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ENCORE LAS VEGAS

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North Strip

3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

888-320-7125

website

Check Rates

2,034 Rooms

$129 and up double

$175-$300 per night

$35 per night plus tax

90

AT A GLANCE

Highs

Stunning design, luxury appointments, great service.

Lows

Cost.

Location: 9

Only a few feet away from big Strip action.

Price: 4

Can be very expensive.

Value: 10

You get a lot for your money.

Rooms: 10

Gorgeous, comfortable, perfect.

Casino: 8

Small but well lit and comfortable.

Amenities: 10

All the comforts of home and then some.

Facilities: 10

Plenty to do here and next door.

Service: 10

Among the best in town.

Fun: 9

Encourages a good time.

Bonus: 10

A terrific hotel.

Total: 90

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FULL REVIEW

There are a couple of things you should know about Encore right up front. First, it's expensive. Second, it may not be as expensive as you think it is. And third, no matter what they are charging, it's probably worth it.

The sequel and next door neighbor to Wynn Las Vegas is more than just a carbon copy or extension of the original, even though physically the two are connected and integrated in ways that few other sibling hotels are. You can access Encore from Wynn by a short walk down a shopping esplanade past the theaters, or you can go directly to Encore - it has its own entrances from The Strip, its own check-in desk, and its own parking garage.

The exterior of the buildings are virtually identical, but get inside and things change dramatically. Where Wynn feels large and traditional, Encore feels more intimate and completely unlike any other Vegas hotel and casino.

The overall design scheme of Encore is not easily summed up in a word or two. Instead what you have is an eclectic mix of springtime cues (butterflies are a recurring theme), Greek mythology in the statuary and other art, and even some Moroccan touches in some of the lamps and furnishings. It's a tribute to the designers that it all works together so well because it probably shouldn't.

Natural light infuses the entire property, especially, surprisingly, in the casino making it a bright, livable space. It's actually good that they did it this way, because the casino itself is not very large and the layout, with lots of plantation shutter style dividers and draperies creating even smaller "rooms," could have been claustrophobic. Instead, the bright red and white color scheme enhances the natural light and what you have is a warm, richly luxurious, and wholly original gambling experience.

There are slots of all denomination here, although it's worth noting that there are fewer traditional reel machines and even fewer still that don't have multiple pay lines requiring a higher maximum bet. I didn't take a full survey but I think there were maybe a couple of dozen two- or three-coin, single pay line dollar slots in the entire place. The rest were video slots or multi-line monsters that require $9 or more per spin if you want to get the full bang for your gambling bucks. They also have some video poker and all of the major table games including blackjack, roulette, craps, three-card poker, let it ride, pai-gow, baccarat, and more. If you're a sports bettor you need to take the short walk over to Wynn.

Ringing the casino are several restaurants including the sumptious Sinatra, a tribute to the singer with some memorabilia inside and more.

The giant pool area dominates the resort, seeming to push into the casino and wrapping around to create an outdoor extension to the massive XS nightclub. The second floor spa is one of the biggest on The Strip and is nothing short of gorgeous in its appointments.

There is a separate pool at the Encore Beach Club for daytime partying, which also features Surrender nightclub for after dark entertainment. The 60,000-square-foot Beach Club is located in front of the hotel along The Strip, but sheltered from prying eyes. It includes a pool, very expensive cabanas, a small gaming salon, beverage service, and more with high-energy club music pounding away.

The Encore Players Club is not, as you might expect, a rewards card desk but rather a bar with games like billiards.

The rooms are stunning, both in terms of design and comfort. The black and tan color palette is subtle and rich, with splashes of color here and there that make a bold statement. King bed rooms feature a sleeping chamber separated by a partial wall from a sitting room, while queen bed rooms have the sitting area integrated into one big room. Both feature very fine furnishings, a mini-bar, flat panel televisions, a desk, high-speed Internet, electronic remote control drapes and lighting, iron and board, safe, and much more.

A big marble lined bathroom features a dual vanity, separate tub and shower, hair dryer, very fine bath amenities, and robes and slippers.

There are bigger and more luxuriously appointed suites available if your budget is up for it.

One minor complaint: rooms on the south side of the tower will offer you terrific views of The Strip but even on the 39th floor I was able to hear the thumping bass from the sound system at the XS nightclub down below, which stays open very late. A subsequent stay on a north-facing room was perfectly quiet so if you are sensitive to noise and don't mind giving up the view, you may want to consider requesting a room on the that side of the tower.

As long as we're on the topic, let's talk about cost. I have seen rooms as low as $159 during the week and $269 on the weekends, although around $200 and $300 respectively are not uncommon. And all that is before you get to the fairly outrageous (but pretty common) $35 per night "resort fee" that includes things like Internet service and gym access.

It's important to note that room rates are not the only thing to watch for in terms of how expensive things are. Restaurants, the spa, even items in the sundry store are very costly at Encore so hold on to your wallet tightly.

Making the overall experience even more special is a staff of very professional, very friendly, and very efficient people. From the valet to the front desk to housekeeping to the dealers in the casino and beyond, everyone I dealt with greeted me with a smile and was more than eager to go out of their way to help me.

I was going to try to come up with some sort of pithy pun to say how much I like this hotel - you know, something about taking a bow or successful second acts - but instead I'll just say this: Encore is one of the best hotels in Las Vegas.

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