Projects Pas­sion

Wynn Magazine - - STEVE WYNN -

Steve Wynn talks about the pur­suit of ex­cel­lence and the price­less value of a prom­ise ful­filled. by an­drea ben­nett

These 18th-cen­tury carv­ings dec­o­rate the Wynn Re­sort El­e­va­tor Al­cove. Roger Thomas calls them “amaz­ing ex­am­ples of Ital­ian Baroque work­man­ship.” 25

here are magic mo­ments in the week or two be­fore a re­sort opens to the public, says Steve Wynn. “It’s my fa­vorite time be­cause we have great fun de­sign­ing, se­lect­ing, and in­stalling, and then look­ing at it be­fore we open the doors. It’s a de­li­cious feel­ing. All the scaf­fold­ing is gone and the place is be­ing vac­u­umed, and it’s just you and the em­ploy­ees eat­ing in the restau­rants—and you own the place. Some of the de­ci­sions we made were made three years be­fore, and just be­fore you turn it over to the public, it’s like you’re see­ing it for the first time.” But de­spite the beau­ti­ful things that you will dis­cover in ev­ery public and pri­vate space—mon­u­men­tal art and care­fully con­sid­ered ob­jects, art and fin­ishes in ev­ery room—when Wynn de­scribes the cu­rat­ing of Wynn and Encore, or any of his re­sorts, he does not launch into an enu­mer­a­tion of things. Rather, the essence of a beau­ti­fully cu­rated ho­tel, Wynn says, is “keep­ing the prom­ise that you have de­cided to make to guests. We are a niche op­er­a­tor—we aim for the top end. But the ‘stuff’ is only part of the con­tract. We could spend all the money we want on hand­wo­ven

Tfab­rics, crys­tal chan­de­liers, and mar­ble, but the guts of the place are the peo­ple who work here and are proud that they are as­so­ci­ated with a place that is, in fact, the best. They mon­i­tor ev­ery­thing be­cause the al­ter­na­tive hurts their pride.” Of course, where the “guts” and the “stuff” co­a­lesce is where po­etry is made. Cu­rat­ing a ho­tel, for Steve Wynn, is a sim­ple equa­tion: Make se­lec­tions in good taste, con­tinue your ded­i­ca­tion to ideas large and small, and in­spire the peo­ple who take care of all these things to love them as much as the chair­man him­self— and a ho­tel’s magic be­comes “a self-ful­fill­ing prophecy.” On the day I meet with Wynn, big de­ci­sions are be­ing made about Wynn Palace, the lux­u­ri­ous sec­ond Wynn re­sort in Ma­cau, open­ing on the Co­tai Strip in 2016. He is also deeply con­sid­er­ing bed linens. Yes, sheets. On the ta­ble be­fore him are sam­ples of the ac­tual sheets from Man­darin Ori­en­tal, Penin­sula, Four Sea­sons, and the vil­las in Wynn Las Ve­gas. He has taken the sheets from the most lux­u­ri­ous ho­tel groups in the world to en­sure that the linens he will in­tro­duce to all the rooms and suites

at Wynn and Encore at the be­gin­ning of 2015— to the tune of $9 mil­lion—are bet­ter than any other ho­tel. “We want to say that we have the world’s great­est linen on our beds, but we’re not keep­ing the prom­ise if they’re not. When you say that you have a higher-qual­ity linen on your beds than any other ho­tel on earth, and that’s the truth, then you’re do­ing some­thing.” And you can be sure that he has checked for ac­cu­racy. “There was one ho­tel in the world that had 500-thread-count sheets, and it had 200 rooms. So we went be­yond that,” he con­fides. “This is the sim­ple idea: What does the cus­tomer feel? This is next to your body. The way you take a ho­tel to another level is by con­sid­er­ing ev­ery sin­gle lit­tle thing.” Sheets, he laughs, are “this week’s pas­sion.” Other pas­sions he is con­tem­plat­ing in­clude es­tab­lish­ing a veg­etable farm to sup­ply Wynn’s restau­rants, es­tab­lish­ing his own day­boat fish­ing op­er­a­tion for line-caught fish, and ded­i­cated park­ing for al­ter­na­tive ve­hi­cles. “We are al­ways sit­ting around dream­ing up new things, and that is where cu­rat­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence starts—with a group that’s on the make for a bet­ter way.” Grand ideas are what give birth to the more tra­di­tional cu­rat­ing of art and ob­jects in the re­sort. And Wynn cred­its Roger Thomas, Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent for Wynn De­sign and De­vel­op­ment, for what they call “ac­ces­soriz­ing” the re­sort. “There is a no­tice­able el­e­ment of fem­i­nin­ity here, by de­sign,” Wynn ex­plains. “We sub­scribe to the no­tion that the fem­i­nine side of the per­son­al­ity has to be ex­plored in a re­sort that’s top end: Women see and re­act with sur­prise and de­light to de­tail.” And there is no short­age of op­por­tu­nity to rec­og­nize this method­ol­ogy. For in­stance, if you take a mo­ment to look up be­fore walk­ing into Ter­race Pointe Café, you will see a del­i­cate wood chan­de­lier cre­ated in 1918 by Gus­tave Eif­fel, fea­tur­ing its orig­i­nal shades of Favrile glass. Perched in the space be­tween the Wynn Re­sort Tower el­e­va­tors is a pair of Ital­ian Baroque gilt carv­ings, dis­cov­ered in an an­tique shop in Florence by Roger Thomas and placed just prior to Wynn’s open­ing. These ear­lier works co­ex­ist in beau­ti­ful har­mony with con­tem­po­rary pieces, such as LA artist Lari Pittman’s emo­tive ab­stract pieces

be­hind the Wynn reg­is­tra­tion desk and two cel­e­brated sculp­tures by Jeff Koons: the mon­u­men­tal Tulips in the Wynn Theater Ro­tunda and his 2,000-pound, six-and-a-half-foot-tall Pop­eye, added this year, who play­fully flexes, spinach can in hand, on the Wynn Es­planade. The fact that Wynn is leg­endary for hav­ing paid, by any stan­dards, enor­mous sums of money to “ac­ces­sorize” is not the point of fill­ing his re­sort with its art pieces. To be sure, Wynn and Thomas se­lect pieces that will im­bue the re­sort with the warmth and el­e­gance for which Wynn re­sorts are known. “But when we start writ­ing checks for $25 or $30 mil­lion,” he ex­plains, “these are also cul­tural de­ci­sions we’re mak­ing.” When he opened Wynn Ma­cau in 2006, he not only repa­tri­ated an ex­tremely rare cop­per­glazed vase from the 13th cen­tury (one of only three in ex­is­tence) to the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment as a gift, but also ac­quired a quar­tet of rare Qing dy­nasty vases, now dis­played in the Wynn Ma­cau lobby. “I said, ‘My em­ploy­ees live here. There’s a won­der­ful mu­seum in Ma­cau, and it’s not only im­por­tant that the city ex­pands eco­nom­i­cally, but also cul­tur­ally,’” he ex­plains. Sim­i­larly, Koons’s Pop­eye and Tulips are cul­tural state­ments that celebrate iconog­ra­phy and art pro­duc­tion in Amer­ica. “At four bil­lion dol­lars, it’s not such a big deal to have a thirty-mil­lion­dol­lar tulip in the lobby,” he laughs. A fa­vorite pas­time for Wynn-watch­ers is guess­ing what Steve Wynn will think of next. Tellingly, Wynn points to Tulips, and to the flo­ral carousel in Wynn’s lobby: “The theme of Wynn Palace is flow­ers. We are for­ever test­ing things we are go­ing to do else­where on a grander scale. With each of our ho­tels, start­ing in New Jersey, then Mi­rage and Trea­sure Is­land, then on to Bel­la­gio, Wynn, Ma­cau, Encore Ma­cau, Wynn Encore, and now Co­tai, we have the op­por­tu­nity to think of some­thing bet­ter, to in­cu­bate a good idea or to come up with a new one. The pur­suit of ex­cel­lence is a slow, inch-by-inch as­cen­sion. And the only peo­ple who ever do it are all alike. They love it. They’re never sat­is­fied, and they get on ev­ery­body’s nerves un­til fi­nally they get on their own nerves, which means they’re done.” All this, of course, means that Steve Wynn will not only con­tinue to get those mag­i­cal, pre­open­ing mo­ments—in which three or four years of cre­ation and cu­ra­tion have come to fruition—but he will again in­tro­duce another idea to Wynn and Encore. And then, al­most in­evitably, he will be­gin again. n

“The only peo­ple who ex­cel are all alike. They love it. They’re never sat­is­fied, and they get on ev­ery­body’s nerves un­til fi­nally they get on their own nerves, which means they’re done.” — steve wynn


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