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Get your girls to Vegas — Tips for a ladies-only getaway

Thursday, March 24th, 2011
Louis Vuitton store at Crystals Las Vegas

We love Louis! Even if it is just window-shopping the posh purses at CityCenter Las Vegas and this two-story Louis Vuitton shop, the brand's largest store in North America.

Something we read on VegasChatter today made us get off our blogging butts and write this post we’ve been meaning to do for ages.  While most of our trips to Vegas are geared around couples, we do indulge in the occasional “Girls Getaway” and that agenda is a whole lot different from any we follow when the boys come along.

Here are just a few suggestions – tried and true – of what to do on your next (if you happen to be female) girls trip to Las Vegas.

1.        We love to get our girlie on with a visit to Sephora at Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops.  Better yet, book a FREE make-over and you’ll leave there looking like a million bucks.  And yeah, just try not to buy any of the fabuloso stuff they use to create the new you.

2.       Speaking of the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, you’ll definitely want to spend some time traipsing the circular mile-plus path and hitting such fun stores as H&M, Betsey Johnson, BCBG MAXAZRIA, Urban Outfitters, kitchen specialty shop Sur La Tab and our fave shop for cheap Vegas T-shirts, ABC Stores.  (There are actually two of them in the mall.)  Leave time for a stop at Fat Tuesday’s Daiquiri Bar where we highly recommend the Banana Banshee and the Mojito.  (Word to the wise, drink too many of the latter and you won’t be able to movito away from the bar.)

3.       When we travel with the boys, we find ourselves at lots of casino buffets – big fat breakfast and lunch buffets.  While that’s fine for those trips, we really appreciate relaxing with the girls over a more refined meal – one that includes servers who, well, serve us.  With that in mind, check out these girlie favorites:

  • Serendipity 3 in front of Caesars Palace – Just look for the pink and white striped awnings and be sure to order the Cotton Candy Martini.  Need we say more?
  • Payard Bistro inside Caesars – The tiny jewel box of a restaurant serves some of the best breakfasts in town.  The one that gets our morning going in the right direction is the Eggs Benedict on Croissant.  This is the real-thing:  perfect Hollandaise sauce, gently poached eggs, lean salty ham and the BEST croissant on the planet.
  • Society Café at Encore – Yes, we know lots of guys like it but, really, take one look at all the frou-frou and fluff and it just screams gently whispers “Ladies-Who-Lunch” at you.  The classic Tuna Nicoise and the fruit-and-nut laden Grilled Chicken salads are both fresh and, gulp, good for you as well.

4.       No Las Vegas girls weekend is complete without this stop:  Lunch or dinner on the Strip-side patio at Mon Ami Gabi restaurant which fronts Paris Las Vegas.   This  Vegas favorite combines the BEST people-watching opportunities with a menu sure to please the fussiest of groups (you know who you are) along with a front-row seat to the Fountain Show at Bellagio.  Toss in a  thoughtful wines-by-glass list, the must-have profiteroles for dessert AND superb service and you’ve got a spot to make everyone happy, happy.

5.       Last stop, window-shopping at Crystals, the retail area of CityCenter, then onto ARIA Casino Hotel for our one big blow-out dinner of the trip at Sage.  This funky yet sophisticated purple-and-gold outpost of Chef Shawn McClain is the most under-appreciated fine dining spot in Las Vegas.  Really.  The food is phenomenal and the service is excellent.  The Roasted Day Boat Scallops with braised Oxtail/Wild Mushrooms/Salted Caramel Reduction (quoted from the menu) is one of the best scallop preparations we have ever had – anywhere.  Start with the Foie Gras Custard  Brûlée and end with any of the chocolate-centric desserts and you’ll leave a happy camperess.  By the way, Sage now features Absinthe service, something we are definitely going to try during our next visit.


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Treat Mom to “Vegas Uncork’d” for A Gourmet Mother’s Day Weekend

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Some of the chefs appearing at the Vegas Uncork'd event include: Guy Savoy, top right; Bobby Flay, top center; and Francois Payard, bottom left; all from Caesars Palace.

Calling all foodies!  Tickets for the culinary festival, Vegas Uncork’d, are selling out quickly.  The annual event — held over Mother’s Day weekend this year — is being billed as “A Bon Appétit Epicurean Experience” with the popular cooking magazine a co-sponsor of the four-day bash.

With the Las Vegas dining event happening May 7-10, this would make a perfect Mother’s Day getaway weekend for the special lady in anyone’s life.  Moms who love gourmet dining, amazing desserts, superb wines and rubbing elbows with the top chefs who make it all happen will really enjoy this year’s agenda.  Mother’s Day hotel deals in Las Vegas are still available.  Check out the deals at Bally’s, The Venetian, Paris and more here >>>> Last minute Vegas values at Expedia.com! (more…)

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Botero Steak at Encore Las Vegas Has “Sole”

Sunday, March 1st, 2009
The marquee at Botero Steak restaurant at Wynn Encore in Las Vegas.

Stylish dining at Botero Steak at Wynn Encore in Las Vegas.

A lot of special occasions are celebrated by going to Las Vegas.  Birthdays, anniversaries, bachelor and bachelorette parties, “the-divorce-was finalized-and-it’s-time-to-party”-party.  You name it; we celebrate it by taking a jaunt to the Nevada desert.  So on a recent trip to Las Vegas, when it was time to pick a restaurant for a birthday dinner for P.B., we chose the new Botero Steak restaurant at Wynn Encore.

Being huge fans of SW Steakhouse at Wynn Las Vegas, we were curious to see how the newest steak-centric Wynn restaurant would stack up.  It’s a real pleasure to report that this newest eatery is firing on all cylinders – and that’s just a few weeks after opening.

Botero – named for the South American painter, sculptor, and artist who is a favorite of Steve Wynn’s – is striking in its design and lay-out no doubt in part to nightlife impresario and Botero partner, Victor Drai.


Botero (Encore) on Urbanspoon
(more…)

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Visiting New Orleans, Part II — What to See, What to Do

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France in New Orleans is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States.

If you are planning a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras (or for any time at all,) here’s Part II of our terrific piece on the current state of the town — plus tips on what to do and see — written by one of our most experienced food and travel contributors.

Apart from dining, drinking, gaming and shopping there is a wealth of things to do and see in the area.  You don’t have to be a history buff to be seduced by the unique architecture and centuries of colorful stories and characters that inhabit the streets.  The past lives cozily right alongside the present.

Sure, you can spend a bunch, but the budget conscious will appreciate that New Orleans prices are a relative bargain and there are plenty of free and low cost things to do. (more…)

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Visiting New Orleans — Take a Gamble On Mardi Gras

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Mardi Gras revelers will soon be jamming Royal Street in New Orlean's famed French Quarter.

Beginning this weekend, thousands of revelers will descend upon New Orleans to take in all that the City has to offer for its famous (some would say infamous!) Mardi Gras celebration.  For those of us who enjoy casino gaming, Harrah’s in New Orleans will be high on the list of places to both see and spend some time at during Carnival Week.  If you haven’t made your reservations, there are still lots of hotel rooms available and lots of fun to look forward to in “The Big Easy.”  Book now & save up to 50% on Hotels in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Book by 2/23 for travel from 2/13 to 2/28/09.

If you are planning a trip to New Orleans either for the big party or any time at all, here’s a terrific piece on the current state of the town — plus tips on what to do and where to eat — written by one of our most experienced food and travel contributors. (Look for Part II tomorrow!)

It would be difficult to describe to someone who’d never been there, just what New Orleans was like before Hurricane Katrina.  Historically, culturally, geographically, socio-economically, the city was unlike any other in the United States.

Indolently rooted in the past, but always enthusiastically reveling in the pleasures of the present, New Orleans richly deserves its nickname “The Big Easy”. Hear the words Bourbon Street or French Quarter and the mind conjures up jazz, cocktails, great food and good times. (Although the ostensibly well-named Bourbon Street is an homage to the French ruling dynasty not the American liquor.)

It’s the home of Mardi Gras, the greatest party ever thrown (despite the fact the public cannot gain entrance to the balls and soirees given by the insular carnival Krewes).

But who needs private parties when the streets teem with non-stop action; conventioneers, college kids, tourists and every imaginable kind of pleasure-seeker elbowing convivially through the old quarter.  From Preservation Hall to Pat O’Brien’s, happily clutching to-go cups, they looked for and found excitement, adventure and blinding hangovers.  Retail bustled, casinos were packed, and restaurants like K-Paul’s and Emeril’s only took reservations months in advance.

But Katrina and what happened in the aftermath, or more to the point didn’t happen, changed everything. (more…)

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Truly, Madly, Cheaply — A Valentine’s Day Celebration for Less

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009
Better than a box of chocolates -- a stop at Payard Patisserie at Caesars Palace on Valentine's Day.

Better than a box of chocolates? A stop at Payard Patisserie at Caesars Palace on Valentine's Day.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we were going to run a list of our favorite romantic (read expensive) restaurants in Las Vegas.  However, with all the talk about how Las Vegas has become such a great “frugal” destination for travelers (it is!) plus considering the state of the economy — not to mention our wallets — we’ve decided that in lieu of that list, we’ve come up with this list: Seven inexpensive yet fun and romantic things you and your sweetie can do this coming weekend.  (Lots of these ideas can be used in places other than Las Vegas so take a look even if you won’t be traveling for V-Day.)

1.  One of our favorite stores is Bijoux Terner, otherwise known as the “$10 boutique.”  Everything (and we really mean everything) from purses to watches to bold and brassy necklaces and earrings is just $10.  Why not treat your sweetie to a week’s worth of colorful watches or five new handbags in spring’s brightest shades.  No, not “designer” pieces but who wants to spend a ton on a bright orange watch or a psychedelic pink purse anyways?

2.  Try a “celebrity chef” for less.  Case in point; Tom Colicchio, famous head judge on Bravo TV’s smash-hit “Top Chef” is the brains (and toque) behind ‘wichcraft at MGM Grand.  His fabulous meatloaf sandwich is just $10 and almost as good as the beefy entrees at his high-priced Craftsteak restaurant just down the corridor.  Oh, and make sure you save room for the decadent “Whoopie Pie” — chocolate cake layers filled with vanilla pudding. (more…)

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Venetian, Palazzo in Las Vegas Offer Sweet Suite Deals in February

Thursday, February 5th, 2009
Treat your Valentine to a gondola ride at The Venetian Las Vegas.

Treat your Valentine to a gondola ride at The Venetian Las Vegas.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes this super offer from both The Venetian and sister property, The Palazzo — one of the top picks on our recent list of “most romantic hotels in Las Vegas.”

Available on select dates and starting at $149 per night at The Palazzo or $129 per night at the neighboring Venetian, both resorts are offering the “Romantic Getaway” package which includes a Luxury Suite plus –

Get $25 off when you book the hotel’s “Elite Romance Package” which includes:
Private gondola ride for 2
– Gondolier performance
– Champagne and strawberries
– One souvenir photo

2-for-1 drinks at Double Helix Wine Bar
Complimentary Internet Access
$50 Slot Credit per stay

You must book by February 16.  Use offer code EPNFEB for The Palazzo or EVNFEB when booking The Venetian.

Be sure to check out our recommended restaurants in Las Vegas list here.

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A Very Vegas Valentine’s Day Weekend

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
A pre-dinner cocktail in this red and gold jewelbox of a lounge at Wynn Encore will start your Valentine's Day off right.

A pre-dinner cocktail in this red and gold jewelbox of a lounge at Wynn Encore is perfect for Valentine's Day.

Romance, NBA basketball —  “Love & Basketball,” anyone? — Friday the 13th and President’s Day all wrapped into one spectacular three-day weekend.  And you, you’re still waiting for a reason to go to Las Vegas?  I don’t even know where to start to tell you about all the cool things you can plan for a Valentine’s Day weekend trip to Las Vegas.

Okay, I lied; I do know where to start. Let’s begin with some romance, Las Vegas-style, and where you might think about staying for this Valentine’s Day with your honey.  (Hey, guys, you had your Super Bowl Sunday so now it’s time to grab your best girl and head back to Vegas for a different kind of fun!)

Top Romantic Hotels in Las Vegas

Wynn Las Vegas
and/or Wynn Encore – We’re putty in Steve Wynn’s hands when it comes to all that glitz and glamour plus all the RED used throughout the new Encore will make you think you’ve landed inside a giant scarlet satin heart.  (If you can walk through that place and not think about romance and Valentine’s Day, we’ll need to check your pulse on the way out.)  Add in some of the best, most indulgent restaurants on the Strip – Alex, Botero, SW, Bartolotta –  luxurious spas, and the hottest new “ultra-club” in town, XS, and you’ve got the makings of a memorable weekend without ever leaving the two adjoining properties.

Bellagio
–  Elegance personified not only in the rooms but throughout the entire hotel.  Yards of jewel-toned silk swags in the casino; an indoor garden that just begs to be strolled while hand-in-hand with your SO; a virtual chocoholic’s wonderland at Jean-Philippe Patisserie plus a shopping gallery full of baubles and bangles perfectly poised for gift-giving  (be sure to check out the heart-shaped charms at Tiffany’s) all contribute to a sophisticated yet utterly romantic atmosphere.

The Palazzo – All brocades and crystal, marble columns and burnished gilt — this younger sister to the flashier Venetian is like the Little Black Dress of Vegas resorts.  Understated, timeless and yet fashionable with enough pizzazz – LAVO Bar and Restaurant, Jersey Boys in the showroom, a Canyon Ranch Spa and Barneys New York in the shopping arcade – to never be boring.  (If your sweetie loves shoes – duh! – let her shop the displays at Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin for a guaranteed winner of a Valentine’s Day gift.)

Paris Las Vegas
–  Huh?  Are we kidding?  Au contraire, mon ami.  We’re suckers for that whole French vibe, fake as it may be.  (Uh, this is Vegas, remember?  Fake is this town’s middle name.)  Give us  steaks at Les Artistes, the Forest Fruits berries and cream concoction at Le Creperie, dinner or simply drinks at the Eiffel Tower restaurant with its magnificent view of the City and, our favorite three-hour lunch spot, Mon Ami Gabi  just off the front entrance, and we are saying merci and beau coup with the best of them.  (And, let’s face it, we’re Harrah’s Total Rewards Club® members and get great deals here!)

Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa
– Nope, not on the Strip, but with its own very hip, very romantic vibe, a “get-away-from-it-all” feeling, and a great selection of restaurants:  the T-Bones Chophouse is a favorite of locals while Cabo Mexican Restaurant offers stunning views of the surrounding red rock landscape.  And bars, particularly the Hollywood- chic Cherry nightclub, one of the most popular clubs in Vegas even without a Strip address.  (Plus, there’s absolutely no reason you can’t call a cab, spend a night enjoying the Strip and then head back to “the Rock” for your own very private celebration.)

Next post, we’ll give you some romantic spots for dinner a deux while you’re in town.

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New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas — Lots of Last-Minute Room Deals Still Available

Sunday, December 28th, 2008
Celebrate New Year's Eve on the Strip with a fireworks show.

Fireworks will light up the sky on New Year's Eve in Las Vegas.

There’s still plenty of time to pack a suitcase and head to Las Vegas for a memorable New Year’s Eve celebration.  Las Vegas hotels — both on and off The Strip — are more affordable than ever this year with many offering dining and show ticket discounts as well as last-minute hotel deals.  (Really, if I hadn’t offered to host this year’s party for friends, I would so be loading up the car RIGHT NOW.) (more…)

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