Travel

Bellagio Rediscovers its Fountain of Youth

by Jim Halterman
Contributor
Tuesday Mar 26, 2013
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Las Vegas, which has had more facelifts than Joan Rivers, is a destination that can constantly be rediscovered. They say sometimes what you’re looking for is staring you right in the face. This is how I decided to revisit a Sin City classic - the Bellagio.

I’ve been to Las Vegas many times for work and pleasure and my usual goal is to steer clear of the tried and true and venture to the new hotels, casinos, shopping and restaurants around the city. I first stayed at the MGM-owned property a decade ago and remembered enjoying the bright, colorful décor, central spot on the strip and, of course, the Bellagio Fountain.

This iconic property - now 15-years-old - recently underwent a $40 million room and suite remodel in its Spa Tower. The resort has also introduced three new Executive Parlor Suites designed with entertainment and technology in mind. The 2,500-square-foot suites each feature a billiards lounge and separate high-tech home theater living area inviting guests to host intimate, yet interactive events in a vibrant setting.

"The completion of the Spa Tower remodel marks a significant milestone in the evolution of the Bellagio guest experience," said Randy Morton, president and chief operating officer of Bellagio. "We continue to seek ways not only to create new experiences and fresh spaces, but also to maintain the superior Five Diamond service synonymous with Bellagio."

Created by MGM Resorts International Design Group, the new Spa Tower Resort Rooms are consistent with the three designs represented in Bellagio’s main tower. The Resort King Rooms feature an indigo and silver combination or a green tea and plum palette while the Resort Queen Rooms welcome guests with an amber and butterscotch motif.

In keeping with Bellagio’s commitment to sustainability, the newly remodeled rooms incorporate environmentally responsible elements, including energy-efficient lighting in corridors and guest rooms providing 60 percent greater efficiency, organic carpeting primarily made from wool and furniture made from eucalyptus.


King for a Day

While you can’t really go wrong with any of the nearly 4,000 rooms at the Bellagio, I felt like royalty in the Deluxe Resort King Room. Boasting a casual, perfect blend of comfort and luxury from the moment you walk in the door, I’m not just talking about the fabulous king-size bed with a cashmere super top pillow mattress.

Featuring elegant décor, stocked mini-bar, 40-inch television and iHome docking station, you’ll find that the space is vibrant but also offers respite after a day on the Strip. And if you must get some work done, the ergonomic desk station offers multiple outlets and a media hub.

I skipped checking email and instead opted to chill out. I sometimes forget how a simple thing like a bathroom can make a fantastic hotel room even better. With an Italian marble soaking tub, glass shower and personal sink, you’ll find yourself spending more time in the bathroom than usual just to enjoy the comfort.

Beyond the Deluxe Resort King Room, there are other options with spectacular views of the landmark Bellagio Fountain. And here’s an insider tip: tune your TV into the right channel so you can hear the music during the frequent fountain shows.


Decadent Dining

Las Vegas has become a haven of exceptional dining experiences with top chefs from around the world setting up shop for the frequent stream of tourists. Bellagio has its fair share, each offering a unique culinary viewpoint. With so many options, consider reaching out to the concierge to help determine what might be the best fit for your palette and pocketbook.

For my first meal, I opted for Yellowtail, which combines both traditional and modern Japanese cuisine. Award-winning Chef Akira Back doesn’t hold back with luxurious items such as Lobster Capaccio or a mouth-watering twist on Surf N Turf. Our server Roberto, who’s been there since the restaurant opened, guided us through a spectacular selection that included the Yellowtail Multi-Course Tasting Menu. With choices like Shiso Pizza, Baked Crab Roll and Yellowtail Serrano, every plate that came to the table capitalized on innovative presentations and flavors.

Not intentionally, the next night turned out to be a different spin on Japanese cuisine. I found myself at Tetsu, the Teppan Grill located inside the acclaimed barMasa in the nearby Aria Hotel & Casino. You’ll find yourself sitting in front of the grill with one of the entertaining chefs cooking the dinner of your choice in front of you. Start out with the refreshing Cucumber Shiso Martini and then appetizers such as Tai-Sea Bream with shaved truffle and Salmon sushi. Be sure to leave room for the Miso Crème Brulee for dessert.


Face Off

While you may be tempted to be on the go throughout most of your visit to Las Vegas, make sure to schedule some relaxing time at the Bellagio Spa & Salon. The Couples Massage and Champagne Spa Sanctuary is a must if you’re there with your better half. The Spa & Salon also offers everything from a simple mani/pedi to a plethora of seasonal offers like Spring Blossom spa treatment and the Ulimate Hydrafacial. The Spa & Salon is also in the same area as the gym, where you can squeeze in a cardio or weight workout between trips to the slots.

On this trip, I decided to indulge a part of my anatomy that we probably all neglect more than we should. I decided to pamper my face with the Men’s Age Defying Facial. While it may not be the experience that sends you off to dreamland like a massage, trust me that you’ll walk away feeling just as invigorated... and younger! The 50-minute session offers a highly qualified technician who will rejuvenate your face with lotions, a gentle massage and an antioxidant cocktail that helps restore your damaged oily or dry skin. In a word: heaven.


The Best Show(s) in Town

Cirque du Soleil seems to have cornered the Vegas entertainment marketplace and with good reason. The company’s repertoire of shows features exotically clad human perfection in every shape and size. Still holding strong is "O" at the Bellagio - Cirque’s aquatic tapestry that weaves surrealistic imagery with pure athleticism.

After a 2011 premiere at Radio City Music Hall and stops in Moscow and Madrid, "Zarkana" has found a home in Las Vegas at ARIA Resort & Casino. While its structure is the typical spectacle of other Cirque creations, this incarnation spins with a rock music experience that reinvents the circus atmosphere with off-the-wall characters and incomparable acrobats. There isn’t a dull moment. But don’t take my word for it... take a look:




There is one element that you can’t help but notice any time you’re in Las Vegas: the extensive construction for upcoming new properties and renovations that will undoubtedly bring more competition to the tried and true hotels and casinos such as the Bellagio. The good news is that the Bellagio doesn’t just look fresh and new - it also feels fresh and new. And, like an old friend with whom you may have lost touch for no good reason, once you spend some time in its majestic presence, you’ll suddenly realize just how much you missed it.


Jim Halterman lives in Los Angeles and also covers the TV/Film/Theater scene for www.FutonCritic.com, AfterElton, Vulture, CBS Watch magazine and, of course, www.jimhalterman.com. He is also a regular Tweeter and has a group site on Facebook.

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