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Mirage Betting Bigger is Better : Recreation: Steve Wynn has built two of the world's largest hotels and is planning two more.

March 14, 1995|From Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — For a guy spending $2.3 billion on four of the world's largest and glitziest hotels--replete with pirates, white tigers and a volcano--it might seem unusual when Steve Wynn invokes a fable like the Three Little Pigs to describe his success.

But Wynn is a believer, in himself, his company and Las Vegas.

His Mirage Resorts Inc. owns two of the world's largest hotels, with construction beginning this year on two more that will give the company the sixth- through ninth-largest hotels worldwide.

"This is the biggest year in the history of The Mirage," he said in an interview, referring to the $630-million resort opened in 1989. "Our best year was not our first, our second or our third. Our best year was our fourth, exceeded now by our fifth.

"That's the kind of happy progression when you build a house of bricks, like the Three Little Pigs," he said. "That's when you don't have to worry about the wolf, huffing and puffing and blowing your house down."

Wynn, the chairman of Mirage Resorts, animatedly recited the firm's successes and outlined his company's plans for the coming months:

* There's $55 million to dress up The Mirage.

* A joint partnership with Gold Strike Resorts for a new $300-million, 3,000-room resort to be called the Victoria, a mile up the Strip from the Mirage.

* And the crowning achievement: Beau Rivage, a 3,000-room, 50-story resort that will take shape on an island in the middle of a lake on the 110-acre site where the old Dunes Hotel once stood. The price tag: $700 million to $900 million.

Wynn, not known for understatement, promises Beau Rivage will be "the most romantic hotel in the history of the world."

"The Beau Rivage is our most ambitious hotel by a substantial measure," said Wynn. "We're trying design and environmental moves that pick up where we left off at The Mirage.

"The rooms are almost 30% larger than anything in Las Vegas, the bathrooms will be in marble--all those things you associate with five-star hotels. No one's ever built a hotel this large with those kinds of features."

The Beau Rivage and Victoria are scheduled for completion the latter half of 1997.

Wynn, 53, is known for delivering on big promises. He first visited a far different Las Vegas in 1952 as an impressionable 10-year-old when his father tried--and failed--to start a bingo parlor.

Enamored by the glitz, he returned years later with his wife, Elaine, and two young daughters, parlayed a land deal into his first $1 million and bought stock in the Golden Nugget, a casino that he transformed into a downtown showplace. His appearances in Golden Nugget TV commercials helped make him known to millions of Americans.

The Mirage was the first new hotel built on the Strip in 16 years when it opened in November, 1989. It sparked a building boom that continues to gain momentum, with four new mega-resorts planned at a price tag approaching $1.8 billion. They include Beau Rivage, Victoria, MGM Grand's New York-New York and a new hotel linked to the Stratosphere Tower.

The four follow the late 1993 opening of the $1-billion MGM Grand Hotel and Theme Park, the $375-million Luxor and the $450-million Treasure Island, a Mirage Resorts property.

Mirage Resorts, which also includes the Golden Nugget hotels in downtown Las Vegas and Laughlin, Nev., reported operating income of $237.8 million on revenues of $1.25 billion in 1994, up from the $131.7 million in operating income and revenue of $953.4 million in 1993.

With more than 87,000 hotel and motel rooms in the city, some have expressed concern about overbuilding. Not Wynn.

"The issue isn't overbuilding," he said. "The issue is the quality of the product. As long as the products are new and fanciful and kept up well, the people will continue to come and the properties will enjoy great times. If older places are not reinvigorated, they'll pass by the wayside."

"They were asking the question about saturation when we had 40,000 rooms and went to 50 (thousand), 50 and went to 60, 60 and went to 70. The answer has always been the quality of the development. If this town was full of motel rooms with slot machines in front, they'd all be closed."

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