Las Vegas VIP Experience
Tiger's Playground: Motorcycle Millionaires in Sin City
There is a side of Las Vegas most of us will never see. Behind closed doors marked “Private,” beyond red velvet ropes and darkened limos resides the world of the “whale,” or high roller in Vegas-speak. It represents the crème de la crème of the Vegas Strip experience, and through our clandestine connections we have gained an all-access pass to the rarefied world of the Vegas Motorcycle VIP, if only for a tantalizing, sinful Tiger Woods’ taste.
Enter Mr. I.M. Killa, the alias for motorcycle would-be tough guy, Horatio E. Pusser, who made big bank in bass futures and was obsessed with all things fishy, being a third generation fishmonger from the Bronx. “I.M. Killa” appears aggressively on his super-exclusive American Express Black Card, which sets apart the truly well heeled from the likes of me and the rest of the workaday hoi polloi.
In the lavish life of mega-buck motorcycles, exotic sports cars, posh hotels, exclusive clubs, $1,000 dinners and $2,500 per night escorts for those who want to party like a golf star, the sublime delights of the VIP are something most dream await us in the afterlife. But Killa wanted some now, somehow.
Despite the really dumb and dreadful actions of a certain golf god, he wanted to swing like Tiger, even if what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. It does make me wonder, though, as long as we’re playing with our putters, when are 18 holes not enough?
Some Las Vegas hotels will provide millionaire concierge service, if your wallet is fat enough. A single phone call to the right source will have you behind the wheel of a Bentley Mulsanne or Ferrari 458 Italia or atop the custom-made works of a radical Travertson V-Rex. Every whim, fantasy and desire will be fulfilled, no matter how exotic or erotic. All it takes is cash – Monopoly-size piles of it.
You want the romantic dinner for two at Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio restaurant; $400 bottle service in the VIP rooms of Vegas’ hottest nightspots, such as Stoney’s, Minus 5 Ice Lounge, or Studio 54; the best seats at the Beatles’ LOVE, the Blue Man Group, Le Reve, Criss Angel’s Believe, or Kid Rock rocking your hotel suite, every chef, server, performer and pourer will be your best friend. You just have to pay them.
It might be a good idea to interject a caution here. If you pick a private VIP concierge over one provided by an upscale hotel, you’re rolling the dice. Some of these companies are less than reputable, or reliable. They can promise a lot and deliver little. And some are just glorified call girl services. Remember, this is Las Vegas where almost nothing is real. It’s a town built solidly on sin, all the sins. But a little peril is fun.
A call to the amiable Jack Reynolds of WeRentMotorcycles.com, and the important stuff was handled. Two bikes were delivered to our hotel, the Silverton Casino Lodge—one for me, one for Killa. Not as glitzy or glam as some Vegas Strip hotel casinos, the Silverton is a few miles off the main drag, providing a more rustic and quiet retreat from the neon hubbub. It also boasts some first-rate restaurants (see Dining Out).
Killa, smoking a Thompson Chopper cigar and looking resplendent in his groovy, hinge-less Liquid Eyewear glasses and Schott leather Rocker Shirt (the same Kid Rock wears, he noted), felt right at home to the adjacent Bass Pro Shop Super Store, a 165,000 sq.-ft., two-story sportsman’s indoor paradise. This dreamland of fishing and firearms features a simulated trout stream, a 40,000-gallon freshwater aquarium and possibly mermaids masquerading as human fish wranglers. It’s Vegas, baby.
Arguably, no bike is better suited to cruising the Strip than the V-Rex, a slick, ultra-cool, V-Rod-powered factory custom built by Travertson. The machine looks like it was made for the glare of Vegas. With a sleek, powerful build, the V-Rex prowls the boulevard like an apex predator. It is a big, bad, snarling beast, a jaw dropping head turner. This turns the V-Rex into a real pickup machine—if it only had a rear seat. The bike is strictly a solo ride, but if you’re rolling in moolah and insatiable, you’ll find a way.
Reynolds also provided a Kawasaki Voyager for more practical entertainment. The loaded, plush bagger is great for shopping sprees and carrying large amounts of cash or PGA-themed condoms. Killa rode the Rex.
Concierge Motorcycle Service
There have long been motorcycle rental and touring companies, but Jack Reynolds, a partner in WeRentMotorcycles.com, may be the first and still only company to deliver bikes door-to-door, state-to-state, to your home or hotel.
The Newport Beach, CA-based operator has transported bikes across town and across the country. “The furthest pickup so far has been to Miami. We delivered the bikes to Los Angeles, the clients rode to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska and then home to Miami, a ride of some 13,200 miles,” said Reynolds, who formerly headed up Quik Internet, a Web service provider.
WeRentMotorcycles.com will do one-way or roundtrip rentals, provide self-guided directions via a pre-programmed, handlebar-mounted Garmin Zuma 550 GPS systems, and will provide a live guide, if requested. “That’s a rare occurrence,” said Reynolds, “and usually for clients who don’t speak English.” Reynolds said 70% of his clientele come from overseas, mostly Europe, Australia and South America.
WeRentMotorcycles.com has no retail space. For Reynolds, this is a two-sided coin. “It helps us be more flexible and competitive,” he said, “keeping prices reasonable and allowing us to put our resources into our bikes and service. We’re also available 24/7, not just during normal business hours. But it’s also harder to have credibility with potential customers. Fortunately, our reputation and recommendations speak for us.”
Among the company’s more popular pre-set tours are national and state parks, said Reynolds, as well as scenic Mad Maps tours. Most clients are happy to get on and go, but some want the live guides, added Reynolds. Both options are always available.
WeRentMotorcycles.com presently offers a selection motorcycles from BMW, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha, as well as the Cam-Am Spyder. The V-Rex is now for sale. For more information, visit WeRentMotorcycles.com, call 888-849-4098 (U.S./Canada) or 949-579-9422 (international).
Some of the more chic bars include Minus 5 at the Mandalay Bay Casino. The place is kind of like a Disney ride. Serving drinks in glasses made of ice, dressed in issued faux furs, sitting on faux furs in what can be best described as an ice vault, is a novel experience and a nice way to scrub off the Vegas heat. Exit through the gift shop, consider the resident photographer’s shots of you and your sweetie, buy a T-shirt.
Even if you are dirty filthy rich, generally preferring the VIP room and smoldering go-go dancers of the recreated Studio 54 in the MGM Grand Hotel, for the real flavor of Vegas, no self-respecting iron jockey would miss at least a sampling of such local dives as the Double Down, Dino’s, and self-proclaimed biker bar, Hogs & Heifers (201 North 3rd St.; 702-676-1457), where scantily leathered bartenders shake their booty on the bar between pours.
The Double Down Saloon (4640 Paradise Rd.; 702-791-5775) has graffiti plastered walls, edgy chicks covered in tats and retro dresses, a screaming punk band (Whiskey & Knives) whose front man sang a love ballad to his new wife, and a curious house drink called “ass juice,” ingredients unknown, but tasty and maybe why the joint is, as the sign says, “The Happiest Place on Earth.” The hulking bouncer, Big Chris, looked like he just walked off the set of a ‘60s B biker flick but was a soft-spoken gentleman. The Travel Channel has visited the Double Down at least twice, apparently not adequately scared off the first time.
Dino’s Lounge (1516 Las Vegas Blvd S; 702-382-3894) is a throwback, billing itself as “The Last Neighborhood Bar in Las Vegas,” although that may more literally mean it’s the last local saloon before leaving the city’s southern limits. The bar dates back at least until 1960 and named after owner Dean “Dino” Bartolo, and sadly not the other Dino. It’s the kind of place you’d expect the ghost of John Belushi to run up a tab. Locals and staff know each other here, giving it more of that 100-proof “family” vibe. A biker-friendly establishment, motorcycle swap meets are held from time to time.
Perhaps Las Vegas’ biggest nightclub surprise is Stoney’s Rockin' Country (9151 Las Vegas Blvd S #300; 702- 435-2855), which is a bit off the tourist trail, about three miles south of the bright lights of downtown Las Vegas. It is a big, straight-up belt of rootin’ tootin’ honky-tonk.
Don’t let the strip mall setting fool you, Stoney's is a smoking club offering a lot more than line dancing or country twangs. Depending on the night, bands or DJs will boom out classic rock, hip-hop or alternative as well as country rock, drawing eclectic crowds and keeping it fresh.
Stoney’s features a 2,500-sq.ft. dance floor, two full bars, pool tables, the obligatory mechanical bull, bowling, and an arcade. From the elevated VIP area you can get a panoramic view of the dancers, including the hot cowgirls who kick up their high heel boots on the bar. VIP bottle service will run around $400, but that’s chump change to Mr. Killa.
Postrio (at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino)
The ever-entrepreneurial Wolfgang Puck has succeeded once again with Postrio. Attention was clearly lavished on every detail of cuisine and ambience, as well as education of the staff. The menu offers a spectrum from simple offerings, such as lamb sausage to more complexly flavored fare, such as the chef’s Asian take on tuna and eggplant.
The expected Puck Pizzas are present, as are the most fresh and delicious oysters we sampled while in Sin City, or as some people may now call it, “Tiger Town.” This was just one offering in the chic eatery’s daily changing seafood selection, which somehow seems all the better for being served under the neon sun of this desert oasis. Try the spicy tuna and crab cakes; they were a highlight of our VIP culinary experience.
I "PROMISE" myself I will never again go to Las Vegas without visiting Envy. I am writing this 60 times on the chalkboard of my mind. This was a stellar experience from the first sip of wine (Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2005) to the very last sumptuous bite. And, no, there wasn't any room for dessert, but we made a commitment to the tiramisu for next time.
Aptly named after one of the Seven Deadly Sins, Envy does not disappoint. The venue beckons with a long, beckoning scarlet-hued dining room deep in classic texture and color, an exhibition style kitchen, and lounge. The wait staff is as knowledgeable, the food excellent, the menu diverse. Chops, seafood tower, steaks—we covered the bases and hit a home run. Dining at Envy feels like you're in a Humphrey Bogart movie. The experience prompted us to our next indiscretion “Lust.” Mmmm, the inspiration!
And sometimes you just want a hotdog, a very, very good hotdog. Las Vegas’ little sister to the cultist Hollywood Hot Doggery, which dates back to 1939, Pink’s offers wraps, fries, all the fixins’ and that rare, “snap-to-the-bite, all beef, naturally encased dogs.”
Although the menu is an abbreviated version of the Hollywood original, eclectic, full-plated options abound. You may even find yourself bowing down to the Lord of the Rings (the pleasantly unctuous, behemoth onion variety), upon their kitschy pink cowhide flooring. Grab a big biker fist full of napkins because you will surely be left looking like a food-slathered toddler. Alfresco seating overlooking the Strip provides a good place to people watch.
This should be titled, “Catch Her in the Rye.” If you are bourbon and rye aficionados, as we are, this is one more reason to visit Twin Creeks Steakhouse at the Silverton Casino. Known for its boutique distillery flights, the atmospheric eatery has quickly become a favorite haunt for locals and their visiting guests. At first glance, the velvety plush booths with rustic wooden tables strike you as just the place for a secretive business meeting plotting a hostile corporate takeover, canoodling with your sweetheart, or perhaps plotting a murder.
Attentive manager, Jay Morrison, is the venue's engaging host and seemingly personal ambassador to crème brulee, a Twin Creeks’ favorite. The menu offers the customary fare for the genre but with a gourmet flare. From the starter oysters, to the tasty salads, steaks and seafood, the experience was top shelf. Service and ambiance was spot on.
Being ever so vigilant, duty called us to partake in copious whiskey samples just to be sure we got it right. After extensive testing, we had a winner, if only we could remember the brand. We also somehow missed our seating at master magician Lance Burton’s show. I guess we were the ones to disappear.
Mi Casa Grill Cantina (at the Silverton Lodge)
Well, certainly if this were “my house,” I'd have nearly naked Asian girls meeting me at the entrance, tightly attired in Day of the Dead-esque mini-frocks, and guiding me to an arsenal of 65 tequilas. After all, home is where the heart is.
This Mexican style eatery is rife with elegantly presented fare. We indulged in the crab stuffed lobster and chili rellenos, while soaking up the visuals—a mix of pottery, glass, wood, organic dry goods, and did I mention the hot staff? A festive bar, side rooms, and nooks lend themselves to the charm. The Silverton eateries provide guests with upscale but casual offerings. The hotel’s Sundance Grill, meanwhile, has a way of presenting eggs and pancakes like they hopped off a postcard.
Maggiano's Little Italy
As the full moon rose over the Wynn Hotel Casino, we sat window-side at Maggiano's, overlooking the Las Vegas Strip. Our ever-amusing server, “Sparky,” attended to us until we were ready to “roll” out. This is where corporate culture meets old school sensibilities. The portions are large, the menu extensive and traditional. The main dining room is perfect for a business dinner meeting or family gathering, but the real action, I suspect, is at the bar. Celebrity photos of astronauts and actors dot the walls, and make for easy conversation starters. The decor is replete with dark wood, linen, and a token chandelier. Reservations are suggested.
It wouldn’t be Vegas without the big show. Our VIP status translated to primo seats for whatever entertainment we fancied. Encore Wynn Las Vegas’ Le Reve is a choreographed waterworks of frothy romance. Killa asked the usher for a net and fishing pole, a request that was not met with good humor.
It appears many Vegas shows are produced by the famed Cirque du Soleil, which combines contemporary music, dance and acrobatics to create a more sensual, three-dimensional experience than more standard theatre fare. Actors and dancers are not limited to a flat, two-dimensional stage, but often fly into shadowy heights by rope or wire. It is, at first, a dazzling display of the seemingly supernatural, especially in the case of master prestidigitator, Criss Angel, and his show, Believe (at the Luxor), which takes the audience on a weird and wondrous journey through his magical head.
The Beatles LOVE (the Mirage) is an interpretative and sentimental but highly energetic romp through the band’s evolution from ‘60s covers and pop songs to their “psychedeli-sized” masterwork studio period, an unprecedented decade of hits.
Most people have heard of Blue Man Group (the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino), but what the hell are they, or it? Seeing may not be believing as the audience is immersed (sometimes literally) with a comic, bizarre, delightful multimedia avalanche of music and movement and splattering paint. With wildly creative use of unlikely props, well-placed audience prompts, pulse pounding live music and circus timing, the three mimes create a theatrical party—performance art at its bluest.
This is not the Sin City of Frank and Dean and the rest of the dead rats. It’s bigger, badder and bubbles with more sin. Cruising the Strip, rolling beyond first class to the next neon oasis, the next VIP room, the next showgirl, nightclub or orgy of epicurean delights, savoring every gourmet taste of the Five-Star experience, Killa and I came to the same sensible conclusion—it’s so good to be rich, even for a day.
Special Thanks To:
Acid Premium Cigars and Chopper Cigars
Thompson Cigars (distributor)
1335 South Pacific Ave. Suite 102
Yuma, AZ 85365
800-940-8182 or 928-329-0006
Silverton Casino Lodge
3333 Blue Diamond Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89139
702-263-7777 or 866-817-2517 (reservations)
2549 B Eastbluff Dr., Suite 239
Newport Beach, CA 92660