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Vegas Suites

Jack Sheehan
From the Print Edition:
maduro issue, Winter 93/94

(continued from page 1)

A decade ago, Wynn transformed the Golden Nugget into an elegant white palace with suites as lavish as any in Las Vegas at the time, thereby proclaiming to the bigger players along the Strip that he was in the game to stay.

Ignoring brash neon signage and the Vegas inclination to splash the hotel name all over the building, Wynn chose understated opulence and limitless hospitality as the tickets to lure in high-rollers to an area of town previously thought of as garish and seedy. He surrounded himself with several of the city's top casino hosts, who brought with them their highest-rolling customers, and within six months the Golden Nugget became the chic place to stay and play. He chose a Victorian design theme--a wry touch for a place called Sin City--and his suites, which are adjoined by state-of-the-art health-and-fitness and spa facilities, spared little expense or extravagance.

A spiral staircase leads from the spacious living room to the intimate bedroom area in the Nugget's Spa Tower suites, and floor-to-ceiling windows span the length of the room. Each of the six penthouse suites, which rent for $750 a night, is individually designed in dramatic, sophisticated decor. The most recent redesign features a cool, tropical motif with exotic, floral design.

When Wynn christened the Mirage in November 1989, it was the first new hotel of magnitude to open in Las Vegas since the original MGM Grand in 1973, and public reaction was immediate and overwhelming. More than 700,000 enraptured visitors toured the property in its first three days of business. Wynn was shocked by the volume and intensity of public curiosity. "It's no longer our private dream," he said as he watched the teeming crowds move through the hotel. "It belongs to the people now."

With the Mirage, Wynn was able to accomplish another feat long thought impossible in Vegas: he successfully integrated the masses, who were curious to see the erupting $40 million "volcano," the $5,000-apiece palm trees and Siegfried & Roy's rare white tigers; with elite customers, those drawn by more materialistic wonders like silk sheets, vintage Champagne and the adrenal rush that flows from the snap of a vinyl playing card with $100,000 on the line.

Wynn's promise was to build something so spectacular and appealing that the world's biggest gamblers would rush to his doorstep. And that's just what happened. In its first year, the Mirage broke all casino win records with a take of $417 million. And it held that level after the second year. Even the owner was surprised by the volume and magnitude of play.

"Shortly after the Mirage opened, Mr. Wynn asked the marketing staff in the casino to bring him a printout of all those who conceivably could wager $1 million on their stay," says Alan Feldman. "He figured the list would have 40 names, but it turned out there were 400! These were people who either had the ability--or had done so at the Mirage--of wagering up to $1 million during their visit."

The ante had been upped, so Wynn called the bet and added eight suites that would equal or surpass anything his guests had at home. Built at a price tag of $3 million each, they are known simply as the Villas. "We wanted the eight most magnificent and so far superior to anything anyone had ever seen, that there would be no doubt about that status "Feldman says.

The Villas are numbered one through 10, but there are no numbers four and five because they are considered bad luck in some parts of Asia, where about 70 percent of the world's highest rollers hail from.

To get to the suites, one is ushered through a private door off the casino and down a marble hallway some 130 yards long, which is richly appointed with European artwork and large metallic urns and plants. The entryway has the ambience of a venerable cathedral.

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