For some, Las Vegas is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, while for others, she’s a wide-open book. The difference? You just have to know the right people and ask the right questions. We did.
1. Don’t cab it—take a limo.
It’s a lot cheaper than you think to upgrade from a sweaty taxicab with cramped legroom to a ride that befits your Vegas vacation. And you don’t need to call ahead. “All of the major casinos have limo companies that contract with them to provide service,” says Al Farnsworth of Exclusive VIP Transportation. He has been a limo driver in Las Vegas for more than a decade and knows that there is value in skipping the cab line and making a beeline for the front entrance, where the limos for hire are staged. “Any person or group can talk to the doorman and he will walk them over and get them into a limo,” Farnsworth says. For example, you can get a one-way trip on the Strip for six to 10 people in a standard limo for $75 to $90. You can also fit five in a sedan for $35 to $45, up to seven in an SUV for $45 to $60, 15 to 20 in a party bus for $100 to $120 and 20 to 30 in an SUV or Hummer limo for $125 to $180. Regardless of which style you want to arrive in, booking a limo for you and your friends is the way to go in Sin City.
2. Restaurants hold tables for VIPs. Here’s how to get one.
No, no one is sitting there and no, you can’t either. It’s true that some restaurants keep one prized table reserved should the owner, president (of the hotel or POTUS) or a celebrity suddenly appear at the door. Las Vegas restaurant general manager Sam Berkley (of Samba Steakhouse in The Mirage) comes from both a political as well as a hospitality family — his mom is Shelley Berkley (former Nevada Congresswoman) and his grandfather was Copa Room maître d’ George Levine. So per grandpa George’s advice, Berkley always keeps a table open for friends and family. “There aren’t many things a person can do at the front of a sold-out restaurant that would magically procure a table outside of dropping the name of a close acquaintance that I know personally,” says Berkley. But he does note that Seven Stars members (the highest tier in Caesars’ Total Rewards program) are guaranteed a table in any restaurant in the Caesars Entertainment pantheon, and similarly, Noir players (the highest in the M life program) get the same treatment anywhere in the MGM Resorts International portfolio. Just remember that high-limit slots have the best odds and never stay on 16 when the dealer is showing a 10.
3. The DJ will take your request now.
As much as you want to hear Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” the DJ does not want to play it for you. But when you book certain VIP bottle packages (like the $10,000 bundle at Mandalay Bay’s Light Nightclub), you get to specify the song to which your bottle parade or birthday cake rolls in. So Mr. DJ will just have to hold his tongue if you want to send out “Dear Future Husband” to that sweet young thing from across the way. Just this once.
4. The sommelier is your friend.
He’s tall, dashing and he can pronounce French, German and Spanish wine terminology that would make your eyes cross. He’s the sommelier, and he’s your new BFF. Still think he’s just a snob in a slim-fit suit? While the waiter has the keys to the night’s specials, the somm holds the keys to the vino — infinitely more powerful. You just have to help him to help you find the gems buried deep in that wine bible they thunked down on the table when you arrived. “In terms of finding exceptional value in wine, I’d recommend looking to lesser-known wine styles and regions,” says Kirk Peterson, beverage director for B&B Hospitality Group Las Vegas. He routinely prices the menu at eateries such as Carnevino and Forbes Travel Guide Recommended B&B Ristorante in Four-Star The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and knows that some wines deliver a better quality-to-price ratio. “For sparkling wine, look for franciacorta over champagne. For a crisp and cost effective white wine, I’d go with Oregon pinot gris. For lighter reds, it’s difficult to beat Cru Beaujolais or Rosso di Montalcino,” Peterson says. “And for heavier red wines, there is still a tremendous amount of value to be found in Argentinian malbec. As far as wine regions that offer exceptional value, look toward the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, Southern Italy and South America.”
5. Many hotels offer packages just for the guys.
Ladies may get whisked away to a VIP table the moment they walk in the club, but it can be a bit more difficult for gentlemen. It’s the hotel that’s usually more interested in attracting the guys’ attention. When booking rooms, ask if the resort offers any package deals. The Venetian offers a Gentleman’s Choice spa package where you score two nights in a luxury suite, a massage and straight-razor shave (100 minutes), lunch and more.
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