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Wynn, Encore Turn It Up in Vegas: New Restaurants, Shopping and a Giant Lagoon

Wynn, Encore Turn It Up in Vegas: New Restaurants, Shopping and a Giant Lagoon


Their new restaurant is delicious, their revamped rooms sparkle, but we're really excited to waterski in the middle of the desert.

As pristine and well-turned out as the Wynn and Encore sister resorts are, they get a little lost in the Vegas shuffle. They're not super-hip and self-conscious (e.g., Cosmopolitan, Delano), enormous and mainstream (Caesars Palace, MGM), or reeking of smoke and character like Downtown hotels (El Cortez and Golden Nugget). But the operators of the Wynn and Encore—and specifically their charismatic, billionaire owner, Steve Wynn—are trying to better stand out among the giants of Las Vegas Boulevard, and have some big changes afoot.

In what would be a first for The Strip, a new 38-acre swimmable, boatable lagoon and adjoining park is planned behind the Wynn and Encore towers, replacing half of an 18-hole golf course and also adding a new hotel tower. Called Paradise Park, the project would create a giant green space in the middle of the desert—allowing Vegas visitors to escape the sand and concrete and surround themselves with trees, grass, and even boardwalks and a sandy beach. "Hold on!," you say, "A giant fake lake in Las Vegas is the height of irresponsible!" Well, Wynn says the lagoon—when it hopefully opens in 2020—will consume 30 times less water than an average golf course and 50 times less aqua than a park of commensurate size. The lagoon will also use the latest filtration technology, allowing fewer chemicals and energy than other man-made lakes.

Restless Steve Wynn (a big supporter of the Las Vegas LGBT Center btw) has another trick up his sleeve—a new 75,000 square foot retail complex bordering unused sidewalk space on Las Vegas Boulevard. Called the Wynn Plaza and set to open next year, the "retail collection" is conceived by Wynn and architect Roger Thomas as a two-story space covered by atriums and a skylight rotunda; the inspiration is Paris's Avenue Matignon. While there is no shortage of luxury shopping in this stretch of Vegas, the idea is to keep Wynn and Encore guests on the property for the duration of their stay. 

The upcoming changes build upon smaller upgrades for the properties. The Encore Resort and the Encore Tower Suites revamped their rooms last year, adding 55-inch televisions, bedside outlets for phone and laptop charging, and remote controls for curtain and temperature adjustments; granite tops and floors also got a modern makeover. Steve Wynn is obsessed with beds—well, who isn't—and loves to tout his resorts' luxury bedding, which includes the highest thread-count bed sheets in the world. The 507-thread-count, 100 percent Egyptian cotton linens were made exclusively for the Wynn and Encore at a cost of $9 million.

There's also a new eatery at the Encore—Jardin, a French-American restaurant specializing in seasonal dishes. The space is really lovely, hugging the pool and surrounded by glass and greenery on all sides. We recently had a summer meal on Jardin's outside patio and, while it was still in the 90s at 10 p.m., water misters kept us cool. Executive chef Joseph Zanelli has a huge menu of small-plate classics and full-on entrees. If you can, hit up the $49 prix fixe. We were partial to the chopped kale salad, organic salmon, and rustic berry crostata. The drink menu is also killer; their Manhattan took us up and away. 

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Neal Broverman