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Private Preview 2005: Wynn Las Vegas

Steve Wynn’s neighbors on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip—the Stardust, the Sahara, the Riviera—should be thankful for the 150-foot-tall, man-made mountain that will hide his new Wynn Las Vegas from their view. Without it, the deficiencies of their establishments in comparison to Wynn’s new resort would be even more conspicuous.

“[Wynn Las Vegas] has already caused a shift in the center of gravity from the south Strip to the north,” says David G. Schwartz, coordinator of the Gaming Studies Research Center at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, adding that the owners of the neighboring properties are assessing their options in anticipation of the opening. “Some might be reinvented,” he says. “Some might hit the reset button and start from scratch. That seems to be the better option.”

Indeed it does, considering that with its $2.5 billion price tag, Wynn’s resort will be the most expensive Las Vegas development to date. Wynn Las Vegas represents the culmination of a career that has included the creation of the Mirage and Bellagio, two establishments that, at the time they opened, raised the standards and expectations for Vegas casinos and resorts. As Schwartz says, Wynn’s latest venture is doing the same, although its grand opening is still more than half a year away.

Many details are being withheld, as is Wynn’s custom when opening a new property, but it has been revealed that Wynn Las Vegas will sit—behind the aforementioned mountain—on 217 acres that formerly belonged to the Desert Inn, and its main tower will stand 50 stories tall. Wynn has already begun a $198 million expansion, which will bring the resort’s total number of rooms and suites to more than 2,700. The property will also house 18 restaurants, including one by Daniel Boulud, and a championship golf course designed by Tom Fazio and Wynn, which will replace the old Desert Inn course and feature an 18th hole set against the backdrop of a 35-foot-tall waterfall. Guests will shop at boutiques by Manolo Blahnik, Oscar de la Renta, and Jean-Paul Gaultier, among others, and will even be able to purchase a Ferrari or Maserati at an on-site dealership.


Franco Dragone, who created Las Vegas spectaculars for Cirque du Soleil and Celine Dion, will design a new show for a 2,087-seat theater in the round. Built so that water runs over, under, around, and through the audience, the theater itself will be part of the show. Avenue Q, a puppet-based play that Wynn purchased before it won several 2004 Tony awards, will be performed in its own 1,200-seat theater. As Bellagio once did, Wynn Las Vegas will include an art gallery filled with the owner’s personal collection of Renoirs, van Goghs, and Picassos.


“Every property that Steve Wynn has built, whether it’s in Las Vegas or Biloxi, Miss., or Atlantic City, N.J., has changed the market for the better,” says Joe Weinert, managing editor of the Gaming Industry Observer, a publication that covers the casino industry. “I would expect Wynn Las Vegas to continue that tradition of setting the bar higher.”

Wynn Las Vegas



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