Las Vegas | a tale of two lobbies

These are not the greatest photos — my iPhone has severe photographic limitations — but these images of two lobbies in Las Vegas luxury hotels convey two very different paradigms of luxury travel.

Pictured above is the Bellagio, a mega-hotel with nearly 4,000 rooms and suites. The Bellagio is prototypical of what Las Vegas has to offer. A lobby decorated with 2,000 hand-blown glass flowers. A casino open 24 hours a day. Twice-nightly shows of Cirque du Soleil's "O." Exceptional restaurants including Le Cirque, Michael Mina, and Picasso. An art gallery with a collection of French Impressionist paintings. A "lake" in front of the hotel reminiscent of Lake Como, Italy, the site of the picturesque village of Bellagio from which this casino hotel gets its name.

Bellagio embodies the outrageous excess that makes Las Vegas one of the most popular destinations in the world.

The Four Seasons Las Vegas offers a very different paradigm of luxury travel. It is a hotel within a hotel, occupying the top five floors of Mandalay Bay. With its own separate entrance, guests enter a quiet and serene lobby decorated with simple floral displays reminiscent of the creative arrangements seen in the George V in Paris. With 424 rooms and suites, this property is large by Four Seasons standards. Yet at 10% the size of the Bellagio, the Four Seasons can provide the kind of gracious and personalized service that Bellagio can only dream about. It can take half an hour to check into your room at Bellagio; there should be no wait at the Four Seasons. If you try to phone the concierges at Bellagio, you can wait on hold forever; service is immediate at the Four Seasons.

There's not even a casino in the Four Seasons (but, not to fear, the Mandalay Bay offers shows and games just steps outside the connecting doors). My impression? Borrowing a phrase from the Gospel of John, Four Seasons is in Las Vegas but not of Las Vegas.

Which hotel offers the better luxury experience? I can't answer that question for you. It depends on what kind of luxury you are looking for. Do you seek non-stop excitement, entertainment, and over-the-top glitz and glamor? Choose the Bellagio. Would you rather experience a quiet and serene oasis in the midst of the hectic city? Four Seasons would be your choice.

P.S. Both hotels are part of Virtuoso
, and special rates and amenities are available to you through a Virtuoso luxury travel consultant.

Las Vegas luxury hotels (search here on Google)

copyright (c) 2008 by David J. Ourisman. All rights reserved. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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