The Editor-in-Chief of Vegas Magazine
Gives Us An Inside Look At
Her Glamorous City
Few women know how to live large in Vegas better than Andrea. As the taste-making force behind the city’s hottest magazines, Bennett knows the spa, hotel, restaurant, and nightlife scene from every angle. We caught up with the Editor recently to learn about her personal experience of living in Las Vegas, and find out where we might best invest for extra wow-factor on our next escape to town.
Tell us a bit about you, your history and your role at Vegas Magazine.
I moved to Las Vegas after living in New York and working for magazines and newspapers like Travel + Leisure, Money, The Wall Street Journal, Town & Country and Town & Country Travel, and The New York Post—mostly writing about travel. I’d actually come to Vegas for a year just to see if I could survive living outside New York—and I loved it! But then I got married and moved to Kuwait, where I wrote about travel from the Middle East. When I returned to the states and suddenly became a single mom, I had such great memories of living in Las Vegas that I decided to move my one-year-old daughter here, with little more than a solid freelance plan. I did freelance for a couple of years, for Travel + Leisure, USA Today, DuJour, Assouline, plus a couple of custom publishing companies for which I managed some very large hospitality projects. And then Niche Media recruited me to become EIC for Vegas. I wasn’t sure if I wanted the visibility – but I’m delighted I said yes. It’s been an incredible way to meet some of this city’s most powerful and interesting people.
Why do you think Las Vegas is such a glamorous and luxe destination for global travelers?
I don’t care how cosmopolitan you are, it’s impossible not to be blown away by the luxury that a few ambitious casino pioneers—I’m thinking specifically about Steve Wynn, Kirk Kerkorian, Sheldon Adelson and more—brought to this unlikely and unforgiving strip of desert. The city is the new embodiment of the Wild West—where anything you dream is still something you can accomplish, and you don’t have to come from an old money family to make an important contribution.
What’s your favorite thing about living and working in Las Vegas?
I love that while Vegas may be one of the world’s great entertainment and dining capitals, there’s also a real, live city that revolves around that one big amusement park on the strip. And that city, through the contributions of incredibly talented chefs, business owners, tech minds and real estate people, among others, is galvanizing into a distinct pattern of neighborhoods. Other, older cities, have gone through all of these changes that we’re experiencing freshly for the first time. It’s quite exciting. My office is Downtown, so I get to see the evolution and gentrification of the historic district, and then travel back west to my house at the base of the Red Rock Conservation Area, where I escape city living altogether on my Saturday morning hikes with my 6-year-old daughter.
What makes Las Vegas perfect for a woman entrepreneur who’s looking for a quick escape or pattern interrupt?
There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity here for smart, motivated women. Las Vegas may have the reputation for being something of a patriarchal society (I mean, how else do you explain all the showgirls and strip clubs?). But the reality is that we have a powerful base of elected females in power, creating immense change.
As the Editor-in-Chief at Las Vegas’ hottest publication, we’d love to know—what’s everyone buzzing about in Vegas right now?
Well, everyone’s always buzzing about restaurants and clubs here! The shelf life of both Is short, since Vegas is constantly reinventing itself to keep visitors entertained. At this very moment, people can’t stay away from a Calvin Harris night at Omnia; they’re dying to see Kaskade play at XS; New York favorite, Carbone restaurant, is moving in this fall; and diners are getting lots more adventurous—looking for insidery finds Downtown and on Spring Mountain Road (Chinatown), as well as farther out.
As an insider, please describe your 2 perfect days in Las Vegas for our readers.
My perfect two days would have to involve…go[ing] to the spa. One of my favorite places to get absolutely pampered is at Mandarin Oriental, which has a gloriously tranquil spa. I’d get an incredible treatment, have lunch by the pool (I’m obsessed with their colorful superfoods salad), and then read a book in a cabana. In my wildest dreams, I’d just check in that night and go to sleep for 12 hours. My ultimate hi-low luxury experience might start with a grueling hike in one of our gorgeous canyons, then end up with a gorgeous dinner at one of my current favorite restaurants—Lago at Bellagio or Bardot Brasserie at Aria.
What is the ultimate luxury experience in Las Vegas? The most expensive and exclusive thing to do in the city right now?
Really, there’s no end to the exclusivity. It just depends on where you want to throw your dollars! Do you love jewelry? Book a private showing at Van Cleef & Arpels in Crystals, where you’ll lounge in a back room with Champagne and buy the most exceptional jewelry and watches you’ve ever seen. You’ll find incredible jewelry at Harry Winston in Bellagio, Graff in Wynn, Breguet in Bellagio; really, the extravagance doesn’t end. Or indulge in an incredible meal at Guy Savoy or the 16 course degustation meal at Joel Robuchon at the Mansion….Of course, if you really want to make a splash, $250,000 buys a table front and center over the Fountains of Bellagio, a 30-liter bottle of Ace of Spades Champagne, a swag bag filled with goodies, and the control button to the fountains at showtime.
So many people come to Vegas to play and indulge, but what’s your take on being a busy female entrepreneur who’s living/working in the entertainment capital of the world?
Our tourist population is huge, but our year-round population is not quite as large as you’d think. Every powerful female voice counts here—and most women with a certain amount of visibility know each other. In other words, we have the benefits of working in a small town environment—with its caveats: tourist’s Vegas exploits may stay in Vegas, but so do we—so most of us are a lot more low-key than our visitors.
What is Vegas’ best-kept secret? Something we’d be surprised to learn about the city?
One of our best-kept secrets is our growing arts scene—and the burgeoning public arts and land and earthworks that are being built all around the valley.
We love to shop, what’s the ultimate shopping destination in Las Vegas?
The ultimate shopping destination is the Shops at Crystals, in CityCenter, which is just so magnificently designed in every way. Definitely visit all the shops, but don’t miss two of my favorite things: the (free with reservation) permanent James Turrell exhibit, Akhob, in the Louis Vuitton flagship store (enter this otherworldly zone and you’ll understand); and the butter cake at Mastro’s. Don’t deny yourself this thing: you’re on vacation.
Tell us about the most extravagant thing/story you’ve ever learned about a high-roller or Vegas hotshot since working at Vegas Magazine.
In a video, I visited Floyd Mayweather’s jeweler here in Las Vegas and got to try on the $16 million watch they’d earmarked for him, designed by Jacob the Jeweler. I think he purchased it after the Mayweather v. Pacquiao fight. It was a major thrill—but that was one heavy watch
What’s the most coveted ticket or thing to do/see in Vegas right now?
Well, it’s the year of the diva! We have Madonna coming, Celine Dion back on stage, Britney of course, Aretha, and J-Lo on the way. Go see at least one diva while you’re here!
Vegas has no shortage of high end luxury experiences, but if money were no object, we’d love to know what you as an insider would choose as your ultimate indulgence?
I love all of Vegas’s indulgences, from our natural landscape to our incredible spas, to the unbelievable chefs available to cook our food whenever we’d like, to the designers (hello, Givenchy) that have bypassed other cities to establish US flagship stores in Vegas. But my real weakness is shiny things. If money were no object, you’d see me hopping right over to Graff or Chopard.
Andrea’s Hot List
1. Eat at Bardot Brasserie in Aria, Michael Mina’s beautifully elevated French brasserie.
2. Ask for table 80 at Lago (and don’t tell them how you know about it); it’s the best table in Vegas right now, right over the Bellagio fountains.
3. Book a room at Sky Suites in Aria; usually for high rollers, other guests can book as well, and they’ve just built a fabulous new private pool for Sky Suites guests exclusively.
4. Take a great old historic tour of Downtown: Visit the Mob Museum, Atomic Liquors, the Neon Museum.
5. If you’ve never seen a Cirque show, for heaven’s sakes, get tickets.
6. Go at least one night to one of the mega clubs: Hakkasan, Omnia…but don’t go tourist-class. This is the time to throw down your cash for the ultimate experience.
7. Take one of Sundance Helicopters’ incredibly romantic flights in one of their chromed helicopters into the base of the Grand Canyon for lunch.
8. Nobu Matsuhisa devotees should check in to his first hotel—in Caesars—and preferably stay in the 10,500 square-foot David Rockwell-designed penthouse (think in-room Nobu chefs, a private Zen garden, sauna, and media room).
9. If you’re in town shopping for a wedding gown, go to the atelier at Nicholas Kirkwood in Wynn, where fittings may take place in private villas in Wynn.
10. At least once, do the cliché thing and drag the entirety of the Strip in a convertible, belting out Sinatra. There’s no shame—we’ve all done it, and it’s fantastic.