DSCF2815In the middle of the Vegas Strip, you’ll find a little touch of Venice. A rather large touch, actually. With it’s enormous Italianate plaza out front, featuring replicas of well-known Venice landmarks, like the Doge’s Palace, the Rialto Bridge, the Campanile Tower, and the Clock Tower, The Venetian all-suite hotel gives you a taste of classic European glamour combined with top-notch Las Vegas customer service.

In 1997, construction began on owner Sheldon Adelson’s new Las Vegas hotel. Adelson wanted to recreate the romance of Venice, where he and his wife had honeymooned in 1991. In May of 1999, The Venetian opened to the public. The property now consists of two hotel towers - the Venetian itself, and the Venezia Tower, along with the Sands Expo Convention Center and the relatively new Palazzo Casino Hotel, making this the largest hotel complex in the world. Still, as big as it is, details like singing gondoliers, security staff dressed in true-to-life Venetian police uniforms, and accurate reproductions of Venice’s architecture and statuary, help transport guests to that far-off Italian city.

The experience begins the moment you step out of your car, taxi or shuttle bus. If you look above you, you’ll see huge faux frescoes on the ceiling of the porte-cochere. The door handles at the main entrances are modeled after the iron headIMG 5832 found on the bow of traditional gondolas. As you enter the main lobby, the opulence takes you by surprise - a beautiful, circular fountain with a large gold globe glittering in the center, the Grand Gallery to the left, it’s vaulted ceiling covered with more brightly colored frescoes, and the gorgeous, highly polished marble floor, with an almost 3-dimensional checkerboard pattern. The long reception desk is against the far wall, with a huge painted map of Venice behind it. I arrived earlier than the 3 pm check-in time, but there was no line and I was helped immediately. I had booked a “Bella” Suite in the Venezia Tower and not only was the room ready for me, but I was upgraded automatically to a room with a Strip View.

The entrance to the Venezia Tower was to my right - a discreet doorway, leading to a bank of elevators. I took one of them up to the 10th floor - the Venezia Tower actually has it’s own separate check-in desk up there for those moments when the one in the main lobby is too busy. I turned right, again, and found a second set of elevators and took one up to my floor.

IMG 4135My room was gorgeous. Impeccable! At approximately 700 square feet, there was more than enough room to really stretch out and get comfortable! A small marbled entryway with the bathroom to the left, led to the bedroom area where there were two half-canopied queen sized beds with gorgeous, white duvets, accented by gold-toned bolsters. An ample nightstand separated the beds and at the foot of each bed was a nice changing bench. A large bureau sat opposite the beds, with a state-of-the-art flat screen TV on top. Further in, was the sunken living room - two easy chairs, a plush sofa with a pull-out bed, a coffee table, a desk, a small dining table which could accommodate three, and another large bureau, with a second TV, a DVD player and a stereo inside. My large window looked out onto the Venetian’s front piazza, as well as the golden facade of the Mirage hotel across the street, the Mirage volcano, and the mountain range to the far West. I was a very happy guy! The entire room was done in warm tones of cream and gold, giving it a very welcoming, sunny feeling - even at night.IMG 4161

The bathroom was enormous - 130 square feet, with warm colored marble floors and countertops, gilded faucets and fixtures, a cute little vanity area at which to sit and primp, a large roman tub, and a separate glassed-in shower. The shower featured something I’d never seen before - a handle which, when turned, activated two smaller directional nozzles for your lower back. Very nice!

Downstairs, the casino has the same warm, classic European feel of the guest rooms. At 120,000 square feet, it is quite large. It can often feel very crowded, but not to a fault. The layout can be confusing and it also seems to me to be a little too brightly lit, but these are minor quibbles. As you pass through the Grand Gallery into the casino, if you turn right and pass the food court, you’ll find the elevators which take you to the rooms of the Venetian Tower - the main hotel tower. Beyond them, there’s a selection of incredible restaurants, including AquaKnox - a fantastic seafood establishment, Thomas Keller’s Bouchon - an amazing nod to the French bistro, B & B Ristorante - an Italian eatery from Chef Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich, or Delmonico Steakhouse from Emeril Lagasse. For casual dining, try the Grand Lux Cafe, Noodle Asia or The Grill At Valentino.

IMG 5814On the opposite side of the casino, are the escalators that take you up to the famous Grand Canal Shoppes. This shopping area is designed to make you feel as if you’re strolling along the streets of Venice - you’ll find “cobblestone” streets, high end jewelry and clothing shops, and even a canal, complete with gondola rides. As you make your way deeper into the Canal Shoppes, you’ll come upon an incredibly accurate reproduction of Venice’s famed Piazza San Marco, featuring street performers, artists, glowing street lamps, and gelato stands. If you want to grab a bite in the Piazza, look for Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, Canaletto, with private dining rooms overlooking the square, and Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio, where you can feel like you’re at a sidewalk cafe, without the inconvenience of being outdoors!IMG 5817

The Venetian offers a wide variety of shows and attractions to entertain you, including a new resident production of the smash Broadway musical Rock Of Ages, and Soul2Soul - an intimate concert featuring country artists Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. If you like comedy headliners, Tim Allen, Rita Rudner, David Spade and the legendary Joan Rivers all perform their solo shows at the Venetian. Want to be photographed with your favorite “celebrities”? Then check out Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. You can also catch up on your culture by taking in Da Vinci-The Genius, a temporary installation celebrating the life and work of Leonardo Da Vinci, the original Renaissance man.

If you want nightlife, try TAO - an Asian inspired restaurant/nightclub combo, or The Bourbon Room - a new club inspired by Rock Of Ages, featuring VJ’s playing classic 80’s videos and a singing, dancing staff.

Finally, if you need to recover from the Vegas craziness, try the famed Canyon Ranch Spa, where you’ll find world-class spa treatments, a healthy eating cafe, and a fitness center with a rock-climbing wall.

DSCF2825The Venetian is a huge property. Everything about it is big. At one time, the Guinness Book of World Records named them the hotel with the largest standard room in the world! Even I managed to get lost a couple of times while exploring. But this is a property you should explore! There is so much there to see and do, and surrounded by such classic luxury, what’s not to love?! The Venetian’s owner fell in love with Venice. You might just fall in love with the Venetian!