(Handout photo)

Off the strip and keeping it cool

Daring to be different, the Palms exudes a hip, intimate vibe

Email|Print| Text size + By Shira Springer
Globe Staff / October 15, 2006

The g-Suite is all about cool metallic tones and hip furniture modeled after the popular ghostbar at the Palms Casino Resort . The place personifies twenty- and thirtysomething high-roller chic with the gentle slope of a silver couch mirrored in the curves of the walls, the bar, the chairs, and the base of the pool table. A single remote control panel activates the suite's extensive electronic gadgetry, from the seven flat-screen televisions to the drapes.

All of this makes the wood paneling partially covering one side of the living room appear out of place, certainly more prep school than Playboy. That is, until the mahogany panel slides open to reveal the ``show shower."

The marble-tiled show shower features a stripper pole. The sliding wood panel merely determines the size of the audience and the quality of the view. And the Palms prides itself on offering some of the best views in Vegas.

From cantilevered Jacuzzis that seemingly overflow onto the Strip , to VIP boxes that hover above the dance floor at the nightclub Rain , to the tattoo parlor near the front desk , to the Hollywood stars and professional athletes who stay regularly, to the six suites featuring show showers , the Palms is the very definition of a place to see and be seen.

The Palms offers enough only-in-Vegas attractions to keep celebrities like Paul Pierce , the Celtics all-star, and Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback, coming back. For lower-profile guests, the Palms is where reality TV series come to life and the scenery, genuine and artificial, doesn't disappoint.

``When everybody goes one direction, the Maloofs go the opposite," said Joe Maloof, whose family owns the Palms. ``We try to come up with young, innovative ideas. We don't want to be like everybody else. We're not on the Strip. We don't have a lot of walk-in traffic. We have to be different. We have to attract the young people. They have to drive, they have to get in a cab and want to come here."

Spread over two towers a half mile -- or a $10 cab ride -- west of the Strip, the Palms uses its location to its advantage. No other property offers its sweeping panoramas . On a breezy Saturday night at the ghostbar on the 55th floor of the original tower, the illuminated Strip draws the young and hip onto an outside deck.

The view leads to easy conversation between a group of men from LA and a bride-to-be from Denver. The cantilevered Jacuzzis in the Fantasy Tower across the way glisten in a mixture of neon and moonlight.

The backdrop helps the Palms exude the best kind of cool, intimate and trendy without seeming to try too hard.

When Las Vegas hosts the NBA All-Star Weekend Feb. 16-18 , the Palms could see its profile and coolness quotient magnified if, as Maloof expects, it becomes the player hotel. Regardless of who stays where, both Maloof and part-time Vegas resident Pierce predict the Palms will be the epicenter for the younger crowd. As owners of the NBA's Sacramento Kings, the Maloofs know the kind of super-sized accommodations players want.

``A lot of players are going to hang out there," said Pierce. ``It's going to be the hot spot. The Maloofs are great hosts and big basketball fans. They really cater to a lot of the athletes who come into town. They have rooms specially made for athletes, bigger beds, taller ceilings."

For guests with outsized entertainment aspirations, though not necessarily NBA height, the Fantasy Tower is the place to stay. The themed suites and villas offer amenities that amaze even the pros and Hollywood stars. The 25th and 26th floors, generally referred to as the ``party floors," feature seven fantasy suites with different decorative themes from the g-Suite to the Hot Pink Suite to the Crib Suite to the Erotic Suite.

The suites can be booked individually for $4,000 to $15,000 per night or in combination for the ultimate ``block party" experience at a cost of $50,000 to $100,000 per night. To make sure the good times don't disturb other guests, the two floors are double - insulated for sound.

That means guests on the 27th floor don't hear the frequent bachelorette parties in the Hot Pink Suite. According to Maloof, the Palms hosts more bachelorette parties in its various rooms, restaurants, and entertainment venues than any hotel in the country. The Hot Pink Suite with its glittery pink and purple interior, bathroom the size of a Beacon Hill studio apartment, show shower visible from the bar area, and fur trimmings provides the perfect girly girl setting.

If the sound of sneakers squeaking and the smell of sweat are what you want, then check out the 10,000-square-foot Hardwood Suite, the dream of every hoops fanatic. The first themed suite built in the Fantasy Tower features a half court with college regulation 3-point line, NBA-style locker room, player lounge, walls covered in Spalding basketball leather, owner's box overlooking the court, 10-person Jacuzzi, two master bedrooms , and enough Murphy beds to accommodate a pickup squad.

Looking to add some reality to your fantasy? Guests in the Hardwood Suite can hire cheerleaders at a rate of $1,000 per cheerleader for four hours. A referee costs $75 per hour.

For guests without trust funds, corporate expense accounts, movie deals, or multimillion -dollar contracts, the regular rooms at the Palms offer more than adequate, if unspectacular, accommodations. They have all the standard hotel amenities and are generally priced slightly lower than properties on the Strip.

To help separate guests from their cash, the Palms boasts a typical selection of gambling options, seven restaurants, a growing collection of nightspots, the first-ever recording studio in a Vegas hotel-casino, a spa, movie theater, and a fortune- teller -- for starters.

And at the Palms, unlike many other casino resorts, getting from the blackjack table to the nightclub of your choice to the late-night buffet doesn't mean walking a mile or more. Despite over-the-top attractions, the Palms doesn't overwhelm guests with a labyrinthine layout. Maloof notes with pride that the main floor does not have a single right angle, that the curved corridors promote a welcoming vibe and efficient traffic flow. You can check in and reach your room in less than a minute. You can change into a bikini and be by the pool in the same short order.

The proximity of everyone to everything means frequent celebrity sightings in the common areas and a constant high-energy buzz reminiscent of a high school corridor crowded with all the stereotypes of a John Hughes movie . But convenience comes at a price, with a relatively small main casino and guests bemoaning long waits at restaurants and nightclub entrances for non-VIPs. Also, as nighttime approaches, elevators tend to be delayed as large groups wait for everyone in their party to, well, party.

On weekend nights, a line of up to 100 people for the Rain nightclub snakes in front of the Little Buddha restaurant, around a couple of rows of slot machines , and ends in front of a bank of elevators. For those who appreciate sweaty bodies packed onto a dance floor, heavy beats mixed with pyrotechnics and water spouts, Rain is worth the wait. When not showcasing top DJs, Rain welcomes artists such as Jay-Z , Santana, No Doubt, and Britney Spears.

If you want to stay above the fray but still enjoy the action, renting a sky box for $1,000 per night may be the best bet. Similar to luxury suites at sports arenas, the sky boxes encircle the dance floor, offering some privacy and a balcony to view the chaos below.

Starting this month, the crowds will find even more dining, night life , and gambling options with the recent opening of the Nove Italiano restaurant, the Moon nightclub with retractable roof, and the first new Playboy Club in 25 years. The Playboy Club and Casino sits atop the Fantasy Tower , just above the $40,000-a-night, two-story Hugh Hefner Sky Villa complete with media room, gym, outdoor Jacuzzi, and round, rotating beds. For a more reasonably priced sampling of the Playboy experience, you can shop at the Playboy store , where the flip of a switch turns the opaque dressing room walls transparent.

Makes you almost forget about the show showers -- and wonder what's next.

Contact Shira Springer at

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