Fred A. Bernstein

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Wynn Las Vegas

A review of the $2.7 billion hotel

Published in The New York Times, July 17, 2005

Published: July 17, 2005

The Basics
Steve Wynn, the hotelier and casino owner, reportedly spent $2.7 billion to build his dream resort, which opened April 28. That's about a million dollars for each of its 2,716 rooms.

The Location
The crescent-shaped tower is at the north end of Las Vegas Boulevard - the Strip. An artificial 87-foot hill covered in trees separates the building from the street. The architects cleverly disguised the size of the hotel by eliminating scale-revealing details from its glass facade: it's hard to believe it's more than 30 stories. Actually, it's 50, and the wait for elevators can be maddening. (Tip: book a room on the 28th floor, the first stop for the express elevators.) The hotel's size makes impromptu movements practically impossible. Say you're at the pool and decide you want to read a newspaper. Do you really want to spend half an hour walking to the gift shop?

The Rooms
Most hotel rooms are rectangular; the standard Wynn room is a 20-by-20-foot square. And with a 10-foot ceiling, the room is a half-cube, which any architect will tell you is a magical proportion. One wall is entirely glass, with just enough of a sill so that you don't feel queasy checking out the spectacular views. The room's other walls are a copper-colored fabric that suggests a rich wood paneling with an added bit of glitter. The room is very high-tech, which can compromise privacy. When I had trouble accessing the Internet on the TV, the front desk put me in touch with a technician, who was able to see what was happening on my screen, in real time.

The Bathrooms
Try finding a fault. The shower is big enough for two, as is the tub (which fills in record time). The toilet is in a separate room. Quilted towels are super-plush. The shampoo has just the slightest hint of lemon.

The gallery, with 15 paintings from Steve and Elaine Wynn's personal collection, costs $15 to enter, and it's worth it. "Le RÍve" by Picasso is one of the greatest paintings of the 20th century (as Mr. Wynn himself points out on the audio guide). The gallery sits in a ridiculously high-end mall - how about an $18,000 fake-diamond-encrusted mirror? And there are more than a dozen restaurants. At Daniel Boulud Brasserie, it's possible to enjoy the master's cuisine for as little as $19 for a prix fixe lunch, while wearing shorts and sitting on a terrace. The busiest restaurant is the Buffet, where at dinner ($27.95 during the week), king crab legs, fingerling potato salad, chicken cacciatore and rack of lamb were all outstanding, but many other dishes were disappointing. And service was poor: dirty dishes piled up on tables.

In September, the Broadway hit "Avenue Q" will begin an indefinite run. Outside, there's an 18-hole golf course and acres of water (including a vast pool where women can sunbathe topless). The design of the public spaces is stylistically incoherent (a bit of Italy, a bit of France, more than a bit of Disneyland), but there are plenty of nice touches, including the curved escalators leading to a lounge decorated with giant parasols.

Room Service
In a hotel this big, you may not want to hike to a restaurant for your first cup of coffee. Room service - which comes from a separate kitchen, not any of the restaurants - is an expensive alternative - breakfast for two came to $73. Ordered the night before for 7:30 a.m., it arrived 10 minutes early. Eggs "over medium" were undercooked. And the Japanese breakfast came without chopsticks.

The Bottom Line
In summer, rooms start at $179, and suites at $400. Parking is free, but extras ($12 for Internet access; $8 for potato chips) add up.

Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Boulevard South, (888) 320-9966; online at