MACAU — You can tell from the moment you arrive that the $4.2 billion Wynn Palace isn’t like any other hotel-casino in the world.
The constant motion of a cable-car system — Steve Wynn calls them “SkyCabs” — is the first clue.
Riders soar 91 feet in the air as the 34 cars orbit an 8-acre performance lake that has better effects and sound than similar water features Wynn built at Bellagio and Wynn Macau. On the corners of the route, riders pivot around the mouths of two immense golden dragons.
One 10-minute round trip costs just 100 patakas — that’s $12.50 in U.S. currency.
The biggest problem for the new property? The construction zone in front of Wynn Palace is a mess. Crews are building a light-rail station and overpasses that will greatly enhance the Cotai Strip’s transportation infrastructure. And the $3 billion MGM Cotai, right across the street from Wynn, isn’t expected to open until the second quarter of 2017.
Although the SkyCabs could draw a mid-market audience, everything else about Wynn Palace is strictly geared to high-end visitors, as the property’s first guests discovered when the property opened Aug. 22, three weeks ahead of Tuesday’s opening of Las Vegas Sands’ Parisian Macau.
Wynn Palace became Macau’s 37th casino property and the fifth in the Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts Ltd. portfolio. For Steve Wynn, it was the ninth new casino he has opened from scratch after the Golden Nugget in New Jersey, The Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio, the Beau Rivage in Mississippi, Wynn Las Vegas, Encore, and the Wynn and Encore in Macau.
“Everything about Wynn Palace is in making it the most extraordinary experience a guest can have,” said Serena Chin, manager of public relations at Wynn Palace.
“Mr. Wynn has tied the design of the property to Chinese culture and you can see it in all the colors and textures that have been used in the design,” added Barry Cheong, assistant director of public relations.
The property’s theme is floral. Flowers are everywhere. Renowned floral designer Preston Bailey and Wynn developed a floral carousel with 83,000 flowers and a Ferris wheel with 103,000 flowers that are displayed in atrium entrances at opposite ends of the property.
The development is rich in public art. Wynn acquired tapestries, paintings, sculptures and porcelain Qing Dynasty vases that dot corners of the resort. Rooms, halls and walkways have detailed inlaid tile features.
A Wynn staple — luxury retail — is big at Wynn Palace, with more than 50 shops covering 200,000 square feet.
The menu of dining options is varied from fine dining (Wing Lei Palace, Andrea’s, Mizumi and SW Steakhouse) to casual (Cafe Fontana, Hanami, Red 8 and 99 Noodles).
The halls to the guest rooms are wider than those found in conventional hotels to evoke a sense of palatial living.
Even the smallest rooms at Wynn Palace have 65-inch televisions. The largest suites — there are four penthouses — have 3,900 square feet of living space, two master bedrooms with floor-to-ceiling views of the performance lake, walk-in closets, media rooms, grand pianos and 24-hour butler service. The beds have 800-thread count Italian linen.
Critics have agreed with Wynn that the project is the best he’s ever produced. But even Wynn is uncertain about how Wynn Palace will perform.
In an interview with Bloomberg last month, Wynn said he’s not sure whether Wynn Palace would grow Macau’s market.
“The last two places that opened did not cause the market to grow,” he said. “It’s a good question (whether Wynn Palace would grow the market). We may get an answer to that in September.”
Contact Richard N. Velotta at email@example.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.