As a fairly shy person with no vices and a love for dense urban cities with humid climates; I know that this town was metaphorically not built for me. And intense heat and brutally dry evenings have taught me that I was physically not built for it. We barely tolerate each other, occasionally shooting nasty glances and each wishing we were not tied together. Fortunately, we both have an open relationship with long-distance partners we prefer: tourists, and the Bay Area. You guess which goes with which.
|Location:||Las Vegas or San Francisco, ,|
|Casino Game:||Not a Player|
Vegas Fave 10 (The Hard Way)
|2:||Casino paying back what you spent on buffets|
|3:||Finding new stores and restaurants since last visit|
|4:||Two words: Pocket Park!|
|5:||Catching a connecting bus in less than 10 minutes|
|6:||Anytime the temperature is under 80|
|8:||Those bathroom amenity kits|
|9:||Top of the Stratosphere|
|10:||Getting the hell out of here!|
Just like Hammer, you can't touch this. Real, honest to god, big city luxury chain. Sure, Vegas does a nice job of impressing your aunt from Nebraska, but anyone who has spent time in a real city has always had reason to be skeptical until now. All these giant pseudo-luxury resorts who have five AAA diamonds and eight thousand rooms shall now sit up and take notes.
The grandmaster of Vegas' "Disney period" proved that themed decor, when done well, can be taken seriously. Still the most welcoming environment on the Strip, it's greatness has been worn down by a combination of aging facilities, and managers who don't share the original vision. Have been ignored by hotel staff here before, but F&B and Merchandising workers have been respectful since I can remember.
I guess this isn't exactly a great hotel by anyone's standards now, but it's the first place I stepped into and stayed at, and it does have a few tricks up it's sleeve. You can't beat Mix or Foundation Room for views, the HOB is one of the city's two large venues willing to run indie-league shows, and the showroom has been hosting solid Broadway hits for years.
A step sideways from Bellagio. The casino is great for a modern, heavily-appointed property but the restaurants vary and the resort end is beaten by it's chief competitor. I've learned to respect the interior, even if I don't fully love it.
One year later, Aria drops to a five. The actual product here is very good, with the exception of a Cafe here and a Cirque show there. But it's all staffed by people who believe that the hype alone has earned the hotel's reputation as a top place, so they have nothing to prove. The aesthetics are gorgeous, but many people inside the pretty building aren't trying. That hurts.
Not for everyone. You'll have to look to apartment-sized suites to get two beds in a room, and it's far back from the Boulevard, so Vdara will probably collect single conventioneers who are attending meetings at Aria. But it's a lower-cost room right next to Bellagio (something people longed for early on in the 00's) and a short jaunt to Aria, and it gives you a taste of Aria's technical whizbangs at a lower cost. Worthy of a four, but that All Non Smoking thing gives it an extra point.
Should you stay here? Hard to tell. If you know what "Pitchfork" is, and aren't turned off at the idea of skinny jeans being sold in the gift shop, but you still think the El Cortez or Artisan is ghetto, then do it. If you have cash to blow and want some of the craziest views in Vegas, then do it. Otherwise, you might prefer to walk here from another property and see what they're all about.
If only more resorts had been built like this. Comes closes to matching that DisneyWorld-level of theming detail that pre-Palms hotels regularly promised and almost never delivered.
Planet Hollywood made a solid attempt at trying to remake a ruined property, washing away 2/3rds of the former Aladdin (and giving Vegas aficionados a new game: "Spot the Aladdin Theme") while providing one of the best independently run casinos. Now part of the Harrah's fleet, who the hell knows what will happen.
Having spent it's life until now as little more than Mirage overflow, Cap'n Phil Ruffin steers the good ship Treasure Island into uncharted territory as an independent boutique hotel. It's still too early to tell what kind of place he wants TI to be, but for now it's one of the few middle class joints with enough capital to renovate when need be.
A more casual, less maze-like property. The Venetian for those of us who don't like getting lost. Parking access is a godsend.
A bit directionless upon opening, Encore is slowly being retooled for Steve Wynn's new focus on nightlife. Lots of bars, booze, and now multiple pools for you to get your social freak on. That's nice, but the catch is that I just don't like nightlife. While you're clubbin', I'm 30 floors up trying to sleep over the UNTS UNTS UNTS sound of your party.
If you show any Vegas newbie a shot of the Strip skyline and ask them where they'd like to stay, the pyramid will be in their top three, every time. Show them a picture of what a room in the pyramid looks like, and then they change their mind. Received help in 2008, but needs more.
The casino isn't that hot (although if you consider it and the Cal one entity it gets better) but value is the name of the game here. And the turn of the century motif is charming.
I haven't had any great experiences at the Stratosphere, but I haven't had any bad ones either. The Stupak legend and that big honkin' tower make it noteworthy.
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