This is when the main building blocks that are now Encore were being fleshed out. At that time, 10,000 hotel rooms were planned for the New Frontier and Stardust sites. This would make the planned Strip porte-cochere a very important part of arrivals at Encore.

Or so everyone thought...

Quick link to my complete set of 120 photos:

Also, my buddy Steve was long on the tour too and his take is here.

The rest of my write-up follows after the jump...

Fast-forward to December 2008 - Encore opens to whatever fanfare an economically crippled city can muster. Despite a global economic crisis, Wynn Resorts throws a lavish party to welcome their newest resort into the world... a resort that includes a beautiful atrium to greet their new Strip visitors... only, there aren't any, at least not from that direction. With the Plaza and Echelon sites dormant, most guests enter via Wynn Las Vegas or at one of the two hotel arrival areas along a new private drive. Despite beautiful landscaping and warm light streaming through a mesh canopy, that side of the building felt somewhat dead - certainly not part of the original concept. What was designed as a grand statement of arrival goes mostly unused.

Even the most aggressive Wynn haters will admit that the company owns its design mistakes and instead of sitting on them, wipes the slate clean and re-builds, sometimes at great expense. This would end up being one of those times.

Writing off $13 million associated with the existing structure (just months old), they design a $69 million amenity to take its place - the Encore Beach Club, opened this past Friday. I'm happy to say that this 'plan B' looks to be a great success.

When the Beach Club was announced, hardcore Encore-lovers bemoaned the loss of the atrium and also worried about heavy foot traffic in an area that includes two high-end restaurants (Switch and Sinatra), a high limit gaming area and the Tower Suites guest lobby. In a nutshell, no one wanted to see something Rehab-esque descend into Wynn's well curated cocoon of luxury.

Walking the property around 1am on the last night of 'play days' (a sort of trial run for employees), the west side of Encore was alive - very, very alive.

Encore 2.0 includes the outdoor Beach Club, a new indoor club called Surrender (fairly intimate at 5,000 square feet, sitting in the former atrium space) as well as a new entrance plaza on Las Vegas Blvd - a transformed former emergency exit between restaurants Switch and Society. Natural light fans will be thrilled to learn that Switch's new glass wall lets even more light into the casino than before.

On the dining front, Sinatra is untouched, still nestled away in its private corner. Society Cafe Encore, which features late night eats, now has a large cut out that overlooks the new entrance. Perhaps most transformed is Switch, where one entire wall is replaced with glass overlooking the new pool. I personally found the original incarnation a bit on the hokey side - these changes make Switch feel like an entirely new experience both for dinner or their new limited lunch menu served outdoors. Cabanas and Bungalows can order food from Switch while other Beach Club patrons have access to a new outdoor grill.

To help mitigate traffic problems in front of the Wynn self-park garage, a new walking bridge has been installed between Encore's updated arrival plaza and the second level of the garage. Currently few signs guide the way, meaning that some folks have yet to figure out how convenient it is. Over the course of a day or so, I parked here twice - it's a very fast way in and out of hotel, even if you don't care about the Beach Club at all.

During the day, Encore Beach Club accepts patrons from the new Strip entrance, keeping the casino clear of the long lines and some of the other flow problems some feared. With an outdoor capacity of about 2,200 persons, managing this correctly is critical. In the evening, guests enter Surrender through the casino and can either exit that same way or out on to the Strip.

The Beach Club is open to the public - you don't have to be a hotel guest. Entrance is typically $40 for men and $30 for women, though prices will vary for special events. Beyond that, cabanas and the eight super-deluxe bungalows start at $750 and go up from there... way way up. The top-end of the Beach Club is not for the feint of wallet.

What do you get for your big bucks? Large, private quarters with LCD TVs, misters, fans, Strip balconies, opulent bathrooms and of course great service. One current omission - there's no WiFi, something I hope they'll consider adding in the future.

Personally, beach clubs and swimming pools are not amenities that excite me in the slightest - I doubt I'll be a regular patron of this facility. That said, it's extremely well done, correcting what turned out to be an Encore design flaw - a distinct lack of va-va-voom down on that end of the property.

Wynn Resorts has posted video on their YouTube channel:


Read archived comments (23 so far)
May 31, 2010 5:27 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Excellent. I can't wait to see it. Is there still some garden area? Like the section by Sinatra, does it still have lots of plants/schrubs? Perhaps i should just look at all the pics, and I'll answer my own question. :)

May 31, 2010 5:29 PM Posted by howardpark

I gotta give the Wynn folks a complement -- the whole "Camp Vegas" campaign looks like an extension of the new Beach Club, The B roll of Beach Club and Camp Vegas is not similar, it's the same though maybe there are differences in the backdrop. It looks to me like Wynn's PR/advertising people got the Las Vegas visitors bureau or whoever pays for Camp Vegas to pay for Wynncore's whole campaign. Thier timing was amazing. After all, Camp Vegas and the other new kid on the block, City Center, are going after very different people. I don't think I've seen a single picture of City Center's pools. Score another one for the Wynn team!

May 31, 2010 5:41 PM Posted by Hunter

The section by Sinatra is unchanged but that's pretty much all that's left of the garden stuff.

May 31, 2010 7:10 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Just heard Wynn say they were spending $87 Million on the room renovations at WLV. He said the breakdown is $41 Million on the rooms, and $46 Million on the Tower Suites. That works out to about $20,500 per room, and $66,000 per suite. That should be awfully nice digs. I'am really curious to see the finished product. I hope the pick new corridor carpet, I was never a fan, especially the coral ones. The color was ok, but the pattern wasn't too great. Encore corridors are 1000 times better.

May 31, 2010 8:49 PM Posted by hail2skins

Hunter, thanks for the great pics and for your thoughts on the EBC. I'm booked for three nights later this summer and can't wait! A few thoughts/questions: 1) from the pics, it didn't seem like there were a whole lot of lounge chairs. Granted, if I did visit the EBC I'd probably spend a lot of time in the gaming area, but having a place to soak up some rays and relax for a while would be nice, and it seemed like the asking fee for the round things in the pool and daybeds would be fairly steep. 2) I can understand the admission fee wouldn't be that tough to command this weekend with it being the EBC's opening and a holiday weekend, but could you foresee those rates being lowered on the weekdays? I haven't heard much about how popular the other "daylife" areas at other hotels are during the week. 3) the pics of the Eastside Lounge were also nice and I can see the blackjack tables in there by the window becoming quite popular as well.

May 31, 2010 8:57 PM Posted by Hunter

I'm guessing that the stated fees will hold for the forseeable future - special events will cost even more.

May 31, 2010 9:36 PM Posted by atdleft

I can hardly wait to try EBC. I don't know what else to say. Score another win for Wynn!

So who wants to party with me at EBC July 4 weekend? :-p

June 1, 2010 11:09 AM Posted by parchedearth

Fantastic set of photos (as usual). The entire project looks great; although the Switch patio and outdoor bars look pretty plain (read as lacking the classic Wynn design touches).
1. There are no bar stools and limited lounge chair seating by the pool. It looks like if you want to sit, most people will need to pay up for reserved seating.
2. I wonder what the impact on Blush and the main Encore pool will be? Will they close the whole thing during the winter?
3. Are the cabana rates kept artificially high because most will be provided as comps for high rollers?
4. Are they using real glassware around the pool area (especially at Surrender)? A couple broken glasses in the pool could be a problem.

June 1, 2010 5:05 PM Posted by historian

I'm sorry, but I don't like it. At least not the exterior. Kinda looks like a Key West whore house. Let's just call it Casino Royale North. It's certainly not appropriate to Encore's understated elegance. So much for the Desert Inn heritage,

June 1, 2010 8:43 PM Posted by kagehitokiri

Brian Fey, unfortunately wynn tower suites includes 18 non-bookable villas. presumably they require less of an upgrade, but ANY upgrade would be a LOT more valuable.

June 1, 2010 10:16 PM Posted by atdleft


"So much for the Desert Inn heritage,"

You mean that hodgepodge of so many different "visions" that compelled Wynn to ultimately tear it down in 2003? No, I don't think that's the kind of heritage Steve Wynn wants.


Heh. I wonder how much of that budget includes upgrades of the villas. Good catch.

June 1, 2010 10:23 PM Posted by Hunter

The Fairways were totally redone just a couple of years ago, I doubt they are being refreshed again now.

June 2, 2010 3:55 AM Posted by historian


I only mentioned the 'Desert Inn heritage' as in a recent news article that, or a very similar phrase, was spoken by Mr. Wynn himself when he stated that his project (including the preservation of the golf course) is finally complete.

June 2, 2010 9:08 PM Posted by mwdelta

Does anyone know if Tower Suites Concierge can offer line pass/comp admission for the Beach Club? I ask because they seem to be able to do that for XS at least...

June 3, 2010 6:03 PM Posted by kagehitokiri

hunter, wasnt it the 12 ground floor fairway villas they "added" ? those were part of what i was referring to, so good point. they didnt "refresh" the 24 upper level fairway apartments at the same time did they?

then there are the 6 villas / apartment villas.

also wonder where they were going to put those 4 additional villas / apartment villas, and if thats part of the stuff going on now.

bummer - if wynn doesnt develop golf course that means no chance of boutique property with pool.

June 4, 2010 1:28 AM Posted by Mike E

I'm guessing plans for those four additional Apartments Villas were scrapped long ago.

North and south Fairways on second and third floors will likely receive a refresh while ground floors and Apartment Villas will remain untouched. North villas might even receive a different look than south since they've now taken the moniker of "Encore Fairway Villas".

Neither Bellagio, Mirage, nor The Mansion have ever received a refresh of their villas. I'm guessing Wynn will be no different with his top accommodations.

June 6, 2010 11:46 AM Posted by steve_c

got to see the Beach Club and the other changes at Encore yesterday, and I must say it looks much better in person. Not sure if I like the new people this has brought in, I don't take steriods or wear Ed Hardy shirts, so I felt a little out of place even in the casino. The beach vibe extended all thru Encore, with drunk chicks in their bathing suits running all through the Casino. Def a much different vibe than before. It's great to see so many people in there, but I'll wait til Winter to stay at Encore again. I grew up at the beach and live 40 minutes from it now, don't need to spend the money to get a recreated version of it here in Vegas.

The exterior of the beach club looks beautiful at night. Will need to get some pics of it tonight, didn't make it down to Encore last night. I miss staying on the center strip.. I think this will be the first and last time staying anywhere south of Flamingo.. Spring Mountain is still my favorite intersection, even though it smells like shit lol

June 9, 2010 8:29 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Wife and I stayed at Encore last weekend. 61st floor, last non-Tower Suites room on the south side. Could hear a little of the bass after 3AM both Friday and Saturday. Nothing big, kinda like someone tapping their foot in the next room at home. I sleep with the TV on all nite, so quiet is not something I seek. Especially since I snore like a freight train and have even wakened myself in the middle of the night.
I did notice the young clientel running around. If they bugged me, it was just because I wanted to be bothered by their presence, not by anything they did.

June 10, 2010 1:14 AM Posted by Mike E

There's definitely a complex science to the way sound travels against these curved buildings and the answer isn't as obvious as one might think. In other words, a high floor isn't always the answer.

I've had times where I could hear the same kind of faint bass from Tryst on the highest floors of Wynn, but when staying on mid/lower floors, couldn't hear a thing. In fact, I remember one weekend a couple years ago where my 17th floor, strip-facing Tower Suite was dead silent, but my friend's Salon suite on a 50-something floor was getting some faint reverberation.

June 10, 2010 6:54 AM Posted by parchedearth

Temperature, wind, and the number of people in the club make a huge difference to how the sound propagates. In theory, it should be loudest when it is a cool, calm evening and the club is almost empty. I have had this issue at several properties; most recently a pool facing Aria room due to the Gold Lounge.

June 10, 2010 7:38 PM Posted by historian

I haven't stayed there since August. When we did, our room was on floor 53 on the south side overlooking the, then, casino porte cochere with the very nice butterfly skylight.

I suspect next time I book Encore, I will request a room on a higher floor as close to the northeast corner, as far away from the Beach Club as possible.

Then again, considering my demographic group (early baby boomers), perhaps it's time to move on to the J.W. Marriott Resort and Spa. ;-)

June 12, 2010 2:19 PM Posted by Mark B

Shame on Steve Wynn...Resort fees finally come to Wynn and Encore :( $20 gets you WiFi, Gym entry and printing boarding passes for your flight home. Hmmm...I DON'T take my laptop to Vegas....I DON'T work out when I'm on vacation. At least the new fee is only for new reservations. I booked mine 2 months ago.

June 12, 2010 8:40 PM Posted by parchedearth

Am currently at Encore. I prepaid so there was no resort fee. The current WiFi charge is $13.99 and fitness center is $15 (which I was surprised to learn is separate from the $40 spa fee). When I was checking in, I asked for a north facing room and the clerk immediately asked if it was because of the club noise. Apparently the noise is an issue and they are trying to be accommodating, although half of all guests will have to face XS. I had no noise last night. The EBC still had a good crowd today even though the weather was so-so. They had a bikini contest today, with about a dozen girls. I didn't hear any noise from the EBC inside the casino. The main Encore pool was still packed, but only about a third of the cabanas were rented out.

Had dinner tonight at Sinatra and there were two wedding parties that came in to have their pictures taken (which is odd since it is not nearly one of the better decorated restaurants). Interesting, neither wedding party were married or staying at Wynncore. One party didn't even stay to eat, just have the pictures taken (with an Encore contracted photographer).