You’ve got to check it out

For $2.6b, a bit of high-end Vegas in Everett

HERE’S SOME TIDBITS picked up on a media tour inside Encore Boston Harbor on Friday.

This is a unique place, with lots of local flavor, but if you’ve been to either of the two Wynn Resorts properties in Las Vegas a lot will feel familiar – the flowery décor, the serene spa, and the heavy emphasis on personal attention. My guide said he previously worked at the Hard Rock Café in Atlantic City, which had 2,000 rooms (versus 671 at Encore Boston Harbor) and an even bigger casino floor. But he said the Hard Rock had 3,500 employees, while Encore Boston Harbor has more than 5,000 as it heads to the target level of 5,800 employees. Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox said the facility’s payroll is $300 million.

The casino floor at Encore Boston Harbor is 210,000 square feet with 3,100 slots and 231 table games. There’s a separate, upper level for the high-stakes games. My guide said the casino floor at Encore Boston Harbor is bigger than the casino floors at both of Wynn’s properties in Vegas combined.

The rooms at Encore Boston Harbor are similar to those at Wynn in Las Vegas. The standard room is 650 square feet, the largest in New England, and features a large bathroom with separate bath and shower. Most of the gadgets in the room, including the TV and the window drapes, are controlled by Alexa or an iPad next to the bed. The room rate is $650 to $695 a night weekdays.

The buffet at Encore Boston Harbor. (Photo courtesy of Wynn Resorts)

I also visited one of the 5,800-square feet, two-story villas on the top floor (26th for those counting) featuring three bedrooms, 3 ½ baths, a game room with pool table and TV, an exercise room, and a massive great room. I was told the villa goes for $15,000 to $25,000 a night.

The ballroom, which doubles as a convention center, is 37,000 square feet, which is apparently the largest in the city. It can be configured for just about any type of event, from weddings to professional boxing. The view at one end of the room of the Mystic River is quite stunning, even on a rainy Friday. There are plans to put up tents outside on nice evenings, and I’m assured the artificial grass is designed so it will stand up to and support women in high heels.

The all-you-can-eat buffet wasn’t serving food when I visited, but it looked a bit more interesting than most buffets. Chef Sidney Semedo of Roxbury said the buffet has everything from sushi to New England clam chowder to gelato. The current price weekdays is just under $30 for lunch and $45 for dinner. Weekend rates are still being formulated.

At Rare, the steakhouse, they’re asking for trouble with the white leather chairs. They even had little white leather chairs stashed around a corner that I thought were booster seats for children but are actually used for holding women’s purses.

Big Night Entertainment Group, the local restaurant and nightclub operator, is placing a big bet on Encore Boston Harbor, opening a dance club called Memoire and a restaurant called Mystique at the property. Both venues are pretty cool. Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal is the DJ at Memoire on the 27th. General admission is $40 or you can get a private table and prepare to pay a lot more.

Mystique, a restaurant of Big Night Entertainment Group, at Encore Boston Harbor. (Photo courtesy of Wynn Resorts)

Ed Kane, a principal at Big Night, showed us around Mystique, which would appear to be a great place to have a drink or something to eat. Kane said Mystique is Big Night’s 29th place, and he believes it’s the best project he’s ever done, in part because he learned so much from the Wynn Resorts people. He said the arrival of Encore Boston Harbor has “broken the entertainment ceiling” in Boston.

The views all across the resort are designed to steer you toward the Boston skyline, the Mystic River, or shrubs, trees, and flowers planted throughout the complex. But there’s no getting around the fact that outside one end of the hotel there is a Costco and a Target and off to the other side are the many towers of a massive power plant.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Kane says the power plant tower doesn’t bother him and he doesn’t think it will bother his patrons.

“I don’t see it really,” he says.