|The Fountains at Bellagio Las Vegas|
The fabulous thing about Vegas is that there is a surplus of hotel room inventory. The super resorts on the Strip have thousands upon thousands of rooms, and several of these hotels are four and five star properties. The surplus supply means that you can stay in a room that would cost $400 in any other city for much, much less. Select a few hotels you'd be willing to stay at, and watch their websites like a hawk (join their email list if you can) - they release deals and discounts all the time.
Today I'm going to run down my top 5 luxury hotels on the Strip, so buckle up and hold on to that wallet. The forecast is calling for sunny with a chance of $25 cocktails.
One of the newest hotels on the Strip, Aria opened in 2009 as part of the massive City Center complex mid-strip. With no discernible theme, Aria is a sleek and modern hotel that works very hard at looking upscale. Eschewing the over-the-top set pieces of other Vegas hotels, Aria is more understated but still features a casino. Rooms are plush with remote control curtains, and the expensive Sky Villas range up to 7,000 sq ft. The location on the Strip is not bad - walking or taking the tram to Bellagio is quick and easy, as is the quick stroll to the Cosmopolitan next door. City Center features Crystals, an ultramodern high fashion mall (ever wanted to visit a Fendi store? Here's your chance), so if you get tired of throwing money at Aria, walk a few feet and throw it at Tiffany's instead. Viva Elvis, the Cirque du Soleil show created for Aria, has been a financial disappointment and is closing. A temporary replacement Cirque show, Zarkana, opens in October 2012. Aria is owned by MGM Resorts International.
4. Caesars Palace
The famous Caesars Palace is a sprawling complex with huge pools, towering...um...towers, over-the-top architecture and Celine "My Heart Will Go On" Dion as the headliner. What more could a Vegas vacationer ask for? The newest tower is the Octavius, with the Augustus tower the second freshest. Try and snag a room in one of these towers if you can. The adjacent Forum Shops provide a full mall experience (you'll find more homey brands here like Abercrombie & Fitch, as opposed to Tom Ford at City Center's Crystals) and supplement the hotel's dining options, which includes the fabulous Serendipity 3. Location provides easy access to Bellagio and the Mirage, as well as the northern end of the Strip. Caesars Palace is owned by Caesars Entertainment.
3. The Venetian
The Venetian is opulently themed to Venice in its prime, complete with canals and gondolas. The huge resort features an all-suite configuration complete with sunken living rooms, giant pools and opulent decor that will make you feel uber-fancy and provoke you to speak in a terrible Italian accent. Through September 2, 2012, the hotel is home to Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, a shorter but more electrifying production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera (not to be missed). Adjacent to its sister property, Palazzo, the Venetian has a fabulous location on the northern Strip across the street from the Wynn. The Venetian is owned by Las Vegas Sands.
Bellagio set the bar for themed luxury on the Strip when it opened in 1998. Set away from the boulevard behind a vast lake, Bellagio is meant to evoke Italian elegance of old. The lake features a stunning display of fountains that perform elaborate choreographed shows every 15 minutes. The hotel itself features sumptuous rooms, the requisite casino, a massive Dale Chihuly ceiling sculpture, an elaborate indoor conservatory and my mother's favorite feature, the world's largest chocolate fountain. The only drawback to Bellagio is that it is so popular with tourists - especially tourists who aren't staying there. It's often very crowded with looky loo-ers, so be prepared if you're booking a stay here. Bellagio's signature show is Cirque du Soleil's masterpiece, O, a water-based spectacular the often sells out in advance. Bellagio is owned by MGM Resorts International.
1. Wynn Las Vegas and Encore
Sitting at the top of the Strip like a crown are Wynn and Encore, the two sister towers designed by former Mirage Resorts mastermind Steve Wynn. The decor is over the top without being tacky and lavish without being too glittery. Frankly, I could live in the Wynn and never miss the outside world. It's a style all its own, with Wynn having a distinct look and Encore featuring a butterfly theme. The shops are fascinating (try Wynn LVNV for furnishings from the hotel), food divine (SW Steakhouse is joy, pure joy) and the casino is bearable. At night, XS at Encore provides the premiere Vegas club experience with plenty of space for partiers (unlike Lavo at Palazzo, for example, which feels like a broom closet) and plenty of overpriced drinks. Le Rêve is Wynn's answer to Cirque du Soleil, a waterborne spectacular in the round with intimate seating (no bad seats here) that will blow you away. Book a room in the Tower Suites for the ultimate in five diamond luxury and access to the Tower's private pools and restaurant. Wynn and Encore are connected via sky bridge to the Palazzo/Venetian complex as well as the Fashion Mall across the street, and are owned by Wynn Resorts.