Lake Las Vegas is an oasis in the desert, where dark chocolate mountains skirt a pristine 320-acre lake in the slanting Nevada sunlight. Within this setting, the 349-room Ravella at Lake Las Vegas opened in February, designed as an ode to Florence, Tuscany. The Mediterranean milieu hugging the lake’s banks is home to 20 boutiques and restaurants, two marinas, a casino and Jack Nicklaus’ first Nevada signature course: The Golf Club at SouthShore.
Forget flashing neon. This Dolce Hotel lures groups seeking rest, rejuvenation, fine dining, nature activities and full meeting facilities. The Vegas Strip, meanwhile, is just 20 minutes away.
Peace fell on me like a mantle seconds after gazing out the lobby’s enormous glass walls at the shimmering lake and swaying palms. That sense of serenity hung like a cool mist during my entire stay at the former Ritz-Carlton hotel, where Dolce’s mission of “Nourishment, Connectivity & Community” is omnipresent.
I “got” those concepts with the first evening’s 2-hour cruise around the nation’s largest man-made lake aboard La Contessa, the only motorized vessel permitted in this eco-friendly environment (100 pax). Just as I queried Ellen Saepoff, director of catering/convention services, about the possibility of fresh fish, executive chef Andrew Chadwick served up an amuse-bouche of fresh salmon kissed by ponzu sauce.
“His flavors, infusions and plate design surpass anything I’ve ever had,” says Saepoff.
Dinner was catered in Ravella’s lovely outdoor Florentine Gardens, an Italian sculpted vignette of topiary arches and verdant bushes lit with twinkle lights and the glow of the blazing firepit. Customized cocktails slid down as easily as the seared scallops with porcini mushrooms and petite radish.
Saturday’s breakfast was in Medici Cafe & Terrace, which opens onto the Florentine Gardens. By then, I was feeling pretty nourished and connected going into the 80-minute Journey to Balance massage at the 24-room spa. I’m not a newbie to luxe wellness facilities, but never have I felt such an overriding sense of calm as here. Spa director Nancy Dimaio credits her staff’s expertise and their use of organic products.
“Our oil blends are formulated energetically for the chakras,” she says. “Each treatment is individually customized to establish balance emotionally and spiritually.”
Trust me, it works. My spirit was dancing on the ceiling. As a woman, I was impressed by Dimaio’s women-oriented group options, wherein a treatment is incorporated into a whole package. “Begin with an evening cocktail party followed by an aromatherapy or crystal class the next day,” she says. “Something happens when women start touching, smelling and playing with oils. They get invested in the bonding experience.”
Our group’s final meal was catered al fresco at water’s edge. Seven courses of tapa-sized plates crescendoed with each savory taste: raw Hamachi with diced avocado, risotto smoked with sea urchin, and fork-tender prime tenderloin served with duck fat potatoes and truffle vegetables. Exquisite.
For fun teambuilding, organize a catapult contest from the 3-story, 375-foot Ponte Vecchio Bridge, replicated after the famous Tuscan span. Offered by R&D Events, the goal for this 3-hour event is to build a catapult and see who can shoot an object farthest out in the lake. Also take a look at the art classes where attendees gather to paint the Ponte Vecchio.
Some in our group went catch-and-release fishing with Outdoor Source. I chose kayaking. Two hours later my serene-o-meter was done in by hunger, soothed quickly by a chilled Dungeness crab and passion fruit/mango couscous salad.
For group business, Ravella offers 39,000 sf of meeting space, including 5,600 sf outdoors.