Eye on Travel

Radio Guest List – Wynn and Encore in Las Vegas, Nevada – October 5, 2019

Locations in this article:  Las Vegas, NV

This week’s Eye on Travel broadcasts from Wynn and Encore in Las Vegas, Nevada. Peter has an update on the massive failure of Thomas Cook and other airlines that ceased operating in the last ten days — including XL and Adria — as well as the latest on the Boeing 737 Max investigation. On the second anniversary of the mass shooting at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Marilyn Spiegel, President of Wynn Resorts, updates on changes in hotel security practices, and on a much brighter note, her secret tips on great restaurants off the Las Vegas strip (in small strip malls that only the locals know). And A.J. Montgomery, Performer at Le Rêve – The Dream, shares his remarkable story of the accident which caused him to lose part of his right leg and how it impacted his career as a performer — and how he still performs today in a grueling acrobatic show. There’s all this and more as Eye on Travel broadcasts from Wynn and Encore in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Click here to listen to the show streaming live from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, October 5, 2019.

Have a travel question? Then ask Peter. E-mail him at peter@petergreenberg.com, or tweet your questions to @petersgreenberg (include #AskPeter).

Marilyn Spiegel, President of Wynn Resorts, shares the local perspective of Las Vegas — from local restaurants to strip malls. She talks about how Las Vegas has shifted from a gambling-centric industry to a food, drink, and entertainment industry. She explains the impact of the Great Recession on the real estate market in Las Vegas, and the continuing housing problems in the city. She says that it has caused many employees to take on second jobs, particularly as rideshare drivers. Marilyn also talks about how security practices at Wynn have changed since the shooting at Mandalay Bay two years ago.

Patrick Smith, Airline Pilot, Author & Founder of Ask the Pilot, joins the show to speak about long-haul flights – and the American carriers trying to compete – and why the United States doesn’t have a true American global carrier like we used to. He speaks about efficient airplanes, Africa routes and reveals one of his favorite places to visit in the world.

A.J. Montgomery, Performer at Le Rêve – The Dream, shares the story of the car crash which caused him to lose part of his right leg and how it impacted his career as a performer. A.J. takes us through the recovery process, from his first few months on crutches, to taking his first steps, to finally performing at Le Rêve. He explains that the rehab process wasn’t built for an elite performer, and he had to create his own program in order to prepare himself to perform again. A.J. also gives us some insight into the inner workings of an acrobatic show and what exactly it means to be a generalist.

Doug Castaneda, Director of Race and Sports at Wynn, describes the Las Vegas sports betting scene and how it’s likely to change in the near future. Doug says that most people bet emotionally and favor the team that they feel a personal connection to. He speculates about the future of sports betting, and whether it might expand to include smaller sports or lower divisions. According to Doug, soccer is becoming more popular in the U.S., and we might see an increase in gambling around the sport. Doug also shares the history of sports betting laws in Nevada, and how the laws impacted the Las Vegas collegiate betting industry from the 1990s to today.

Richard Zoglin, Author of Elvis in Vegas: How the King Reinvented the Las Vegas Show, talks about how Elvis was at his best, his voice richer and more powerful than ever, when he played Vegas. When he went back to play Vegas in 1969, he brought a new family audience to the city, the likes of which they hadn’t seen before. People knew when Elvis was going to be performing and plan their trips around him.  Zoglin explains how this changed everything in Vegas and led to how we know the city now. Over the years, the shows have evolved further to the point that total revenue for food and entertain surpasses that of gambling.

Erik Hansen, Chief Sustainability Officer at Wynn, describes the difficulties of limiting consumption in one of the most indulgent cities in the world. He talks about how Wynn began to produce its own power by incorporating a 160-acre solar farm as well as rooftop solar panels. Erik also explains how Wynn was able to quickly replace single-use plastic straws and coffee stir sticks with plant-based alternatives, saving about 19 million straws worth of plastic each year. Reducing food waste is also a huge part of Erik’s job, and he talks about how leftover food at Wynn is recycled and donated. He also shares the steps that Wynn is taking to reduce the amount of food that’s prepared in the first place.

Brock Radke, Entertainment Writer for the Las Vegas Sun, talks about all things Las Vegas entertainment – from residencies (who’s killing it and who didn’t) to popular and controversial shows on the strip. Brock chats about the new shows coming to town, crazy acrobatics and stunts, star stages and the NFL and NHL. He makes predictions about the Las Vegas sporting scene,  shares what he think has changed in the last few years, and the ever-changing scale of the Las Vegas experience. 

David Walzog, Executive Chef at SW Steakhouse and Lakeside, talks about some of the challenges and rewards of keeping a luxury restaurant running smoothly. David shares what it takes to run a restaurant in Las Vegas and how to act as a mentor to everyone in the kitchen. He talks about how food sourcing has changed through the years and why it’s so important to tell guests where their food comes from. David also explains the difference between different types of luxury beef from all over the world.

Helene and Elizabeth An of Crustacean in Beverly Hills, join Peter to talk about the story that brought both Helene and Peter together in 1975 – a story of survival, resilience and working against all odds. Helene tells her riveting immigrant story of how she ended up in San Francisco from Vietnam and what occurred after that that led to create the Beverly Hills staple that is Crustacean today. Her daughter, Elizabeth An, also joins the interview with her mother to speak about their journey, all things traditional Vietnamese food (and how that inspires their food at the restaurant) and Peter’s favorite, the garlic noodles.