This is it; the culmination of Awards Season on 2econd Friday.  We’ve awarded Best Room with a View (Wraparound Terrace Suite – Fountain View, at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas), Best Drinks Experience (SkyBar, at Waldorf Astoria), Best Show Experience (Carrot Top, at Luxor), and Best Steakhouse (Hugo’s Cellar, at Four Queens), and we’re ending with Best Resort Experience.

Best Resort Experience is awarded to, drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, drum-roll, please… The Venetian.

And why, you may ask, The Venetian.

First up, the sim-city architecture.  The Venetian was one of the last resorts to open during the 90’s construction boom.  When the world imagines Las Vegas, it is the megaresorts from this period it imagines – Paris Las Vegas, Bellagio, Luxor, The Venetian, and beyond.  Heck, in fact, since it’s my article, let’s simply list what I call the Definitive Dozen (the 12 megaresorts which opened in that era, which is pretty much what the world sees when it imagines Las Vegas): The Mirage (yes, we can forgive ourselves 2 months, and say it was part of the 90’s construction boom), Excalibur, Luxor, Treasure Island, MGM Grand, Stratosphere, Monte Carlo, New York New York, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, The Venetian, and Paris Las Vegas.

It is these resorts which make Las Vegas Strip such a unique place.  Going for a run there, heading on past all the “nonsense” architecture, is a favourite thing of mine to do.  If all these resorts were just big bland towers, it wouldn’t be the same, would it.  I dream of the day when Bergman Associates, or whoever it may be, suggests adding a London-themed, or wherever else-themed resort to The Strip.  They’d say, “Look at Macau, and The Londoner there; that Beckham guy’s involved; he could come back and have a look at the hoarding atop the bit at The Venetian, and ponder what could’ve been, and ponder more.”

Alongside the sim-city architecture, there’s the attention to detail around the theme.  Have a wander round the lobby at The Venetian; what a stunning place to be.  And while you’re there, do you spot the secret of the golden breasts (on The Armillary Sphere)?  Go upstairs and gawp at the painting on the ceiling featuring the people on the balcony, with the dog snuck in for good measure.  Note all the lions, some more-easy to spot than others.  Ha, and thanks to Marco, who gave me all this knowledge, when he took us on a fantastic guided walk, a few years ago.

Sweet suites.  That’s something else a Best Resort would need.  Zoe and I stayed at The Venetian for the first time, back in 2002.  We had a standard suite, and cripes, it had a sunken living area.  Now that’s sweet.  This weekend, we were in a very sweet suite which had a pool table, no less.  Ooh, wow, it was the first time 2econd Friday has ever had a pool table.  And lots of fun was had, playing pool.

Zoe posed the question: if you were given money to invest in a renovation of The Venetian bathrooms, or Resorts World bathrooms, which would you go for.  Hmm, now then, it would be The Venetian.  They’ve just got a far more opulent base to start from; all the marble; the huge bath tub; it just feels that bit more “lux”. 

Was it Sue, or was it someone else from the Palazzo concierge team, who said, “It’s all under one roof”.  Drat, I can’t remember.  But it’s true.  And it’s another element to being Best Resort.  You could stay at The Venetian, and never need to leave.  Apart from to surely go for a morning run.  Admittedly, some might do that on a treadmill, but I would be making an exception.  You could go for a “mani”, or “pedi” at Canyon Ranch spa.  You could go for a gondola ride (back to the attention to detail on the theme).  And, oh boy, you could go to Flight Club.  We went there, yesterday, and thought it was fantastic.  It’s social darts, it’s great fun, it’s really nice food, and the replays.  Ha, there’s video cameras, and when someone wins a game, there’s a video replay of the winning dart, and whatever celebration the winner may have chosen.  Wow, it’s just like as if you’re in the PDC, on telly.

And finally, what else would a Best Resort need?  Customer Service.  Zoe and I are big enthusiasts of Customer Service.  It’s perhaps the biggest thing we’ve taken away from 2econd Friday Season 1.  We’ve stayed at 60 different Las Vegas resorts, so you can imagine we’ve seen varying degrees of Customer Service.  And, we have really come to appreciate great Customer Service.  Imagine arriving at a resort, and the car doors are opened, and you’re welcomed by name.  Ooooof, thumbs up SkyLofts at MGM Grand.  Imagine being greeted by someone in reception, who you’ve never met before, “Mr Downie, you must tell me about 2econd Friday.”  Ooooof, thumbs up Four Seasons at Mandalay Bay.  2econd Friday may mean absolutely nothing to the Las Vegas casino-resort industry, and our dollars may make absolutely no difference to a company’s bottom-line, but cripes, perhaps related to what Benny Binion suggested, if you make the nobodies feel welcome, the nobodies will tell their friends, who might tell their friends, and you get the picture.

To me, great Customer Service is about human interactions that help bring a little bit of joy to the customer, and that might be as simple as a stimulating conversation about some Las Vegas history stuff (or the change in the clientele at The Cosmopolitan, since MGM lowered the room-rates). 

And who might be getting a big thumbs up in relation to this, from this weekend?  Please step forward Sue, from the Palazzo concierge team.  We had asked if someone might be willing to accept the Best Resort Experience award from us.  Sue went way beyond that.  Hooray, look at the photo of the concierge team all joining us in front of the fantastic Bocchicchio sculpture.  There was hand-shaking; there were photos; there were two very happy customers.

As a footnote, I would also like to send a big thumbs up to Stacey (drat, I can't remember if that's the spelling) at Sala 118 cocktail lounge.  She was fantastic, and I hope she helps make Sala 118 the success it really deserves to be.

Tune of the Month: "When I Call Your Name (Hardfloor Vocal Mix) by Mary Kiani

Dress Code: Resort Casual