Led by staffers, class is in session at Las Vegas resorts

The Mandarin Oriental bar, where mixologist Michael LaPenna hosts a monthly cocktail class.
The Mandarin Oriental bar, where mixologist Michael LaPenna hosts a monthly cocktail class.

A pour of cabernet sauvignon, a splash of cabernet franc, a dose of merlot and a moment of evaluation. Does this taste like Justin Vineyards' Isosceles Paso Robles blend?

Guests will try to re-create that renowned wine at the Wynn Las Vegas on April 21 during the resort's Vintner for a Day class. Hosted by Wynn executive director of wine Mark Thomas and master sommelier Joseph Spellman from Justin Vineyards, the interactive workshop includes guided wine tasting, snacks and a blending session where attendees will try to replicate the Isosceles recipe, with the winner receiving a special gift.

Priced at $125 per person, the event is part of the Wynn Master Class Series, which debuted this month and taps the resort staff to lead instructional sessions on everything from pasta making to selfie styling.

"We have some amazingly talented people working here," said Michael Weaver, the Wynn's senior vice president of marketing and communications.

Now those people will share their skills with guests. The Master Class lineup includes lessons on pasta making with Sinatra chef Theo Schoenegger, who personally cooked for Frank Sinatra; DJing with Wynn/Encore resident DJ Clutch; mixology and bar culture; and selfie-ready hair and makeup taught by stylist Claude Baruk at the Encore Spa. 

As with most things, said Weaver, the idea for the classes came from the resort's clients. "As we give tours of the resort behind the scenes to guests, it's obvious that people are really fascinated with how a luxury hotel operates and the people associated with it," he said. "We find that guests are becoming more interested in experiencing things themselves instead of looking at things."

The Encore Spa offers hair and makeup classes.
The Encore Spa offers hair and makeup classes. Photo Credit: Barbara Kraft

Cooking, cocktails and more

Other Las Vegas resorts have also recognized the opportunity to give visitors a hands-on Vegas experience.

Inside the Bellagio's Culinary Classroom ($135 last year), guests follow along at their own cooking stations while the resort's executive chef demonstrates dishes such as beef Wellington or ahi tuna poke.

Executive chef Julien Asseo offers private cooking lessons at Guy Savoy restaurant.
Executive chef Julien Asseo offers private cooking lessons at Guy Savoy restaurant.

At Caesars Palace, Michelin-starred restaurant Guy Savoy offers a private, three-hour cooking class for $265 per person taught by executive chef Julien Asseo. Attendees step inside the professional kitchen to learn a signature Guy Savoy appetizer and entree, then sit down at the best table in the house — the private, kitchenview Krug Table — to dine on the fruits of their labor.

Down the street at the Mandarin Oriental, mixologist Michael LaPenna hosts an monthly, hourlong cocktail class focused on techniques that everyone should know to put their home bar to good use.

He discusses distillation, tasting methods and drink building, with each session dedicated to a different theme, such as tequila cocktails (May 27), scotch and beer pairings (Sept. 30) and Champagne cocktails (Dec. 30). All classes are $50, except the Japanese whiskey edition (Aug. 26), which costs $75.

Off Strip, the Urban Turban restaurant recently launched a Friday night class for $40 per person that teaches guests the basics of Indian flavors every other week from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Attendees help make various dishes, tasting everything and taking the recipes with them to try at home.

The Wynn's Weaver sees his resort's classes as a way for visitors to peek behind the curtain of the luxury resort and get a better understanding for the thoughtfulness and skill that goes into serving a plate of pasta or spinning a DJ set.

"Interest has been really strong so far, so clearly there's a consumer demand," he said. "Now we're having conversations about how many people we can fit in each class. This only gets bigger. We're already reprinting our materials because we're already adding more classes."

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