Waning Stages of the Wynn Cynical Phase?

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December 9, 2005 at 9:23 AM | by | ()

[Editor's Note: Long time Hotel Maven dzot returns from a recent Wynn Las Vegas visit ready to close the book on the resort once and for all. Um, well, we reserve the right to keep it open, of course. Enjoy.]

"Wynn? Is that as in Steve Wynn?" I ask the desk clerk.
"Yes, it is." he responds politely.
"Hey! He still owes me money!"
The desk clerk looks at me strangely.
"I kid. I kid. No, seriously, Steve's a buddy of mine. I helped him out with his website for this place, in fact."

That part is true enough. You may recall my Open Letter to Steve Wynn from a while back. Well, if you visit the Wynn website today, you'll notice a huge improvement, including a direct link to reservations. I can't help but feel responsible.

"That's very impressive sir," he says, and actually comes close to sounding sincere, but he still hands me my key like I was any other schmoe. (The key is bright red and beautiful; I am going to punch a small hole in it when I get home and hang it on my key chain.) Yet, when I arrive in my room I find I have an upper floor with a strip view. Coincidence? You tell me.

When anything is as hyped as Wynn was, it's going to go through a couple of certain phases. First will come awe at the concept itself, followed immediately by early sycophants pronouncing it to be a world-altering success and point of infinite glory. Then will come the cynics, who want to be sure no one will ever think of them as sycophants and want to show how elite and diffident they are. They will deride the project when, despite the hype, it turns out to be an actual functioning hotel, with all the compromises that entails. At the moment, I suspect we are in the waning stages of the cynical phase.

From this point on Wynn must succeed in the market on its own merits by building clientele and offering the right mix of innovation and familiarity, value and luxury. Now that the attitude baggage is shed, we can turn an impartial eye on it and ask how does has Wynn turned out?

The answer: Wynn is a great hotel by any measure.

I have to admit that after seeing pictures on the web, I thought: "Yuck. It looks like that place was furnished from a thrift store." Then, as I saw more pics of the public spaces it seemed like little more than a riff on Bellagio. I have to admit that as you stroll through the casino and many of the public areas, Bellagio influence is rather blatant, although things are a bit more playful. The "Esplanade" could have been lifted right out of Bellagio.

The rooms are a different story. The style is eclectic; there are bits of modern, bits of deco, bits of classical, and bits of retro, but it all works well -- strikingly well. I cannot overemphasize what a mistaken impression I had of the room decor. The standard rooms are not true suites, but they are large enough to have a comfortable sitting area and they are full of nice little touches like floor-to-ceiling windows, smoothly dimming lamps, remote blinds, a night light in the bathroom, a Bose wave radio, a big-ass bathtub and flat screen hi-def. Everything seems of the highest quality and you really get a strong impression that an enormous amount of thought went into everything.

As good as they are, I'd still judge the big suites at THEhotel as the best standard rooms on The Strip, but not by much.

The restaurants can be overwhelming. Unlike places such as MGM or Mandalay, where there is a smooth gradation of price points, at Wynn there is a deli, a cafe, a buffet, and then you make a leap into the high rollers realm where you're lucky to get out for under a c-note per person.

For all but the ultra-rich, expense is going to be an issue at Wynn. Nobody who's spent any time on The Strip gets shocked by the Toyko-worthy prices anymore, but Wynn really pushes the envelope. Case in point: I scheduled a shave and a haircut at the spa and let's just say it cost a lot more than two-bits. Six-hundred times more, to be exact. For that price I got a decent straight razor shave with all the trimmings and a haircut that won't cause people to point and laugh (courtesy of a decidedly old-school potty-mouthed barber, of whom I can't decide whether he was charming or offensive) and a pass to use the spa for the full day.

The spa is sweet: definitely worth a day pass. There is something called a "deluge shower" which is like getting massaged by a waterfall. Hot tub, cold plunge, sauna and steam room -- all the stuff of a top notch spa. The workout equipment and space is also top of the line although, as you might expect, it's no match for Canyon Ranch over in the Venetian.

I'm sure the golf course is wonderful. But if you have to ask how much, don't even bother.

If there is something my buddy Steve knows how to do well it's pools, and it's easy to see that, had the high temperature not been in the 50s, the pool would have been a real showcase. Many Vegas pools have glitz and gaud and gimmicks but, like Steve's pools at Bellagio and to a lesser extent Mirage, this pool is done with the utmost class and taste. Great looking cabanas, some on an upper level and long straight central stretch for anyone who may want to swim laps. There is also a "European" pool; European being the way they spell "topless" in Vegas. There is a fine looking poolside restaurant and a bar at one end where hedonistic nightlife supposed occurs in warmer weather. I will find a way to get back here in warmer weather. I will. I must.

The casino is pretty standard although it seems to be laid-out geometrically rather than the sort of randomly placed slot machines set-up you see at most places. Blackjack minimums drop to $10 at off-times; at night you'll scrounge for a $25 table. The poker room is luxurious looking, with flat screens positioned about so you can keep up on your football bets and, of course, you can see where you are in seating priority on your TV in your room, in high definition.

The sports book is terrific. In another nod to Bellagio, the seating are all those big comfy pseudo-recliners. It's not the largest book, but there seems to be plenty of seating and the adjacent bar gives you a great view of the games. Kick back here for a Sunday during the NFL season and won't want to go anywhere else -- it replaces Caesar's as my favorite sports book.

Last, and most importantly, I must say the service I got was absolutely ace. A very friendly and helpful staff, without a hint of attitude. Including the housekeeper who was scrambling to get the mirror in my room cleaned before I got to the door; the nice lady in the business center who printed my boarding pass herself so I wouldn't have to pay a fee to get on the terminal; the porter who loaded my bags into the cab and was so detailed in telling the cabbie how to get to the Northwest terminal at McCarran that the cabbie took offense; and of course, the unflappable desk clerk who graciously accepted me trying to be cute. A+ on service.

Considering the unprecedented levels of hype that went into Wynn, expectations were high enough that you would have had to cure cancer to satisfy everyone. I am reminded of the adage, "You can be the best ever and still be overrated." The Wynn is a great hotel, one of the best in the world (there's your money quote, Steve, buddy). And though it is a variation on the same theme, I think it is marginally, but undeniably, superior to Bellagio. So good that I think it would be difficult to choose between it and my long standing favorite, THEhotel. Of course, without off-season mid-week rates, I could afford neither.

Now that the knee-jerk cynicism phase is ending, we need to give Steve some love. The guy has built two amazing hotels and one very good one. I wouldn't want to compare resumes with him. So as Wynn starts to become a regular on all the top hotel lists, take a moment to enjoy it Steve, you've earned it.

But just a moment. Don't forget, we're coming up fast on the next phase, which is "What have you done for me lately?" The Donald is coming. And the Clooney. Hell, everybody's coming. You may need some help. Just let me know if you want any more advice. I still accept comps.

Related Stories:
·   Wynn Las Vegas Coverage [HotelChatter]
·   Wynn Las Vegas Reviews [TripAdvisor]

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Re: Waning Stages of the Wynn Cynical Phase?

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