- Only on-site food is terrible
- Mellow mood can become boring
- No attractions within walking distance
- Weak in-room Wi-Fi
- No daily housekeeping (though it's available at a charge)
A large time-share resort with a relaxed air and full plate of family-friendly diversions. An anti-Vegas Vegas hotel.
The vibe at this 787-suite time-share resort is so mellow that you might forget you're in Sin City. The scene is more Florida condo community than Las Vegas glitz, especially since the closest Vegas attractions are a 20-minute walk away. The campus of apartment buildings and beautifully laid-out pools is sprawling but not overwhelming, with golf carts to shuttle guests between the main towers and the slightly cut-off Tower 3. Daily organized activities for all ages, from Wii tournaments to bingo, make it family-friendly to the extreme.
The suites are large enough to house families comfortably for even a two-week vacation. And the resort appears to have gone to great pains to make the facilities easy to get around -- all entrances and exits have handicapped-access buttons, and the Jacuzzis sport wide steps and padded handrails.
Not surprisingly for a time-share resort with those kinds of comforts, the crowd skews older than the typical Vegas partygoer. Hard-core gamblers and entertainment-seekers: better luck elsewhere. For similar-sized suites and room amenities closer to the Strip, try the Hilton Grand Vacations Club on the Las Vegas Strip, which is within walking distance to casinos, clubs, and poolside parties.
No free daily housekeeping, but otherwise a full suite of services from a friendly and attentive staff.
Service at time-share hotels can vary widely -- housekeeping may show up every day, or not at all. Guests might encounter a concierge in the lobby, or just the front desk. There's no standard. At the Wyndham, service is all-encompassing, except the hotel doesn't provide free daily housekeeping (it's available for a steep fee). The guest services staff stays tremendously busy coordinating all sorts of activities and outings. When I couldn't join "Casino Night" because I hadn't pre-registered, the activities coordinator was very apologetic -- he had to turn away a lot of guests who wanted to take part in the faux gambling experience.
A daily shuttle ferries guests to and from a local grocery store. Another shuttle takes guests to the Strip. Room service is available from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The staff are friendly and attentive, though not always on call. Make sure to catch the concierge between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., get your coffee before the Starbucks cart closes at 1 p.m., and have a poolside cocktail while the drinks station is open between noon and 4 p.m. Also, the 10 a.m. checkout time is standard for time-shares, but who's ever ready to leave their vacation that early?
Two long blocks from the Strip, with nothing nearby, the hotel can feel remote. But a free twice-hourly shuttle goes to and from Harrah's on the Strip.
Located on East Harmon Avenue, the hotel is just two blocks from the Strip, the three-and-a-half mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard that's home to most of the major casinos and attractions. Yet it's not an easy walk -- the blocks are long and the route has no attractions along the way. To get to the Strip, take the free shuttle to Harrah's, which departs about every 30 minutes. Service starts at 8:30 a.m., and the last return shuttle leaves Harrah's at 9:45 p.m.
The hotel is just over two miles from McCarran International Airport, a 5-minute, $10 cab ride. On-site parking is available for free.
The pools are the highlight of this hotel. Two sprawling, beautiful pools sit at the center of the resort, between Towers 1 and 2, surrounded by tall palm trees, cushioned lounge chairs, manicured hedges, and flower pots. The Adult Relaxation pool sits higher, overlooking the kids' pool. The lower-level pool has a zero-entry point (a sloping, gradual entry) at one end, where colorful floaters are stored at the end of the day.
Cabanas are available only at the upper-level pool. They're set on an elevated patio with deck chairs, a ceiling fan, a flat-screen TV, a mini-fridge, and a glass sink. If you don't want to pay $70 for three hours of cabana use, try to snag one of the deck tables with umbrellas on the pool deck. The sole Jacuzzi is on the lower-level deck, and it has steps and a handrail for easy entry. Drink service is available at the Adult Relaxation pool from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The third, smaller pool in Tower 3 is great for guests who want a quieter scene. If you're lucky, you can get the Jacuzzi to yourself and soak under the clay-pot fountains.
While hotel websites aren't always to be trusted, believe this hotel's site when it says "Living rooms big enough for a pajama party!" The one- and two-bedroom suites are enormous. I was booked in a two-bedroom Deluxe in Tower 3, the newest tower, and I had no idea what to do with all that space. Two bedrooms, two baths, a living room, dining area, fully-equipped kitchen, a Jacuzzi ... it made me wish I could have all my girlfriends over for a sleepover.
The room is homey -- a coral corduroy couch, floral throw pillows, checkered armchairs, plants (though they're fake) -- yet not fully modern. The TVs are old box sets. Entertainment includes 76 cable channels, a CD player and stereo, and a DVD player, but no in-room movies. Wi-Fi is available, but the spotty connection I got isn't worth the $6.95 daily rate.
The one-bedroom suite can fit up to four people, with a king-size bed and a sofa bed. The two bedroom can fit up to eight, since it has a second bedroom with two double beds. I found the beds too firm, and the rough floral comforters scratchy. But the bedroom ceiling fans added to the coziness of the suite.
The kitchen comes with everything you could possibly need, including a blender. The master bathroom houses a washer and dryer, and two-bedroom units have a Jacuzzi that can fit two people. The dining table can seat up to eight. The two full bathrooms are stocked with a generous supply of products from True Blue spa, including massage soap and mouthwash.
Guest keep busy with daily activities, a children's arts-and-crafts room, two fitness centers, two free business centers, a mini-arcade, tanning beds, and massage service. Weak Wi-Fi is available for an additional fee.
The Wyndham Grand Desert activities coordinators work hard to keep guests entertained, scheduling water aerobics classes, a tour of downtown Las Vegas, an ice cream social, and a host of other social events. Toddlers can pound clay in the arts-and-crafts room. Older kids can play The Simpsons or Indy 500 in the mini-arcade.
The larger activity room in Tower 2 has two pool tables, air hockey, arcade games (including Dance Dance Revolution!), three Xbox stations and one N64 station. The smaller room in Tower 3 hosts activities like a funny-money Casino Night with roulette and blackjack tables. I would have loved to join, but it's such a popular weekly event that guests who hadn't pre-registered were turned away.
There are two small fitness centers with modern equipment, both free to use. Machines include ellipticals, exercise bikes, multi-purpose weight training machines, and treadmills. Free weights, exercise mats, and fitness balls are also available. With no individual TV screens, exercisers have to share the three flat-screen TVs around the room. Tanning beds can also be booked for $10 for a 20-minute session. Massages can also be arranged through the front desk, and they cost between $30 and $150.
The two business centers are free to use, a great feature since most hotels charge by the minute for online access. Tower 3 has four PCs and one printer, while Tower 2 has seven PCs and one printer. The computer stations are always filled though, so expect to wait your turn. In-room Wi-Fi is available, but it's a weak connection that costs $6.95 for 24 hours.
With activities for every age, the hotel is great for multi-generational family vacations.
Humongous rooms, spacious grounds, three pools, and daily organized activities make this the quintessential family hotel. Granted, I encountered more grandparents than grandchildren on my mid-May visit, but that was during the school year. And a lot of the activities might be lost on kids (bingo? water aerobics?). Still, entire families can enjoy the ice cream social and Casino Night, which is played with "funny money." Kids can also keep busy at the mini-arcade, an arts-and-crafts room, and an activity room with pool tables and Xbox consoles.
The hotel doesn't provide rollaway beds, but two-bedroom suites can sleep up to eight people. Cribs are available free of charge. The Oasis Cafe has a kids' menu, though judging by their limp hamburgers and sad-looking hot dogs, I suggest making use of the in-suite kitchen instead.
As with many time-shares, the resort is very well-maintained. You can walk around the room in bare feet without picking up any dirt from the carpet. The only exception is the faded hallway carpet in need of replacement. The pools gather fallen leaves late in the day, but the staff fishes them out by the next day. Overall, the resort is very clean, with gleaming tiles and a fresh scent wafting through the hallways.
Take note, though, that the hotel doesn't offer a daily cleaning service -- to time-share owners or guests. Full-service housekeeping is available, but for a steep fee starting at $90 per day. Guests staying seven days are entitled to a free "trash-and-tidy" service on the fourth day.
Visit the resort's sole restaurant sparingly, if at all. The menu at the Oasis Cafe, located near the Adult Relaxation pool, tends toward greasy spoon options like bacon cheeseburgers, onion rings, and hot dogs. It's all greasy and a little stale. The cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., with room service available from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
In the mornings, a Starbucks cart in the lobby sells espressos and hot coffee concoctions. Drinks are served by the pool between noon and 4 p.m. At 5 p.m., the Lobby Bar opens, occasionally with a live pianist performing.
The nearest grocery store is Vons, three miles away. There's a hotel shuttle, which costs $3, that takes guests to the store at 8 a.m. every day.
For more dining options, hop on the free shuttle to Harrah's. From there, you can take your pick of restaurants on the Strip. I highly recommend Enoteca San Marco at the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, right next to the Harrah's drop-off.
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