view from the 32nd floor of Hotel 32 on the Las
VEGAS — Things here are getting stranger all the time.
is a city where someone actually thought, "Hey, let’s
have people jump off the top of our hotel on a vertical
zip line." Where someone said, "Forget about
strip shows, let’s have day clubs with topless pools
where we charge male tourists a lot of money to stare at
female tourists." Cha-ching! It worked.
Vegas is building a pro hockey arena on the Strip. Ice
skating in the desert? No problem. It also decided it
absolutely, positively had to have a giant observation
wheel that lights up pink and purple at night — and
voila! The High Roller became a reality.
city shows what money can do. Enough money, and anything
is possible: bizarre dreams and odd quests and strange
sights. The music is constant and pulsing here. I saw
three showgirls on break standing on the sidewalk eating
pizza in the dark, their feather headdresses resting on
the grass like sleeping birds. I saw a couple emerging
from the Little Vegas Wedding Chapel, the bride’s long
dress slashed to a miniskirt in front. Thank you, thank
you very much.
Las Vegas, even the puppets don’t want to leave.
an act at the Mirage Hotel and Casino by ventriloquist
Terry Fator, puppet Winston is lured by glamorous
Hollywood, only to find it so stressful he has to retreat
to quieter Vegas.
will always be turtles. But for humans, the whole point of
Las Vegas is to pretend to be someone you never were and
never will be, if only for the weekend.
ON THE SECRET
trip, I am staying at Hotel 32, a little-known boutique
lodging high atop the Monte Carlo Hotel. It has just 51
rooms, separate check-in, a view of the shimmering Strip
and little chocolates served on small white trays. I have
a personal concierge who called me two days before I
arrived to ask if I needed anything. Book a suite, and
they even will pick you up in a limo from the airport. My
studio room cost $258 a night, including resort fees and
taxes, about $200 more than a regular room at the Monte
Carlo, which can start as low as $49 a night.
guess what? Las Vegas is actually full of these secret
hotels. Caesars Palace has the tiny Nobu Hotel inside its
vast white edifice. MGM has the Skylofts, a separate small
hotel within the blocky blue exterior of its massive
resort. Mandalay Bay has the Four Seasons.
do they do it? Snob appeal.
Monte Carlo is a huge, beige resort wedged next to the
kitschy New York New York Hotel. It caters to the
budget-minded. So why pay for Hotel 32? Well, you get your
own elevator, and that’s cool. I also sweep past the
long check-in lines into the hushed VIP room, where they
check me in in two minutes and call me "Mrs. Creager."
Upstairs, they have a lounge with snacks and breakfast so
you don’t have to mingle with the riffraff below.
isn’t that the whole point? To avoid the riffraff?
Except that in Las Vegas, it turns out to be sort of
boring to sit in your expensive hotel room staring out the
window on the 32nd floor instead of wandering amid the
riffraff below, who seem to be having a whole lot more fun
than you are.
you stay at a secret hotel or not, Las Vegas has many ways
to part you from your money. Here’s what’s new:
This year, 36 day-club resort pools are open to
non-guests, and 12 have topless, adults-only hours or
sections. Admission is often free for women — but up to
$40 for men. Nightclubs also cost men more.
The average show ticket price is now $85.20, according to
analysis by the Las Vegas Advisor, with the highest price
for Donny & Marie at the Flamingo (top ticket $310).
Look for the duo to return to Vegas this fall, as will
Celine Dion at Caesars Palace. Mariah Carey entertains
As usual, gaming halls will burn through your cash faster
than a fire in a bank vault. Gaming was down about 3
percent between November and April, according to the
University of Nevada Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research.
Still, the Strip alone takes in a jaw-dropping $500
million a month in gaming revenue.
Your funds will dwindle further as you wander the shopping
malls, halls and restaurants. The Linq shopping district
in the center of the Strip is now fully open. The Strip
now has shops from high-end to lowbrow to, yes, even those
selling books (OK, typical titles I saw were "Dude,
You’re Getting Married" and "Hangover
Cures," but hey, at least they’re books). Vegas
experienced record revenue from nightclubs, retail,
entertainment, alcohol and restaurants last year.
Hotels may offer deals, but watch out for those
relentless, additional mandatory "resort fees"
of up to $30 a day, plus taxes, tips and even charges for
water (yes, I accidentally drank an $8 bottle of
"premium" Fuji water in my room one night when I
fumbled for it in the dark).
any rate, like every other Vegas visitor, pretty soon, you’ll
have just a few measly dollars left. Whether you spend it
on a boutique hotel, show, the slots, a gift or a taxi
back to the airport, that’s up to you.
IT WORTH IT?
was it worth it to stay at the exclusive boutique hotel?
Yes and no. Hotel 32 (about $250 a night) is a bargain
compared to MGM’s Skylofts (about $900 a night), so it
was certainly a reasonable choice. It was quiet. It had
beautiful teal drapes and furniture. The service was
excellent. But glamorous? Not really. Not enough to make
the extra expense worthwhile.
any rate, experiencing a true snob moment in Vegas
sometimes is more a matter of chance than money.
night, taxis were few, but I heard that a group of people
getting into a long black limousine were looking for one
more person headed to the Mirage Hotel — and that was
me. I jumped in, quick as a rabbit. And guess what? It
turns out one couple actually knew singer Michael Jackson
and had worked for him at Neverland Ranch, and now I was
in a long black limo with them speeding down the Strip,
brushing arms with the late king of pop’s close personal
former employees, and feeling like almost, sort of, like a
HOTELS IN VEGAS
Book Hotel 32 directly with the hotel only
(www.hotel32lasvegas.com, 844-479-4625, rates starting at
$177-$401, depending on room you choose).
do prices for the secret hotels stack up against those of
their mother resorts? Here are sample lowest rates per
night in late June. Rates include taxes but not resort
fees. All rates found on Expedia except those for Hotel
Monte Carlo Hotel: $82.60. Its secret hotel is Hotel 32,
MGM Grand: $121.73. Its secret hotel is Skylofts at MGM,
Caesars Palace: $137.36. Its secret hotel is Nobu,
Mandalay Bay: $239.33. Its secret hotel is the Four
Seasons, $244.16 (the Mandalay Bay complex also has an
all-suite hotel, Delano, where rates start at $288.68).
check out semi-secret sections of resorts, such as the
Tower Suites at the Wynn Las Vegas; the HRH All Suites
Tower at the Hard Rock Hotel and Palms Place, an
all-suites tower next to Palms Casino Resort.