When I think of Boston, I think of strolls down Newbury Street, shopping at the Prudential Center, lunch at Joes American Bar & Grill and my loving perception of a smaller, cleaner New York City. Not once did I picture a casino resort in this setting because that is what Las Vegas is for.
Encore Boston Harbor
For us, a 25 minute drive from the heart of Boston, and about five miles from Logan Airport, led us to Everett, Massachusetts: the location of the Encore Boston Harbor. The first look from the car was jolting in that the property looked like it belonged on the famed Las Vegas Strip.
Somehow in spite of the almost displaced initial impression, the property holds its own along the Mystic River in Massachusetts. The Encore Boston Harbor opened in June 2019 at a total cost of $2.6 billion. The land was purchased in January 2015 by Wynn Resorts, a publicly traded American company based out of Paradise, Nevada and currently led by CEO Matthew Maddox. This 33 acre parcel of land was once used for industrial purposes.
What a difference a major clean up and an enormous venture can make.
I am told that parking at peak hours can be challenging given the curiosity and popularity of the resort. We did not encounter a problem on our visit and used self-parking. Valet is also available.
If you are like me and gambling is not your thing, have no fear. There are plenty of features to get your version of your “game on” as the resort houses a harbor walk, bike and jogging paths, restaurants, a spa, retail stores and convention space. The casino, is open for business under the Expanded Gaming Act which allowed for Las Vegas-style gambling in the state of Massachusetts within three territories (Everett, Massachusetts is one of the territories), and for one licensed casino. Wynn Resorts was awarded an official gaming license in September 2014. Note that the casino is only open to those 21 and over, not 18, and is just one component of a vast, spectacular development that has generated quite a buzz.
I can see why.
The outside grounds alone are an experience. Viewing terraces and pathways and abundant flower displays make for a beautiful opportunity to stroll along the Mystic River.
Barcelona-born, contemporary artist, Jaume Plensa’s ‘Laura Asia 2016’ in stainless steel, is a ten foot high portrait of women overlooking the Boston skyline. Not only breathtaking, but serene and not to be missed.
Inside the appeal to the eyes carries on. Every inch of space has something to grab attention, or fulfill the desire to discover your version of fun. For me, “fun” is retail therapy and the stores did not disappoint, as entry to the resort led me to retail shops that were so inviting.
Wynn Collection a clothing store with collections from Ted Baker, Baily 44, Alice & Olivia and 7 For All Mankind, made it hard to simply “pass by,” although tried. I will confess that a Ted Baker coat did come home with me. If beauty products are your thing, Wynn Beauty carries top shelf cosmetics and personal care from Tom Ford and Moroccan Oil.
Another “can’t miss” is Watches of Switzerland, retailer of the finest watches of the world for over 90 years. Hublot, IWC and Panerai are just a few of the time piece treasures enthusiasts may peruse.
Dining options are abundant. The Oyster Bar offers fresh seafood from Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire, while Mystique offers sushi and Asian inspired dishes with a view of Boston’s skyline. Sinatra led by Chef Anthony Ricciardi offers visitors classic Italian cooking just the way Old Blue Eye’s would like it.
We chose to dine at Waterfront, a casual, all day dining experience with craft beer and shareable plates like pretzel chips and dip and fried oysters. The food was not exceptional, but solid for what it is. A place to enjoy some relaxation, have a drink and some bites and catch up with friends, and that is just what we did.
Whether the aesthetics of bright colors is your jam or not, one can not help but have a few jaw dropping opportunities. The carousel in the front lobby is made with 83,000 flowers and 11,000 jewels. It reminded me of a 3-year-old girl’s dream come true as one can not help but associate the display with unicorns and magic.
Jeff Koon’s Popeye sculpture on display in the hall is a fun photo opportunity. You can’t miss this 6 foot 5, 200 pound piece, purchased by former Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn in 2014 for $28 million. Critics of Koon’s work dismissed the purchase citing “gaudy” as the crime. I say, “bring the gaudy on” as the piece conveys joy and a sense of nostalgia to the cartoon that instantaneously brings people to a simpler time. It is a casino after all, so I think some bling is more than appropriate.
The casino is pleasantly smoke free, colorful and open with 40-foot ceilings, glass chandeliers and more than 3,100 state of the art slot machines. The terrace level offers 144 table games and 88 poker tables as well as private gambling salons and high limit gaming rooms.
I did play a few rounds of Blackjack for the first time ever. I was not very good, but I tried to get in the spirit of the moment. I certainly would return and may even try some slots on my next visit.
My one regret is that I was not able to experience the Encore Buffet, open daily from 12pm-10pm, with an all you can eat limit of 2 hours – stations include salads, soup, charcuterie, pizza, steak, roast chicken, lamb osso bucco and made to order sushi. This is definitely where I will dine on my next trip to Beantown.
If you find yourself heading to Boston, schedule at least a day to do your version of play at Encore Boston Harbor.
Angela Ranieri joins us as Contributing Writer with an extensive background in Fashion, Beauty and Digital Media. Her credits include Sales and Marketing for with PRADA USA Corp., followed by a jump in to the world of beauty as an Esthetician followed by Spa Manager at Jurlique, Spa Manager and Client Relationship Manager and Digital Business Development coordinator position at Amore Pacific where celebrity clients were and remain confidential and her column, “Ask Angela,” was featured on the Amore Pacific USA website. She has also been a contributor for Beauty to Shape and Fitness Magazines.
A side job as a Hospital Victim on “As the World Turns,” and a correspondent on the now defunct lifestyle web series “Tangerine Living,” Angela is no stranger to juggling multiple positions and has built quite the resume. A move to The New York Daily News as Training and Employee Relations Manager with a night and weekend gig as make up artist for runway shows, (she studies in Los Angeles with Amy Ward) including Vogue Bambino and multiple commercials, Angela became a Mom, her best and most important credit to date.
Since Motherhood, Angela has been a Brand Ambassador for the skin line Patchology, featured in Saks Fifth Avenue in store and on air with CBS News segment “Patch me Pretty.” She has been a beauty guest for QVC, and the founder of her own social media communications business, helping business owners to share their digital voice. Actively involved with Smart Children with Learning Differences, her most favorite down time hobby is discovering the best in beauty, travel and fashion around the United States.
Angela is a graduate of Syracuse University with a BS in Communications and Writing, where she appeared on the University Union News as an Anchor and on The Beat of Syracuse, Z89 as a DJ. Angela has an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from Northeastern University. While at Northeastern, her Market Research on the Electric Car was published for University use.
Working with AlphaLuxe is a unique opportunity, “to share what I am most passionate about. Living your best life. In her spare time, you can find Angela running, practicing yoga, taking her son to one of his sports practices. She resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her husband, son, and chihuahuas.