Wednesday, December 08, 2010

[Travel] Palazzo for the Win

Palazzo for the Win: This was actually one of my favorite Vegas trips. I won't bore you with the details since you've read my ramblings about Vegas for years now, but the highlight was staying at The Palazzo -- the sister property to The Venetian. The huge suites are nearly as large as the ones in THEhotel. Palazzo and Venetian don't have the cache of the Wynn/Encore sisters next door, but they are just as good and probably a better choice for most people. The rooms are a bit larger and there is a broader array of stuff to do right on the property. The convenience of walking down to Piazza San Marco in the middle of the canal lined shopping mall, and having lunch at Mario Batali's Enoceta, and looking on as the faux renaissance performers fiddle about for the crowd is really a wonderful experience and something you wouldn't get at Wynn/Encore.

The Palazzo also has the best Sports Book in Vegas -- bar none. It's the only one that is more than a bunch of seats facing an odds board and a bank of TVs. There are beds, like you'd find in a high end ultra-lounge. Actual restaurants instead of a snack bar. Outdoor, strip-side seating. A great place to hang out. I'm amazed more Sports Books don't try to keep up.

Between Venetian/Palazzo and Wynn/Encore, you have about half of the best restaurants in Vegas, which is saying something because there are more great restaurants concentrated within a mile along the strip than anywhere else in the world. Recommended in Palazzo: B&B Ristorante (another Batali joint), Lavo (from the folks who brought you Tao).

Exceptional non-Palazzo meal experiences were Botero steakhouse at Encore -- sit outside by the pool, exceptional steaks done in trad, pepper, or Brazilian style; Bartolotta at Wynn -- probably the best and most genuine Italian on the strip; L'Altier -- a Roubochon gem at MGM, world's best (and most expensive) eat-at-the-bar experience; and lunch at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill in Caesars, one of my stand-bys.

Palazzo also has its own Canyon Ranch spa, much bigger and nicer than the one in Venetian. Rivals the best of the spas on the strip -- although I still think Qua over at Caesars has the edge due to the awesome roman bath space with cold plunge and warm/hot whirlpools.

Anyway, big thumbs up for Palazzo. It becomes my go-to Vegas property and will likely remain so since development has slowed to a crawl. I was so comfortable there that I never even worked up the desire to walk through City Center -- so it remains unseen. Also missed, due to Palazzo induced lethargy, was the new zip-line down Fremont Street. Guess I'll just have to go back yet again, but I need to go in summer when I can get in some pool time. Haven't done that for years.