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Last month I went to Las Vegas on a last minute whim while I was in Los Angeles and on my way back east. My stay ended up coinciding with Superstorm Sandy’s trouncing of the East Coast, so I ended up extending my stay a couple days while I reworked my schedule since my NY plans were upended.  Vegas isn’t a great town for points earning hotels, since most are off the strip and quite frankly not part of the quintessential Vegas experience (except for Palazzo/Venetian, which are Priority Club properties and the Cosmopolitan which is a Marriott Autograph collection hotel). Luckily, as an Amex Platinum cardholder, I took advantage of the card’s Fine Hotels and Resorts Program to make my extended stay in Sin City a little more comfortable.

The Panorama Suite had a king bed.

I spent my first two nights there at the Encore Las Vegas, the scene of Prince Harry’s debaucherous night last summer. I originally booked an Encore Guest Suite King Room at $259 a night. However, as part of the room upgrade perk with Fine Hotels and Resorts, I asked for a Panorama Suite which is the same size as a king room but has the all-important Strip views. Usually, those rooms go for about $100 more a night than the king rooms – getting me $200 in extra value right off the bat.

The Panorama Suite’s bathroom.

The room had those perfect views of the Strip, and was spacious at over 700 square feet, with a small living room area with sectional, a semi-separate bedroom and a large bathroom with separate tub and walk-in shower as well as two sinks. Allow me to show you around the room here:

Thanks to FHR, I also received daily complimentary breakfast for two, a 4pm late check-out and a $100 in spa services at the Encore spa where I booked a 60-minute deep tissue massage. That normally costs $180 but was just $80 thanks to the spa credit.

The view from my Panorama Suite at Encore.

If you’re not keen on booking a massage or other treatment, you can still access the spa and fitness center using a day pass which costs $70 and your spa credit will cover that. The spa is split into men’s and women’s areas and the men’s area was very spacious and had several heated pools, jacuzzis and a line of relaxation stone/circulation chairs and several saunas and steam rooms.

The Encore pools were closed for renovations but I was able to hang poolside at the Wynn instead

What’s great about Encore is that it’s very interchangeable with its sister property, The Wynn. For instance, one day I did breakfast at Encore, the next day I ate breakfast at the Wynn’s Terrace Pointe Cafe (This is by far my favorite place for breakfast here.), and the second morning at Tableau. And since the Encore pool was closed during my stay, I was able to use the Wynn pool instead. That was kind of annoying but at least there was an alternate option. However, the Wynn still felt the need to block off a bunch of cabanas even though it was off-season and there was tons of open seating around. Typical Vegas.

A classic Chateaubriand at SW Steakhouse. Delicious!

Between Encore and Wynn there’s a total of 19 restaurants ranging from casual (Zooza Crackers deli) to fine (Botero Steakhouse). I ate at SW Steakhouse on the first night, which was great (though very pricey) and every 30 minutes or so there are “creatures” that pop out of the man-made lake, which are entertaining – at least for the first two times.

Entertaining/bizarre lake scene musical/hologram medleys during dinner

There are also five bars and lounges and five nightclubs, XS and Tryst being two of the top clubs on the Strip. Other activities at the resorts include the Le Reve show, the Wynn Golf Course, high-end shopping (both resorts have their own cache of luxury designer shops) and of course, gambling. Lots of gambling. Good thing breakfast is free.

Overall, I really liked the location on the strip and the on-site amenities, though for my last night I stayed at the Mandarin Oriental, which was a much different and more relaxed experience that I’ll be writing up shortly. 

The Platinum Card® from American Express

While this premium card has one of the highest annual fees on the market, it has several valuable perks that could make it worthwhile, depending on your travel patterns. These include a $200 annual airline rebate, lounge access, free Hilton Gold status and free Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.

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  • Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year for baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations worldwide. Terms Apply.
  • Enroll to enjoy the benefits of complimentary Hilton HHonors™ Gold Status with your Platinum Card.®
  • No interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.
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