Welcome to a 13-hour (10 to 11) shopping
extravaganza at The Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace whose theme simulates
an Ancient Roman commercial thoroughfare. Buying or even browsing here is serious
stuff. Several high-end international brands such as Gucci, Valentino and
Ferragamo are exclusive to this location and have no other outposts in town.
Incorporating an overhead sky, the street ends at the domed rotunda that is
the stage for a drama about the Lost City of Atlantis.
|Venus Pool at Caesar's Palace
The Baths of Caracalla have nothing on the waterworks at this Caesar’s Palace. Hourly at the Festival Fountain, animatronic statues retell the Atlantis story. As the mythical sunken continent rises and falls, Atlas, Gadruis and Alia compete to rule it. Venus, the goddess of beauty, tells Bacchus that it’s an honor to attend the party he’s hosting. The god of wine and merriment acknowledges her compliment with a belch. Special effects--fire, water, light, sound and smoke--are part of the action.
Company executives admit that in
"recapturing the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome" the casino/resort
blends "the erotic and exotic with a certain amount of decadence." Classic statuary of mythic gods
are everywhere on the property.
Hotel facilities and spaces, restaurants excepted, are cleverly tagged with
names, which are familiar in the history of the Hellenic and Roman Empires. The
wedding chapel is Neptune’s Villa. Towers housing guest rooms and suites
bear monikers like Forum and Centurion. The stores in the hotel
proper line the Appian Way. And if the atmosphere here is slightly hedonistic,
that’s just as it should be in Las Vegas.
|Celine Dion, A New Day
At Caesar’s where less would never
be more, a colossal expansion is and has been underway with more and more facilities
being altered or added. In March 2003 the Cypress Street Marketplace,
a collection of serve-yourself eateries opened at the Forum Casino.
Bradley Ogden, a famed chef and restaurateur inaugurated his first branch outside of
California. And the most spectacular happening of all, the unveiling of The
Colosseum, a milestone in entertainment arenas, took place. Built in just
14 months, this one-of-a-kind theater has the largest indoor screen in North
America. It was specially constructed to showcase Celine Dion in a spectacular
production, "A New Day." Dion’s boundless energy, partnership with Franco Dragone,
director of Cirque du Soleil’s finest shows, and awesome advanced technology
makes "A New Day" the hottest ticket on the strip. Backed by a talented troupe
of vocalists, musicians and dancers, the singer’s long-term contract will keep
her in front of cheering fans for hundred of nights.
Park Place Entertainment, Caesar’s
corporate parent, stretched the Greco/Roman motif 30 miles to Boulder to present
another latest/best/most eye-popping addition, the just-opened golf course,
Cascata, meaning waterfall, whose clubhouse is modeled after a Tuscan
villa. You can’t play if you don’t stay at a PPE property. There are neither
greens fees, nor food and drink charges. However, you must be a "special" guest.
Like other services that are comped, you need to frequent the casino and place
big bets. Golf course architect and genius Rees Jones constructed 18 holes and
a practice facility on the side of a mountain. A 418-foot waterfall flows down
the mountain and into the clubhouse. Almost every hole is framed by rock ledges.
An abundance of water, grass, wild flowers, trees and cacti create a serene
setting at Cascata, one of the most glorious golf courses in the world.
|Suite with golf simulator
Guest rooms and suites are furnished in the best of taste and would please anyone regardless of whether they prefer a traditional, modern or contemporary look. The front door to our suite closed out the glitz. A kitchen, dining room, powder room, two oversized baths and walk-in closets, living room and bedroom were comfortable and homey.
Caesar’s Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Tel. 702-731-7110. www.parkplace.com/caesars/lasvegas/
The Forum Shop at Caesar’s, 3500 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Tel. 702-893-4800
Tickets for A New Day, 1877-4-Celine
The eponymous Bradley Ogden at Caesar’s staged an opening party, passing a dozen and a half samples of starters, small entrees and desserts. Farm to table ingredients are the focus of Ogden’s cooking. Appetizers included mouth-watering bites of potato cake with caviar, oyster fritters and sugar snap pea soup. Standouts among the main courses were Colorado lamb chops and morel salad and lobster-crab cakes. A variety of sweets like
chocolate explosion and vanilla tangerine madelines showcased the kitchen’s talent in dreaming up great pastries. The modern yet rustic decor blends bright earth tones and warm woods and enough simplicity so as not to intrude on the central experience here—fine dining. Waiters look spiffy in conservative gray suits and ties.
Bradley Ogden, Caesar's Palace. Tel. 703-721-7140.
Across the strip from Caesar’s at Paris La Vegas, Ah Sin, an Asian restaurant with a new concept, was recently added to PPE’s varied dining scene. The cuisines of China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and Korea are all featured here on a very long menu. The large group at our table shared some of the specialties so that we could all taste the beef sashimi, golden triangle wontons, roasted duck salad, crunch rolls, suckling pig barbecue, charred chicken, Vietnamese glass noodles and lobster chunks. In Cantonese Ah Sin means Always Lucky, the name of a Chinese gambler who was created by writer Bret Harte. The lead designer on the project calls the space "contemporary zen."
Upstairs from Ah Sin is another new
spot, Risque, a late-night dessert bar with a nightclub atmosphere. Jean-Claude
Canestrier, who was named top international pastry chef in a 2002 international
competition, prepares unique sweets. Our favorite was apricot souffle.
Ah Sin, Risque, Paris Las Vegas, 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Tel. 702-946-7000.
Michael Goodman who had only been
head man at Veranda at the Four Seasons for three weeks, but who had
been climbing the hotel chain’s ladder for years prepared a superlative tasting
dinner for us and matched every luscious course with an equally outstanding
wine. Peppery foccacio and balsamic and olive oil dip accompanied seared scallops
and spinach sauced with a red pepper reduction. A Ferrari-Carano 2001 fume blanc
chosen as the starting vintage had a citrus finish and peppery balance. Tender
juicy duck breast cooked medium, napped with balsamic sauce and sided with a
greens-filled squash basket, was matched with a California Acacia Pinot Noir
2001. We sipped cabernet sauvignon while eating lamb loin and morels in a cabernet
reduction. Lime sorbet was soothingly delicious and chocolates and marzipan
provided a sweet finish to an evening of grand dining.
Service was attentive. The natural colored dining room is quietly elegant.
The Veranda, the Four Seasons, 3960 La Vegas Blvd. South, Tel. 888-632-5000, 702-632-5000.
Culture has been asserting itself
in Sin City. Ballet and creative theater enthusiasts might enjoy Mystere, one of Cirque du Soleil’s two local productions.
The graceful, skilled gymnasts who perform in Mystere, a sensitive celebration
of life, combine dancing with acrobatics. The color, music, talent and joy of
this show make it easy to understand why it has been playing twice nightly for
Mystere, Treasure Island, 3300 Las Vegas Blvd. South. Tel. 800-392-1999, 702-796-9999
If you like aquariums, head for Shark Reef. Dangerous and exotic aquatic animals swim in 14 water venues including one that houses a sunken pirate ship. Crocodiles, lizards, sea jellies, eels and turtles are a few of the more than 2,500 specimens. Shark Reef is meant to educate as well as entertain. Hand-held audio guides help with that task.
Shark Reef, Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South .Tel. 877-632-7000.
The Guggenheim Hermitage Museum
is now showing its second exhibition "Art through the Ages: Masterpieces from
Titian to Picasso." Works borrowed from New York’s Guggenheim, St. Petersburg’s
Hermitage and Vienna’s Kunsthisorisches Museums range from 15th-century Renaissance
to 20th-century modern. In a well-edited display of 39 masterpieces, the key moments
in the development of Western painting are represented. Canvases by Darer, Poisson,
Tintoretto, van Dyck, Velazquez, Delacroix, Cezanne, Picasso and Kandinsky take
the viewer on a journey through the centuries ending with Pollack, de Kooning
Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, The Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Tel. 702-414-2440.