Did Wynn Blow It With Wynn Palace?
Wynn Resorts have released numbers for the ten or so weeks of operations at Wynn Palace, missing on analyst projections. You can read the earnings press release here. You may find our Cotai casino map helpful reference for this article.
The quiet firework display started early during the quarterly earnings call this afternoon, where Steve Wynn and his team of executives struck a defensive stance right out of the gate, explaining away lackluster numbers at Wynn Palace Cotai at every turn.
Wynn himself told analysts that the property is surrounded on four sides by construction projects, blaming the Macau LRT elevated railway project, MGM Cotai, Grand Lisboa Palace construction sites for obstructing access to the property. While it is true that Wynn Palace is surrounded by construction, when I was there six weeks prior to opening the roads were clear on all sides for automobile access.
Wynn Palace suffers, perhaps tragically, by being near or connected to absolutely nothing.
Wynn execs repeatedly complained about the street crossing at Avenida da Prosperidade and Ave de Nave Desportiva. This is a valid concern... tons of traffic blasts through here from the Airport towards the south side of Cotai and drivers who use this road have probably never seen any pedestrians trying to cross it, ever. They also discussed MGM construction barriers being in the way. This is hogwash. MGM Cotai is on the opposite side of the street 80 yards away and the barriers are limited to their property.
The problem here isn't construction debris or cross walks. The problem is they didn't design the property to fit customer behaviors.
In Macau, the weather makes walking from property to property - even ones right next door or across the street - a phenomenally taxing experience. Generally, gamblers in Macau travel from joint to joint using taxis, shuttle busses, connected interiors or the single air conditioned bridge that connects Sands Cotai Central to Plaza Macao and The Venetian.
Even if people walked from property to property, there is the issue of distance. The three closest egress points to other properties that are nearest to Wynn Palace are never used by pedestrians. The south casino entrance at City of Dreams is essentially a shuttle stop and the Hard Rock and St. Regis entrances are hotel valet porte cochere drive ways. Nobody walks out of either of these entrances. The next set of entrances are located in front of City of Dreams, the front of Sands Cotai Central and the The Venetian across the thoroughfare. Anything further away than that may as well be Nebraska.
On the Peninsula, the scale and surroundings are pedestrian friendly. On Cotai, it isn't. There is absolutely nothing between the main drag on Cotai and Wynn Palace. There are no stores to poke around in, no sculptures too ogle, no light shows to dazzle, no cafes, no pork jerky stands and no shade. In the parlance of Las Vegas, Wynn Palace is the Downtown Grand of Cotai, but at about 4x the distance and 90x the humidity.
I'll posit that the issue isn't chain link fence 40 yards away from the street crossing or cement road partitions or construction garbage or any other external influence, but instead Wynn's choice of location upon which to build and how they chose to interact with expected customer behaviors.
Steve Wynn often evokes the theory that a successful carnival barker "controls their portion of the midway." This philosophy has served him well with volcanoes, pirate battles, fountain shows and a giant mountai... uh... and the flaming fountain show at Wynn Macau. What Steve Wynn may have failed to realize is that Wynn Palace isn't on the midway. Wynn Palace is located in a corner parcel surrounded by a university, an airport, a storage yard, the uninviting ass ends of three resort projects, a seldom used tennis facility and eventually MGM Cotai. Building a gorgeous lake and a fountain show that nobody is going causally stroll past (a la Bellagio) does not create a midway, it creates a gorgeous lake and fountain show situated on an access road.
Imagine the horror. Steve Wynn builds the crowning jewel of his career - $4 billion dollar, six-years-in-design-and-development, Wynn Palace - and completely botches the most basic of resort concepts, the arrival.
Did he think that a fountain show would be enough to inspire the Sic Bo obsessed to get up from the table, walk through the labyrinthine maze that is Venetian out onto the street, passing Sands Cotai Central and City of Dreams and walk all the hell down there to go look at the fountain show? Anyone who has walked through any of these properties will surely vouch that getting out of them and onto the street is no easy task.
Until MGM Cotai opens, Wynn Palace is a one property island. The addition of Grand Lisboa Palace won't help much as it faces opposite direction from Wynn Palace. Perhaps Wynn Palace is the location that deserves both the fountain show and a mountain surrounding it.