Caesar's Palace, and I was amused by the Rome-meets-Cheesecake-Factory-in-Shanghai decor. The hotel is vast, and like all casinos, it strives to meet your every need.
The hotel opened in 1966 at a cost of $25 million. Now it boasts more than 2,400 hotel rooms, 100 stores, four heated swimming pools, a spa, nearly 20 restaurants, and a theater featuring headliners Bette Midler and Cher in alternate months. Oh, and the casino is 150,000 square feet, too! Truly there is something for everyone.
In addition, Caesar's, like much of Vegas, is partially under construction. When we checked in we were able to get a better room at a substantial discount (roughly 30% off of rack rate) because we didn't mind a view of the construction project across the way. However, we did sacrifice in making that choice. The workers were busy early in the morning to late at night, and the noise at times was inconvenient.
The sad fact: Caesar's won't be finishing the construction projects. Because they are hurting financially, they are only going to enclose the large tower that they are building. They will build out the rooms and suites at a later date when they have more money. Such is the state with many of the construction projects in Vegas with rumors that several of the large developers will file for bankruptcy soon.
Now, as someone who loves Rome, I had to put away my historical lens and simply appreciate the hotel for what it is: a fantasy. Somehow I'd hoped for or expected a Roman bath experience, and at first I was disappointed. The artistic elements are a mish-mash of ancient Greek and Roman with some Renaissance favorites (like Michelangelo's David) thrown in for good measure. Clearly, the designers strove for the familiar -- a greatest-hits approach to decorating, so don't expect fine art or historical accuracy. There is also a tongue-in-cheek approach to the complex which I truly appreciated. The tower where our room was located, for example, sported the moniker "Vive Diu et Prospera" -- roughly translated as "Live Long and Prosper."
Additionally, the swimming pools are gorgeous! They are clearly inspired by the pools at Hadrian's Villa outside of Rome. I spent several afternoons working at the tables by Snackus Maximus (the poolside snack stand), and the sound of splashing water and the warm sun was quite idyllic. Part of the construction which will be finished is an area called the Garden of the Gods. Located by the pools, it will be a garden area -- a classical-style oasis in the midst of a large and overwhelming casino. I look forward to seeing it completed.
One of the great ironies of Caesar's Palace is its lack of a good Italian restaurant within the casino itself. Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill has a prime spot off of the gaming floors as does Chef Bradley Ogden's restaurant. Both are well-known but were beyond our price range for this trip.
Beijing Noodle No. 9 so much that I ate there three times. I enjoyed the Kung Pao Chicken -- it was delicious, spicy, and far from the cloying cliche many restaurants serve under the same name. The dumplings were also delicious with a lovely pork and onion filling and pan-fried just perfectly. But the noodles are the star at Beijing Noodle No. 9. They are handmade in the restaurant, and they took me back to my favorite little noodle shop in Korea -- with the same texture but a slightly different flavor. I'd imagine the restaurant was packed with Chinese gamblers because it offered them a taste of home.
I'd always heard that Vegas is an inexpensive place to vacation, and to a degree that was true. Our hotel room was luxurious for a relatively low price, and our airfare was very reasonable on Southwest Airlines. However, because we were on the Strip, our meals and entertainment were costly. So, in some ways it came out as a wash.
My biggest complaint about Caesar's Palace is financial, though: internet service costs $14.95 per day per laptop! Highway robbery. I have NEVER stayed in a hotel that charged per laptop. And frankly these days internet service should be free. Hear me, Caesar's: I won't be back based on that fact alone. Some of your colleagues along the Strip are more generous, and they will get my business in the future.
Despite the internet costs, Caesar's Palace is worth a visit. But if you are pinching pennies, you might want to stay somewhere else and just pop over for a visit.