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Great Escapes// Las Vegas

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Like the commercial says...
When television commercials promoted Las Vegas by famously promising “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” regular visitors to Sin City nodded knowingly. Las Vegas is all about excess: Gamble high, party hard, stay out too late and supersize your sirloin. Cut loose, and don’t worry about word filtering back home. Like the commercial says ... 
Begin your living-large adventure by checking into a swanky, kitted-out hotel. The buzziest new option is Aria, the Cesar Pelli-designed hostelry in the sprawling mixed-use CityCenter development. Detailed in leather and chrome, rooms drip with technology and exude urbane luxury (and the hotel boasts a LEED Gold Certification).
The Venetian
Conversely, you can go Old World at The Venetian—with gondola rides out front—or at its next-door, boutique sibling The Palazzo. If your inner hipster yearns for thrills, however, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s new HRH Tower Suites sits high atop the playlist. Groove to the pop-star photos and in-room jukeboxes at this high-style hot spot, where decadent opulence feels rock-star ready.
Bare at The Mirage
Next Up: Time for some afternoon fun in the sun. The Hard Rock’s sleek SkyBar pool is the perfect spot to showcase your new string bikini, with one of the signature Strip Cleanse cocktails in hand. If you’re feeling extra daring, snag a day bed at Bare, The Mirage’s haven for top-optional sunbathing and swimming.
The Ibiza-inspired Encore Beach Club (at Steve Wynn’s Encore Las Vegas) is a DJ-intensive spot run by the team behind the venerable Blush nightclub. Finish up your weekend at The Venetian’s Asian-themed Tao Beach—Sunday afternoon sundown parties around the pool are, ahem, legendary.
Spas and pools
Life as a lounge lizard can be hard work, so unwind at one of Las Vegas’ pampering spas. Enormous soaking-pools and herbal-infused Good Luck Ritual massages are the draw at The Spa at Encore. Cool down at Qua Baths & Spa at Caesar’s Palace and its Arctic Ice Room, where blizzards of icy crystals break your sweat. Palms Place raises the heat with its coed take on a traditional Moroccan hammam (just don’t forget your swimsuit).
Gambling, of course, is the lifeblood of Las Vegas. Casinos along the Strip all spread similar games, but blackjack aficionados gravitate to tables where dealers must stick with a soft-17. The Bellagio and Mirage both offer that player-friendly feature, and hold ’em-lovers enjoy daily $120 buy-in tournaments at Aria’s poker room.
Eating in Veags
For a no-holds-barred dinner, Aria’s pricey-but-splurge-worthy Bar Masa serves some of the best sushi anywhere. Meat lovers will find Kobe nirvana at Mandalay Bay’s StripSteak, where chef Michael Mina dazzles with an 18-ounce dry-aged bone-in rib eye. Mediterranean seafood, flown in straight from the source, tempts diners at the atmospheric Bartolotta at the Wynn Las Vegas (vie for a seat in the private cabanas overlooking the lagoon). For the best high-end deal in town, reserve a table at Joël Robuchon, the three-star Michelin restaurant at MGM Grand, where $109 buys you a two-course prix-fixe dinner and roundtrip limo service. Who says the house always wins?
Of course, clubbing in Vegas is a must: The see-and-be-seen scene revs up after midnight at gilt-encrusted XS at Encore. Hard Rock’s newly launched Vanity boasts a light show almost as outrageous as the blinged-out crowd. And The Venetian’s Tao attracts the table-dancing set, who knock back Asian-inspired libations.
Late Night
Late-nighters invariably convene on the dance floor at subterranean Drai’s Afterhours, a decidedly louche corner of the otherwise unremarkable Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall. And since the DJs keep it going ’til well past sunrise, you might just find yourself braving daylight early Sunday morning. If that’s the case, don your shades and hightail it to Simon, in Palms Place, for celebrity chef Kerry Simon’s gourmet upgrade of Vegas’ famous all-you-can-eat breakfast.

Las Vegas is all about excess: Gamble high, party hard, stay out too late and supersize your sirloin.

Story by Michael Kaplan

Photos by Las Vegas News Bureau, Angelo Cavalli/Corbis, Dreampictures/Blend Images/Corbis/Amy Ballinger

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