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Despite the lush foliage, the place is amazingly clean. THE SCENE The city's largest hotel had to have a giant water feature, if only to accommodate its capacity of 10,000 guests.
The MGM Grand does: there are five pools with showbizzy names like Talent Pool; the resort goes the extra mile with a lazy river that takes almost 10 minutes to float around. There's a three-lane lap pool for people who want a no-gimmicks place to exercise. THE SCENE This dinosaur may be one of the Strip's least-noticed resorts, but to our surprise, we completely fell for the place.
Every one of the 4,027 rooms is designated a suite, with a sunken living room and enormous Italian-marble bathroom.
Most know the Bellagio for its public spaces—those fountains performing nightly, the Conservatory with its over-the-top revolving floral displays (don’t miss the Chinese New Year exhibit), and the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts.
The lifeguards seemed bitterly bored: one dozed, and another wore khaki shorts rather than a bathing suit.
Fix the fountain and the lifeguards' attitudes, and the hotel could easily earn a B for variety and excellent use of its theme. PRICE OF A COKE .25PRICE OF A RUM AND COKE .50OTHER FAMILY FEATURES At the Pharaoh's Pavilion there's an IMAX theater, three motion-simulator rides, and a reproduction of King Tutankhamen's tomb with an audio tour.
This comprehensive examination of Strip "water features" (to use the parlance of the resort business) was conducted by a 31-year-old pool aficionado (me) and my 13-year-old "little brother," Jamie, whom I mentor through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program. Sorry, not likely in Vegas, especially these days . THE SCENE Who knew one of the oldest and least elaborate casino-resorts on the Strip would have a backyard so big, so lush, and so much fun? PRICE OF A COKE .25PRICE OF A RUM AND COKE .50OTHER FAMILY FEATURES African penguins, swans, macaws, and flamingos—real ones—roam free in the garden. There's also a lazy river, two conventional pools, and another, more secluded and quiet one.
Both of us live here, so we were able to spend several weeksgetting wet—and grading the waters. That said, in-house aquariums, dancing fountains, and gardens housing wild animals are still the norm. The network of waterslides connecting three pools would have been enough, but there's also a fourth pool with a pounding 18-foot waterfall, and a fifth, more conventional and sedate pool. Lifeguards seemed happy and alert—a rarity on the Strip. You can't enjoy a good tsunami without getting soaked.
The other three surround a waterfall that's been in disrepair for at least a year.
But the rooms, with their marble entryways and plasma-screen TV's, are so opulent, Jamie was afraid he'd break something. S.; 800/627-6667; doubles from , kids 12 and up .
THE SCENE The first of the new generation of themed resorts plays up its Polynesian aesthetic with aplomb.
THE SCENE This resort prides itself on being child-friendly, but the only interesting pool feature—a small waterfall—is accompanied by a DO NOT TOUCH sign. The view, too, is miserable: the parking garage and a sign for Interstate 15. Browse the world's biggest refrigerator-magnet collection at the overlooked Guinness World Records Museum (). The 1,200-pound front wheel of an enormous replica Sportster juts forth from the façade of this casual All-American eatery.
There are two mushroom-shaped pools surrounded by pine trees, with views of one of the hotel's castle towers. Occasionally the resort erects a volleyball net, which would be a nice touch if it didn't split the pool in two. Located on the Strip, the Harley Davidson Café is home to 15 custom bikes, including two previously owned by Billy Joel and Elvis, as well as celeb memorabilia such as Jon Bon Jovi's snakeskin jacket by Versace.