Wine and dine your Valentine in Las Vegas: Restaurants and spas provide the perfect setting for romance

Why take a whirlwind trip to Paris or Venice for Valentine’s Day this year? Las Vegas is only a short drive away and offers just as much romance as these cities, if not more. From spectacular views to delectable meals and
luxurious spa treatments, Vegas has everything to make your Valentine’s Day weekend memorable.

Romance your date over dinner

Las Vegas is the perfect place to go all out with your mate this Valentine’s Day. If you choose to dine at one of the many restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to surprise your sweetie.
Here, people do the type of things you see in movies.


Surprise your sweetie with a giant fortune cookie at Tao Asian Bistro (photo courtesy of Tao Group).

At Tao Asian Bistro inside the Venetian, diners have surprised their partners by placing personalized fortunes or even jewelry inside a giant fortune cookie made fresh inside the kitchen. The chefs fill these cookies with chocolate and mousse and they are so huge, they could feed up to four people.

“We do custom edgy and racy fortunes in there [and] we’ve also done a few where people bring in their own fortune and we put it in there and serve it for the dessert,” said Michael Armstrong, executive chef at Tao.

One celebrity who enjoyed this type of surprise was “Dancing with the Stars” Karina Smirnoff. Her boyfriend wowed her with a diamond necklace inside the colossal treat.

“It ’s our signature dessert and it’s easy to customize to whatever people need,” added Armstrong.

Helping with surprises isn’t anything new to Vegas restaurants.


Mix at Mandalay Bay's THEhotel (Courtesy of MGM Mirage Resorts International)

“It’s almost every day we have someone surprising someone,” said Jason Arbusto, executive chef at Mix inside Mandalay Bay’s THEhotel. “Our pastry chef has done a couple decorations on plates [like] writing in chocolate, writing on desserts.”

“Every time we get a ring in the kitchen, we make sure we don’t lose it!” said Richard Camarota, executive chef at Sage inside Aria.

John DeLoach, executive chef from Lavo said diners request risky ring placements all the time.

“We’ve had guys ask for cakes to be made for them and in the cakes we’d have the engagement ring,” DeLouch said. “We’ve had a fellow order a bottle of Cristal champagne and he had the engagement ring in the flute. His future fiancée lifted the glass and realized it was an engagement ring in the glass of Cristal.

“I think that’s a little dangerous, you know? I wouldn’t recommend that one, but one sitting on top of a cake [is] pretty cool,” he added.


The two-story wine tower at Mandalay Bay's Aureole (photo courtesy of MGM Mirage Resorts International)

Taking a more dramatic approach, one guest at Aureole inside Mandalay Bay ran to the top of the restaurant’s popular two-story wine tower fixture.

“[He] shouted loud to his valentine if she would marry him,” said Vincent Pouessel, executive chef. “Of course, this stopped the entire restaurant. Everyone was silent and was like, ‘What’s going to happen next?’

If hiding rings and professing your love in front of a large group of people doesn’t exactly fit your style, take a more
subtle approach. Located inside Aria, The Light Group’s Union restaurant offers quite the romantic menu sure to entice your senses.

“We have geared our menu selections around cherries,” said Brian Massie, executive chef at Union. “Cherries have always been thought of as a sensual f ruit. We incorporated it into most of the dishes – some being more subtle and represented as a light accent. We also prepared a shared sweetheart dessert platter to share.”

“Many of the restaurants in Light Group’s portfolio provide the ideal dining spot for Valentine’s Day,” said Shane Monaco, director of operations at Union. He describes Union has having a “seen and be seen voyeuristic openess.”


Lavo offers an oyster special this Valentine's Day (photo courtesy of Tao Group).

Nothing complements surprises more than the perfect dining setting. From intimate venues to ones with views of
everything from the city to live swans, atmosphere is everything.

If you’re into the nightlife vibe full of energy, Tao at the Venetian and Lavo at the Palazzo both offer restaurants within a nightclub atmosphere.

“I think [Tao’s] definitely a romantic spot, very hip – certainly a little more toward a younger crowd,” said Executive Chef Michael Armstrong. “The bathtub full of roses and petals in front sets the mood. [There’s] the music and option for dancing in the nightclub afterwards.”

“Lavo is a very romantic restaurant,” said DeLouch. “It has an organic feel to it. We have candles throughout the restaurant. It’s fairly dimly lit, and I think the music also sets the tone for the experience.

“The food is great [and] we have the club, which is a very unique situation,” added DeLouch. “It’s a very boutique-y club, very hot, very sexy.”

Stack inside Mirage also features a sexy, sophisticated vibe reminiscent of a nightclub while capturing the feel of the canyons of the Southwest. The restaurant created a special menu for Valentine’s Day that includes choices such as yellowtail and caviar, Maine lobster and a fig and burrata cheese salad. A selection of Stack’s Sweet Bites completes the meal along with a glass of champagne.


Stack inside Mirage (photo courtesy of Light Group)

If you’re looking for a more serene setting, why not dine with the swans at Aureole?

“We have a beautiful pond with six female swans swimming around as they wish,” said Pouessel. “All throughout the year, it’s really nice. We have heaters outside [and] provide a shawl for the ladies [during] wintertime.”

And to bring out the kid in you, Aureole provides diners with its signature toasted bread to throw in the pond.

“It is a very special place, especially if you’re going to celebrate something,” Pouessel continued. “It’s definitely the place where you feel like time stops.”

If you want dinner with a spectacular view, check out Mix at Mandalay Bay. Set 60 stories above the Strip, you can fully enjoy the beauty of the glitz and glamour below.

“It’s definitely one of the most romantic spots,” said Arbusto. “The restaurant is completely surrounded
by windows so you can see the sunset. We also have these special booths and you’re actually enclosed.”

Speaking of nooks, Sage also has an intimate atmosphere for you and your Valentine: “You have a lot of space between tables,” said Camarota. “There are a lot of nooks. You really feel like you’re in your own little world. The room has a sexy feel to begin with and you have a nice space – people always enjoy that.”

No matter where you decide to wine and dine, make sure you call early.

“Certainly plan it out – get a reservation,” advised Armstrong. “Just find the right spot that will really set the mood.”

“It’s going to book up quickly,” added Arbusto. “We get a lot of people trying to do it last minute.”

Spas sure to please


Photo courtesy of Canyon Ranch SpaClub

Now that we’ve got the dining out of the way, another way to ease and please your senses is going to the spa with your partner.

At MGM Spa and Salon, there are plenty of spa treatments to enjoy as a couple. And for you gents, don’t shy away from services thinking the spa is too feminine for you.

“They don’t really know what they’re missing until they receive a service, especially with your mate,” said Pooneh Melton, spa director at MGM Spa and Salon. “But once we get a man to come in and experience a service, they usually come back. Men come and get facials [and say] ‘I didn’t realize how wonderful a facial is.’ They get the facial and think it’s all about the face [but] they also get work on their décolleté and neck and a little bit of a shoulder massage, so when they walk out they feel like they got a full experience.”

MGM Spa and Salon of fers the two -hour Dreaming Ritual. It starts off with a foot soak, then goes into a scrub, a body wrap and ends with a massage.

The spa also has a private couple’s suite. “It’s a nice benefit for them because they have that alone time together,” said Melton.

Another romantic spa service MGM offers is the Romancing the Stones couples massage, which incorporates warm, smooth river stones. The massage therapist uses it for the entire service and you get the relief you really need in your muscles.

Guests also have a choice between a rose essential or chocolate essential oil. The spa is also doing a Blooming Pedicure, which includes a rose petal foot soak and a chocolate scrub and massage.


Spend the day in the romantic Rasul chamber inside Canyon Ranch SpaClub (photo courtesy of Canyon Ranch SpaClub).

Even if you can’t make it to Vegas on Valentine’s Day, most spas on the Strip keep these services through the month of February.

At Canyon Ranch SpaClub at the Venetian and Palazzo, Valentine’s Day can be a treat.

“Any time spent alone together benefits your relationship,” said Blake Feeney, spa director. “A spa day is perfect because you don’t have outside distractions – no phone, no TV, no e-mail. You can completely unplug and focus on one another.”

And just because you’re going together as a couple doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have treatments together. You can always hang out in the relaxation conservatory and eat lunch but do your own thing.

“Often we’ll see couples come together and branch off to their own individual services,” Feeney explained. “They aren’t as interested in traditional couple’s services. They really want to take advantage of that time.”

If you want to take romance to another level, the couple’s Rasul is highly recommended. It includes a natural mud
treatment and relaxing on heated chairs in a tiled Middle Eastern herbal steam chamber. “We had
a wedding in our Rasul,” said JoDee Streuber, director of sales for Canyon Ranch SpaClub. “It was the groom’s idea. He wanted to do something unique, intimate and romantic. It’s a beautiful space and the Rasul ritual itself is very romantic.”

Streuber said in addition to the Rasul, there are several areas within the spa to use as a backdrop as a romantic proposal, such as during a couple’s massage, the rock wall or even the wave room. “Now that would be fun and
unique!” Streuber added.

Whether you decide to do a spa treatment or a fine dinner (or even both) this Valentine’s Day, make it unique and memorable for your mate.

“The best thing is find a place you’re going to like,” said Camarota. “I wouldn’t go too far off the beaten path. If you know you will like a place, you should go with that and don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself and something a little more special that night.”


Most folks take their Vegas jackpot winnings back home, but my dad decided to stay here instead. That’s how I left Seattle almost 20 years ago. I moved from greenery and rainy days to hot summers, palm trees and desert. As much as I love my hometown, I decided to stick around Vegas. This city just has so much to offer. You don’t even have to be a gambler, bar hopper or an all-night partier. I love Vegas for its awesome vegan-friendly spots, concerts, swanky hotel suites and spas so big, they’re like castles. The pool scene is not too shabby either, which is why I love taking stay-cations. Besides living it up -- Vegas style -- I’m hanging out with my handsome hubby, adorable baby girl, two cats and super-fluffy Shih-Tzu. I’m also a huge fan of '90s music, shows and movies. You can find me on Google+ and Twitter.

There is 1 comment for this article
  1. jason at 1:02 pm

    A must see show, Marriage can be Murder dinner show, my wife loved it and i loved the price.