Las Vegas Sun

April 20, 2019

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Jeff Simpson on how Steve Wynn’s golden touch has been working its magic lately

It was quite a week in the Las Vegas casino business. Steve Wynn sold his Macau casino sub-concession for $900 million, Station Casinos showed off its spectacular Red Rock Resort and the state reported yet another record month of gambling revenue in January.

Wynn is really in his element right now. He's operating Wynn Las Vegas, getting ready to open Wynn Macau in September, preparing to break ground April 28 on Encore and strategizing future development in Las Vegas, Macau and elsewhere.

In an 80-minute interview on Friday, Wynn told me that he loves the activity - that juggling the operating, designing, planning and opening activities of his resort company is what makes him happy.

On the Strip, Wynn said Wynn Las Vegas is performing incredibly well, a performance he said is reflected in the January gaming numbers and baccarat win totals that wowed Wall Street.

"It's an old story: The top two or three places do all the business," he said.

The $1.6 billion-plus Encore will be an even higher-end property than Wynn Las Vegas, he promised, with "a very big use of atriums and gardens." Encore will also have a "hook" - such as Wynn Las Vegas' mountain/lagoon, Bellagio's lake/fountains and Mirage's volcano - but the developer isn't quite ready to share his hook with the public (or competitors).

Encore's rooms will be large: 734 square feet. "It will feel like a huge studio suite," Wynn said. "Giving people extra room is not expensive but it makes a big difference."

He said Wynn Macau's opening is on track, with the builder slated to hand over the property on July 27. The casino ceiling is in, the rooms are carpeted and suites are now being decorated. When Wynn last visited a couple of weeks ago he helped with the selection of music that will accompany Wynn Macau's Bellagio-style fountains.

Fifty-five thousand applicants are vying for 4,300 jobs there. Wynn expects the new property to be a quantum leap over the existing Macau properties. The change is like the difference between the Plaza in downtown Las Vegas and the Mirage, he said. "We haven't seen true destination resorts in Macau yet," he said. "Now we're going to see the Real McCoy."

Wynn said the deal to sell his sub-concession to Australia-based Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd. was a good deal for Wynn Resorts, Macau and for PBL and its chairman James Packer.

Frank Fertitta III and Lorenzo Fertitta took Sun gaming reporter Liz Benston and me on a tour of their newest baby last week, and Station's top duo are rightfully proud.

Red Rock Resort will clearly be the sweetest locals' casino in Las Vegas, and I think it will immediately rank among the best casino resorts in the world.

Sounding an awful lot like Wynn, Frank Fertitta III said of the rationale behind putting $925 million and beautiful design elements in every corner of Red Rock: "When you build a nice product you appeal to a nicer group of people."

Among the property's coolest features are incredible views, with rooms on one side of the hotel tower facing the Strip and the rooms on the other side facing Red Rock National Conservation Area. The pool area is the property's central focus, with a number of restaurants, clubs and the spa circling it.

The Fertittas have given Summerlin-area residents a property they'll be proud of, and I bet Summerlin and Las Vegas folks are about to give the Fertittas a generous return on their hefty investment.