Vegas never ceases to amaze. The idea you have in your head is nowhere close to the insanity that ensues when you arrive. Upon deplaning, you’re hit with glittering lights and sounds of bells and whistles of slot machines. Just after you grab your bags, you’re treated to options of airport shuttles, taxicabs or a variety of stretch limo’s and town cars. When you arrive at your hotel, and step out of whatever selection you made, you’re instantly awestruck by the flashing lights, well-dressed bellmen, beautiful people and the dreams of fame and fortune.
The Hotel Room:
My first few minutes at the Encore at the Wynn had me questioning my decision to stay there. After appreciating the elegant red walls and ceiling that were the perfect compliment to the cream colored marble floor, and the gigantic multi-colored chandelier that greets you as you walk through the main entrance, the news that our original reservations for connecting rooms (there were 7 of us) were unavailable upset me. Being sold out, they were unable to accommodate in any way shape or form. Instead, they spent a few extra minutes finding us a room on the 53rd floor, with an absolutely amazing, never-ending view of “the strip” below and all of Nevada that lay beyond. The bathroom that came complete with large shower, separate bathtub, private toilet room, TV, bathrobes, various toiletries and amenities was HUGE. The beds were like sleeping on clouds, almost making it difficult to get out of them in the morning (offset by the excitement of the day ahead) but were simply perfection when it came time to hit the sack after a long night out. The motorized blinds were the icing on the cake, and enjoyable to play with when waking up earlier than my suite-mates. The room service, although not economical ($45 for a hamburger) was quick, and some of the best food I had in Vegas. Overall, I give the room a 4 out of 5, the towels could have been a little softer and the walls a bit thicker, to block out the 6AM argument of the couple staying next to us.
Club #1 – Day Club @ Encore Beach Club:
It was good, OK it was great, but of the four clubs we went to over the course of the weekend, it ranked last. It’s not that it was bad, we had great service, but our table was to the back, behind a bunch of others (then again we booked it that morning); the music was up to par, but got a little bit “poppy,” (as poppy as House Music can get); and it didn’t get crazy until about 2PM or 3PM (it closed at 6). The pro was definitely the pool, it was huge, with two or three bridges across it, and tables right up to the edge of the water.
Two bars line the pool on either side, making it incredibly easy to grab a drink whenever your heart desires. Table games (Black Jack, Roulette, Craps and others) sit under an over-hang between the pool and one of the two bars. There are a lot of them making it easy to find a seat, but don’t expect to play for nickels and dimes as the lowest limit was $25 a hand. The free drink while gambling applies though; seeing as drinks are around $10-$15, as long as you have one per each losing hand, you beat the system and play a lower minimum. Overall, Encore Beach Club gets a 3 out of 5. I’m sure when special DJ’s play the party, like George Acosta the next day, it is a much bigger and better scene.
Club #2 – Lavo:
Let’s preface by saying that we were all set to hit Marquee in style. We went down in a limo, had a table reserved, but when we got there (around 11PM) we found absolute chaos. The table line was at least 500 people deep and the general admission was easily over a thousand. We waited over an hour for our contact, a VIP host that worked for Marquee, who was supposed to have us skipping those lines, but not doing a very good job. Finally, frustrations boiled over and we left to Lavo.
When we got to Lavo, we were met with no line; no mass crowd, no wait, and an extremely nice VIP host who immediately had us come inside. Walking across the sky bridge that stretches above the restaurant, I was a bit nervous; the place was empty, but as soon as we hit the dark narrow stairwell leading upstairs, the feeling completely changed. Upon passing two girls painting each other with feathers on a platform overlooking the stairwell, we entered a PACKED HOUSE. What seemed to be the nicest bouncers in the world cleared the way for us to get to what was allegedly, one of the best tables in the place; and immediately, waitresses were bringing us our orders, promoters were bringing us great people to meet, and the DJ was killing it. We realized that going to Lavo without a table would be a little tough though, following a quick lap around the place. It is a small venue, that really packs people inside. The con to me was as the night went on, the DJ that had been playing great music, transitioned to pop music, and once I heard Journey, it was all over. No disrespect, but I would expect the heavy house to come as the night went on, not the music that should have been played in the beginning. The place had one round bar, with what seemed to be ample space, but with so many people, it isn’t the easiest place to get a drink. The staff were amazing though, they truly made the night a success, bringing free drinks towards the end, and even escorting some of us to the bathroom when the need arose. Overall, Lavo gets a 3.5 out of 5, it’s a great time, but definitely ranks 3rd out of 4 for the weekend.
Club #3 – Beach Club – Tao Beach Club:
When I say that the place is small, I mean that this is the only con of it, and I might actually consider it a pro. It gives the place an intimate feel, yet doesn’t feel crowded when it gets completely packed around 1PM. The pool is tiny, but made for a great place to hang out and mingle with people. The tables behind it made it easy to escape and relax. Huge beds lie between the pool and couch tables towards the back, in front of the bar. Our table was at the back corner, with two couches, and in my opinion, one of the best locations you could ask for; you could see everything. The only better spot would be the cabana on the edge of the pool, but Ron Artest of the Los Angeles Lakers had it reserved for the day, too bad for us. The service was almost perfect, every now and then we were on the look out, but with a number of servers tending to our table, it wasn’t all that bad. A special little find, that added to the already out of control venue, was that the lockers for your belongings, had a charger inside for every cell phone ever made; I’m not kidding. The DJ, their house DJ, absolutely rocked the place. He played stuff I never would have expected to hear, including some real old school LMFAO that completely made the day for me. The place closes at 6PM, which was a downer, but it turned out to be a good thing, as we needed to recuperate for the night ahead. Overall, Tao Beach Club gets a 4.5 out of 5 and a must see, must do stamp of approval.
Club #4 – The Finale at XS:
I’m almost hesitant to talk about it, as there is no good way to explain this place that will do it justice. We waited a few minutes before being escorted through the inner dance floor, passed the outdoor pool and lower level cabanas, upstairs to our cabana, on the balcony level, looking out over the entire club. Inside, plush couches and mirrors everywhere; bar with our bottles to the right, and volume controls for music, and light dimmers to our left; and curtains to close or leave open at our desire over the entrance. Just outside, were two lounge chairs with comfortable cushions, and thin walls separating us from the other tables. Just below us, a HUGE patio with cabanas on one side and a pool on the other; and table games and a bar beyond that. Passed the palm trees, the inside dance floor where the music was shaking the bodies on top of it, a few tables, and a large bar. The whole place didn’t get super crazy until just after midnight, but it was great to start slow and meet our neighbors.
It was just about 12AM that the DJ really got going, and the night turned into, by far, the best night of the entire trip. FANTASTIC music, attentive service, privacy and a huge party at the same time; a perfect recipe for the final few hours of our stay. Overall, XS gets a 5 out of 5. It is the place to be and be seen in Vegas and if you don’t go, even under general admission, well, then I pity you because you will miss the best night of your stay.
Vegas is a place where you lose track of reality and potentially lose your mind (good and bad). There are a thousand ways you can come home regretting your stay there but the perfect recipe for ensuring the time of your life is as follows: Let loose, what’s Vegas without the hilarity of the stories you’ll vaguely remember for the rest of your life; don’t gamble all that much or at least set a limit, you never want losing a bunch of money to ruin the amazing times you’ll have away from the tables; and go with great friends, a lot of them, it’s cheaper that way and gives you the opportunity to do Vegas the way its supposed to be done.