Wednesday, August 29, 2007

billionaire one upsmanship

So HipHopLawyer was out in Las Vegas last weekend. Quite an eventful and enjoyable trip (though exhausting, as these things tend to be), with lots of stories that can't be publicly aired. The short version is that there was lots of drinking, gambling that went on a bit too long to be profitable, some golf (better name: "drunken hacking at tiny nearly-unhittable white ball in boiling climate), and fine dining.

Discretion dictates that I focus here on the last of these. Saturday night the host of our trip treated us to dinner at the SW Steakhouse at the fabulously ridiculous Wynn Hotel and Casino (the "SW" standing for proprietor Steve Wynn).

To get to the steakhouse you must go through the casino (natch), and right off the gaming floor you go down a huge spiral escalator. That was a first. The interior of the restaurant is classy and rich (also natch), but the place's primary item of decor is that one of the walls is not a wall at all. It is a huge open space, floor-to-30 foot ceiling. Past the end of the two walls adjoining this non-wall (i.e., outside) is a large patio seating area.

I'm not sure I'm describing this very well: essentially the restaurant has 3 walls. Consider this for a minute. It is 112 degrees outdoors. In the "interior" of the steakhouse, 70 degrees. How is this possible? My only explanation is: nuclear powered air conditioners, and lots of them.

However it's done, the effect is stunning. But beyond the patio, there's a lake. It's not like a big waterskiing lake or anything, but I don't think you could call it a pond. And on the other side of the lake-pond, there's a massive wall of marble. It must be 100 feet tall and 150 feet wide. About the size of a super-large IMAX screen. And there is a waterfall running down the entire thing. There are bronze statues of naked people, standing in the lake, staring at it.

But and so when you're out on the patio, the whole thing, lake, marble waterfall-wall and everything, is enclosed by a hillside which is in turn covered in trees and tropical greenery. Mind you, this is in the middle of a freaking Desert. Before all of this was there, the site was a flat, sun-scorched patch of bare desert sand (I know: I saw it).

I've been going to LV regularly for years now, and this is the most fantastic thing I've seen yet.
Yes, it tops the 3/4 scale Eiffel Tower, the faux NYC skyline, the Bellagio fountain show, the massive black-glass Egyptian pyramid, etc. It occurred to me that this is a case where the casino developers, for obvious reasons, are in an arms race to build more and more spectacular (and -- yeah -- absurd) things.

Which is pretty cool. Until you consider how they are financing these monstrosities (hint: it ain't the $80 steaks).

UPDATE: I found a picture (below). Also, here's a (here's a very large version) picture presumably taken from one of the hotel rooms which gives a better idea of the scale of the thing.

Oh, and I forgot. After dark, they have a light and water show in the lake, where they project images and videos onto the marble wall. Sensory overload.


Gleemonex said...

You know, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to wander through these places long after the shit goes down -- you know, like after the killer plague, or global thermonuclear war, or what have you -- with the elements beginning to reclaim their territory, and all these fabulous ruins just lying around ...

TXsharon said...

Did you see this Salon exclusive: Two former CIA officers say the president squelched top-secret intelligence, and a briefing by George Tenet, months before invading Iraq.