Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
This waterside resort in the desert is just 30 minutes from the Strip, but worlds away.
Forget the perfumed artifice of the Venetian. The best imitation Italian getaway in Las Vegas -- complete with gondolas -- can be found 30 minutes from the Strip, in a Mediterranean-style village that could have been the setting for the movie Under the Tuscan Sun.
Along with the neighboring Loews, the MonteLago Village Resort is perched on the shores of 320-acre Lake Las Vegas, a man-made lake that's perfect for quiet paddling in view of the Nevada desert. While the Loews caters to luxury-seeking travelers with spas and sumptuous rooms, the MonteLago Village Resort, with its 357 apartment-style rooms, stands out as the more affordable way to stay on the lake.
The older Viera section of the resort sits within a village of small gift shops, restaurants and a casino -- built by Intrawest hotel company in 2003. The small courtyard of sherbet-colored building with aquamarine window shutters has two swimming pools surrounded by apple blossoms and white rose bushes. Just three minutes across a covered footbridge -- a replica of Florence's Ponte Vecchio and home to the luxurious lake-view guest rooms of what was once the Ritz Carlton (closed May 2, 2010) -- are the more modern accommodations of the Luna di Lusso building.
MonteLago Village doesn't have the glitz or energy or sheer quantity of entertainment of the Strip, especially as the region's financial downturn has hit local real-estate market hard. The restaurants, from an Irish pub to a lake-view Italian bistro, are often empty. But for many travelers that's precisely the point.
Staffers offer friendly service, though nothing like what you'll find at the neighboring luxury hotels.
This is not a luxury resort, and the staff doesn't pretend otherwise. Because many of the units in this apartment-style hotel are individually owned and used as vacation homes, an air of self-sufficiency pervades the property. Guests will get what they want here, but they must ask for it. That said, the friendly staff -- many of them young -- is eager to help. My room-service pizza arrived fresh and piping hot, and in under a half-hour, as promised, and housekeeping showed up before noon on both days of my stay.
Far from the real Vegas action, in scenic Lake Las Vegas
Located outside of Henderson, the second largest city in Nevada, the MonteLago Village Resort is at least a half an hour from the Strip, the densely packed three-and-a-half-mile-long stretch of hotel-casinos in the heart of Las Vegas. The immediate area -- Lake Las Vegas -- is home to two hotels (MonteLago Resort and Loews), and the quaint MonteLago Village just outside the hotel.
Though Henderson was once one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., the area is in the midst of a massive economic slump. In the taxi ride from the hotel, I passed a number of new -- and completely empty -- shopping centers. Few people were walking around the village during my stay. Lake Las Vegas also has three golf courses (one private, one that's gone out of business, and another that's currently closed) and close to 3,000 vacation homes (many of which sit empty). Aside from the man-made lakes and Mediterranean villas, the area is a mostly hilly, dusty terrain in varying terra-cotta hues.
Like many other resorts off the Strip, MonteLago Village Resort runs a complimentary shuttle the Strip. The hotel can also order a taxi for guests, but fares can get costly.
Studio to three-bedroom apartments, many with lovely views
All 357 rooms at MonteLago Village Resort are apartment-style units that have kitchens equipped with a dishwasher, microwave, oven, and plenty of other appliances and utensils. (Even my studio had enough dishes to make a meal for four.) Room choices include studios, and one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments. The standard rooms range from 400 to 650 square feet.
In the Viera section of the resort, also the location of the hotel lobby, guest room décor is a mish-mash of modern and classic. Many of the suites have sweeping views of the hills, lake, and swimming pools, though none of the studios do. Other rooms look out on the village and casino. Lake views in the Viera section are typically $20 to $25 more.
The rooms in Luna di Lusso section -- a three-minute walk across a foot bridge -- have more modern décor. Due to the distance from the village, rooms in the two Luna di Lusso buildings are generally $20 to $25 less than rooms in the Viera section. The section has its own pool and small fitness center.
A small, well-equipped gym (but no spa), three modest pools, and a casino that pales in comparison with the Strip.
The hotel's three pools are small, yet clean and well-maintained, and the great mountain and lake views more than compensate for their shortcomings. The two pools in the courtyard of the Viera buildings are especially pleasant when the roses and apple blossoms are in bloom. The third and smallest pool is in the courtyard of the Luna di Lusso building.
A serene and low stress place to take young kids, far away from the raucous and raunchy Vegas Strip
Parents and young kids should find plenty to enjoy at MonteLago Village Resort. The pools are small and accessible, and the area is easy to navigate, especially if you're staying in the Viera section of the hotel.
Beautiful grounds are impeccably groomed, while rooms are clean but not sparkling.
MonteLago Village is the sort of place that's so tidy that it looks like it never gets visitors. It is not easy to keep the grass green or the palm trees from browning in the desert, but they manage to do so. The rooms are clean but not impeccable.
Many dining choices, with reasonable prices for a resort area
The hotel does not have any dedicated restaurants, but it's just steps away from MonteLago Village and the casino, which provide more than enough choices.
About 30 minutes from the buzz and bustle of the Strip, this no-frills hotel features apartment-style guest rooms, lovely views of the desert mountains and the man-made Lake Las Vegas -- and more affordable rates than the neighboring Loews Hotel. Ideal for the traveler more interested in exploring the outdoors than a casino or mall.