Vegas and weddings. Synonymous, right? But, what about bachelor/bachelorette getaways and honeymoons?
My trip to Vegas last year was a blur. As expected! So, when I started thinking of fall wedding-related getaways to Vegas for this column, I knew I had to reach out to some experts to hone an elevated Vegas experience. Turns out, I am not the only one who thinks a Sin City pre-wedding getaway (as immortalized by The Hangover) or post-wedding honeymoon is a great idea. And now is the perfect time to head to Vegas.
“The surge in pandemic-recovery travel demand, which pushed … growth rates for leisure destinations like Las Vegas, is now moderating,” explains Chris Kam, president of Omnitrak, a strategic research firm specializing in travel and retail sectors in North America. However, Las Vegas has an ace up its sleeve – it’s always been a popular destination for fall getaways. “We expect travel volumes in the fall [of 2023] to mirror travel volumes seen in fall 2022,” Chris says of Vegas.
This is not surprising to the folks at R&R Partners, the brand agency representing Visit Las Vegas tourism. Their research from the Clark County Marriage License Bureau shows an increase in fall weddings almost every year over the last 10 years. In fact, the busiest months to get married in Vegas are September and October.
Here is what my experience and the folks at Visit Las Vegas recommend for those looking for last-minute ideas for 2023 or making plans for 2024.
There is great dining everywhere in Vegas, from long-established family restaurants to AAA Five Star restaurants like Restaurant Guy Savoy, located in Caesars Palace and serving French cuisine. Legion d’Honneur chef Savoy mentored celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, who operates Vegas’ Hell’s Kitchen (and five other restaurants in Vegas).
A great way to elevate your food experience in Vegas is by dining at restaurants attached to celebrity chefs. Giada De Laurentiis, famous for her Food Network presence, studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. In 2014, she opened her first restaurant, Giada, at The Cromwell Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, where diners savor California-inspired takes on Italian fare.
Lorena Garcia also owes some of her fame to television. The Telemundo star was a contestant on Top Chef Masters and served as a judge on America’s Next Great Restaurant. Specializing in Latin American cuisine, her upscale CHICA at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas draws inspiration from her family recipe books and travels throughout South America.
Michelin-starred chef José Andrés hails from Spain, but tapas at his Jaleo by José Andrés at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas draw inspiration from American, Mexican, Greek and Peruvian cuisines. While I was in Vegas, I dined at Bazaar Meat by José Andrés at SAHARA Las Vegas, which was an experience I will never forget!
Bobby Flay is one of the most recognizable celebrity chefs in the world. His Amalfi restaurant at Caesars Palace is inspired by Italy’s Amalfi Coast and focuses on fresh fish and seafood.
Even Martha Stewart has gotten in on the Vegas action. The Bedford by Martha Stewart, located at Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, features a menu created by Stewart and her culinary team; the focus is on locally sourced ingredients and an elevated farmhouse ambiance.
The bad-boy brewers of Scotland have found a perfect fit in this desert oasis. BrewDog Las Vegas is a rooftop bar and restaurant that offers two floors of craft beer and incredible views of the Vegas Strip. Thirty taps offer selections from the onsite brewery and a rotating lineup of guest beers. But the heart of the young brewing scene is located north of the Strip on Main Street in the City of Las Vegas. Breweries like Able Baker Brewing, Nevada Brew Works and HUDL Brewing Company are all within walking distance of bottle shops and eclectic craft cocktail spots.
Downtown’s cocktail gems are mostly hidden, none more so than The Laundry Room. Located in a former laundry facility inside the Commonwealth Bar (also a great spot for drinks) on Fremont Street, this speakeasy-style bar is limited to only 22 guests. Admittance is through reservation only, which books well in advance. Time slots allow young and affluent guests to enjoy showman-created cocktails.
For a more casual experience, Velveteen Rabbit is one of the first craft cocktail and curated beer bars in downtown. It is a welcoming place, and I ended up spending a lot more time here than I had expected. Its location in Vegas’ Arts District makes it a great stop for pre-dinner drinks.
There are tons of places to indulge in cocktails on the Vegas Strip, but for a truly elevated experience, the newly renovated Petrossian Bar & Lounge in the Bellagio Hotel & Casino is where caviar and live piano music pair with strong cocktails. The crowd here is refined and contemplative.
Dinner and a Show
Folks in Vegas will shy from the term “dinner theatre,” but the practice of combining a meal and a show is back in vogue, say the experts. The locals at Visit Las Vegas recommend Superfrico and The Mayfair Supper Club.
Superfrico, located at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, promises “to break down the walls between fine dining and anything-goes spontaneity” by serving “Italian American psychedelic” fare and entertainment. Performers at the adjacent Opium Theatre come and go from their dressing rooms to the stage through Superfrico’s kitchen and dining rooms.
The Mayfair Supper Club is an old-school eatery at the Bellagio Resort & Casino inspired by top supper clubs around the world. Here, dinner-and-a-show is done Vegas-style, with contemporary American cuisine and live performances in Old Hollywood style. All of this while overlooking the iconic Bellagio Fountains.
Note: Many of the restaurants and other venues have dress codes, which they include on their websites. Be sure to check them out as you make plans and reservations.
According to Skyscanner, one of the cheapest months to fly to Vegas is September and the best time to book is four weeks prior to your arrival. American, Frontier, Southwest and Spirit are the only airlines to fly direct to Vegas from Philadelphia. There are tons of ways to save a buck on flights, like flying with a budget carrier or having flexible travel dates. However, if money is no option, consider a private jet. Companies like Linear Air help book Light Jet flights; up to nine customers can depart at any time on a nonstop flight to Vegas for $124,000. Have fun in Vegas!
The International Theater
“There is so much history in this theater,” says Gordon Prouty, vice president of public relations and community affairs at Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, home of the International Theater. His observation is almost an understatement! Barbra Streisand opened the International in 1969, but the most recognizable stint at the International Theater is held by Elvis Presley.
The King began his legendary Las Vegas residency here on July 31, 1969. The run lasted until December 1976, with a record 636 consecutive sold-out shows. Elvis’ mark is still there. His décor continues to adorn the theater’s green room, where the bar he installed still serves VIPs and performers. The theater has memorialized the backstage spot where Elvis prayed before going on stage. The King is even honored with a statue in the Westgate’s main entrance.
Barry Manilow is the headliner at the International today, and such legendary acts as Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons and Kool & The Gang fill the stage when Manilow is off. Pre-show meals are memorable at action-packed Benihana and the EDGE steakhouse, where guests are invited to “Dine like the King.” (Both restaurants are located inside the Westgate.)
For visitor information for Las Vegas, go to visitlasvegas.com.