Back in December 2008 when Steve Wynn walked me through the soon-to-open Encore Las Vegas, he made an off-handed remark about how the taxi staging areas at his resorts are decorated to entertain cabbies. It was a little thing and, while I made a mental note to follow up, I never did.
One listener who was fascinated by that notion was Diane Taylor, a writer and weekly contributor to the blog at Living-Las-Vegas.Com. Taylor was the one who won the KNPR auction in February and donated $370 for lunch with me and Miles. Wynn Las Vegas donated the lunch to KNPR, so today Miles and I honored her donation with a terrific visit at Society Encore with her and her husband.
Diane had made one extra request. She wanted to know if the Wynn would show us the taxi tunnels. And so I asked the PR folks and, sure enough, they were happy to oblige.
First, we went down into the Encore tunnel. That's where that sign above leads to. It's a two-lane, 15-car length area with reddish orange walls adorned with flat-screen TVs tuned to ESPN.
Along the walls, too, were these murals. All of them involved drawings of sexy ladies and some sort of subterranean (as opposed to subliminal, natch) message about something related to the resort. For instance, this one...
...features the blonde there saying to nobody in particular: "Botero restaurant features two of famed Columbian artist Fernando Botero's sculptures and three of his paintings."
This one's fun, too:
It's a run-of-the-mill pajama party, see, and the redhead who happened to show up in a French maid outfit and seems to have a duster protruding from her mouth, says, "The high rollers can be found in the private Sky Casino, which is located at the top floor of Encore." Naturally, then, the only reasonable reply from the blonde trying to make the blood rush to her head is, "Did you know that our largest suite is 5,800 square feet and includes three bedrooms, an elevator and butler service?"
I did, actually.
This one took two frames to shoot:
This time, it's a lineup of cocktail waitresses. The bubble on the right says, "It's interesting to know that Mrs. Wynn directs the designs of all staff attire" and the lady to her left asked, "Did you know Mr. Wynn began his career in 1967 as part-owner, slot manager and assistant credit manager of the Frontier hotel?" That's fun, but wouldn't it have been even better if she had said, "Did you know that Mr. Wynn once called the Frontier Hotel the single biggest toilet in Las Vegas?"
Meanwhile, at the pool...
...one woman says, "Inspired by the French Riviera, the pools at Encore are at the heart of the activity" while the ladies to the far right are marveling, "The restaurant Wazuzu features a crystal dragon made of 90,000 crystals and 2,400 flickering lights."
There's also a restroom down there as well as signs indicating that the hotel holds a weekly NFL contest where taxi drivers who pick winning teams win stuff.
Obviously, the point here is to give cabbies something fun to look at and perhaps fill their heads with some good selling points while they wait to pick up passengers. Wynn started the taxi tunnel idea with Bellagio because he didn't like the way that the line of taxis looked at Mirage and Treasure Island.
LVCabChronicles, a Vegas taxi driver who blogs and Tweets about the trade, says that Paris, Riviera and Aria also have tunnels. He says cabbies are generally pleased with the Wynn folks and that "there is no question Mr. Wynn cares about the cabbies," but he also noted when I asked about the downsides:
Noted. And speaking of the Wynn tunnel, here we go.
The Wynn Las Vegas tunnel is lined with images of race cars. It's not quite the buxom babes spouting sweet somethings about the resort, but whatever. Here are some more shots:
I can sure see how that could get claustrophobic. There is, too, a unisex bathroom down here. LVCabChronicles said the vast majority of taxi stands at Vegas resorts don't have restrooms easily accessible to drivers. None of the other taxi waiting areas, he wrote, are decorated at all.
He also had praise for Bellagio, which "has a nice setup with a picnic table and vending machines and the restroom for drivers. They also have a dry-erase board that indicates the exact number of check ins/outs at that hotel that week which can be useful for drivers."
Hey! That could be useful to nosy journalists, too! Just saying!
Anyhow, that was a fun look-see at something most people don't ever think about or get to view. The Wynn fellow who drove us took us through the underground valet area of the hotel and we passed this:
That's the maintenance and storage area for the Ferraris that are sold at the resort.
Finally, since everyone's so curious, here's a shot of the new Switch Beach Club and Surrender Nightclub being built where Encore's west valet used to be. I was intrigued by the bridge built from Wynn self-park's second level because I wonder if that's going to be a faster way just to get to Encore from that garage without having to walk all the way around the resort.
But mostly, I wondered: What happened to the taxi tunnel for that valet stand?