In a city such as Las Vegas, it’s mighty difficult to select the BEST
For those of us who live and work here, we genuinely believe that we have “the best” of everything! When you review the dictionary terms of “The Best” words like “leading, preeminent, premiere, unparalleled, unbeaten, unsurpassed, matchless, excellence, outstanding and to the highest degree” all appear.
This definition confirms what we already believe - that Las Vegas is, in fact, the best. We eat at the highest degree of restaurants, we shop in premiere stores, we relax and rejuvenate in unparalleled spas, we splash in matchless mega-pools, we party in the most exciting and excellent nightclubs, we revel in the preeminent shows and concerts in the entertainment industry, and we stretch out in the most luxurious and outstanding of hotels and resorts. And for those of us high rollers, I’d even say we gamble in the world’s finest casinos!
It’s not just the 2-million residents of our great valley who would agree we enjoy “The Best” - another 42+ million visitors every year would confirm it with their several return visits within the year. And that’s why we produce The Best of Las Vegas annually. We have become America’s #1 tourist destination and visitors from as far away as China and Australia trek here for fun in the sun.
Nobody knows Vegas better than a "local.” Let’s take a tour of The Best of Las Vegas.
Let’s start on a serious note. Vegas is “The Best” because the prestigious Cleveland Clinic operates the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health where finding a cure for Alzheimer’s is the main goal. Designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, the facility is a unique medical concept and the key participant in the nation’s fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Both founder Larry Ruvo and the doctors there say the cure for the dementia disease will come from Las Vegas. Who would have thought?
Cuisine & Cocktails
At the turn of the century into the 2000s the claim couldn’t quite be made in the realm of dining. There were still shrimp cocktail buffets for a miserly $4.99. Today, celebrity chef Hubert Keller serves a Kobe beef burger with a bottle of Chateau Petrus for $5,000! A mere bagatelle! At one time the Serendipity 3 restaurant on the Strip sold the world’s most expensive ice cream sundae with 24-carat gold leaf for $1,000 and the XS nightclub offered a champagne cognac cocktail for $10,000 a glass. Vegas truly is the playground of opulence!
At The Venetian there’s not one, but several celebrity chefs and restaurants: Emeril Lagasse, Thomas Keller, Mario Batali and the Cake Boss himself, Buddy Valastro. At Caesars Palace you have Giada DeLaurentiis, Gordon Ramsay, Mr. Chow and more. At MGM Grand there’s Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Joël Robuchon, the highest ranked chef in the world with over 30 Michelin stars. The MGM hospitality company also boasts Julian Serrano, Charlie Palmer, Tom Colicchio and Jean-Georges Vongerichten at its other properties.
There’s more high caliber talent in our culinary scene than any claimed in New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco; and ours are all neatly together in just 4.2 miles of sumptuous dining luxury we casually label “The Strip.”
Yes, in the past we had headline entertainment celebrities; but it wasn’t until Celine Dion arrived at The Colosseum in Caesars Palace and Britney Spears at Planet Hollywood that the true residency was born. Those two ladies alone completely changed our entertainment landscape. Producers discovered it was easier, less costly and better for fans to fly to see the stars here in concert rather than have the artists trek around the world to perform in their town. Even the Rolling Stones personally approved of having Las Vegas as the only West Coast location for its new Exhibitionism exhibit through January 2018.
The top 10 clubs in America earned over $550-million in revenue last year and the ranking is topped by two of the biggest clubs to have ever existed: XS in the Wynn and Hakkasan in MGM Grand. Hakkasan claims to have residency contracts with five of the world’s top 10 DJs for the world’s best nightlife experience.
Even our topless adult clubs claim to be the biggest and the best! For five consecutive years the Sapphire Adult Entertainment Complex has been voted Best Gentlemen’s Club in our Review Journal Reader’s Poll and at 70,000 sq.-ft. of topless entertainment, it truly is the world’s largest gentlemen’s club.
If you prefer to watch the topless showgirls strut their stuff in a production show, the legendary Crazy Girls (now at the Planet Hollywood Hotel Casino) are better than ever as they celebrate their 30th year of stripping down to next-to-nothing. The topless temptresses at Sexxy in the Westgate led by Jennifer Romas and the glamour girls of Fantasy at the Luxor remain top draws too.
Diamonds may well be a girl’s best friend, but there’s all manner of choices from such high-end dress such as Cartier and Louis Vuitton at The Shops at Crystals and such luxury shopping with more than 160 signature stores including England’s Thomas Pink and Italy’s Salvatore Ferragamo – all at the Grand Canal Shops of The Venetian and The Palazzo. Plus, we mustn’t forget Bauman’s Rare Books where an autographed letter written by Alexander Hamilton from 1791 sells for $58,000.
Outstanding in the Arts
Perhaps the best of the Best of Las Vegas is summed up at our Smith Center for the Performing Arts which came to life just five years ago giving us a theatrical complex to rival New York’s Lincoln Center or Milan’s La Scala. The five-acre site is located in downtown’s 61-acre Symphony Park with 47 bells in its 717-story carillon tower. When it opened in March 2012 it became the first performing arts center in the nation to be Gold LEED certified and is home of both the brilliant Nevada Ballet Theater and the Las Vegas Philharmonic. Yes we might well be nicknamed Sin City by the outside world but we certainly have class and good taste!
Pre-2012, we were one of the largest cities in the country without a performing arts center and now more than 2-million people have bought tickets for its 2,000 performances. When Broadway’s biggest show ever, Hamilton the Musical, plays there in May 2018 it will truly be the icing on the cake!
Now, Las Vegas is a sports capital too. Our first professional team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights joins the National Hockey League in 2017 and construction is underway on the stadium for the once upon a time Oakland Raiders who are relocating to our fabulous oasis.
Nothing blows the bankroll like our high-priced hotel suites of ultimate luxury- naturally the rooms fit for royalty are free for high-rollers. At Caesars Palace there’s a real-life suite that was used by Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman for their Rain Man movie and also partly for The Hangover box-office smash. It’s a meager $6,500 per night but over at the Palms, the basketball half-court suite where you can play like an NBA star between catnaps goes for $25,000 per night. Upstairs is the Hugh Hefner sky villa that goes for $40,000 per night- complete with an 8-person hot tub and sauna – yet still isn’t the most expensive in town! At the Nobu hotel tower of Caesars Palace the zen mood is added to suites that have their own billiard rooms, Italian-made whirlpools in the secluded Zen garden and a golf putting range! It’s impossible to put a price on luxury but don’t think of starting out at less than $35,000 a night!
All The World Resides in Vegas
Did you know that snow falls here in our desert kingdom 365 days a year? At the 55,000 sq.-ft. Qua Baths & Spa in the Augustus Tower at Caesars Palace the true spirit of nature comes right indoors with the city’s only Arctic Ice room with snow descending from a domed ceiling. Ice chips are available not just to refresh the senses but also exfoliate the skin!
In Las Vegas you can find just about anything. From the sharks at Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay to Siegfried & Roy’s Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage. From a mob museum, a wax museum, and a museum dedicated to our past in signs, only in Las Vegas can you find over 600 businesses and organizations that have earned the title of Best of Las Vegas.
We even have ranges to shoot machine guns, a giant Dig This sandbox for grownups to operate bulldozers and excavators and indoor skydiving. If you want to see it rather than do it you have choices from helicopter rides to the Grand Canyon, to balloon rides over the desert and you can even fly an aerobatic airshow routine with rolls, loops, tumbles and heart-thumping action.
Put it altogether and you have the ultimate package of the world’s best. Little wonder the 1963 song ‘Viva Las Vegas’ sung by Elvis Presley is world-known to this day and our brand of Vegas is the second most recognizable worldwide- right after Coca-Cola. Nobody disagrees! We are The Best of Las Vegas- and the world!
Best Show (and resident headliner): A tie between Celine Dion and Britney Spears
Best Oddball Show: Absinthe at Caesars Palace.
Best Strip Restaurant: Joël Robuchon
Best Off-Strip Restaurant: Honey Salt in Summerlin
Best Celebrity Chef: Wolfgang Puck
Best Romantic Dining: Marche Bacchus in Desert Shores
Best Hotels & Casinos: The Venetian and The Palazzo
Best Spa: A tie – Qua at Caesars Palace and The Spa at Encore.
Best Nightclub: A tie – Drai’s at the Cromwell and XS at the Wynn
Best Theater: The Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall
Best Shopping: The Grand Canal Shops at The Venetian and The Palazzo.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground. Follow him at bestoflasvegas.com
Editor’s note: This year’s Best of Las Vegas started with the relaunch of bestoflasvegas.com. Voting took on a new format, including separate nominating and voting periods.There were over 2,000 businesses that were nominated in 272 categories. Our readers cast over 300,000 ballots, with over 1.3 million votes; an all time record. The Best of Las Vegas 2017 is presenting 816 awards to 604 businesses. In addition, this year we feature Robin’s favorites and a new feature ... the Outstanding Seven Best of Las Vegas ... those companies and organizations that are the best of the best.
To be considered for the 2018 Best of Las Vegas ... register today! The contest is open to any business in Clark or Nye county.