STEVE WYNN

ON CRE­AT­ING THE MOST JOY­FUL OF DES­TI­NA­TIONS

Wynn Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - by An­drea Bennett

An ITAL­IAN rock crys­tal chan­de­lier is the cen­ter­piece and in­spi­ra­tion for the de­sign of Wing lei Bar in Wynn Palace. It is un­usual in that, although it was made in the early 19th cen­tury, its 18th-cen­tury style is rem­i­nis­cent of louis XV. the crys­tals are so densely as­sem­bled that you’ll only see lay­ers of cut rock crys­tal pen­dants seem­ingly drip­ping to­gether. ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of de­sign for Wynn de­sign & de­vel­op­ment roger thomas found it in a gallery in the sev­enth Ar­rondisse­ment in Paris and had been wait­ing some time to build a room around it. rather than de­stroy the in­tegrity of such a piece with wiring, Wynn’s de­sign­ers fo­cused ex­ter­nal light­ing on it: Its rock crys­tal pen­dants now seem lit from within, shed­ding light on the gilt-bam­boo, sparkling mir­ror, and mala­chite, lapis lazuli,

“Like so many lovely things, you don’t an­a­lyze it—you feel it. If the place is con­sis­tent, you know you’re in the best place there is.”— steve wynn

golden tiger’s eye, and mother-of-pearl in­lays in the wall. Stand­ing be­neath it, I feel like I’m in an an­tique, mir­rored jewel box. And on a later visit with Steve Wynn, it also be­comes some­thing of a metaphor in my mind for the Wynn ethos. “So, what did you take away from your visit?” Wynn asks me on my re­turn to Las Ve­gas. I am still pro­cess­ing some as­ton­ish­ment, for all the rea­sons you’ll read about in this is­sue of Wynn and many you’ll dis­cover on your own. But I’m cu­ri­ous about this un­usual chan­de­lier. “It’s un­de­ni­ably beau­ti­ful,” I say, “but why put a rare piece in a room when few peo­ple may ever ap­pre­ci­ate its sig­nif­i­cance?” The sim­ple an­swer, Wynn tells me, is “We wanted to. It may be true that the pub­lic will never un­der­stand that chan­de­lier, but like so many lovely things, you don’t an­a­lyze it— you feel it. If the place is con­sis­tent, then you know you’re in the best place there is.” But the de­ci­sion to pro­cure the chan­de­lier wasn’t made lightly; the room’s dis­tinct beauty de­pends on that par­tic­u­lar piece—and that, says Wynn, is some­thing you can’t fake. “If you’re Roger or me, you have to ask, Was all this worth it for one re­sort? Could we have value-en­gi­neered it for $200 mil­lion less on dé­cor? And Roger’s an­swer would be, ‘The pre­mium we paid for the best wasn’t so much higher than for some­thing mun­dane.’ In this case, I en­cour­aged him to [buy a chan­de­lier whose rar­ity might not be ob­vi­ous to most peo­ple]. Should there be a price tag for the best ho­tel in the world?” Plan­ning for Wynn Palace be­gan six years ago, sev­eral years af­ter the open­ing of Wynn Ma­cau, and it was con­ceived as a des­ti­na­tion as much as a re­sort, Wynn ex­plains. (In­ci­den­tally, the cost to open Wynn Palace was roughly that of Shang­hai Dis­ney,

which also de­buted this year.) “In Wynn Ma­cau, we’re in a down­town area and get the cross traf­fic of four other ho­tels,” Wynn ex­plains. “If a guy doesn’t like his ho­tel, he can walk across the street to ours. Co­tai is so sep­a­rate, we had to be so fetch­ing that we be­came the des­ti­na­tion—so peo­ple would know they had to come see it and ex­pe­ri­ence it. How do you take an en­ter­prise like this to an­other level be­sides just say­ing it? You re­view every sin­gle de­tail, over and over. You think about the com­fort and hap­pi­ness of the em­ploy­ees, the dis­tances they have to walk, the emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence of the guest mov­ing through the space… And then you re­visit them.” Plan­ning for this or any Wynn re­sort, Wynn de­scribes, be­gins when he and Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of Ar­chi­tec­ture at Wynn De­sign & De­vel­op­ment Deruyter But­ler sit down with an idea. “We’re think­ing about the most fun­da­men­tal ex­pe­ri­ence. If you walk through a crummy hall­way to a pala­tial room, it takes the edge off the room’s love­li­ness in your mind. But if you walk through a pala­tial hall­way, it el­e­vates the whole ex­pe­ri­ence,” he says. “So I took an­other look at cor­ri­dors: In all ho­tels, they’re five or six feet wide. We made them eight feet wide, and the feel­ing of just walk­ing the hall­way is lux­u­ri­ous. We deep­ened the rooms. We raised the ceil­ings. We re­vis­ited every el­e­ment of the room, inch by inch, and item by item.” I re­call a mo­ment on a tour of a Gar­den Villa in which I mar­veled to a mem­ber of the WDD in­te­rior de­sign team that even the sprin­kler caps on the ceil­ing are the pre­cise shade of Co­tai White that be­longs to Wynn Palace. “Thank you,” she said. “Do you know how many times I matched those cus­tom sprin­kler caps?” Wynn is amused at the anec­dote—but not sur­prised. “Do you know why we can do what no one else can?” he asks. “No one has the pa­tience, and no one has the ded­i­ca­tion to the process. ‘Art is long and life is short’—kafka [quot­ing Hip­pocrates]. This is also taken to mean that the tech­nique and craft are long and life is short. We’re will­ing to crum­ple up pieces of pa­per that were okay but not good enough.” Wynn ex­plains that when he asks about guests’ take­away from the re­sort, he is not so­lic­it­ing opin­ions on de­sign or dé­cor, he’s look­ing for a feel­ing. “Is it con­tem­po­rary? Is it pala­tial? Is it warm? Is it joy­ful? Is it very fancy? You could go to the Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum, and it’s beau­ti­ful, but it’s from an­other time and you might not iden­tify with it. You don’t see your­self liv­ing in it. You might not call Buck­ing­ham Palace joy­ful.” While Steve Wynn cer­tainly has fa­vorite mo­ments and places in Wynn Palace, those are not what he and I are talk­ing about on this day. The point he wants to stress is that the sum of all these la­bo­ri­ously forged el­e­ments, these care­fully sourced pieces, this cus­tom fur­ni­ture, is that vis­ceral, gut re­ac­tion— some­thing that takes years of de­vel­op­ment to get just right. “I learned an im­por­tant thing from the great ad­ver­tis­ing in­no­va­tor Hal Riney.

“We think about the com­fort and hap­pi­ness of the em­ploy­ees, the emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence of the guest... And then we re­visit them.”— steve wynn

“I want peo­ple to come to Wynn Palace and love the things they see.” — steve wynn

When we were open­ing the Mi­rage in 1989, I had been pitched all these grand ideas from the big­gest agen­cies. But Hal was a terse man, and he said, ‘One thing I’ll never do, Mr. Wynn, is show your build­ing be­fore it’s open. No ren­der­ings, mod­els, all that hy­per­bole. If you’re con­sid­er­ing us, I have to tell you: A chief ex­ec­u­tive, a pres­i­dent, a boss has to be able to de­fine who they are. Be­cause if the boss doesn’t know who they are, then guys like us can’t make it up. I’ve seen your model and I be­lieve that your ho­tel is go­ing to be spec­tac­u­lar, but the last thing I’ll ever do is say that. Your job is to build it; my job is to pro­voke peo­ple to dis­cover it on their own terms.” When Wynn shot the com­mer­cial for the open­ing of Bel­la­gio in 1998, he took away those lessons. “We didn’t show the ho­tel in the ad. We had An­drea Bo­celli singing ‘Con Te Par­tiro,’ and a cou­ple on bal­conies—no talk­ing. All we had were pic­tures of the lake and the foun­tain, and water fil­ter­ing over the woman’s hand. Then, black screen: ‘Bel­la­gio. And so it be­gins.’ We cre­ated the ex­pec­ta­tion—and then we ful­filled it.” Wynn is delv­ing into ho­tel his­tory, he ex­plains, be­cause he wants the ho­tel to do the talk­ing. “As Hal would say, ‘I can tell you that this is the eighth won­der of the modern world, but I wouldn’t do that. I want to in­vite peo­ple to come and ex­pe­ri­ence it [for them­selves].’ If you’re go­ing to write a story, it should be called ‘Wynn Palace Be­gins.’ You can use that line,” he says with a wink. “I want peo­ple to come to Wynn Palace and love the things they see, of course,” Wynn says. But the things they won’t see or know—the most lux­u­ri­ous em­ployee din­ing room, a de­sign co­or­di­na­tor painstak­ingly por­ing over sprin­kler caps, and yes, even the story of that chan­de­lier— are the foun­da­tion that Wynn Palace is built on. “And if it makes peo­ple joy­ful,” Wynn says, “then I’ve done my job.”

top left: Roger Thomas, Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of De­sign for Wynn De­sign & De­vel­op­ment, sketches many ini­tial plans on pa­per. above: The Wynn Chair­man’s Club is filled with thought­ful and or­nate de­tails, such as pol­ished brass flo­ral trel­lises...

Or­nate green tas­sels hang­ing from the ceil­ing are just some of the de­sign el­e­ments in Wynn Palace that keep guests look­ing up. above: The in­te­rior of Wing Lei Bar was de­signed to feel like an an­tique jewel box.

The exclusive Chair­man’s Club gives guests an ex­tra­or­di­nary show of the foun­tains at night.

from top: The en­trance to An­drea’s restau­rant; Steve Wynn at the open­ing of Wynn Palace .

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