The night before his Casa de Shenandoah opens to the public, Wayne Newton, Mr. Las Vegas himself, gives us the ultimate insider’s tour.
When you’ve been dubbed “Mr. Las Vegas,” played thousands of shows, and mingled with stars, heads of state, and captains of industry, you’re bound to collect a few things along the way.
Wayne Newton (a.k.a. the above, plus “The Midnight Idol” and “Mr. Entertainment”) is opening the home he’s lived in and expanded since 1966 to the public. Casa de Shenandoah—a 52-acre ranch that now holds eight separate homes on manicured grounds, barns with stalls for his 60 prizewinning Arabian horses, artesian ponds and lakes, and an exotic animal farm that includes a capuchin monkey and wallabies—has been the object of curiosity for years, hidden behind white walls and guard-gated gilded doors.
But Newton always intended for the grand property, which also showcases an astounding amount of memorabilia (from Franklin Roosevelt’s personal desk to a Stradivarius violin owned by Jack Benny; costumes from when he was four years old, and Rolls-Royces previously owned by Johnny Cash, Steve McQueen, Liberace and more) to be a kind of Graceland of the West, accessible to all his fans.
The museum tour starts in a visitors center across the street from the estate where guests can purchase tickets (packages range from $35 to $95), watch a film about Newton, and then board a shuttle into the estate where they’ll see (depending on the package they’ve purchased) the interior of Newton’s private Fokker F28 private jet and the inside of his mansion with its world-famous Red Room, private quarters, and secret rooms and passages. All the experiences are narrated along the way by Wayne Newton on video.
But what I’m getting the night before the big opening is priceless—a tour with Newton himself. (In fact, you can book the “Exclusive Mr. Las Vegas Experience,” but on the Casa de Shenandoah website, no price is listed.)
As you might imagine, Newton is the ultimate tour guide, taking me into the billiards room of the mansion. “You see this pool table?” he asks of a Baccarat-legged stunner. “It was made for a maharajah in India 300 years ago, then fell out of use.” It was being used to prop up rugs for sale when Newton found it. “No one thought it was worth anything, but I had a hunch.”
Soon, the repaired crystal legs will be lit from below, lending a glow to the room, filled with—among other things—a wall full of big-eyed Keane waifs. It’s a touch that keeps with the wildly opulent digs of the man synonymous with Vegas’s entertainment scene. And like the perennially charming Mr. Las Vegas, it’s a sight you’ve got to see to believe.
Casa de Shenandoah; 3310 E. Sunset Road, Las Vegas, NV 89120; 702-547-4811; casadeshenandoah.com; adults, $35 - $95.
Andrea Bennett is the Editor in Chief of Vegas Magazine, and covers the Las Vegas beat for Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @AndreaBennett1.