Over-the-top service is part of Brandon Wooden’s DNA. The son of former Wynn Resort and Casino President Maurice Wooden, he’s been exposed to it his entire life. As an executive casino host for Caesars Palace, Wooden the younger now caters to gaming VIPs, and his roster of clients’ cumulative net worth could rival those of small countries. Prior to returning to his hometown in Sin City, Wooden was an executive host for the Four Seasons Hotel Denver, where he was directly responsible for catering to the needs of celebrities and high-profile stars. On his first day on the job, he hosted Lady Gaga and kept the red carpet rolled out for other stars such as Dave Chapelle, Katy Perry, Drake, Troy Aikman, John Legend, and even the Princess of Thailand.
You work exclusively with VVIP clients, which is a step up from VIPs. What’s the difference in service with that extra V?
You might not be able to spot the difference, but there are some. We like to consider the majority of our guests VIPs—where we know their preferences, they have a history at our casino—so we have special notations on our VIPs and we try to do everything we can to cater to them and accommodate their requests. VVIPs are a little bit different because they require a pre-planning process that in some cases could be months out. It could be as small as arranging tour-bus parking or having special iodine shots available that are only available at Whole Foods. Usually, there is a comprehensive laundry list of things to plan out for our VVIPs that we have to make sure is accounted for, especially in this day and age because social media can be a beast. You would hate to have anything negative going out to their fan base because it could be a deterrent.
What kind of special access can someone get with a VVIP host?
Depending on who it is, I would say nothing is really off-limits—anything from sharing a Champagne toast with Celine Dion on her final show, dancing the night away with J-Lo at her private going-away party, or having a GV sent to your home city to fly you into Vegas. Anything fathomable is likely obtainable if you know the right people.
It’s fiercely competitive in Las Vegas when it comes to wooing high rollers to a property.
It’s tough—but a great challenge that I love to take on personally. Caesars was built in the 1950s. Our competitors were built more recently in the 2000s, so it’s not a fair playing field because our product is almost 70 years old. So I attack it by making sure I can offer a second-to-none service where I have everything covered and I’m part of my client’s experience—where they aren’t just coming to Las Vegas to gamble, but they are out here to see Brandon, and what I can do and arrange, and the special things I can do on their trip. I need to attach myself to their Vegas experience or else we’re just another hotel that offers gambling.
No doubt you’ve worked with divas and had VVIPs that were VVD (very very demanding). But how about the coolest celebrities you’ve worked with?
John Legend is simply one of the nicest guys. When he was performing in Denver, he would pull up in the Escalade driving him, get out of the vehicle and walk to the front desk, check in, and go straight to his room. He was always so friendly and cool in every interaction.
Dave Chappelle was such a down-to-earth guy, where I had his cell phone, he had mine. He would call me directly when he was calling into town. He is such a great guy. He would be down in the hotel lobby, cutting it up with guests, ordering drinks. He took care of every person and every staff member he came in contact with. He would give them a $100 tip just for making eye contact.
To hear more about Cesar’s life as a celebrity trainer, subscribe to the One Degree of Glamorous with Tom Zenner podcast on iTunes.