Colossal in size, The Venetian is an Old World-style creation in modern day Vegas. The granddaddy of luxury brand themed resorts, it's got everything from gondolas to some of the hippest places to shop, dine and party.
Over-the-top Italian elegance, abounding amore, luxury and service reign supreme
Ah Venice! In The Venetian you'll spot replicas of the Doge's Palace, Campanile Tower and Rialto Bridge. Arched bridges, piazzas and cobblestone pathways are also peppered throughout the property. And when you check in, be sure to look up. The ceilings of the porte cochere, lobby and Great Hall could give the Sistine Chapel an inferiority complex (OK, so that's an overstatement but these ceilings are extraordinary).
At The Venetian, the world is at your belly. You can eat like a paesano at restaurants operated by Mario Batali, Buddy Valastro and Wolfgang Puck -- and drink like one too because wine is plentiful. Or savor other cuisines including French favorites by Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller as well seafood by Tom Moloney and steaks by Emeril Lagasse.
All of the rooms in The Venetian are suites. The smallest one measures 650 square feet. That's nearly twice as big as a typical hotel room. By the end of this summer all of them will have undergone a complete renovation getting fresh paint, new wall coverings, new carpeting...the whole shebang. Our fave things about The Venetian's suites: the foyers (we just love saying that word), sunken living rooms and marble bathrooms with large Roman tubs (the true thrones of emperors).
So remember those sunken living rooms? Warning: Be careful with the steps. Although there are only two of them and they're lit at night, you still might have a hard time navigating them when you stumble into your suite drunk at 3 a.m.
If you've driven to Vegas and have lots of luggage with you, use the resort's valet parking service. The self-parking garage is located at the back of the resort and in order to get to the front desk, you'll have to make the kind of journey that would discourage Marco Polo. After you've checked in, if you're a devotee of self parking, use the garage at The Palazzo for the remainder of your stay. It's easier to access off Spring Mountain Road instead of from the busy intersection off the Strip or through the congested maze of back streets off Koval Lane.
Although the plaza in front of The Venetian is beautiful, reminiscent of St. Mark's Square and the Doge's Palace, pay attention to vehicles coming into and out of the resort via the Strip. And be sure to heed the traffic signals. If you walk when there's a solid red hand showing, you're putting your life in jeopardy. We're not kidding.
The Venetian's pool deck is a little too "deck-y," if you get what we mean. You know, lots of hard surfaces and chairs. There's not a lot of vegetation until you get over to The Palazzo's pools. The two decks are connected, and that's great because it means you'll have plenty of choices on where to spread your towel and catch some rays.
Speaking of The Venetian's "spread out-ness," if you want to bypass the casino to get to the Grand Canal Shoppes, you can enter right off Las Vegas Boulevard. There's access through a hallway that passes by the Rockhouse bar, Buddy V's and Carlo's Bakery, where you should stop and get a pastry. (Suggestion: In order to avoid the perpetual line that forms outside Carlo's Bakery, go right when it opens.)
At the central hub of the Grand Canal Shoppes, look for a small stage surrounded by park-like benches. Here you'll see living statues, a troupe of wandering musicians and other whimsical entertainment -- and it's all free. One of our favorite things to do is order a scoop from the Cocolini gelato stand to eat by the stage or beside the canal where you can watch gondolas cruise by.
Now there are more outstanding restaurants in The Venetian than fingers on our hands, but we're singling out Bouchon because you might not see it while wandering around the casino floor. It's located in the resort's exclusive Venezia Tower. You'll have to take the elevator near the front desk to the 10th floor. When you get off, you'll see an opulent lobby in one direction and Bouchon's little known entrance in the other. Ask to be seated on the patio (our choice because of the garden setting) and savor the classic French bistro dishes.