Every time something big or different happens on the Strip, we’re told it’s going to reinvent Las Vegas. On April 6, as the city and the Strip and certainly MGM Resorts celebrated the opening of T-Mobile Arena, Steve Wynn did his best to steal the show. During a Wynn Resorts investment conference, he announced plans for a major expansion of the Wynn and Encore resort campus, something big and different: a 38-acre lagoon with an island in the middle where patrons will be able to water ski and parasail, shadowed by a new 1,000-room boutique hotel, a casino, restaurants and convention space. If Wynn Paradise Park is approved by the company’s board of directors, it could begin construction on a portion of the Wynn Golf Club as early as this fall, cost as much as $1.6 billion and open as soon as 2020.
Be cynical if you like. We know better than to second-guess Wynn’s dreamy ideas. This is not a water park. Wynn refers to it as an entertainment attraction, describing nightly fireworks shows launched from that island and comparing it to a Disney theme-park experience. To provide some scope, Bellagio’s lake covers 8 acres. An official from Crystal Lagoons US Corp, which is working with Wynn on the plans, told the Review-Journal that Paradise Park would be the largest of its projects until a 90-acre real estate plan in Dubai becomes reality.
Size matters here, because this is almost certainly only the beginning. Steve Wynn told the Weekly’s John Katsilometes in November 2014: “While I’m alive, I will never, ever develop the golf course. It is there to stay.” And now, it isn’t. If you think Wynn reversed his thinking about one of Wynn Las Vegas’ most acclaimed amenities simply to gain another thousand hotel rooms and a big lake, you’re not paying attention. There’s another hundred acres back there for Wynn to pull more value from, to exert more of his Vegas magic upon, to create a galaxy of new experiences and opportunities that will compete with both the boutique resort (Alon) and the mega-complex (Resorts World) coming soon across the street. Could something like that count as a reinvention?