Wynn Las Vegas Magazine by MODERN LUXURY

Wynn - 2013 - Issue 1 - Spring+Summer

Wynn Magazine - Las Vegas

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Page 68 of 99

dragons, however, were the result of a dedication to perfection. Wing Lei's original design, by HBA/Hirsch Bedner Associates, was traditionally elegant and well received, its feature attraction a carved and gilded dragon looking as though it were poised to fly from the wall. But, according to Thomas, Steve Wynn's instincts told him the restaurant wasn't quite finished. Three months away from opening Wynn Macau in 2006, with the first phase nearing completion, Wynn called Thomas. "'Roger, you need to do something about this restaurant. It looks just like a Chinese restaurant,'" says Thomas, laughing at the memory. "And of course it was a Chinese-cuisine restaurant. I always know that when Steve has that kind of reaction, I need to get into opposites." It wasn't enough like a Wynn restaurant—yet. Colors, textures, and carpets were altered, says Thomas. "And then we changed the dragon from being carved and gilded to being crafted all in crystal, which sounds easy, but no one had ever done it." Thomas was referred to Clive Miners of the Hong Kong– based Rich Creation International Ltd. and, with the clock ticking, set to work crystallizing the dragon. Flexible air-conditioning ducts measuring the length of the sculpture were hung from the ceiling of Wing Lei as a model, then twisted and turned to represent the contours of the dragon's head and body. A steel superstructure was constructed from the model before an exoskeleton made from thousands of illuminated crystals was wrapped around the dragon. That aspect of the project proved most challenging. Several crystal shapes were tried, with each test a three-day process. Thomas finally hit upon an idea and shared it with Miners. "Get every crystal shape you can find in the same clear color; let's see if confusion works," recalls Thomas of his communication to Rich Creation. "It was perfect." At least eight types of crystal were used in Wing Lei's dragon. Its head was cast in glass, weighing 880 pounds (400 kilos), while the total weight of the 14-section sculpture came to approximately 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilos) upon completion. Thomas compares the process to "working with a Slinky covered in vinyl," but that didn't stop Wynn Design and Development from creating another mythical crystal creature for Wazuzu when Encore Las Vegas opened in 2008. With Thomas traversing the floors of Wynn's Las Vegas resorts almost every day, Wazuzu gives him an ongoing opportunity to see how guests react to dining with the dragon. "I think it's still impactful to those who see it the first time," he says, "and I think it's become a friendly icon to those who are seeing it more than once." The dragon inspires the same awe in Yee, who thinks it also influences the performance of the chefs. "They not only cook from their hearts but also try to make their food as beautiful as the crystal dragon," she says. For Thomas, the dragons are a highlight of Wynn's many unforgettable "cinematic" moments. "You do those kinds of things because you want guests to remember them," he says. "Everything we do is to evoke romantic, dramatic experiences with a bit of a sense of humor and certainly a sense of elegance and comfort, not only so they're memorable, but also so guests will want to return for more." n WYNN 066-067_W_F_Macau_Spring_13.indd 67 67 4/4/13 5:25 PM

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