© Barbara Kraft

The king of the Strip, who just added Encore to his portfolio of high-end casino hotels, tells T+L about his favorite places around the city—and beyond.

June 02, 2009

Glass Action

“The model for Encore (suites from $289) is the south of France: St.-Tropez, Club 55. Places that have a wonderful indoor-outdoor integration. The east and west walls of the casino are almost three hundred feet of glass, looking onto gardens and pools. It’s uplifting because of the natural light. The glass walls are a total departure from any other gambling hall. And we have a restaurant in Encore called Switch. You hear a musical cue, and the wall descends. Up comes a glass wall, and the roof accordions open. Then twenty minutes later the glass walls go back down into the floor and the room is open to the garden. That’s the kind of thing that says, ‘You’re in Las Vegas, kiddo. You’re here to live large and have fun—here it is.’”

Revisiting the Classics

“People are nostalgic about the old-school Vegas vibe—but the real old-school Vegas was downtrodden, run-down. Still, parts of this city have real historical relevance. The old Mormon Fort is worth a visit.”

Get Out of Town

“Just west of the city, Red Rock Canyon is stunning, unbelievably beautiful. People go there for bicycle rides and hikes. And the Valley of Fire is only forty miles away. These are spectacular places that we locals use. Red Rock Canyon is closer to the hotels than Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam—you can ride your bike from town.”

Top Tables

“When I want to knock it out of the park in terms of food, I go to Alex (dinner for two $330), Alessandro Stratta’s restaurant [in Wynn Las Vegas]. But this is a town with Guy Savoy (dinner for two $350) at Caesars and Joël Robuchon (dinner for two $250) at MGM. Those, plus Picasso (dinner for two $226) at the Bellagio, compare to anything in France or New York.”

Mormon Fort

The first non-native permanent settlement in the Valley, the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort was established by Mormon missionaries in 1855. Located downtown off Washington Avenue, the remains of the 150-square-foot adobe fort are now part of a state historic site, which also features a full reconstruction of the building, interpretive displays, and a visitor center with a short film and exhibits on the history of the fort. Special events include occasional Soldiers of the Fort demos, Settlement Day in June, and Pioneer Christmas in December. Admission is $1 for adults and free for children 12 and under.

Valley of Fire State Park

Walk the red sandstone formations. Nevada’s oldest state park is made up of some 35,000-odd acres of petroglyphs and dramatic rock formations. Look for Arch Rock, Piano Rock, and the Three Sisters, whose recognizable forms have been the backdrop for many a western movie.

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