/ The Las Vegas Adventurer
Las Vegas — By Steve Mirsky on August 2, 2010 at 8:58 pm
Filed under: entertainment, hotel, nightlife, restaurant, top-feature

Monte Carlo Resort & Casino Dazzles on the Strip

Monte Carlo Hotel

What would Vegas be without the whirl of the slots, heart pounding high stakes poker tables, or the happy-go-lucky craps tables. Go-go dancers throw out beads and yesterday’s loser always has the chance of winning it big today. It’s this flight of opportunity and wild abandon that makes the Vegas strip so exciting.  But now more than ever, there’s plenty to do besides gambling and the Monte Carlo Hotel is a solid example of this reality that’s been taking shape here over the last 15 years.

Hotel and Rooms

Inspired by French Riviera luxury, the Monte Carlo is styled after a European casino hotel complete with Corinthian colonnades, broad arches, elegant marble statues, bubbling fountains, and a grand crystal-chandeliered  lobby opening onto the bustling casino floor.

When it was built back in 1995, the Monte Carlo was the world’s seventh-largest hotel with three 32-story wings holding over 3000 guest rooms. Now the Monte shares the strip with larger and far more ostentatious neighbors like Aria and the Bellagio. The Monte Carlo is all about proximity and caters to those who want unpretentious luxury at mid level prices. In addition to spacious and surprisingly quiet rooms with large pillow top beds, you’re just an elevator ride away from all the action when you want it.

The complete top floor of the Monte Carlo is an independently operated mini-boutique hotel called Hotel 32. Here, for an extra price, a much higher level of pampering begins upon arrival at the airport. A complimentary limousine whisks you to the hotel entrance where a personal greeter escorts you via separate key access controlled elevator straight to the top. You get in-room check in and a personalized orientation of your room’s features.

These luxury suites have all the amenities to make you feel like a celebrity during your stay. Espresso machines in the kitchenette, flat panel TVs everywhere you turn including a small wafer thin screen inlaid in the bathroom mirror all controlled by a centralized sound system. Lounge 32, right off the lobby offers soaring views of a mountainous horizon with the glittering Aria, an angular glass masterpiece soaring towards the sky in the foreground.

Las Vegas City Center

Beyond the on site offerings, just walk through the Street of Dreams, an enclosed shopping corridor and head up to the Bellagio-City Center-Monte Carlo tram shrouded in air conditioned comfort. You are now minutes away from more excitement including the newly completed City Center, a true architectural gem with loads of art build into the landscape.

Gaming

Although the gaming floor is smaller than many other Vegas casinos, everything from poker to slots is in a one easy to navigate area. Over 2000 slot machines await from nickels to $100. Drinks are complimentary as long as you’re playing games like double deck blackjack, craps, Let it Ride, Pai Gow, and baccarat. Bet minimums of $5 and up with consistently more open tables at low limits than the bigger casinos make gambling here one of the best values on the strip. The poker room is quiet and casual, more like a gathering of friends rather than a close knit circle of card sharks. For the uninitiated, the Monte Carlo offers classes at 11:00 a.m. most days covering the how-tos on various games, so pay attention if you want to become the next high roller.

Pools and Spa

If you’re visiting during summer, it’s a sure bet that the outdoor pool area will be filled to capacity. Immediately upon entering, lush palm trees fringe a fairly extensive pool to your left. Further along, several private cabanas offer more refined respite in a cozy alcove before passing a 300-foot lazy river to your right with a massive wave pool to your left. Hip hop and rock mixes over the amplified outdoor sound system keeping the party moving. For a more peaceful retreat, the Monte Carlo’s spa rejuvenates the senses with pampering treatments like Green Tea Elixir Wraps, and Seaweed Body Treatments with the Monte Carlo Signature Facial.

Shows

The two ongoing biggies here are Frank Caliendo and Lance Burton. I didn’t get to experience Burton’s magic but I can tell you first hand that Frank Caliendo is fall down funny…if you weren’t already sitting down, that is, in the grand Monte Carlo Theater. Loaded with ornate design featuring pillars and arches, I thought for sure this was a restored turn-of-the-century theater until I remembered that I was on the Vegas strip. Very little remains from another century let alone 20 years ago. Caliendo’s striking impersonations range from George Bush, Charles Barkley, to John Madden. Frank promised us that he’s still working on his Barack Obama but it takes several years to truly perfect the intonations. He does this by repeatedly listening to various recordings of the person he plans to emulate and then repeats the voices until they are exactly the same.

Dining

Sticking to on site hotel restaurants doesn’t always make for a wise dining itinerary but the Monte Carlo Hotel challenges this bit of conventional wisdom. Here were my favorites:

Diablo’s Cantina

First and foremost, Diablo’s is party central so be prepared for a boisterous ambiance with drink specials changing by the hour. There’s plenty to celebrate here with over 32 different varieties of tequila, a diverse array of signature drinks, and a full menu of some super tasty entrees. I had the wood grilled half chicken, double garlic sour cream smashed potatoes, asparagus, and ancho chili sauce paired with their Agave Margarita. Chili flecks rim the glass instead of salt giving it just the right kick.

BRAND Steakhouse

Even before ordering, you’ll be wowed by the hushed and relaxing atmosphere in spite of the fact that the dining area openly overlooks the flashing gaming floor just steps away. Begin with their thinly sliced raw pieces of marinated sirloin served alongside a super hot rock. Place a strip on top for just 3 seconds on each side and you get perfectly done morsels. Follow up with their wood grilled 10 oz NY sirloin that is all seasoned and seared with just the right amount of fat. What could be better than pairing this with a glass of their house Merlot?

Andre’s Restaurant

From the entrance up to the cozy dimly lit cigar lounge, this place oozes refined taste and expense account heaven! Once inside, you’re guaranteed to forget that you’re anywhere near a casino never mind Vegas…more like a serene chateau in the hills of France. Upstairs adjacent to the dusky cigar lounge sits one of North America’s most extensive cognac collection with a sommelier to assist with the best pairing. Onsite Head Chef Andre Rochat personally attends to each dish that leaves the kitchen. Watch out for their savory chocolate and Grand Marnier soufflé. It’s dangerously addictive!

The author was the guest of the Monte Carlo Hotel as part of a sponsored trip; the opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author.

Photo courtesy of Monte Carlo Hotel. Video footage by Steve Mirsky

Tags: entertainment, hotel, nightlife, restaurant, top-feature


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