There is absolutely no denying it. Las Vegas is located in the middle of the desert. The summer weather report is fairly predictable: heat, heat and more heat. As the thermometer creeps higher and higher, tourists look for ways to cool down. Air conditioning is one way. But a dip in a pool is much sexier.
How about taking it one step further? How about hitting the beach?
"But a beach in the middle of the desert?" you ask. "Has the excessive heat fried your brain?"
No, it isn't crazy talk. This is Las Vegas. With a sphinx, the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, all on the same street, is it really that hard to believe we have beaches?
One such beach, Mandalay Beach, sits on 11 acres of prime real estate at the center of the Mandalay Bay property. Surrounded by palm trees, fountains and waterfalls, the temperature actually seems to drop inside this pool complex, which is more of a water park than a swimming hole. There are eight pools altogether, including a wave pool with a real sand beach, an adults-only pool and some more traditional pools. There is even a lazy river with a 3 mph current, a beachside casino, a retail shop, restaurants and bars.
"We can accommodate anything," said Geoff Smith, director of pool operations at Mandalay Bay, "whether it's hanging out on the beach with your family or a party scene with no kids."
A rental center at the entrance to the pool area offers access to inner tubes, rafts and more than 100 cabanas and gazebos, all at varying prices. Once inside, about 1,200 chaise lounges and 400 chairs -- including some reserved seating -- will sweep sunbathers off their feet, while free-standing shower heads make it easy for beachgoers to wash the sand off theirs.
The Moorea Beach Club offers a place for adults to escape from the kids with an adult-only area located in an enclave off the second floor of the pool area's beach tower.
On the third floor, another adults-only area, Villa Soleil, offers key-card access to yet another private pool for the "crème de la crème" of pool goers, said Smith. The cabanas open on two sides, offering views of the private pool or the greater pool area. Each has its own restroom, private safe, flat screen television, ceiling fan, wet bar and food-server. The largest cabana includes surround sound, eight flat screen televisions and (since no Vegas trip is complete without it) a stripper pole. Guests can even get married there.
At the three-story glass-fronted beachside casino, dealers dress for a day in the sun and beach attire is strongly encouraged. This means you can gamble bare bellied and barefoot while pushing against a bikini-clad dealer (by pushing, we're talking about a tie hand, and by tie hand we're talking about blackjack).
The pool area also doubles as an ideal outdoor concert environment with a massive stage jutting out of the wave pool. Concert goers can watch popular music acts from the water or a blanket on the sand.
And yes, it's the soft kind of sand that you use to build sand castles and make sand angels. Not the kind of sand you'd expect to find in the desert.
-- Review By Aleza Freeman