From Coney Island's hot dogs to San Diego's fish tacos, we're going coast-to-coast with beach babes and surf studs counting down the top 10 summer foods. Traveling from one exotic, sunny destination to the next, we're seeking out the juiciest burgers, crispiest fries, most irresistible sweets and hottest snacks that summer in America has to offer.
Particularly in Las Vegas, where the party starts well before sundown and lasts far past dawn, travelers need a place to lay their weary heads. Of course, glimmering casino-resorts glow along the famed Strip, and Las Vegas certainly doesn't suffer a shortage of places to stay. Still, there are a few newcomers to the Las Vegas hotel scene that have begun to leave an impression as deep as the tried-and-true, old-time resorts. Pack your bags, and don't forget the hangover sunglasses; we're taking you to the top 5 new hotels in Vegas.
Who says you can't teach an old casino new tricks? Las Vegas's newest casino hotel, The D Las Vegas, is housed in the former Fitzgerald Casino building, a 1970s relic that's been revamped from top-to-bottom with a $15 million makeover. The D Las Vegas Casino Hotel debuted in the city's downtown section with a bang in fall 2012 -- people were giddy over a hotel with upscale and hip decor, and lower prices than its nearby luxury competitors. In a nod to the old-school Vegas Rat Pack, The D features vintage slot machines (imagine ... pulling a lever, not pressing a button!) and daily live entertainment to the delight of its guests. The hotel's 638 rooms feature a chic decor, excellent views and high-end amenities like pillow-top mattresses, flat screen TVs and Wi-Fi. The 2-storey casino also features standard game tables, and not-so-standard "Dancing Dealers," a staff of sexy, go-go dancing card dealers. Belly up to 1 of 3 on-site bars, or grab a bite at any of the 3 restaurants, like American Coney Island, which serves beach boardwalk classics like hot dogs with chili. Should you want to hit the nightlife on Fremont Street, The D is conveniently located directly above the action.
In Vegas, the word "Cosmopolitan" won't immediately trigger thoughts of the pink cocktail made popular by Sex and the City, but rather visions of the dual towers of the super luxe hotel casino Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The Cosmopolitan opened in December 2010, and may well be the last mega-resort and casino to open on the Strip for the foreseeable future, due to the global economic crisis, which has struck Vegas particularly hard. The hotel is epic; bigger and bolder concepts are the name of the game at this gigantic resort casino.
Get blown away by the 3-storey chandelier with a multi-level bar tucked inside, and gaze in awe at the video panels lining the lobby's columns. Or muster up an appetite at the 3 pools or spa, and work your way through the hotel's dozen-plus restaurants, many owned by celebrity chefs and restaurateurs, such Eric Bromberg's Blue Ribbon and José Andrés's China Poblano. Finally, when it comes time to gamble, the Cosmopolitan won't disappoint. The 100,000-square-foot casino overlooks the Strip, and visitors should take notice of the incredible details put into the Cosmopolitan's design, like old-school cigarette machines doling out packs of "art" rather than cigarettes.
When the $8.5 billion CityCenter opened on the Vegas Strip in late 2009, the Aria was its centerpiece: a towering 61-storey, 4,004-room hotel and casino with a convention center, spa, pools and more than a dozen restaurants on the premises. The modern rooms feature top-notch amenities such as floor-to-ceiling windows, automatic blinds, touch-pad lights, TV and music controls, and granite-topped bathroom counters. The mega-resort also offers more than a dozen restaurants, 3 teardrop-shaped pools perfect for people-watching, and a theater where the Cirque du Soleil show Zarkana is performed. Despite its size, the Aria remains committed to the environment; as of spring 2012 it was ranked the world's largest building to be LEED certified.
If you're looking to spend your time on the Strip relaxing at a spa rather than gambling at a casino, consider a stay at Vdara, where guests can also enjoy the hotel's 2-storey, 18,000-square-foot Spa & Salon Vdara. This non-gambling condo-hotel also opened in the nearly 17 million-square-foot CityCenter complex; its 578-foot tower houses nearly 1,500 suites that range in size from 526 to 1,750 square feet, and all feature a sleek, mod design. The Vdara's suites are all privately-owned residences whose owners have chosen to participate in a program allowing their properties to be rented as hotel rooms. The 57-storey building's highlight is by far the epic spa, which features 11 private treatment rooms, steam room, sauna, fitness center, full-service salon and even a smoothie bar. If the Vdara's uber-low-key vibe grows too slow and the urge to hit the casino floor strikes, the hotel is a quick stroll over a 100-foot walkway to the nearby Bellagio casino.
Nobu Hotel Caesars Palace is so brand-new, it hasn't even officially opened -- though reservations are being taken from February 2013 onward. The hotel is the creation of star chef Nobu Matsuhisa, whose famed sushi restaurant, Nobu, has locations across the globe. The boutique hotel will be located in Caesars' Centurion Tower, with a mere 81 rooms (including 18 suites), though it will also house the world's largest branch of Nobu restaurant, a massive 12,775-square-foot space. Guest perks include VIP access to the restaurant, as well as to Pure Nightclub, and free access to QUA Baths & Spa and the fitness center.
About the Author
Valerie Conners is a freelance writer, editor and producer who has worked with the Travel Channel for more than 14 years, specializing in travel topics including the world's best beaches, outdoor travel and romantic getaways. Her work also appears in many online and print publications including, Aol Travel, Discovery Channel, World Hum, Frommer's Travel Guides, the Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun and Philadelphia Inquirer. She's happiest when eating spicy Thai food, snorkeling with sea turtles in Indonesia and bargaining for bangles in Indian markets. She blogs about her travels at PassengerConners.com.