World's most expensive hotel-casino opens in Las Vegas

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Friday, April 29, 2005

The hotel stands nearly fifty stories above the Las Vegas valley, with a 180-foot tall mountain in front of the main entrance.

The world's most expensive hotel-casino ever has opened in Las Vegas, Nevada. The casino, which was designed and built over a period of five years, cost US$2.7 billion to construct. The hotel stands nearly fifty stories above the Las Vegas valley, with a 180-foot tall mountain in front of the main entrance.

Numerous lavish touches contributed to the high expense of the development. The sign in front of the Wynn property has an unusual mechanical design, with a large piece containing the Wynn logo, which can move vertically up or down as different announcements are presented.

"I think it's going to start a shift of power. It's been the south for a long time. Things will start moving to the north because of Wynn Las Vegas, Sheldon Adelson with the expansion of the Venetian, the New Frontier -- that whole area will become the new hot area of Las Vegas for the next decade or so," gaming expert Anthony Curtis told Las Vegas KLAS TV.

As the property opened to the public, developer Steve Wynn greeted visitors at the front entrance.

"It's always fascinating to watch people enter the thing and get their first moment after we open the doors," Wynn told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Concern about the cost

File:WynnSign.JPG
The sign in front of the Wynn property has an unusual mechanical design, with a large piece containing the Wynn logo, which can move vertically up or down as different announcements are presented.

Analysts are not too concerned about the cost of the Wynn development. Wynn paid off the cost of The Mirage hotel-casino in 18 months, much earlier than the planned seven years for which the debt had been scheduled for repayment.

"If you remember the opening of The Mirage in 1989, Wynn needed to make a nut of $1 million a day. Everyone thought he was nuts; 'couldn't be done,' they all said," Las Vegas history department Chairman Hal Rothman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Wynn sold his interest in Mirage Resorts to MGM Grand (which became MGM Mirage and is now run by Kirk Kerkorian) for US$6.4 billion back in 2000, then turned around and purchased the property for the Wynn hotel-casino for US$275 million. The property was previously the home of the Desert Inn.

The hotel has 2,359 rooms, and a few hundred deluxe suites and "parlors" for high rollers. The casino has 1,960 slot machines and 137 table games on a 111,000 square foot casino floor. A Ferrari-Maserati dealership and the Le Reve stage show, featuring a million gallon water tank, round out the expensive offerings.

A round of golf will go for US$500 on the elaborate golf course located behind the main building.

All of these specifications add up to a record construction cost of over one million US dollars per room. Other expensive Las Vegas properties cost a fraction of the price, such as the Bellagio, which cost half the price at US$533,000 per room. The most expensive hotel property in the world was previously the Grand Wailea Resort in Maui, Hawaii, which cost US$775,000 per room.

"Yes, (Wynn) may be in over his head, but then he has found ways to survive before," Las Vegas professor Bill Thompson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Reaction from the competition

The Le Reve stage show features a million gallon water tank.

Several of Wynn's largest competitors spoke with admiration of the property and looked forward to its impact on Las Vegas.

"I've never understood the hand-wringing about something new, especially in Las Vegas and Atlantic City," Harrah's Chairman and CEO Gary Loveman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Other casino bosses from the Mandalay and the MGM Mirage had positive comments as well, hoping to pick up some new business from the development.

"It's a positive in terms of bringing more visitors," Mandalay Resort Group President and CEO Glenn Schaeffer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

"Steve will build a great property and bring new people to town. If we're doing what we're supposed to be doing, then we'll pick up some of that business also," MGM Mirage Chairman and CEO Terry Lanni told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Reaction from the public

Thousands of visitors gathered for hours in front of the property before it opened. Security guards had to monitor the number of visitors entering the building.

"I think it's spectacular," David Schwartz, coordinator of the Gaming Studies Research Center at the University of Nevada Las Vegas told Reuters.

"People were pushing and shoving," Las Vegan Kathie Anderson told Associated Press.

"There is nobody in the world who creates such entertaining and beautiful casinos," British billionaire Richard Branson told Associated Press from the casino floor. "I would say every other casino must be nervous. He's lifted the bar dramatically," Branson said.

"This would be hard to top," Las Vegan Marlene DeMarco told Reuters.

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