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Best of Gary Trask

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Top 10 facts, figures and tidbits from the opening of Encore Boston Harbor

24 June 2019

Two days before Sunday's highly anticipated grand opening of Encore Boston Harbor, Casino City received a two-hour tour of the lavish $2.6 million casino resort, providing plenty of fodder for this week's top 10.

After walking the entire property, scouring the lengthy press materials and speaking with multiple employees and officials, we could literally have turned this week's column into a top 100. But to keep with Casino City tradition, we winnowed it down to 10 compelling items regarding the new mega resort that some locals are calling a "dream come true."

10. Staggering numbers
The main dollar amount that you've probably heard multiple times by now is the $2.6 billion it cost to build Encore Boston Harbor. But that's not the lone mind-numbing figure surrounding the property.

The resort is 3.1 million square feet and it was built in just 36 months. This was possible because there were, at times, three daily shifts of 1,700 workers, and as much as $3 million spent a day. Other intriguing numbers: There are 3,158 slot machines spread across the 210,000-square-foot casino floor, 671 hotel rooms, a 26,000-square-foot,17-treatment-room spa, approximately 2,900 on-site parking spaces (more on that later) and a 37,000-square-foot single span grand ballroom that is the second-largest in Boston.

9. 88 poker tables

Speaking of impressive numbers, the 88 poker tables at Encore Boston Harbor are the fifth-most of any casino in the world, trailing only Commerce Casino (200 tables), Hawaiian Garden Casino (145) and The Bicycle Hotel & Casino (135) in California, and Foxwoods Resort Casino (94) in Connecticut.

The 23,563-square-foot space, which also has a 16-table room dedicated to tournaments, sits on the second floor and overlooks the main casino. There is a dedicated kitchen and restrooms for poker players, and the room features 35 65-inch TVs. Each table is equipped with individual USB ports.

For now, the poker room is offering just cash games, but it expects to start a robust daily tournament schedule within the next few months.

8. Two-level casino
If you've been to Wynn Las Vegas or Encore Resort in Las Vegas, the look and feel of Encore Boston Harbor will look strikingly familiar. So much so that the giant red Venetian glass chandeliers were previously featured at the two Wynn properties in Sin City.

We were told that after using them at Encore in Las Vegas, Wynn designer Roger Thomas decided to take them down because he felt like they cut the casino floor in half. They have been in storage for years, but since Encore Boston Harbor is the first Wynn-branded property with a two-level casino, the chandeliers were brought out of storage, sent to Boston and reassembled.

7. Popeye comes to Boston
One of the more unique pieces of art in Encore Boston Harbor is the 6-foot-5, 2,000-pound statue of Popeye made out of high chromium stainless steel. Steve Wynn reportedly bought the Jeff Koons creation at an auction for $28 million back in 2014 with full intention to display it in Boston, due to its connection to the sea. It was originally showcased at Wynn Las Vegas, but now sits outside the convention center at Encore Boston Harbor and is already a social media sensation.

Initially, we are told, Popeye was located in the main entrance to the casino, but after careful thought, the folks in charge didn't want the sailor man to share a space with another one of the most talked-about pieces of art at the property, which brings us to . . .

6. Horse carousel made out of 80,000 flowers
Once again, if you've been to Wynn Las Vegas, you've no doubt seen the flower creation that is a horse carousel at the front entrance. Encore Boston Harbor has check-raised that four-horse creation with a 10-horse carousel, including a Unicorn, a Hippocamp and a Pegasus. It is the work of the same artist (Preston Bailey), weighs 15,000 pounds and is composed of 83,000 flowers and 11,000 jewels. It took 18 months to design and fabricate.

The carousel is surrounded in the main lobby by four 20-foot, multi-trunk ficus trees and massive planters filled with 4,000 annual flowers.


5. $2 million sound system
It's impossible to call yourself a Las Vegas-style casino without a flashy nightclub. With that in mind, Encore Boston Harbor brought in Big Night Entertainment Group, the operators of The Grand in Boston's Seaport and Shrine at Foxwoods, to create Mémoire.

The upscale venue fits 600 people, and you can bet it will be at capacity this week when Steve Aoki and Shaq AKA DJ Diesel take over the front stage. Randy Greenstein from Big Night told us the sound system and lighting cost upwards of $2 million, and when he demonstrated its power to us on Friday, the price seemed about right. In addition to a 40-foot bar, there are 20 private tables that come with personal bartenders and servers, an LED wall made up of 100 panels, and a custom-made lighting centerpiece that hands for the ceiling and is controlled by motors.

"I've been in the business a long, long time and this is the most unique nightclub venue I've ever seen," added Greenstein.

4. A "rare" signature steakhouse
Rare is a fitting name for Encore Boston Harbor's signature steakhouse and not just because it's how you might like your steak cooked.

Rare is the only venue in Massachusetts and one of just nine restaurants in the U.S. to be part of the certified Kobe Beef Federation program, featuring the rarely found and authentic Japanese Wagyu.

There is also a menu of hard-to-find scotches, wines and other spirits, and the venue offers spectacular views of the property's Harborwalk and the Mystic River.

3. Waterfront
Along with the Italian eatery Fratelli, Waterfront is the other restaurant at Encore Boston Harbor that provides a tip of the cap to the local scene (arguably, so does the marble-floored Dunkin Donuts).

Waterfront is the perfect spot to grab a lobster roll and enjoy other local seafood and "pub-like" menu items, but don't expect to get a Bud Light or Corona to wash your food down. All 32 of the beers on tap at Waterfront are locally brewed, and many of them come from the 200 or so breweries in Massachusetts.

A nice touch is the beer menu, which, in addition to listing the name, type and alcohol by volume (ABV), also features the number of miles from Encore Boston Harbor to the brewery where it's crafted.

2. Upscale guest rooms
There is nothing "standard" about the 671 standard guest rooms at Encore Boston Harbor.

At 650 square feet, the rooms are 200 square feet bigger than the average room on the Boston market. The bathrooms are massive with two sinks, a TV, a tub and a standup shower. There is an espresso machine in every room, and the twice-daily housekeeping service includes four complimentary bottles of water each day.

The thread count on the 100% Egyptian cotton linens is 507 (I'm told that's quite an impressive number), and each room has voice-controlled curtains and lighting, bedside consoles with an iPad that has all of the local and resort info you can ask for, and an Alexa virtual assistant.

Here's the catch: Rooms start at $650 a night, and I was told that number is not expected to drop any time soon. It compares with the rate at other high end hotels in Boston, such as the Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental, with the difference being that Encore Boston Harbor is brand spanking new and has more guest amenities.

1. A myriad of transportation options
One of the biggest concerns from the very beginning of this project was traffic. Boston is already one of the more congested cities in the U.S., and adding a mega-resort into the mix was something that was met with great trepidation.

To compensate, much planning and effort has gone into how to get people in and out of the resort in the most efficient manner possible, ranging from offering free shuttle service to swanky, 35-person water taxis.

The company spent millions of dollars on a "Why Drive?" ad campaign, and after Sunday's grand opening it announced it was pleased with the results.

“This morning demonstrated that guests will leave their cars at home if they have access to modern and convenient choices,” said Robert DeSalvio, president of Encore Boston Harbor. “In the days ahead, we will continue to monitor traffic closely, but today we want to thank our visitors who embraced alternatives. Dozens of federal, state and local agencies collaborated with us on plans, and the early results show great promise for the long term.”

On-site parking is available, but like the guest rooms, it’s not cheap. The first four hours is $22 ,and the first 24 hours is $42.


Gary Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor. He also manages new business ventures for Casino City.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT
Gary Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor. He also manages new business ventures for Casino City.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT