Canadian Geographic - - DEPARTURES - By Dee Hon


Ve­gas’s con­stel­la­tion of Miche­lin-starred and celebri­tyrun restau­rants keeps ex­pand­ing, but don’t grum­ble if the $425 tast­ing menu at Joël Robu­chon at the MGM Grand is be­yond your or­bit, be­cause Gor­don Ram­say Burger at the Planet Hol­ly­wood Re­sort & Casino serves meals wor­thy of its cel­e­brated name­sake for less than $20 (try the blue cheese­burger with figgy jam and cider vine­gar re­duc­tion). Or, skip the big-name tourist mag­nets for home­town favourite Car­son Kitchen to sam­ple mod­ern twists on Amer­i­can com­fort food, in­clud­ing the crispy pancetta and caviar “devil’s” eggs.


Campy gam­bling dens may have helped build Ve­gas, but it’s style and lux­ury that will pave the way to the city’s fu­ture. The five-star Man­darin Ori­en­tal in­tro­duced sleek, Asian-in­spired el­e­gance to The Strip in 2009, carv­ing out a Zen-like oa­sis of seren­ity with no on-site casino. New own­ers Hil­ton Ho­tels and Re­sorts re-chris­tened the ho­tel as a Wal­dorf As­to­ria in Au­gust, and it should remain sump­tu­ous and gam­ing-free — but it may shift its sen­si­bil­ity west­ward to­ward the old-world state­li­ness as­so­ci­ated with one of the world’s most iconic ho­tel brands.

PLAY Stand­ing out from nearby gam­ing rooms like a Prada suit among cos­tumed theme park mas­cots is the Aria Re­sort & Casino, a sharp, boldly con­tem­po­rary space with no faux Eif­fel Tow­ers or sphinxes. Play­ing a hand of cards here some­how straight­ens your spine and makes you feel like an ac­tual adult — per­fect for af­flu­ent grown-ups stay­ing up­stairs or at the next-door Man­darin Ori­en­tal-turned-wal­dorf.

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