Las Vegas would not be the city it is without action. On any given day “The Strip” – a multi-mile ribbon of steel and glass marvels encasing casinos and hotels, ripples with the vibrancy of humanity. Everywhere you turn there is something to stimulate your senses – be it the cast of characters that spend their days on Las Vegas Boulevard, to the many, many visitors that come here to escape to a place where their world and troubles are suspended, for just a little bit.
The enormity of Las Vegas and all it entails, with dozens of casinos, hotels, entertainment venues, restaurants, and other attractions (including golf courses), allow visitors to choose an alternate reality for the length of their stay.
Amid what can often feel overwhelming in its scope is another layer to this Nevada hotspot. When you look a little closer you really begin to see something else. Within the full scale of the sensory avalanche you’ll find that because of the range of offerings here, there is a sweet spot for each and every person. The endless choices allow you to carve out the experience you want – even one that seems contrary to the turbulence of life on a 24-hour clock.
I found it, and you can too.
For a half century Caesars Palace has greeted eager guests from around the world. Centrally located on the “Strip”, it is the focal point for many who come to enjoy it’s 4000 rooms and massive theatre with resident shows by the likes of Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, and Elton John. Life within its walls often feels like a moving hurricane – and unstoppable force with no off switch. In the eye of the storm, if you will, is Nobu Hotel.
At 181 rooms this Japanese themed retreat resides in the former Centurion tower and has a whole other identity in stark contrast with the furry of action in the complex around it. Just feet from Cleopatra’s Barge, a small club that winds up each night with a live band and an equally lively squad of revelers, an often-overlooked doorway brings you to the “lobby” of the Nobu Hotel. One small desk, 35 feet of hallways and three elevators whisks you immediately to a place with a Zen feeling. It is complete with Asian touches – dark, warm rooms where the world is easily left behind and you are safe to relax knowing you can slip in and out at will to soak up the Vegas surrounds and retreat back into serenity any time you want.
Guests at Nobu enjoy offerings like room service from the famed Nobu restaurant, including a breakfast only they have access to. Take one bite of their Green Tea waffle with bourbon infused maple syrup and you’ll immediately understand what makes this place different.
That goes as well when taking on in-restaurant dining. As one of just thirty-four Nobu restaurants in the world, the highly regarded culinary stop blends exceptional service with exquisite food offerings – many “off-menu” and created totally with the feedback and input of the diner. And if you really want isolation, a private chef table is available to keep out all distractions and maximize the enjoyment.
Carving your own Las Vegas path is the real delight on the Nevada oasis. Like Nobu provides, there are many other ways to chart a course of your own in Las Vegas, especially when it comes to dining, entertainment, and even your golf.
On a recent trip I experience just that, mixing in golf courses that took me slightly away from town but still provided the top level of entertainment and service I would expect from a place where these traits are paramount.
With evenings and nights filled with the delights of Las Vegas, being able to change gears and find some peace on a golf course can be welcome. Places like Cascata, Paiute Resort, and Wolf Creek fit the bill perfectly.
When you see the setting for Cascata, found in the direction of the Hoover Dam, east of the city, you can’t help but be overwhelmed and relaxed at the same time. An enclave in the canyons laid out by Rees Jones, it provides endless material for golf stories you will tell for ages. From the opulent clubhouse where a feature is a river that runs through the lower level, to the wide expanses of the range where Mountain goats roam freely, Cascata is singular in what it offers. And that is before you hit the first tee.
On course, wide panoramas of the valley below perfectly accent a myriad of hole designs that climb up and down the canyon ridge. Each presents their own test, beauty, and provokes admiration. It’s a lot of fun and a place where one go-round hardly seems satisfactory. You’ll leave feeling jealous that your caddie or forecaddies gets to spend their days there.
Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort
Contrasting the privacy of Cascata, a Caesars’ property, is the public nature of Paiute Resort. It’s location and scale of facility make it stand out. Here, a twenty-five-minute desolate drove northwest of the Strip you might be surprised to find 54 Peter Dye designed golf holes. An intimidating mountain backdrop is constantly in sight.
While not heavily elevated, Dye managed to frame each hole with water and desert accents, and with flawless turf conditions you can play any of the courses and not feel as if you have missed out on anything.
For those wanting a stern test, take on the Wolf course which can play as long as 7,604 yards, the longest of any course in the state. It also boasts more elevation changes than the Sun Mountain and Snow Mountain designs and the 15th hole, a true island green par 3, is always memorable.
Wolf Creek Golf Club
As memorable as Cascata and Paiute Resort are, Wolf Creek Golf Club is in a league of its own. It takes slightly more than an hour to travel from Las Vegas to Wolf Creek, found literally on the Arizona/Nevada border, but the effort is rewarded.
You may have seen this course in video games but nothing compares to seeing it in person. With 18 holes tucked within barren cliff sides in secluded valleys, it equates to what your imagination might conjure about golf on the moon. It is one of those jaw-dropping locales that golf graces across the world. So dramatic is the landscape, that when the course was built around two decades ago, helicopters were required to fill the bunkers with sand.
If you have seen any of those calendars showing preposterous golf holes in unfathomable locations it will feel familiar. There are eighteen of them.
Stand on the back tee of the second hole, turn 360 degrees, and you’ll be awed by what lays a hundred feet below you and surrounding you. No exaggeration necessary. The sight of desert, elevated outcroppings, and emerald strips of fairways will leave you blinking and wondering if what you are seeing is real.
There are literally hundreds of world-class restaurants in Las Vegas, many of them found within the sprawling casino campuses.
No matter your tastes, and often no matter what time of day, you can indulge in favourites.
Besides Nobu mentioned earlier, consider a few other restaurants recently added to various other casinos.
Otto Pizzeria can be found in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. The bastion of Mario Batali & Joe Bastianich, this New York inspired spot offers Italian fare ranging from gourmet pizzas, to charcuterie plates and fresh pasta.
Over at Mandalay Bay, Libertine Social is the creation of James Beard Award-winning Chef Shawn McLain. It’s a playful gastropub with re-imagined favorites, exclusive culinary creations and the home to many custom cocktails.
Around the clock you can catch a meal at The Cosmopolitan. If you can steal yourself away from their now famous Chandelier Bar (open 24 hours a day) then make your way into the line (yes, always a line but worth it) at EggSlut. Their Bacon & Egg Sandwich takes the staple to whole new level with a fresh brioche bun, zesty chipotle ketchup and free-range eggs.
Not far away at the Cosmopolitan, Rose Rabbit Lie is a supper club in the grand tradition of years gone by with a modern touch. Dine on their signature dishes (Caviar Tacos and Beef Wellington among them) while being entertained by musical/theatrical acts.
Still looking for more unique amusements? Take in the raucous, slightly tawdry Absinthe show at Caesars Palace where you’ll laugh, be awed, and may even blush once or twice, but leave amazed and smiling.
To extend the fun, wander to the back of the MGM Grand Las Vegas and take a few sings at the biggest TopGolf in the world. Four floors of golf entertainment reside there, mixing in a party atmosphere, with the bright lights of Las Vegas right in front of you.
To finish it up, slip back to Caesars and tuck into the Montecristo Cigar Bar (Cigar not mandatory) for a signature Buffalo Trace Black Manhattan in their secluded “Vault Room”. The intimate setting insulates you from the amazing city around you, but comforts you in knowing that at any moment you can dip your toe back into the fervour that is Las Vegas.
It’s another example that, whatever your speed, Las Vegas can deliver what you’re looking for. That versatility is often under-appreciated but knowing it exists gives you an even greater appreciation for what the desert oasis can provide.
Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority
Nobu Hotel Caesars Palace
Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort
Wolf Creek Golf Club