Evolution 101

Apr 5, 2005 7:05 AM

Wynn Las Vegas is a $2.7 billion example of evolutionary thinking, according to its founding namesake, Steve Wynn.

This resort that will open April 28, about five years after design began, "could not have been dreamed up in the abstract," Wynn says.

"You couldn’t just dream up a place like this based on what you’ve seen," Wynn says. "You have to experience the other places (Bellagio, Mirage, etc.) to get to this point."

Up to now, Wynn has avoided public discussions of the design details of what is the most expensive private construction project ever financed. But last week he was surprisingly candid about sharing elements of the thinking behind his highly-anticipated project.

Wynn emphasizes that the input provided by a number of companies has continued to grow larger and more interesting.

"We asked ourselves what works? What have we learned? We started everything over again," Wynn continues. "We did what they call zero-based budgeting. We went back to square one to see if we could find new ways of meeting human aspirations. We revisited everything from volcanoes to pirate ships that sink and fountains that dance and lights that dance in the sky like the Fremont Experience, which was a project we designed."

The results of that introspection revealed that, fundamentally, nothing has really changed, and people essentially want the same thing: Where can they go to find a richer, more intense emotional experience?

"They want the same things they may get at home, only they want more of it," Wynn says. "When we looked at designing this hotel five years ago, we realized that having thrown everything we could at the concept of grandeur with Bellagio, that you could not out-grandeur Bellagio, that you had to go somewhere else."

Wynn said the "somewhere else" will be a hotel markedly different from the properties that have shaped Las Vegas up to now.

"We designed our hotel on the Strip, not from the point of view of people on the outside looking in, as has always been the custom in Las Vegas for the last 60 years, (but) the story of this hotel is on the inside."

Among the new notions is that big spaces cannot be made to feel very intimate, Wynn says, and that the concept of "neighborhoods" can provide "design pauses" between the myriad of elements that will be Wynn Las Vegas.

"The hotel is going to surprise everybody. It is not the same as what we’ve done before," Wynn says. "And we’re going to test these ideas of intensifying and enriching people’s emotional experiences with discrete discovery."

Letting visitors discover the story themselves rather than slapping them in the face with it is, he explains, a lesson he learned from show creator Franco Dragone.

The curtain goes up April 28.


The biggest poker game ever played may not be played at all, according to Las Vegas poker pros considering the challenge of billionaire Dallas banker Andy Beal.

Beal and a squadron of high-stakes opponents are willing to each put up $40 million, assuming they can come to an agreement about where and when the game might be played. It would follow a heads-up format with Beal matched against one opponent at a time.

"There’s several problems," according to one of the Las Vegas pros speaking on the condition he not be identified. "Andy’s made a couple of demands that I think he realizes we would be reluctant to accept."

Going to a Shreveport, Louisiana casino on April 10 to play for about four hours a day is included on the list of sticking points. "The April 10 date is going to conflict with a big tournament at the Bellagio, where most of us would be playing," said one of the pros.

Beal chose Shreveport because it is closest to his Dallas home and office.

But, as another pro grumbled, "What are the rest of us going to do down in Shreveport while Andy’s playing us one at a time? Most of us would go anywhere for a game, but what Andy’s asking does not have all of us that excited and I think Andy knows that."

It’s apparently been a number of months since Beal and the poker pros, who include the likes of Doyle Brunson, Howard Lederer, Jennifer Harman and Chip Reese, to name a few, have played. In the past, they’ve faced off at the Bellagio for limits ranging from $100,000 to $200,000.

A couple of casinos have been itching to turn this game into a made-for-television project if it materializes.

Stay tuned. We’ll see if the cash talks or you-know-what walks.