Excess and Class Make Las Vegas the Summer Getaway
If one city in all of the country knows how to foster glitz and glamour, it’s Las Vegas. The city famous for abundance is also the one that attracts millions of visitors each year to walk Las Vegas Boulevard, or simply The Strip. From cheap eats and stays to five-star restaurant and hotels, it is a place for everyone, whether a newbie staring wide-eyed at all the flashing lights, or a veteran who knows exactly where to dine and lodge—and where to be—all hours of the day and night. Vegas truly is the place that never sleeps.
For the neophyte, staying at the Wynn/Encore hotels can be the perfect way to start out the trip. On the edge of The Strip, they recently played host to the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) Las Vegas symposium. As a member of IGLTA, these establishments know just how to speak to a GLBT clientele with their very own Pride Concierge. Why waste time with a concierge who only can tell you the regular things to do when you could have one who can cater to your own inner gay, letting you in on all the best clubs and sights?
Concierge Supervisor John Arnos says, “Our ‘Pride’ concierge service has been developed as the ultimate expression of hospitality for our LGBT guests. In addition to the overarching message of welcome, we are anxious to assist our guests in personalizing their Las Vegas experience. Our goal is to make every facet of both Wynn and Encore accessible—ensuring a visit that is fabulous in every way.”
One of the most famous GLBT clubs in Vegas is Krave, operating at the other side of The Strip from the Wynn/Encore. The walk may be daunting, but nevertheless is well worth it, as you can drink to your heart’s content (or until your liver begs you to stop) on The Strip and yet not worry about anyone stopping you for drinking in public.
With so much to see, and handy to-go drinks at almost every stop, the party starts long before you reach your destination. Don’t worry about “holding” your drink—some come with nifty shoulder straps. Just make sure you get your disco nap in before setting out. In a city that never sleeps, the afterparty at Krave doesn’t begin until 6 AM the next morning.
After a night out on the town drinking, it’s time to hit up the onsite spa at the Encore. According to ever-knowledgeable Arnos, it boasts an amazing 37 treatment rooms—offering separate women’s and men’s facilities—with showers, steam room, sauna, hot and cold plunges, and experience showers. Plus, a complete gym provides two fitness movements for those who feel the need to get in a good workout before heading back out for another evening of drinking till well after the sun rises.
All this drinking means that food is required at some point. With an overabundance of cheap eateries throughout the city, and buffets everywhere you look, it’s difficult to find one that’s above the rest. But Bartolotta rises to the occasion, with some of the most authentic Italian seafood you’ll find anywhere nationwide.
Chef Paul Bartolotta has created an eponymous restaurant whose menu, in his words, will “transport guests to Italy to have an experience as if they are eating in a seafood restaurant in Italy.”
Flown in from the Mediterranean daily, Bartolotta’s seafood is the freshest outside of the Mediterranean itself. It takes only 48 hours for the product to go from hook to restaurant, so freshness is guaranteed.
Though Bartolotta concedes the United States has amazing seafood on both coasts, he believes “there is a flavor profile you get from the Mediterranean that is unlike all others”—so he chooses to have his seafood come from there.
Though many chefs try for originality, Bartolotta has managed not only to do so, but also to perfect it. Just ask the likes of Andre Agassi, Nicky Hilton, and Rob Thomas, who all have been seen dining there.
Bartolotta notes, “We put thermo microchips in one fish in each case, so that we can take an internal fish reading every 20 minutes, and I can track the temperature during the journey. We’ve only had issues three times in five years where I thought it was too warm, and didn’t feel right serving it.”
That’s a promise from a man who has given Vegas some well-deserved international flair.
Moving from food to entertainment, what would a trip to Vegas be without the shows?
Known for gambling, Vegas also is the destination for major stars like Cher and Celine Dion, who have mounted major shows. Even Garth Brooks has come out of semiretirement for appearances in Las Vegas. Broadway has found a home as well with semipermanent productions of Jersey Boys and Disney’s The Lion King.
You can catch these stars and musicals across the country, but Vegas plays host to two very special engagements you won’t find anywhere else.
Canada seems to have taken over Las Vegas, which is home to an amazing seven Cirque du Soleil shows. With its millions of visitors each year, Sandi Croft, Artistic Director of Mystere, knows the appeal of Sin City.
Croft states, “Las Vegas and Cirque du Soleil are a beautiful match. [It] was built on spectacle and escaping from the grind of normal life, and you would struggle to find a bigger spectacle than a Cirque performance. Las Vegas is also the only place that could support having seven Cirque du Soleil productions on one street. Las Vegas offers something for everyone—whatever you want, it’s here.”
A permanent home for this septet is something no touring show can match.
Croft comments, “The fact that we don’t have to move our stage allows us to custom-build the theater with much more intricate lifts, scenery, and automation effects.”
Now in performance for the 8,000th time since 1993, Mystere clearly offers thrills to the millions of people who travel through Vegas. With seven shows, Cirque du Soleil always features a new must-see for repeat visitors.
Something a little more unique, even for Vegas, is Le Reve. The brainchild of Steve Wynn, along with Franco Dragone, former director of various Cirque du Soleil shows, it takes the amazing feats of Cirque, and adds a one million-gallon water tank.
According to Artistic Director Brian Burke, “Le Reve is an extremely intimate human experience. [It] is also in the round, and features generalist performers who perform in every act and every creative element related to the love story of the dream.”
Each performer is required to achieve amazing feats of agility, as well as becoming scuba-certified before being allowed to perform in the show.
Burke remarks, “It is much more challenging for the artists on a daily basis to perform and rehearse the show. The technical aspect is extremely complicated. The water aspect can be exhausting for them, so they work hard to condition for the show.”
Vegas goes to all this effort so we don’t have to. It may be the city of sinners and the city that doesn’t sleep, but what happens in Vegas doesn’t always need to stay in Vegas. As they strive to wow people from every age group, the wonderful people who cater to you also want you to remember them.
“We want the audience to enter and experience the dream….You should feel the people of the dream all around and above you!”