Losing at Wynn


All I can say is, Bugsy would have hated it. Frank would have hated it. Elvis too. My father definitely would have hated it. The last stop on our terrific road trip was to be in Las Vegas, at the Wynn Hotel. I wanted an elegant ending to our month-long travel adventure across the country, and I figured that a couple of nights at the Wynn before going home would be just the right frosting on the cake. I figured wrong … in spades.

I chose the Wynn because we had been to Steve Wynn’s other hotels through the years (Golden Nugget, Mirage) and always had a wonderful stay. We never stayed at The Bellagio, but we walked through the lobby and casino after it first opened years ago and appreciated the level of sophistication and décor throughout. I figured the Wynn and Encore would have that same level of elegance. Again, I figured wrong.

I should mention that it had been at least ten or twelve years since we last stayed in Las Vegas, but even back then the “old Vegas” was long gone. At that time Las Vegas was pushing the family friendly concept with amusement parks and other kiddy concessions attached to the casino/hotels. Families started coming, pushing baby strollers and dressed in their best amusement park clothing (T-shirts, tank tops, shorts and flip-flops).

But even though most of the town went in that direction, Steve Wynn’s Mirage and his new Bellagio hotels harked back to the more adult, elegant Vegas of the fifties and sixties, when the tuxedo-clad Rat Pack guys and bejeweled gals stood at the gaming tables. The Wynn hotels always seemed a cut above, a bit more serious, a bit more sophisticated, and always done in the best of taste. You might say a class operation.

The first indication we had that things were not the same was when we walked in through the front door and felt the air. The hotel lobby air was warm and dank. One thing the old casino/hotels of Vegas were always noted for was the fresh, clean air that circulated throughout the lobby and casinos. No matter how oppressively hot it got outside, inside it was refreshing. The air in Wynn’s was downright stuffy.

When we turned the corner in the lobby to get to the registration desk we couldn’t believe our eyes. There must have been a hundred people waiting in a snaking rope-line. This was to register. The stanchion line looked like something you might see at a really busy day at Disneyland or going through the airport security check on a holiday weekend.

After 30 or 40 minutes we inched our way up to the desk and spoke with one of the dozen or so desk clerks. She took my credit card info then asked for our cell phone number. Why? Well, so that she could call us and let us know when our room would be available. We dragged ourselves through the warm lobby and sat down at a bar near the casino. It was then that we became aware of yet another assault on our senses, the loud canned music. We were to find out later that the horrible screeching and thumping was nonstop and piped in everywhere within the complex. You couldn’t get away from it.

Neither could you get away from the ugly interior decoration of the entire place. It looked like a cross between an exaggerated cartoon version of an Arabian Nightmare and Peter Max psychedelic hippy poster art. Bold colors swirling in enormous butterfly images on carpets, walls, ceilings, drapery, and furniture accompanying oversized Middle Eastern-style hanging tassels and light fixtures. But the butterfly images, what’s that all about?

After about an hour we got our phone call and returned to get our room key, which you do at a separate bank of desks in the reception area. Our room was not what I had requested so they moved us to another room and we called to have our luggage sent up. Here’s the way it works with the bellmen; there are front door/lobby bellmen and there are separate room bellmen. What this means to the guests is, you tip twice! You tip the guy in the lobby who first gets your bags out of the car and brings them into the hotel, and then you tip a different guy who takes them up to your room.

We had dinner reservations that night at one of Wynn’s exclusive restaurants, Sinatra. When we made the reservations from home a month before, the girl taking our reservation asked if this was going to be a special occasion. Jane told her yes, it was her birthday. The girl said “Very good. I will make that notation with your reservation.” We thought no more about it.

We arrived at the dinning room at our appointed time and were shown to our table by the host. After Jane was seated, the host leaned over to her and handed her an envelope that had “Happy Birthday” written on it. She opened the envelope and read it: “Thank you for joining Sinatra on your special occasion! We are pleased to have you dinning with us! Grazie!” We ordered drinks and noticed that at a table nearby, a man was brought a small dessert with a candle in it. Well, we figured Jane would be getting the same treatment. We figured wrong.

We wound up having a very nice multi-course dinner, including dessert and coffee. The food was good (although a mistake was made on Jane’s main course, but it was quickly rectified). The dinner was extremely expensive, but that was expected. What wasn’t expected was that nothing was ever acknowledged concerning Jane’s birthday beyond that little envelope she was handed. Why did the reservation girl make such a point of asking if this was to be a special occasion? What a disappointment. Even little neighborhood places bring out a dish of ice cream with a candle in it; you’d think a restaurant where dinner for two costs three hundred dollars would do a little something. No class. Frank would have hated it.

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