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The Vegas Prowl

<STRONG>HUNGER MANAGEMENT</STRONG> <BR><BR>In the old days, a buffet was often high on choices and low on class. With Cravings, which opened last May at The Mirage, the tables have turned. <BR><BR>Designer Adam Tihany provides guests with a high-end...

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HUNGER MANAGEMENT

In the old days, a buffet was often high on choices and low on class. With Cravings, which opened last May at The Mirage, the tables have turned.

Designer Adam Tihany provides guests with a high-end modern atmosphere in which to dine. Terrazzo floors inlaid with onyx and amber-hued resin tabletops provide a warm counterbalance to the colorful backlit glass walls and shimmering metal ceiling.

But the real upgrade is in the food, which is supervised by executive chef David Quintanilla. From the moment visitors approach the entrance, Cravings tempts and indulges the palate with an array of flat-screen TVs that display tantalizing dishes. Once inside, diners can approach unique kitchen areas that work almost like freestanding restaurants. A creative visual display helps them make their selections by listing the choices and the ingredients used in each. Through huge viewing windows, guests can watch chefs diligently prepare international specialties from filet mignon to beluga caviar just moments before they are presented for the taking. 

Prices range from $12.50 for breakfast to $22.50 for dinner. Open Monday through Friday for breakfast, 7-11 a.m., and lunch, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Open nightly for dinner, 3-10 p.m. Champagne brunch available on Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Cravings, The Mirage, 3400 South Las Vegas Boulevard, 702-791-7355.

BRANCHING OUT

As the Strip grows ever more crowded, some of the newest and most luxurious experiences in Las Vegas can be found off the beaten path, just minutes away by taxi.

Sunset & Vines is one such experience. The cozy bar, located about 17 miles from the main drag in the MonteLago Village Resort at Lake Las Vegas, offers connoisseurs and novices alike the chance to drink, enjoy and learn more about wine. An on-site sommelier and studied staff can help guests choose from more than 50 wines by the glass, including some that are no longer commercially available, that range in price from $5 to $17.75 and up.

Typical wine flights average $16 to $25, but in a twist on the typical sampler, Sunset & Vines encourages patrons to try to guess what they’re tasting. The person who chooses correctly will receive a glass of their favorite wine from that flight on the house.

A full-service cocktail bar and a menu offering light fare, including cheeses, pâtés, smoked salmon and caviar, round out the experience. Open Monday through Tuesday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., and Wednesday through Sunday, 11-2 a.m. Sunset & Vines, MonteLago Village Resort at Lake Las Vegas, 40 Costa de Lago,
702-382-7900.

SWEET SURPRISES

When award-winning pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury opened his new John-Philippe Patisserie in December, he approached the items up for offer as a fine jeweler would displaying a rare diamond ring or precious string of pearls. The 1,000-square-foot space located in the Spa Tower of the Bellagio whets the imagination as much as the appetite with an incredible selection of perfectly poised sweet and savory items, including chocolates, cookies, cakes, crepes, salads and sandwiches.

Four rotating towers brim with every imaginable confection, wrapped delicately in glimmering foil, while an individual pastry station beckons with goodies so beautiful you might want to just look at them rather than eat them. There are 16 flavors of gelato and sorbet, while a crepe station serves classics like jam and Nutella and ham and Gruyère cheese. Omelettes and other fare can be ordered from chefs at seven food stations.

Diets should be forbidden in such a gourmand’s haven, but a low-fat spa section offering healthier and sugar-free treats is available.

Jean-Philippe’s exclusive house coffee, cappuccino or espresso also is a great way to start the day. Prices range from $3 to hundreds of dollars for cakes that can be customized and lovingly boxed to go. Open Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m.-11 p.m., and Friday through Saturday, 7-12 a.m. Jean-Philippe Patisserie, Spa Tower of the Bellagio, 3600 South Las Vegas Boulevard, 702-692-8788.

SIMPLY SPA-LENDID

With the December opening of Bellagio’s $375 million Spa Tower comes the expansion and relaunch of Spa & Salon Bellagio, now a whopping 65,000 square feet of the best in health and beauty.

The Zen-like atmosphere of the space is formed by natural materials such as travertine, granite, bleached walnut and onyx. Honoring the etymology of spa — from the Latin words solus per aqua, which means health by water — reflecting pools, water walls and illuminated aqua-colored glass are used throughout.

The spa’s treatment menu incorporates rituals discovered around the world. Some of the more distinct services include gem therapy, Thai yoga massage, Indian head massage, Shiatsu massage performed with the feet and Watsu treatment, a stretching massage performed in a pool with water warmed to body temperature. The exotic Egyptian Gold exfoliating and moisturizing treatment uses real gold dust on the face and body, leaving patrons ready for a dazzling night on the town.

The salon area, expanded from 10 to 18 stylist stations, features a waxing and facial room, a private mani/pedi room, airbrush makeup services and microdermabrasion foot treatments.

Bellagio also has created amenities specifically for men, like a spa area with its own outdoor relaxation balcony overlooking the pool and, within the salon area, a private barber room for straight-razor shaves.

For guests focused on working out when traveling, a 6,000-square-foot fitness center overlooking the pool and Mediterranean gardens features state-of-the-art treadmills, bikes, elliptical trainers and Pilates equipment. Flat-screen TVs can help to make the exercise feel effortless.

To continue the spa experience at home, 12 of the world’s best product lines, including Pevonia, Jurlique, Nars and Kérastase, are available for purchase along with Bellagio’s private label line. Prices range from $30 for a manicure to $500 for the Spa Splendor package, which includes a little of everything, from water therapy treatments to a facial. Open daily, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Spa & Salon Bellagio, 3600 South Las Vegas Boulevard, 702-693-8080.

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