Best Green Renovation
The new MEET Las Vegas is the kind of rehab Sin City could use more of: small-scale, smart renovations of buildings that help restore a piece of the urban fabric. In this case, it’s a downtown bank from the ’70s that was renovated and transformed into a sleek, high-tech boutique convention space. The 30,000-square-foot building, at Fourth and Bridger streets, has low-power LED lights outside, motion sensors to control lighting inside, and a cooling tower on the roof that cuts down on the energy needed to keep the building comfortable.
Best Fitness Center
The Student Recreation and Wellness Center at UNLV is packed with enough Rebel spirit to keep you and your workout motivated. But we also like the facility—freshly and fashionably built in 2007—for its state-of-the-art equipment and amenities. The center, which is located alongside the Thomas & Mack Center parking lot, is available not only to UNLV students but also Clark County residents. It features a large cardio center facing multiple television screens, a lap pool and spa, all kinds of weight machines, a 200-meter indoor running track, a four-court gym, and a café and juice bar. The center also offers an assortment of complimentary classes, from yoga to martial arts. Open daily, non-UNLV student membership fee $25 a month, 774-7100.
Best Place to Tie the Knot
Las Vegas may be the wedding destination of the world, but it’s also our home. And we locals want to celebrate our special day without the cheesy frills (leave that for the bachelor and bachelorette party!). Sitting atop the MacDonald Highland hills is the perfect spot: Dragon Ridge Country Club. It features a ballroom with panoramic views of the entire Valley, all-around natural elegance inside and out, gourmet food and an award-winning staff. There’s also an onsite wedding consultant who will help you with every detail along the way. Dragon Ridge was also voted 2010 Bride’s Choice from WeddingWire.com. dragonridgegolf.com, 614-4444.
Best Gym Alternative
Bored with all the trendy workouts? Get out of the gym and head to Sky Zone, where you can get a great full-body workout called SkyRobics that requires virtually no coordination. Burn up to 1,000 calories an hour by simply spazzing out on 65 connected trampolines that span 130 feet. The trampoline aerobics class is killer, the dodgeball games are rowdy fun, and the kids’ zone will give you a workout just watching. Open jump and classes $7-$65; 4915 Steptoe St., 436-6887, skyzonesports.com.
Photo by Anthony MairRio Secco’s Ashley, the perfect T-Mate
Here’s a way to ensure a pleasurable stroll around the links: Book a T-Mate at the Rio Secco Golf Club. For an additional $200 (plus gratuity), your foursome will be treated to a caddie who is equal parts knowledgeable (all are well-versed on the nuances of the course), helpful (ball finder and sand raker, anyone?), entertaining and, uh, extremely easy on the eyes. Put it this way: If you have played Rio Secco and think the view from the tee box on No. 17 is spectacular, you haven’t seen the view from the seventh green—with T-Mate Ashley tending the flagstick and encouraging you to “aim for the clown’s mouth.” Good luck making that putt! 2851 Grand Hills Dr., Henderson, 777-2400, riosecco.net.
Best Local Stock
Identifying and exploiting any kind of edge is crucial in the casino and in the stock market, and betting on Vegas stocks is no exception. Jim Cramer of CNBC’s Mad Money told viewers recently that China’s decision to allow its currency to appreciate against the dollar helps Chinese stocks but also properties such as Wynn Resorts, which earns two-thirds of its revenues from its casinos in Macau, the one place in China where gambling is legal. China’s booming middle class indicates a boost for resorts as well. “What else do people do when they start making enough money to become middle class?” Cramer asked. “They take vacations. They gamble the money away.”
Best Pickup Basketball Games
Think you’ve got game? You better lace ’em up tight if you’re taking the court at ClubSport Las Vegas. Former Rebels such as Ricky Sobers and Warren Rosegreen are regulars, and former NFL standouts Doug Flutie and Jonathan Ogden have also played in years past. Even boxing champ Floyd Mayweather Jr. showed up for game a couple of weeks ago. Many club members show up multiple times each week, and the familiarity players have with each other has created a close-knit community, but also leads to high-intensity, competitive games. “The guys take ownership because they are members of the club,” says Jason Kibby, program marketing director at ClubSport. “There’s not one guy who is running the show; it’s everybody that makes it happen.” 2100 Olympic Ave., Henderson, 454-6000.
Best Ethnic Grocery Store
The Korean Greenland Supermarket offers rich cuts of meats and fresh crates of colorful veggies at the lowest prices in a city that lacks a full array of farmer’s markets. Find five bunches of green onions for $1 and slabs of prime beef and tender ribs to make Galbi and Bulgogi, Korean barbecue. And the store’s packages of dumplings and seasoned tofu make cooking for one a cinch. Beyond Korean fare, there are items such as delicious Hawaiian snacks and Japanese variety packs of sashimi. 6850 W. Spring Mountain Road.
Best Hotel Design
Among the many stylish touches to be found at newer Las Vegas hotels, the curving floor plates of Vdara at CityCenter stand out. They’re serious without being staid, crisp without being sterile, and quietly sensuous. When we talk about what the next generation of Las Vegas buildings should look like, this is what we’re talking about.
Best Valet Parking
We love Las Vegas, where we get to park for free, and for a few bucks more, we get to park at the door. Sure, some casino valets can be a nightmare, but for some reason, the stealthy valet at Mandalay Place is rarely busy, the drivers never have attitude and we don’t have to deal with amped-up concert-goers. Sure, it’s a little hard to find, but that means that even this write-up is unlikely to change all that. In and out, and nobody gets hurt!
Best Strip Club
Although the Vegas stripper boom is past us, one club manages to consistently impress. Large enough to accommodate hundreds of entertainers and their attendant admirers, yet still comfortably intimate, Spearmint Rhino stages a nice variety of beauties, spins an interesting mix of shimmy sounds, and offers enough stage-side and table seating to accommodate just about everyone. Plus, the Rhino was among the first to welcome couples. All of this conspires to offer a sexy good time to everyone who wants one. 3344 S. Highland Dr., 796-3600.
Photo by Anthony MairTwo tailors you can trust: Milton and Claudia Chavez.
Milton Chavez and his wife, Claudia, of Exclusive Tailoring have been in business for 20 years and have contracts to do alterations with the top boutiques in town, including Louis Vuitton, Dior and Gucci. But the good news for you is that they don’t just work with designer duds. “We do alterations on everything from one-of-a-kind couture gowns to hemming a pair of jeans,” Claudia says. The Chavezes also do leather and suede alternations, which a lot of places don’t want to handle. Our friends in the style world tell us that Exclusive can “effortlessly create exactly what you want.” Moreover, we’re told that the Chavezes work well with luxury items and are always upfront about their ability to meet a deadline. 3850 W. Desert Inn Road, Suite 107, 220-9232.
Best Shoe Repair
Shoe Lab is the trusted service for nearly all the shows and concerts in Las Vegas, not to mention the top designer boutiques including Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton. They offer cleaning and repairs for any type of shoe or handbag and promise to make your worn-down favorites look brand new again. 8700 W. Charleston Blvd., Suite 101, 870-7463; 3900 Paradise Road, Suite P, 791-0341.
The elevators at Mandarin Oriental may be the most pleasant ride on the Strip. Granted, there’s no TV to watch, view to enjoy or attendant to push the buttons for you, but there’s no reason for that stuff, because this elevator only stops at three floors. Designed by Adam Tihany, the walls feature acid-etched, antiqued bronze and panels of exotic Macassar ebony hardwood. The floor is black marquina marble tile punctuated by a honey onyx inlay. What’s more, each of Mandarin’s three luxurious vertical rides have a lovely, red-velvet-topped bench to sit on while you enjoy the ride. And that we do.
When Vanity opened at the Hard Rock Hotel late last year, the buzz about the bathroom nearly overpowered the nightclub itself. Still, it takes just one quick trip to the loo to understand the hype. Bar bathrooms aren’t usually the kind of places that ladies like to hang out, but these plush powder rooms are so pampering it’s no wonder women tend to linger a while longer. With manicure and makeup touch-up stations and free-flowing champagne, a trip to Vanity’s ladies’ room is always time well spent. vanitylv.com.
Best Foot Rub
Why do foot rubs feel so damn good? Whatever the reason, the always-accommodating Mandarin Oriental takes this therapy to the next level with a menu of ceremonial foot baths. Each concludes with a reflexology session, neck and shoulder massage, heated herbal neck wrap and a cup of tea (hot or cold)—all while enjoying a primo view of the Strip from the comfort of the foot spa’s lush, reclining lounge chairs. 590-8886.