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 with 90 treatment rooms, 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 mega-resort -- 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.)
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 more than 5,000 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.
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. There's also a monorail, which stops at Bally's, Caesars Palace, Harrah's, the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Hilton, and the Sahara. (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.
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 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.
All adding to the opulence factor: Floor-to-ceiling windows, three flat-screen LCD HDTVs (a 46-incher in the living room, another 46-incher in the bedroom, and a 19-incher in the bathroom), and massive bathrooms (which, at 130 square feet, are larger than some New York City hotel rooms) that feature deep soaking tubs and Agraria San Francisco bath products.
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, and has a jetted tub, walk-in closet, and Italian-marble foyer with double doors.
A bustling pool deck with Tao Beach (an adults-only pool), a world-class spa, and a fitness center with an indoor climbing wall.
The Venetian has 10 pools, including the infamous Tao Beach, a rollicking adult pool area. Guests are also welcome to use any of the 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 whirlpools. Expect a little more decorum here (or at least a bunch of naked statues).
An outpost of the world-famous Canyon Ranch Spa offers more than the usual range of spa services. A 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 whirlpool), 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.
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 doesn't provides comps to gamblers who aren't shelling out the big bucks. That means no free rooms, food or beverages, and no entertainment discounts.
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 restaurants from five James Beard award-winning chefs, including Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico’s Steakhouse, Mario Batali’s B&B Ristorante, and the French bistro Bouchon by Thomas Keller.
Singing gondoliers, elaborately costumed street buskers performing in the "Town Square"
A visit to the Venetian would not be complete without a gondola ride; gondolas seat four, but private two-person rides are available.
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, and request for a wax model of their in-laws to be made.
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.