Wynn Las Vegas
When you’re looking to escape from everything sensible, there’s only one place to go: Las Vegas, Nevada. Open 24 hours and offering no end of entertainment, Vegas has been completely rehabilitated in the past decade and a half – once the land of the downtrodden and known for its pawn shops, $9.99 steak dinners and sad all-you-can-eat buffets, it is now bursting with five-star hotels, luxury goods emporiums and fine dining establishments helmed by notable chefs like Mario Batali, Alain Ducasse, Thomas Keller and Nobu Matsuhisa just to name a few. While we’ve stayed at more Vegas hotels than we would willingly admit, the Wynn Las Vegas and its sister property, the Encore, are our undisputed favourites. Masterminded by Steve Wynn, who cut his teeth with The Golden Nugget, then helmed the Bellagio hotel, his latest properties exude the opulence synonymous with his name. With Venetian chandeliers, over-the-top décor, posh shops and elegant restaurants, the Wynn sets the standard for decadence but is entirely ungimmicky by local standards (no pirate ships, pyramids or Eiffel tower replicas found here), which is just why we like it.
We’ve been going to the Wynn since it opened in 2005 and on April 28, 2006, the hotel celebrated its anniversary by breaking ground on a second tower named the Encore Suites at Wynn Las Vegas, a twin bronzed, arced bastion of luxury connected to the first by an extravagant shopping arcade and together the towers house a total of 4,750 rooms. While the standard rooms at the Wynn are certainly comfortable with king size beds and oversized, double-sink washrooms, we prefer to stay at the Encore where even their standard rooms are suites. At 745 square feet, these expansive rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows boasting some fabulous views, generously-proportioned washrooms, as well as a sitting area. The blackout curtains, lighting and privacy settings are all at the touch of your fingertips on a remote control so you never have to rise from the comfort of the bed.
Vegas hotels are notorious for providing everything its guests need so you never have to leave the property and can be entertained for days on end. The Wynn and Encore are no exception. For breakfast, Tableau is a gentile option offering a beautiful pasty basket with delicious preserves and perfectly plump berries no matter what the season. If you’re hungry from last night’s revelry, The Buffet is legendary with 16 live-action cooking stations, more options than you can fathom, and none of the tired, wilted fare you might expect – pace yourself. For dinner, several world cuisines are represented including American fare at SW Steakhouse where the meat is unbelievably buttery, Bartolotta Ristorante Di Mare with exceptional seafood flown in from Italy, and refined Chinese cuisine at Wing Lei; you will never tire of your options. Admittedly, none of these restaurants are budget-friendly, but the food at each is of exceptional quality and the service is impeccable, proving these worthy indulgences. If you’re looking to strike some modicum of balance, the fitness centres are some of the largest, best-equipped and best-kept we’ve ever seen on our travels so there’s no excuse not to make use of them. The pool is perhaps a more inviting option – the poolside cabanas for rent are worth the expense in the summer since they offer air conditioning, TV and shade from the desert sun.
Admittedly, part of the property’s cachet comes from the famous guests it has serviced. A fitting Vegas sighting was Mike Tyson signing autographs in the lobby; the Wynn also served as the site of Prince Harry’s recent notorious Vegas escapades on the same weekend Jennifer Lopez sat poolside with her entourage. But Steve Wynn himself is something of a Vegas legend, and adds to the property’s mystique. Known for his art collection, he famously he put his elbow through Le Rêve, the Picasso painting that he purchased in 1997 for $48.4 million dollars at Christies auction. Recently, Wynn Las Vegas unveiled Jeff Koons’ sculpture titled Tulips on site, a signature Koons sculpture resembling a large-scale balloon toy fashioned into the flowers after which it is named. Purchased at a Christie’s auction in 2012 for more than $33 million dollars, this monumental work is crafted from stainless steel and mirror polished to reflect its surrounds and Koons stated that the work “…is a symbol of hope and the strength of life’s energy” perhaps the perfect complement to the wishful, exuberant optimism of the city itself.
And, after a long weekend, when all this opulence becomes overwhelming and the consumerism starts to grate on your nerves, it’s time to head back home, knowing this adult Disneyland will be waiting whenever you need a break from reality.