Since the Spa Tower opened at the Bellagio in 2005, the property seems to have paused for a breather. Sure, it's added the Adam Tihany-designed Club Prive, a high-limit gambling lounge that spotlights unbelievably rare spirits and world-class cigars. Granted, it's redone the poker room, and all the suites in the original tower will start getting a makeover by the end of 2007. And yes, there are more Picassos coming to the fine art gallery in 2008. Otherwise, though, why tamper with a winning formula?
The Bellagio continues to evoke a supersized, all-American Italian villa, complete with an eight-acre lake fronting the Strip, a lush garden conservatory that changes with the holidays and an elegant pool area that's been reimagined as a formal Italian garden. And it remains the archetypal playground for the well-heeled adult, with high-minded, grown-up entertainment in the form of posh restaurants, a tiny but tony promenade of boutiques, and Cirque du Soleil's most sophisticated show. The expanded spa in the Spa Tower features a salon, a fitness centre and even a one-chair barbershop; it's a lavish perk available only to guests, as is access to the renowned Shadow Creek golf course. But the most eye-catching attraction is the signature fountain, which, in the afternoons and evenings, shoots water into the air to a variety of different soundtracks. The sidewalk on the Strip in front of the hotel offers superb views, as do the Bellagio's lakefront restaurants and bars.
Bellagio's 3,933 rooms are large and beautifully furnished. The beds all have Serta mattresses, and the spacious, marble-floored bathrooms come with deep-soaking tubs and private-label amenities. Flat-screen TVs (27-inchers), electronic drapes and well-stocked minibars are standard. The Presidential suites atop the Spa Tower are ultra-modern; and the nine luxury villas, outfitted with gold fixtures, Lalique crystal accents, butler service, gyms, steam rooms, kitchens and private pools, are open to anyone willing to fork out $6,000 a night. The hotel's TV network simulcasts the fountain show music, so you can listen in your room as you watch the water.
Eating & drinking
The Bellagio has Vegas's best collection of superstar chefs under one roof. The roster starts with Julian Serrano's French/Mediterranean Picasso, decorated with paintings by the eponymous artist. Lovers of steak head for Prime, Jean-Georges Vongerichten's superior chophouse, while those after seafood seek out Michael Mina. For Italian, try Todd English's Olives or the circus-themed Osteria del Circo; the latter is overseen by Manhattan restauranteur Sirio Maccioni, who also owns the more formal Le Cirque next door. In the Spa Tower, you'll find the serene Sensi, in which Martin Heierling serves Asian, Italian, grilled and seafood delicacies, and Pâtisserie Jean-Philippe, where a tri-coloured chocolate fountain (milk, white and dark) hints at the sweet sensations held within. The glitterati enjoy the upscale comfort food at Fix, while those looking for casual fare can check out the 24-hour Café Bellagio. The best drinks are served at Petrossian, named several times as one of America's best hotel bars by the hospitality industry's Santé Magazine.
A cast of dancers, musicians, clowns, acrobats, divers, swimmers and aerialists takes to the watery stage in O, a breathtaking spectacle from Cirque du Soleil. Catch cover bands at the Fontana Bar, a lounge with great cocktails and superb fountain views. For late-night fun, check out the pretty crowds sipping pricey martinis at Caramel.
The Bellagio's casino draws celebs such as Ben Affleck and Drew Barrymore, but its ostentatious luxury verges on vulgar: the upholstery, carpets and striped canopies are a clash of colours and patterns. As you might expect, table limits are higher than at most Strip properties: minimums are often $25-$50 and it's difficult to find even $10 blackjack. Still, the race and sports book is one of the most comfortable in town, and the poker room has replaced Binion's as the mecca for pros, sharks and big-time players.