Las Vegas is constantly improving upon itself by building bigger developments and offering more luxury experiences. And the growth seems to be moving The Strip eastward. Neiman Marcus used to be out in no man’s land, but now it is foundation of the new mall and near the center of the action. Gone are the aspirations to stay at The Hotel (Four Seasons) in Mandalay Bay. Yes, it’s still quite beautiful, but it’s too far from the other high-end hotels like The Venetian, The Palazzo, Wynn, and my personal favorite, Encore.
A lot has happened since your last visit to Adult Dinsneyland. So I’m going to tell you what’s hot on The Strip these days. But let me warn you, this isn’t for the faint of wallet. If you want the real deal experience, you better start buffing up on your black jack or bring along a very lucky lady.
My favorite place to stay used to be The Venetian. The expansive rooms and marble baths were so seductive. But it’s lost it’s luster in the shadow of its neighbors: The Wynn, Encore, Aria, and coming soon The Mandarin Oriental.
The two former hotels opened by Steve Wynn almost seem to be “boutique” in comparison to the others that line the Strip. Offering one main bar and a few select restaurants opened by famous chefs (Daniel Boulud and Phillipe Rispoli in the Wynn, and Theo Schoenegger and Jet Tila in Encore), you really never feel lost.
On the other hand, the Aria is the basis for the latest Vegas installment The City Center that will put the Cesar’s Palace experience to shame. Also in The City Center is The Mandarin Oriental, one of the nicest chains in the world. Without even seeing the inside, I can assure you it will trump all of the other accommodations in town.
Don’t be deceived, you can score some great deals to stay in the lap of luxury. But, if you’re looking for something even more affordable, I would base your choice on location. The Mirage, Treasure Island, Paris, Planet Hollywood, and Caesar’s
are all within reach of the restaurants, shopping, and clubs you’ll want to hit during your visit. I’ve stayed at all of them, and they are a solid bet for your buck.
You’re probably asking yourself, “but what about the Bellagio? I love that place.” Well, you used to love it before Aunt Jane with her fannie pack and Uncle Bill’s beer gut took over the lobby. The glamour is gone and the whole place looks rundown.
Don’t even consider staying at: The Flamingo, The Rio, The Palms, MGM, Mandalay Bay, and my all time favorite hell hole – The Hard Rock Hotel.
You all know my favorite way to spend an evening is dining out, so here are my choices for the finest restaurants the city has to offer. And yes, you need reservations.
Joel Robuchon –– The ONLY reason to go to MGM Grand is to sit down in this luxe, cozy restaurant that features plush purple cushions, giant orchids, and delicious french cuisine. Want a little more atmosphere at an even better price? Reserve a table at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. By the way, Guy Savoy is not a suitable substitute if you can’t get a table at either Robuchon. The cold interior sucks out any excitement you might have had about the prices of the moderately complex dishes that will surely shock you (sea bass runs about $100).
Emeril’s Delmonico — Succulent cuts of meat paired with truffle chips is a great way to end the day in Vegas.
Lavo — If you’re looking for a little action with your Italian this restaurant is the tredy place to dine before you head out for a long night.
Lagasee SportsBook in The Palazzo – Vegas is known for it’s sports betting, so if you’re looking for a swanky place to watch the game, this is it! A huge column is lined with flat screens you can see from every cabana and there is stadium white-leather couch seating in the center. It’s almost like a club for watching sports equip with hot waitresses, the best buffalo wings that has every touched your tongue, and you just feel cool being there.
Inside The Wynn — You’ll find every cuisine constructed by a famous chef. My favorite is Daniel Boulud, but you would be equally happy at one of the others.
Spago – Not necessarily a quiet experience, but Spago still serves up Wolfgang Puck’s finest.
Sage – Modern American in a quiet and spacious atmosphere. It’s a refreshingly pleasant place to dine, which is hard to find in Vegas.
Bouchon Bistro — I haven’t eaten here, but everyone insists it’s one of the city’s best. I can’t argue with EVERYONE!
American Fish – Another one I haven’t had the pleasure of enjoying, but I hear good things about this fishery in Aria.
Oh the Vegas club scene, it’s something special. Here’s my thought on the topic – why would I go to a club when there is so much else to do? Plus, I can go out and shake a tail feather at home. But then again, not everyone lives in New York, Los Angeles, or a city with a thriving nightlife. So here are few places you might consider throwing down for a table or ticket to enter.
Privledge – Pure –Blush – Bliss – Tao
Honestly, to me, they are all the same. You’re going to need some serious booze before you go in, so eat a delicious dinner, hit the tables for a couple hours, and then if you’re still standing, get your booty on the dance floor.
During the day, it’s always nice to lounge poolside. I would absolutely suggest Tao Beach at The Venetian (above). The people watching is priceless and and the party is pumping. Otherwise, your hotel will have a quiet spot for you to catch up on reading and/or sleep.
For the boys, golfing is a popular activity. You can ask your concierge for a nearby course, or if you’re looking for something a little more titillating, make a tee time at Royal Links that employs the hottest female caddies your spikes will ever see.
Girls, obviously the shopping is ridiculous. There is a new mall that has been built around Neiman Marcus as a welcome change to Caesar’s. Barney’s is open in The Venetian that will surely lead you to the Canal Shoppes that also has a good selection of designer brands.
Another option – spa day! All of the hotels I mentioned above have beautiful facilities. My personal favorite is Canyon Ranch at The Venetian/Palazzo as it’s just recently been renovated. Again, I can only imagine that Aria and The Mandrian Oriental will outdo them all because they are the new kings of The Strip.
I love the concerts and comedians. One of your favorite performers might be touring or even have a in Vegas, so see if you can score tickets. I’ve seen: Elton John, Lenny Kravitz, George Carlin, Joe Rogan, Cirque de Soleil’s Beatles LOVE, O, Penn & Teller (which almost put me to sleep). Right now Garth Brooks has taken up residence at the Wynn. I’ve seen him several times at the Houston Rodeo and he never lets me down.
If you’re good, play in a nice hotel. If you’re an amateur throw down at The Flamingo or even better O’Shea’s. Your money will last longer and you’ll have more fun. Don’t be scared to ask the dealers for advice on a hand or bet, they want you to win (and tip them).
Two words: Spearmint Rhino. It’s really the only decent place to go. I don’t have any complaints.
That covers my favorites. Please add yours below!