The hotelier's 4,500-square-foot villa’s patio and pool overlook the 18th-tee waterfall of Wynn Country Club’s golf course.
Photography: Mary E. Nichols | Author: Judith Thurmanwww.architecturaldigest.com
Steve Wynn, the self-made billionaire transformed the Las Vegas strip in the 1990s with a series of ever posher, more fabulous casinos: the Golden Nugget, the Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio, Wynn Las Vegas and, Encore.
Here is a fact you may not know about Steve Wynn, the self-made billionaire who transformed the Las Vegas strip in the 1990s with a series of ever posher, more fabulous casinos: the Golden Nugget, the Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio, Wynn Las Vegas and, most recently, Encore. (Hint: It's not that old story of how he accidentally stuck his elbow through a $40 million Picasso—one of many masterpieces in a legendary collection.) "I had an excellent Ivy League education," Wynn says, in his cultured baritone, "and it gave me a long view of things. So let's talk about the Precambrian explosion."
No, you didn't miss a terrorist attack while betting your lucky number. The Precambrian explosion took place about several hundred million years ago and created, Wynn explains, the multicellular organisms on our planet "from which complex life arose. It's an epic written by the sun, water and plant life—Earth's primordial forces. And I always approach design with those forces in mind—they are a metaphor for human aspiration. That's why I love natural light. It's a ubiquitous feature of all my buildings, including my homes."
Wynn's newest residence is a duplex villa on the grounds of the Wynn Las Vegas, overlooking the 18th hole of the championship golf course that is one of the resort's major attractions. The house reflects a new stage in the mogul's life. He is recently divorced (although he and his ex-wife, who have seven grandchildren, are still business partners and cordial friends), and he also now spends considerable time overseeing a burgeoning casino empire in Macao. He wanted a base, adjacent to his corporate headquarters, that was, he says succinctly, "clean and simple."
Enter Roger Thomas, executive vice president and design czar at Wynn Enterprises. Thomas is an ebullient Las Vegan whose father, a lawyer, worked for Howard Hughes and mentored the young Wynn. He and his client have been close friends for more than 30 years, and, Thomas says, "we have collaborated on so many projects together—all of his hotels and residences—that I don't need a new brief. The art always comes first, and, like many great collectors, Steve is constantly rotating it. So his interiors have to accommodate that changing pageant of exceptional works." (The only paintings that never move are two Picassos: Nature Morte aux Tulipes and Le Rêve.)
The villa was created by conjoining, then reconfiguring, two VIP guesthouses on the fairway. "Inserting the central staircase," Thomas says, "was our greatest engineering challenge, but because the site abuts a very high-end hotel, we also had serious constraints on raising dust or noise. The whole project was conceived in four months and executed in five—working limited hours."
As the only enclosed space in the villa, the dramatic center stair hall was mirrored to maximize the light. It unites an open living area on the lower story with a sybaritic master suite above. The pool terrace and the private balcony enjoy a romantic view: emerald greenery misted by the spray of a majestic waterfall (a refreshing final challenge for the golfers).
"Our first decision about the interiors," Thomas says, "was to upholster the walls in sapphire blue silk as a background for the art but otherwise to keep the palette and detailing strictly neutral." If the walls suggest the desert night, the pale carpets, blond woods, "creamy" moldings and dune-colored stone evoke its sands. The salon incorporates two creature comforts dear to its resident: banquette seating and cutting-edge media, while the silk walls enhance the acoustics. This hard-driven tycoon turns out to be a softie: "Steve loves buttery textures, sensuous arches and contemporary furnishings with the curves of a female body," his designer says.
Those rounded corners, though, have a practical dimension. Wynn has a retinal condition that makes sharp angles something of a navigational menace. On the other hand, Thomas notes, "Steve's diminished eyesight hasn't impaired his nearly photographic memory for architecture or his acute attention to the smallest detail of an interior—the welting trim, for example. It is fair to call him a man of vision."
If the villa embodies the principle behind Steve Wynn's vision, he typically gets straight to the heart of it: "Make things joyful."
Architects DeRuyter Butler and Glen Ashworth, interior designer Roger Thomas and landscape designer Don Brinkerhoff, of Lifescapes International, collaborated with Steve Wynn on the hotelier’s own Las Vegas residence. The 4,500-square-foot villa’s patio and pool overlook the 18th-tee waterfall of Wynn Country Club’s golf course.
The stair hall was intended “to introduce the living and dining areas and to provide a dramatic access to the master suite on the second level,” Thomas says.
The golf course elevation. Wynn’s villa occupies the building’s lower two floors, while the third is separated from it for guests. Towering behind the home is Wynn Las Vegas hotel.
“The residence was designed for ultimate comfort, intimate entertaining and the dramatic presentation of the owner’s extraordinary collection of 20th-century masterpieces,” says the interior designer. Roy Lichtenstein’s 1964 oil Ohhh...Alright... hangs prominently in the living room, where Wynn (inset) also conducts informal business meetings.
Two Picassos, Le Rêve, left, and Nature Morte aux Tulipes, both from 1932, distinguish the dining area.
In the master bedroom, a glass wall allows Wynn to wake to golf course, mountain and valley views. Thomas installed a comfort-focused chaise sectional and chose a pale wool carpet to contrast with the sapphire silk-upholstered walls.
The closet and dressing area.
Conceived as an easy-flowing extension of the interior living area, the partly covered patio is framed with large ficus trees, potted lilyturf and ligustrum—the work of Brinkerhoff.