LAS VEGAS -- The boom-boom-beat of the music vibrates right through your bare feet as you enter any of the crazy, hot and wild weekend pool party scenes on the Vegas Strip.
For more youthful party people (that's not me), the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino's pool party -- known as "Rehab" -- is one of the hippest, most rollicking joints in town. This is a gigantic tropical party with a sea of untamed partygoers -- all drinking and dancing on the deck and in the water. There are three large pools -- one for the big bash and two more relaxed, lush with tropical palms, sandy beaches, private cabanas and swim-up blackjack table.
I thought the music would be rock and roll, to match the hotel name, but it is a dance mix that attracts a mid-to-late 20s crowd. This is a kick-ass bash where almost anything goes, akin to spring break debauchery.
"I party here to escape the ordinary world," one partygoer tells me as he gyrates hip-to-crotch with a bronzed beauty in a red string bikini.
For a greater age range -- from mid-20s through 30s and 40s -- and more intimate feel, check out the Tao Beach pool party at the elegant Venetian Hotel. Still a pretty wild scene with a D.J. playing hip hop, but a much smaller pool surrounded by bamboo trees that create a jungle hideaway atmosphere.
My favourite pool party? The Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesars Palace -- 2 full hectares of swimming pools with majestic granite columns, classical style sculptures of war horses and lions, fountains and the elegant ambiance of an ancient Roman bath.
Partygoers at the Garden can choose the pool best suited to their age and mood -- get in the groove at nightclub pools such as Venus (topless if desired) and Neptune, or just relax and hang out at the quieter Jupiter pool.
"We are having an amazing time!" says Celia Bartl, a 25-year-old from France. "We have never partied like zis before -- zerr is no limit!" she adds in her charming French accent.
Her friends nod in agreement as they sip on pink cocktails at the poolside and munch on sushi and croissant sandwiches ordered from the "Snackus Maximus" menu. The girls say they have spent their time in Vegas partying at hotel pools and night clubs, and didn't visit one casino.
"Vegas is the city of money, pleazurre and fun," Sonia Taboubi, 23, says. "I fell in love with zis city "¦ The lights, the pools, the dancing, everyzing about zis city."
"Being a girl in Las Vegas is very easy," Bartl quips. "The guys pay for all of your drinks!"
And ladies, even if the guys don't buy your drinks, entrance to most of the pool parties is free for females.
Caesars Palace a world in its own right
When I arrived at Caesars Palace, I thought I was merely checking into a classy hotel -- wrong! This place is a full-blown resort that resembles a modern day Roman Empire, and once inside, you can spend an entire holiday without ever having to leave.
Even if you don't want to go to the casino, there are spas, salons and hot night clubs. The crowning glory is the Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis, the 2-hectare complex for partying and relaxing.
Food is a big deal at Caesars Palace, from regular pub grill to high-end dining.
I admit, I'm not the classy type, so during a meal at the fine-dining Guy Savoy restaurant, I was more impressed with the charming French accents of the chef and waiters than the delicious French food, caviar, fine wine and cognac.
Mathieu Chartron, the young and handsome executive chef, took up cooking when he was10 years old and later trained under Guy Savoy at the world-renowned chef's Paris restaurant.
The tasting menu brings 12 courses for a food experience that takes over three hours. Things like caviar and tartare dishes don't do much for my untrained palate but I do enjoy crispy sea bass, the roast quail and the artichoke-and-truffle soup. And of course, the "shocolate dezzert" is dreamy.
Caesars also has an insane breakfast and brunch buffet with 550 items to choose from, and a poolside "Snackus Maximus" menu with great salads and sushi.
Although staying at Caesars Palace is a world unto its own, don't hesitate to explore other hotels along The Strip. Each one offers a new experience.
While in Las Vegas, I dined at the at Fix at the Bellagio. Steak, lobster-tacos and stuffed lobster were delicious, but the Dover fish was only so-so.
I also dined at a gorgeous and elegant place called the Botero, in the Wynn hotel. It's named after Colombian artist Fernando Botero and his interesting sculptures and paintings adorn the restaurant. The atmosphere is stunning. The steaks and lamb were succulent and delicious. But again, the fish was overcooked.
Dreaming in Technicolor
The 4.5-million-litre capacity Aqua stage at Wynn Las Vegas is magical, spooky, haunting and out of this world.
It's the watery setting for Le Reve -- French for "The Dream" -- which combines all of these things in one show. With water, diving, fire, swimming, acrobatics, humour and spectacular lighting effects, Le Reve really is dream-like.
I could watch this show two or three times, as every second has so much going on you can't grasp it all in one viewing. There are strange sea creatures climbing out of the water into trees; angelic sky creatures floating out of a misty hole in the heavens and crashing into the water with great bolts of lightening and thunder; and funny clown people, who magically create flocks of doves that fly away.
I love the red shoe performance, which features dozens of pairs of sexy dancing legs -- wearing red spike-heeled shoes -- kicking, thrashing and dancing in the water. You never see who those legs belong to, and they don't ever come up for air!
The theatre offers amazing views with no seat further than 13 metres from the stage and some so close to the action they are called "splash zone" seats.
Vegas considers itself the entertainment capital of the world. Other offerings include pop and retro music stars, comedy shows and several Cirque du Soleil shows.
NEED TO KNOW
-- For information on Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, see caesarspalace.com.
-- For the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, see hardrockhotel.com.
-- For the Venetian Hotel, see venetian.com.
-- For Wynn Las Vegas Resort, see wynnlasvegas.com.
-- For travel information on Las Vegas, visit lasvegas.com.