Sampling the ultralounge, the hip hotel nightspot


LAS VEGAS -- In the continuing evolution of lounge entertainment, Vegas-style, the ultralounge has been spawned.

The ultralounge, the hip hotel nightspot, may be described as follows: somewhere between a lounge and a nightclub; not too loud but not too quiet; typically features offbeat music that may promote spontaneous dancing; opens late evening and closes near dawn; attracts a more-sophisticated and slightly older clientele than dance clubs; and typically offers appetizers or dessert in addition to specialty cocktails.

The following is a sampling of ultralounges:

Tabu at MGM Grand

Chic and cosmopolitan in both decor and atmosphere, Tabu aims to draw a hip, upscale crowd that appreciates the finer things.

Engaging models/hosts serve up a lively mix of libations -- including body shots -- while changing into ever more provocative outfits as the night progresses.

Music is a twist on classic lounge tunes and European-influenced vocal house blends. Volume, thankfully, is kept at a comfortable level to allow conversation.

Special-effects lighting produces sensual images on walls and tabletops, while the "beautiful people" primp and check each other out.

It's Hollywood meets Las Vegas, and that seems to be a winning combination, as Tabu is jammed by midnight.

Caramel at Bellagio

Named for the candy that once coated the rims of the martini glasses here (an idea that didn't work -- the caramel melted too quickly), this intimate room, located in the casino near the buffet, starts to come alive after diners finish their repasts on Bellagio's restaurant row.

Handblown glass sculptures and opaque marble tables adorn the room, while tunes from Sinatra to the Stones set the mood in this relaxed lounge.

Dancing -- mostly slow -- takes place in the room's center, so those participating are on display. A light menu offers shrimp cocktails, pates and smoked salmon.

Window coverings pull down at about 10 p.m., providing couples ensconced in comfy sofas a measure of privacy.

The indoor/outdoor Ghostbar is perched on the 55th floor of the Palms.Ghostbar at the Palms

Perched on the 55th floor, this indoor/outdoor lounge and skydeck boasts a panoramic view of the glittering strip.

Patrons luxuriate on intimate lounging furniture in both the main lounge and the snug VIP room.

The crowd here is slightly younger than the average ultralounge demographic, and the energy level ratchets up as the night -- or morning -- goes on.

Mist at Treasure Island

And you thought Treasure Island was a family resort? That was last month. The emphasis at "TI" (the property's new nickname) is now on adults.

In addition to Kahunaville (a Caribbean-themed bar and grill) and Breeze (another tropical-twist watering hole), Mist fits with the new theme. More neighborhood bar than hipster hangout, this lounge appeals to all classes, with monitors showing everything from sporting events to music videos.

Risque at Paris

Upstairs from Paris Las Vegas' new Ah-Sin pan-Asian restaurant is Risque, an ultralounge that succeeds at living up to its name. Lush couches, beds and wide ottomans give Risque a sexy edge. And, in a daring design, the club's male and female rest rooms share a common, translucent wall.

A late-night dessert bar features creations by pastry chef Jean-Claude Canestrier.

Couples on the intimate dance floor and in the balconies provide the ultimate form of ultralounge entertainment: people-watching -- and it's very good here.

Shadow Bar at Caesar's

Since off-Strip strip joints are siphoning off guests by the thousands, it's a given that the hoteliers would do whatever it takes to get some of that revenue back. Most hotels now feature a showroom-based, adults-only revue -- and sexy lounges are the obvious natural progression.

Shadow Bar at Caesar's is probably best categorized as an ultralounge/classy go-go bar hybrid; a combination previously thought to be mutually exclusive.

After dancing their set, the ladies at the Shadow Bar don elegant eveningwear to mingle with guests.

Bartenders bottle-juggle and do back flips, while the 30- to 50-something crowd enjoys cocktails and appetizers in cozy comfort.

Light at Bellagio

Doing double-duty as both nightclub and lounge is Light's focus.

Those needing to see and be seen gravitate to tables near the dance floor, while couples looking for intimacy retreat to the secure VIP area for privacy with a view.

There is action aplenty to take in here, with no lack of takers. A parade of limos disgorge celebrities who show up to party in the current hotspot.

It's all nirvana to the clubsters, of course, as the buzz of another star sighting travels around the room at warp speed. Bellagio's hotel-front water ballet spectacle is a mere sideshow; the main attraction is inside, and it is quite a scene.

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For more details on this article, see Performers give good shows for moderate cost.


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