10 guilty pleasures to enjoy in Las Vegas!

Jorge Ferraez

Next time you want to indulge yourself, think of Las Vegas. More than ever, this incredible place is becoming THE PLACE for those who want to eat well, drink well, have a good time shopping, get entertained by shows and the nightlife and even get a nice SPA treatment. If you haven’t been there in the last ten years, or ever, you definitely have been missing a very important place in the world. Some say it’s like Disneyland for grown-ups, with hundreds of things to do and visit besides gambling. Here are ten ways you can truly indulge yourself:

1. Have a Glass of Wine!

According to Bob Bigelow, Director of wine for The Bellagio Hotel, wine has become a serious business in Vegas. He’s expecting to sell $35 million just in wine alone for his hotel this year, and plans to sell $40 million in 2005. “I just can’t get enough Bordeaux 1982 for our Asian guests. We can sell 10 bottles of Cheval Blanc 47 in a month easily”. Bigelow, who grew up surrounded by wine, was first shocked by a glass of 1961 Margaux when he was ten; since then, wine has been his passion. Wine prices, relatively affordable because of the purchasing power of the Hotel, make this one a fabulous place to enjoy any kind of wine you want: from an 82 Petrus for $7,000, to a Don Melchor 2000 or a nice Pesquera 1998. Besides Bigelow, The Bellagio has 3 other Master Sommeliers, which means that they do something that no other Hotel or Restaurant can afford. So, if you like wine, by the bottle or the glass, The Bellagio in Las Vegas is the right place to be.

2. The evolution of the Buffet …

There was a time when Las Vegas was famous for its vast (and cheap) buffets. But those days are probably over. Cravings, the new Buffet concept at The Mirage Hotel, is something definitely worth a try, not only because of its gorgeous, color stripes themed decoration, but also because of the concept of small quantities of food, offered in separate islands surrounding the dinning room instead of the old centered buffet island. The variety of food goes from Enchiladas to Roast Beef, with appetizers like Seafood Gumbo, Sushi or even a sophisticated, make-your-own salad concept. If you have the patience to walk around before you decide on your first serving, you’ll also find a terrific Chinese food section, a Pizza bar and even an Hors d’ouvres island. Desserts are well worth saving space for. Unfortunately, the delicious Chocolate mousse and Creme caramel are too often left behind by the patrons because of their full stomachs.

3. I’m talking serious Mexican cuisine!

Have you ever seen a list of more than 100 different tequilas? Have you ever discussed that list with the only Tequila Sommelier in the US, right at your table? Have you ever tasted Mole Poblano, Cerdo en Pipian and Rosarito Style Lobster Tacos with an impeccable Mexican haut-cuisine taste? If you haven’t, the right place to go is at the Treasure Island Hotel, in a restaurant called ISLA. Don’t expect a traditional Hacienda-like decoration, but a real Mexico City Inspired contemporary deco with a touch of sophistication, not only in the looks but in the menu as well. They have more Tequilas (only 100% Agave, sorry!) that you ever imagined it existed, served with real Sangrita and a wide variety of freshly made Avocado Guacamole … straight up! Senor, as it should be! Delicious real Mexican dishes, and a Dessert list to really think about: real Churros dipped in Mango chutney and Cajeta, and of course, a decent wine list with wines that pair magnificently with Mexican, spicy, and hearty salsa dishes, such as a superb Flor de Pingus, Ribera del Duero 2001.

4. Drinks at Tangerine, not just for the view!

Of course the view is magnificent at this current show of the Treasure Island hotel, where male pirates battle some sexy “pirattes” from opposing ships in an experience that includes a magnificent firework final scene, but so is the fabulous cocktail list, which includes all you can imagine in citrus and Tangerine-inspired drinks. We’re talking about a very nicely located terrace, with an urban style bar perfect for an after dinner drink or a pre-dinner cocktail. Try one of the many Vodka inspired Tangerine cocktails; you’ll sip it all the way down, then you’ll shout for another one. Tangerine is definitely a perfect spot for an evening pause and for some relaxation with a delicious and indulgent variety of drinks to try.

5. Pamper your face!

Particularly for men, the face is something we never take really good care of. The place to go to do something about it? The MGM Grand Spa. Not only is the place magnificent in size and ambiance, but the variety of treatments they offer is also grand! Energizing Copper Facial, Farfango with exfoliation, Mud therapy wraps, Soothe the Sole foot massage (for that other part we often neglect–our feet–) are among the list of complete treatments that allow you to spend some time in the Spa for that Steam bath or a relaxing Jacuzzi soak you’ve always wished for. A facial therapy that allows you to have a cleansing, exfoliating massage in your face and neck is a well-kept secret that every man should try once in a while. The place is filled with aromatherapy fragrances, dimmed light and calming Zen music that relaxes you so deeply that you don’t want to leave the room. After this experience, your face will say “Thank you! I was long overdue for a treat like this”.

6. Stay in the Largest Hotel in the world!

Five thousand rooms and almost six thousand employees will make your stay at The MGM Grand a unique experience. The property is amazing … simply gorgeous! Remember take your walking shoes with you when you visit, because you’ll be fascinated with all the different kinds of people, walking, talking, eating in the restaurants, having drinks at the bars, having fun at the Casino and so on. It is probably one of the few places on earth where your room number will have five digits! Fantastic service, with courteous people and a wide variety of options to dine, shop and entertain you and your companion are the order of the day here.

7. Have your dinner directly imported from Japan.

This one you won’t want to miss. Where else can you find a place where they serve you authentic Japanese dishes prepared with the freshest ingredients directly from Japan? Shibuya Japanese Restaurant at the MGM/Grand hotel. They also have the biggest list of Sake in the US. You should start with a Sake flight (a taste of different types of Sake) that will enable you to better enjoy Japanese dishes. The honey-laced hints of a Masumi Yumedono sake blend deliciously with the Toro’s (Fatty Tuna) sashimi and Baby Hamachi’s (Yellow Tail) delicate truffle and rice sesame essences that accompany the dish. After that, a Kobe Teppanyaki Steak dinner with a perfectly grilled assortment of vegetables makes you shout for more! The Kobe beef, from cattle imported from Japan at a tender age to be feed with beer and rice and massaged in Oregon, makes that almost incredible marbled fat steak that you don’t need a knife to cut through it. What a meal!

8. Want a Provocative and sexy experience? Try Zumanity.

This is a definitely different experience from the usual Cirque du Soleil. Be prepared to enter a round theatre where everything suggests sex! From the ushers to the many erotic inspired characters that wander around you all the time. The show has everything, from sexy girls, macho torsos, beautifully erotic divas, gay-inspired fights and many more aspects of the human sexuality that you’re better off by discovering on your own than by reading about it here. It is a show that you must try Contortionists, Sexual Clowns, delightful sexy dances and a choreography that inspires the most unbelievable erotic emotions will leave you delighted. A flying, romancing couple and a man who twists his body in a way you have never seen before are part of the variety of scenes that end up in a mega orgy where the audience is invited to participate. But beware! This is no place for a shy or prudish personality, so be yourself and express your deepest emotions at Zumanity!

9. Breakfast–Las Vegas Style!

Finally, a place when you can have an elegant Breakfast a la carte! Why keep going to breakfast buffets when you can be accommodated and served with the same service and flair as in a fine restaurant? Delicious omelets, a wide variety of fruit inspired dishes, tea selections by the list, and delicious pastries in beautiful imported porcelain china are part of the menu at Cafe Bellagio, just next to the Botanical Gardens, always with a seasonal theme. French Toast Brioches and Pancakes are out of this world. The Spanish Frittata is also something to die for.

10. Have a Tuscan Feast at Osteria del Circo.

A very high profile Tuscan restaurant. Marvelous service, award wining wine list that displays perhaps the largest collection of Barolo wines in the US. Have a fruity and earthy Mauro Beglio Barolo “Vigneto Rocche” 1998 ($150) and enjoy a nice variety of classical and post-modern, high end Tuscan dishes: Crema di Carde Bianche (Parsnip), a delicious and delicate pureed soup, a Wonderful perfumed Cacciucco del Circo (Seafood Stew) with gigantic prawns and octopus legs, and for a brilliant finale try a Bamboloni Calde con Le Sue Salse (an exquisite warm Italian doughnut with chocolate and berry sauces). The place has the personal and classical touch of the Maccione family (Le Cirque in NY, Vegas and Mexico City), which assures a tremendous culinary experience.

… And behind all the magic are:

Irene Bustamante Director Diversity Relations

It’s always motivating to find someone who is happy at his or her job. Irene is pretty much a success story herself within the MGM/Mirage Company. From a very traditional family she managed to convince her father to allow her to go to college, get a degree in Hospitality Business Managing and go to Las Vegas to accept a position. “I feel really lucky, I’m doing what I enjoy most and I’m getting paid for it” says the Diversity manager of a company that has 42,000 employees. “I have been given an opportunity to serve and enhance others like me to become successful in their jobs and to be able to lead. We need so many role models in the Latino community that is one of my goals, contribute to create them”. Irene, who has been with MGM/Mirage for 12 years now, still finds fascinating working for the hospitality industry and especially in Las Vegas, where you have to be fan of serving other people.

Carlos Salazar Executive Pastry Chef MGM Grand

When he left his native Colombia he was only 18. Although he pursued a business career, the opportunity came to work in the baking business, which he and his family had long experience in Colombia. After spending many years as a baker, he managed to become the Executive Pastry Chef for the MGM/Grand Hotel. And he’s good. Among his duties he has 12 kitchens to oversee, manage the biggest pastry shop in Vegas, cook the pastry, dessert and bread requirements for groups as large as 16,000 people and even get the new projects and ideas for the 5,000 room hotel. “I work hard, at least 10 to 12 hours a day, but is my passion. It’s tricky when you have to hake a cake for 2000 people and it has to have the same quality of a small, 8 people cake”. But he relies on his staff, most of it Latino. “I subdivide the tasks among my workers, and ask them to focus on that thing that they do best and it’s in their area. That way, the process of making a great dessert sometimes involves three or four different teams to contribute to it: those responsible for the cream, those for the cake, those for the fillings, etc. I like to have a fellowship in the kitchen, an environment that is very Latino, where everybody is supporting one another. Then, I just make my rounds and offer my help to everybody.” Carlos the highest ranking Pastry Chef of a Latino descent in Las Vegas.

Richard Sandoval Executive Chef, ISLA Treasure Island

Born in Mexico City and raised in Acapulco, his family owned a landmark in Acapulco’s bay culinary world: Madeiras. Interested in the restaurant business, Ricardo managed to get into the Culinary Institute of America in NY, where he graduated from and then started a career as a restaurateur. He’s considered one of the most successful Mexican cuisine restaurateurs in the country. After many years in the business, he first surprised the culinary community with Maya, an authentic Mexican Cuisine restaurant in the Big Apple. “When I opened Maya, I wanted to take the next step into Mexican Cuisine. The evolutionary and more sophisticated concept, unusual for the American market, but I was convinced it could work”. As a flagship for its future endeavors and as a visionary entrepreneur, he was asked to set ISLA, at Treasure Island hotel in Las Vegas years later, where he experimented with many signature dishes and ingredients hard to get in the US that are usually imported from Mexico. “This is a new step in the evolution of the Mexican Food history in the US, and the clientele is taking it very well. To many of them Burritos and Enchiladas are not the only Mexican dish they know, but Mole Poblano, Cerdo en Pipian, real Haas Avocado Guacamole and of course a daring, immense list of 100% Agave Tequilas to boot”. Buen Provecho!

COPYRIGHT 2004 Ferraez Publications of America Corp.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group