Category Archives: Hotel

Las Vegas Great Eight

The Great Eight: ‘cuz Top-Ten lists are tacky

1. See a Cirque du Soleil show
All of them will blow your mind and the real trouble is choosing which suits your fancy. The combination of a great recommendation and being a lifelong Beatles fan led me to see ‘Love.’ Located at the Mirage (coincidentally my favorite hotel in Vegas, or is it coincidence? Hmmm jury’s still out), the whole night of seeing ‘Love’ is an experience. Go eat at one of the incredible restaurants: Stack, BLT Burger, California Pizza Kitchen, Fin…(good luck choosing)…and then head over to Revolution, an all sensory stimulating bar rocking the Beatles pre and-post show to get you all kinds of in the mood for the Fab Four.
2. Tour the City Center
The largest privately funded construction project in the United States ($9.2 billion, according to Wikipedia); my jaw hurt from hanging open while exploring this massive complex made up of Aria, Vdara, the Mandarin Oriental LV and Crystals. Vdara and Aria are both LEED certified hotels (bonus!) and look and smell amazing. Yeah, I said smell. The Aria and I are linked for eternity by the olfactory sense. Walk into the lobby and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Also, Cafe Vettro has the best boneless buffalo wings in Vegas. (Sorry Hooters, you and I are quite incompatible) Aria’s restaurants and shops are breathtaking and I cannot wait to go back and spend more time exploring.
The Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan

Make sure you also pass through (and spend time at) The Cosmopolitan hotel and casino (adjacent to the City Center). My mind is still reeling from the contemporary luxury the place is literally “dripping” with.

3. Le Village Buffet at Paris for breakfast

My favorite meal of the day is breakfast and my favorite place to get breakfast is in Paris for Cabernet soaked pear halves, custom-made crepes and mouth-watering croissants. Sometimes I wake up at home and think about buying a ticket to Vegas… just for breakfast at Le Village Buffet.

4. Stay at Bally’s
The hotel with the most bang for the buck in Vegas: Bally’s. It’s the diamond in the rough of the dated hotels. The central location on the strip is excellent. The rooms are very basic and nothing special, but the beds are comfortable and clean. Who’s hanging out in their room anyway? It’s Vegas, baby!
blu pool @ Bally’s

The amenities are sweet: the blu pool @ Bally’s is bumpin’ on the weekends with loud jams poolside (although the drink prices are outrageous). If you’re on a tight budget, the buffet has an express buffet breakfast for $11.99. Ask for Alice at the reservations desk. She’s friendly, genuine and jovial; she’s been working in Vegas for nearly 30 years and kicks butt at her job.

5. Fremont Street Experience
There’s something so-very-nostalgic about taking a trip down to the Old Strip. Getting to see pieces of the The Golden Nugget opened in 1946 and it’s a staple of Vegas lore. I wandered the Golden Nugget a few years ago for historical value, and didn’t think it needed to be revisited. Boy, was I wrong! It has been completely renovated and it is the most unexpected surprise in Vegas. What a thrill to see the new life in the old place. Gorgeous updates inside and out, the entire place has a fresh, hip vibe. Our dinner at the Chart House with the gorgeous aquarium in the center was fantastic. I recommend the Edamame hummus and the Hot Chocolate Lava Cake haunts my dreams.
6. Bellagio dancing waters

One of the most famous shows in Vegas doesn’t feature the scantily clad or a rhinestone King impersonator or even a price tag. This free show flows with an unrivaled magnificence: the famous dancing waters at the Bellagio. You saw it in Ocean’s 11, and the movie magic isn’t even as cool as seeing it live. If you can only see it once, check it out at night.

Image belongs to Angie's Reviews - click to go to her site
Bellagio Dancing Waters

Enjoy the time portal transport you’ll ride on the way back to your seven-year-old-self, agape in wonder at the power of the water.

7. Take Time for Tequila
Go find the Tequila Bar tucked in the back of Bally’s.  It’s like a hole in the wall with a great happy hour, decent prices for food, excellent fare, a margarita in a fish bowl and it features the biggest plate of Nachos I have ever seen. (Note the size of the salt shaker for reference). Yes, please!
Tequila Bar at Bally’s
8. Diversify your dining and do different dishes at different digs
(How’s that for alliteration? Snap!) There’s no way to choose the best restaurant in Vegas. It’s an impossible feat. Instead, try a self designed “Tour of Vegas Cuisine.” Do a different course at a different restaurant in one night! It’s the perfect way to see and taste as much of Vegas as possible, while going on a grand adventure. My “Tour” looked like this: before dinner drinks at Le Centre bar in Paris-featuring 2 for 1 martinis (raspberry lemon drop is the bomb! Thanks Mr. Joshua!). Then we cruised for appetizers at Aria-flashback to the heavenly buffalo wings; then entrees at Cafe Bellagio where I loved the yellow curry salmon. Most important: dessert. Serendipity 3 at Caesar’s Palace. The Frozen Hot Chocolate seems like an oxymoron, but I’m saying you just have to overcome the double negative and just it. If I had room I would have loved to try the fried oreo sunday, but that just means I am destined to return.

Until next time… M

W Retreat Koh Samui – Unparalleled luxury in a secluded paradise

Opened in late 2010, this phenomenal property has a location to die for. W Retreat Koh Samui is perched high atop an ocean bluff overlooking the sea, with a horizon line of ocean, the island of Koh Phangan and the bluest expanse of sky.
I must admit, after landing in Samui, I was truly unprepared for the revolution that was about to occur in my travel-loving life. I have always considered myself a self-made hotel aficionado, having had the (lucky!) chance to stay at some pretty remarkable places throughout my adventures. I also recognize that most of the places I have stayed rarely fall into that upper-class threshold; the level reached when the mini shampoo bottle costs more than what you spend on shampoo in a year. Arriving at the retreat, I realized we’d entered into this other dimension. I was about to meet my first unicorn accommodation: the W Koh Samui.
The taxi from the airport wound through the seemingly underdeveloped island, catching glimpses of gorgeous blue waters and the hints of majestic properties scattered among the palm trees. We happened upon a dusty 7-11 on a corner, selling glass bottles of gasoline by the liter on a stand out front. We turned down a shabby dirt road past a half-size futbol field with teenagers demonstrating a learned prowess for the sport you just don’t see on the fields at home. Some winding turns and then, a gatehouse. A steep, twisting ascent through walls of bamboo and we were delivered to the lobby. Stepping out of the van, I come face to face with a giant mirror-ball W and it hits me: I belong here! (I’ve always had a thing for mirrorballs)

As I approached the steps to enter the entrance portal (doorway doesn’t do it justice), I can honestly say I was left both breathless and immobile. My eyes took in the view while my brain struggled to balance my awe with reality. Stretched before us was a fantastically hip lobby, separating us from the ripple-less infinity pool; the outer edges of which melt seamlessly into a vast stretch of ocean horizon. An illusion so exquisitely designed, it’s nearly impossible to tell where the pool and the ocean depart from each other. As my breathing returned to normal I allowed myself to take in more details: the sunken seating areas within the pool, the glass walkway that appears to drop off into oblivion, the Woobar featuring fun, funky chairs and a bold design. The oversized chaise lounge pods with sparkling pillows combine with a blend of eclectic and natural decor, catch my attention and instill a sense of comforting luxury. The details are crisp, but not stale, in equal parts high-end and casual, a blend that makes you feel distinctive but not haughty.
And that’s just the lobby.

The retreat is structured in tiered layers, so as you descend from the lobby you pass the infinity lap pool, with a cool black bottom and truly infinite view. Oddly enough, there’s a giant Connect Four game on the pool deck for entertainment. This game is everywhere in Thailand… I’ll have to discuss that in detail in a future post.
Along your route to the beach you’ll pass the W dining locations, including The Kitchen Table which has earned an entire post from me just for its breakfast buffet.
The hotel rooms are scattered throughout the retreat, as each boasts their own private infinity pools. Make it down to Maenam Beach and have a pineapple mojito at Sip, one of the freshest beachfront bars imaginable. Our bartender cut up a whole pineapple in front of us to make our drinks. W-w-wow!
I’m still blown away by the effect this resort had on me, so I’ll write more about it soon. You’ll love to hear about the mimosas for breakfast by our private pool, our late night room service and my obsession with jumping into the pool FROM THE BATHTUB (in a swimsuit of course!). I’ll leave you trying to figure out how that works and looking forward to hearing more about this Wonderland.
Hey Go Koh Samui!