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Leave the Real World Behind
The Palms offers guests the ultimate fantasy experience
by Rob Wiser

Since its debut in November 2001, the Palms has cemented its reputation as the hippest hotel in Las Vegas—if not the world—for celebrities and the young, affluent party crowd. Its exotic suites have always been a key part of the formula. In fact, it was one particular suite that announced the Palms to the world: The “Real World” suite.

In 2002, MTV decided to film the latest season of its popular reality show, The Real World, in Las Vegas. Palms creator George Maloof didn’t just offer to let the cast stay at his hotel—he decided to put them up in one-of-a-kind style. He demolished six rooms and spent $2 million to construct the coolest suite in the city, where the cast members lived and partied all season long. This turned out to be a brilliant marketing move. Once the episodes started airing, The Palms become the Vegas hotel for the MTV generation.

To this day, the Real World suite is in high demand. But in late 2005, Maloof began debuting new suites, housed within the Palms’ new $250-million “Fantasy Tower,” that took the concept of unique accommodations to mindblowing new heights. “There was a demand for more rooms,” Maloof explained. “Our occupancy rates have been at around 97 percent since we opened. The idea was to build an identity around a brand new tower, the likes of which no one has seen before.”

The 40-story tower, which connects directly to the main resort, contains 347 suites in all. It’s most famous for the seven distinctly themed “party suites” on the 25th and 26th floors. “Traditionally, when a Las Vegas hotel expands, the expansion reflects the resort’s original architecture,” says Maloof. “The Fantasy Tower is still tied into the theme of the Palms, but it has a unique feel and its own identity.”

These party suites include the adults-only “Erotic Suite,” featuring a rotating bed, mirrored ceilings, and a “Show Shower” with sexy lighting and a stripper pole; the sprawling, retro-style “Kingpin Suite” has two regulation-size bowling lanes; the posse-friendly “Crib Suite” contains a DJ setup, video game area, pool table, and giant fish tank in the master bedroom; the g Suite is styled in the same sleek, futuristic décor as the Palms’ ghostbar nightclub; the Hot Pink Suite provides the ultimate setup for bachelorette parties; and the Celebrity Suite has a posh Hollywood vibe.

Most incredible of all is the gigantic Hardwood Suite, which boasts a basketball court with electronic scoreboard, media room, locker room, dance floor, 10-person jacuzzi, and four extended-length beds for visiting NBA stars. (The Maloof family also owns the Sacramento Kings.) The Palms will even supply a squad of cheerleaders to root on you and your pals.

“It represents the true spirit of what Las Vegas is all about,” is how Maloof describes these extraordinary suites. “It’s a place where people come to party and have fun.”

For the highest of high rollers, or corporate events, all seven party suites can be booked for a blowout “Block Party” spread out over two floors. This was the case when the Fantasy Tower held its gala grand opening. “I’m not just saying it because I own the Palms,” says Maloof, “but I think it was the best party I’ve ever been to in Las Vegas.”

Capping off this unprecedented project are the tower’s six Sky Villas. Each features an outdoor terrace where a giant Jacuzzi pool extends over the side of the building, walled in by plexiglass.

Looming above them all is the immense Hugh Hefner Sky Villa, with its elegant décor, framed portraits of Hef and the magazine’s most iconic centerfolds, and a glass elevator to transport guests between its two floor. Its design was partly inspired by the original Playboy Mansion in Chicago, including the round, rotating bed. A glass elevator transports guests between its two floors.

The iconic Playboy founder—and his multiple girlfriends—were the first guests to stay in this villa. “He told me it was one of the most special days of his career, seeing it all come to fruition,” Maloof says.

This Sky Villa is the crowning touch of Playboy Enterprises’ landmark partnership with Maloof. The Fantasy Tower also features the first Playboy Club to open in 25 years. Glamorous and recalling “vintage Vegas,” the club features floor-to-ceiling windows and live gaming tables manned by Playboy Bunny dealers. (Auditions were held at the Playboy Mansion to select each of these stunners; they were then sent to dealer’s school.) Nearby is the tower’s space-age nightclub Moon, featuring a retractable roof that opens to reveal the desert sky.

Unlike other Vegas resorts, where the most lavish rooms are reserved strictly for top gamblers and offered to them as a free perk, the Fantasy Suites are for rent. (Maloof says he rarely comps them.) But of course, this level of one-of-a-kind luxury doesn’t come cheap. Each of the Fantasy Suites’ nine different models commands its own price. The Erotic Suite begins at $4,000 per night; the Hardwood Suite costs $25,000; and an unforgettable evening in the Hefner Sky Villa will run you $35,000.

In another Vegas first, the Tower also contains The Studio At the Palms, a state-of-the-art recording facility where Elton John, Celine Dion, Dr. Dre and The Killers have already laid down tracks. Next year, the Palms will introduce Pearl, a cutting-edge, 2,400-seat live entertainment venue that promises to make the resort a regular tour stop for the hottest stars in music. Pearl will be hardwired to The Studio, enabling performers to record and release live albums of their performances.

Look past all the Palms’ celebrities and high-profile parties and events, and you’ll realize this is a visionary resort that has been breaking new ground, both literally and figuratively, ever since it opened. Maloof isn’t only a savvy operator; his eye for design, and imagination, are remarkable. And as all these other projects have reached completion, the pool area has been redesigned and expanded to the tune of $40 million—with posh, two-story poolside bungalows offering an alternative to the Fantasy Suites. Come next summer, this will be one of the hottest spots in town. In 2007 we’ll also see the arrival of Palms Place, a high-rise, 599-unit condominium tower connected to the main resort. It’s been a phenomenal run for Maloof and the Palms, yet it seems this party is just getting started.

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