’Tis the season to be feisty, fiery and fiendish!
By Renée LiButti
Been naughty or nice this year? It doesn’t matter in Sin City. Everyone is devilish here. So when it comes to holiday gift giving, bequeath a bit of that misbehaving spirit to your nearest and dearest. Inspired by the seven deadly sins, these vice-themed presents epitomize Las Vegas – and they are so much cooler than getting coal.
Gluttony is about overindulgence, and the Yule season is prime time for gorging. You’ll find sugar, spice and everything nice to tempt loved ones at the Jean Philippe Pâtisserie, which has outlets in Aria and Bellagio. Whether milk, dark or white chocolate, it’s guaranteed to be decadent and delicious.
“We use only the highest quality ingredients and one of the best chocolates – Valrhona,” said Claude Escamilla, executive pastry chef. Valrhona is a revered chocolate manufacturer based in the small French town of Tain-l’Hermitage.
Escamilla , who was named one of “The 10 Best Pastry Chefs in America” in 2005, and his staff of artistic geniuses have crafted 15 special treats for the holidays ranging from chocolate Santas ($13.20 to $78), many of whom forsake sleighs for surf boards and rollerblades, to edible Christmas puzzles ($19.80) and postcards ($13.80).
“All of our items are gluttonous,” said Escamilla. “This is why we create baskets, so guests can choose as many as they’d like.”
Without a doubt, the most excessive eating experience in Las Vegas is the Buffet of Buffets. This pass offers a full day of unabashed gluttony at seven of the city’s spectacular spreads. Warning: It is not for your faint-stomached friends. At almost any time of day, you can belly up to one of Caesars Entertainment Corporation’s participating buffets – Lago Buffet at Caesars Palace, Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, Le Village Buffet at Paris Las Vegas, Paradise Garden Buffet at the Flamingo, Carnival World Buffet at the Rio, Flavors at Harrah’s and Emperor’s Buffet at Imperial Palace – and purchase the pass for $44.99 (for Total Rewards members) or $49.99 (for nonmembers) from the cashier. An additional cost applies for admission to an eighth smorgasbord, the Village Seafood Buffet at Rio.
Once you’ve received your tickets to binge, eat until you’re stuffed…then loosen your belts and head to another buffet. While the 24-hour clock is ticking, gobble up as much as you desire, at whatever property you choose. It’s like getting a ton (literally!) of yummy food for one low price.
Everyone who comes to Las Vegas dreams of defying the odds and leaving with a great big pile of cash. Thanks to Gamblers General Store in downtown, you can furnish your money-grubbing friends and family with the means of hosting casino-quality gaming gatherings in their own homes. Snag a blackjack table from the movie “Ocean’s Thirteen” ($2,800). Give poker enthusiasts a Texas Hold’em folding tabletop ($77.77) or a custom set of chips (pricing varies by design). Plus, encourage everyone to learn strategies to bilk the casinos on future Vegas visits with these cunning guides: “Read’em and Reap” ($18.95), “Casino Craps: Shoot to Win” ($19.95) and “Guerilla Gambling” ($12.95).
Renowned for topless showgirls and sexy cocktail waitresses – not to mention all the exotic dancers (of both the female and male persuasion) – it’s impossible not to be tempted by impure thoughts in Sin City.
On fire with carnal desire, you may consider bestowing your significant other with something a little more risqué this year. Love Jones in the Hard Rock Hotel knows how to spice things up. Opened in 2003, this one-of-a-kind lingerie boutique stocks an assortment of gifts sure to lead to a sensual encounter.
“We are a one-stop shop when it comes to a romantic night out with your partner. Our guests are able to buy their dress and all the accessories, such as jewelry and a clutch, to go with it,” said Frances Prowell, manager. “For the ‘afterdinner’ moments, Love Jones carries everything a couple needs – candles, massage oils, fun games and more.”
Among the “toys,” you’ll uncover Nippies ($20), which are high-style pasties complete with matching panties, as well as fur-lined handcuffs ($35.95) and intimate Sex Checks ($9.95), including “I O U a private lap dance” and “U O ME one striptease.”
“The books we carry offer pleasing and adventurous titles that both the man and woman in the relationship can enjoy,” added Prowell. Indeed, you won’t want to leave the store without a copy of “101 Places to Have Sex Before You Die” ($12.95).
The Zumanity Boutique at New York-New York provides additional enticement. “Zumanity,” Cirque du Soleil’s adult-oriented production, is a night of naughtiness onstage. Relive moments from the show or act out other fantasies with the souvenir black silk mask ($105). Created by artist extraordinaire Judith Rauchfuss, it’s covered with lace and glass crystals.
Extreme relaxation can be had by one and all at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore. The beds at these resorts are so snug guests never want to get up. Perfection-seeking CEO Steve Wynn had the Sealy mattresses custom-built . Dubbed “dream beds,” they combine firm support with a fluffy pillowtop pad. Ideal for anyone who desires a good night’s sleep, you can buy the same mattress and box spring at the home accessories store Wynn LVNV, ranging from $1,589 for twin size to $2,695 for king size. Pair the bed with an exclusively designed, polysatin robe ($150) – and then, to completely re-create the experience of pure comfort, include a set of 310-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets (starting at $279) and a diffuser with the resorts’ signature scent, Asian Rain ($30). You’ll never see the recipient in moonlight – or daylight – again.
Indulge someone special in shameless pampering at Glow, A Mandara Spa in the Tropicana. Laziness knows no limits here. Guests are promised “T.R.T.” (total relaxation time) in places such as the softly lit lounge – where you can sink into a cushy sofa while sipping fruit-infused waters and herbal teas. Among the most hedonistic massages is Glow from Top-to-Toe (50 minutes for $130), which boasts a 25-minute foot and ankle massage, followed by a 25-minute scalp, shoulder, hand and arm massage. Afterward the extremities are placed in a pair of warm paraffin mitts and booties for a period of blissful serenity.
Everyone is wired for wrath – because the world can be so damn irritating at times. If you’ve got a few hotheaded pals, then Las Vegas boasts a safe and fun way to discharge that negative energy.
Shoot ’em up at The Gun Store, which is situated a few miles east of the Strip. Opened in 1988, it has grown into a world-famous range, retail venue and educational facility, where people can fire the guns they’ve only seen in movies and on TV before.
“I can’t really think of a cooler gift than the chance to shoot a machine gun,” said Emily Miller, director of marketing and advertising. “You can purchase packages online and give them to friends and family. The gift cards are the easiest way to satisfy your inner Rambo needs this holiday season.”
The most popular machine gun to shoot is the M249 SAW ($60). The Choose Your Own Package ($160) allows customers to pick any three guns to pull the triggers on. The Coalition Package ($125) is also a favorite because it uses the same types of firearms being utilized by the military overseas. Every package comes with a T-shirt and souvenir targets. No previous shooting experience is required.
“We’ll have a brand new facility and be ready to kick off 2012 with a blast,” added Miller. A state-of-the-art shooting range is currently being constructed at The Gun Store, and the existing 15-lane range will be bulldozed to expand parking. “We’re doubling our capacity. The new range will have over 30 shooting lanes, two VIP ranges, more guns and more staff.”
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), a U.S.-based mixed martial arts organization, is headquartered in Las Vegas, and numerous matches are held in town. Reserve tickets and pack in among the fans – or just get hold of some memorabilia at the Las Vegas Fight Shop in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. The store has stockpiled all of the fi ercest T-shirts and clothing brands: Affliction, Bad Boy, Contract Killer, Death Clutch, Fight Chix, Hitman, Vandal and more. In addition, you can purchase a UFC Collection championship belt ($29.95), a piece of an authentic UFC cage ($50) and autographed photos from various matches ($69.95-$99.95).
Is anyone on your gift list vain? Las Vegas ’ outrageously opulent malls house a load of fine jewelers. Simply procure some precious metals and stones for their adornment.
For men, Wynn & Company in the Wynn Esplanade carries the new Christophe Claret 21 Blackjack watch (starting at $200,000). A limited-edition timepiece, it was created especially for casino lovers. Not only does the show-stopping watch keep time, but it also lets you play three games: dice, roulette and cards.
A woman, on the other hand, would gladly raise a finger to toast herself if it’s decked out in one of Piaget’s Limelight cocktail rings. The Swiss luxury jewelry store resides in The Shoppes at The Palazzo. This quirky new collection is creatively modeled on classic drinks (like Sex on the Beach and Whiskey on the Rocks) and features a generous serving of gold, diamonds and colorful stones. Prices start at $12,000.
Getting a tattoo is another way to adorn oneself – as well as to memorialize a trip to Las Vegas. There are several parlors both on and near the Strip where you can get inked. Mario Barth operates the King Ink studio at The Mirage and Starlight Tattoo in Mandalay Bay, while Vince Neil Ink is at O’Sheas Casino. The Hart & Huntington Tattoo Co. in the Hard Rock Hotel was founded by freestyle motocross star Carey Hart. His former partner, John Huntington, runs Huntington Ink, a nightclub-like parlor with a DJ in the Palms. And Count’s Tattoo Company, owned by Danny “The Count” Koker, is based at the Rio and has a VIP room for privacy. Tattoos typically range in cost from $25 to $2,000.
Wish you could experience the crazy lives depicted in “The Hangover?” Pack up your group of friends and make tracks for Caesars Palace. The hotel offers packages inspired by the buddy f ilm about four inebriated bachelors. See what it felt like to be Doug, Alan, Phil and Stu – minus the baby, the tiger and Mike Tyson, of course. If you’re on a budget, the resort’s Hangover Again package is affordable and includes two nights in a classic room along with a $50 food and beverage credit. Or ask about reserving the Emperors Suite in the Forum Tower. This legendary two-story play pad was used as the inspiration in developing the soundstage for “The Hangover” as well as being the actual suite where “Rainman” was filmed in 1987. Just be prepared to shell out a few thousand dollars per night for the privilege.
Nobody basks in more glowing adoration than Celine Dion, thanks to millions of fans worldwide. If one of them happens to be on your holiday list, stop by The Colosseum Gift Boutique in Caesars Palace. Among the items paying tribute to the international singing sensation are a small black Judith Leiber clutch covered in musical notes ($3,000) and several specially designed Roberto Coin necklaces, bracelets and earrings ($1,100 to $2,395). All of these evoke the glamour and excitement Dion herself arouses onstage.
In Las Vegas, we know how to celebrate the seven deadly sins in style. Not sure which one to spread for the holidays? Buy a VEGAS.com gift card. Redeemable on everything from hotel rooms and show tickets to VIP passes at nightclubs, rounds of golf and sightseeing tours, it provides full access to all the debauchery. You can order them in varying denominations online or by calling (866) 998-3427.
So what happens in Vegas can also happen at home. Come all ye faithful – give in to sin!