Vegas offers so many possibilities that it's difficult to land on one choice. There is a certain charm to this dilemma, which is really about how to make the most of a good thing without getting a toothache from its sweetness. Although there are probably many who would tout the allure of Old Vegas I am more intrigued by the now of Vegas. It's a city always birthing the new and refurbishing the not so shiny to a new and improved gloss. I recently spent almost two weeks testing possibilities and diving into the city's fast forward pulse. I found some sure bets.
I chose to spend numerous hours in dark steamy rooms inhaling eucalyptus. No, this isn't some new casino gimmick. It is the scents of the Vegas spa. Some of the finest spas in the world happen to be in Vegas. I particularly enjoyed the spa at the Red Rock Casino Resort Spa for its almost sprawling size, red glass and rustic wood decor. I also liked dipping in the cold plunge pool to re-awaken those senses lulled into a state of deep relaxation and detoxification.
Also on my list for the wow factor is the newly remodeled Mirage spa. Here all the details that push a spa experience from lovely to exquisite have been considered. The shiny black tiled steam room with its blue lights feel ultra modern but the cucumbers sliced and ready to place on your eyes are a simple but useful touch. There is tray service with teas, fruit juices and water. When I lounged about in my spa robe I couldn't help but notice that it felt extra soft against my skin. The robe's interiors here have been lined with a softer-grade terry cloth than the outer robe. It's subtle but your skin will notice. The list of ingredients for the facials range from caviar infused ampoules to sweet red roses. I opted for the sweet red rose facial because I expected that my face would be covered in rose petals. That isn't exactly what happened, but I loved the heated treatment chair's soothing womb-like feeling. Also the rose based products used on my skin deeply penetrated as promised. My skin was visibly different when I left the spa, and the scent of roses followed me like a lucky penny.
I recommend STACK restaurant, located just down the hall from the spa, at the Mirage, which serves an appetizer called Hot Rocks that is both dramatic and fun. Heated black rocks are brought to the table along with thinly sliced squares of sirloin. I dropped the meat on the rocks to watch the slices sizzle to perfection while I imbibed on one of the STACK's specialty cocktails. I enjoyed the Impeared cocktail, which was a sweet blend of pear nectar, Grey Goose Poire (Anjou pear vodka) and tiny bits of sage leaves offering a contrast.
For those looking for a choice that's a little more traditional and economical, a French dip might be the answer. French dips are present in one form or another on nearly every menu in Vegas, but the quality of the sandwich can vary wildly. The best French dip I found in Vegas was at Caesar's Palace in the 24-hour Augustus Cafe.
CatHouse, the new dinner and nightclub at the Luxor, is a must. This sexy bordello inspired club is intimately sized with lounge couches topped by small stages. Here female guests are encouraged to create their own cat inspired intrigue between the performances by lingerie clad house performers, who are most often handcuffed together. It's a bit on the edge, and titillating in just the right dose.
If a larger club environment is more your desire then stroll across the Luxor casino to LAX, open less than a year, it's is the pulse of the moment. Modeled after it's namesake LA sister, the club delivers high energy, high style, a heavy hand pouring the drinks, house music and a better than average chance of bumping into a celebrity or two.
I tried four different hotels this trip but enjoyed the Signature at MGM Grand and then the Red Rock Casino Resort Spa the most. The Signature might have the best location in Las Vegas, the three towers located a mere people mover ride away from their sister property, MGM Grand, offers commanding views as well as a smoke and casino free oasis. Access to the property is limited to those with room keys. The valet greeted me by name with each encounter and the private check-in at my tower was queue free and effortless. I loved returning to relative quiet after the noise and energy of the Strip. It also helped that my room was stocked with Numi tea. If that weren't enough the giant chocolate dipped strawberries laid out for my initial arrival induced endorphin filled dreams. The Signature has complimentary WiFi, which functions with speed and ease at the mere click of the mouse. Business travelers can appreciate the time saved by well-functioning technology. The jet charged whirlpool spa bathtub gets a big shiny star from me as well.
A parting note about shiny things, on a whim I put a shiny penny (or dollar really, since slots don't take coin) in a penny slot machine. I hit the big jackpot and walked away with a bit over fifty dollars. That's not so bad for a girl who doesn't gamble. Where was this magic machine? Perhaps it's best to leave the choice of which machine to play up to you. After all I did promise to only tell you about sure bets.