By Susie Reese
The High Roller is more than the world’s largest observation wheel — it’s a philosophy in Vegas, where luxury meets excitement. Stay at some the biggest and most grand resorts the world has to offer. Dine at one of the numerous celebrity chef restaurants or take one of the delightfully tasty foodie. Try your hand at the high-stakes table, or take in one of the numerous shows featuring A-list talent. We’d say the sky’s the limit for your escape, but this is Vegas. There are no limits, and we’ve got a rundown of the hottest events, exotic experiences, and famous mega resorts waiting for you.
What’s New on The Strip
Vegas is always trying to one-up itself, from the resorts to the nightclubs to the celebrity chef restaurants, and its newest resident is sizzling, according to Kaori Nagao, president of AngeLiKa Las Vegas Boutique Concierge.
“The city is excited about the Jennifer Lopez headlining, starting in January at The Axis at Planet Hollywood,” says Kaori.
Jennifer Lopez: All I Have will brighten The Strip beginning in January with iconic songs, Latin music, funk, R&B, and more, plus a live band, dance numbers, and exciting special effects.
Notes Kaori, “We have access to her meet and greet package, and that’s before the show.”
The meet and greet includes a photo op with Jennifer, an autographed special edition Jennifer Lopez poster, access to a VIP check-in located by the theater entrance, and a personal escort to bypass the general public line.
Lionel Richie will also be performing at The Axis in April, May, September, and October this year.
“I’m actually going to that,” says Kaori. “I’m a big fan of his, and I’m bringing my husband and in-laws as well.”
Travelers to Vegas are drawn to the sensational nightclubs, and quite a few are getting facelifts. While Tryst closed last November after 10 years, Wynn Las Vegas will welcome Intrigue in April, which is guaranteed to wow with a new glass enclosed patio with a dramatic waterfall and pyrotechnics show. A private 1,200-square-foot “club-within-a-club” will be a social media free zone for ultimate privacy.
Haze in Aria will reopen this spring as Jewel, a multi-leveled club with a mezzanine for VIP suites. Club-goers will find many of the same amenities found at Omnia (Caesar’s Palace) at Jewel, which is also designed by the Rockwell Group.
Adds Kaori, “Both Intrigue and Jewel will be geared toward more hip-hop and Top 40 because there is so much EDM in the city.”
AngeLiKa Las Vegas Boutique Concierge will have access to VIP entry packages and the table-bottle service.
For executives and bachelor parties, Kaori recommends Topgolf, opening at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino this spring. This mega complex will have four levels, a 215-yard outfield, 102 hitting bays, stage for live musical access, VIP areas with cabanas, and more.
The Exotic Side of Vegas
Pull out all the stops on a Vegas getaway with Exotic Racing. This experience includes taking the world’s most luxurious cars, like Aston Martin, Porsche, and Lamborghini, onto a closed course for the wildest five laps of your life.
“If someone likes to drive the cars, this is what you want to do,” says Gosha Reese, product manager for Flight Centre Travel Group.
The experience is indulgent from the start with plush couches to sit on, Wi-Fi included, and rooftop access to see the entire track. Guests are also encouraged to walk the outdoor garages and sit in every luxury car on site, many of which cost more than $300,000.
Gosha chose the Ferrari F430 FI. “I started driving, and my heart was up to here.” Gosha raises her hand to her chin. “It’s extremely easy. You drive with an instructor. He’s there to teach you, not to stop you or slow you down. In fact, they encourage you to speed.”
Related: Top 5 Weird Things to Do in Vegas
But what did she think about the Ferrari?
“I would like to have it,” she laughed. “What I can say? It’s the most beautiful car.”
If people don’t want to drive, Exotic Racing also offers a drifter car experience where guests sit the passenger seat as an experienced driver takes two laps around the track.
“It takes the driver 40 seconds to get around the track,” remembers Gosha, “and he does everything to scare the heck out of you.”
But exotic can be found in all parts of Vegas, not just the racetrack. Gosha also recommends enjoying happy hour in a glass cabin of the 550-foot High Roller with an open bar, or braving SlotZilla at Fremont Street Experience, a 12-story zip-line experience over Fremont Street.
Don’t miss out on the Lipsmacking Foodie Tours, now in Vegas! The three-hour walking tour takes you not only to three resorts with culinary masterpieces to taste but also provides some of the history of The Strip. And guests can even take a customized tour. Gourmet burger or dessert excursion? Absolutely. Count us in!
Sin City Sleeps
Las Vegas might seem like a city that never sleeps, but it generally does — in the daytime! And where you lay your head might be more important than you think. From mega resorts that function like tiny cities to boutique properties that function like elegant mansions, Las Vegas has resorts for everyone…really.
“If you’re looking for an elegant, high-end luxury experience, then Bellagio, Wynn, or Encore are your resorts,” says Marie Reese, USA West Product Manager for Flight Centre Travel Group. “Bellagio is the flagship of the MGM resorts in Vegas and offers spectacular suites and world-class dining, like Todd English’s Olives and Michael Mina.”
Marie adds that Wynn and Encore were built by Steve Wynn, the mastermind behind Bellagio. These hotels at the north end of The Strip offer similar traditional luxury, perfect for mature couples coming to Vegas.
But if you’re looking for that Vegas with an edge, then Marie suggests The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
“This is your ‘big Vegas hotel experience’ with your massive casinos, buffets, and huge suites.”
“Cosmo,” as it’s frequently called, is the only hotel on The Strip with balconies, and it hosts Marquee, one of the hottest dayclubs/nightclubs on The Strip with celebrity DJs in residence, a VIP section, and a glass-window-wall looking over The Strip. The dayclub boasts Grand Cabanas, each with a private spa and infinity plunge pool. The hotel’s rooftop pool overlooks The Strip and becomes an ice skating during the winter with hot chocolate, s’mores, and other treats. And located in City Center, Cosmo is in the middle of downtown Las Vegas.
“It also has the Wicked Spoon, a tapas buffet,” says Marie before adding that it’s not a “topless buffet,” as people often misunderstand.
But for those looking to enjoy some relaxation away from Las Vegas Boulevard, serenity and chic ambiance await at SLS Las Vegas, a boutique property on the north end of The Strip.
Gosha recently returned from a stay at the property. “It’s good for younger travelers with a funky décor, but it’s also great for more mature travelers due to its intimate size,” she says. “It’s extremely easy to navigate and impossible to get lost in.”
The restaurants and bars were always hopping, including Umami Burger, Beer Garden & Sports Book, which overlooked The Strip and boasts the “Burger of the Year,” as declared by GQ Magazine. Restaurants from James Beard Award-winning Chef José Andrés include Ku Noodle and Bazaar Meat, and offer savory dishes with new twists and traditional flavors.
Perhaps the best feature of the resort is its location, away from the bustle of downtown but connected to it by the monorail system.
“The hotel also runs a shuttle every hour to the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood,” adds Gosha.
Old Vegas is still alive and well on Fremont Street, the original Strip, including the Golden Nugget.
“On Fremont Street area, this is the best hotel,” Gosha says definitively.
Gosha chose the Rush Tower, the hotel’s newest accommodations.
“This particular tower has easy access to everything,” explains Gosha. “It’s an elaborate hotel with lots of amenities, not like Caesar’s Palace or MGM, but still pretty big.”
The hotel’s $30-million pool is worth its price tag with 15 private cabanas, a three-story waterslide, and a shark tank. In fact, the water slide tube runs through the shark tank.
Extravagant? Maybe for the rest of the world but definitely not Vegas…baby.