Personal Trip to a Billion Dollar Hotel: Encore Boston Harbor

Susan Kim |

The Encore Boston Harbor is a 33-acre casino hotel, not in Boston Harbor but on the Mysterious River, in the industrial part of Boston. This is a unique hotel in a unique location, the flowers seem to be blooming, even in november and december when we were there, and the rooftop doesn’t look average. Usually under the guest’s feet are bright golden, red or blue mosaic patterns. Then, in the hallway, there is a carousel. It is huge – made entirely of silk flowers and crystals – and on the rotating seats are stuffed animals – monkeys, bears and the like. Kind of Disney paradise in a casino hotel. Unique and memorable as is its cost.

The first thing we learned about the Encore Boston Harbor was its price. $2.6 billion. Those numbers are also spread across every element of Encore: a 210,000-square-foot casino, 15 restaurants, 671 rooms and suites—including a 5,800-square-foot presidential villa—plus 50,000 square feet of event space, 450-buffet restaurants, and staff that includes alumni from The Greater Boston Gaming Career Center at Cambridge College, which Encore helped develop in order to grow an East Coast casino workforce.

Even the carousel, designed by Preston Bailey who made floral sculptures at Wayne Las Vegas, has staggering stats: 15,000 pounds, 83,000 flowers, and 11,000 gems. This is the fourth Wynn Resorts hotel worldwide, and those who know Wynn’s standards will see it here: ultra-luxurious design aesthetic, unique art almost everywhere, all chosen by Wynn Artistic Curator Roger Thomas.

Thomas designed the hotel’s chandeliers over a decade ago. They are red. Each chandelier contains more than 1,000 pieces of Venetian Murano glass from the Italian island of Murano. Chandeliers were hung in Las Vegas before appearing at the Boston Encore. Each one was disassembled, cleaned with vinegar and stored in different boxes before being reassembled on the casino floor.

Guests will also find “Amphora 4” by Viola Fry, a glazed ceramic urn located in the hallway at the base of two unique, curved escalators, and the distinctive “1 billion” by modernist Charles Arnoldi, a painting created from tree branches and resin that hangs behind reception desk. Around the resort, decorative works were seen: 19th-century Venetian mirrors, 18th-century gilded wood panels and architectural elements sourced from antique galleries all over Paris and Venice.

Outside the hotel, on the riverwalk that winds around the hotel on the banks of the Mystic River, are three sculptures by Jaume Plensa that have made gigantic portraits of women. The three-foot-high, stainless-steel portraits look out over the Boston skyline and back toward the hotel. These works are among his first made of stainless steel.

In addition, the art is the casino: there are security guards everywhere. But again, oddly but fortunately, Dunkin Donuts is right next to the gambling area, so one can sip coffee, eat donuts and other AM items while considering where to play.

In both the casino and the lounges, the walkers are a mix of baby boomers, local gamers and young people going to hotel weddings or engagement parties. We saw a lot in the Boston, Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins shirts. Unlike its Vegas counterpart, Encore Boston Harbor is completely smoke-free.

More details: the rooms are large, comfortable and thoughtfully appointed; The brand’s signature – refined design, playful luxury – is visible throughout. The spa is an area in itself that is a luxurious urban getaway, and overall, the hotel has a similar but different feel to Las Vegas. Encore is located, after all, on the mysterious river, which is close to historic Boston. The location alone separates it from its desert relationship.

The Encore could indeed be considered an art hotel in Mystic, or a casino hotel near Boston Harbor. The hotel has multiple identities, but overall, the experience defined one: lavish excellence, yet gently remembered.

Susan Kim |

Murano glass chandeliers

Susan Kim |

Jaume Plensa outdoor sculptures

Barbara Craft

Casino, Encore Boston Harbor

Encore Boston Harbor

1 billion Charles Arnoldi

Susan Kim |

Encore Boston Harbor, Riverwalk

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