A Power Lunch on the Links at Wynn
by nicole rupersburg
Country Club patio seating offers a prime view of the Wynn Golf Course—the only links attached to a resort on the Strip.
The Strip offers no shortage of restaurants that might appeal to a privacy-seeking power player—although at most Vegas gathering places, conspicuous consumption is the whole point.
But when one of the world’s elite discovers a personal haven, it’s almost as if a subliminal bell signals to the rest that it’s safe to follow. And for the past eight years, that place has been the Country Club at Wynn. Among the people we’ve personally seen there (the club doesn’t serve and tell) are Tyra Banks, retired major league pitcher Mike Maddux, Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta, and Henry Kissinger.
“If you go in for breakfast or lunch on any given day, who you will see in that room is amazing,” says Todd-Avery Lenahan of TAL Studio, who designed the space. “Academy Award winners, past presidents, Nobel Prize recipients... everyone goes there.”
A classic Creole dessert—or breakfast: beignets and café au lait.
Part of what makes the Country Club the choice of power brokers, fashion royalty, media moguls, and Hollywood celebrities is the cachet that comes from the 40 stars accumulated by Wynn Resorts’ collection of Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star properties (more than any independent hotel company in the world). Says Carlos Guía, the Country Club’s executive chef, “There is a certain expectation that comes with that.”
It also helps that the club is located at the end of a relatively isolated hallway. The crowds thin the farther you walk, past The Buffet, the Terrace Pointe Café, and a smattering of luxury retailers. “It’s always been a hidden gem, but intentionally so,” says Lenahan. “And because of that, it gets these A-list power players. It’s the only place you can go and not be seen.”
Executive Chef Carlos Guía brings a touch of New Orleans to the menu.
Inside, you’re immediately transported. You are no longer on the Las Vegas Strip. You are now at the unofficial 19th hole of the Golf Club at Wynn, a par-70, Tom Fazio–designed course that’s also a designated wildlife habitat and environmental sanctuary. The Country Club overlooks the lush greenery, cascading waterfalls, and sparkling ponds of the course, the only one attached to a resort on the Strip.
The interior design recalls that of the most traditional, private East Coast country clubs, complete with wall-to-wall wainscoting and carpeting reminiscent of Burberry’s classic plaids. “It will probably be the one place in the entire hotel that never gets remodeled,” says Lenahan. Steve Wynn himself has said it’s his favorite place to sit in the entire property. It feels like the epitome of exclusivity. Except it isn’t. Both the Country Club and the Wynn Golf Club are open to the public. “If you want to come here, you can,” Guía says. “We treat everyone the same. Everyone gets the same level of service.” And that service is consistently fastidious.
The interior was modeled after private East Coast country clubs, but here everyone is welcome.
In keeping with the design of traditional New England country clubs, Guía’s menu offers elevated country club classics—steaks, seafood, even burgers and hot dogs. The French dip, for instance, utilizes shaved prime rib and Gruyère, plus mustard aioli and both caramelized and crispy onions. Creamed spinach? Make that truffle creamed spinach. But the chef is also bringing a little taste of the bayou to his corner of the Strip.
Guía, who began his career at New York’s Waldorf Astoria, where presidential dinners were commonplace, remembers being particularly excited when Bono of U2 stopped in. That information took some prodding, however, because the real secret to the Country Club’s A-list appeal is the fact that no one talks about it. There are no tweets announcing which famous faces are currently dining, no Instagram pics of power players at their tables. While any high-end restaurant on the Strip could court the same clientele, it’s the sense of privacy that the Country Club maintains that makes it the choice of the world’s most powerful people. Wynn Las Vegas, 702-770-3315
Photography by Jeff Gale; Barbara Kraft (dining room); Sabin Orr (Gula, beignets)
We go behind the scenes with our cover star.