After decades of success rebuilding the Las Vegas skyline with high-profile volcanoes and dueling pirates meant to suck tourists off the street and into his resorts, the casino impresario and uber-hotel developer Steve Wynn has switched gears and gone into hiding. Or rather his new namesake hotel, Wynn Las Vegas, is hiding—it lurks behind a 14-story, 140-foot high "mountain" that screens it from the Strip. An offhand comment from his wife inspired Wynn's revelation that hotels should be built for guests, from the inside out, rather than in the conventional Vegas style of outside-in. The result is this self-contained pleasure palace.
Hiding the hotel isn't the only way Wynn Las Vegas is rewriting city rules. Every major competitor has numerous celebrity chef outlets, but the chefs themselves are often absent. At Wynn, the restaurants (with one exception) are the flagships for the featured chefs. Alex, a fine dining room with French Riviera cuisine, is run by Alessandro Stratta, who Wynn brought to the Mirage to open Renoir, which won a five-star rating—something none of the part-time celebrity chefs achieved—in just four months.
Wynn also rekindled a relationship with Franco Dragone, the creative genius behind his former Cirque du Soleil sellout shows, O (staged at Bellagio) and Mystère (at Treasure Island). At Wynn Las Vegas, Dragone created Le Rêve (The Dream) where seats encircle the stage and none is more than 40 feet from the action. Another old Wynn friend, racing magnate Roger Penske, opened Penske-Wynn Ferrari Maserati, a dealership cum museum that showcases rare cars from Penske's collection including an Enzo and an F50. Not to be outdone, Wynn opened a gallery of his personal art collection including masters such as Rembrandt, van Gogh, Monet, Renoir and Picasso.
None of Wynn's old acquaintances contributed more than golf course architect Tom Fazio, with whom Wynn had designed Shadow Creek at Mirage. Here they built Wynn Country Club, making it the only hotel on the Strip with a course for guests only. This stunner, which climaxes with a huge waterfall, allowed Wynn to add sprawling lodging. The 36 Fairway Villas are three-story townhouses, with private infinity pools, massage rooms, walk-in rain showers and media rooms, with a private VIP entrance and butler service.