TIRED OF THE CONVENTION HUSTLE? TAKE A GAMBLE ON SOME OF SIN CITY’S NEWEST HOT SPOTS, OR PLAY IT SAFE WITH AN OLD FAVORITE.
Byline: Marcy Medina
The Peppermill Coffee Shop and Fireside Lounge, 2985 Las Vegas Boulevard, (702) 735-4177. Open 24 hours.
This 28-year-old restaurant is a veritable Vegas institution, serving up supersize banana splits, unbeatable Bloody Marys and whopper fruit salads that would make Carmen Miranda smile. Soon to be the last vestige of the old Northern Strip (surrounding motels Silver City, La Concha and El Morocco are scheduled for tear-down), the Peppermill only grows more popular with age.
For a real dose of retro-kitsch, check into the adjoining Fireside Lounge with its circular pit surrounded by a pool of bubbling water. Navy banquettes and a red neon bar set the scene for couples returning to celebrate their silver anniversaries or starting a liaison. It’s also where Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci popped in for a drink in “Casino.” On weekends, slither in before 11 p.m. to ensure a seat. You’ll need one after sampling the house’s own scorpion, a concoction of orange juice, grenadine, vanilla ice cream and six shots of vodka.
V Bar, The Venetian Hotel, (702) 414-3200. Open 4 p.m.-4 a.m. nightly.
One sign of a city in transition is the V Bar, where Gotham hipsters David Rabin and Will Regan of Lotus fame have teamed with Brad Johnson from Los Angeles’s Sunset Room to bring a cosmopolitan edge to nightlife here. Since opening last November, the space is bursting from its 180-reveler capacity. Locals and out-of-towners come for the killer ‘tinis and the superstylized decor: a 50-foot opaque glass wall, suede “high-heel proof” banquettes, extra-deep chaise lounges and inner-lit Rothko-inspired cocktail tables. If you’re feeling peckish, hop across Restaurant Row for a bite at Valentino or Star Canyon. Early arrival and fashion-forward dress are musts.
Callaway Golf Center, 6730 Las Vegas Boulevard
(702) 896-4100. Open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.
If Vegas is about letting Everyman feel like a high-roller, its golf courses are similarly geared to giving the average duffer the Tiger Woods treatment. The Callaway Golf Center offers a 42-acre oasis less than a mile south of the Strip where enthusiasts can indulge in a quick or leisurely nine-hole, par three round for a mere $25. The training facility offers a 25-person grass driving range plus 10 Astroturf stalls, putting greens, chipping areas and sand traps. There’s also a computerized swing analysis and virtual golf. Groups can rent out the entire center for parties and tournaments, catered by the in-house Bistro 10 restaurant and bar. Private and group lessons are available with the three resident golf pros. Forgot your gear or don’t own any? Rent a set at the full-service pro shop, which stocks all you can’t live without, including Ralph Lauren’s smart golf collection.
Wild Sage, 600 East Warm Springs Road, (702) 944-7243. Call for hours.
The former Las Vegas Spago husband-and-wife team Stan Carroll and Laurie Kendrick have planted their upscale Americana establishment in a strip mall near the airport — and that’s the bonus. They offer a perfect escape for convention-weary travelers who want an unpretentious and satisfying dining experience. The off-Strip locale means moderate prices, with the same wines offered at half the price the big guns charge. Seafood and salad starters, fresh fish entrees and comfort foot such as meatloaf and mashed potatoes (on par with Spago’s) are served with warm quietude instead of razzle-dazzle attitude.
The London Club, Aladdin Resort and Casino, (702) 785-5555. Open 6 p.m.-midnight daily; late supper until 2 a.m.
This upscale, Euro-style casino and restaurant above the Alladin’s main casino won’t turn you away for wearing a T-shirt, but looking smart is strongly encouraged. After all, the casino is home to the largest single denomination chip in the world — a $10 million roulette plaque — private gaming rooms and a slew of other table games too high-stakes for other casinos. There’s also no jingle-jangle of slot machines here, and guests can skip the long walks and crowded lobbies by slipping in at the private entrance.
The silver-and-crystal-appointed restaurant offers a ritzy panoply of world food such as foie gras, samakeh harra (roasted black sea bass with tahini sauce) and aged sirloin steak with laratte potatoes. Customers are also known to skip the menu to have the chef whip up whatever they crave at the moment.
SIMPLY SPA-LENDID Canyon Ranch Spa Club, The Venetian, (702) 414-3600. Health center open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily; spa and salon, 8 a.m.-8 p.m daily.
A life of 24/7 can be harsh on the body and soles (those sprawling casinos practically constitute a country in themselves). Rejuvenate both with a trip to the Canyon Ranch day spa facility, its first and the largest in North America. The 65,000-square-foot complex is divided into a health center, spa facility and salon, with a gourmet health-food cafe and a freestanding retail shop to boot. There’s also a rock-climbing wall, a cavernous cardio section, Nautilus and free-weight area and rooms for yoga, aerobics and spinning. Instructors will happily hold classes whether there’s one or 30 guests signed up.
It’s not all workout and no play, though. The therapeutic and exotic spa treatments are endless. In the Rasul Room, couples are painted with mineral-rich muds, then placed in a ceramic-domed chamber with heated tile seats to gaze at a star-lit “sky.” After enjoying a gentle steam bath, they are then rinsed down with an ersatz rain shower.
The shy and retiring sybarite might be interested in renting a spa suite with private tubs, massage tables, flotation beds, saunas and cardio equipment — not to mention leather lounge chairs grouped around a fireplace. The suites are available in four-hour time slots.