The Set-Up Due to so many sweet deals to Vegas this past year, my wife and I went 4 times last year, which was nice, but we have never, ever, ever been offered any kind of room comps or anything. Then it finally happened. We got a mailer for a free room. At Encore. For three nights. Yes!!! We felt a bit guilty taking so many trips in one year, but how do you pass this one up? Couple that with Southwest airlines end of year %50 off sale and things got pretty ridiculous. As one of my buddies said, it would cost too much for me not to go. So I added a 4th nite for the promotional rate of $120 and it was ON!! (5 days, 4 nites and roundtrip airfare=$210 each for the whole trip) Check-in I understand there was some whining (sorry) from some about how they don't have a clearly delineated line to check in at Encore. They don't. BUT, they have a couple of staff people monitoring the area, like at Bellagio, to make sure you get taken care of, so it really isn't a big deal. The check-in desk has a row of people. Simply stand in front of one of them till your particular line gets you to the front. Not hard. When we checked in I asked if I could have a room as high up as possible and facing the strip if possible, but I would be happy with whatever they had available. From what I can tell Encore has 63 floors.(?) We got the 60th. And facing the strip. And it was freaking spectacular. The Room I've been reading quite a few trip reports from people who've been to Encore, but I don't think a single person has mentioned what truly makes the rooms great; Attention to detail. That is what really made an impression on me. I'll start with the beds. How many times have you checked into a room and had to send up for extra pillows, either due to low quantity or the pillows weren?t thick enough? Encore beds have FIVE pillows!! Check it out. You get two kind size pillows, a smallish baby pillow, then two huge European style pillows. Perfect. The mattresses also have a really thick pillow top on them. Years ago, the Palms took the prize, for me, on most comfortable beds. They have been de-throned. Now onto some of the details I've been talking bout. I?m sure may of you have read about the control panel on the nightstand next to the bed. Yeah, it's pretty nice. You can open/close the drapes, sheers, turn on/off all the lights in the room, or just the bedroom lights, without leaving the bed. What take it a notch above, is that you can also hit the privacy button, which serves as a Do Not Disturb sign outside your room door. If you wake up in the middle of the nite and need to hit the bathroom, you hit the nightlight button and a couple of low level lights turn on in the bathroom, to guide you on your way. What made this clever little panel really impressive to me was that it has a motion sensor, so you don?t have unwanted light next to your bed while you?re sleeping. How cool is that. Middle of the night and you need to get up? Wave you hand by your bed, the panel lights up and you hit the button you need? How sweet is that? Okay, another cool item on the nightstand is an IPOD clock radio. Why is that cool? You can plug you IPOD into it, so you can listen to your own tunes, OR, if you carry a different brand player, like a Zune or Walkman, there's a plug on the radio, so you can plug those in, too! Nothing like getting ready to hit the clubs and being able to bump to a little Jay-Z or T.I as I'm getting ready. Okay, I don?t mean to sound like a shill for Steve Wynn, or anal, but I'm telling ya, it was the little touches that really did it for me. Take the shower, for instance. It had your standard adjustable shower head, but it also had a shower wand, so you can spray your naughty bits in comfort. Even something as small as room glasses took a notch above. As you can see, in the bathroom they had these thick, smoky glasses. But in the main room, they used a clear, more standard type glass. On top of that, they provide you with two thick wine glasses, for a total for 3 sets different type glasses. That's some nice thinking out of the box. Really tempting selection of room treats, too. Also, another little feature of the room that was really nice are the table lamps. They have a button on them that is attached to a dimmer switch. When turning the lamp on, the longer you hold the button, the brighter the lamp gets. Nice for setting just the right lighting tone in the room. Oh yeah, I just remembered something else. My wife sleeps with a small travel fan and everywhere we got, we have to slide the bed out, or go hunting for a close-by outlet. Not at encore. The lamp by the bed has two plugs built into it. Nice touch. Also, the desk has two more plugs hat pop out of the desktop, so you can plug your laptop in or whatever. That?s not mentioning the wallplug, also by the desk. It?s nice to be able to plug in my media player, camera, her fan and both of our phones without having to move stuff around, or time-share on the plugs. Also, when you leave the room, there's a set of buttons for the lights, similar to the button panel by the bed. When you want maid service, simply hit a button and a green light shows outside your door. Once housekeeping has come and gone, the light is turned out. Did I mention they are really big on turndown service? Did I mention two free bottles of bottled water upon check-in? Did I mention a free complimentary paper each day? I don't know who designed the rooms, but for me, it's the minor details that make an impression on me. The Casino/Hotel I found the staff to be ridiculously attentive. They have several people whose job is to stand around the casino and walkways and answer people's questions, or guide people who look lost. Don?t ask for directions. They won't just point you in the right direction, they walk you there, to make sure you don't get confused. The casino itself is pretty small. On top of that, the casino is broken up into small areas, in a way, by the use of curtains and pillars. Really gives it a European, more intimate feel. I really liked it. Also, and I checked with my wife for her opinion, and we both agreed, we saw the hottest looking waitresses we?ve seen at any casino, during our stay. I'm just sayin'. :evillaugh One small note: If any of you love the new Star Trek slot machine ,which seems to come from the same family as Dirty Harry, Top Gun and Wizard of Oz, they have TWO S.T. machine that only cost 35 cents to play, as opposed to the $2 and $3 dollar ones you find everywhere else. Play at Encore on the cheapish machine to bump up your medal count to get to the higher games, then play the more expensive machine elsewhere for the higher payouts. As to the restaurants in the hotel, they seem to almost all offer indoor and outdoor dining and all of them looked like really good places to eat. Another nice to touch to Encore is that they have a sundries shop next to the elevators, so you can throw on something comfy and you don't have to schlep through the whole casino to get to it. They also have a lobby bar/coffee and pastry place next to the elevator, too. Very nice placement. Maybe it was just us, but for the entire stay, the staff went out of their way to smile and be helpful, to the point of almost going overboard. It was nice. The Trip Day One Our room wasn't ready yet, which was fine, so we toured as much of Encore as we could, including walking back through the conference room area and business center. BTW, if you need to print boarding passes, they put it on your room charge, then immediately take it off, so it's free. After hitting Encore, we checked out the shops in the Esplanade that connect it to the Wynn. Some really nice, stylish, stuff. The stuff at the Wynn shops seem a little pretentious to me. The Encore stuff seemed more stylish. BTW, there is a SWEET clothing store called Ensemble that has some too smooth for words clothing for the fashion progressive/trendy. I talked to the guy working there and he said they're trying to basically be like the clothing stores that sell Affliction, Ed Hardy, etc, except, their clothing is by designers who are trying to make a name for themselves, who make the same type clothing. That way, if you want a one of a kind look, odds are you'll find it there. And what else do they have there you may be interested in? Passes to Tryst, XS and Blush!! They keep them by the register. So of course, I grabbed a couple of passes for XS. (Already had Blush and Tryst from last trip.) From there, we hit the Wynn casino and used our $150 in free slot play, which was part of our free room deal. I came out $80 up, using their money, so I figured the least they could do is buy my buffet, too!! ( For some weird reason I rarely lose money playing slots, of all things, at Wynn. I almost always come out ahead.) I won?t detail all the goodies at the Wynn buffet, but I will say this. I think it's the best buffet I've had in Vegas and I strongly suggest it if you like something other than mashed potatoes and fried chicken. It never ceases to amaze me at the creativity of the food at the Wynn. And for the record, my fav dish there is the lamb risotto and make sure you catch them when they have butternut squash and apple soup. Now I gotta digress. I love to people watch. I gotta share a little of what I saw. Mr. Pineapple; We sat in a row of two top tables and next to us was a guy probably in his late 70's, eating alone, who came back from the buffet with a plate piled high with only one thing. Fried rice. Nothing else. He ate as much as he could, then got a plate of dessert, which was a plate of pineapple chunks, piled high. That?s it. Then he left. I was intrigued. Why go to a buffet and only eat two items? A day later we saw him in the high stakes room at the Wynn playing baccarat. I don't know anything about baccarat, but I heard somebody saying something about Mr. Pineapple making a $1000 bid or bet. I was wracking my brain trying to think of a way to speak with him. I just know there was a great story there. The PDA couple: Let me just say, if you're sitting in a row of two top tables, it's probably not the best idea to try and sit next to your girlfriend, on the same side of the table she's eating at, when people are seated so closely in that section. There wasn't even room for their food, which almost hit the floor several times. And ya know what? You've got all trip to make out. Eat your food and move on. And no, making a big production of picking your teeth at the table with your fingers isn't sexy, cool or even remotely classy. The down home cooking crew: Watched a table of very overweight people, all dressed like they'd just got done cutting the grass, all eat piled up plate after plate of just fried chicken and mashed potatoes, then leave. Once again. I would love to know the story there. So anyways, that night, we went to XS. I think I have a new fav club. Let me say this, make sure you grab a pass from somewhere and make sure you get there early. From what I saw and talking to staff people, they get some crazy lines, and they don't mind the least making you wait, to give the club the appearance of people almost beating down the doors to get in. The dance floor is a really good sized circle that leads out into the pool area. You can walk through the pool area to an outside bar area that kind has the same setup as Hard Rock's pool bar. They openly encourage women to us the many stripper poles around and it makes for some entertaining people watching. I went on Industry night, which makes for a nice little networking opportunity. And you get to meet people like this: Make sure you at least visit the outdoor bar area. I admit, I tend to meet people fairly easily, but it seemed extra easy to strike up conversations out there. We ended up hangin out there so long partying with people half our age, we missed Bette Midler, who was inside. Ah, well. Day Two We laid in bed all morning and watched the inauguration, talking with family. By no means do I mean this to turn political, but I found myself crying several times. It was weird. I can't quite say why. When you've had some of the horrible things happen to you that I have, racially speaking, seeing Obama get sworn in can't help but affect you. I'll never forget that morning. We checked out BLT burger. $50 for two burgers, drinks and a shake. Now, I don't pay attention to price when I?m in Vegas, but I gotta say, I found this place to be severely overated. The burgers were good, but I'll take a Fatburger or a Stripburger over BLY any day. On top of it, it took 40 minutes to get our food. Why? All they basically do is burgers. It's not like we threw them with a special order. I had read about slow service there and this just help confirm it. I just stick to getting my twinkie shake from there and leave it at that. The rest of the day consisted of checking out Bellagio and the fountains (If you can watch the fountains and not have your heart touched, then you are made of stone. It affects me every, single time I watch them. Every. time. Especially that Sarah Brightman song), visiting Casino Royale (Made $150 at the $3 craps table. I have always loved Royale), hit the Grand Lux cafÃ© at Venetian (Yeah, I know it's a chain, but it's so goooooood.) and made it to bed around 3 am. But not before playing "spot the hooker" at Wynn. We would give them all nicknames and backstories. "There goes Bubbles. She?s from the mean streets of Orange County....." Day Three We checked out Sugar and Ice in the Wynn esplanade for a couple of chili cheese beef dogs. The dogs were HUGE and the fries surprisingly crisp, thin and delicious. What really made it, though, was sitting by the waterfall as we ate. Sugar and Ice makes for a nice little secluded spot to sit by the water and take a little break. We have a friend who lives in Vegas, who came, picked us up and took us to Green Valley Ranch. Several (and by several, I mean a bunch) 2 for 1 drinks at their bar called the Drop, we went to The Blue Martini. If you have a car in Vegas and don't mind the drive, you have GOT to check it out. We caught the tail end of their nightly special, which included a Â½ price fruit plate. From there, it was back to Encore, where we spent about an hour playing slots, all of us loading our play on my Encore card in hopes of building up my points for future visits. I think we hit the hay around 2. Day Four Wynn buffet again. Now here was the only glitch to the trip. We ate the buffet again thinking it would be comped. Three different employees told us three different things on how to accomplish it. Apparently we went with the most misguided advice. Best advice? Basically, take your card to the Red Card booth first, get a voucher, take it to the buffet. We spent the rest of day at Casino Royale, Encore and Wynn, playing slots and a little craps. Then it was naptime, so we could go out that night. That nite we hit Blush, which was busy, but pleasantly so. I love that you can sit in VIP until somebody actually reserves it and is seated. Make sure you go when DJ Mighty Mi is there. The boy can bump some tunes. Oh yeah. Make sure you throw some business to one of the new hosts, Andrew Maloof. I couldn't bring myself to ask him if he was related to the Palms/Kings Maloofs, but he sure looks like it. He made it a point to stop and talk with us several times. Really nice kid. Around 1:00 a.m., we got hungry and checked out Zoozacrackers. My wife got a Rueben, which was pretty good size and I got pancakes (I think it was the only breakfast food on the late nite menu.) I'm a big eater and I thought it was pretty good sized portions and pretty tasty. Forgot to mention. We walked by Donald Trump in the Esplanade. Looks just like he does on tv. Next day it was an uneventful as we checked out. I checked out in person, rather than by video, so I could let the front desk know how much I enjoyed my stay. Great trip and great hotel.