How to Wynn in Vegas
all these activities for those who want a day off from fighting the traffic: the resort has its own casino (set well apart from the hotels), shops and even a lakeside concert programme headlined by top names like Seal.
But you cannot visit Vegas without braving the incredible Strip, while the Wynn, Venetian and close competitor Mandalay Bay must all be seen to be believed.
It may be daft to pay a gondolier to ferry you down an imitation Grand Canal which is just another shopping mall, but there is nothing daft about the food at Valentino, an outpost of the superb, Santa Monica-based, Italian restaurant of the same name.
And given its Baroque character, the Venetian is also the perfect home for The Phantom of the Opera, a 90minute adaptation of which has just opened, with staging which outclasses the usual theatre production.
Mandalay Bay may not have as obvious a theme as the Venetian, but it has all the grandiose architecture and big names.
Here we saw a great production of Mamma Mia and followed it with a superb fish meal at RM, Rick Moonen’s famous seafood restaurant with both brasserie and fine dining options. The Mandalay Bay also offers that rare Vegas creature, a boutique hotel without slot machines.
The Hotel, in an adjacent building, is linked at lobby level to the main drag. Its own main attraction is an incredibly stylish spa, the Bath House, offering 10 different pedicures and endless facial and massage optins — pricey, but posh enough for the most pernickety footballer’s wife.
As for the Wynn, it is best visited at night, when a drink in the outside bar is a must to see that incredible electronic ballet, repeated every 45 minutes. But note that Las Vegas is only a 24-hour resort as far as the gambling goes; boutiques and restaurants tend to close by 10pm — which can make it difficult to fit in a top show and a top meal on the same night.
Lake Las Vegas may be man-made, but it plays host to many wholesome outdoor activities like golf, biking, water sports, fly-fishing and star- gazing, and not far beyond lies some spectacular scenery. The Hoover Dam is itself man-made, but it is still totally awesome, while the lakes and red rock canyons formed by and around the Colorado River are truly a wonderland worth exploring. Helicopter trips allow a taste of the Grand Canyon, landing at the base to allow a hike around one of the greatest wonders of the Americas.
Less well-trodden, but very worthwhile if you travel between autumn and spring, is a detour through Death Valley, which links Nevada with California. This spectacular national park has some surprising cultural attractions as well as dropdead-gorgeous desertscapes.
One of them is the Amargosa Opera House, an astonishing operation mounted by a determined New Yorker, Marta Becket, who painted her own audience on the walls of the theatre she set up 39 years ago on the site of an old, abandoned mineworkers’ digs. Now her vaudeville-
The Ritz Carlton, ‘relentlessly themed’ to resemble a Tuscan village