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Why Vegas?

Marvin R. Shanken, Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Vegas, Mar/Apr 2006

We don't devote the magazine to a single topic very often.

We once covered London comprehensively; that made sense, because it is a man's town. But why Vegas? It's pretty simple: if you are a cigar lover, a food lover, a golf lover, a gambling lover, a good-life lover, and you haven't been to Vegas, something's wrong.

And don't say, "Oh, I was there years ago, and I'm never going back." Forget that. Las Vegas has transformed itself, yet again, into one of the most exciting adult playgrounds in the world. It's not just about gambling anymore, although you can still do that to your heart's content 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But there was a time when that's all you could do in Vegas.

Not anymore.

It's easy to argue, for instance, that Vegas may have more talented chefs cooking in great restaurants in a smaller area than any other city on Earth. Daniel Boulud of New York's Daniel opened his doors at Wynn. Joël Robuchon, one of France's greatest three-star chefs, has recently begun cooking at MGM. Paul Bartolotta, Michael Mina, Charlie Palmer and Alex Stratta all have great restaurants there. On our last visit to Vegas, we had two of the best meals we've ever tasted, at Robuchon and Bartolotta.

You can also walk the fairways of some of the finest modern golf course designers working today. Shadow Creek, a Tom Fazio design, has frequently been cited as a Top 10 course in the country. Fazio's new Wynn Resort course is a challenging and spectacular creation. Reflection Bay is one of Jack Nicklaus's best designs. Southern Highlands is a collaborative masterpiece between Robert Trent Jones senior and junior. And that's even before you mention Cascata, which is touted as one of Rees Jones's best designs ever and perhaps the best course within a hundred miles of the city.

There are almost no words to adequately describe the hotels and casinos in Las Vegas either. As some of the largest lodgings in the world, the luxury and quality built into the best ones is astounding. Walk through the lobby of the Bellagio; you can't help but appreciate the marble and the aesthetic marvels. Or check out The Venetian's Grand Canal Shoppes, or the hotel's large suites that it offers as standard rooms. And Wynn epitomizes what can be done at the crossroads of sumptuous luxury and modern amenities.

Up for all-night dancing? The newest fad in Vegas are the mega-clubs, places where you go to be seen, along with two or three thousand other people. When you walk up to the front door of Pure, there are easily 500 people waiting in line to get in.

But the biggest evolution today in Las Vegas is the advent of dozens of high-priced condominium developments, many aimed at retiring baby boomers looking for a second home. Like their hotel counterparts, the condos are luxurious, and many share the same views of the Strip.

In short, we've devoted an entire issue to Las Vegas because it is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Whether you already love it, or you profess to hate it, we recommend a visit in the near future. You could try out the Wine Spectator's Grand Tour event there in April, or come to the Las Vegas Big Smoke in November. For more details, check out www.winespectator.com or www.cigaraficionado.com. We hope to see you there.

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