- If done incorrectly, a trip to Las Vegas can unexpectedly and unfortunately wind up becoming one of the most expensive journeys of your life.
- With a bit of proper planning, though, it’s possible to enjoy everything Sin City has to offer without sacrificing the total sanctity of your wallet.
- And the best place to do that is at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, the iconic hotel that Elvis Presley himself once called home.
The Las Vegas Strip. The phrase itself is iconic, let alone the 4.225-mile-long road itself. But what if I told you (big 30 For 30 voice) that the best way to actually enjoy the strip is to stay at a resort that’s not *quite* on it?
As someone born and raised in the New York City area, this is actually a principle that I — and millions of my near and dear neighbors — have understood for quite some time: the best way to experience Manhattan is not to live in it, but rather, next to it.
That’s why the likes of Williamsburg and Jersey City, Hoboken and Bushwick, Long Island City and Weehawken, and so on and so forth, have become so popular over recent years. Chaos is a dish best served on the side, not as a main course, and that’s why being next to, alongside, and parallel to where the action is represents the best way to experience something, as you can pick and choose when you want to engage in it as opposed to always and ceaselessly being immersed in it.
This, finally, brings us to the place I resided Sin City for a lovely four-day stay: the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, the iconic home of The King himself Elvis Presley.
While not directly on the Las Vegas Strip itself — it’s a mere block away — I’d argue that’s actually a bonus feature as it not only allows you to moderate your unfiltered Las Vegas intake but it also helps lighten the load on your likely-already-hurting wallet, too.
As a 29-year-old, I’m virtually in the primetime age to enjoy Las Vegas as I’m old enough to have some fun and spend some money (while also hopefully being at least a little bit responsible) but still young enough that I don’t have kids or a family. To compound my sense of anticipation, I had never been to Las Vegas before, making this jam-packed weekend my first ever time in the legendary desert town. With the benefit of a bit of wisdom on my side, I often found myself imagining how an early-20s version of me might have handled a weekend in this infamously exciting city and I still haven’t quite decided if my visions were that of a dream or a nightmare.
While Westgate Resorts is largely known for having the best Orlando resorts for family vacations, their Las Vegas-based location was equally if not more impressive than their Florida offerings. To the surprise of anyone who’s ever been to or merely heard of Las Vegas, fun is exactly what I had over the course of my four-day-stay, which featured literally some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten in my entire life, relaxing days at the golf course, pool, and spa, and wild nights featuring live shows, adult beverages, and, of course, plenty of gambling.
— Eric Italiano (@ericitaIiano) July 28, 2022
— Eric Italiano (@ericitaIiano) July 29, 2022
The Westgate Hotel has room options for every type of Las Vegas visitor at all sorts of price points, as the sophisticated and spacious accommodations boast impressive amenities and a variety of suite types, from functional guestrooms and spacious guest accommodations with stunning views of the Strip, to well-appointed suites with wet bars and parlors for hosting guests.
The SuperBook at the Westgate Las Vegas
- The SuperBook at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino is quite literally the largest sportsbook in all of Las Vegas.
- The sportsbook boasts a stunning 4k video wall that spans an industry-leading 18-feet-tall by 220-feet-long.
- There is simply no better place to catch a big game in Las Vegas than the SuperBook, which also offers the largest wagering menu in the entire state of Nevada.
Given the rise of mobile betting, sports books don’t necessarily have the same “you’ve gotta be there” appeal that they once did. Except at the Westgate’s SuperBook, which truly awed me with the size of television screens and the selection of games that it boasted. This isn’t just some empty claim, either, as the SuperBook — fully stocked with the world’s largest indoor 4K video wall that stands at a mind-blowing 18 feet tall by 220 feet long — is literally the biggest sportsbook in all of Las Vegas and therefore the entire world.
While watching Premier League games at the crack of dawn in the Pacific Time Zone might take some getting used to, watching on these gorgeous screens and enjoying an ice-cold beer from the bar instantly became the only way I’ll ever want to watch a big game ever again. My timing at the SuperBook couldn’t have been any better, either, as I had the treat of not only watching my beloved Liverpool beat Manchester City in the Community Shield, but I got to place my first-ever in-real-life bet on them, too.
Simply put, short of actually being at your game of choice, there is perhaps no better place on Planet Earth to catch a must-see sporting event, whether that be the Super Bowl, World Cup, NCAA Tournament, or everything in between.
— Eric Italiano (@ericitaIiano) July 30, 2022
All told, the SuperBook boasts a jaw-dropping 30,000 square feet of heart-racing action, with over 350 seats, the aforementioned MEGA-screen, a fully stocked bar, cocktail service, an array of food options at The Court, and, of course, a virtually endless choice of betting options.
Just to get a grasp of how all-encompassing the SuperBook — my favorite part of the Westgate Hotel grounds — is, here’s a breakdown of all of its many features and amenities:
-The SuperContest, which is the ultimate pro-football handicapping challenge where over $33 Million has been paid to date.
-Multiple seasonal contests including MLB & NBA seasons & trade Wins, Hoops Central & trade challenges, Big Game Prop contest and others.
-The largest free pro football party in Las Vegas with food & beverage specials, satellite betting stations, and a smoke-free environment (don’t worry, smokers, the casino floor is just a short walk away).
-The largest wagering menu in the state of Nevada.
-A fully stocked bar, cocktail service, and convenient food options at The Court.
-The Clubhouse Lounge, which is available for private parties.
-Four football parlay cards, including Super & Super Mega-teaser cards.
-State of the Art LED Displays with 4K resolution and 63.2 million pixels that take up more than 4,250 sq. ft. of digital space.
The Dining Experience
- The Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino boasts a wide variety of dining options, from Italian at Fresco to hibachi at Benihana to world-class Steak at the Edge Steakhouse.
- In addition to the aforementioned trio, the Westgate also features Sid’s Cafe, Silk Road Asian Bistro, Cordovano Joe’s Pizza, Drafts Sports Bar & Grill Express, Nacho Tacos Authentic Mexican, Fortuna, Rikki Tiki Sushi, and Fresh Buffet.
- The range of food options will satisfy everyone from culinary connoisseurs to regular vacationing families.
As the famous saying goes — “famous” in the sense that I made it up right this second — there’s no such thing as a good vacation with bad food. For the vacation to be a success, the dining experiences must be one of highlights of the trip. It’s why the tongue-in-cheek phrase “hangry” exists — when a person isn’t properly fed, it can negatively impact their entire mood.
And at the Westgate Hotel, the dining experience might have been the highlight of my trip as I literally ate some of the finest meals of my entire life, beginning with our first-night dinner at Edge Steakhouse — a palette experience that was only matched by the quality of service, which I found to be the aspect of the Westgate that’s stuck with me most.
When I say this was the best meal of my life, I truly mean it, as the four-courses had everything from spicy shrimp to wagyu tartare, caesar salad to filet mignon, herb roasted half chicken to Tahitian vanilla creme brulee to a dry-aged ribeye tasting hosted by Executive Chef Dustin Sinclair himself.
It was one of those meals where you simply say yes to anything and everything that was placed on the table and I’ll remember it until the day I have a better one. If I ever do.
Filet Mignon, Dry Aged Steak, Truffle Mac, Asparagus, Stuffed Mushrooms pic.twitter.com/sa93mUREiB
— Eric Italiano (@ericitaIiano) July 29, 2022
Edge Steakhouse isn’t the only A+ restaurant housed at the Westgate Hotel, though, as the following night we ate at the resort’s Italian joint Fresco, which — similar to the SuperBook’s being the biggest in town — is literally the best in town as it was rated as the #1 Italian restaurant in Las Vegas with the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence award.
Given that my last name is, and I kid you not, Italiano (which means Italian in the Italian language), our meal at Fresco was obviously the one I looked forward to most as I would not only be able to enjoy it but genuinely have an informed opinion on it, too.
As you might’ve guessed, while I don’t know the first damn thing about how to preserve a dry-aged ribeye like the culinary geniuses at Edge Steakhouse, I do know how to make a mean meatball like any Italian — especially one from the New York/New Jersey area — worth their salt.
And all told, not only did the meatballs pass my official Italiano Kitchen Test, but the entire meal — which consisted of drool-worthy dishes such as mozzarella fritta, a gorgeous copped salad, penne alfredo, lemon and rosemary roasted chicken, lasagna, frutti de mare, lemon ricotta doughnuts, and delectable gelati — satisfied me in a way that even my Grandma Carmella on Long Island would be proud of.
It’s official: the meatballs are Italiano approved 🍝🤌🏼 pic.twitter.com/trTkf5avGd
— – (@computerpersons) August 9, 2022
The menu items that I enjoyed were just a few of Fresco’s many tantalizing options as the award-winning chefs have created the perfect blend of menu selections that highlight their Italian culinary range and skill.
At Fresco, you’re able to enjoy Italian-style cuisine defined by freshness and simplicity, like hand-crafted flatbreads baked in a stone-fired pizza oven, entrées featuring Bone-in Veal Chop Parmigiana, Osso Buco, Frutti di Mare or Lemon & Rosemary Roasted Chicken, and tasty treats such as tiramisu and authentic Italian Gelati.
Perhaps best of all, though, were the specialty cocktails that were presented by Fresco’s own mixologist Patricia Richards, including a strawberry lemonade that — given how sublimely delicious it was — might be the most “dangerous” drink I’ve ever had in the sense that I felt like I could drink them for the rest of my life.
Westgate also boasts a gigantic, two-story Benihana. And while you might argue that Benihana is Benihana whereever you may be, the one located in the heart of the Westgate Hotel is truly a unique experience as it’s not only grand in size but elegantly beautiful in style. The food, as you imagine, was as quality as you’d come to expect from the nation’s premier hibachi restaurant franchise.
The Benihana at the Westgate is the most stunning restaurant I’ve ever seem. pic.twitter.com/1L0K5UTrkm
— – (@computerpersons) August 9, 2022
Live Entertainment at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino
- For over 52 years the greatest entertainment acts have called the grounds of the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino home delivering some of the most legendary performances the world has ever known.
- The Westgate has been home to legends such as Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Liberace, Tina Turner, and Barry Manilow.
- The hotel’s International Theater and Westgate Cabaret now host thrilling acts such as The Bronx Wanderers, Soul of Motown, Kool and the Gang, the Magic of Jen Kramer, and many more!
As for entertainment, the Westgate has all of that covered at its variety of theaters, as the legendary International Theater — the place where Elvis sold out an astounding 837 consecutive shows from July 1969 through December 1976 — not only hosts a Barry Manilow residency, Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons (next March), FireHouse, the Allman Family Revival, Boombox!, and Kool and the Gang, but the adjacent cabaret also hosts acts such as The Magic of Jen Kramer, Soul of Motown, and The Bronx Wanderers (a particular favorite of mine as it charted the history of rock and roll).
Those eclectic acts, plus constant free live entertainment at the casino bar and a predictably hilarious karaoke night at the SuperBook, ensure that you’ll never have to leave the resort grounds for your nightly entertainment.
From Vegas the other week.
Magic fucking rules — she put an X written with Sharpie on the palm of my hand without ever touching me ✖️
— Eric Italiano (@ericitaIiano) August 9, 2022
The History and Authenticity of the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino
- The Westgate Hotel is one of the most authentic in all of Las Vegas.
- Elvis Presley, one of the most legendary musicians of all time, called the resort’s International Theater home for many, many years.
- That feeling of authenticity can be feel throughout the entire building.
The element of the Westgate that will stick with me longest, though, is its history. This is a hotel, after all, that has an entire section on Elvis’ Wikipedia page, although back then it was known as the International Hotel.
These used to be The King’s STOMPING GROUNDS ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/i98liePmvb
— – (@computerpersons) August 9, 2022
Much if not all of Las Vegas is commodified, and commercialized to an almost suffocating extent, but at the Westgate, there’s this intangible sense of genuineness, originality, classicality, and authenticity that makes it feel as though you’re having the Las Vegas experience in its purest form.
That feeling, as I mentioned earlier, was further elevated by the staff, which was — in all honesty — utterly delightful at every turn and the undoubted highlight of my trip. Don’t believe me? Then how else do you explain me getting jiggy with this lovely security guard from across the casino floor? That’s what I thought.
Similar to the like of apple pie, baseball and cold beer on a warm summer day, and a cheeseburger at McDonald’s, there’s something uniquely and inherently American about Las Vegas, meaning that everyone who calls this great country of ours home should — at least once in their lives — take a trip out to the desert and into the fantasy land known as Sin City.
Truth be told, though, what will stick with me most from the trip — more than the next-level dining and cocktails, behemoth sportsbook, and seemingly endless entertainment options — was the Westgate staff. Every single employee I encountered, from bartenders to valets, from Superbook Vice Presidents to casino security guards seemed to not only genuinely care about their professions but about how I was enjoying my time. And that, ultimately, is what pushes an experience into the core of your memory: personal connections with other people.
As someone who never considered himself much of a traditional partyer, I wasn’t sure how Vegas’ vibe would intersect and overlap with mine, but now that I’ve been there, the only thing I can think about is when I’ll be able to return, particularly to the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino.
And because I had the pleasure of staying under the same roof that The King called home, there’s not a better way to end this Las Vegas recap than with wise words from the man, the myth, and the legend himself:
Oh, there’s black jack and poker and the roulette wheel
A fortune won and lost on ev’ry deal
All you need’s a strong heart and a nerve of steel
Viva Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas
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