When I was in Las Vegas this month I had the opportunity to stay at the Tropicana Hotel as their guest (they paid) in one of their new bungalow suites. If you are not just a little jealous then perhaps your picture of the Tropicana needs to be a bit updated. This is not your father’s Tropicana.
The Tropicana was built starting in 1955 by Ben Jaffe, from the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, with a goal of creating the finest hotel in Las Vegas. The hotel would have a Cuban ambience. Sean Connery’s 007 claimed the Tropicana was “quite comfortable” in Diamonds Are Forever. The hotel was featured in Elvis Presley’s Viva Las Vegas, The Godfather and the 1970s TV series Vegas, but James Bond might not recognize the hotel were he to return today. A major renovation of the hotel was recently completed and a new renovation of the casino and shops is about to start.
Right next to the long glowing counter of the registration desk is the VIP lounge where my check in process started. This is how high rollers, celebrities and other VIPs are greeted with a more personal service. Travel Bloggers don’t normally warrant the VIP treatment so this was definitely one of those “in the manner to which I would like to become accustomed” type of moments.
The bungalow suite where I stayed was on the 1st floor looking out on the pool and was larger than my first apartment. It was a two bedroom suite with a living room in between. Each bedroom had a full bath (shower no tub) and the living room had a 3rd bathroom in case the lines got too long in the morning. With just the smaller bedroom and the living room it would have been as nice as the nicest suite I have stayed in, but then I saw the master bedroom and occasionally had to laugh out loud.
The master bathroom has a double shower with his and hers showers on either end and a rain shower head where you could meet in the middle. The mirrors in the bathroom had a power button that glowed at the bottom. Press them and the whole mirror would light up. There was enough space in the master bath for floor hockey.
Off the master bedroom was an in-suite massage room, a first in my personal experience. Even more unusual to me was a huge walk in closet, twice the size of the one in my master suite at home. I can’t imagine needing that much storage space on a trip so I asked my escort from the VIP lounge if people use it and she said “you would be surprised”. Even some guests who are only staying for a day have been known to call down to ask to delay checkout for an hour because they need more time to pack.
The patio of the suite has a nice table, a chase and a jacuzzi. Las Vegas in winter gets a bit nippy, but not too cold to enjoy a soak in the jacuzzi after a long day at a conference… in my experience.
The entire suite was wired for automation. You could control the drapes, 3 flat screen TVs, lights, and thermostats from various remotes either on the wall or by the bedside. The only light switch I could not find was the one in the walk in closet. I got the impression if the kids were staying in the other bedroom I could enforce lights out and the end of TV time without leaving my bed but was not sure if they could return the favor from their remote. Oddly with all that effort on electronics the internet capacity of the hotel was disappointing, although I am told an upgrade is in the works.
Bacio Italian Cuisine
The Tropicana was kind enough to treat me to dinner at their two top restaurants. The first of these is Bacio which has Italian Cuisine. Gary Arndt from Everything-Everywhere.com and I enjoyed dinner here together. The food was good, the atmosphere was casual and the service was excellent. I had one of the pasta dishes which I enjoyed, but look for the picture of my apple caramel dessert which I particularly savored. Like most restaurants in Las Vegas casinos there are two prices for everything on the menu. If you join the hotel’s Trop Plus Players Club then all food items on the menu are discounted.
Biscayne Steak • Sea • Wine
As good as Bacio was, I liked Biscayne even better. I started the meal with a French Onion soup which was delectable. I had the smaller of the filet minion selections with the trio of the house made sauces as my main course. The Bearnaise sauce was good, but I particularly enjoyed the other two tangier BBQ sauces. I ordered a side of herbed potatoes and finished the meal with a delicious key lime pie dessert topped with sea salt. The service was again excellent. The
Many of the hotels in Las Vegas that are the vintage of the Tropicana have given way to new development and their names are just left, in some cases, as street names. The Tropicana has managed to recreate itself into something new without the use of dynamite but with no less significant changes. While Ben Jaffe might not recognize the place, I suspect he would applaud the changes. I can’t wait to see what they do next.