The way to Wynn in Ve­gas

Las Ve­gas has got a lot classier, says Anthea Ger­rie, and one of the rea­sons why is Jewish hote­lier Steve Wynn

The Jewish Chronicle - - TRAVEL -

You have to blame it on Steve Wynn — the ever-es­ca­lat­ing glitz, glam­our, traf­fic, claus­tro­pho­bic crowds and sheer hype that has made such a fab­u­lous mon­ster of Las Ve­gas, a re­sort which grows ever more fab­u­lous and more mon­strous by the day.

For it was Wynn, the Jewish casino en­tre­pre­neur, who de­cided to bring class to what was once — and not so long ago — a fun but unashamedly tacky gam­bling town ma­rooned in the desert.

As Wynn cre­ated up­mar­ket hostel­ries like the Mi­rage and Bel­la­gio —which dar­ingly set caviar bars, tuxe­doed pi­ano play­ers and Pi­cas­sos amongst the slot ma­chines — novel and ex­pen­sive at­trac­tions duly ap­peared to jazz up the town: white tigers, ex­plod­ing vol­ca­noes, those very classy danc­ing foun­tains im­mor­talised in Ocean’s Eleven.

A vir­tual war of the worlds grew up on the Strip, as brashly rein­vented Luxor, Paris, New York and Monte Carlo opened as the crowd-pleas­ing re­sponse. But the se­ri­ous class chal­lenge was mounted by Wynn’s neme­sis, Shel­don Adel­son, whose Vene­tian, with its star­tlingly life­like Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge, set new top-end stan­dards in Ne­vada.

Now Wynn (who sold on the Mi­rage and Bel­la­gio), has at­tempted to trump the lot with an epony­mous £1.5 bil­lion ho­tel which makes no at­tempt to play the theme game. In­stead, Wynn has har­nessed the pulling power of de­sign­ers — from Blah­nik to Fer­rari — who have never be­fore hung their signs in Ve­gas; in­stalled an amaz­ing ar­ti­fi­cial gar­den of a lobby and com­ple­mented the live en­ter­tain­ment with an elec­tronic bal­let danced by gi­ant flow­ers over a Lake of Dreams. It is the best show in town not star­ring a hu­man.

The com­pe­ti­tion is re­spond­ing in the only way — short of re­build­ing — that it can, with truly world-class restau­rants to re­place the all-you­can-eat buf­fets and stun­ning stage pro­duc­tions in place of the cheesy spec­tac­u­lars of old. Those tra­di­tional el­e­ments are still tucked away in most ho­tels (even the Wynn), but now those who pre­fer, can be fed by the world’s finest celebrity chefs and see the latest Broad­way mu­si­cals too.

All this ac­tiv­ity — not to men­tion new non-stop air ser­vice by BMI from Manch­ester — only adds to the crowd ap­peal. But per­haps the most in­ter­est­ing new de­vel­op­ment in the Las Ve­gas area is the one that lies half an hour out­side the packed me­trop­o­lis. Lake Las Ve­gas is for those who want the glitz and the gam­bling in close prox­im­ity, but who crave a more serene en­vi­ron­ment to stay in, free of traf­fic-jams and the packed ho­tel lob­bies where you can only reach your room through the ser­ried ranks of slot ma­chines.

The Ritz-Carl­ton be­trays a hint of its lo­ca­tion only in the fact that, like its neigh­bours 17 miles dis­tant on the Strip, it has been re­lent­lessly themed — in this case to re­sem­ble a Tus­can vil­lage. But the lake­side walks and the chain’s fa­mously at­ten­tive ser­vice are a re­lief af­ter bat­tling your way to food, en­ter­tain­ment or bac­carat ta­bles down the road. And there are lo­cal ver­sions of

Steve Wynn’s new £1.5 bil­lion ho­tel makes no at­tempt to play the theme game

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