It had been over a year since my last trip to Vegas, and I was excited to be returning. We lucked out with a great suite at the Encore via a mail promotion. I hadn't stayed there before because of the cost and the vague sense it was not very central to the strip. What did I know? We loved it! Its whimsical and fun...and there are almost no children to be found. I don't hate children...but I do hate strollers and squealing. For those that feel that way, the Wynn has a NO STROLLER policy. In addition the contemporary and fine dining restaurants do not serve children under 5. Plus you are right next door to the Palazzo/Venetian.
The Room was well designed with a sitting area, comfortable bed, modern bath, and view to the North of the strip and mountains. Unfortunately, the abandoned Fontainebleau blocked the stratosphere from view. While the room feels pretty spacious, it is much smaller than a Venetian suite. The real standout was the staff. Check in on a Friday night was fast and incredibly helpful. The "do not disturb" sign for the room is electronic so the excellent housekeepers know exactly when to come clean your room (and when NOT to).
I can't say enough good things about la Cave at the Wynn for dinner. Great tapas in a intimate setting. Reasonably priced for Vegas standards. You definitely want to order the bacon wrapped dates in blue cheese sauce and order a cheese plate. We also saw la Reve. The tickets were included or we probably wouldn't have gone. That said, we had a GREAT time. The divers and acrobats are great, but the real star of the show is the set--which is an engineering marvel.
Played about 5 hours at the Wynn Poker Room Saturday evening. The sign-up feature to get on the list from your room (via the TV or phone) wasn't working, so you had to go down, but the waits were pretty short (20 minutes tops). The room was comfortable, dealers were good. My first table was 80% locals but only 3 or 4 were good solid players. Lots of sullenness at the table. No friendly banter or joking around, which isn't very much fun. I played tight and stayed out of the good players way, and picked up $160 in about 2 hours. My second table 60% locals but with 2 very aggressive and skilled players. The mood was a little lighter but not much. I had a good seat to the left of the aggression so I saw some more speculative flops in late position and picked up another $232 in the next three hours. We had two really awesome donors at the table so I'm not certain how much credit I can take.
Spent the next day visiting the Neon Museum downtown and then getting a tour of the Neon Boneyard. This was a highlight of my trip. If you are interested in art and Vegas history--the tour packs a pretty good punch. Plus it was great to be outside on a crisp winter day. This is a MUST DO in my opinion.
Sunday/Monday I played about 7 hours at the ARIA. I LOVE this room even though its crowded and tight. Played two tables and both were fun. I'm betting 60% locals although it wasn't that obvious so it could be higher. Despite some decent players this was still ABC poker with enough soft players to be profitable. Because there were so many people overvaluing high pairs, it was really important to play drawing hands if you get in for a fair price. The dealers were the BEST I've seen in Las Vegas. The two tables were congenial, and a good time was had by all. Over the two sessions I squeaked out a profit of about $300 (give or take tips etc). As and aside, if you want a refreshing drink at the table (sans alcohol) I recommend fresh watermelon juice and soda water--delicious.
One last great recommendation is Javier's in Aria. We had the Jalapeno Margarita's (yes you do want to order it) and two of the house specials--Carne Tampiqueno and Carnitas. The meal and service was as close to perfect as it gets. The waiters know the menu and understand the food and we were very happy with their recommendations.
In summary we had a great time and I left the tables up about $525-$550. Can't wait to be back.