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A Fine Balance
Diana Bitting | Photo: Courtesy Images | March 26, 2013
Las Vegas finds its Zen at the new Nobu Hotel.
Ordinarily, when one thinks of Sin City, the first word that comes to mind is not “tranquility”—until now. Las Vegas’ newest hotel, Nobu, has opened its doors, and a food lovers’ paradise is now situated inside flawless modern lodgings that bring together aspects of Eastern hospitality with Western indulgence. Located within Caesar’s Palace in the Centurion Tower, the boutique property is an atypical, oasislike experience set in the center of the Strip that offers guests a respite from the area’s famed sights, sounds and overstimulation. Three years in the making, it’s the very first hotel project for the Nobu brand and it marks a partnership between chef Nobu Matsuhisa, actoar Robert De Niro and film producer Meir Teper.
The story of Nobu is as intriguing as any Hollywood tale. Chef Nobu began working at a sushi restaurant in Tokyo right after high school, honing his craft so well that a loyal patron offered to partner with him on a restaurant in Lima, Peru. Once there, the Peruvian culture began pervading the strict Japanese dishes the chef had been making for years—a sprinkle of orange chili pepper here, a hint of jalapeño or cilantro there. A distinct culinary style was born, and Nobu’s reputation began to build.
After stints in Argentina and Alaska, Nobu opened his own restaurant, Matsuhisa, in Beverly Hills in 1987. It was here that his serendipitous friendship with Robert De Niro began, and it’s now become a business partnership that—in addition to the launch of the first chef-branded hotel here in Las Vegas—is anchored by the largest Nobu Restaurant and Lounge to date (the 26th addition to the sushi empire).
“There was just something so special about him, the quality [of] his food,” remarked De Niro at the property’s opening ceremony. “I had to bring him to the rest of the world. We would get invitations to open Nobu restaurants in different hotels around the world, and it got me thinking, ‘If so many hotels want us, why don’t we just do the hotels ourselves with our restaurants in them?’”
So they did just that. Overseen by award-winning architect/designer David Rockwell of Rockwell Group (whose hotel projects include parts of The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas resort and the renovation of The Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles), the property was designed to convey Nobu’s signature Japanese elegance. “That sense of ‘curation’ that you get at Nobu restaurants is present here,” explains Rockwell, who has also overseen the design for a number of Nobu restaurants, including Nobu Melbourne, Nobu Hong Kong and Nobu at Atlantis The Palm resort in Dubai. “You are coming here, you are trying food you’ve never tried, you are having an exchange with an amazing group of chefs and having an experience that is memorable.” Just as the delicate simplicity of Nobu’s dishes is reflected in the restaurants’ interior design, the hotel décor is also based on carefully selected textures (stone, wood and metal) grounded in the Asian wabi-sabi aesthetic principles of simplicity, evocative transience and beauty found in the unexpected and natural. Picture various sizes of wood block panels of hemlock, fir and oak placed side by side in a Tetris-type pattern in the lobby, juxtaposed by a boulder-shaped, high-gloss ebony reception desk, and custom antique bronze elevator doors that add the perfect amount of flash.
Hotel guests have their choice of a double, king or suite room, where neutral tones on the walls have a calming quality, while lanternlike fixtures offer soft, ambiant lighting. Nature makes its way inside with the organic sand motif floor carpeting, live-edge coffee table and grass cloth wallcovering. “It’s about informal luxury,” says Rockwell. “That sense of ‘welcome’ greets you here at the hotel.”
The staff certainly helps guests in that regard as well. Fresh, milky green tea at the perfect temperature is presented upon check-in, along with a simple and delicious rice cracker as an accompaniment. The concierge is especially conscientious, and high-tech services such as iPad check-in (there is no official lobby to speak of), iPhone/iPod hookups throughout the guest rooms and chargers for every Apple device under the sun fit in seamlessly with the décor.
Another perk is the complimentary access to the renowned Qua Spa, the 5,500-square-foot oasis in Caesar’s Palace complete with a full hair salon, makeup services, fitness room and a treatment menu boasting special Nobu-themed services like the Chai Tea Mud Mask and the Zen Shiatsu massage. The Roman baths—surrounded by heated tile loungers perfect for catnapping—consist of three distinct pools that vary in temperature and size, and rooms that offer herbal steams, hot-coal saunas, arctic cold washes and relaxing refreshments like fresh fruit and exotic teas.
Of course, it goes without saying that dinner at Nobu is a must (the yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, broiled Alaskan black cod with miso and rock shrimp tempura with shichimi ponzu are staples), but the brunch menu will also lure diners in. The hotel also offers 24-hour in-room dining catered by the Nobu chefs and offering everything from blueberry and yuzu soba pancakes to the decadent Vegas bento box, bursting with choices including maki rolls and soft-shell crab. In short, the Nobu Hotel is any foodie’s or aesthete’s dream come true, the ultimate way to experience the chef turned hotelier’s vision of dining and hospitality combined... and a “what happens in Vegas” experience that you’ll want to tell everyone about.
3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, 866.227.5938, nobucaesarspalace.com