Elegant Bellagio nestled invitingly amid bustling excess of Las Vegas - East Valley Tribune: Travel

Elegant Bellagio nestled invitingly amid bustling excess of Las Vegas

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Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2011 5:00 am | Updated: 10:01 am, Mon Aug 13, 2012.


I am in Paris.

I suspect this because I see the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe from the window of my well-appointed suite. They sparkle against the inky sky, promising romance and fortune.

I am in Las Vegas. I know this because next to the City of Light landmarks is the gargantuan face of Jennifer Aniston beseeching me from an illuminated billboard to buy her new favorite perfume. Plus, I glimpse Bally's and the Flamingo and beyond them a luminescent landscape stretching flat for miles.

The Paris thing is simply a trompe-l'oeil, of which there are many in the City of Over-The-Top, Electricity-Sucking, Vertigo-Inducing Lights. I am surveying the Paris hotel from my perch across the Strip at the Bellagio, a luxury oasis in the middle of a desert of excess. I spy water, not the River Seine, but the 8-acre Fountains of Bellagio, which puts on its own floor show at regular intervals. Water geysers erupt and dance to songs by Henry Mancini, Lee Greenwood, Johnny Mathis and Madonna. Again, there are more lights.

In the morning, I venture out of my suite and head to the communal areas. Now, I am in Italy, for the inspiration of this dreamy hotel is the resort town of Bellagio in the Lake Como region. Lake Como, famous as the place where George Clooney has a home. No Clooney here, but lots of marble and domed ceilings.

Palio beckons me with the promise of pastry and a latte. I don't want to eat too much because reservations at Michael Mina pledge to fill my belly with Dungeness crab tortellini and maybe even some foie gras risotto. Perhaps I'll have the tasting menu with the accompanying wine. I hope the truffle polenta is part of the deal.

I stroll along to the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, right off the lobby. Thousands of flowers have been fashioned into watering cans and snails and butterflies. The only thing missing is a bench to sit on and contemplate the beauty, and the thought of hitting a jackpot in the casino. Later, I find a friendly slot machine, though not jackpot-worthy.

There are more flowers near check-in. These are made of glass by renowned artist Dale Chihuly. Some 2,000 hand-blown blooms cover some 2,000 square feet on the ceiling.

After the pastry and before Michael Mina, I head to the spa. The facial is lovely, and the relaxation time afterward is even better. I am alone in the ladies' facilities with a mountain of lotions, soaps and hair products. By the time I am done, I look like I have been to the salon. Plus, I smell amazing.

Tomorrow I will check out Fred Leighton and Prada at the Via Bellagio shops. For now, I wander back to the room, my soft-soled shoes gliding over Italian marble. I meander through the Conservatory, past the enormous chocolate fountain, by the windows that open onto the Italian cypress trees that encircle the pool. The elevators take me up, up, up.

I pull a chair to the wide picture window. The fountains are ready to dance. I turn my TV to the station synched with the water show.

Sinatra starts in with "Luck Be a Lady." Somehow, I think he is singing about me. In Vegas, the night is eternally young, and I still have Michael Mina before I sleep.

The Bellagio is in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip and boasts 3,933 rooms, including 514 suites, and a 116,000-square-foot casino. You'll also find restaurants, including one of the most popular buffets in town, which offers mounds and mounds of snow crab legs, a spa and gym, a bevy of designer shops and lots of places for cocktails, including five pools with cabana rental.

The resident show is Cirque du Soleil's "O," which takes the troupe's aerial stunts into the water. For more information or to make reservations, call toll-free 1-888-987-6667 or go to bellagio.com.


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