My last visit to Las Vegas was in December 2007. Besides CityCenter, there have been two major grand openings on the Strip since then: Palazzo and Encore. Although both are gigantic luxury hotel and casino resorts in their own right, functionally they are expansions of pre-existing properties (Venetian and Wynn Las Vegas, respectively). They don’t carry the same level of intrigue as a brand new resort like CityCenter, but nevertheless I had fun wandering around and checking everything out.
This photoset will wrap up my coverage of the trip. I want to take a quick moment to thank WET Design, the company that developed the Fountains of Bellagio and the CityCenter water features, for publishing my blog on the press section of their website. I’m assuming they liked my photos of their CityCenter projects, and I’m giddy that my post is listed in the company of articles from The New Yorker and Los Angeles Times. Probably the coolest moment for this blog since I started it!
Let’s start with Bellagio. For this trip I had stayed at Vdara hotel, which was conveniently located right next door to Bellagio. The Fountains of Bellagio is my favorite attraction of the city. I will never tire of watching the stunning water spectacle. Director Steven Spielberg calls it the “greatest single piece of public entertainment on planet Earth”.
The conversatory near the Bellagio lobby is also a tourist favorite. Decorations are changed every three months to reflect the new season.
Entering the Bellagio Buffet. Foodies may turn their nose up at all-you-can-eat buffets, but the buffets at both Bellagio and Wynn are world class. Beware of the lines though. Waiting over two hours for the buffet at peak dining periods is commonplace. That may sound awful if you’ve never been to Vegas, but expect lots of waiting at virtually all good restaurants in town if you don’t make reservations. No reservations for buffets, unfortunately.
Neat decoration lining one wall of Noodles restaurant in Bellagio. This is a tasty, casual eatery featuring noodle dishes from all over Asia. Just to illustrate my point above: this restaurant isn’t particularly publicized but lines for dinner were well over an hour long.
Walking over to the Palazzo expansion of Venetian. Looks quite regal and stately when lit-up at night.
The centerpiece of Palazzo is this three-story waterfall atrium. Similar to Bellagio’s conservatory, the decorations here change with the season.
From the waterfall atrium, visitors can walk directly to the famous Grand Canal Shoppes in Venetian. Free gondola rides are quite popular. The drivers half-heartedly sing Italian songs.
Making our way over to Wynn Las Vegas and the Encore expansion. Wynn is my favorite hotel in Las Vegas to stay in, with the best buffet in the city, killer restaurants, best standard hotel room, and impeccable service and atmosphere. (No, I don’t own any Wynn Resorts stock).
Garden outside registration desks.
Playful parasol display hanging over an atrium.
As an expansion to Wynn, Encore maintains a similar feel but with new decor to provide a distinct identity. The entire building focuses heavily on the color red and a butterfly motif. A bit girly, but no doubt very appealing to the legions of Chinese gamblers.
A pair of peacocks welcome gamblers into the baccarat room. I’m an awful gambler and have not had a winning trip to Vegas, so sometimes it’s more fun to watch the action. Baccarat rooms fascinate me. The stakes are higher with elevated minimum bets, and it’s common to see curious crowds form around a hot table with players wagering thousands of dollars every hand. Most of the baccarat players at both Wynn and Encore seem to be Chinese. A few times I’ve seen some gorgeous Chinese ladies sitting at the table playing with their husbands’ money. The husbands were comparatively advanced in age so the ladies seem quite clearly to be trophy wives. Boy were they lip-bitingly beautiful.
Ending with a shot of the Mirage volcano show. Always a classic.