Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas

From my last blog post, twitter, or instagram, you've probably noticed that I went to Las Vegas last week for a summer trip per son's request.  He had a few things on his Must-Do List, which included the Lazy River and Wave Pool at Mandalay Bay Hotel.  I've stayed at both Mandalay Bay, and the connecting theHotel, but have never had a chance to stay at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas before.  My hotel of choice has normally been Encore or Bellagio, with my last couple of stays being at the new City Center, which include both Aria and Cosmopolitan Hotel.  Even though I knew this was a kid-centric trip, there were just some things that I did not want to compromise on, namely the quality of my suite or the service from the hotel.  Mandalay Bay was NOT going to cut it for me if I had to run around like a crazy person making Las Vegas a "fun, kid appropriate" trip for my son.  I'd need good old fashioned pampering as soon as I returned from whatever (exhausting) adventure I went on that day.

Driveway of the Four Seasons Hotel
*photo via hotel website

 The Four Seasons Hotel had a great online special, offering $100 in hotel credit if you book more than two nights.  I always checked online for specials, then call the hotel reservation line directly to book, just in case there are mutually exclusive specials available on one but not the other.  (Surprisingly, many hotels don't charge the same online pricing as quoted by phone, although most will honor the lower price available on the web.  Always ask; you'll be surprised with how often they'll try and accommodate you.)
We had planned on arriving a certain day, but decided last minute to go a day early, making it an adventurous car trip.  The boys had hoped to stay at a smaller hotel by the California/Nevada border.  We stopped at the Gold Strike Hotel late at night, and walked in with our overnight bag.  Unfortunately, the cigarette smell made the hubby just about faint as we were walking through the lobby/casino, so we immediately turned around and got back into our car. 

Can't believe hubby wanted to leave because of the smell!
And everyone says *I'm* the "Princess"! lol

I called the Four Season Hotel and explained our situation (at close to midnight by then).  Although they were fairly booked, they managed to find us a room to check into that night.  Yay!  I was starting to get nervous about sleeping in the car or something by then...

We checked in to a lovely serene lobby, that was a world away from the typical noisy smokey Las Vegas casino entrance.  Soft music, fresh flowers, and plush couches awaited us at arrival.  We easily checked into our room, and headed straight to the pool the next morning.  While navigating the crowded waters of the Wave Pool and Lazy River at the connecting Mandalay Bay Pools, the hotel moved our belongings over to the suite we had originally booked.  It was spacious and the view was grand.  The decor is the typical Four Season style of classic Mediterranean, although I've heard that they are at present remodeling their rooms to an Art Deco chic, to be fully completed mid-December.   I can't wait to see these remodeled rooms in person, as these photos look amazing! 

*photo via hotel website

Utterly in love with the couch and desk chairs! Sooo fab 
*photo via hotel website

One of the things I really appreciated about the Four Seasons Hotel was the access to the Mandalay Bay Pools.  I had initially thought I'd get a cabana and stay near the Wave Pool, but the prices were beyond ridiculous for what they were (a couple of chairs with what looked like a pop up tent. Uhhh no thank you.  I especially did not appreciate the fluctuating prices of the cabanas and lounge chairs; I'm still amazed that they have the audacity to charge $50 per pool umbrella!)  

Leaving the hubby on kid watch, I ran back to the safe haven of the Four Seasons pool, where chaise loungers, cabanas, towels, sunscreen, etc were all free.  There was a quiet oasis from the screaming and jostling of the other pools.  The only sound I heard was the pool attendant asking me how my mimosa was.  Perfection.

View of the Mandalay Bay/Four Seasons tower from the pool

Comfy beds strategically placed around the pool for naps

Boys headed to Mandalay Bay, Me headed to heaven aka Four Seasons pool

The only thing I had to do that day was to enjoy my delicious Shrimp Tacos at the Verandah Restaurant, located adjacent to the pool.  The shrimp was fresh and flavorful, and the portions were quite large. The Verandah Restaurant was actually one of the areas of the hotel that I was most impressed by.  The decor was minimal, contemporary, and stylish, but the best thing about it was the service.  They were prompt, knowledgeable, and were one of the few staff members that remembered me and my signature drink.  It's always a pleasure when they start shaking your Hendricks martini as soon as you walk in. 

From the bar area of the Verandah restaurant

Yummy Shrimp Tacos with a side of coleslaw
Pasta in a Jar
One of the yummier (and unique) dishes I had for dinner at the Verandah was the Pasta in a Jar.  It was homemade pasta a bit larger than an orchiette, called La Pasta Cotta Nel Vaso – Artichoke Pasta Cooked in a Jar, with Scallops, Calamari, Langoustine, Shrimp, Tomato and Basil.  It was surprisingly fun and tasty, and I thought it would be a neat dish to try and recreate for an informal dinner party at home. 
We had a couple more casual dinners at Mandalay Bay.  They had a little strip of restaurants and shops, which included Lush, Urban Outfitters, Ron John Surf Shop, Starbucks, Hussong's Cantina, Slice of Vegas Pizza, and the Burger Bar by Hubert Keller.
The kids begged to go to the pizza shop, so that was quite a big difference from the caliber of Verandah from the night before.  The service was good, the pizzas were large, and there were a variety of choices.  Would I go back??  No.  It wasn't good enough to warrant a second trip.  If I want pizza in the future, I'd probably just go to the hidden pizza place at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, where food would be better and the prices more reasonable.

Is this pizza big enough for ya???  ;)

The Burger Bar was one of the places that I DID want to eat.  I've been a fan of Hubert Keller from ages ago at Fleur dy Lys in San Francisco, where Hubert would wander out after an evening of cooking and lounge at the bar chatting with us.  They would create such delicious personalized dinners for my hubby and I, that it was at least year before I realized that they even HAD menus.  I tried the Burger Bar when they first opened, but it felt like they had the typical "new restaurant stumbles", and I had not returned until this trip.

I ordered the basic Build-Your-Own-Burger, starting with a Black Angus patty on a potato bun, adding coleslaw, pepperjack cheese, chipotle aioli, and jalapenos, with a side of zucchini fries.  I also had the Irish Coffee milkshake, made with coffee ice cream, coffee liquor, Irish whiskey, caramel syrup, and whipped cream.  It was so yummy I drank it down before I remembered to take a picture.  It was a good meal, and I loved all the options available, from foie gras toppings, kobe patties, different bacons, veggies, and an assortment of condiments.  Prices aren't cheap, but it's what I think of as "Las Vegas Chef pricing".  I'd rather spend my money at restaurants tables than at the gambling tables, so it's money well spent for me!

As great as the Burger Bar milkshake was the night before, I wanted to have a nice quiet dinner the following night, so we ate at Charlie Palmer Steakhouse in the Four Seasons Hotel.  They had Nolet gin, which I adore with a lemon zest!  Service was great, as I highly appreciate when restaurants are accommodating and gracious to children.  I've often said that the way to most customer's hearts are through their children, and I am no exception.

Food was great, as you'd expect to find at any of the Charlie Palmer group of restaurants.  My favorite dishes were the Lobster Spaghettini I had for my appetizer, and one of the sides that was gobbled up by the whole group, the Lobster Fried Rice. 

Lobster Spaghettini

Deconstructed Caesar Salad

Lobster Fried Rice

Kid's Breakfast Room Service

One of the things I've continually admired about the Four Seasons Hotels are their Kid's Menus.  Any parent can tell you how much we despise restaurants or hotels that offer limited and unhealthy choices for Children's menus, as if what we feed our precious children is unimportant and mainly just an afterthought.  The Four Seasons Group consistently offers healthy menu items at very reasonable prices.  My son loved his room service breakfast every morning, and I loved having the peace of mind that he wasn't off eating a stale donut from some hotel coffee shop.  They also had great poolside menus for kids, and I thought it was so charming to see the boys having their meals on their pool loungers with linen service.  Kudos to FS for making healthy children's menus available.  
*In the spirit of complete disclosure, I do have to admit that service wasn't quite on par to the other Four Seasons Hotels I've stayed in.  One of the things that the Four Seasons staff normally does well is their customer service.  They're always quick to say hello or offer a smile, most times remembering your name.  This was one of the very few stays I've had, if not the only one, where the Four Seasons staff I've run across in the hallways, walkways, or pools, would more often than not, look away from me and not offer a greeting.  It threw me off, as one of the things that typically sets the Four Seasons Hotels apart from others is their gracious hospitality, which I found surprisingly lacking on this trip.  Perhaps it's the constant influx of tourists or that they're going through some sort of a turnover during their remodel???  I'm hoping the management will sort this out before my next trip in a couple months. 

All in all, the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas was a welcome change from the hustle of the typical Strip Hotel.  The serenity of the quiet lobby and pool, in addition to a stellar twitter ( @FSLasVegas )and facebook presence made the trip a pleasure.  It's not every day you're welcome to a hotel with such fun treats! 

I'm going to Las Vegas again in a couple of weeks for a Bachelorette Weekend, and I'm sure I'll be sorely missing the relaxation and calm of the Four Seasons Las Vegas.  That definitely won't be a kid-filled weekend!  But I'll be returning in November to stay here, and I'll be looking forward to some Four Seasons pampering again.  Until then...


Four Seasons Las Vegas Hotel

3960 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89119


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