A no-limit man’s paradise in Las Vegas

A guy’s Las Vegas luxe life extends far beyond the “high roller” area of a casino. The unique things a man can do are limited only by time and money, and the most difficult task is deciding on which of the city’s myriad entertainment, dining and lodging choices is worth it.

The first choice you have to make is lodging. If you prefer luxury without a casino, the Four Seasons Hotel is the natural pick.

Many of the hotels on The Strip offer high-end accommodations. Boutique hotels – smaller, more private buildings that are part of large hotel campuses – are among the most notable. For example, the Skylofts at MGM boasts 51 one-, two- or three-bedroom lofts with a host of amenities, including the latest technology and luxuries. Your stay there comes with standard services that you will rarely find elsewhere. It is a total immersion in luxury. Depending on the room, your stay can be priced from $600 to $10,000 a night.

Then there are the extraordinary lodgings at The Palms. It may be somewhat off The Strip, but it’s in the center of the hip Las Vegas universe. The Palms offers more traditional luxury suites and villas alongside the unique Hard-wood Suite, the only hotel room in the world with its own 10,000 square-foot basketball court. The Hugh Hefner Sky Villa sits atop The Palms’ Fantasy Tower and, among all its other wonders, offers an outdoor, cantilevered Playboy Jacuzzi pool with glass end wall and spectacular view of The Strip. There are lots of other themed suites at The Palms; nightly rates range from a few thousand dollars up to $40,000 for the Hugh Hefner Sky Villa.

Vegas Dining

When it’s time to eat, even those most unlucky at gaming can walk away very lucky. There is no doubt that Las Vegas has become a world capital of fine dining. For proof, just look at the city’s count of coveted Michelin stars. In 2009, 13 restaurants earned one star; three restaurants have two stars; and one – Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand – was awarded three stars. Those stars make Robuchon the most decorated chef in the world. And it’s worth noting that L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon – next door to his three-star restaurant in the MGM – has one star. Four stars in one property is a prestigious record.

The new Steve Wynn Resort, Encore, offers some fine dining. One option is Switch, the restaurant with a gimmick: Its walls and ceiling change every 20 minutes. It’s really something to see. But, even with the changing scenery, Switch cannot compete with Botero at Encore. Featuring the distinctive art and sculpture of Colombian artist Fernando Botero, the restaurant has a poolside terrace. The food is first-rate.

While the view at Botero takes you away from the hustle of The Strip, the very best view of The Strip is from Mix, which sits 64 floors up in THEhotel at Mandalay Bay. Chef Alain Ducasse has brought his award-winning restaurant here, and it is a smash. If you cannot do dinner, the beautiful bar offers the same spectacular view.

Shopping

So, now you’ve slept and dined. After gambling a bit, you are ready to shop. Again, you are in luck. Las Vegas ranks with New York and London as one of the great shopping meccas of the world.

The newest shopping is at The Palazzo, the sister hotel to The Venetian. The Shops at the Palazzo has stores amazing enough to satisfy even the most avid shopaholic. There’s vintage and cutting-edge clothing (Billionaire Italian Couture, Diane von Furstenberg), baubles galore (Van Cleef and Arpels, Piaget), Barney’s and the amazing Bauman Rare Books. The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace also are well worth exploring, offering such treats as Vosges Chocolate, Harry Winston, Dior and Bulgari.

The Bellagio, with a conservatory that is a must-see in Las Vegas, boasts the only Dale Chihuly retail shop in the world. It was this glass artist who created the spectacular lobby ceiling in the hotel – the things he does with glass are awe-inspiring. The same area of the hotel has the largest chocolate fountain in the world.

Activities Galore

If you crave a pool experience while in Las Vegas, the Bellagio also has a pool that is the best in the city. With jasmine-scented air, the setting perfectly replicates a breathtaking Italian villa – if the villa happens to have five pools. Of course, there are several bars and a poolside restaurant, so all the amenities are there.

If it’s outdoor adventure you crave, you can hike in Red Rock Canyon, where the very occasional wild burro or mus-tang might be spotted. Or you can go to the Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch and Spring Mountain Country Club in nearby Pahrump.

The Spring Mountain Advanced Driving School is just 45 minutes from Las Vegas in Pahrump. It has a 3.5-mile road course in various configurations. There are schools for Corvette driving, a radical racing school, Lotus performance driving schools and, new this year, the Phil Wicks MINI Cooper Driving Academy.

For slightly tamer adventure, but adventure nonetheless, consider Vegas Indoor Skydiving and Pole Position Raceway, an indoor karting experience on a racetrack that simulates pro tracks.

If all this activity wears you out, there are plenty of spas in Las Vegas. The newest, and one of the most luxurious, has to be the Spa at Encore. It is a beautiful place – there is an immediate sense of peace when you walk in. It offers traditional spa treatments, as well as body treatments, facials and luxurious “transformation treatments.” It’s all well worth a visit.

Vegas Golf

If you want to head out for a round of golf, you can find true luxury at Cascata. In fact, few golf courses are more luxurious or – at up to $500 a round – more expensive than at Cascata, the Harrah’s-owned, Rees Jones-designed course that is open to the public.

Is it exclusive? Judge for yourself: At the very end of the long list of directions to find the course is a directive to “proceed straight up the hill (past the road-closed sign).” Now that’s exclusive.

But getting there is worth it, players say. One guy we know says, “It’s laid out really beautifully, and when you’re there it’s as if you own the course. You have your name on the lockers and never see other golfers. It really is amazing. It’s a spectacular, hidden treasure. It’s something you have to do if you’re in Vegas.”

Rock ‘n’ Roll

As another indulgence, your inner rock star can record at the state-of-the-art Studio at the Palms. The Killers, C̩line Dion, Akon, Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Elton John, John Fogarty, Lenny Kravitz, Ludacris, Macy Gray, Nelly Рthe list of artists who have recorded there is long and distinguished.

For people who are not professional musicians, The Studio still offers a professional experience – the Music Fantasy. People can take advantage of a range of options, from a karaoke-like stint where they can record tracks for $4,000 up to a “work with a major star” experience that can cost up to $500,000. The package can include a total VIP experience that is just like that of a rock star.

Elite Cocktail

Now rested and relaxed, you’re ready to tackle Las Vegas’ famed nightlife. There are shows galore, ranging from those at the many “gentlemen’s” clubs to mainstream fare on The Strip.

Most spectacular are the Cirque du Soleil shows. There are six from which to choose. I’d recommend either Ka or the Beat-les show, Love. If you want a romantic show, nothing can beat Phantom: The Las Vegas Experience at the Venetian. The effects used in the show are breathtaking, unlike any other Phantom production anywhere. And there’s a VIP package that includes a fascinating backstage tour.

Clubbing offers seemingly limitless possibilities. Since so much has been written about the clubs here, we’ll focus on the one that opened Dec. 31, 2008, and has received spectacular reviews from press and patrons alike.

Located inside and outside by the pool at Encore, XS is more spacious than most Vegas clubs because it has an outside patio. It offers all the standard club fare, with one decidedly nonstandard drink.

The club’s motto is “XS: Where Too Much Is Never Enough.” To illustrate that point, there’s the Ono cocktail. The name, according to the hotel staff, comes from Polynesian legend holding that the black pearl oyster was offered to humanity by Ono, the god of peace and fertility, who came down to Earth on a rainbow. He offered a black pearl to the beautiful princess of Bora Bora as a sign of his eternal love. To this day, a gift of black pearls symbolizes this declaration of everlasting devotion.

At $10,000, Ono is quite a gift itself. Ono pairs Louis XIII’s elite Black Pearl cognac with “Champagne Charlie,” a bit of bubbly known for its exclusivity and limited production. Added to that is a mixture of apricot puree and freshly squeezed orange juice. And there’s no ordinary glass for this drink. It comes with a jewel-encrusted champagne glass, an 18-karat gold XS-logo necklace with a Tahitian black pearl and diamond, and a pair of Mont Blanc cufflinks, made with genuine stingray leather and an 18-karat gold XS logo.

With all the great things in Las Vegas, you can spend days on end without being able to cover them all. If, by some miracle, you do, be assured that if you return to revisit your favorites next year – or even in a few months – there will always be something new. Las Vegas is an ever-evolving, ever changing wonderland.

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