Loving Las Vegas

Off the Strip in the Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa, bar-meister Rande Gerber’s recently opened club is decked in sinful shades of red from the tunnel-style entrance to the leather walls. The private outdoor pool area boasts daybeds and cabanas furnished with plasma TVs and private bars.
Off the Strip in the Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa, bar-meister Rande Gerber’s recently opened club is decked in sinful shades of red from the tunnel-style entrance to the leather walls. The private outdoor pool area boasts daybeds and cabanas furnished with plasma TVs and private bars. DWH/Cherry
/ Source: Destination Weddings & Honeymoons

Vegas used to divide: You loved it or you hated it. Now the morphing desert destination appeals to travelers from highbrow on down. Bachelor parties still queue up to bet and booze, but refined dining, world-class theaters, sybaritic spas and haute hotels generate an all-new Sin City sensuality. Here’s how to enjoy it.

Top Tables
Restaurant Guy Savoy: Used to be you’d have to fly to Paris to eat the Michelin-starred food of chef Guy Savoy. But now you can splurge at the new Caesars Palace outpost for passport-free luxuries like a veal chop for two with truffled potatoes.

StripSteak: San Francisco’s celebrated seafood chef Michael Mina turns his hand to meat in this new restaurant at Mandalay Bay that makes a fetish of grilling on jumbo mesquite-wood-fired grates.

Simon Kitchen and Bar: A favorite of celebs including George Clooney and Mick Jagger, this Hard Rock Hotel eatery deals chef Kerry Simon’s global comfort foods — wood-fired pizzas, meatloaf, wasabi mashed potatoes — with cheeky verve.

Japonais: Part lounge, part restaurant, this Asian favorite satisfies whether you want a big-deal meal (order the New York strip, cooked on a rock at your table) or maki rolls (don’t miss the “tuna tuna salmon”) with drinks after a show.

Love: At the Mirage, Canada’s Cirque du Soleil choreographs to Beatles tunes in Love. The Fab Four’s longtime producer, George Martin, remixed the original Abbey Road Studio tapes to accompany aerialists, dancers and other psychedelic acts. O Taking its act to the pool at the Bellagio, Cirque du Soleil performs under, above and atop a 1.5-million-gallon water tank. Divers, synchronized swimmers and acrobats keep you guessing — as does the pool itself, which changes throughout the show from puddle to high-dive deep.

La Femme: A girlie show for the date set at the MGM Grand, La Femme imports a chorus line of naked French lovelies who appear artfully camouflaged by patterned lights in production numbers that pique fantasies from goddess to vixen.

Le Rêve: The lavish Wynn Las Vegas resort teamed with ex-Cirque director Franco Dragone to stage Le Rêve, French for “the dream.” With seating in the round and a water-filled stage, the revue boosts sensual storytelling over gymnastics.

Wet and Wild
Qua: Inspired by Roman baths, Caesars Palace’s new water-focused spa features a circuit of hydrotherapies including pools, scented steam rooms and an ice room for instant cool-downs. Sign up for the Crystal Body Art treatment to have Swarovski crystals applied all over.

Bare: Daybeds, bottle service and a DJ spinning records make a nightclub of the pool scene at Bare, the adults-only swimming deck at the Mirage.

Mandalay Beach: Mandalay Bay’s 11-acre pool is tops for activities, including a lazy river, wave pool and sand beach. The neighboring Moorea Beach Club accommodates “European bathing,” as in, topless.

Canyon Ranch SpaClub: The Venetian hosts a day-spa spinoff of the famed Canyon Ranch. Sign up for the couple’s “rasul ceremony” and smear medicinal mud on each other in a Moroccan-tiled steam room.

Hot Nightspots
Social House: Part lounge, part sushi bar, the aptly named Social House in Treasure Island is the late-night spot du jour, where hydraulically controlled tables drop to cocktail height in the wee hours and Kobe beef tartare is available until 4 a.m.

Ghostbar: An outdoor glass-floored terrace cantilevered 55 stories over the neon skyline provides thrills in the celebrity-choked Ghostbar atop the Palms Hotel Casino where Jessica Simpson and Sandra Bullock tipple.

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Tabu Ultra Lounge: Interactive tables projected with images that morph as you touch them —or dance on them — lend high-tech edge at Tabu in the MGM Grand.

Romantic Rooms
Bellagio: The northern-Italian-themed Bellagio outclasses its neighbors with dancing water fountains, a lavish spa, designer dining and amenity-rich rooms — deep soaking tubs, cozy linens — worthy of a night in. Doubles from $159.

The Hotel: The sleek, all-suite Hotel sets the scene for a swinging good time with wet bars in the rooms, a bath-focused spa and Alain Ducasse’s design-forward Mix restaurant on the top floor. Suites from $170.

Skylofts at MGM Grand: Urban loft living goes luxe in the Skylofts at the MGM Grand, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows,

infinity-edge bathtubs with “champagne bubble” massage jets, a private in-room bar and a dedicated butler. Lofts from $800.

Ritz-Carlton, Lake Las Vegas: Close to Lake Mead, some 17 miles from the glare of the Strip, the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Las Vegas channels Tuscany in a romantic greens-buffered, lakefront locale furnishing water-view rooms, fine Italian food and a grand spa. Doubles from $264.

Like gaming? Consider these spots too.

Atlantic City, New Jersey
This city underwent a rebirth in the early ’00s, and today elegant casinos like Borgata and Trump Taj Mahal offer all the gaming you could want, plus night life that holds its own against the Strip. Start your night at MIXX at the Borgata, a Latin-Asian-fusion restaurant that morphs into a nightclub after hours. For live events, check out the 1,100-seat Circus Maximus Theater at Caesars, a frequent stop for performers like George Carlin and David Copperfield. Late-night action happens at 40/40, the second outpost of Jay Z’s ultra-hip club. And the Atlantic Ocean is just steps away,  past the boardwalk filled with carnival rides and souvenir shops that will remind you of summer family vacations.

St. Maarten/St. Martin
This dual island is the smallest territory claimed by two nations. Dutch St. Maarten is one of the Caribbean’s liveliest spots, thanks in no small part to its 13 casinos. One of the best is Casino Royale,  at the Maho Beach Hotel. Play some baccarat, then hit Q-Club, the island’s loudest disco. When you want something quieter, head over to French St. Martin, which boasts some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean.  

Monte Carlo, Monaco
This hilly principality on the Côte d’Azur is a favorite stop on the jet-set circuit. It made headlines in 1956 when Grace Kelly gave up Hollywood to marry Prince Rainier and has remained the epitome of glamour ever since. Spoil yourselves with an impeccable meal at the Grill at Hôtel de Paris, home to a 600,000-bottle wine cellar. Then join the beautiful people at  the opulent 19th-century Casino de Monte-Carlo, quite possibly the most famous in the world. One of Europe’s biggest social events, the Formula 1 Grand Prix, comes to town every May.

is your ultimate resource for planning a destination wedding or honeymoon. Discover amazing places throughout the world to tie the knot as well as the perfect spot for your honeymoon. In every issue, you get coverage of real-life lovebirds and their nuptials, expert advice for planning your big day, and the hottest styles in wedding attire to take you from wedding to honeymoon.