Despite its far-flung location, The Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas was one of my favorite hotels in the Las Vegas area. Its scenic location and level of service made it a tranquil oasis in the often harsh Sin City desert.
The Ritz closed in 2010 but then reopened as Ravella, part of the Dolce Group portfolio of properties that mainly catered to the business and meeting crowd.
Now the property flies under the Hilton brand. What that means to the property is still TBD, but for now very little has changed at the hotel itself from its days as The Ritz. Yes, there are some more modern pieces of art on the walls in the public areas and some of the furnishings in the lobby have been rearranged with maybe a new throw pillow or two. But other than it is the same gorgeous resort it was when it was the Ritz.
And yet, something is missing. More on that in a moment, but first let's talk about what the place has going for it.
Calling a hotel with nearly 350 rooms a "boutique" resort is laughable anywhere other than in Las Vegas, where it is dwarfed by the 4000 room behemoths a few miles away. The bulk of the hotel is located on the shore of Lake Las Vegas, a manmade resort and residential playground located about 17 miles east of town. With its Mediterranean-inspired design it looks like a rambling seaside village - jutting balconies and recessed terraces combine with intricate stonework, lush gardens, and a terra cotta paint scheme to send you, at least visually, to the Italian countryside.
Completing the picturesque setting is the Pontevecchio Bridge, a wing of the hotel spanning the lake. It features a covered walkway on the main level with two floors of rooms above it.
A long lobby greets you as you enter, filled with overstuffed couches and chairs, floral arrangements, a bar, and giant windows overlooking the gardens and lake. It's a great area for meeting friends for cocktails, partaking in their afternoon Italian tea, having an impromptu meeting at the wired conference table, or just enjoying the ambience and the view.
Standard rooms are "standard" only in terms of size (about 500 square-feet) and layout (bathroom as you walk in, bedroom past it). Everything else still has Ritz level luxury even though it isn't a Ritz anymore: two queen or one king bed, overflowing with pillows, plush linens and duvets, and pillow-soft mattresses; a writing desk with cordless dual-line phones, data ports, and high-speed Internet access; flat screen TVs; Bose Wave radios; an honor bar; irons and boards; soft robes; and elegant furnishings. The bathrooms are equally impressive with separate tubs and glass showers; dual vanities; hair dryers; separate water closets; and high-end bath amenities.
Many of the rooms come with balconies or patios that overlook mountains, the lake, or the pool area and lagoon.
Adjacent to the main hotel building is the 30,000-square-foot spa featuring a full-service salon; a very well equipped fitness center; an exercise studio; spas, saunas, and clubrooms for men and women; a meditation garden; a salon store; and 24 private treatment rooms offering everything from massage and facials to body treatments.
Between the spa and the hotel is the pool deck, a lovely and understated patio area overlooking the lake. Just adjacent is the lagoon with a waterfall and sandy beach area.
So it all sounds great and in many respects is, but creating a true luxury resort is about more than just the packaging. It's about the mood; the feeling you get while you're here. And this is where something is missing.
As mentioned, the company that is running Ravella specializes in the business and meeting trade and that's the feeling I got when I was here. Everything was professional and businesslike, seeming to run with Swiss precision. But when it was the Ritz, I felt special whether I was staying there or merely visiting. It felt like I was the most important person in the building regardless of if I was requesting room service or just asking for directions to the nearest restroom. I didn't feel that at Ravella. Don't get me wrong - everyone was nice and the people I interacted with had all the right answers, but it just didn't feel special.
The surrounding MonteLago Village has shops and restaurants but it is still a little thin on tenants and visitors. The adjoining Casino MonteLago is closed (for a second time) as of October 2013.
The Ritz-Carlton was a great hotel. Ravella is very good, but not great. We'll see what happens as Hilton takes over.
Recommended for: Business travelers needing a retreat; those who cherish peace and quiet.
Not recommended for: People without a car at their disposal; those who came to Vegas for the opposite of peace and quiet.