Next morning we had time for breakfast at Payard, the flamboyant French bistro near our Laurel Collection reception. After amazing omelettes and authentic French pastries, we worked out at Qua for a couple of hours before lazing by Caesar’s palatial pool.
For a breath of fresh air right on The Strip, we tried the secluded golf course harbored between The Wynn and Encore. Luxuriant landscaping, meandering streams and artfully placed shrubbery buffered us from the tumultuous traffic outside. The undulating course – 7,042-yard par 70 designed by casino magnate Steve Wynn and Tom Fazio – culminates in a spectacular waterfall at its signature 18th hole, a great photo opp. Despite the pressure of the $500 price-tag and the professional caddie, I played well (for me), winning two holes and parring the tricky 6th hole across a lake.
Although my husband is not known for appreciating acrobatic acts, he was absolutely overwhelmed by the artistry, beauty, choreography and special effects of Le Reve later that night. Also at The Wynn, the show is an extravaganza of aerial feats, dance, music and water, with a cast of 75, garbed in costumes that evoked Avatar and Lord of the Rings. Definitely the best, most unforgettable show we have ever seen anywhere.
I will also never forget the sticky toffee pudding back at Gordon Ramsay’s Pub where we had a late supper. This British-themed gastro pub at Caesar’s Palace has everything ex-pats yearn for including lambshank, fish and chips, shepherds’ pie, pork belly and spotted dog – as well as cheap carafes of wine.
Next morning we headed to the mountains, an incongruous alpine area of fir trees just 45 minutes away from The Strip. A dazzling domain for hiking and mountain biking in the spring, summer and autumn, Mt Charleston turns into a skiing and snowboard retreat for jaded workers and sporty tourists in winter. For those who didn’t factor skiing into their packing, there are clothing rentals as well as equipment and the ski pass comes with free.
Racing to the Bellagio after a quick change that night, we were treated to a liquid nitrogen display at The Hyde Lounge with the fountain show in the background. While spirits can’t exactly be healthy, the mixers can and Hyde has cornered the market in healthy juices. Great tapas, too, to help stave off hangovers.
After a tour around Mandalay Bay, we dined at Fleur by Hubert Keller – a casual but chic modern French restaurant. Attracted initially by the country-coded gluten-free menu with options from Italy, France, Mexico, China and USA, I ended up pigging out on a dessert medley thanks to the nifty iPad menu which shows persuasive pictures as well as ingredients.
Despite the best intentions, quaffing wonderful wines four nights’ running finally exacted their physical toll on me. But there is a cunning cure for this in Vegas: Hangover Heaven. As well as running a treatment bus, Dr Jason Burke makes house calls to hotel rooms armed with a drip, oxygen and shots to treat what he calls “the world’s worst hangovers”. With his curative cocktail of anti-inflammatories, rehydrating fluids and vitamin B, I was re-energized for our last day in Vegas.
I had strategically planned a leisurely spa day, booking a Double Destiny couples’ treatment at the luxurious Mandarin Oriental. With no gaming and no smoking, the exotic Eastern aromas, waterfall sounds, dim lighting and subtle colour schemes all create a whisper-pitch Zen environment so soothing after the slot-machine mania and human traffic of the casino hotels. After spending four days sampling sports and walking around the multiple monoliths of The Strip, we really deserved this mix of foot treatment, body scrub, Jacuzzi, and intense massage.
Later we shared an assortment of buttermilk scones, clotted cream, cupcakes and pastries at the refined Tea Lounge with anti-oxidant loaded green tea to assuage our guilt. At least some of the options were gluten – if not glutton – free! As the sun started going down, it was a great vantage point to watch the neon emerging along The Strip.
For a modern mix of vaudeville, light shows and pantomime you can’t beat the Blue Man Group, our last show of the trip. Preferring to maintain the après-massage afterglow in our feet, we travelled to the Monte Carlo via the handy monorail that links Sahara Avenue, MGM Grand, Bellagio, Monte Carlo, Crystals, Treasure Island, Mirage, Excalibur and Mandalay Bay.
Back at the Bellagio, champers around the grand piano at the Petrossian Paris was followed by an incredible Asian-infused dinner at Sensi, full of healthy spices from the Bellagio’s rooftop herb garden. Organic, fresh, no hormones or anti-biotics and wide choices from the Asian, Italian, American and Vegan menu. And the dessert medley – deliciously devastating to the Fitness Pal regime.