By Alexandra Cohen
LAS VEGAS – There is no question about it. The City of Las Vegas, Nevada (https://www.visitlasvegas.com/ca) has everything that a vacationer could possibly ask for: concerts, shows, sports, shopping, dining, nightlife, golf, spas, adventure, luxury accommodations, and much more.
Having just returned from our second trip in the last four years, I am already counting down the days until I can go back.
WHERE TO STAY: We stayed at the gorgeous Vdara Hotel & Spa, a luxury boutique property located at CityCenter.
An all-suite hotel and spa designed for those who love the excitement of Vegas, but prefer to enjoy it in a smaller and more exclusive, non-gaming, smoke-free environment, Vdara is physically connected to the Bellagio and directly adjacent to the Aria Resort & Casino, offering access to all of the amenities and energy of CityCenter while also providing a nearby retreat from the hustle and bustle of the strip.
The Vdara made its big debut in December 2009. Internationally-inspired, the chic boutique resort offers a holistic spa, luxurious pool, intimate meeting space, and the sophisticated and convenient Vice Versa Patio & Lounge and Market Café Vdara, both located in their small and easy-to-navigate lobby.
Designed by RV Architecture, LLC, led by Rafael Vinoly, Vdara’s distinct crescent shape
Featuring 10,000 square feet of contemporary conference space, Vdara has become the premier choice in Las Vegas for customized executive meetings, corporate, social, and banquet functions for up to 400 guests. The Pool & Lounge, a beautiful getaway that we had the chance to experience firsthand, also features 19 luxurious cabanas, including six spa cabanas.
While at the Vdara people have the opportunity to experience what is surely a first in many of their lives: snacks and coffee delivered to their rooms by two relay robots by the names of Fetch and Jett. These talented bots work alongside their human colleagues to transport an array of frequently forgotten and requested amenities including shaving and dental kits as well as tasty bites and drinks from Market Café.
Designed and built by robot developer Savioke, Fetch and Jett are fully autonomous indoor delivery robots that use advanced technology to seamlessly navigate around people and objects. I watched them travel through the hotel lobby myself, and each time, those passing by stopped to take photos and marvel. The robots can prioritize multiple requests and wirelessly communicate with the hotel’s systems – even operating the elevators autonomously. Upon receiving a request, a hotel employee will load items into the robot’s compartment before inputting the guest’s room number and hitting the “GO” button. Its secure, tamper-proof lid prevent items from being removed until the robot reaches its destination.
Fetch and Jett will call a guest’s room when they arrive, and once the door opens, their lids will automatically unlock for guests to retrieve their snacks and travel kits. After removing their items, Fetch and Jett will ask the guest for feedback on their service before traveling back to their docking stations – typically taking less than five minutes to complete a delivery. A five-star review inspires a short happy dance from the robot.
As a hat-tip to the property’s dog-friendly policy, Fetch and Jett’s exterior resembles the coats of different canine breeds. The helpful (and housebroken) robots provide a fun and refined experience for guests at the hotel and spa.
“Guests enjoy the novelty of having their morning coffee and other items delivered by a robot, which frees up time for the rest of our staff to focus their energy on requests that require a higher level of service,” said Vdara General Manager Mary Giuliano. “We’re committed to creating special experiences for each guest, and I’m certain this will be a memorable one.”
In addition to the small snacks and drinks that can be delivered by Fetch and Jett, the hotel also delivers on a full in-suite dining experience should guests be interested, bringing not only food, but a full table setting for all. We enjoyed some breakfast in our room, including delicious eggs, an omelette, breakfast potatoes, and an assortment of tasty croissants and danishes.
Vdara is located within one of the largest sustainable developments in existence, bringing a new level of environmental consciousness to the world-famous Strip. In addition to Vdara, the U.S. Green Building Council has awarded LEED® Gold certification to ARIA Resort & Casino’s hotel tower as well as its convention space and theater. In 2010, Vdara Hotel & Spa and ARIA become the first Las Vegas hotels to achieve a 5 Keys designation by the Green Key Eco-Rating Program – the foremost “green” ranking, certification, and audit program in North America evaluating sustainable hotel operations. The 5 Keys designation is a certification level achieved by only approximately one percent of all hotels rated by Green Key.
We were pleased to see that our Corner Suite offered us a lovely view of some of the hotels on the Strip. Other similar suites offer picturesque views of the Bellagio Fountains and surrounding mountains. The in-suite tablet sits right beside the King-sized bed. From this tablet, you can order room service or snacks to be delivered by Fetch and Jett, and also book your next spa appointment.
The kitchenette features a two-burner stove and a full-sized refrigerator, while the living area offers a dining table fit for four. You can end the day by soaking in the spa-like tub sitting in the room’s expansive bathroom. There are 42-inch, flat-screen, and high – definition televisions with media hubs for MP3 players, cameras, DVD players and game consoles as well as a work desk with a multi-line telephone in each of these suites. We also had access to large closets with plush robes and slippers, an ironing board and clothes steamer, and a washing machine. The in-suite, laptop-sized electronic safes were also very convenient.
The hotel has a fully equipped 2,000-square-foot fitness center, with cardio, exercise machines, and free weights, as well as personal trainers available for private or group instruction. A smoothie bar offers a selection of smoothies, nutritious snacks, and juices.
The Vdara lobby is quite nice and spacious. Above the registration desk hangs the 30-foot-long horizontal Frank Stella painting, “Damascus Gate Variation I,”which draws immediate attention with its vibrant shades of blue, red, orange and yellow. Due to Vdara’s boutique size, nearly all of its spectacular amenities are just steps from the main entrance. Guests have immediate access to its meeting and social event space; registration desk; concierge lobby; and its casual eatery and marketplace, Market Café Vdara. At the heart of the lobby experience, VICE VERSA Patio & Lounge radiates an aura of sophistication.
Within Vdara’s concierge lobby, Peter Wegner displays two soaring lunar- and solar-themed works of art on opposite walls entitled, “Day for Night, Night for Day.”Three stories above, an open wooden walkway offers a new vantage point of the artwork, as guests peer down into the lobby. On the second level of the hotel, guests can enjoy ESPA at Vdara, Salon Vdara, and Pool & Lounge Vdara.
Wheelchairs and scooters are available at all MGM Resort hotels for a fee. At the Vdara, in fact, manual wheelchairs are available for rent free of charge. To guarantee a wheelchair or scooter, contacting the Bell Desk ahead of time is recommended.
For more information and reservations, log on to www.vdara.com, call toll free at (866) 745-7767 or 702.590.2111. follow Vdara on Facebook and Twitter at Vdara Las Vegas and VdaraLV.
BAVETTE AND THE PARK MGM: The former Monte Carlo Hotel officially shed its name recently for a new identity – The Park MGM (https://www.parkmgm.com/en.htm). A partnership between Sydell Group and MGM Resorts International, Park MGM was born from the collaborative vision of the New York-based lifestyle hotelier and one of the world’s preeminent destination resort developers. The project comprises two new distinct experiences: Park MGM, and a Las Vegas version of the renowned NoMad, a standalone 292-room hotel encompassing the tower’s top four floors.
We got a nice look at this new hotel when we recently dined at Bavette’s Steakhouse (www.bavettessteakhouse.com). Like its beloved Chicago sibling, the new Bavette’s represents an outstanding dining experience. With the restaurant’s glowing chandeliers, red banquettes, and vintage art and murals, guests are transported to an intimate space as they eat.
Bavette’s offers fantastic takes on some time-honored steakhouse traditions, such as multi-tiered seafood towers, dry-aged bone-in ribeyes, and lamb chops. In addition to some of the classics, we also enjoyed a traditional filet mignon, a large baked crap cake, and side orders of wild mushrooms and buttery mashed potatoes, all beautifully served.
Desserts leaned toward decadent—we enjoyed the Chocolate Cream pie with an Oreo crust, as well as their classic Lemon-Meringue Pie.
In the back of Bavette’s, a hidden parlor bar awaits guests who want to begin their evening early, or let it run late, exploring the cornucopia of cocktails that they have to offer.
The elegant landscape in complemented by a boisterous measure of classic big band jazz and vintage blues tunes in the main dining room.
Bavette’s is open 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5 p.m. – midnight Friday and Saturday; and 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Sunday. Reservations can be made by calling 702.730.6700.
Before or after dinner at Bavette’s, explore the stylish Juniper Cocktail Lounge next door, a truly unique drinking experience that I very much enjoyed. The mixology destination challenges the status quo of mainstay drinks while staying true to the foundation of what makes a great cocktail. Whimsical elements like fortune-telling Gin & Tonics come to life through house-made juices and syrups, a premium selection of spirits, and an intense dedication to the craft.
“Juniper Cocktail Lounge brings a different perspective to the Las Vegas lounge with a more progressive cocktail program than people have experienced from such a venue,” said Craig Schoettler, MGM Resorts executive director of beverage and corporate mixologist. .
Set to become a key component of Las Vegas nightlife, Juniper Cocktail Lounge offers its distinct vision of bottle service for guests with an extensive selection of gins, whiskeys, tequilas and rums from around the globe. No sacrifices are made for the large-scale service as patrons have access to some of the world’s finest liquors at their private tables.
We enjoyed their most famous cocktail, entitled “A little birdie”, in which the sipsmith gin, strawberry, dolin dry vermouth, and fresh lemon are interestingly served in a glass shaped like a bird. We also enjoyed “Carnival”—a glass is brought to the table filled to the brim with cotton candy, at which point Tanqueray 10 gin, fresh lime, and St-Germain is poured over the cotton candy, causing it to melt in as part of the drink. The menu options were endless, each one appearing to be better than the one before it.
Juniper Cocktail Lounge is open Sunday – Thursday from 5 p.m. – 12 a.m. and Friday – Saturday from 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. For more information, call 702-730-7777 or visit Juniper Cocktail Lounge online. Explore the nightly happenings and more by following Juniper Cocktail Lounge on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @JuniperCocktail.
Filled with natural light and punctuated by nature-inspired décor and art, Park MGM’s lobby is a nod to urban gardens and parks, bringing the outdoors inside. A dramatic arboreal sculpture by Brazilian woodworker Henrique Oliveira is the focal point of the lobby.
Park MGM’s rooms evoke the essence of a private apartment, with a mix of thoughtful touches, antique-inspired pieces, and original artwork by artists and photographers from around the world, commissioned for each room by France’s be-pôles studio.
Channeling the sundrenched South of France, the hotel’s vibrant outdoor escape features three pools, an oversized heated spa, 12 cabanas, lounge areas, and multiple bars serving up delicious bites and beverages.
Park MGM’s remodeled casino floor reflects the resort’s outdoor inspiration. In keeping with Sydell Group’s vision for maintaining key elements of the former space, the casino’s design contains subtle nods to its Monte Carlo roots, including the refined sparkling chandeliers.
With its excellent central location, Park MGM offers guests direct access to what is quickly becoming the city’s premier entertainment district, featuring T-Mobile Arena, The Park, and Park Theater, which is now home to Lady Gaga’s Las Vegas residency.