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San Clemente Journal

Lake Las Vegas - A Bit of Italy Nestled in a Desert Oasis

Apr 09, 2014 11:22PM ● By Don Kindred

by Anne Batty

Tucked into a mountainside in the Nevada desert - five or six hours drive from San Clemente - dwells a little-known oasis called the Lake Las Vegas Resort. A Tuscan-inspired destination, located just 17 miles from the famed Las Vegas strip, its setting recreates the beauty found in centuries-old villages in northern Italy.

MonteLago Village
At the heart of this resort is the “old-world” village of MonteLago, a community gathering place complete with fountains, piazzas, waterfront restaurants and an eclectic mix of fine shopping. A quixotic place, where quaint cobblestone streets bid one take a leisurely afternoon stroll, it offers the chance to step back in time to a place far from outside distractions.

Standing distinctly as a focal point of this unique lakeside village is a bridge modeled after the Ponte Vecchio in Florence Italy. Beneath its arches singing gondoliers guide electric gondolas on relaxing, unhurried cruises, their renaissance crafts drifting dreamily across the 320-acre manmade Lake Las Vegas.

Like the fabled waterfront villages of Europe, MonteLago Village also retains tasteful shopping and sumptuous dining. Boutiques featuring exquisite jewelry, haute couture, hand-crafted furnishings, world treasures and fine art, beckon the most discriminating buyer. While gourmet markets, coffee houses, pubs, wine bars, contemporary eateries and an authentic gelati shop tempt passersby with mouthwatering treats. 

Themed to resemble a 17th century Tuscan winery, the anchor of the village is the Casino MonteLago, featuring Italian architectural elements that merge themselves gracefully into the natural desert topography. A 100% coinless casino, this establishment provides a uniquely comfortable gaming atmosphere, featuring generous payback video poker machines, reel and slot machines, craps, roulette, three-card poker, blackjack and a multitude of sports betting opportunities. Players and visitors, alike, enjoy dining 24-7 in a choice of upbeat open-spaced, or quietly intimate settings available in the Casino’s several restaurants.

Steps from the shops, galleries, restaurants and the Casino, is the villa-inspired resort-condominium complex, the MonteLago Village Resort. Featuring stepped tile roofs, pastel walls and handset stone flooring these one, two and three-bedroom condos offer the comforts of home and the convenience of a location within “walking distance” to all the services available on the village promenade. Living quarters include 24-hour front desk reception, a concierge, valet parking, daily and nightly housekeeping and turn-down, full kitchens, high speed Internet, and DVD/CD players and libraries. Other amenities include two pools, a spa, fitness room, media, meeting and game rooms, as well as a business center. For further information and reservations call (702)564-4700 or visit

Also conveniently located within the boundaries of the MonteLago Village, one finds an exclusive collection of residential homes offered by Lake Las Vegas Vacation Villa Rentals. Ranging from resort condominiums, to fairway homes, to lake view penthouses, these villas come complete with elegant, designer-enhanced furnishings, full kitchens and breath-taking views. Special packages offered there include personal chef services, catered cocktail or dinner parties, and backyard barbeques. To learn more, or to make a reservation, call 1-800-941-3654 or visit the Lake Las Vegas Vacation Villas website.

Hotel Lodging
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Las Vegas is the first Ritz-Carlton to bring its services to Nevada. Offering panoramic water and mountain views, it is conveniently situated adjacent to the quaint MonteLago Village, and features 349 luxurious guest rooms, 35 suites, a spa, meeting spaces, and the award-winning restaurant, Medici Café and Terrace. Ensconced in a relaxing lake and Mediterranean-inspired town setting, vacationers will find available there the usual choices expected of Ritz Carlton resort facilities and activities. Reservations and more information about this hotel can be obtained by calling (702)567-4700 or visiting

Another first to provide accommodations in the state of Nevada, Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort, formerly the Hyatt, services visitors with 496 guest rooms and 46 suites. Amid sweeping views of the lake and mountains, vacationers will enjoy twice-daily housekeeping services, vibrant lobby entertainment and complementary welcome beverages. Along with outdoor areas including, pool decks, cabanas, palm-shaded terraces and a lakeside fire pit. For the adventurers a concierge stands ready to coordinate treks to the Grand Canyon, kayaking on the Colorado River and Hummer tours of Nevada’s Valley of Fire. For reservations and/or more information call (702)567-6000 or visit the Lowes Hotel website.

Golfing Opportunities
Along the shores of the crystal blue Lake Las Vegas, amid Nevada’s natural desert splendor and surrounded by ruggedly beautiful mountains, is found three of the most unique and challenging courses available to golfing enthusiasts anywhere.

The Reflection Bay Golf Club is the first public resort golf course in Nevada personally designed by Jack Nicklaus. Sculpted from the terrain’s natural contours with strategic bunkering and pristine greens, the course features three waterfalls and offers play around several arroyos. Five holes are located along one and a half miles of the lake and include the picturesque 199-yard, par-3 eighth hole as well as beaches, bunkers and palms.

Designed by Tom Weiskopf, the 7,250-yard, par 72 Falls Golf Club challenges golfers with a rugged terrain that drops from mountainous peaks to the desert floor. Elevational changes ranging from subtle on the front nine, to dramatic on the back nine, provide players with a one-of-a-kind experience that includes breathtaking scenery and views of the Las Vegas Strip.
Southshore Golf Club is a private Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. The 6,917-yard course boasts a design that carves out elevations ranging from 1,410 feet to 1,750 feet. This par 71-course has generous fairways, up to five tee settings per hole, and offers strategic bunkering and forced carries over canyons and water creating a unique experience for golfers with varying degrees of expertise.

The Spa Experience
Every vacationer deserves a little pampering, and two world-class Lake Las Vegas spas are available to indulge and rejuvenate the senses. 

The 9,000 sq. ft. Spa Moulay at Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort features 11 treatment rooms, a full-service beauty salon, and complete fitness center. Massages, skin therapies, body wraps, body scrubs, and moisturizing facials are all included on the spa menu, as well as hair styling and coloring, makeup application, manicures, pedicures and body treatments.

New Age treatments inspired by the water and desert, yet rooted in the tradition and sophistication of ancient and modern Italy are available at the Ritz-Carlton Spa. This 30,000 sq. ft. spa provides patrons with relaxing treatment rooms, a full-service salon, personalized fitness and wellness programs, skin treatments and massages, complete salon services, Pilates, yoga, and a modern fitness facility. 

An array of special events is offered annually at the Resort. Some of the most popular include: the “Stars on the Lake” concert series held on a floating stage, “Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge” a golf tournament benefiting the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, MonteLago Village’s “Jazz on the Lake,” “Movies al Fresco” also on the water, as well as varied Art, Wine, Food Festivals and holiday celebrations. For information on upcoming events, please call (702) 565-7400, or further information on the resort and its amenities, visit the website

For those needing to get away from it all, in a place far from the maddening crowd, a visit to the Lake Las Vegas Resort might just be the tonic they are looking for.

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