By Ed Salvato
Originally published on Advocate.com March 04 2009 1:00 AM ET
Wynn Encore raises the style stakes on the Las Vegas Strip.
With a glistening exterior that mirrors the bronze sheath of its next-door sibling, the Wynn Encore could easily be mistaken for an expansion of the flagship Wynn Las Vegas. But this luxurious recent addition to Sin City's skyline sets a distinctive stage with its 2,034 suites (all with floor-to-ceiling windows), five restaurants, and 27,000-square-foot shopping esplanade that will delight hipsters (Rock & Republic) and Jackie O. wannabes (Hermès, Chanel) alike. Wynn's gay executive vice president of design, Roger Thomas, spent three years perusing shops, markets, and auctions in Paris, Florence, Venice, New York, and Hong Kong to create Encore's one-of-a-kind environments: The five-foot-tall pairs of white wall sconces at the north and west entrances were originally made for a 1928 Cap d'Antibes hotel; the casino's crimson chandeliers are fashioned from mouth-blown Venetian Rubino glass; the baccarat pavilion's playing-card still lifes date to 1930s France. Increased natural light, garden motifs, registration-to-suite access that bypasses gaming, and large resort spaces articulated into smaller open rooms heighten the warmth and intimacy, making Encore's success a safe bet. Rates start around $200.
Q&A Q: I'm a little skeptical of destinations that advertise as "gay-friendly." Does that mean "lesbian-friendly" too?
A: Vacationing for the ladies can be tricky. If you're unsure about the inclusiveness of a destination, call ahead. Ask what percentage of guests is female and whether women are welcome. If they're reluctant to answer your question, you may feel out of place. The online Out Traveler Women's Travel Guide (published by The Advocate 's parent company) outlines the best places to go ( OutTraveler.com/women ).
HOT LIST Relax in some of the country's swankiest hotel spas.
New York City: The Spa at Mandarin Oriental The 35th floor of the five-star hotel is luxuriously relaxing. Bamboo, natural stone, and gold leaf offset a sky-lit lap pool. ( MandarinOriental.com )
Las Vegas: The Bathhouse This spa at Mandalay Bay offers treatments like vitamin-rich oxygen facials and herbal tea-infused full body wraps. ( MandalayBay.com )
Miami: Canyon Ranch Wellness Spa The largest spa in Miami offers Euro-style temperature-alternating "Aquavana." ( CanyonRanch.com )