Like the Paris and New York-New York hotels, the 5,030-room Venetian is an enormous and extravagant tribute to a place far from the desert, complete with gondola rides and a replica of Saint Mark's Square. Compared to the other theme-driven Vegas properties, the Venetian distinguishes itself with enormous guest rooms, a world-class spa, and heaps of premier restaurants.
Classic Vegas for some, Italy on a shoestring for many, this monster-size resort delivers on over-the-top grandeur, theatrics, and great rooms -- and draws plenty of crowds.
The Venetian is the kind of place people either love or can’t stand. It’s got all the trappings of a Las Vegas megaresort -- interactive elements, plenty of retail therapy, two towering guest room buildings, and a glam pool deck. There’s a "canal" where you can take a gondola ride, and a replica of the famous Rialto Bridge. (Unlike the one in Venice, the Venetian's has a moving escalator floor, and leads to the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and a Sephora cosmetics store.)
The Italian city of Venice, of course, is the inspiration for the frescoed and gilded ceilings, gold paint, and serenading accordionists in the lobby next to the check-in desk. Those willing to suspend their belief, if just for a moment -- say, while strolling through a replica of Saint Mark’s Square -- might feel they've stepped into Venice itself.
Opened in May 1999, the Venetian boasts 5,040 guest rooms, making it one of the biggest resorts in the country. (That doesn't even count its next door sister, the 3,066-room Palazzo hotel.) The property is divided into two towers -- the Venetian, with 4,027 rooms; and the 1,013-room Venezia, built in 2003 as an exclusive retreat for high-rolling gamblers.
Inside, the ornate Baroque lobby is perpetually filled with the hotel's trademark floral perfume scent. Some visitors love it, others can’t stop sneezing. That may be why -- like an old Italian chef who hides his recipes -- the Venetian won’t reveal what they’re spritzing.
Solid concierge, 24-hour room service, and poolside drinks; recent staff cuts at this monstrous hotel make for slower service.
The Venetian has all of the services you'd expect from a luxury resort, including dry cleaning and laundry, overnight shoe shines, and 24-hour room service. The concierge -- open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday -- competently arranges just about any recreational activity, including theater tickets, restaurant reservations, and sightseeing tours.
Along with its neighboring sister property, the Palazzo, the Venetian experienced three rounds of staff cuts since the start of 2009. Considering those reductions, and the truly monstrous size of the hotel, the staff does a respectable job -- but isn't always able to respond to requests right away.
Located on the Strip, the Venetian is at the center of it all and close to public transportation.
The Venetian is located on the north end of the Strip, between the Palazzo and Harrah's and across the street from the Mirage. Most Vegas visitors want to explore all of the big hotels, and it's easy to get around on the Strip. Cabs are easy to find at virtually any time of day or night. But a less expensive option is the Deuce, a double-decker bus that runs up and down the strip 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and costs $3. There's also a monorail, which stops at Bally's, Caesars Palace, Harrah's, the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Hilton, and the Sahara. A single ride ticket is $5; a one-day pass is $13. (If you're traveling with at least one other person, a cab is usually less expensive.)
Virtually every hotel on the Las Vegas Strip is a 10- to 15-minute cab ride from McCarran International Airport; the ride typically costs about $15.
Large suite-style rooms with sunken living rooms, three flat-screen TVs, and classy (yet not too flashy) decor make these rooms among the best on the Strip.
At approximately 650 square feet, the standard rooms at the Venetian are among the largest on the Strip (though the rooms at its sister property, the Palazzo, are even larger). Each room contains a bedroom separated by a metal fence from the sunken living room. Combined, there's enough space to have the entire gondolier crew over for late night martinis. Or, a family or group of friends can take advantage of the L-shaped sofa which opens up to a full-size bed.
Floor-to-ceiling windows, king size pillow-top beds dressed in Egyptian cotton sheets, huge L-shape sofas in the living rooms, and crushed-velvet couches add to the feel of opulence.
The standard rooms include three flat-screen TVs: a 32-incher in the living room, another 32-incher in the bedroom, and a 17-incher in the bathroom. The cable package includes about 40 channels (but no HBO) and films on-demand.
The desk includes a private workstation with a personal fax/printer/copier and a dual-line telephone. High-speed, in-room Wi-Fi is available for $9.95 per day.
If all that space and luxury doesn't quite cut it, further upgrades are available. The Piazza suite, for example, weighs in at 1,400 square feet, has one larger TV, a jetted bathtub, and a separate powder room.
The Venetian has six pools, including the infamous Tao Beach, a rollicking adult pool area. Guests are also welcome to use any of the seven pools at the Palazzo next door, which are connected via a pedestrian walkway to the Venetian pool decks. At least one pool will stay open during the fall and winter.
On the 10th floor, adjacent to the Venezia tower, is a pretty pool deck with blooming rose bushes, two additional pools, and several small Jacuzzis. Just next to Bouchon Bakery, this pool deck has a little more decorum (or at least a bunch of naked statues). The pools on the floor stay open until 10:30 p.m.
A newer outpost of the world-famous Canyon Ranch Spa offers more than the usual range of spa services. A $40 day pass buys access to the "Aquavana," which includes the Herbal Laconium (a warm, ceramic-tiled room with individual thrones and color-changing ceiling), the Hydro Spa (a fancy name for a Jacuzzi), a Finnish sauna, the Igloo (the opposite of a sauna), Experiential Rains (a shower with new-agey sounds like "Cool Fog," "Tropical Rain," and "Caribbean Storm"), and other highfalutin features. One warning: The spa, especially the facilities for women, can get crowded.
The hotel’s fitness facility has a huge range of cardio and strength equipment (all with video monitors), an indoor climbing wall, and spinning and yoga classes.
Guests may upgrade to concierge-level rooms, which buys them access to a VIP lounge with free amenities like a continental breakfast, snacks, and early-evening cocktails.
The largest candy store in Las Vegas opened in the Grand Canal Shoppes in mid-2012.
With ceilings detailed in gold, this bustling casino has lots of great energy and a dedicated poker room.
The Venetian casino boasts endless rows of slots machines, marble floors, frescoed ceilings, and a busy room dedicated to poker. Medium rollers take note, the Venetian is no longer providing comps to gamblers who are not shelling out the big bucks. That means an end to free rooms and entertainment discounts as well as free food and beverages. Chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Sheldon Adelson admitted that cost cutting has resulted in ending comps for all but the Venetian's highest rated players.
More than 20 restaurants, 24-hour room service, and an affordable food court, all with an emphasis on Italian
The Venetian and its sister property, the Palazzo, together house eight James Beard award-winning chefs under one roof, including Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico’s Steakhouse, Mario Batali’s B&B, and the French bistro Bouchon by Thomas Keller. The Venetian alone has 21 restaurants, eight of them Italian. Expect to spend between $20 and $50 for dinner entrees at the high-end spots.
A visit to the Venetian would not be complete without a gondola ride. Rides are available both indoors and out, and are $16 a person -- gondolas seat four. A private two-person gondola is $64, a bargain, given that a ride in the real Venice starts at around $100.
In Saint Mark’s Square, there are six theater performances a day, which happen at the top of the hour starting at 10 a.m., and involve elaborate costuming, classic Italian song, and sometimes even a man on stilts. Living statues are visible throughout the day and they don’t even flinch when you leave them a dollar.
Visitors hoping for a brush with celebrity while in Vegas might want to consider a visit to Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, where famous people don't say -- or move -- much, though they are more than happy to pose for photo ops. Guests can marry George Clooney in the museum's chapel, put on a pair of bunny ears and hang out with Hugh Hefner, shoot some hoops with Shaquille O'Neal, request for a wax model of their in-laws to be made, and audition for American Idol. Indulgence in star obsession costs just $25; children get in for $15.
Like most Vegas megahotels, the Venetian has long-running large scale shows. At the time of my visit, Blue Man Group and Phantom of the Opera were playing.