Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

December 13, 2011

The New Velvet Rope

Posted by Hunter

Wynn's Tower Suites are about to make their public debut.

WTS may have opened with the rest of the property in 2005 but once the current renovations are complete, they'll come out from under their rareified shell. For better or worse.

Rewind six months. As we began to learn about the slated property changes at Wynn Las Vegas, it was hard to predict exactly how they would manifest.

Re-imagined High Limit Slots. An updated lobby. A new nightlife concept. Ok then - probably more of the same... or so we thought.

Fast-forward to today: photos of the new Tower Suites lobby. Last week, a peek at the new High Limit Slot area. When a company like Wynn - wizards of a successful, repeatable process - do something new, it's worth taking notice.

From what we now know, the changes at Wynn Tower Suites are not superficial - we're talking about a fundamental change in the boutique hotel's value proposition.

Originally envisioned as a unique hideaway, separated from the masses, the new WTS design encourages integration with the rest of the resort.

A space that was previously private has been publically 'ropified', a direct lesson from the nightclub profits earned nearby at Tryst and XS.

While Tower Suites allure used to be a dignified and detached luxury, with this update it's setup to become luxury-on-display. The new sightlines and inevitable plate glass will show off what the 'peasants' in the Resort rooms are missing. This is a new kind of velvet rope and the goal is to never have a customer wonder why they should pay extra for Tower Suites.

How will guests react? It's going to be interesting to see.

Of course, for the highest end customers, things won't change much. They already get villas, private entrances and personal butlers. But for the Tower Suites guests who inhabit most of the nightly seats at Bartolotta, Wing Lei and SW, it will be interesting to see how they react. The privacy was a selling point.

Some have previously argued that the addition of Marilyn Winn-Spiegel meant that a Harrah's attitude was taking hold at Wynn Resorts. I'd argue it's more likely we're seeing a Drai/Waits/Morton/Hissom takeover: the lessons of nightlife, spreading throughout other operations.

Ooontz-ooontz-ooontz indeed.


Read archived comments (5 so far)
December 13, 2011 11:01 PM Posted by mike_ch

My thoughts are that this depends on how well they can isolate the lobby from the party going on at Alex, sound-wise. As great as Tower Suites' reclusive entrance was for people coming in via limo, it wasn't as easily accessible for people who valet at the main or (gasp) park the Mercedes themselves. The super rich won't care because they pay to have the valet keep the car parked somewhere really convenient to the entrance (if you've seen exotic cars sitting outside casinos or south of Aria's main entrance, you know what I'm talking about.)

I dunno, something tells me they want the space around the old entrance to be a convention hallway by day, and a Climax cattle lineup by night. The lineup problems made by XS are a disaster and shouldn't be repeated, the villa people have a shortcut through the pool that Mike E showed me once, and the convention room corridors are mostly unused space after the ballrooms have emptied out for the night.

Is the Okada renovation into something much clubbier looking still on? It's been a long time since VT posted that one render that later got pulled.

December 14, 2011 7:15 AM Posted by detroit1051

Back in the day, 2005 and 2006, when I frequented Wynn Las Vegas, I liked the quiet isolation of the Tower Suites lobby. The pianist added to the charm, not only to the lobby, but his music carried into Tableau's bar area. I've been told he has been gone for some time. Is the quietude going to be replaced by jarring slot machine noises and the crowds of club goers heading to Climax? I hope not.

I don't want to paint an unrealistic picture. On more than one occasion, loud drunks sprawled out on the TS lobby couches and spilled their beer and other drinks.

I frequently hung out at Tableau's bar because I knew many of the staff who had come from Aqua (Michael Mina) at Bellagio when Wynn opened. They struggled with much lower income because Tableau usually didn't attract much evening business due to its isolated location. They were all enthused when they heard that Mark Lo Russo would be opening Botero at Encore.

Wynn (and Winn) are running a for-profit business, and Tableau's and WTS lobby's exclusivity lowered revenue. From an operational standpoint, the renovations make sense, but it would be sad if, as Hunter wrote, "the lessons of nightlife spread throughout the property."

December 14, 2011 8:46 PM Posted by Wrinklebottom

Welcome to the Hard Rock with higher prices!

December 14, 2011 10:43 PM Posted by jaymes

Interesting thoughts, Hunter. I wounder, if the redesign is designed to give regular guests a peek into the TS Lobby, what does that say about the state of the industry? It could mean one of two things: first, the change may indeed be an attempt to advertise the TS to people who might not otherwise stay there, which would mean that Wynn is having trouble filling the rooms with their current clientele. If the Strip’s top property is having touble selling a luxury product at a high price (which the closing of Alex and the cheap Priceline deal that I booked at Wynn over the summer suggest), that’s not good news for the industry. Regular folks might think that rich are simply cutting back during uncertain economic times like the rest of us, but of course the rich aren’t like you and me: consumer spending on luxury items has not decreased, as the sales figures for brands like Tiffany’s and Nordstrom’s indicate. This suggests the ominous idea that the rich are simply not spending on Vegas casinos (and playing somewhere else).
On the other hand, the change could signal that the market for high-end rooms now includes many more consumers interested in conspicuous consumption (what would be the point in buying a first class ticket if the people in coach weren’t forced to walk by to see you sitting there so they would know what they’re missing). If that’s the market trend, it could mean good news for Las Vegas, which is an industry built on conscious consumption.

December 16, 2011 11:26 AM Posted by mike_ch

"This suggests the ominous idea that the rich are simply not spending on Vegas casinos (and playing somewhere else)."

Or that Wynncore Macau has picked up so much of Wynncore Vegas' business that Wynncore Vegas now needs to fight for domestic tourists with everyone else. Domestic business is harder to pick up and Americans are probably a bit less status-obsessed than newly wealthy Asian billionaires, especially at this moment in our history. The majority of our upper-middle class weigh features against price and put prestige somewhere behind that, and Aria, Bellagio et al provide a similar smorgasboard of amenities as Wynncore at a lower price. That whole "we set the upper cap" thing Steve spoke of coming home.

The past quarter or two has seen Bellagio, Aria, etc raise their rates while Wynn lowers them, and Cosmo is pretty much right there even with them. I'd make a case for any of the three places around Harmon to have a better shot than Wynncore at the title of Best Place In Town. Aria's entertainment offerings are weak, certainly; but Garth is the first thing Wynn Resorts has put on that hasn't been a flop with critics (Le Reve) or the box office (broadway shows) and it never stopped the praise for them in 2005-2009.