Brendon Bailey is a bon vivant with the mind of an engineer, the soul of an artist and the tongue of a velociraptor (just kidding, not really). Born in Mandeville, Jamaica (West Indies) he grew up and currently resides in the Houston, TX (USA) area. He is a lover of music, film, television and fine foods.
While Las Vegas built its reputation as a destination for gaming, in recent times, it has become a popular location for business conventions and fine dining. Being the foodie that I am, I went to Vegas for the first time 5 years ago, and since then it’s become a home away from home.
When I first visited Las Vegas in 2011, I lucked into a package deal from SOUTHWEST VACATIONS (a partner of SOUTHWEST AIRLINES) to stay at the ENCORE AT WYNN LAS VEGAS. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this hotel is considered one of the world’s finest hotels. My package deal included: 3 nights, plus a round trip flight at a bargain price of $650. It should be noted that $650 won’t pay for 3 nights at a true five-star hotel in most other major cities. After falling in love with Five-Star Vegas, it’s been my mission to experience all the other major luxury hotels. I traveled once again to Las Vegas in January 2016 for my birthday and to treat myself.
THE COSMO HOTEL, RESTAURANTS AND REJUVENATION
Having stayed at ENCORE, ARIA, VDARA, BELLAGIO, MANDARIN ORIENTAL and DELANO (all 4 or 5-star properties in Vegas), I decided to try THE COSMOPOLITAN LAS VEGAS (“Cosmo”). I had my eyes on COSMO from as far back as 2011, but I had always found better deals at other properties. Cosmo has the distinction of having quick access to the Strip (sidenote: objects are further than they appear on the Strip. Many of the hotels have significant walking distance between the street and the actual hotel entrance. This is important to remember if you plan to do a lot of exploring on foot).
I booked the basic “CITY ROOM” at Cosmo, but as I was checking in, I informed them that I was in town for my birthday and inquired if there were any complimentary upgrades available (TIP: Whenever you check into a hotel, you can always ask if there’s an upgrade available. The worst they can tell you is NO). I also sweetened the “deal” by sticking a crisp $50 bill in between my ID and credit card (you can view this as a tip for good service). I got upgraded to a fabulous WRAPAROUND TERRACE SUITE. The wraparound terrace suite is a 1200 sq. ft. 1-bedroom unit with a large continuous balcony on two sides of the room. My unit had a kitchen (complete with working oven), 1.75 bathrooms (a .75 bathroom is like a powder room with a shower), large living room, dining nook, full bathroom with walk-in shower and deep soaking tub and gorgeous views of the South Strip and the Bellagio and Caesars Palace hotels. It was the nicest room I’ve ever stayed in “SIN CITY”, and to think I was able to get one due to my birthday, the $50 tip and the fact that a major convention had just left town! There was a lot of availability. If you go to Vegas for a special occasion, be sure to mention it to hotel staff. The nicest hotels will offer various freebies, ranging from free champagne/roses all the way up to room upgrades.
Vegas has become a popular destination for fine dining from some of the world’s best chefs, including many celebrity chefs that have appeared on THE FOOD NETWORK and BRAVO channel. The first time I visited Vegas I had lunch at one of Emeril Lagasse’s (famous celebrity chef) restaurants and it was amazing. Each time I come to Sin City, I always make reservations to have at least one fantastic meal at one of these amazing restaurants. Cosmo is no slouch when it comes to restaurants. In addition to housing several fine restaurants, it also features one of the best buffets on the Strip, WICKED SPOON. WICKED SPOON serves an array of dishes inspired by various cuisines from all over the world. I’ve had everything from spicy mac & cheese to pizza to cocktail shrimp to beef bone marrow (and it was all good). In addition to enjoying lunch at the buffet, I also had fantastic meals at other Cosmo restaurants, including THE HENRY.
The HENRY is a 24-hour café featuring American comfort foods and all-day breakfast. CHINA POBLANO NOODLES & TACOS, is a fusion restaurant that features a diverse menu of tacos and pan-Asian dishes, including noodles and dim sum. Another great restaurant is SCARPETTA, an upscale Italian restaurant by Scott Conant (who regularly appears on Food Network’s CHOPPED as the judge who hates raw, red onions). At SCARPETTA, I enjoyed bacon-wrapped prawns with lentils sautéed in rosemary-infused chili oil, veal and foie-gras ravioli, a berry cocktail, and a cheesecake dessert featuring ginger-flavored gelato (a rich, Italian ice cream).
The last few times I’ve been to Vegas, I booked some time at a spa, and this time was no exception. Most of the hotels on the Strip feature world class spas that have a variety of pampering treatments for the face, body and limbs. Cosmo features the SAHRA SPA & HAMMAM. On my last full day, I booked three treatments as part of a package: a hammam bath, a full body massage and a facial. HAMMAM is a Turkish bath, and the Cosmo’s HAMMAM follows the Islamic tradition in which the body is bathed with warm water collected in pans from a fountain. At first, I was scrubbed down with an exfoliating soap and then rinsed with very warm water in an alternating series of huge splashes and gentle cascades.
Then I sat in one of the steamiest rooms I’ve ever been. The steam came in waves and got so thick I could barely see in front of me. It was wonderful therapy for my nose, throat and pores. After this relaxing treatment, I had a full body massage which relieved the tension in my upper/lower back and legs. Following the massage, I had the essential facial where I was given steam, a light exfoliating scrub, blackhead extractions and a gentle massage of my scalp.
Most hotels charge a daily use fee (usually in the $30-$50 range) for use of the spa facilities, but this fee is waived if you book a treatment and you have access to the spa for the entire day. I strongly recommend that if you book a treatment, get there early, so you can enjoy all the spa facilities (hot tubs, plunge pools, dry sauna, steam rooms, cold mist rooms, etc.) before your appointment. Some spa amenities (such as the steam room) are not recommended after having a facial. Because most spa treatments are detoxifying, I also suggest that you drink plenty of water that day. (Gentlemen, do not SHAVE your face before going to the spa if you’re getting a facial).
Vegas is home to various types of shows: Cirque du Soleil, headliners, comedy shows, magic shows, concerts, Improv, strip shows etc. I usually enjoy at least one show and this time I chose to see Celine Dion at CAESARS PALACE. Celine has a residency at CAESARS PALACE and her show is widely regarded as a must see.
She’d taken a break to tend to her ailing husband, but had returned better than ever (at the time of this writing, Celine Dion’s husband, Rene Angelil, has since passed). Her voice was in fine form and she sang many of her hits as well as classics, such as SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW.
Las Vegas has become a home-away-from-home for me and I think I’ll always get in a visit here and there when I can. I usually go to live like a king for a few days, so that means fancy hotels, fine dining and serious QT at a day spa.
**I want to say special thank you to guest commentator, Brendon Bailey for blessing Health Wellness Lifestyle TV with his take on Las Vegas. So many people think of “Sin City” as a gamblers paradise only. After reading how he spent his birthday this month (January 2016) in Vegas, you can see that it’s a city bustling with luxury, relaxation, sophisticated entertainment and fine dining for the most discriminating traveler to the laid-back tourist. I can't wait to visit soon.
Comment on the Facebook page and let me know. Will you visit Vegas now? Have you ever been to Vegas? Did you know this city had so much to offer? Ciao! -Andrea