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Las vegas hotels
By E.C. Gladstone

Headlines may tell you that Las Vegas is suffering in the economic downturn, but don’t let that give the impression that things are less lavish. Many Las Vegas hotels have gone ahead with planned fixes and remodels — and the Mirage has even debuted a new $22-million volcano. But no one’s making as big a splash as Las Vegas visionary Steve Wynn with his new Encore property.

A slightly scaled down "boutique" sister to the Wynn resort ("only" 2000 rooms!), Encore echoes the Wynn spirit — and dedication to excellence at every turn — while presenting a unique personality. Asian inspiration is everywhere in Encore, but don’t think you’ll be walking into a Chinese restaurant. Instead, a firey red dominates, balanced by sexy whites and technicolor butterflies, making Encore not quite feminine, not quite childlike, definitively neither Eastern nor Western, but certainly far from the clubby casinos of old.

The entire property is built around a 2.2 acre pool deck (half of which is devoted to "European" adult bathing, with dark cabanas and a center bar/gaming area) bringing in natural light during the day and romantic vistas at night. Details border on the obsessive, with handblown Murano glass chandeliers in the casino, lush exotic horticulture, and notable antique pieces studded throughout. And the high-limit casino is on the top floor, with stunning views.

All suites
With elevators placed incredibly close to check in, Encore gets pluses for ergonomics: Standard 750-square-foot suites feel minimalist but comfortable, with a full wall mirrors in the bedrooms, revolving 42" plasma TVs, floor-to-ceiling windows, bedside remote controls for lighting, draperies and even the do-not-disturb light, and, of course, a spare-no-expense bathroom.   

Though nothing here threatens to eclipse the Wynn’s greatest hits — including Alex, Bartolotta, Boulud and Wing Lei — all of the restaurants are intriguing while more intimate: Chef Marc Poidevin’s transformational French-American room Switch; ex-Patina chef Theo Schoenegger’s alto-Italiano Sinatra; Chef Mark LoRusso’s vibrant, booth-free Botero Steak (yes, those are real Botero sculptures and paintings); and Pan-Asian Wazuzu. Even the casino-side lounges are absolutely elegant.

Encore Esplanade’s 12 stores are mostly unique to the property, such as Ensemble where you can find everything from designer denim to vintage couture. The Esplanade also includes a Chanel concept store, the first-ever Rock & Republic shop, and a Hermes boutique (coming mid-January).

Encore las vegas

Looking to attract a well-heeled younger crowd, one of the property’s centerpieces is a gargantuan indoor-outdoor nightclub appropriately called XS, a 4,000-capacity expanded version of Wynn’s Tryst, with several semi-circular tiers of tables overlooking a huge dance floor open to the pool deck. Cinematic would be the only accurate descriptive; hopefully the crowd and DJs will live up to it.

Vegas installation Danny Gans is also bringing a new show to the Encore theater in February — and property insiders say contracts are being negotiated with other top name acts for special bookings.

Arguably the strongest element of the property, Encore’s expansive Spa floor is a truly breathtaking mid-century fantasy, including a salon (featuring Shu Uemura products), fitness center, juice bar and retail. One of the most posh treatment and wellness spaces I’ve experienced — not just on the Strip, but anywhere — any visit to Encore would be incomplete without experiencing it.

Insider Tip: Check out the Wynn Diamond, a 231-carat pear-shaped stone on a Cartier necklace, at the Wynn & Co. jewelers. That’s some rock.

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