Easily the most talked-about development along the Strip, Wynn Las Vegas (3131 Las Vegas Boulevard, 702-770-7100 or 888-320-9966, $239-399) is a mammoth and spectacular $2.7 billion spread that opened in late April 2005 to considerable fanfare. From the unbelievably plush rooms to such swish dining options as Daniel Boulud Brasserie, Alex, and Okada to such high-end shops as Gaultier, Manolo Blahnik and the in-house Ferrari-Maserati dealership, this place has definitely raised the bar on Vegas luxury. Wynn purchased the Desert Inn property (3145 Las Vegas Boulevard; 702/733-4444, fax 702/733-4676) and the buildings are going up now for his follow-up, the aptly named Encore Resort, which is expected to cost another $1.5 billion by the time it opens in early 2008.
Although it's a short cab ride off the strip (about a half-mile west, near Rio Suites), the 440-room Palms Casino Resort (4321 W. Flamingo Rd., 702-942-7777 or 866/942-7770, $89-$399) ranks right up there with any casino in town when it comes to hip, trendy digs and see-and-be-seen nightclubs and restaurants. After it opened late in 2001, it quickly became of a favorite haunt of celebrities (Leonardo DiCaprio, Pink, Jude Law, Gwen Stefani), who flock to Rain nightclub and Ghostbar, which has an outdoor 54th-floor deck that affords spectacular views of the city skyline. Such stellar restaurants as Alizé, Little Buddha (a spin-off of Paris' famous Buddha Bar) and N9NE steakhouse (a famed Chicago import) add to the Palms' skyrocketing cachet. The casino was also the host of the ever-silly "Real World Las Vegas" on MTV (you can rent the cast's snazzy 2,900-square-foot three-bedroom apartment for a mere $5,000 per weeknight, $10,000 on weekends). Standard rooms are 440 square feet and up, and deluxe accommodations have marble-tile Jacuzzi tubs and 32-inch TVs. Other amenities include a 14-theater multiplex, seven restaurants, a 20,000-square-foot spa, and a fabulous, recently redesigned pool fringed with bamboo cabanas.
If you want to spend a little cash, look no further than the Skylofts at MGM Grand (3799 Las Vegas Boulevard, 702/891-7777 or 877/880-0880, email@example.com; $800-10,500), which comprises 51 stunning two-story loft suites with 1-3 bedrooms and occupies the MGM Grand's top two floors. The fun begins when you're delivered from the airport to Skylofts' own private lobby via a Mercedes Maybach 62 limousine. Accommodations have butler service, Sony HDTVs, "Immersion Chamber" bathrooms with steam rooms and infinity-edge Jacuzzis and 24-foot floor-to-ceiling windows.
A bit more subdued and certainly more affordable, the non-gaming Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel (3400 Paradise Road, 702-733-6533 or 866-352-3434, $139-269) offers a sleek 21st-century take on '50s Rat Pack glam. Located next to the convention center (and right by a stop on the city's fun but overpriced new monorail), its mid-century modern rooms delight design-minded guests with groovy, low-slung furniture and flat-screen TVs. It's a great alternative to the over-the-top glitz of the Strip, and its ENVY Steakhouse is superb.
Bellagio (3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S, 702-693-7111 or 888-987-6667, $199-799) cost $1.8 billion to build, and includes a $200-million art gallery and a nine-acre lake resembling Lake Como, with elegant waterfalls and classical gardens. Renovations completed in 2005 included an extra 928 rooms and suites, expanded spa and salon, 60,000 feet of extra meeting and function rooms and the sumptuous Jean-Philippe Patisserie. This upscale resort boasts a spectacular array of restaurants, including Le Cirque, Sensi, and one of our favorites, Picasso; a water-themed show by Cirque du Soleil (cleverly called "O," playing off the French word for water, eau); and high-end fashion outlets, including Chanel, Prada and Hérmes.
The $2-billion, all-suite Venetian (3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702/733-5000 or 888/283-6423, $169-$699) brings all things Venice to the Las Vegas Strip, including indoor and outdoor Gondola rides for $12.50-15 for adults or $50-$60 for a private two person gondola ride (cheaper than rides in Venice, which begin at $100), St. Mark's Square and a Grand Canal. An outpost of the Guggenheim Museum is on site, and the first Madame Tussaud's wax museum in the United States is located at the front of the Venetian. The restaurant list is among the most impressive in town, including Tao, the ultra-lounge and sushi den imported from New York, Emeril Lagasse's Delmonico Steakhouse, and Wolfgang Puck's Postrio. A Canyon Ranch Spa and Cafe round out the top-name amenities.
The Aladdin resort is being redeveloped into Planet Hollywood (3667 Las Vegas Blvd S., 702-785-5555 or 877-333-9474, $69-$499), which has hired Starwood Hotels (Sheraton, W Hotels, Westin, etc.) to manage it. All evidence suggests that it's going to become one of the most impressive properties on the Strip when it's completed in 2007.
The nearest resort property to the city's pulsing little gay district, the hip Hard Rock Hotel (4455 Paradise Rd, 702-693-5544 or 800-473-7625, $99-$699) lies one block east of the Strip. Despite the cheesy reputation of the Hard Rock restaurant chain, this handsome hotel pulls in a cool crowd with its contemporary room furnishings, celeb-frequented bars and lounges, and A-list restaurants, which include Nobu, AJ's Steakhouse, and the Pink Taco. You can walk to Hamburger Mary's, Gipsy, and FreeZone from here.
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