Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 | 2:29 p.m.
This year’s third-annual Winter in Venice celebration at the Venetian and Palazzo is a true global experience: In addition to resident stars Human Nature from Australia, the glamour girls of Celtic Woman from Ireland and the cast of the spectacular “Panda” from China have made the trek to the Strip, proving it the crossroads at the Entertainment Capital of the World.
Executives of the two casino resorts introduced Wednesday night’s sneak previews of the new shows to kick off Winter in Venice. It also proved the perfect opportunity to promote the star-chef December weekends packed with a four-day Italian food-and-wine festival with Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck and Buddy Valastro and a Culinary Clash contest with Emeril Lagasse and yours truly.
Our thanks to contributing photographers Tom Donoghue and Mona Shield Payne for their coverage of the star performances in Sands Showroom and then outdoors at the Doges Palace forecourt with its ice-skating rink, brightly lit Christmas tree and festival characters and entertainers.
Human Nature unveiled its new first-ever Christmas album and performed a few Motown and holiday classics, including a doo-wop version of “White Christmas” with contrabass Toby Allen in a rare lead.
The four model beauties from Celtic Woman sang traditional Christmas songs, including “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” plus, the Josh Groban hit “You Raise Me Up.”
Several cast members of “Panda” performed vignettes from the extravaganza. The show opens Dec. 16 on the much-larger stage of the Palazzo theater, so the preview was confined to dazzling the audience with two Pandas, an amazing stick-balancing acrobat and two unique dancers.
No wonder Cirque du Soleil scouts for Asian acrobats, but “Panda” has never-before-seen talents and the Kung Fu Monks. Executives predict that the show will be a major attraction for all the family, plus, Chinese New Year visitors celebrating Year of the Horse.
Winter in Venice continues through Jan. 5.
Las Vegas Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy contributed to this report.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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In the spirit of Venice, The Venetian is a little piece of romantic Italy right here in Las Vegas. The Venetian is an "all-suite" hotel, with rooms accented with plush linens and Italian marble. The 4,027 suites are divided into two towers: The 36-story Venetian Tower that offers guests a taste of luxurious Las Vegas and the Venezia suites, which guarantee 12 floors of high-end elegance. The top five floors are the hotel's highest level of luxury with its private access, concierge lounge, upgraded features and even a dedicated staff.
The flagship of Venetian nightlife is TAO, an ultra-hip nightclub located inside of TAO Asian Bistro. V Bar is The Venetian's super smooth ultra lounge, made by the owners of New York City's club Lotus and Los Angeles' super swank Sunset Room.
The Venetian features 19 restaurants including Thomas Keller's award-winning French restaurant Bouchon, Mario Batali's B&B Ristorante, Aquaknox for fresh seafood and the 42,000 square foot TAO Asian Bistro. There's also the food court inside the Canal Shoppes for those looking for a quick bite.
Guests can float along The Grand Canal Shops in an authentic Italian gondola ride and pass stores like Burberry and Kenneth Cole along the way. And if you haven't caught a real celeb, on the street in Vegas, you can head over to Madame Tussauds to check out a wax version.
With top accommodations, first-rate entertainment, high-end shopping and a slew of acclaimed chefs, the Palazzo has positioned itself as one of the most luxurious resorts on the Strip.
More than 3,000 all-suite rooms start at 740 square feet and are decorated in a modern, yet classic, Italian style. Each room features a sleeping area, with a king or two queens, and a sunken living room area with floor to ceiling windows.
A cathedral ceiling tops the Palazzo casino, while a second 80-foot dome brings natural light to the property's lobby. The 105,000 square foot casino features more than 2,000 slots and 80 table games but lacks the stale smell of cigarettes, as the property is LEED certified with smoking off limits in most of the Palazzo — including 50 percent of the casino floor.
Dining at the Palazzo is among the best of the Strip, starting with Wolfgang Puck's CUT. Chef Simon To serves up authentic Chinese cuisine at Zine, while Sushisamba combines Brazilian and Peruvian flavors with Japanese techniques. At LAVO, club-goers can dine on Mediterranean dishes before heading upstairs to the bath house-inspired nightclub.