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Gaming Guru

Jeff Simpson
 

Feedback on Resort Positive, Wynn Says

18 May 2005

LAS VEGAS -- Steve Wynn said Tuesday that the public's reaction to his $2.7 billion Wynn Las Vegas has been better than at any property he's opened before.

And he said some negative reviews by national and local critics don't faze him.

"I'm happy," Wynn said. "Our guests love it. I've never had this kind of enthusiasm at any property we've opened. I love seeing people in (the hotel). They love it, and they don't even know why."

Wynn said the property's use of natural light has generated a lot of positive comment. And he's getting no small amount of feedback.

"Everyone has something nice to say," Wynn said. "I can barely walk around the hotel (without being surrounded by customers)."

He declined to disclose the property's initial financial results, saying that Wynn Resorts will release gaming and hotel numbers when it reports results after the end of the quarter.

Wynn previously opened Bellagio, Mirage and Treasure Island while at the helm of Mirage Resorts, which was acquired in 2000 by MGM Grand Inc., and became MGM Mirage.

"Opening weekend was all delicious, a big hit," he said. "The reaction of the public to the hotel has surpassed any other hotel I've done.

The resort developer bristled at tough comments critics have leveled at the hotel's architecture, landscaping and production show.

Referring to a Los Angeles Times critic who compared the hotel tower's look to that of Houston office buildings, and to a Wall Street Journal reporter who wrote that the Wynn Las Vegas landscaping "looks slapdash" and is "in no way comparable to the genuine splendor of Bellagio," Wynn struck back.

"These are people that love to hate Las Vegas," he said. "We have a high-profile project, and everyone wants to say something. The L.A. Times always wants to say something bad about Las Vegas."

Almost three weeks after its April 28 opening, the resort's wrinkles are being ironed out.

"I've been here every day, and I'm not looking for good news," he said. "We're looking for problems, and we're focused on solving those problems. You have to open the building and begin (operating). You can't intellectualize what it's like to swim. You have to get in the water and swim."

Wynn predicted the property's shake-out period would last two to three months.

Things have gone well on the casino floor, he said, but he refused to cite specific numbers.

Despite some negative reviews of "Le Reve," the Franco Dragone production show, Wynn said he's confident the show will succeed, and rebutted reports that the property has delayed plans to offer a second nightly show because of the critical reaction.

"Franco's not done with 'Le Reve' yet," he said.

"MGM (Grand) ran one show a night for a couple of months, and they only had 30 percent paid admissions," referring to "Ka," a Cirque du Soleil show that opened late last year. "The rest were comped. And we had our press preview opening weekend; they had theirs after a few months."

Architectural criticism also drew a response.

"This hotel is all about the experience of the guest," he said. "We decided we wanted a glass-curtain wall, and a glass-curtain-walled building tends to look (like others)."

Wynn said the building's curved tower is an evolutionary leap from bulkier hotel towers, with three of four wings extending from a central spine. He differentiated the clean look of the Wynn Las Vegas tower with the ornate look of some of the city's other top properties, which he called "themed fru-fru."

Construction of Wynn Resorts' Macau casino project continues on pace in the Chinese enclave, he said. The hotel is expected to open in August or September 2006.

He said he "has no idea" whether he'll be tapped by the Singapore government to open a casino there, but noted that he was hosting a delegation of Singapore reporters and accompanying them to lunch later Tuesday afternoon.