Luxury by Steve Wynn extends far beyond beautiful finishes.
Should you have the opportunity to sit down with Steve Wynn, do not expect you will ever actually discuss the business of running luxury hotels. Rather, the topics you could cover include several centuries of Chinese art (he is an avid student of a number of dynasties), Post-Impressionism and Abstract Expressionist painting, Broadway (but come prepared because his knowledge of American musical theater is encyclopedic), psychology, or perhaps even the history of life on the planet.
And if you find that your conversation has circled all these topics—or any of the many others in which he is remarkably well-versed—you might ask (fairly) what all these things have to do with running a luxury resort. The short answer: They are crucial.
Wynn’s appetite for information is evident everywhere in his resorts, starting with what is now thought of as a Wynn fundamental design principle—that his hotels broke the mold in Las Vegas, freeing guests from dark, labyrinthine interiors and bringing in full walls of sunshine, waterfalls, and flowers. Behavioral psychologists, studying the effects on guests staying in various hotels, can tell you why this is a good idea with endless data. Wynn can tell you in a single sentence: “You have to build a destination that makes people feel good in ways that they may not even be able to explain,” he says, “because it links with the primordial sources of life.”
Jeff Koons' Popeye sculpture.
An avid art collector, years ago Wynn challenged the idea that Las Vegas visitors were coming to the city for only one reason—by filling his Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art with masterworks from his own collection, the success of which not only prompted other hotels to open galleries, but also began diversifying the city’s visitorship in ways the industry never thought possible. One of his early forays into public art—Fiori di Como, the hand-blown glass floral ceiling by Dale Chihuly in Bellagio’s lobby—is still the object of admiring gazes, 19 years after it was installed. Sharing art with his guests, from monumental Jeff Koons sculptures along the Wynn and Encore Esplanades to historically and artistically important antique tapestries and vases in the lobbies of Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace, is a cultural expectation you can have at a Wynn resort in any part of the world.
But “stuff for stuff’s sake” has never been Steve Wynn’s style. There is a story behind every design decision, every piece of art, every bit of entertainment. Wynn might be a luxury hotelier, but at heart you might say he’s a human interest reporter. Tell him about an object or a design element you’ve seen in one of his hotels, and he won’t be interested that you’re impressed by its price tag—he’s hoping it brought you some joy. “How did it make you feel?” he’ll ask, cross-checking your response against the gut instinct he had to put it there in the first place.
Steve and Andrea Wynn.
Read virtually any account of a traveler visiting Macau for the first time, and you’ll likely come across a rather expected line, that it was “like Las Vegas on steroids.” However, it would be a simplification to say this in the case of Wynn’s resorts in Macau and Cotai. In describing Wynn Palace, Wynn says, “I decided to back off the glitz but focus on meticulous detail.”
The Emperor on a Journey at Wynn Palace Cotai.
And because the stories span Wynn resorts around the world, you will now find them published in both English and traditional Chinese on every page, to make them accessible to more readers. After all, as Wynn might say, the magazine is “stuff,” but what really counts is how it makes you feel.