The last two days in Vegas, like the days that preceded them, were glorious. It would be tough to pick the best day of the six or so spent lapping up the life of luxury - although I could certainly cherry pick enough elements to compile a "fantasy day" - as every day had its charms and highlights.
Saturday saw us trawling around the biggest spa in the world, The Palazzo's Canyon Ranch. This basically rambles from The Palazzo to sister property The Venetian and features all sorts of funky touches, the best of which are the "anti-gravity chairs" in the "Wave Room". If that sounds like so much hippy bullshit, you might have a point. But with a few of the party nursing sore heads from Studio 54 the night before, sitting sort of upside down - the chairs hold you in such a way that there's no pressure on any single part of your body - while staring at backlit rippling water reflected onto the ceiling proved a very relaxing experience. Even for someone like me who, smugly, had spent all of 12 seconds in the nightclub before realising he just felt knackered, old and fat. Seriously, 41-year old bald blokes just look wrong in nightclubs. Give me a quiet bar, a nice glass of wine and the chance to have a conversation without screaming inanities across a table any day of the week.
After prising the sunglass-wearing sufferers from their chairs, we got to enjoy the delights of Azure, The Palazzo's private pool area. As with all of the private pool clubs we encountered, this meant ever present music: seriously, what happened to chilling quietly? Many places had abused the ears with the sort of bland, thumpy crap that apparently constitutes music these days. Does that make me sound old? I don't care. It's anodyne bollocks of the highest order. Azure, on the other hand, played some very pleasant chill out tracks. I'm still slightly anti the idea of music created specifically to be ignored in the background - oh yes, that's inspiring, music not to listen to - but the DJ here played some interesting remixes of familiar tracks at a gentle volume.
Mind you, once lunch appeared he could have played Metallica on an amp that goes up to 11 and I wouldn't have cared. Plates of healthy, light fare arrived courtesy of Wolfgang Puck and the not unattractive, bikini-clad Megan and, with more well judged Mojitos etc to wash it all down, lobster salad
the inevitable calamari, more heritage tomatoes and mozzarella
and light, crisp pizzas hit the collective spot. The smoked salmon pizza
was particularly good. I know it sounds like an abomination but that classic bagel combo of salmon and cream cheese on a perfect thin, crisp base? That's a good poolside lunch.
After a (fabulous) massage outdoors, and a wander around the shops, there was just time for a shower and a quick change before heading out to Botero at the Encore. Named after the artist and featuring a number of Botero originals, this is basically an upmarket steak house in a fine space, that spills from a typical restaurant setting into an open poolside area. And all indoors. The interim course of seabass with fennel was excellent - the sweetness of the yellow pepper bringing the whole dish alive
the much-touted steak was exceptional
and desserts such as ice cream cupcakes, praline lollies and other grown-up childish delights
started a theme that would be continued the following morning...