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HomeLIFESTYLEInside America's Most Honored Resort: Wynn Las Vegas

Inside America’s Most Honored Resort: Wynn Las Vegas

The collection of 4- and 5-Star hotels, restaurants, and resorts at the Wynn Las Vegas has earned 47 Forbes Stars.

The Wynn Las Vegas mega-resort has more Forbes Stars than any other U.S. property under a single roof (a very large roof). Forbes does not rate gaming, retail, live entertainment, or golf, but if they did, Wynn’s score would likely be even higher, given that it is the only resort on the Strip with an impressive Tom Fazio-designed golf course. This is one prominent example of the unique assets that help set Wynn apart from the other megaresorts in the city that feature gambling, excellent restaurants, shops, and shows, but it is by no means the only one.

Since Steve Wynn burst onto the hotel scene with the Mirage, I’ve covered Las Vegas travel and tourism, and I stayed at his Bellagio the first night it opened.

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However, after selling these properties to MGM Resorts, he created Wynn with a unique twist on what was rapidly becoming a cookie-cutter model in the city.

Instead of a large Strip spectacle—a free pirate ship show, a free volcano show, a free fountain show, etc.—to stop pedestrians in their tracks and then draw them through the doors, the casino has installed a free pirate ship show. Wynn was envisioned from the inside out as a more self-contained refuge, a megaresort that was an escape from other megaresorts, and its founder’s strategy was to create a place where guests would not need to or want to depart.

Wynn is distinctive among Las Vegas resorts for a number of reasons, including the fact that it is the only Strip hotel. There are hotels with golf courses.

Steve Wynn has long since left the company, and some of his ideas, such as demolishing the golf course to build a waterpark, were mercifully abandoned. But after some trial and error, years of investment and improvement, and several very recent developments, Wynn’s goal of becoming its own mini-city of distinction has been realized.

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I have stayed here multiple times over the years, most recently a few months ago after a couple of years of consistent renovations. I was astonished.

For example, the last time I checked, Wynn had two Forbes 5-Star hotels and two 4-Star hotels. This is certainly world-class, but today, all four have received the maximum 5-Star rating, and many other enhancements and modifications have been made. But what I find most intriguing about Wynn are the unconventional aspects of the operation.

Instead of a motif, Wynn has a classy personality. There are a number of great casino hotels in Las Vegas, including several that I personally enjoy for various reasons. However, they tend to compete with each other on the same old activities and attractions, and I am confident in stating that Wynn has more unique activities and attractions than its competitors, including a number of things that no one else is doing.

A 5-Star Wynn Tower Suites unit with a king-sized bed, as rated by Forbes.

However, let’s begin with the awards. Each of the four 5-Star hotels, including the connected Wynn and Encore, contains an even more opulent “Tower Suites” boutique hotel. The Tower Suites are still preferable, with simpler check-in and check-out (and complimentary morning coffee, something Vegas sorely lacks), but any room on the property will suffice.

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There are also townhouse-style luxury one- and two-bedroom Fairway Villas opening to the golf course, with large outdoor spaces and lots of luxury extras such as roundtrip limos to the airport (technically, these are part of the Wynn Tower Suites, but they are physically separate and a hidden gem of the highest order).

It does not matter which side of the complex you remain on, as the only discernible difference is the color scheme of the room decor. Each side has its own 5-Star casino, fitness center, and spa, while the superb restaurants are evenly distributed.

These include the 5-Star Wing Lei, the only Chinese restaurant in town with a 5-Star menu, and the first Cantonese restaurant in North America to receive a Michelin Star. Every Las Vegas resort is required by law to have a high-end Chinese restaurant, but Wing Lei is consistently regarded as the finest (its Peking Duck is renowned).

Wynn’s Wing Lei was the first Cantonese restaurant in North America to receive a Michelin star and is the only Chinese restaurant in Las Vegas to receive five stars from Forbes. It is renowned for its Peking Duck.

The selection of restaurants exemplifies what makes Wynn so distinctive. When you think of Las Vegas, you immediately think of celebrity chefs because the city’s entire culinary culture is based on them. Wolfgang Puck started the trend with Spago at Caesars Palace Forum Shops, but Steve Wynn embraced it resort-wide.

There is no other location where so many chefs are represented, including Puck, the late great Joel Robuchon, Nobu Matsuhisa, Bobby Flay, Michael Mina, Alain Ducasse, etc.

But not at Wynn, where the anti-Vegas norm has always been the incubation of original ideas. The only exception is the Cipriani outpost in the retail purchasing arcade. Instead of a steakhouse by Jean-George Vongerichten, Gordon Ramsay, or Tom Colicchio, all of whom have steakhouses in the city, there is the homegrown SW Steakhouse, which has long been consistently excellent and was among the first restaurants in the country to launch a Japanese beef program when Kobe and other wagyu became legal to import. Despite the absence of a well-known chef, it is one of only two steakhouses in Las Vegas to receive four stars from Forbes.

Wynn’s Sinatra is the highest-rated Italian restaurant in Las Vegas, having been awarded the Forbes Four-Star Award.

Similarly, only two of the city’s numerous high-end Japanese restaurants, each with four stars and no celebrity chefs, made the list. These are Mizumi at Wynn and Kusa Nori at Resorts World Las Vegas (Mizumi is closed through September for renovations, but Chef Min Kim is operating a more casual pop-up Korean restaurant at the resort in the interim).

Surprisingly, Wynn’s Sinatra is the only Italian restaurant on the list with four stars. I enjoyed my final dinner in Las Vegas there, which featured Italian American classics prepared in a culinary style, excellent service, and white tablecloths. Through a licensing agreement with the legendary actor’s estate, the restaurant serves his favored recipes (and cocktails) and is adorned with his Emmy, Grammy, and Oscar for From Here to Eternity, presented in a classy manner.

Not only does Wynn have one of only five 5-Star restaurants in the city, but it also has three 4-Star restaurants that are the best in their respective categories. The only item missing is a Michelin-starred French restaurant. The Forbes-recommended Lakeside, one of the city’s finest seafood specialists, offers an incredible assortment of fresh fish flown in daily from around the globe.

But the distinctive culinary approach goes beyond the extensive list of accolades. In the “normal” Las Vegas model, each restaurant, particularly the less upscale ones, is largely on its own in terms of the breadbasket on the table, the dessert list, and breakfast pastries, as well as all the items outside their main focus that they must either make themselves or, more frequently, source from commercial vendors.

By operating its own restaurants, Wynn benefits from economies of scale and is able to operate a full-service bakery and a separate full-service pastry shop, each overseen by masters of their craft, in addition to all the other combined cutting and processing that can occur in purpose-built hidden kitchens.

Instead of pre-baked frozen rolls, Wynn restaurants are continuously restocked with fresh, high-quality ingredients throughout the day, which makes a significant difference.

The pools at the Wynn Resort have luxurious cabanas.

This configuration also enables them to be the only major casino resort in town to offer cooking and cocktail classes on a regular basis, something curiously absent from such a gourmet destination. These are referred to as Master Classes, and there are typically two or more per month, as well as a menu that is constantly changing, both in the concealed kitchens and in the individual restaurants and bars.

In the spring of this year, I attended the Bakery Master Class and learned how to create sourdough bread, Challah, and Bavarian-style pretzels. It was entertaining, delectable (there was a lot of testing of freshly baked goods), and very well executed. I have attended cooking classes all over the world, so I have a decent reference point. Options have included craft cocktails, dessert, sushi, and the infrequent dim sum class taught by Wing Lei’s Michelin-starred chef.

For each, the actual professionals, not assistants, are brought out, and a meal and sometimes alcoholic beverages are served. As with many Wynn offerings, there is nothing else quite like it in town, so if you are visiting Las Vegas and staying at Wynn, I highly recommend checking the Master Class schedule and indulging.

The “mega-yacht”-themed Aft Cocktail Deck is a new addition that overlooks the lake.

As part of its recent wave of enhancements, the resort appointed Mariena Mercer Boarini as Master Mixologist two years ago. She has revamped the cocktail menus of Wynn’s 34 watering holes, including two brand-new establishments.

These include the upscale Overlook Lounge, perched on the casino floor and overlooking (hence the name) the Lake of Dreams, Wynn’s signature aquatic feature. Also new is the Aft Cocktail Deck, an outdoor venue on the lake itself with a super yacht theme, tropically inspired cocktails, and a late-night menu featuring carafe-sized cocktails prepared tableside.

What else does Wynn have that no one else has? Beyond its two Forbes 5-Star resorts, there is a genuine emphasis on wellness, the likes of which I have only witnessed in Las Vegas at the Venetian’s Canyon Ranch satellite.

Spas are frequently categorized as wellness,” despite the fact that what they offer the vast majority of visitors is pampering (although there is a wellness component to some spa treatments). Wynn addresses this issue in multiple ways under the umbrella of Wynn Living Well, a brand-new program launched in January.

As a first step, the resort engaged well-known health and wellness personality Amanda Kloots (CBS’s The Talk) as its Living Well Ambassador to develop a series of in-room workout videos for people of all fitness levels. My top priority, whether traveling or at home, is to implement fitness and movement into my daily routine. “Wynn’s new wellness program will assist those on the move in achieving this goal,” stated Kloots.

The most remarkable addition to the Living Well focus, however, was the opening of the city’s only TB12 fitness and longevity studio, one of only ten worldwide. The fact that the majority are co-located with medical facilities such as hospitals or rehabilitation centers makes Wynn even more unusual as a resort option.

There are additional locations in New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, throughout Florida, and at the Dorado Beach Resort in Puerto Rico. The flagship location is in Foxboro, Massachusetts, where co-founder Tom Brady (TB and uniform number 12) spent the majority of his NFL tenure, and there are additional locations in New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, throughout Florida, and at the Dorado Beach Resort in Puerto Rico. The seven-time Super Bowl champion and his longstanding athletic trainer developed the TB12 fitness and lifestyle program.

Brady is proof that athlete ownership and sponsorship of everything from tequila brands to sporting products have become commonplace and frequently add nothing but cost to the consumer.

In addition to being widely acknowledged as the finest quarterback of all time, Brady is renowned for playing at the highest level late in his injury-free career, as if he were significantly younger than his years. He attributes this to the specialized regimen he devised with Guererro many years ago and has religiously adhered to it ever since.

Even though all professional athletes train relentlessly, many, if not most, are still injured. Typically, they train for strength and speed, and some for flexibility.

However, TB12 is longevity-focused and emphasizes pliability, or the muscle’s capacity to move more readily and absorb force. This is achieved through a combination of extremely deep tissue massage, stretching exercises, the use of self-massage accessories such as rolling rollers, and targeted strength training movements. Pliability is the most crucial of TB12’s five pillars, which also include nutrition, hydration, movement, and mental fitness.

The Wynn Spa is one of the resort’s two Forbes 5-Star facilities.

I tried TB12 in a one-on-one session at Wynn (there are only one-on-one sessions). I will not delve further into the sports science behind TB12, as that would require its own article. While I cannot replicate many aspects of the massage at home, I did learn some beneficial resistance band exercises to incorporate into my regular workout routine.

I’ve written for decades about skiing, cycling, hiking, fitness, and physical activity, and I’ve participated in numerous classes, personalized training, boot camps, and destination fitness retreats, but this was distinct in that it emphasized being fitter for longer rather than simply being fit. It is designed to be an ongoing program, not a one-time consultation, and is more effective if you can attend multiple times.

There are local regulars, and many Wynn guests book numerous sessions during their stay or each time they visit (the resort has a large number of loyal repeat customers). However, if you are interested in attempting TB12 or learning more about it, there are a few simpler locations to do so.

Wynn also features two ultra-convenient, state-of-the-art fitness centers, one on each side of the property. In addition to certified personal trainers, these facilities offer a variety of daily group classes, such as four types of yoga with an outdoor poolside option: body sculpting, core revolution, and High-Intensity Interval training, or HIIT ($40).

Additionally, there is a Soul Cycle studio in the retail area. As the final component of Living Well, every campus restaurant now offers vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free menu options, ensuring that no visitor is limited in their dining options.

In addition to the unique approach to restaurants, cooking classes, and wellness, there is a golf course, which is a huge deal and a reason why some guests stay exclusively at Wynn. It’s not just the only resort with a course on the Strip; it’s the only resort with an onsite course in the entire city (with the exception of J.W. Marriott Summerlin and Lake Las Vegas Resort in the suburbs).

It is also one of the finest in the Las Vegas area, with luxurious locker facilities. These facilities offer everything from shoe rentals in all sizes to a variety of rental clubs of the highest quality, allowing visitors to arrive unprepared and play a round on the spur of the moment. The Tom Fazio-designed course boasts unique-to-Vegas vistas and evocative signature features, such as the waterfall behind the peninsula green of the must-succeed par-3 18th hole.

The Encore Theater is a magnificent and intimate venue for live comedy and music.

Before the resort was redesigned, work to eliminate and demolish the original course, which Fazio also designed, started years ago. It reopened in late 2019 with eight brand-new courses and has since hosted Capital One’s celebrity event The Match, featuring professional athletes such as Tom Brady, Josh Allen, and Steph Curry. The new Wynn Golf Club will always retain a special place in my heart, as I was the first person to ever birdie the signature 18th on opening day.

In addition to the unique features that distinguish it, Wynn has all the bells and whistles expected of a top-tier Las Vegas casino resort. For entertainment, there is the Wynn Theater, a wonderfully intimate and acoustically superb venue that regularly hosts big-name performers (I saw John Cougar Mellencamp there), and Awakening, a proprietary live show featuring the type of acrobatics, puppetry, music, and state-of-the-art special effects that have become popular in Las Vegas (the show was new when I visited but has since been suspended, redone, and relaunched).

There is a day beach club, a night beach club, and a nightclub, as well as numerous upscale cocktail lounges. There are luxurious swimming pools with cabanas.

The resort has recently added a Louis Vuitton Maison with both the brand’s collectible bestsellers and several exclusive items available nowhere else. Also, there is a new Chloe boutique.

Lastly, it is important to note that Wynn is once again in a unique position, as the anticipated largest event in the city’s history is scheduled to take place this autumn.

The debut of the new F1 race, the Las Vegas Grand Prix, will take place from November 16–18 and is already regarded as second only to Monaco in terms of global spectator attendance.

The city is quickly selling out, but because Wynn is located at the corner where the race turns off the Strip, it has one of the finest viewing locations, with two turns in front of the hotel, and is offering a variety of F1 packages, ranging from the grandstand to ultra-luxurious.

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