Cool hotels are nothing new to Las Vegas. So if you're going to open one, especially when it's situated in the shadow of the mighty Wynn, you better pay attention to detail and shoot for the stars. In devising the Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino, which opened January 17, Sheldon Adelson and his staff have done just that. The challenge of stepping up is particularly acute when you consider that this new operation is literally attached to The Venetian, Adelson's über-successful flagship.
A big advantage here is that the Palazzo gets some guilt by association with the Venetian's star-studded tenants. Hence, next month the new hotel will have its own Canyon Ranch spa, a Davidoff cigar kiosk is stocked and gloriously in operation here, and celebrity restaurateurs Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse needed no convincing to sign up.
Beyond all that, the Palazzo introduces a few elite outlets of its own: a branch of Barney's New York, a fabulous sports bar in the form of rap impresario Jay-Z's 40/40 (complete with a ventilated cigar lounge, sadly a rarity in this town) and Woo, a terrific French-influenced Chinese restaurant that relocated from the west side of town to the Palazzo at the suggestion of property president Rob Goldstein (he's a regular there, as am I, when I'm in town). If you happen to dine at Morels, a bistro-style steak house that is new to Vegas, be sure to sit near a window so that you can watch the fireworks across the Strip at Treasure Island.
The Palazzo's casino is as posh and cushy as you'd expect it to be if you've ever played at The Venetian. Seats are comfortable, tables are roomy, dealers are top-notch. Blackjack limits go as low as $25 during the day and rise as high as $10,000. My only beef is that the casino floor has no six-deck-shoe games, which is what I prefer to play.
Overall, the vibe is terrific and the crowd is classy. All this is nice, but what about the rooms? The Venetian was famous for having the largest standard rooms in Vegas. Palazzo's digs, clocking in at 720 square feet, outdo those of its big brother by 20 square feet. Like at the Venetian, the rooms are set up as suites, with sunken living rooms, and the decor here is slightly more modern. You get a pair of high-definition flat-screen TVs, amenities that are worth taking home (I love the Agraria lemon verbena bath gel and shampoo) and the perfect room safe: it's a drawer that easily accommodates a laptop computer and has an outlet for recharging batteries.
Cigar lovers will definitely flock to the Davidoff kiosk with its supply of Fuente Fuente OpusXs, Padron 1964 Anniversaries and Davidoff Millennium Blends. Most exciting, though, and just across from Davidoff, is the first S.T. Dupont outlet in the United States. The selection of fine lighters, leather goods and pens is elegant and alluring. But the true standout -- which makes the leap from cool accoutrement to work of art -- is the New York Fifth Avenue collection: a Ligne 2 lighter and an Olympio X-Large fountain pen. They're both adorned with diamonds, decorated with solid white-gold arabesques, and designed in a style that evokes high-end New York in the 1930s and '40s. Only 20 of each have been produced -- Dupont at the Palazzo has one apiece -- and they'll make perfect souvenirs for anyone who hits it big (OK, really big) at the tables.