In a city where everything seems possible with a show of your billfold, there are some experiences that simply can't be bought. Take, for instance, the hotel villas dotting the Vegas Strip that are swathed in secrecy -- many with their own guarded entrances -- and available only to each casino's favorite guests.
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There's the exclusive Paiza Club at Venetian and Palazzo, a by-invitation-only membership club, a rabbit warren of private gambling rooms, including high-stakes ones where guests play baccarat and blackjack for $200,000 a hand. On the website for Wynn Las Vegas there are tantalizing images of the three-bedroom duplex at Encore Tower Suites, a nearly 6,000-square-foot retreat with three master bedrooms, an elevator, butler's pantry, game room and massage room. One thing you won't see: a way to book it.
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The reality is that casinos use sophisticated formulas to invite or upgrade, not only based on the amount of money you're spending, but on relationships, credit lines, celebrity -- and even how long you've held your coveted "box" (safety deposit boxes available to high rollers, far more secure than any bank vault, and worth their weight not only in the cash they hold but the power they convey).
The Mansion at MGM Grand is perhaps the worst kept secret in Las Vegas, a collection of 29 luxurious villas on the Strip, available to invited guests. But the MGM kingdom also includes a range of villas most people never see, from the Villas at The Mirage (pictured top) -- accessed through a private gated entrance with their own secured entry from the casino floor -- to the Bellagio Chairman and Presidential suites atop Bellagio's Spa Tower: 4,075-square-foot rooms with their own solariums, indoor gardens and fountains.
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The good news is that some of Vegas's historically inaccessible spaces are coming online for those of us willing to pony up for the experience.
In the last few months, Caesars Palace's secret villas have slowly opened up as part of the Anthology Collection. These include the 10,500-square-foot David Rockwell villa atop Nobu Hotel (pictured above) within Caesars (think in-room Nobu chefs at your disposal, a private Zen garden, sauna and media room), and the 11,200-square-foot Titus villa, with its onyx tub and golden fixtures, private pool, barrel-vaulted ceilings and piano room.
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The price tags attached to them hover around $35,000 per night, though prices aren't listed and vary depending on availability and what's going on in Vegas. (VIPs paid far more for a Nobu Villa during the Mayweather v. Pacquiao fight weekend, for instance.) The Villas at Mirage recently opened a few to the public on a limited basis, and while most casinos won't talk price at this level, MGM will divulge that they range from $2,250 per night for Mirage Villas, to between $5,000 and $20,000 per night at The Mansion.
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After all, says Jenn Michaels, SVP of public relations for MGM Resorts International, while it's important for MGM to offer its most exclusive suites to invited guests, everyone is welcome. A connection, of course, always helps.
Andrea Bennett is the Editor in Chief of Vegas Magazine, and covers the Las Vegas beat for Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @AndreaBennett1.
-- By Andrea Bennett