Steve Wynn has always had this thing about water as a critical element of his resort designs.
Some very successful resorts rely on nothing more than the creative use of a lot of glass and concrete, but Wynn has always tended to shape attitudes and moods that have little direct association with the chance to gamble.
The Wynn Resorts CEO put this thinking on display at The Mirage nearly 30 years ago when he was creating the hotel and casino that became a game changer in Las Vegas. The result was an erupting volcano in a tropical lagoon. It’s still one of the must-sees for Vegas visitors and locals alike.
He brought another version of the same thinking to Treasure Island with his creation of a battle between good guys and bad guys on sailing ships outside the TI’s front door in a man-made lagoon.
And of course he found yet another twist on this thinking with dancing waters and the lake between the Bellagio’s front door and the Strip.
Even the Wynn incorporated his appreciation for water as a design element with a waterfall on the far side of the “hill” that separates the front door from the Strip.
The use of water was equally obvious in his approaches to resort design and location in Mississippi, Atlantic City and the Boston area where he is planning another project on the banks of the Mystic River.
Which brings us to the proposed $1.5 billion expansion of the company’s Wynn-Encore complex in Las Vegas. It will utilize a 32-acre lake with white sands beaches to create the soothing feelings associated with a tropical resort. Yes, there will be additional rooms and meeting facilities, but much of the addition will focus on moods created by a lot of water-related activities.
Much of the project is still clearly in the design stage and formal approval by the board is required since this week’s first announcement of the did not include any explanation of plans for the golf course that runs across much of the 130-plus acres associated with the latest plan.
There was talk almost from the moment the Wynn opened in 2006 that the golf course would quickly give way to some kind of development involving more hotel rooms that would produce a healthy cash return.
But that thinking was rejected by Wynn who said he would rather look at the attractive golf course as a kind of Central Park.
“The golf course is our Central Park,” was the way he put it at the time.
But nearly a decade later the time for change has come as Wynn turns away from the frustrations associated with creating resorts in destinations far from his comfort zone in Las Vegas.
Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: [email protected].