By Matt Villano, on January 2, 2017

New in Vegas for 2017

One of the best things about Las Vegas is that it’s always changing, always opening new ways to have fun. Heading into 2017, the city’s most recent developments are no exception to this rule. A new casino, new spa treatment, new driving range, and new restaurants have represented some of the headline-grabbing debuts in recent weeks. Here’s a closer look at what you need to know about Las Vegas right now.

Lucky Dragon

The biggest news out of Sin City these days is the opening of the destination’s newest casino, Lucky Dragon. What makes this casino different is its approach—instead of billing itself as a property for everyone, Lucky Dragon has taken a much more specific stand: It is built for Asian gamblers, period.

A few characteristics and design elements prove this point.

First, when you walk in, a giant Chinese dragon decorated with gold and crystals is hanging from the ceiling in the center of the gaming floor. Second, all of the signage and all of the menus are in Mandarin first, English second. Third, all of the games in the main casino floor are Asian games (read: This is not the place to come and play blackjack). Finally, Lucky Dragon is renowned for its restaurants, but all of them serve nothing but traditional Asian food.

Another distinguishing feature of Lucky Dragon is that the adjacent (but attached) hotel is relatively small—only 200 rooms. (To put this into context, Aria Las Vegas has 10 times that amount.)

To be fair, “The Dragon,” as locals call it, is still so new that at times (basically weekdays and weeknights) it can feel kind of dead. That said, make no mistake: On Chinese New Year in January, this will be the place to visit. Pencil it in on your datebook right now.


Art and the ‘All-in’ Massage

Every big hotel in Vegas has its own spa, but not all spas are created equal. One of the very finest is Canyon Ranch Spa Club, inside the Venetian and the Palazzo. New for this year, the spa debuted a special treatment that basically is a smorgasbord of all the different services the spa offers.

Specifically, the experience comprises five different types of massage: hot stone, Shiatsu (which focuses on acupressure points), Thai (which is vigorous assisted stretching), rejuvenation (which services stress points), and head, neck, and shoulders. In most cases, massage therapists will work you to determine which of the five options you’d like first.

When you’re done with your treatments, head to lunch at either the Canyon Ranch Café or the Canyon Ranch Grill.

Be sure to cap the day with a stroll past LOVE, a larger-than-life sculpture exhibit from artist Laura Kimpton. The piece, on display in the Palazzo’s Waterfall Atrium, comprises four giant red metal letters that spell the word, “Love.”

Driving one at TopGolf
Driving one at TopGolf

Driving with TopGolf

Golfers, listen up: The days of trips to nasty driving ranges are over. A better alternative is TopGolf, a swanky driving range that technically is part of MGM Grand.

Think of this range as a cross-between a nightclub and a library; there are 108 climate-controlled bays, as well as lounges, cabanas, pools, meeting space, and more. You can go to TopGolf if you feel like whacking balls 200 yards or if you just want to drink with your friends (though I’m not sure why you wouldn’t just drink at a bar).

Perhaps the coolest thing about TopGolf is the views. When you smash the ball, you’re sending it north, which means you can practically aim for the High Roller observation wheel in the distance. (Of course there is netting about 300 yards from the driving platforms.)

The facility also is attached (via serpentine corridor) to MGM Grand. All these fun attributes make for a very exciting visit. Not surprisingly, this is a place I love visiting with my buddies.

Viewfinder Tip: If you don’t have your own clubs or balls, TopGolf rents gear to those in need.

Morimoto hits the Strip

For years, Executive Chef (and Iron Chef star) Masaharu Morimoto was the only one of the world’s most famous chefs not to have a restaurant in Las Vegas. That all changed in October 2016, when Morimoto opened an eponymous restaurant, also inside MGM Grand.

The menu of this place is more eclectic than you might expect, especially considering how most Japanese restaurants in Vegas focus on sushi. Among the surprises: “Oyster Foie Gras,” which mixes the two namesake ingredients with uni and teriyaki; and “Duck Duck Goose,” which is duck meatball soup, duck confit fried rice, and gooseberry compote.

Another favorite among my pals is the blistered shishito peppers, cooked in a yuzu soy.

If you’re into cocktails, also make sure to try the “Las Vegas Meets Japan,” a delightful blend of Belvedere vodka, Nigori sake, and a lavender shrub. Trust me when I warn you these go down way too easily. Sure, what happens in Vegas stays there, but that’s only if you’re able to keep the nasty hangover at bay.

Where are your favorite spots to visit in Las Vegas?