Billionaire Steve Wynn opened his latest hotel and casino in Macau Wednesday and said he aims to start building a massive new resort in the Chinese gambling mecca next year.
Wynn said the project — to be located in the territory's Cotai area, a piece of reclaimed land seen as the next great hope for global gambling — would likely feature less than 2,000 rooms, about 400 tables, restaurants, shopping and meeting rooms set across some 50 acres of lush gardens and landscape.
Next to the towering interconnected hotel-casino projects in Cotai from competitors like Las Vegas Sands, Wynn's planned resort would stand in marked contrast.
"What makes people happy and what don't they get in China? .... What you don't get in China is space, and the heart of a resort is space — gardens, places to gambol, not gamble," Wynn, chief executive of Las Vegas-based Wynn resorts, said in an interview in Macau.
"I know what I want to do on the 51 acres, not build four hotels or six hotels or any of that foolishness," he said. "I am going to build one hotel of modest size with gardens and extended space wherever you are."
Wynn revealed details of the project ahead of the unveiling of the $600 million Encore at Wynn Macau. The only major project to open in the booming southern Chinese territory this year, Encore is geared toward high-end tourists and gamblers.
With more than 400 suites, four 7,000-foot villas and over 60 gambling tables, the project was called by Wynn "the ritziest hotel in China" whose rooms would raise the standard for the region's luxury tourism market. Old-world touches such as Italian marble floors combine with modern features like vibrant, saturated colors and a tank of baby jelly fish.
The idea for Encore, he said, grew partly from the requests of junket operators — the tour groups that arrange VIP gambling trips to Macau's casinos — whose clients wanted more elegant suites that went for under $400 a night.
But Wynn was emphatic the new hotel would draw a diverse mix of visitors, not just gamblers, and contribute to Macau's oft-stated goal of widening its appeal to tourists.
"You create a product that didn't exist before and all of sudden it broadens the appeal of the city ... that makes people who aren't necessarily baccarat players decide to come here," he said.
Macau, the world's most lucrative casino market and the one place in China where gambling is legal, bounced back strongly from the global recession with a bumper 2009.
So robust was Macau's turnaround that the local government, under a new chief executive, said last month it would seek to limit the industry's growth by withholding approval of new projects and capping the number of gambling tables over the next few years.
Wynn said his project wouldn't likely open during the government's efforts to keep the local industry and economy from overheating, and he believed his project would be allowed to proceed.
"No one like myself would be allowed to start a project unless they (Macau officials) wanted it finished," he said.
"If the goal is to stop our development, we would have been stopped or we will be stopped with plenty of time. There won't be any games. They don't do that here."