On-The-Road-Davey-Duane

On the road again!

The final leg of my latest roadtrip across the American Southwest with Davey Wavey was, thankfully, decidedly less rustic and more in the vein of how I generally prefer to travel. That is to say, it was more luxurious and there was not a teepee or recently slaughtered animal anywhere on the itinerary from this point on out.

But before I launch into my diatribe about our adventures in Las Vegas, allow me just a general mention of the fact that, while the city is known for its glitz and gaming, there is far more on offer in this sea of mega hotels and bright lights than only that. In fact, as you will note from the diary of our escapades included herein, there is indeed quite a bit to entertain a pair of road-weary visitors like ourselves who have little interest in gaming tables or slot machines. Over the years, I’ve had a chance to sample quite a few of the finest jewels in Vegas and though I’ll never be a gambler, I can certainly say that the sparkle of gems like those included below, are certain to keep even the likes of me coming back for more.

Now onto the stay.

Our first stop was at the elegant, five-star Mandarin Oriental hotel in the newish Aria complex – a welcome respite after our little WigWam detour down Route 66, I must say. For the non-gambler, hotels like the Mandarin Oriental, along with the Vdara and the Delano, are as close as you can possibly hope to get to an oasis in the heart of the city. One might even go so far as to describe these more tranquil properties as escapes in a destination defined by escapism.

Blissfully peaceful, with the most superlative service, the Mandarin Oriental more than earns its distinction as the only five-star property on the Strip. From the spacious, comfortably appointed rooms that tower some 47 stories above the city to the sleek, sophisticated dining options like Twist (the only venue in the America to offer the celebrated cuisine of Chef Pierre Gagnaire) and the sumptuous Mandarin Bar, the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas is a case study in understated refinement. It may be all razzle dazzle just steps away but once inside this pristinely stylish outpost, where even the scent of the place is redolent of luxury, serenity reigns supreme.

Tea-Lounge-Mandarin-Oriental

Tea Lounge, Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas.

Fittingly, one of my favorite things to indulge in at the Mandarin Oriental is Afternoon Tea which is served in the zen-like Tea Lounge. What more relaxing way to begin a stay in Las Vegas than by enjoying a classic English tea service, complete with scones, clotted cream, and an array of savory and sweet treats while peering out over one of the best views Las Vegas has to offer? Double down on the luxe with a treatment at the 1930’s Shanghai style Spa at the Mandarin Oriental, which is spread over two floors, and offers some of the most unique treatments in the most distinctive environs to be found in all of Las Vegas.

After soaking up as much luxe as an afternoon and evening would allow at the Mandarin Oriental, it was time for a dash of adventure which was amply provided courtesy of Maverick Helicopters whose transport team scooped us up from the hotel lobby the next morning, escorted us to the McCarren Airport and tucked us into an Airbus helicopter for what can only be described as the flight of a lifetime. Over the course of what would be a four-hour tour, we sailed across spectacular sites including the Hoover Dam and Fortification Hill (an extinct volcano) before landing in the Grand Canyon and enjoying a Champagne toast. On the surface, it sounds a glamorous way to experience the Grand Canyon, and indeed it is, but it is also surreal and extraordinary to be afforded a bird’s eye view of one of the seven great wonders of the world.

Duane-Davey-Grand-Canyon

Grand Canyon, Arizona

With our appetites excited by all that adventure, it was time to engage in that other pastime for which Vegas is famous – dining. The great thing about Las Vegas is that there is at least one of everything you could possibly desire. From White Castle and Shake Shack to Alain Ducasse’s Rivea and Michael Mina’s Bardot Brasserie, the Strip is a foodie paradise and certainly one that we were not remiss in enjoying.

For breakfast or lunch, Della’s Kitchen, is a casual spot perfect for a spot of comfort food prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. More hearty than fancy, Della’s is always a great stop for anyone in search of simple, unfussy food that is prepared well and served in a low-key dining room pleasantly located far enough away from the nearest casino floor so as to make it seem a world apart.

Tender Steak and Seafood, the definitively upscale restaurant that is the crown jewel of the Luxor’s dining establishments, is to the contrary right off the casino floor and yet once one crosses its threshold, the outer world seems to disappear. Kitted out in traditional steakhouse grandeur, Tender’s inviting leather booths are but a precursor to the kitchen’s magnificent parade of artisanal cheeses, seafood and dry and wet-aged steaks, which are sourced from Oregon to New Zealand. Other highly recommended favorites include Carbone, the pricey but fabulous retro-Italian Vegas outpost inspired by the iconic New York eatery of the same name where a rotating menu of Vegas exclusives is among the highlights; and the Bellagio’s Lago by Julian Serrano, where striking views of Lake Bellagio and its dancing fountains pair perfectly with small plates inspired by the Mediterranean.

Come nightfall, though my partner in crime is not a drinker at all and prefers an early night in to an early night out, I must admit to always feeling a trifle frisky when in Las Vegas and few places satisfy my urges like the Skyfall Lounge. Perched high up on the 64th floor of the Delano and possessed of an obstructed 180-degree view of the city, the Skyfall Lounge epitomizes the “go big or go home” aesthetic that defines Las Vegas. If you’re going to have one drink or take one selfie at a bar in Las Vegas this is the one guaranteed to be most memorable.

On our final day in Vegas, we departed from the Strip and headed to the Fremont Street Experience in historic downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. Here I was again, against my better judgement, coaxed into ziplining, which is a unique new way to see old Las Vegas to be sure. Despite my reservations, however, SlotZilla at Fremont Street Experience, as the 12-story, slot machine-inspired zip line attraction is known, was a breeze by comparison to our adventures in Austin. Instead of hikes, there were elevators, beds automatically raised and lowered so that all gear could be appropriately attached by what seemed like a small army of techs, and the ride was as smooth as butter. Not a bad away to kill an hour or two in downtown Las Vegas.

Backstage-Zumanity

Post-show hijinx with the cast of Zumanity.

For our final evening, it was off to see Zumanity, the sexy Cirque du Soleil show that has been winning raves since it opened in 2003. In 2015, the show got an update which include a new range of acts and was, for a brief stint, hosted by Real Housewives of Atlanta star Nene Leakes. Having had the benefit of seeing both incarnations, I can honestly say the show is fresher, funnier, more risqué and more sexually fluid than ever. While new acts bring a sexual daring to the show, the combination of live music, exposed flesh and saucy banter with the audience is eroticism personified. After the show, we had a chance to interview a pair of the acts, Brandon Pereyda and Michael McNamara, who turned out to be even more endearing than their stage personas, which was a bonus to behold.

Another favorite Vegas entertainment of mine at the moment is Spiegelworld’s Absinthe show which takes place in a big top tent on the forecourt of Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas. Part circus, part cabaret and part vaudeville act with just a hint of burlesque this wickedly sexy production is more intimate than many Las Vegas shows and as such is filled with drama. While The New York Times sums up the entire Absinthe experience as, “Cirque du Soleil as channeled through Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and the Las Vegas Sun call it “the most inventive and daring show to open on the strip in years,” I simply call it revolutionary and a show not to be missed on a trip to Vegas.

And with that another road trip comes to a close and I am only slightly worse for the wear as a result. Small blessings.

Don’t forget to watch Davey’s latest video recapping our adventures while traveling the great American Southwest below. Be sure to send us your comments and let us know where you want us to go next!

 

Stay

Delano Las Vegas
3940 Las Vegas Blvd South,
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Tel: 702.632.7888
https://www.delanolasvegas.com/en.html
A golden, elegant all-suite boutique retreat proximate to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

Luxor Las Vegas
3900 S Las Vegas Blvd,
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Tel: 702.262.4000
https://www.luxor.com/en/hotel.html

Opened in 1993, renovated in 2008 and 2009, the Egyptian themed Luxor Las Vegas hotel and casino is the fifth-largest hotel in Las Vegas

Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas
3752 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89158
Tel: 702.590.8888
http://www.mandarinoriental.com/lasvegas/

Luxe defined, Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas is the only Forbes triple five-star luxury hotel at the heart of The Strip.

 

Play

Absinthe
Caesar’s Palace
3570 S Las Vegas Blvd,
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Tel: 702.749.5881
http://www.absinthevegas.com/

A wickedly sexy production that is part circus, part cabaret and part vaudeville act with just a hint of burlesque.

Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour
Maverick Helicopter
6075 S Las Vegas Blvd,
Las Vegas, NV 89119,
Tel:  702.261.0007
http://www.maverickhelicopter.com/

The only way to see the Grand Canyon is by helicopter. On a four-hour tour enjoy breathtaking views of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam, the Vegas Strip and more along with a very special Champagne toast at the base of the Canyon.

Slotzilla Zipline
Downtown Las Vegas
425 Fremont St, Suite 160
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Tel:  702.678.5780
https://slotzilla.showare.com/

SlotZilla at Fremont Street Experience is a 12-story, slot machine-inspired zip line attraction located in the thriving five-block entertainment district in historic downtown Las Vegas, Nevada.

Zumanity
3790 Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Tel: 866.606.7111
www.cirquedusoleil.com/zumanity

Created for adults 18 and over, Zumanity is Cirque Du Soleil’s sexiest, raunchiest show featuring sensational acrobatics, naughty fun and more than a little flesh.

 

Eat/Drink

Bardot Brasserie
Aria
3730 S Las Vegas Blvd,
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Tel: 877.230.2742
https://www.michaelmina.net/restaurants/las-vegas/bardot-brasserie/

Celebrity chef Michael Mina’s take on a classic French brasserie serving traditional brasserie fare for dinner and weekend brunch alongside a menu of classic cocktails.

Tender Steak & Seafood
3900 S Las Vegas Blvd,
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Tel: 702.262.4778
https://www.luxor.com/en/restaurants/tender-steak-and-seafood.html

Luxor’s signature steakhouse specializing in an impressive selection of dry- and wet-aged steaks from various corners of America and the world.

Della’s Kitchen
3940 Las Vegas Blvd South,
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Tel:  702.632.9250
https://www.delanolasvegas.com/en/restaurants/dellas-kitchen.html

Open for breakfast and lunch only, Della’s Kitchen serves classics, comfort food and seasonal specialties centered around fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Carbone
Aria
3730 S Las Vegas Blvd,
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Tel: 877.230.2742
https://www.aria.com/en/restaurants/carbone.html

This celebrated concept restaurant from Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick serving elevated classics such as Lobster Fra Diavolo, Chicken Scarpariello, Veal Parmesan and Octopus Pizzaiolo in an atmosphere designed to pay homage to the Italian-American restaurants of the mid-20th century.

Lago by Julian Serrano
Bellagio
3600 S Las Vegas Blvd,
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Tel: 702.693.8865
https://www.bellagio.com/en/restaurants/lago.html

Looking out over Bellagio fountain views, at Lago Chef Julian Serrano’s menu of signature Mediterranean flavors is perfectly paired with one of the most iconic settings on the Strip.

Rivea by Alain Ducasse
3940 Las Vegas Blvd South,
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Tel: 877.632.5400
https://www.delanolasvegas.com/en/restaurants/rivea.html

The name of Chef Alain Ducasse is synonymous with the elegant French and Italian influenced cuisine that haunts the most popular boites from Saint-Tropez to the shores of Italy. Fittingly then, it will come as no surprise that such fare is precisely what is on the menu at Rivea along with jaw dropping 180-degree views of the city below.

Skyfall Lounge
3940 Las Vegas Blvd South,
Las Vegas, NV 89119
https://www.delanolasvegas.com/en/nightlife/skyfall-lounge.html
Tel:  877.632.5400

Adjacent to Rivea, Skyfall Lounge offers the most spectacular 180-degree views alongside a celebrated menu of cocktails from legendary mixologists Proprietors LLC.

Tea Lounge – Mandarin Oriental
3752 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89158
Tel:  888.881.9367
Enjoy Classic English Afternoon Tea featuring a selection of freshly brewed loose leaf teas, pastries, sandwiches and scones in this zen like retreat overlooking Las Vegas Boulevard.

Vice – Versa Bar
Vdara Hotel & Spa
2600 W Harmon Ave
Las Vegas, NV 89158
Tel: 702.590.2111

This unassuming lounge, offers tasty bites and handcrafted cocktails in a stylish setting far away from the smoke-filled casino floors.

 

Relax

Bathhouse Spa
Delano Las Vegas
3940 Las Vegas Blvd South,
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Tel: 877.632.9636

Located in the Delano Las Vegas, this distinctively modern spa features steam rooms and saunas, as well as 12 treatment rooms for massages, wraps and facials.

The Spa at Aria
3730 S Las Vegas Blvd,
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Tel:  702.590.9600
https://www.aria.com/en/amenities/the-spa.html

 

With 62 treatment rooms, a full-service salon, a 16,000-square-foot advanced fitness center, boutique, fire lounge, poolside spa cabanas, and the first co-ed spa balcony in Las Vegas history, The Spa at Aria is a goliath in a city where size absolutely matters.

 

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas
3752 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89158
Tel: 702.590.8886
http://www.mandarinoriental.com/lasvegas/luxury-spa/

This serene 1930s style Shanghai spa spread over two floors, offers16 treatment rooms including seven private couple’s suites, Chinese foot spa, men’s and women’s relaxation lounges with views of the Strip, heat and water experiences including steam rooms, a hammam, a laconium, vitality pool, ladies’ rhassoul, men’s sauna and ice fountain.

 

To read this article on the Huffington Post, click here.