VEGAS update

If I were to bet on it, I’d say many of you Mauians visit Las Vegas way more than I do.

But as a writer, I am kept in the loop with constant feeds from various publicists who represent restaurants, hotels and activities in the tourist mecca.

For instance, within 90 minutes recently, tickets for an upcoming Joel Robuchon cooking and wine demo sold out.

Part of the four-day Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit extravaganza May 8 to 11, Robuchon’s event already has a waiting list a mile long. Seven other food events are going, going . . . gone.

But if you hurry and book, you may mingle with top chefs such as Bobby Flay, Buddy Valastro, Daniel Boulud, Giada De Laurentiis, Julian Serrano, Guy Savoy, Mario Batali, Michael Mina, Nobu Matsuhisa, Shawn McClain, Thomas Keller and more at many other coveted Vegas Uncork’d events.

Hoops & Hops is bouncing into The Cosmopolitan March 20 to 22. An NCAA men’s basketball viewing experience, it will take place inside The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan with a setting like an exclusive sports lounge.

In addition to betting stations and multiple televisions, it will be a sea of interactive experiences with access to a basketball court along with video games, pool tables and arcade games. The resort’s world-renowned mixology and culinary programs will be in full swing as well, adding sizzle to the bounce.

Here are some more ideas to whet your appetites for Sin City fun.

ARIA art hike

ARIA Resort & Casino provides a fun way to work off the buffet pounds and get buffed out at the same time – all the while bringing out your inner Picasso.

Just tear yourself away from the gaming tables one morning and sign up for the art hike at the The Spa & Salon at ARIA. It’s by appointment only Monday through Thursday. The 60-minute session costs $50.

Steve “The Rocket” Rosen caters the hikes to each guest’s fitness level. Wear comfortable shoes, shorts and T-shirts to explore CityCenter’s $40 million of fine art, including stunning pieces from Maya Lin and Henry Moore and ice sculptures at Crystals shopping center.

Through megastair climbs, squats and push-ups (and funny looks and comments by tourists sipping giant drinks) you get your heart rate up, get insider scoop on restaurants as well as retailers, receive a guide to all the world-class art, and get a pass for the spa. Do bring along a bathing suit for the water features.

Mix it up at Monte Carlo

Regulars know that MGM Resorts boasts 12 properties on the Strip, and that its loyalty rewards programs are popular with repeat guests.

The M Life program is one that will surely shake up your vacation in fun ways. Monte Carlo mixologists teach intimate groups the secrets to making a great cocktail and history in a two-hour tasting session at the classic, cocktail-driven Hit Bar & Lounge. Guests receive a book at the end of the experience that includes the recipes for the drinks they crafted as well as bartending tips. This M Life Moment is available to all members. M Life is free to join.

Andrea’s is dining fine

Named after the wife of casino mogul Steve Wynn, the new Andrea’s at Encore is accented in cream, cognac, pearl and gold hues. It’s the ultimate in a night on the town with a “musical chef” curating sounds, 1,000 champagne-tinted Venetian glass teardrop lights to set the mood, and sharable Asian cuisine, shellfish on ice and classically prepared steaks to tempt your palate.

Chef Joseph Elevado will impress you with five-spice garlic lobster, wagyu beef sliders and truffled ponzu rock shrimp tempura. He was a chef at the acclaimed Nobu in New York City and was Matsuhisa’s executive chef in Vegas before joining Wynn’s all-star team.

People from Hawaii will love his dim sum potstickers, plentiful vegan options and king salmon tartare. Of Filipino heritage, Elevado says that his favorite childhood breakfast was Spam and eggs.

And, who is Andrea’s “musical chef,” anyway? He’s Steve Angello, a world renowned, Grammy-nominated electronic dance music disc jockey.

Hard Rock happenings

Guns N’ Roses will return to The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino for nine shows May 21 to June 7. If you plan to go, you may want to dine at Mr. Lucky’s Cafe, the property’s only 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week dining hotspot.

Bring your appetites for “The King,” a towering stack of 14 fluffy banana pancakes, 14 strips of crispy bacon, peanut butter glaze and maple syrup drizzle.

The bloody mary is a mile-high drink like no other with Belvedere vodka, spicy tomato, shrimp cocktail, celery stalk, Slim Jim, deviled egg, waffle slider, pickle spear, horseradish and lime. “Mr. Lucky’s always ensures that guests never leave on an empty stomach,” says its publicist Amanda Brophy.

Pink Taco reigns as Hard Rock’s mega-hip Mexican cantina. The folk-art bedecked restaurant is adorned with classic low-rider bicycles and tables that leave your feet dangling. Devour lobster tacos with housemade corn tortillas made by ladies at the front entrance and bacon-wrapped jalapenos. Ole!

FIVE50 Pizza Bar

FIVE50 Pizza Bar is one of the Strip’s newest pizza joints. James Beard Award-winning chef Shawn McClain is at the helm with savory clam pies, hand-rolled pastas and heirloom tomatoes and burrata cheese salads.

FIVE50 follows Sage, McClain’s first restaurant at the Aria. Designed to be an industrially chic hotspot by the celebrated Rockwell architectural firm, it’s got a sexy vibe with music soundtracks and lots of TV screens for sports.

You’ll love the wood-fired pizzas, the artisanal charcuteries, seasonal salads and more than 50 select craft beers. Small plates of tapas include wood-fired clams paired with linguica sausage, and creamy polenta topped with farm egg. It’s easy to find, off Aria’s casino floor adjacent to the Race & Sports Book.


While Cirque du Soleil’s “Zarkana” has been in the swing of things for some time at the Aria, it now features twin brothers Andrew and Kevin Atheron in its aerial acts. The twins were both elite members of Great Britain’s gymnastics team until their retirement from competition. See them perform live in “Zarkana” with the rest of the world-class crew Fridays to Tuesdays at 7 and 9:30 p.m.

Dolphin Habitat

Who says Vegas isn’t for families with children? Well, OK, some aspects, for sure, are definitely not. But you would never know it at Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and the adjoining Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage Las Vegas.

Walk through lush jungle-like landscape bounding with exotic animals like white lions, tigers and panthers; you may even spot a leopard. Then head to the pool area and watch the bottlenose dolphins perform a variety of tasks.

Painting with the Dolphins is a new experience, in which you partner with a bottlenose friend to paint a canvas that you hold in your hands. Or opt for Yoga with the Dolphins. It’s a one-hour class you join at the underwater viewing area, and everyone gets a smoothie to sip and full spa access afterwards. Both activities come with keepsake photos.

Rock on, Maui

Wanna be a rock star? The Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp at Mandalay Bay can provide music fans the opportunity to jam with legendary rock stars, write and record original songs and perform live on stage in front of friends and family at House of Blues.

“Campers” are mentored by some of the biggest names in rock such as Gene Simmons of Kiss, Roger Daltrey of the Who and Def Leppard, among others.

Besides receiving insight from these master musicians, you will hear personal stories about life on tour. So prepare for the spotlight -cause it’s time to take the stage.

Nove Italiano tempts

Rome wasn’t built in a day, states the press release, and neither was Nove Italiano. In fact, step off the elevator at the top of Palms Casino Resort’s Fantasy Tower, and your jaw will drop with floor-to-ceiling glass views of Sin City.

Nove’s Chef de Cuisine Kieran Toivonen prepares classic Italian fare amid chic, urbane yet playful decor. Dine family style on the chef’s whim of bruschetta, pasta made fresh in house, chicken Marsala and other favorites.

Or order your own lobster bisque, daily crudo with sliced raw fish in extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and lemon. You will adore the fun, interactive cannoli dessert plate with mini shells, piping bag filled with rich cream and chocolate and caramel dipping sauces with a variety of sprinkles.

If you are still ready to play after you take the elevator down to the casino level, do check out the new Scarlet, an intimate mixology bar serving up original shots, signature cocktails and infused spirits in a dramatically lit, small space. You’ll feel like you went back in time to a speakeasy with Scarlet’s drink menu, created by Francesco Lafranconi, a world-famous mixologist who once taught a class to staff at Grand Wailea.

ESPA at Vdara

Global spa industry leader ESPA recently joined forces with Vdara Hotel & Spa for its first branded experience in the western United States.

ESPA’s delectable menu is full of result-driven treatments and eco-friendly products. It’s world-renowned for natural skin care desired by men and women alike.

The spa staff is extensively trained to do a pre-treatment analysis to determine which body oil best suits individual guests during the massage.

“An early favorite among devotees is the Desert Rose treatment, where guests ooze into a state of complete relaxation through a soothing body massage that is a systematic application of oils and ESPA’s Body Butter leaving the body revitalized and the skin replenished,” says publicist Robert Flicker.

Michael Mina’s Pub 1842

Named for the year pilsner was created, the new Michael Mina’s Pub 1842 pulls more than 50 beers from its many taps. Want to sample a variety? Order beer flights in small glasses and try ales, pilsners, stouts and lagers. If the chef owner Michael Mina has his way, you’ll also have a shot of whiskey in hand.

The sports bar atmosphere is casual and fun, situated in The District inside MGM Grand near Emeril Lagasse’s and Tom Colicchio’s restaurants. You’ll love the playful menu with comfort food of lobster-corn-dogs, duck spring rolls, and farm to table salads.

Mina is among the acclaimed chefs who will appear at Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. He’s got top restaurants from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., and this casual version of what he’s about is great for people who want to sample his cuisine at moderate prices.

RiRa Irish Pub

Want to kick up your heels while sipping a dark, velvety pint of Guinness? RiRa Irish Pub at the Mandalay on The Strip is the place to go, and a favorite of Maui’s own Mike O’Dwyer of Mulligans on the Blue when he’s in Vegas.

The authentic, antique bar and furniture were meticulously restored in County Wicklow, Ireland, and then shipped in a container to Vegas to be put back together.

Walk around with a pint in your hand and drink in the decor. Listen to live Irish music seven nights a week, and dine on the best fish and chips and lamb pot roast ever.

Smart Plate program

MGM Resorts International is reinforcing the company’s commitment to healthy living with the addition of Smart Plate, a new program which provides its guests and visitors delicious and healthy items weighing in at 700 calories or less per dish.

Now, who would have ever thunk it in Sin City -where excess is king?

The calorie-conscious items are available on select in-room dining menus and participating cafes. “The Smart Plate program is an excellent resource for Las Vegas visitors wanting to manage their healthy lifestyle on the go,” says Sean DeCicco, Mandalay Bay’s vice president of food & beverage.