The Las Vegas Venetian – A trip back to 16th century Europe
The Las Vegas Venetian draws its theme from the plazas, architecture, and canals of Venice, Italy, and follows the example of New York–New York, Mandalay Bay, Luxor, and Paris Las Vegas in bringing the icons of world travel to Las Vegas. Visiting The Venetian is like taking a trip back to the artistic, architectural, and commercial center of the world in the 16th century. You cross a 585,000-gallon canal on the steep-pitched Rialto Bridge, shadowed by the Campanile Bell Tower, to enter the Doge’s Palace.
Inside, reproductions of famous frescoes, framed by 24-karat-gold molding, adorn the 65-foot domed ceiling at the casino entrance.
The geometric design of the flat-marble lobby floor provides an M. C. Escher–like optical illusion that gives the sensation of climbing stairs—a unique touch. Behind the front desk is a large illustrated map of the island city, complete with buildings, landmarks, gondolas, and ships. Characters in period costumes from the 12th to 17th centuries roam the public areas, singing opera, performing mime, and jesting.
Although The Venetian claims that its bread-and-butter customers are business travelers and shoppers, it hasn’t neglected to include a casino in its product mix. In fact, the Venetian casino, at 116,000 square feet, is larger than that of most Strip competitors. When the Lido Casino came online, the overall resort topped out at more than 200,000 square feet of casino. The Venetian casino is styled to resemble a Venetian palace with architecture and decor representative of the city’s Renaissance era.
Period frescoes on recessed ceilings over the table games depict Italian villas and palaces. The huge and stupefyingly ornate casino offers 139 table games and 1,700 slot and video-poker machines. The perimeter of the casino houses a fast-food court, along with French, Italian, and southwestern restaurants, and one of the fanciest coffee shops in town.
Shopping at the Las Vegas Venetian
Upstairs are the Grand Canal Shoppes, with more than 60 stores, mostly small boutiques. The Escher-like floor design continues throughout the shopping venue, with different colors and shapes providing variations on the theme. The centerpiece of the mall is the quarter-mile Grand Canal itself, enclosed by brick walls and wrought-iron fencing and cobbled with small change. Gondolas ply the waterway, steered and powered by gondoliers who serenade their passengers. Passing beneath arched bridges, the canal ends at a colossal reproduction of St. Marks Square.
Like The Forum Shops, the Grand Canal Shoppes are arranged beneath a vaulted ceiling painted and lighted to simulate the sky. The Venetian adjoins its sister property, The Palazzo, via a shopping mall that connects the Grand Canal Shoppes to The Shoppes at The Palazzo, which offer an additional 49 stores and six restaurants.
The Las Vegas Venetian offers restaurants by well-known chefs
The Venetian’s restaurants, most designed by well-known chefs, provide a wide range of dining environments and culinary choice. Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio, Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico Steakhouse, Thomas Keller’s Bouchon, Tom Moloney’s AquaKnox, Zefferino Belloni’s Zefferino, and Mario Batali’s B&B Ristorante are some of the culinary power-hitters represented.
An all-suite hotel, The Venetian offers guest accommodations averaging 700 square feet and divided into sleeping and adjoining sunken living areas. The living-room areas provide adequate space for meetings or entertaining. Every suite has been recently upgraded to meet the Palazzo criteria and shares its similar subdued earth tone palette, with pops of colorful peach creating a classy urban Apennine look. The property is LEED Gold Certified.
The five-acre swimming complex and spa area are situated on the roof-top over the shopping venue and are well insulated from the bustle of the Strip. You’ll find two standard pools, one lounge pool, and a hot tub. One of the largest of its kind in the country, the ultra-upscale bi-level Canyon Ranch Spa offers fitness equipment and classes, therapies, and sauna and steam rooms, as well as a 40-foot indoor rock-climbing wall, medical center, beauty salon, and cafe.
The Las Vegas Venetian targets the convention market with its mix of high-end business lodging, power restaurants, unique shopping, and proximity to Sands Expo and Convention Center (second in size only to the Las Vegas Convention Center). The Venetian certainly welcomes tourists and gamblers, who come mostly on the weekend, but the other five days are largely monopolized by the trade-show crowds.
Check out The Unofficial Guide to Las Vegas by Bob Sehlinger for a review of all hotels, casinos, and much more!