Sarah Feldberg
Sarah Feldberg

It was supposed to be a "lagoon." A manmade lake three times the size of Lake Bellagio with its own boardwalk, white sand beach and hotel tower. It would host watersports by day, include a new convention center and cost more than $1.5 billion to construct. A Disney-like attraction on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip that Steve Wynn had dubbed Paradise Park.

Well, paradise is no longer in the plans.

"[W]e weren't really interested in building a large public swimming pool for the Las Vegas Strip," said Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox on the company's Q3 earnings call last week. 

Instead, Wynn is pivoting the project back to a safer and less expensive bet: A golf course and additional conventions and meetings space. It's not the splashy, theme-park-style attraction originally planned for the 38-acre area adjacent to the Wynn and Encore resorts, but the change will dramatically slash construction costs and likely boost casino revenue. 

"It's a great amenity for the resort," Maddox said. "Not only did we notice we lost 16,000 rounds of golf out there, 70% of which were cash, but we lost probably $10 million to $15 million worth of domestic casino business. People coming in for golf trips that have decided to go elsewhere."

The course, which has been closed, will be revived and redesigned by Tom Fazio, who designed the original Wynn Golf Club. The new 18-hole course is expected to reopen by early 2020, slated to align with the debut of a 400,000-square-foot convention center, phase one of the Paradise Park project, which is continuing as planned. 

"We believe that that convention center will add somewhere between four to six points of occupancy to this hotel, which will allow us to really drive rate in those peak times, because we will be in the low- to mid-90s in occupancy over the full 365 days," Maddox said.

While Wynn Resorts' revenues were up year over year for the third quarter, those gains were driven entirely by the properties in Macau. The company's Las Vegas operations posted a 14.1% decline in revenue compared to last year, to $398.9 million. Gaming revenue was down 28.4%.

But the company isn't scrapping plans for additional Las Vegas rooms altogether. Earlier this year, Wynn Resorts purchase a 38-acre parcel on the west side of the Las Vegas Strip across from the current properties. 

Maddox called that land "a far superior site" than the off-Strip golf course for an integrated casino resort, and he said the project is still years away. "It's going to take two years of design and development for that project," Maddox said. And the planning? It starts in 2019.

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