By Kristen Shirley
This story originally appeared in the September/October 2017 issue of Elite Traveler.
Love it or loathe it, Las Vegas’s sheer number of hotels, events and conferences makes it a frequent destination for many of us. And of course, it’s the party capital of the US. While some of the city’s most over-the-top accommodations are reserved for high rollers and are by invitation only, there are still incredible suites with extravagant amenities that put some bigger cities’ offerings to shame. If you think the dining scene is only full of celebrity chefs and outposts of successful restaurants, think again. Many chefs view Las Vegas as the perfect place to go all-out and to be as innovative as they can, and several restaurants would be deserving of Michelin stars if the city had its own guide. So, if you’re in town, check into a fabulous suite, embrace the kitsch, dust off your party hat and go have the time of your life. You can do whatever you want here. This is Las Vegas, after all.
WHEN IN VEGAS
Take in a Show
Nearly every concert touring the US makes a stop in Las Vegas, so check schedules before your trip. This year, some of music’s greatest divas are in residency. Dance the night away with Britney Spears or Jennifer Lopez, both at Planet Hollywood, sing along with Céline Dion at Caesars Palace, or see the original diva herself in person—Diana Ross will be at Encore at The Wynn from October 11-28 for a limited engagement. Don’t miss one of the eight Cirque du Soleil shows around town (always a favorite), and perhaps let a magician blow your mind. David Copperfield and Criss Angel are in residence.
Hit the Club
Whether you’re looking for a pool party or late-night debauchery, Vegas has you covered. Most hotels have pool parties, so find your favorite DJ and reserve a cabana. Vegas is not the place to be subtle, and its bottle presentations are becoming more and more outlandish; whether you want to be doused in champagne or just drink it is up to you. Our favorite package has to be at Hyde Bellagio, where for $250,000 you can control the fountains of Bellagio while drinking a 30ltr bottle of Ace Of Spades at your table overlooking the water.
Shop Late Night
High jewelry, complicated timepieces and the latest fashions can all be found here. There are boutiques within the hotels, of course, but don’t miss some of the most upscale malls in the US, where many stores carry Vegas-only exclusive pieces. At The Shops At Crystals you’ll find stores ranging from Dolce & Gabbana, Stefano Ricci and Tom Ford to Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille. Forum Shops at Caesars has more than 150 stores within its gilded walls, including the only standalone Fendi shoe boutique in the US, and you can take a shopping break and check out its 50,000 gallon aquarium. Most places are open until 11pm or later, so after you’ve beaten the house, you can leave the tables and treat yourself to a decadent reminder of your Vegas vacation.
See the Sights
As hotels vie to outdo each other, visitors are treated to more and more extravagant shows on property. Lake Of Dreams at Wynn is an evening show that mixes a 40ft waterfall with contemporary art, and is best enjoyed alfresco with a cocktail. Seeing Bellagio’s iconic fountains is a must (be sure to stand close enough to a speaker to hear the music and enjoy the perfect synchronization). There’s also the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas, Italian sights galore at The Venetian and The Palazzo, the roller coaster at New York New York and the volcano at The Mirage.
Fly out of Town
With its proximity to some of the US’s most beautiful natural sights, it seems like a crime to spend your entire trip indoors at a conference or casino. Guests at Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas can benefit from an exclusive partnership with Maverick Helicopters and head on a thrilling tour of the Grand Canyon and Valley Of Fire, with a private landing at the highest peak of the Valley Of Fires, which offers superlative views of its iconic red Aztec sandstone outcrops. From $7,495, fourseasons.com/lasvegas
Twist by Pierre Gagnaire
If you would like to try Michelin-starred Pierre Gagnaire’s exceptional cooking in the US (and you really should), head to Twist, the only restaurant stateside where you can find his modern take on classic French cuisine. And since you are in Las Vegas, order the Lucky Number 7 tasting menu, which presents seven courses inspired by seven of the world’s best wines, and might just give you some good fortune at the tables later on. There’s also a thoughtfully considered vegetarian tasting menu.
The winner of Elite Traveler’s Lifetime Achievement Award in this year’s Top 100 Restaurants tells us that his Las Vegas restaurant (pictured) has a special place in his heart. And rightly so. Designed to look like an Art Deco townhouse, it provides an elegant and intimate dining experience. The tasting menu showcases some of his finest dishes, including Oscetra caviar in crustacean gelée, truffled langoustine ravioli in foie gras sauce and seared scallops in a green curry sauce.
Lotus of Siam
Leave the Strip and head to a strip mall (yes, a strip mall) to experience some of the best, if not the best, Thai food in the US. This year, the unassuming spot won its second James Beard award. Chef Saipin focuses on northern Thai cuisine, which is quite different from the Thai food found most frequently in the US. Be sure to order the Khao Soi, a Burmese-influenced dish with your choice of meat in a coconut cream and curry sauce, and if soft shell crab is on the menu, it’s a must.
SKYLOFTS MGM Grand Sophisticated, modern decor awaits in the Skylofts at MGM Grand. Located on the top two floors of the property, the Skyloft suites are accessed via a separate elevator, offering both privacy and security. The suite is perfect for entertaining and includes a billiard room, media room, dining room and bar. Have your butler whip up a round of cocktails and enjoy iconic Las Vegas views through the 24ft floor-to-ceiling windows.
CHAIRMAN SUITE The Palazzo
Embrace Vegas’s dueling kitsch and luxury at The Palazzo. After you’ve wandered through St Mark’s Square and taken a gondola ride down the Grand Canal, head up to the Chairman Suite for an elegantly designed respite. The three-bedroom suite boasts an opulent living and dining area with bar and separate media room. The suite is also well equipped for relaxation; it has a workout room, cedar-wood sauna, steam room, gym and in-suite salon. The hightlight is the private terrace with pool and hot tub.
From $12,000 per night. Contact +1 866 263 2999, palazzo.com
MANDARIN SUITE Mandarin Oriental
A sublime and very adult suite high above the busy city, the Mandarin Suite (pictured) offers an elegant home away from home in the non-smoking, non-gaming hotel. The living area includes multiple seating options, study and wet bar, as well a separate dining room for eight that is serviced by the butler’s entrance. There are two bedrooms, a fitness room and a soaking tub overlooking the Strip in the master bath.
WYNN FAIRWAY VILLAS The Wynn
If you would prefer to gaze upon greenery instead of desert and city lights, the Wynn Fairway Villas are for you. Until 2015, these villas were invitation-only for guests of Mr Wynn (the first-floor villas with private pools are still only available to his guests). Now open for booking, each two-bedroom villa comes with a large private balcony for outdoor dining, living area with breakfast nook and granite wet bar, and massage room. The villas come with butler service and have a private entrance.