Just got back from four nights @ Encore (3 nights comped) and thought I'd do a brief TR while I have a chance. We went into this trip having read a lot of negative comments about Encore. Those comments, along with our first impressions of Wynn, helped lower our expectations of Encore. After spending four nights in Wynn's latest creation, I have to admit I may have a new favorite resort in Vegas!

Hotel: ENCORE - The check-in process could use some work, a casual coffee shop would be nice, and the water pressure could be a bit better; but that's where the criticism ends. The rooms were the nicest we've stayed in anywhere. From the always prompt elevators, to the wide modern hallways, to the spacious suites with views straight down the Strip; ENCORE didn't disappoint! The bed and L shaped couch were extremely comfortable; the swiveling High Def LCD tv was great; the bathroom was large with modern tiling, dual sinks, separate tub/shower/toilet, and a vanity area; and the maid service was excellent. The casino did not disappoint either. The chambered effect and natural light definitely put Encore in a class of its own. Each chambered table area feels like a private casino. The dealers and floor supervisors were all extremely friendly and helpful, and the cocktail service was excellent! We loved the bright red lights throughout the casino, floor to ceiling windows looking out on the pool/garden area, and atrium style ceiling in the entrance near Switch. Encore doesn't have a sportsbook or poker room, but the walk to Wynn through the Esplanade is not too bad. Finally, the pool area looks like it will be a huge draw once the weather warms up. We tried several restaurants and checked out XS...which I'll talk about more below.

Restaurants:

Cafe Society - Nicely decorated, but the menu is too limited and the prices are too high. Zoozacrackers and the cafe at Wynn are much better options in my opinion. My wife and I (and our friends) split a cheeseburger the afternoon we arrived. For about $16, it was nothing special.

SWITCH - We went here our first night (Valentine's Day). Had our wives not been under the weather, it may have been the best meal of the trip. As many people know by now, the look of the restaurant changes three times each hour. Aside from excellent food, I have to admit the changing "theme" of the restaurant actually works and helps set SWITCH aside from its competition at Encore. The caesar salad was excellent and the bone-in NY Strip was one of the best I've had. My friend had the lamb, which he thought was good but not great. Our wives had the Risotto...and both thought it was very good despite not feeling well.

NOVE - This place turned out to be the "sleeper" of the trip. With reservations at SWITCH and BOTERO, we expected Nove to just be a quick Italian meal before bottle service. We were impressed from the moment we walked in and were seated in a booth overlooking the strip in the distance. It had a small glass fireplaces in the walls like Hanks at GVR, which created a very modern feel! The appetizer pizzas are excellent and would be large enought to eat as a meal. The 1/2 portion pasta dishes are more than enough to fill you up, and were also much better than we expected. The service was great, and the private escalator to Playboy Club gets you VIP entry for free (if anyone wants to check it out without paying).

BOTERO - We saved this place for our last night, as it was the dinner we were looking forward to the most. We had an 8:30 reservation, but were not seated until 9:15. After mentioning this to the manager on duty, he comped a bottle of champagne...which definitely took the edge off the wait. The restaurant itself is very modern and was packed! The entire floor is tiled and clearly cost quite a bit! Once the weather warms up, the outside patio overlooking the pool will definitely be a big draw. The caesar salad was excellent (one of the best I've had). Our friends raved about their meals (halibut and pepper crusted filet), my bone-in filet was very good (but not to the level of SW, Hanks, or Alize), and my wife's scallops were just ok (they come in a broth which is odd). The dessert cupcakes were also good...but who is really hungry after a salad and steak.

PINK TACO - Tried to eat here around 10PM after Hofbrauhaus and some gambling at Hard Rock. They were no longer serving dinner...10PM in Vegas? Really? There are places in MD open later than that! Each trip we're less and less impressed by Hard Rock!

We also ate lunch at ZOOZACRACKERS, BLT BURGER, GRAND LUXE, and MARGARITAVILLE. All are great spots for lunch...but Grand Luxe is our favorite!

Bars/Clubs:

PLAYBOY CLUB - Personally, not impressed. About 90% men, several oddly placed blackjack tables, and pricey drinks. It's like a stip club without the strippers and a club without the vibe. Glad the entry was free since we ate at Nove!

LAVO - The club is small...probably close in size to Blush @ Wynn. We went on a Sunday, and it was pretty packed by midnight. They gave us a 1 bottle limit and we had a great table in the VIP area with a view of everything. Bottle prices were a bit lower than some other clubs ($375 for grey goose) and the service/security was top notch. We had a great time, but I'd say LAVO is a step below Tryst and LAX (and now XS) which I believe are currently the best in Vegas.

HOFBRAUHAUS - Went for a few hours Monday evening and it was fairly full. Great beer & atmosphere as always. Unlike most bars/clubs in Vegas, this place is fullest between 6-8PM and then starts to empty out.

XS - What can I say other than wow! Victor Drai has done it again. We stopped in at about 1:30AM on Monday and there was still a wait. Once we gained entry, it's easy to see the resemblance to Tryst! A wide open club with no hidden VIP areas (at least that we could tell). The dance floor was jam packed with a very expensive rotating chandelier above it. The dance floor opens up to a pation that backs up to the pool. There are also patios on each side of the main patio. Javon Walker was hosting a full house the night we stopped by, and his booth was right on the dance floor so that everyone could see he and his friends (Shane Mosley and a few other NFL players) having a great time. Tryst has a waterfall and XS by springtime will have the full pool area with cabanas and blackjack tables. I'd have a hard time recommending one over the other...so I'd probably tell people to drop by and check out both! Drink prices for those that care were pretty high... $8-10 for beer and $12-14 for mixed drinks.

Well that's about it...another trip in the books. It was a losing trip, but still a lot of fun. We'll definitely return to Encore if the deals keep coming! If anyone has questions about Encore or restaurant prices, post or send me a message.

DLO