Wynn Las Vegas, a hotel review

Wynn Las Vegas is the latest and greatest hotel on the Strip. It was built and is managed by Steve Wynn, the man behind the Mirage and Bellagio. Wynn is built on the grounds and golf course of the Desert Inn, dynamited in 2001.  The Desert Inn was quiet and all of the rooms had balconies on which one could sit, read a book, and enjoy the desert air.  What happened to make the Desert Inn unprofitable?  “Starwood bought it and they didn’t understand the casino business,” a bellman said.  “I worked at the D.I. for 24 years.  The new managers came in and fired the casino hosts because they were expensive.  A casino host makes a base salary of $250,000 per year and then gets a percentage of whatever the people he brings in lose.  So you can see why someone would want to cut them out, but it turns out that you need these guys.”

The Desert Inn had 700 rooms; Wynn has 2700.  The hotel portion of Wynn is a big high-rise with plate glass windows that don’t open.  Forget balconies.  When you’re in your room, it is like being in an office building.  When you’re in the rest of the facility, it is like being in a shopping mall.  The surfaces and finishes are sort of luxurious, but the environment makes one desperate to get out and see what the air feels like.

Because the Wynn is so huge and makes so little use of information technology, there is no advantage to being a guest.  If you want to get your car out of the valet, you need to have your ticket.  They don’t record the name of the owner or the room number associated with a car.  If you lose your ticket, we were informed, you have to drive around the entire lot with a valet and look for your car.  When you find it, you have to prove that you own it (good luck with an airport courtesy car!).  If you want to walk out on the terrace and see the waterfall, you have to pay $20+ for drinks.  If you want to visit the Ferrari dealership on the ground floor, you and your fellow Wynn guest will have to pay $20 to get in (and then pay $38 for a baseball cap or $280,000-400,000 for a car (more than a brand-new four-seat Robinson R44 helicopter)), just like the rabble who walk in off the Strip.

The entire hotel and casino pulses with a Pop music beat.  The pool area doesn’t open until 8:00 am and the music is loud in every corner of the patio.  If you want to use the exercise machines, you have to pay an additional $25/day.  If you and your friend want to escape back to your room and use the Internet, it will cost you about $24/day to hook up your laptops.  When you’ve just about finished writing a Weblog post and hit “submit”, Wynn’s service will decide that you need to renew your agreement to pay for Internet service.  Your work will be thrown away and your browser redirected to a screen where you promise to pay them.

Some good things about Wynn:  comfortable beds, large and intelligently designed bathrooms (though it would have been nice if they cleaned the bathtub between our first and second night), friendly, helpful, and well-informed staff.  The nightly show, Le Reve, is fantastic.  The stage is a big round swimming pool with elaborate platforms for the Cirque de Soleil alumni to run around on.  Prodigious quantities of rain fall from the ceiling.  People fly and then dive.

Practical travel tips:  If you have the $400+/night to spend on a Las Vegas hotel room, but want a bit of fresh air, consider the Ritz Carlton in Lake Las Vegas, a short drive east.  Some of their rooms have balconies, a feature that hotels on the Strip have been eliminating due, supposedly, to suicides by distraught gamblers.  If are on a tighter budget and want to be in a place where you can walk out of the casino into a public street, consider downtown Las Vegas where you can stroll on the shaded and misted Fremont Street.  If you really want to hang out at Wynn, stay for $45/night across the street at The Frontier where you can drink $1.99 margaritas while viewing the nightly female mud wrestling and bull riding.  Now you have an extra $350/day and can easily afford the services of the Wynn ($85 for a man’s haircut, $70 for two people to dine at the buffet, etc.).  When you’re done with Wynn, you get a bit of fresh air strolling back across the street to your hotel room.

8 thoughts on “Wynn Las Vegas, a hotel review

  1. Hmm. Interesting theory regarding the windows. Too bad it’s wrong (not that it was your theory).

    The Hotel-Casino has no particular liability if a guest decides to take a dive out a window. Nor have suicides had any notable impact on their ‘image’ and consequently number of guests. So.

    The real reason is far more simple: Windows (and balcony doors) that open increase cooling costs. Especially when a guest leaves the window open to get fresh air *and* cranks the AC up to the max to compensate.

    Given that it is 6pm here in Las Vegas and the temperatrure is 102 degrees, I think you can see how this would put a serious dent in their bottom-line.

    And, BTW, this also means that ‘strolling’ across the street can be far from refreshing. Unless, of course, you’re visiting from Dubai.

  2. I’m an architect and I’m building a couple houses in Las Vegas. There’s a key item that keeps the new buildings sealed: maintenance. The desert blows sand at 70mph a lot of the time, and that fills the rooms with grit. It destroys surfaces, clogs the ventilating system, and keeps the windows from sliding smoothly. It’s a nightmare.

    I’ve chosen to have open rooms anyway, since the experience of the desert is important to my clients, but they are aware that they will pay a price (more housecleaning help necessary).

    The sealed building also allows the casinos to control their heating and cooling more, and they can, oddly, claim to be more ‘green’ because of it, even though it removes all of their occupants from contact with the environment.

    “surfaces and finishes are sort of luxurious” is damning with such faint praise.

  3. As a native Las Vegan who has to occasionally play “tour guide” on the strip, I enjoyed your review on the Wynn. I especially enjoyed your comments on saving some money while enjoying some of the more local attractions (some of the women I work with have done the mud wrestling (we work for an utility for cryin’ out loud). Anyway, I’ve been embarrased to check that scene out.)

    One more hint on enjoying Vegas on a budget. If you want to get on the balcony to view the southeast waterfall at the Wynn, buy some ice cream at the ice cream shop and enjoy the view. You can enjoy it with your sweetie for less than $10. As for the big waterfall with the statues, it’s out of my price range.

  4. Casino-hotels on the strip aren’t really interested in appealing to non-gamblers. Wynn caters primarily to high-roller gamblers. So sure, everything the casino offers is ludicrously overpriced, but you are expected to “charge it to the room”. Near the end of the trip you then go see a casino host who removes most of the charges from your bill based on your recorded play. Thus the amounts nominally charged for room, food, and similar items turn out to be largely fictional: yeah, there’s a price listed, but nobody pays it. Well, almost nobody…

    As for the “information technology” crack, the Wynn was the first place on the strip to embed RFID tags in every chip and RFID readers in the tables to catch counters more easily. It works, too!

  5. Spent 6 Nights with 15 people last April, spent some money, I can’t get a response from a casino host about my retrun trip. Nice place however its COLD

  6. I know this is an older post but I still wanted to leave a comment. I saw the Stardust implosion last week and it made me think about where Las Vegas is going. Gone are days when you could see a top act for a reasonable price. I know things are trending away from catering to the average guy, but $20 to look at a Ferrari? Come On. I read that Wynn sold off all of his other gaming interests and only has the one resort now. I guess he plans on making his money back a few bucks at a time. When I head back this fall, I won’t be staying there, but I’ll probably swing by.

  7. My wife and I just returned from a free 4 day trip to the Wynn that she won in a local Comcast sweepstakes. The timing was perfect since she is currently cancer free without any surgery or radiation after having been diagnosed with very aggressive inflammatory breast cancer a year ago.

    How did one of MIT’s shining stars (as a student alumni and retired professor) miss fresh air vents when he stayed at the Wynn? It wasn’t until an advertising agent for Turner Broadcasting suggested we close the vent, in response to my wife’s dinner comment on wee morning Strip noise, that I realized fresh air was available. After dinner we boarded a bus to a planned comedy show, followed by unplanned – Strip walking, Crashers band at Carnaval Court, Harrah’s dueling piano bar and turning Wynn red card credits into free cash using black jack machine. We didn’t enjoy dueling female twins but were astounded by a male pianist’s rendition of Billy Joel’s Big Shot (particularly watching talented blur of his fingers performing staccato).

    When we finally returned to the room at 4 AM, I closed vent notably notching noise down setting mood for best of our late night quest. It was several hours before I came up for fresh air and took a photo of the vent . Sliding the vent causes it to pop up revealing a tiny screen blasting plenty of fresh dry desert air (perhaps due to an intentional pressure difference). A bottle of Grande Cuvee and chocolate covered strawberries had awaited our return with a note from hotel assistant manager apologizing for late room cleaning (we had been gone all day), which my wife had complained about due to difficulty in shooing non-English speaking housekeeping out of the room as she dressed for a 5:30 dinner party. Sadly, at 4:00 AM neither of us felt like another drink and we left it unopened for housekeeping to enjoy as we checked out 8 hours later.

    Before an elegant dinner at SW Steakhouse (SW=Steve Wynn -> clearly a narcissist) on day discussed above, we started out going to Lake Mead Lakeshore Scenic drive, followed by a cozy meal at Mel’s diner in Boulder City and a short drive to Hoover Dam (used free roadside parking after driving past $7 lots).
    Lake Mead side of Hoover Dam
    Review of 11-mile scenic drive
    My video of one section of our drive
    My video of Hoover Dam using a $20 hacked CVS camcorder

    Only a few were playing an outdoor game that started with a minimum automatic losing bet of $500.

    Views from and within our room 5521: looking out and walking through . Couples that sleep together (King beds are on concave side) have a better view than those that sleep apart (Queens are on convex side).

    We missed acclaimed singing frog show but saw a couple other of Wynn’s astonishing waterfall light shows — Lake of Dreams . Slightly less spectacular was our Fremont Street tunnel of pixelated light experience. We lucked out by purchasing cheapest seats for Le Reve in splash free splash zone with clear views of facial expressions and a male acrobat with female breasts.

    Free Internet use has been available for about 4 months at Wynn’s Terrace Point Cafe. We split a $13 Blueberry pancake breakfast (3 very large pancakes) on two separate occasions while sharing my laptop. At other times, I sat with the laptop on my lap on a bench just outside the Cafe (I can envision a crowd of laptop users sitting on the floor if other Strip sites including Starbucks continue charging ridiculous prices for Internet use).

    Note to Philip – I hope you don’t mind a promotional/signature ending:

    Did using Autobrite technology developed in labs at MIT produce single shots containing higher dynamic range than is possible even with today’s most expensive cameras? Using guts of a debayered hacked Pure Digital camera inside a telescope may better demonstrate Autobrite, but that will have to wait for my next visit to the Wynn. M51 and NGC5195, Interacting galaxies in Canes Venatici (by George Greaney) “A brief glance at a satellite photograph of the United States at night quickly reveals that the darkest skies in the country are located in the Southwestern deserts. Of these areas, central Nevada is undoubtedly the very darkest. … The site is located at Oak Springs Summit and is accessible via a dirt road off of the Great Basin Highway about 100 miles northeast of Las Vegas.”

    And a final link to an off topic attack (breaking moderation policy) on Google’s inability to properly locate my wingsuit flyer posts. It will not be off topic when wingsuit flyers start jumping off top of Wynn. If they had windows that opened or balconies as you desire, there may have already been some jumping without wingsuits. 😉

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