Sunday


A LONG WEEKEND IN LAS VEGAS WITHOUT EVER LEAVING
THE WYNN AND ENCORE HOTELS

We’re sitting in our stunning apartment style suite, sipping on some Krug champagne that we just popped, and watching the soft golden rays of sun stream past the sheer curtains, casting the desert warmth across the elegant furniture.  It just doesn’t get better than this.

We wanted to get away for a long weekend and experience something fun, exciting, relaxing, entertaining, and food-worthy without moving around too much.  There’s but one option that’s so close for just about all of our Readers and that’s Las Vegas.  Although we’ve been back since our last reviews of the Wynn and Encore a few years ago, our scouting of properties for future stories have shown promise, but not of the standards that we share with you.  There is but one address in Las Vegas, and that is the Encore and Wynn Hotel properties.
We didn’t want to run all over the strip when here for just four days, and with the Encore and Wynn having everything right there, it has again proven to be the perfect choice.  Arrange for the hotel to pick you up at the airport and they will be waiting for you with an Ipad showing your name.  Within minutes we’re in the private entrance and the private tower of the Encore, and we wondered why we don’t do this every weekend.   

Our driver Phil is 200 pounds of muscle, so he not only provides a ride, but also a great smile.  Lindsey, the Guest Services Hostess, greeted us as the car door opened and within minutes we were into our suite, shoes off, feet up, champagne flutes in hand, and toasting each other to how wonderful life can be, accentuated by the complete thought process of Elaine and Steve Wynn.

THE SWEET SUITE
The older we get, the more we come to value the little comforts of this life, and it’s with that motto that we settle into our very sweet suite accommodations at the Encore.  All you need in life is right here at the Encore and Wynn and we had to give serious thought about ever leaving.
There are so many different types of suite selections, but since our readers are discerning and want an experience better than what awaits at home, we recommend the one or two bedroom suite.  The décor throughout the entire hotel is the genius creation of Roger Thomas and has the right amount of pizzazz while maintaining a formal, yet comfortable elegance.  Creamy yellow is the theme throughout, and as the sun shines into the windows, the colors warms like the beach on a summer day.  
We entered into the main living room, with an expanse of dramatic golden, oversized hounds tooth carpeting framed by just the right amount of ubiquitous white and golden marble throughout the munificent 3,000 square foot space.  The enormous open living room, bar and desk area is accentuated by a massive oval mirror on the ceiling and yards of ornate moldings.  A huge five-foot big screen TV centers one wall, leaving an entertainment area that is lined with fine silken pillows and comfy couches for reclining.  The entire room is focused on arced floor to ceiling windows with views out to the mountains and the strip.  This area alone would suffice for anyone.  Impeccably maintained ferns, vases with sprays of orchids and artistic artifacts that clearly aren’t nailed down, personalize all the rooms, making it feel like home. 

With a breathtaking view of Las Vegas out of each and every window, it was a toss up where to look first. This suite has two gorgeous bedrooms that are large but not cavernous, complete with a phone system that operates the pop-up flat screen, curtains and lights.
The King in the master and the Queen in the guest bedroom are beyond comfortable, and the sheets (the sheets in all the rooms are quality natural fibers, but the larger suites receive linens that are even more high end) so elegant that you glide into them and never want to leave.   
In fact, so fabulous are the bed sets that all of the bedding, including the mattress, is available in their Home Store in the gallery of high-end shops (see more of about that later in the article).  Windows and mirrors surround the Master bedroom, giving it the effect of floating over the strip.  The writing desk, and some gorgeous green ferns enrich the environment.
The en suite bathrooms are spacious, filled with the same unique yellow veined marble, and the walls are cleverly lined with what we remembered from childhood as shell placemats from the Philippines. 
They are loaded with new, remarkably thick bath sheets and towels that soak up the water from a shower or luxuriating bath in the air bubble tub facing the strip.  Even the ubiquitous hounds-tooth carpeting is cleverly installed in the coffered ceilings so that it ties in the décor of the entire unit, and quiets the rooms for insured silence.
There is every amenity known to mankind installed in both bathrooms.  The large sized lemongrass citrus Desert Bambu products are made expressly for Wynn and Encore Suites (small sizes of the same are in the regular rooms, but who doesn’t love being pampered with a large bottle of body cream, shampoo, conditioner or shower gel). Most hotels treat their products like a national treasure, reluctantly leaving a miniscule product for the duration of your stay.  Not here; ever-present, these amenities exude Southeast Asian exotic tones of grasses that are crisp, delicate and refined.  The “throw-away” razors and toothbrushes come complete with a distinguished silver-like handle, an inimitable touch we’ve never seen.  Who could throw away such a thing of beauty?
And there is more in this suite; a lot more.  There is a dedicated massage room with an electric table.  An apartment-sized kitchen comes complete with Viking Professional refrigerator and freezer, as well as a Viking microwave (clearly we could spend a lot more time here than just four days).  The guest suite comes complete with an enormous en suite bathroom and floor to ceiling windows with broad vistas downtown.  An elegant powder room is appointed in rich red tones that envelope you as you enter.

Assuming that you don't want to sport for the above cost, there are plenty of fabulous ways to live large at the Encore.The Parlor Suite is striking. 
 The Salon Suite is Sensational 
Need a bit more? The King Panorama Suite is, well, fit for a King; or a Queen.
Roger Thomas had told us, “there are a lot of hotels that look good, but we take pains to make YOU look good in our hotel”. He couldn’t have put it better. Looking good at the Encore is easy, and by the way, there sure are a lot of good-looking guys and gals everywhere you look.
Each design decision Roger made was informed, and connected to some scholarly event in his history with which he’s identified.  Elaine Wynn told us once that, “It’s healthy to pursue excellence” and that’s what she and Steve have done at the Encore and Wynn.  

HOMESTORE: Encore Homestore @ Wynn Las Vegas: 702. 770-5477
We loved the linens and things so much that we popped into the Home Store located in the Esplanade with many of the other fine shops.  Loretta is a friendly and knowledgeable sales associate, so ask for her.  She’ll guide you through the Resort Collection or Villa Suite collection of gorgeous cotton linens.  She’ll also show you some amazing sourced furniture pieces, artifacts and crafts that you can ship right to your home as a permanent memory of your stay.

FOOD, FOOD AND MORE GREAT FOOD

The only thing that stays the same is change, and that concept is constantly at work here in the public areas at both properties.  We haven’t been back in a few years so the feel was familiar, but there were so many wonderful additions that it kept it fresh and appealing.  One of those exciting changes is that Steve Wynn has mandated to provide all organic food products, wild salmon and grass fed beef; a trick in the desert that is worthy of David Copperfield.  Additionally, every single restaurant under the Wynn and Encore Roofs has created a vegan, vegetarian and allergen menu for those who observe and for those who are just interested in taking a walk on the wild side of no animal cholesterol.  In fact, it is the only hotel on the strip that offers at least five creative vegan menus.  So with that in mind, get ready to dine.

WAZUZU
We couldn’t come back to the encore without revisiting what Chef Jet Tila created at Wazuzu (He’s moved on, but his legacy remains in tact); try his Special Sushi platter ($60), and now his extraordinary Tom Kai Gar Soup ($12) is now on the menu at our earlier request and I’m sure many others have asked for it be added.   
Chef Jet told us once that an Asian restaurant is judged by its Tom Kai Gar soup, and it’s true.  In this case the barometer hits the top reading. Wazuzu is one of the best casual dining experiences in Las Vegas and is not be overlooked, especially if you’re having a yen for pan-Asian delights. 
  
A NIGHT AT LA CAVE

Something new has popped up at the Wynn. In the shadow of the towering 60 plus story Wynn Hotel, and overlooking the formal pool-scaped gardens, this wine and food hideaway of only 198 seats brought to us by Michael Morton and Steve Wynn is a fantastic, more casual alternative to the fine dining restaurants, and the food tastes hold up nicely.
With gorgeous desert nighttime weather from now until fall, ask to sit outside on the patio and enjoy the scenery; we reserved #72, which is right on the edge overlooking the formal garden and pool.  All the spaces in this restaurant are creative and comfortable, and welcoming.   
The good looking William (“Billy”) DeMarco (who cut his chops at Aurelole and with Sam DeMarco of no relation) has created an interesting and diverse menu that combines his New York Italian background with an American style to create a menu of appetizers or small bites so that you can enjoy a bounty of tastes all in one evening.
Melissa was our delightful server and patiently and accurately described the many choices on the menu. We started with the beef carpaccio, uniquely rolled and possibly the best we’ve ever savored.  It was beyond outstanding probably due to the inspired addition of a hint of truffle and its distinctive preparation ($15). 
The salmon sashimi tostada with avocado and sesame soy dressing proved to be a winner at $15.  Of particular note was the Chef’s selection of “Nueske’s Bacon, poached quail egg on a Fontina flatbread ($16) that was a mouthwatering surprise of a dinner version of bacon and eggs on toast.   Yum.
The lamb T-Bone was served with bacon and a side of mustard greens, which made Scott wish he had these when he was growing up and hated veggies ($20).  The lamb was so tender and tasty it made us wonder if there was even a foie gras component.   
Bryson, the adorable young hunk from Hawaii, rushed everything to our table with an impish grin that was as irresistible as the food.  Michael loved the burger slider and we were told it was one of the most popular items on the menu.
Chloe, the wise and attractive sommelier, helped us select a wine flight.  A standard pour at the hotel properties is 6 ounces (generally an ounce more than most restaurants).  The flight of wines are composed of 4 wines, 2 ounces each, so they prove to be a great way to sample wines at a reasonable price of between $20 to $65 dollars.  We threw ourselves into her capable hands to create something according to our penchants and we were not disappointed with her selections.  The glasses are numbered according to how they should be enjoyed, and we started with Bordeaux, and then moved to a magnificent Blue-eyed Boy Shiraz from Australia that was imbibed with notes of blueberries.  From there we tasted the Sperre Amarone, and ended with a superb Joseph Phelps Insignia, that brought the chocolate notes together by which to remember the meal.  There are a choice of 43 wines by the glass ranging from $9 to $100 (the Phelps), and a variety of 230 bottles on their list.
Chef Billy has created a dessert flatbread that is not to be missed, and we mean it.  In fact, even if you don’t have dinner here, we suggest you come for a dessert wine (we suggest Dolce) and the Chef’s selection, the S’mores Flatbread, worth every penny of the $12.  Imagine campfire days of slowly roasting  marshmallows over a fire until golden brown and then sandwiching them between graham crackers and a wedge of chocolate…and then putting all that onto a flatbread.  It was a sticky, sweet mouthful of memories and taste bud overdrive.  Don’t miss it, no matter how full you are. 
 
 BODACIOUS BOTERO
Six leather-clad columns surround an enormous Botero sculpture of a naked and Rubenesque woman who clearly has enjoyed the spoils of this most fabulous steak and fish house. 
If you’re by yourself or with one other, ask for one of only twelve tables that sit ringside around the 1.9 million dollar sculpture.  If you’re with a group, the window tables are perfect for sliding open the doors on a warm night and enjoying the happening atmosphere by the pool that’s a result of the beautiful people oozing out of the frenetic nightclub, XS. 
Designed in the round, all the windows open to the grounds and the meandering pool. The tables are dressed in simple white cloths accompanying elegant svelte white leather chairs that offset the warm browns of the carpet, drapes and ceiling. 

With original Botero paintings on the walls, lit to perfection, to create the feeling that they’re floating, this elegant, yet lively eatery is a stimulus of the senses, both visual and of the palate. And the folks that work here are equally as striking as the art.
We would have been satisfied just hanging out all night, but the food and service made our evening that much more enjoyable. Chef Mark LoRusso’s preparations paralleled the inspiring environment.  With his background in fish, this “steak house” offered much more than most.
 
We started with the shellfish tower, which arrived dramatically at our table with four levels of lobster, crab, giant shrimp, mussels and service of scallop. A feast from the sea, it was way enough for two folks, and a delicious presentation of delights smothered in fresh ice shavings ($65). Make sure to try the superb mustard sauce option with your seafood.  Ask “Sam the Som” to recommend some wine pairings.  An incredibly knowledgeable guy, he suggested a pleasing chardonnay that had just the right buttery remarks to compliment the array of seafood.  
The meats at Botero are so tender; the way it cuts off a knife is incomparable. 
A neighboring table of ours had the 20 oz bone-in Rib Eye that was so hefty that they could have played tennis with it ($56). It arrived at their table and they said it was exactly the right temperature.
Michael had the 8-ounce Petite Filet ($50) which was just the right amount of meat to finish the meal after downing all the fish. It arrived warm and exactly as ordered, medium-rare, (the only way Michael will order his meat), and it is grass-fed which is what The Dining Duo demands in these times.
Scott had to have the brioche crusted Colorado rack of lamb ($49) that was accompanied by lamb confit and fettuccine. He asked for it medium rare, and it arrived medium rare—something a lot of shops have a difficult time producing.
The flavor was magnificent and the size of the portions was sufficiently large enough to leave some on the plate. We combined all of this with a fabulous half bottle of the Shafer 2008 Napa Valley One Point Five blend (Sam pointed out that Shafer was the former som at the original Spagos in L.A. before opening his own winery) and it was well worth the $75 price tag. It’s full body with darker fruits that stood up to the rich foods we ordered and was a brilliant suggestion by Sam, who happens to be the boyfriend of Chloe, the som at La Cave.  We’re happy to know they mix their wines.

As if we weren’t already stuffed to the gills, we just had to try a dessert, so we ordered the Butterscotch Pot De Crème ($12) that was prepared with Bailey’s whipped cream and served with espresso cookies.  It was creamy and light on the butterscotch, so it perfectly finished a most wonderful meal.
On the way out the door, we took another look at the giant Botero sculpture in the middle of the room and suddenly she didn’t seem so fat anymore. Scott could have sworn he saw her wink at him with a knowing smile.

LIFE IS JUST A CABANA IN THE SUN
 at the Wynn/Encore Hotels
En route to the pools, stop at the store, “Swim” and pick up your pool needs, and a couple of trendy must-have Vilebrequin suits for the guys.
Serene, manicured and beautiful, with just the right amount of vibe, the pools at the Wynn are a wonderful way to take a load off after a late night of indulgence.  There are three choices, the Resort Pool on the lower level, the over-21 European pool and the Tower Suite pools above; we chose the latter, but it didn’t stop us from cruising the other two.
For The Dining Duo, this is our favorite place to unwind and spend an unhurried day doing absolutely nothing.  What a treat that is for anyone and it’s worth the price.  We checked out all the cabanas in the area and we suggest reserving one of our two favorites, #202 or #203.  The cabanas are heavenly and we could live in them.
At approximately 120 square feet, 202 and 203 are two of the only four cabanas that offer private tower pools and these two face the sun for a more advantageous positioning.  The brightly colored Franco-Italian designed permanent cabanas are equipped with a fully stocked mini fridge, flat screen television, personal safe, Ipod docking station, cutlery and mounds of fluffy blue-striped beach towels.  A gentle breeze wafts through the airy openings of these only 3-sided cabanas, making lounging on the comfy recliners or pillow-stuffed couch absolutely blissful.  
Turn on the overhead fan or the micro-misters (mist available after Memorial Day) and you’re transported to some exotic locale, not the middle of the Nevada desert.  If you feel like sunning, two private lounges await just outside the entrance, a few steps from a much less populated pool than the others.   
Remember that all of this luxury is only available to our readers who stay in Encore or Wynn suites, thus another advantage to treating yourselves to the luxury you whole-heartedly deserve, and for only $400/day (Monday-Thursday), $500/day (Friday and Sunday) and $600/day on Saturdays.  Start early, leave late, it’s all about you and your desires, and the impeccable service makes sure you know it.
Range (as in “Rover” not as in “Stove”) is the young, handsome Cabana Host assigned to watch over our every need (well, nearly) and to insure that our experience is exceptional.  Additionally, a variety of other good-looking guys and gals dropped by to make sure we were taken care of in the fashion Steve Wynn clearly expects for his guests.
We decided on a late breakfast and lunch in our cabana.  Another advantage to reserving a cabana in the Tower areas is that unlike the other pool options, here you can order food from any of the Wynn or Encore restaurants.  We choose to try the Tableau menu because it looked enticing (and we later went to breakfast there to try some other items, more about that below).  After nibbling on the fresh fruit that automatically comes in every cabana and is also served to guests hanging by the Tower Pools, we opted to start with Greek Yogurt, fresh berries and honey, a healthy way to launch the day.  
Throwing caution to the wind, we moved to the divinely tasting pancakes (and Scott is a tough audience when it comes to pancakes) made with ricotta cheese and smothered with butter and syrup.  Michael enjoyed six West Coast oysters that were perfect with the sauce Tableau had prepared for it.  Extremely gracious and polite servers brought everything to our Cabana in a timely manner.

We topped the experience off with an order of Chocolate Risotto from La Cave, which the smiling and attractive Kimi rushed to us piping out.   
It tasted like warm chocolate rice pudding topped with a sprinkling of chopped pistachios and served in a demitasse cup with a mini chocolate chip cookie to finish the pleasurable concoction.  We wolfed it down, wanting more.
After this food pleasure, we went to the Resort Pool for a walk down the center of the year-round heated pool that seemed to go forever.  Taking in all the great people watching, we ended up in the over-21 (we just made it) European Pool where the music was thumping, the pool was packed with dancing bodies, and topless sun bathing was quite popular amongst the ladies; but that part was lost on The Dining Duo.  No worries, there was plenty of other visual scenery to entertain us before we traveled back to our peaceful little spot high above the scene where we could enjoy an afternoon nap under a cool, desert breeze.  It just doesn’t get better than this.
MORE TABLEAU
When visiting this very pretty spot to start the day, reserve seats in the Conservatory Room.  It’s a large oval area entirely in French doors and windows, with light colored marble floors and a sunny bright yellow ceiling.   
With light streaming in and views everywhere of flowering gardens, pools and hot bodies roaming the grounds, that and a café latte is a wonderful way to get your blood pumping in the morning.  Add in brightly colored painted chairs with pictures of monkeys and the sun, and you feel like you’re dining in a green house.
In addition to what we sampled in our Cabana, this time we tried the white chocolate & orange French toast, served with liquid warm white chocolate and made from orange sweet bread ($20).  The toast was just the right amount of crispy around the edges and the presentation was so beautiful we hated to disturb it.  This one was a winner.  
We also sampled the traditional eggs Benedict made with house-cured Canadian bacon, poached eggs and a hollandaise sauce to remember ($22).  It may have been 100 degrees outside, but we relaxed in a temperature perfect gorgeous environment and recovered from the night before while spoiling in some terrific victuals.


*************************************************************************
Join us next time for much, much more of the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the Encore and Wynn.  We never left our entire stay, except to go to the airport, kicking and screaming like little kids never wanting it to end.

Appetizingly yours,
Michael and Scott
The Dining Duo

Posted by The Dining Duo | 10:42 AM | 0 comments »

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