Jae C. Hong  /  AP file
Las Vegas residents Jim Ackerman, left, and his wife Marnie, right, relax in the swimming pool at Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas. The resort has 414 rooms, a 35,000 square-foot spa, 62 table games, 3,200 slot machines and a three-acre pool and beach area that has rental cabanas and outdoor dining.
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updated 6/29/2006 10:52:06 PM ET 2006-06-30T02:52:06

Ten miles from the bright lights of Sin City, nestled near the entrance to a scenic national conservation area, is the priciest off-Strip casino resort ever built in Las Vegas.

Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa, which opened April 18, is hoping to lure people away from the Las Vegas Strip to an opulent vacation spot set against the western mountains.

Just like resorts in the heart of Vegas, you can gamble here, be pampered in a spa, indulge in a fine meal or party in a decadent nightclub. But unlike resorts in town, Red Rock - which cost nearly a billion dollars to build - also offers instant access to rugged adventures.

"We're really capitalizing on the great outdoors, being so close to Red Rock Canyon," spokeswoman Lori Nelson said. "By day, it's truly a resort experience. You hang out at the pool, get your spa treatments, go do some adventure hiking, and at night you have the excitement of Vegas."

The resort's offerings include an "Adventure Spa" with guided activities like horseback riding, hikes in nearby Valley of Fire State Park, mountain biking and rock climbing in Red Rock Canyon. Prices for the outings range from $59 for a vehicle tour of Red Rock Canyon to $175 for a raft trip.

Slideshow: Vegas then and now Indoors, the resort - which is hoping for a five-star rating - is thoroughly elegant. The lobby is swathed in brown Macassar ebony wood, teakwood sandstone and Michelangelo marble. The shapes, colors and designs throughout the structure mimic the surrounding rocky, desert landscape.

The glitz of Las Vegas shines through 3.1 million pieces of crystal used throughout the property, including a 32-foot high chandelier in the rotunda and a waterfall column that appears to spill over the bar in the Lucky Bar.

Midge Zarling, 60, of San Diego, booked a room to enjoy the spa, pool, and to visit friends who live in Las Vegas. "I like it outside the Strip. It's a little more peaceful, a little more under control," she said. Her pooch Georgie was also treated to her own pet bed and dishes. "She loves it here. They've been very nice to her."

The resort has 414 rooms, a 35,000 square-foot spa, 62 table games, 3,200 slot machines and a three-acre pool and beach area that has rental cabanas and outdoor dining.

Upstairs from nine restaurants, a poker room, a 16-screen theater and a sports book with three screens spanning 96 by 18 feet, guests will find rooms equipped with 42-inch plasma TVs and iPod-ready Bose stereo systems. Up to 850 rooms are to be ready by early next year.

At night, the operators expect to draw on the Los Angeles celebrity crowd to help fill its Cherry nightclub, owned by club magnate Rande Gerber, husband of supermodel Cindy Crawford.

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To get to Cherry, fronted by a sculpture of two cherries by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, patrons will walk through a red tunnel to pulsating music, Gerber said.

"Once you get into that tunnel, you're not hearing the bells and whistles and slots of the casino," he said. "All of a sudden you're in this womb-like tunnel. There'll be a lot of bass, it's almost like a heartbeat, boom, boom, boom."

Inside the more scandalous men's washroom, thinly partitioned from the women's, are urinals shaped like women's lips, which Gerber called a "silly but interesting" detail.

At $925 million, the cost to build Red Rock Resort was a fraction of the cost of the $2.7 billion Wynn Las Vegas, which opened last year in the heart of the city. But it is more than twice the $415 million Station Casinos spent on Green Valley Ranch, its predecessor in southeastern Henderson that opened in 2001.

"Every time I think we've hit the limit, we go beyond the limit," said Michael Green, a history professor at the Community College of Southern Nevada.

"We've come a long way since the $6 million Bugsy (Siegel) spent for the Flamingo" built in 1946, he said.

If You Go:

RED ROCK CASINO, RESORT AND SPA: 11011 W. Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas; http://www.redrocklasvegas.com or (866) 767-7773. Nightly rates range from $129-$600, depending on room and date. Click on "Spa" and then "Adventure Spa Menu" for information about guided outdoor excursions like mountain biking, hiking, rock-climbing, horseback rides and raft trips.

RED ROCK CANYON NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREA: http://www.redrockcanyonlv.org/.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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