Best Cities of 2016: Las Vegas

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Las Vegas is the queen (city) of reinvention.

Las Vegas: One of our picks for best cities of 2016.

It’s the West’s city that never sleeps. Where everything old is new again. And everything new is always new.

Las Vegas is the queen (city) of reinvention. What started as a twinkle in the desert is now a full-fledged destination. And that’s how the city has evolved: from a high rollers gambling getaway to show-stopping acts to glittering hotels to the world’s top chefs. They’re all at home here, but there’s more.

It may surprise you to know that Las Vegas is also a spot where you can find wonderful public art and private art collections on display and globally inspired spa wellness treatments. And that’s the point. If you’re not inclined to stray too far from home Las Vegas is the place. The place where you can unpack once, yet feel like you’re in Italy, France – even Graceland – and beyond.

Click through to travel around the world, in Vegas, in a day – or two.;


Wake up in Venice – and get a facial, too

The Venetian is the strip’s answer to La Serenissima without the long haul flight. This Venice, however, is not sinking! You can take a gondola ride through the hotel and outside in the desert sunshine. The rooms here are also unique: after a complete renovation of all the rooms, completed in mid-2015, the hotel has a refreshed feeling. The room’s are now all suites, there’s space to relax, stretch out and take in the views of the desert, the mountains or the variety of swimming pools at the Venetian complex.

The dining options here are like a who’s who of the top chef world: Daniel Boulud, Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse and Thomas Keller all have outposts here. Book breakfast at Morels French Steak House and Bistro at The Palazzo, The Venetian’s sister hotel right next door, for a little taste of France.

Another household name – this time in spas – is Canyon Ranch. At the Venetian, the Canyon Ranch SpaClub features Aquavana, a European-inspired suite of thermal spa cabins, as well as amenities complimentary to all guests, such as the Crystal Steam Room – perfect for sweating out the night before’s toxins! – and the Wave Room. Canyon Ranch, Italy and France all under one roof? You never really have to leave!

Have lunch with Hollywood royalty

Or at least have one of her chefs prepare lunch for you! At Giada at The Cromwell, you can tuck into Giada De Laurentiis’s Italian inspired fare at her first restaurant. What Giada does best is simple yet flavourful food. The brilliant Arugula salad is garnished with candied lemon and parmesan, accompanied by sides of Caponata and Wood Roasted Mushrooms, is the perfect light lunch. These Giada classic dishes are simple yet sophisticated on the palette. Make sure you ask for a window side table, as the just-above-street-level view allows for people watching on the strip.

Take a trip to Graceland for the afternoon

The Westgate Resort and Casino was once the home of Elvis Presley’s infamous Las Vegas show. Now, it’s the chosen spot for Graceland presents Elvis: The Exhibition. In what was once the International Hotel, where The King performed in more than 600 sold-out shows, there’s now a permanent exhibit on the life and times of Presley.

A soundtrack of some of his best-loved hits plays in the background throughout the rooms, full of memorabilia, letters, photographs, his gold albums – even some of his cars (word has it, one of them was supposed to be delivered to Frank Sinatra, but Elvis intervened when he saw it) and a Harley Davidson he rode. If you are even remotely a fan of the man, it is well worth the time. It has been curated by his ex-wife Priscilla Presley, and it’s obvious it was crafted with love.

Take in fine art in Northern Italy before dinner by the lake

At the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts, you’re as likely to see a rare Picasso as you are a Matisse. Picasso: Creatures and Creativity is on view currently, through to February 14th, and there’s a daily tour given by a gallery docent at 2:00 pm.

The petite size of the museum is the perfect amuse bouche to whet your appetite for dinner. Book a table at Lago by Julian Serrano, and take in the view of the Las Vegas Strip and the lake – and the famous fountain water show – at Bellagio. According to Edmund Wong, the Canadian executive chef at Bellagio Resort & Casino, the 7&7 Gnocchi pasta is the must try dish. And since we’re in Italy, we highly recommend the Ricotta Infornat.


Have breakfast in South Beach

At Della’s Kitchen, in the new Delano Las Vegas, breakfast is an art form. The coffee menu alone is enough to make you want to visit, sit back and sip. The serving staff are trained to explain each brew and bean and, then, prepare the drip coffee table side. The aroma of the brew is heady, and helps whet your appetite for corned beef hash and eggs, and crisp, farm-to-table salads.


Spend the morning in Morocco

Head to The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, where you’ll find the Sahra Spa and Hammam. Book the Red Flower Hammam Treatment, based on traditional Moroccan steams – inspired by Turkish baths – where you’ll have 80 minutes of steaming, scrubbing, exfoliating bliss from atop a heated stone slab in a steam room all to yourself. And bring a bathing suit, so that you can take the full spa facilities.

Have lunch in Greece

Many of you are familiar with the good old stalwarts of souvlaki, gyros and Greek salad, but at Milos, it’s all about the seafood. Restaurateur Costas Spiliadis comes to Las Vegas by way of New York City and Montreal, where his Milos outpost is consistently lauded as one of the best in the city. His trademark is the freshest seafood possible. He still employs fishermen in the Greek Islands who send him their catch daily, direct from the waters of the Mediterranean. Opa!

Take in the view from Las Vegas’s eye in the sky

Book a High Roller Experience at the city’s ferris wheel at The LINQ promenade. Catch the views from one of the wheel’s glassed enclosed pod of The Strip, the mountains and the desert all in one ride. And, if you like to take your views with a tipple, make sure you ask for the bar car, complete with bartender, who will pour all you can drink while you’re up in the air.


Do dinner in France

One may think that French cooking is nothing but butter and cream, and for some of it, one would be correct. But, there’s also a simplicity in the best French cooking. At Bardot Brasserie by Michael Mina, a chicken is not just a chicken. Roasted in the French way, the Heritage Chicken Rôti is a standout with its flavourful sauce vin jaune, along with its sides of mushroom bread pudding and green beans. And take a good look at the wine list. You might find something there from Canada. Just say Oui, merci.