|Adrian Little // Photo courtesy of Four Seasons|
John O'Ceallaigh, The Daily Telegraph, January 13, 2014
Las Vegas may be best known for its casinos and glitz, but this desert city has much more to offer. In addition to one of America's most vibrant theatre districts, it is home to an exceptional range of restaurants and bars; for quieter moments, the surrounding desert and Grand Canyon lie in wait. With so much choice on offer, concierges from three of the best hotels in Las Vegas give their guides to the city's standout destinations and experiences.
Tell me something people don’t know about Las Vegas.
Angela: Despite the fact that we’re in a desert, it does actually get cold in Las Vegas. During the winter, be sure to visit Lee Canyon at Mt. Charleston; just 45 minutes away, it’s a getaway for skiers and snowboarders, as well as those looking to enjoy some snow in Las Vegas.
Adrian: The city’s name means “the meadows” in English. During the 1800s people travelling from the east coast to California would stop here to get water from springs in the valley.
Which attraction should I definitely make time to see?
Angela: The Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular sites in the United States and it is right here in our backyard. You can explore it on a helicopter trip with Maverick Helicopters.
Joe: The conservatory and fountains of Bellagio are a staple and must-see as well as are the boutiques at The Shops at Crystals, Shark Reef aquarium at Mandalay Bay and the gondola rides at the Venetian Hotel. In the evening, I would definitely check out our Mandarin Bar at night. It has a 270-degree view of the city and is unlike any other bar on The Strip.
Adrian: The fountains and conservatory at Bellagio.
Which of the “must-visit” attractions should I avoid?
Angela: Golfing in summer. While Las Vegas features dozens of world-renowned golf courses, they’re not suitable to play year-round. If your goal is to play as many courses as possible, plan your trip around April or October, when the weather is perfect.
Joe: Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, which provides the setting for a popular American TV show called Pawn Stars. It is very crowded and may not be worth a trip.
Adrian: The drive-thru wedding chapels.
Which cultural attraction would you most recommend?
Angela: While much of “Old Vegas” has been taken down to make way for new resorts, the Neon Museum allows us a glimpse into the past. Neon signs from the original Las Vegas casinos that used to grace Fremont Street all the way to The Strip can be seen at the two-acre museum. Adjacent is the Neon Boneyard Park, which includes 150 historic signs from Caesars Palace to the Stardust.
Joe: The public spaces of CityCenter, a complex of hotels and leisure facilities, have been populated with one of the most ambitious corporate art programmes in the world. You can see pieces by artists such as Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer, Nancy Rubins, Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen, Frank Stella and Henry Moore there, all free of charge.
Adrian: There’s always something interesting on at the Smith Center for Performing Arts, or for something a bit different you could visit the recently opened Mob Museum .
Where can I take the best picture of Las Vegas?
Angela: I believe you’ll find the Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to be the best spot. At the 50-yard line of the Strip, you’ll find sweeping views in each direction.
Joe: From a helicopter ride or open cockpit bi-plane above the Strip at night.
Adrian: From the Foundation Room lounge at the top of Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, which is adjacent to Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas.
I’d like to try something new here – what should I do?
Angela: If you are looking for the ultimate night out, an experience that doesn’t exist elsewhere, The Cosmopolitan just opened Rose. Rabbit. Lie., an all-new social club experience that blurs the lines between restaurant, bar, club and live performance.
Joe: Visit the James Turrell art installation titled AKHOB at the Louis Vuitton store at The Shops at Crystals. Guests enter two oval rooms which feature unadulterated light that gently changes hue and tone to play with depth perception.
Adrian: Tour the Valley of Fire desert by dune buggy. The company Sun Buggy offers trips through this dramatic landscape.
What’s the ultimate gambling experience you can have here?
Angela: For poker lovers, it’s worth visiting during the unparalleled poker festival, the World Series of Poker . It takes place this year from May 27 to July 14.
Joe: There are plenty. A good way to try to take advantage of them is to take a gambling lesson from Al Kaufman .
Adrian: If you’re a confident card player you could aim to take part in the World Series of Poker tournament.
What’s the most glamorous experience you can have in Las Vegas?
Angela: Dream Racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the adrenaline junkie, allowing drivers to race Ferraris and other exceptional cars. For a night out, our three-tier bar The Chandelier is a very special venue.
Joe: I would have to say dining at our restaurant, Twist by Pierre Gagnaire. It overlooks the Strip and is the only location in the United States you can enjoy cuisine by three Michelin star chef Pierre Gagnaire.
Adrian: Dream Racing at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is hard to beat.
What’s the best Las Vegas show?
Angela: My personal favorite is Michael Jackson ONE, the newest addition to the Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas line-up. It’s a thrilling journey through the music and spirit of Michael Jackson with electrifying acrobatics and dancing like you’ve never seen before.
Joe: Le Reve at the Wynn Hotel, which is a water spectacular. The show takes place in, on and above 1.1 million gallons of water and the audience encircles the stage. It is one of the most unique theatres in the world. It only goes 12 rows back and the stage rotates – there isn’t a bad seat in the whole theatre.
Adrian: Cirque Du Soleil’s Michael Jackson ONE at Mandalay Bay.
I’d like to buy an unusual souvenir – what do you recommend?
Angela: A light bulb from the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign is a fun souvenir that family and friends will love.
Joe: Go to the World’s Largest Gift Store and you’re sure to find something. They have just about anything you can think of and that’s the official name of the shop.
Adrian: You’re sure to find something unique at Gold and Silver Pawn Shop.
What’s the best restaurant in the city right now?
Angela: A smaller restaurant within our Jaleo restaurant, é by José Andrés seats only eight diners and offers an intimate experience, with the chef taking guests on a one-of-a-kind culinary extravaganza.
Joe: I really think it depends on the cuisine you are in the mood for. In addition to Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, I’d recommend Joel Robuchon, Hakkasan, YellowTail, Il Mulino and Bartolotta.
Adrian: Joel Robuchon Mansion at MGM Grand
And where’s best for drinks? I don’t want somewhere touristy.
Angela: While downtown at the Neon Museum, pop over to Commonwealth, a new bar in the Fremont East district of downtown and a locals’ favourite.
Adrian: Four Seasons new bar Press. It offers handcrafted cocktails, small plates and desserts served at the bar, in the lounge or on the sprawling outdoor patio.
What is Las Vegas’s best nightclub?
Angela: Marquee Nightclub at The Cosmopolitan of course. The venue features four-storey LED screens and projection walls that display customised light and image shows tailored for each performance.
Joe: XS at the Wynn and Hakkasan at MGM. They always get the best DJs and have the best atmosphere.
Adrian: Currently, one of the best is Light at Mandalay Bay. It features world-class DJs, performances by Cirque du Soleil performers and huge LED screens throughout.
What’s the best way to experience the desert surrounding Las Vegas?
Angela: You could go hiking at Red Rock canyon to swap the hustle and bustle of The Strip for the quiet serenity and peace of nature. It’s about 30 minutes west of The Strip and easily reached by car.Joe: Get your concierge to arrange for you to take a tour out to Valley of Fire, Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam. The tour guides are all very experienced and do a great job.
Adrian: Rent a car and ask your concierge for directions to Red Rock Canyon or Valley of Fire.