As they say in real estate, "location, location, location", and in Las Vegas, the new Westin Casuarina is a real estate dream come true for leisure or for the business traveler.

Although not located directly on the Strip, the Westin is within walking distance to Bally's Hotel and Casino for traditional Vegas entertainment, Caesars Palace for the new Colloseum, the Flamingo Hilton for the magnificent gardens, and the Bellagio for fine dining at Picasso's.

The new 825-guestroom Westin Casuarina is the sister property to the Westin Casuarina Grand Cayman, and it is built around the eko-skeleton of the former Maxim Hotel, but you won't recognized the dramatic and expensive and expansive design changes of the Asian owned and Sheraton branded Westin. Hopefully they add the Maxim's infamous Sunday champagne brunch to the list of amenities!

After pumping millions of dollars into the makeover, the first Westin in Nevada has rolled out the red carpet for a price conscious clientele that still wants high end amenities, such as business services, high speed internet access, breakout business conference rooms, and a 3,500 square foot ballroom.

You can purchase a Westin 
Heavenly Bed for your home palace!

The Westin Casuarina features four two-bedroom suites and six one-bedroom suites, which are a cut above the standard rooms, but each room has superb amenities, and the most pillows I have ever witnessed in a hotel room: five queen size and king size pillows with a duvet coverlet on the Westin trademarked Heavenly Bed, a custom designed pillow-top mattress set with a cozy down blanket, three crisp sheets, and the soft duvet comforter.

The Heavenly Bath, a moniker also trademarked by the chain, is a customized shower with two heads for power and wider water coverage, and each showerhead has five adjustable jets and spray options, from the light misty feature to the pounding massaging needles, so you can customize your shower depending on how grueling that business conference was. The Heavenly Bath features a curved shower curtain rod that provides eight additional inches of elbowroom and eliminates the dreaded shower curtain cling, and the oversized Brazilian combed cotton bath towels are as big a treat as the custom designed velour bathrobes and spa amenities.

Other in room amenities included a fully stock refreshment center, cable TV, in room movies, a laptop-sized safe and a coffee maker.

For the business traveler the hotel features five contiguous meeting rooms with 10,000 square feet of meeting space and the largest space, the 5,000-square-foot meeting room, can divide into five sections, perfect for a variety of events. Two private boardrooms hold up to ten people each. There is something that sounds totally techy, called the Starwood Turbo Net High Speed Internet access, which is available in all meeting rooms. Westin is the number one upscale hotel chain brand for business, according to Business Travel News in 2003, so there is no excuse now to email or conference call the home office when you road warriors come to Vegas.

Fly above traffic on the new
Las Vegas Monorail,
whsking you to conventions
at over 50 miles an hour!
For the full story >>>

What's even better for the business traveler is the new Las Vegas Monorail station across the street from the Westin Casuarina. With a ticket on the new monorail you can attend conventions at the MGM Grand, Sands Convention Center, or the Las Vegas Convention Center, and soon the monorail line will connect to the downtown casinos. Westin offers the best location in Vegas, and away from the hubbub of congestion on the Strip.

The Casuarina Casino is one mile from the Vegas convention Center, Sands Convention Center and Mandalay Bay Convention Center and 1.5 miles from the airport, so even if the monorail still doesn't go to the airport, you are within a quick hop to the conventions, in the largest convention city in the world.

The Silver Park Grill is open around
the clock, just off the casino floor.

I certainly enjoyed the dining at the Silver Park Grill Restaurant, open around the clock like the rest of the town. Cuisine highlights include prime steak, fresh seafood, and Mediterranean cuisine. Featured items on the menu include crisp ciahbatta sandwiches, field chop salad with bruschetta, yellowfin tuna tartare, prime filet of beef, and hazelnut crusted Seabass. The restaurant seats 250 with a private dining area seating 30. A breakfast buffet is offered in the morning. Meeting planners can choose from a variety of buffets, box luncheons, or reception packages that range in price and selection. They have fresh à la carte California cuisine, but my bet is the breakfast buffet with everything imaginable on the menu, set in an ambience of geometric patterned fabrics.

A translucent screen in the Casino Lounge gives viewers privacy and intimacy of the Casuarina Casino, modeled after European casinos, with sofas, loveseats, and divans artfully placed around the casino floor like a residential living room so onlookers can relax when the lucky lady hands hit handsomely.

The Westin Casuarina Casino is
modeled after European counterparts.

For players the 20,000-square-foot casino features 350 slots and video poker machines and ten table games (blackjack, roulette, poker, craps, and pai gow). Slot machines feature ticket-in-ticket out systems. No clanging payouts here! The Premium Players Club allows guests $10 in free slot plays when they sign up for the premium players card, and your are eligible for cash back and personalized benefits. I was playing the penny slots in the state-of-the-art casino and won $3.85, so of course I had to treat myself to a Starbucks café coffee au laite, located on the western end of the hotel, open 24 hours a day.

Lounge by the pool in
a private cabana.

What I really liked at the hotel was the service, especially something called Westin Express, where you dial one number from your room telephone for all your needs. All rooms have two-line speakerphones with a data port for Internet, and a cordless bedside phone with voice messaging.

The completely refurbished 17-story property reflects Westin's brand standards in the lobby, guestrooms, meeting space, and public areas. A massive $75 million renovation and upgrade over the past years has transformed the location into a modern contemporary architectural design.

The 10,000 square-foot Hibiscus Spa at the Westin Las Vegas opened in April, 2004, and accepts both hotel guests and local residents (with a 20% discount on all spa services and products for Nevada license holders).

After an hour with Kevin who  professionally kneaded and firmly pressed out all the stress with a full body Deep Tissue Sports Massage, I am gong to have to come back to take advantage of the discounts. The spa has a unique and extensive menu of massages, facials and body treatments.

Hibiscus Spa is a full-service spa and salon with a retail center, relaxation room, and a complete fitness facility. You can even get a haircut or styling treatment.  The spa offers 15 treatment rooms (one with Vichy shower), including three esthetic rooms and one couples room. The spa is great for the business person who really needs the services for a total lifestyle approach that encompasses the entire person – body, mind and spirit.  Kevin is a certified Nevada School of Massage therapist that also teaches at the school. He is one of the best I have ever experienced.

Here is a litany of Hibiscus services:

Facials  -  Aroma Stone Facial; Aroma Prime Facial/European Basic Facial; AromaClear Clarifying Facial or Fruit and Floral Purifying Facial; Retvine Anti-Aging Facial; Aqua-C Facial; Men’s Rejuvenating Facial; Ultimate Back Facial; Teen Facial; Hibiscus Beauty Express; Radiant Renewal Facial. You can add on to any Facial the following:

Viternel Eye and Lip Treatment; Anti-Aging Floral Hand Treatment; Collagen Amplifier; Skin Tightening Serum; Microdermabrasion Scrub; Epicuren Eye Treatment.

Hibiscus Body Scrubs  –  Choose a 30 minute service: Herbal Papaya Pineapple; Germanium Grapeseed; Mandarin Orange; Sesame Almond; Rare Essence Blossom Rub; Hibiscus Island Paradise; Tropical Temptation; Tranquil Escape Mud Mask; Crystal Silk Body Glow.

Hibiscus Body Wrap Treatments - 50 minutes unless customized. Take advantage of a Botanical Garden Wrap; Nature’s Secret Elixir; or Herbal Rejuvenating Wrap.

Hibiscus Massage Treatments (Choose your own scents for your massage.) Reflexology; Japanese Shiatsu; Swedish Massage; Deep Tissue Sports Therapy; Couples Massage; Four Handed Massage; Pregnancy Massage; Aromavedic Total Body Mind and Spirit.

Hibiscus Signature Treatments -
  Aroma Sculpt Treatment; Aroma Sculpt Experience (includes exfoliation).

The property is owned and operated by Columbia Sussex, which operates more than 50 full service properties in the U.S. and overseas.

For the health conscious, there is a small pool area with cabanas, sauna, Jacuzzi. The WestinWorkout (the gym) elevates fitness to a new level with the airy surroundings and the finest exercise equipment, including LifeFitness and Precor equipment.

There is a full service concierge for all travel, tour and entertainment needs, with a fax and Internet service at a business center on the ground floor. Room packages include daredevil roller coaster rides to craps lessons from the experts. Indulge in an in-room massage or go club hopping around Las Vegas by limousine. And to top it all off, Bowser will love you for taking him to the Westin Casuarina, because the Starwood LTD (Love That Dog) program welcome's man's best friend with the Heavenly Dog Bed and food and water bowls and temporary ID tags with hotel contact information.

So if you are coming to Vegas for business meetings, groups, or conventions, utilize Westin One Call, where busy executives get help planning small meetings, a new service available at Westin hotels in the USA and Canada. Call 800/301-1111 for your entire meeting planning responsibilities delegated to a meeting expert who schedules, organizes, prices and manages all the details.

And for the vacationing and leisure traveler, you can't go wrong with all the other activities, because it's Vegas Baby!

By Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine.

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