Las Vegas

The Pool Parties Helping Las Vegas Get Back On Track in 2021

DJs, swimming pools, and bottle service… all in one place.

Photo courtesy of The Marquee
Photo courtesy of The Marquee
Photo courtesy of The Marquee

So what does a Las Vegas pool party mean in 2021? Well, it depends on how you define “party.” The traditional dayclub images of half-naked bodies fist pumping in “nightclubs by the water” are out. Instead, our favorite pool parties are effectively operating as lounges. Here’s the rundown: Crowds are limited, reservations (for daybeds, cabanas, etc) are required and yes, you’re expected to wear a mask-even when in the water. The only exception is when you’re eating or drinking and the latter is never in short supply when hanging by a pool in Vegas.

Of course, as the season continues, more people get vaccinated, and coronavirus cases drop, policies can always change and evolve. So contact pools directly for the latest details before booking a reservation. Some of our favorite party spots-Drais’s at the Cromwell, Jemaa at Park MGM, DayDream at The M, and Tao Beach at the Venetian-are choosing to remain closed as the 2021 pool season gets underway. Others are more than happy to pick up the slack. So get familiar with the best pool parties welcoming guests in time for summer.

Photo courtesy of Wet Republic
Photo courtesy of Wet Republic
Photo courtesy of Wet Republic

Wet Republic

MGM Grand
Sometimes timing is everything. Wet Republic underwent a multi-million dollar renovation ahead of the 2020 pool season, but was forced to shift its format due to the pandemic. Gone (for now) are the venue’s famous champagne showers, Hot 100 bikini contests, and big-name headliners like Calvin Harris and Steve Aoki. However, guests can still take full advantage of a new sound system, video screens, cabanas, and ultra-sleek bungalows with private plunge pools. Even while operating at half-pace, Wet Republic remains an enticing 21-and-over alternative to the chaos of the main MGM Grand pool complex next door, which admittingly does have a nice lazy river.

Marquee

The Cosmopolitan
Marquee is doing its best to keep the energy up with a DJ Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the day and Friday and Saturday at night. However, the club is now operating as a lounge, almost like an outdoor restaurant. There’s a renewed emphasis on the food, so ask about the seafood towers. And you can order all the bottle service you want. Marquee is open to everyone — not just hotel guests — but daybed or cabana reservations are required. With that being said, one of the best ways to enjoy Marquee is by booking a bungalow — a three-story hotel suite that overlooks the pool and has direct admission to the deck.

Photo courtesy of The LINQ
Photo courtesy of The LINQ
Photo courtesy of The LINQ

Influence

The LINQ
The rooftop pool at The LINQ Hotel is expanding its days of operation this year from Thursdays to Mondays, giving guests ample opportunity to play beer pong and cornhole between dips in the pool. The view of the High Roller wheel at the LINQ promenade is a nice bonus. The taco bar serves Dole Whip cocktails and if nothing catches your eye on the food menu, feel free to have ribs and brisket delivered from Virgil’s BBQ next door. If you’d like to spend the night, book a hotel room with a courtyard adjacent to the pool deck. It’s almost like renting a cabana with a bedroom.

Encore Beach Club

Wynn Encore
The expansive 60,000-square-foot deck at Encore Beach Club (or EBC Pool these days) offers something unusual in Vegas: a pool with space and room to breathe. That only makes social distancing easier, especially when cabana or daybed reservations are required for entry. EBC still has a DJ spinning music, but like last year, headliners like the Chainsmokers and David Guetta are currently on the sidelines. Instead, the emphasis is on the food and booze. Come by and hang out during the day Friday through Sunday.

Photo by Anthony Mair, courtesy of Liquid
Photo by Anthony Mair, courtesy of Liquid
Photo by Anthony Mair, courtesy of Liquid

Liquid

Aria
Matching the contemporary image of the Aria resort, Liquid has always been a little more intimate and upscale than other pool parties in Vegas. The venue, currently rebranded as Liquid Pool Lounge, is a secluded escape for those 21-and-over Friday through Sunday. The wicker furniture is comfy and the eight massive VIP cabanas-which if needed, can be split into 16 cabanas-come with their own private pools, TVs, and daybeds. The drink menu traditionally has a wide variety of mojitos and champagne.

Photo courtesy of Daylight
Photo courtesy of Daylight
Photo courtesy of Daylight

Daylight

Mandalay Bay
Daylight immediately sets itself apart from other pools in Vegas by having its own dedicated parking lot. That means you don’t have to trudge through a casino lobby to get to it. Other highlights include 23 VIP Cabanas and a pair of ultra-VIP bungalows framing the DJ stage. The ambience is more chill these days, but expect to still hear a combination of house, top-40, R&B, and hip-hop. Reservations are accepted Friday‚ÄďSunday, but sorry-no nighttime events this season.

Go Pool

Flamingo
With waterfalls, palm trees, and a twisting swimming pool, Go Pool has the feel of a tropical lagoon. It operates seven days a week as a 21-and-over pool, while the neighbouring Beach Club Pool remains all ages. Come by for drink deals on Margarita Mondays or Twisted (Tea) Tuesdays. DJs are back, but no celebrity guests this year. Lounge chairs have been removed from cabanas (which were never too fancy to begin with) to encourage social distancing and the waterslides are strictly off limits. The good news: if Go Pool seemed a little too cramped and crowded in the past, it’s now a far more comfortable place to enjoy the scenery. When you’re done swimming and tanning, visit the Flamingo Wildlife Habitat just steps away from the pool deck. It’s one of the best free attractions in Vegas.

Photo courtesy of Citrus at Downtown Grand
Photo courtesy of Citrus at Downtown Grand
Photo courtesy of Citrus at Downtown Grand

Citrus

Downtown Grand
Just a block from the Fremont Street Experience, Citrus is one of your best bets for a Downtown pool party. The bright and colourful rooftop deck doesn’t currently have any DJs on the roster, but continues to pump out loud, high-energy music over the sound system. Citrus runs from 10 am to sunset seven days a week. Try the taco platter and thank us later. Admission is free for hotel guests and anyone with a reservation for a lawn table or one of three different cabana designs.

Photo courtesy of Venus at Caesars Palace
Photo courtesy of Venus at Caesars Palace
Photo courtesy of Venus at Caesars Palace

Venus

Caesars Palace
Venus has experimented with different formats over the years. Formerly a topless pool, it’s now all-ages during the slow season and will resume operation as an adults-only enclave when the main Garden of the Gods pool deck is back open. Secluded by rows of trees, Venus’ best attribute is privacy and seclusion, but the intimate hideaway knows the importance of lounge beats played loud enough to be felt underwater. Cocktails, sandwiches, wraps, or fruit are on standby, but you can also place a mobile order from the Caesars Palace Food Court.

Photo courtesy of Mirage
Photo courtesy of Mirage
Photo courtesy of Mirage

Bare

The Mirage
Bare built its reputation as an intimate topless pool, and after downplaying that image in recent years, seems to be giving new life to its “go for it” attitude. It’s an easy layout, with chairs and cabanas surrounding a rectangular pool-with a revealing see-thru wall offering a glimpse of what’s going on below the surface of the water. Bare is surrounded by palm trees, which add a tropical feel and welcome seclusion from the rest of the sprawling pool complex at the Mirage.

Photo courtesy of Circa
Photo courtesy of Circa
Photo courtesy of Circa

Stadium Swim

Circa
One of the most impressive things about the new Circa resort is the Stadium Swim rooftop pool deck. The whole thing is staggered in levels on a slope to face a massive 14-million-megapixel LED video wall-making it the best pool for catching a big game. A DJ booth is centred directly underneath. Sometimes the atmosphere is like a sports arena. Sometimes it’s like a frat party. The cabanas feel like mini-apartments and there’s a couple swim-up bars to spare the nuisance of getting out of the water to order booze. There’s really no “season” here. Stadium Swim’s six heated pools are open year-round.

Moorea Beach Club

Mandalay Bay
Moorea Beach Club is where the adults come to play. The secluded pool deck always had a chill vibe-even before COVID changed everything-and a place for (occasionally topless) sunbathers to enjoy their privacy. To escape the crowds even further, book some time in the third-level villa, which comes with its own plunge pool. If you dare venture outside, find time to check out Mandalay Bay Beach next door, which has a massive wave pool, lazy river, and nearly 3,000 tons of sand.

Rob Kachelriess has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than seven years. His work has also appeared in Travel + Leisure, Trivago Magazine, Sophisticated Living, Modern Luxury, Leafly, Las Vegas Magazine, and other publications. He’s more of a cabana guy than a pool guy. Follow him on Twitter @rkachelriess.

Las Vegas

A Fresh Take on Italian Dining Opens in Southwest Las Vegas

A first look at Basilico Ristorante Italiano.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

You can’t be all things to all people. Yet a new Italian restaurant strikes an intriguing balance between authenticity and inventive touches while helping to shape the identity of a new community in the booming Southwest Valley of Las Vegas.

Basilico Ristorante Italiano is now open at Evora, a master-planned apartment development still under construction that won’t be finished for at least five years. The 160-seat restaurant follows the vision of chef Francesco Di Caudo, a Sicily native who draws on his heritage and experience throughout Italy to build a compelling menu based on traditional techniques and modern ingenuity.

“I come from a country where farm-to-table is nothing new,” says Di Caudio, while emphasizing the importance of ingredient sourcing and simple, straightforward flavor combinations.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

Just look at the appetizers. Americans are used to eggplant parmesan that’s breaded and fried without restraint. Di Caudo sticks to a traditional Sicilian recipe with the vegetable sliced thin, sizzled in a pan, and layered with tomato and basil. No mozzarella. On the other hand, the Smoked Cigar is destined to be a signature showstopper. Duck, foie gras, and porcini mushrooms are packed inside a thin, cracker-like shell, presented in a box, and dipped into a glass ashtray. The “ash” in the centre is a black sesame and truffle mix. Don’t be shy about double dipping.

The risotto is bound to be another conversation piece. The recipe uses Carnaroli rice, a starchy grain from North Italy that produces a creamy texture, balancing the saltiness of a parmesan broth with a sweet splash of chestnut honey. The real surprise is the inclusion of Lavazza espresso, manipulated to crackle in your mouth like Pop Rocks candy.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

All pastas are made in-house, from a parsnip cavatelli to a lamb and thyme tortellini in a broth filtered from braised prosciutto. Some dishes have a subtle Asian influence, including a hamachi crudo with pomelo (similar to yuzu), Hokkaido scallops with oxtail, and a planned octopus braised in dashi. The flavours come to life inside a sharp, contemporary dining room with deep red chairs and stone, wood, and marble touches. The wine collection is dominated by Italian labels, with a few California and Oregon picks thrown in to round out the list. Bottles are on display near the front entrance and inside illuminated square shelves. “It looks like a fancy restaurant, but when you sit down, I want you to have fun,” adds Di Caudio.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

The bar is the heart of the restaurant, ready to serve up to 16 people inside and dozens more via accordion-style windows that open wide to a covered patio. The outdoor space, temperature-controlled with overhead fans and heaters, effectively extends Evora’s open-air plaza with dramatic water and fire features. It’s a natural spot for tastings and special events with a covered stage for live music. Evora is rolling out in four phases, with the first 342 apartments ready by fall. There could be as many as 1,400 when it’s all said and done. Rent begins at around $1,800 for studios and one-bedroom units and goes up to $4,000 for two-story top-floor residences with a loft and Strip views. The community will include swimming pools, pickleball courts, a putting green, a dog park, firepits, EV charging stations, and pavilions equipped with audio and video features.

“Basilico matches the demographic for our apartments,” says Danny Sorge of Digital Desert Development, the company behind the community. “The term ‘youthful sophistication’ has been thrown around about the restaurant and Evora as a whole. It brings something new to the area.”

Rendering courtesy of Evora
Rendering courtesy of Evora
Rendering courtesy of Evora

The development follows a deliberate strategy to have the commercial tenants in place before the first residents move in, occupying a stand-alone building that strikes a commanding presence on the corner of Patrick Lane and Buffalo Drive. Lemon Tree Cafe & Market is already open as a European-style grocery store with plenty of room to sit down with a sandwich and glass of wine. Keep your eyes peeled for Taps & Barrels (a self-service beer hall), Tachi Ramen, and EVOQ hair salon in the months ahead, with more businesses to come. The timing couldn’t be better. The Southwest Valley is on fire right now, with the Durango hotel and casino and UnCommons mixed-use development taking shape as new attractions in 2023. The Bend, a long-promised shopping and dining district, has been in a holding pattern for years but holds promise in an area where everything is getting bigger and better.

Meanwhile, the team behind Evora is staking a claim with Di Caudio running the kitchen at Basilico. The chef’s recent collaboration with Chef Oscar Amador helped Anima by EDO score a recent James Beard Award nomination and reputation as one of the best new restaurants in Las Vegas. Di Caudio first came to Las Vegas to work at Zeffirino at the Grand Canal Shoppes-a gig he expected to last about six months before returning home. Instead, he stuck around and continued to build his reputation at culinary destinations like Sinatra at the Wynn and Ferraro’s off the Strip.

Ultimately, Basilico will be a restaurant to keep an eye on as it develops under Di Caudio’s guidance. The menu will shift and evolve based on the chef’s preferences and the availability of seasonal ingredients. Di Caudio is also planning a smaller menu and social hour for the bar area and a reasonably priced tasting menu with around 10 dishes served family style.

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Rob Kachelriess¬†has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than nine years. In addition, his work has appeared in¬†Travel + Leisure, Leafly, Supercall, Modern Luxury, and¬†Luxury Estates International’s seasonal publication. Follow him on Twitter¬†@rkachelriess.

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