This is what I learned in Vegas. From space travel to Bhutan to river cruising, all the luxury travel trends that came out of the conference. That's Francis Ford Coppola speaking below, who played a starring role in Virtuoso Travel Week and in my Forbes piece. Loved hearing him talk!
I loved the remake of Ocean's 11 when it came out in 2001. I loved that every minute was entertaining and it kept everyone guessing and along for the ride, and it showed Clooney, Damon, and Pitt at their best. But that last scene with Claire de Lune swooning in the background, the Bellagio fountains going off, and each man leaving one by one was pure movie magic. And hotel magic! Of course, it made me want to go to The Bellagio.
Last week, I spent four nights there and was seriously impressed, from the minute their limo picked me up at the airport. I was there for their biggest conference of the year, Virtuoso Travel Week (check out Stacy Small's list of cool things she learned-insider hotel updates!), and they call it their "Olympics." On the first day, they laid out a red carpet for all 4,000 of us and had Bellagio staff cheering as we made our way to the opening cocktail party.
I would need an entire book to show all the corners of The Bellagio in Vegas. I stayed in the casino tower with a view of the Strip, which I think is necessary. All other views in Vegas are mildly depressing, especially during the day. Best of all, I had a front row view to the Bellagio fountains going off each evening. Yes I did play Claire de Lune one night. Movie magic.
All 928 of the spa tower rooms and suites are being renovated as we speak to the tune of $40 million, and the 6,500-8,000 square-foot villas are killer.
I especially loved a sushi dinner at Yellowtail, my coffee meetings at Palio, the great fitness center where I managed to make an appearance every day of my trip (almost unheard of!), and the nightclub Hyde, which has a fantastic view of the fountains.
Almost every hotel lobby in Las Vegas can feel like Times Square. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people, gawking, taking photos, bumbling to the casinos, restaurants and shops. Not the Mandarin Oriental. For those looking for a moment of calm in the carnival, the Mandarin is a great choice in Vegas.
I am currently at the annual Virtuoso Travel Week, where 4,000 of the best luxury travel advisors, hotels, cruise lines, tour operators and more come together to meet, exchange updates and get revved up for the upcoming year. It is my first year here and I absolutely love it. I feel like I am with my people. I made sure to tour the Mandarin, though I'm staying at the Bellagio, where the conference is held. The hotel is an oasis, especially after ducking in from the 110 degree sizzling desert sun.
All of the spacious rooms and suites are typically Mandarin, that is gorgeous, zen and Asian-inspired. Many have views of the Strip, though I think Vegas views are only cool at night. In the day, it just looks slightly sad.
If you're not staying here, at least come to the 23rd floor main lobby for a drink or afternoon tea, where the Mandarin Bar and Tea Lounge are.
The Mandarin isn't for those wanting to be in the center of the Vegas action - there is no casino. But if you want to escape the action at night, stay here.
The presidential suite:
A typical suite: