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Charity allows a glimpse into luxe Las Vegas

    The Skyline Terrace suite at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas was one of the exclusive suites viewed on a tour that raised money for Junior Achievement. The two-story unit on the 25th floor includes a patio with views of the Strip and, if that gets boring, an outdoor flat-screen television.

LAS VEGAS >> The best view of the Las Vegas Strip might very well be from a toilet. Granted, a toilet inside a two-story, two-bedroom 1,450-square-foot suite on the 56th floor of Vdara in the CityCenter complex of hotels and casinos. It can run about $800 on a not-so-busy Vegas night.

But if Las Vegas visitors wanted nearly seven times the space, twice the number of bathrooms (also with views) and a personal salon and massage parlor, they would need to visit the 35th floor of the Venetian — and likely have a title or honorific awarding them passage. There’s no point offering a price; a stay in the chairman suite is by invitation only.

Mere mortals rarely see how the good life is lived in Sin City’s high-roller suites, but a few hundred recently glimpsed four examples in the name of charity.

There were no passwords to gain entry, often just long walks down hallways to an unassuming door that held ample room and amenities inside. Most were modern with glass and metals, snakeskin accents and plush bedding. The largest among them, at the Venetian, was classic with dark woods, elaborate tile and art that was, in some cases, literally ancient. Inset into the floor? Semiprecious stones and brass chrysanthemums. Rugs in the living room were hand-woven in Tibet.

In MGM Grand’s Skyline Terrace suite, the two-story space on the 25th floor boasts a spacious patio with Strip views and an outdoor flat-screen television.

At The Cromwell, the reincarnation of Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon into a boutique hotel-casino on the Strip, a modern suite features a full pool table, large living room couch, fridge and dining room. 

The glimpse came courtesy of Junior Achievement, a charity that encourages financial literacy in Clark County’s students. The group sold $125 and $150 tickets to 450 people this year, its fourth time giving tour-goers a chance to see behind the hotel doors of some of the most exclusive suites on the Strip.

The event got its start, in part, thanks to Michael Crome, past chairman of the charity and current vice president of finance, budget and planning for Caesars Entertainment, who at first thought of persuading Las Vegans to open their homes for tours. That’s when someone suggested opening up the high-roller suites.

"No one wants to see the suites, because I see ’em all the time," he said he remembered thinking at the time. "What was I thinking?"

The participating hotels donate security, food and cocktails and suites rotate each year.

"When we get rich, we need to know what room to buy," said Chris Emerson, 24, of Seattle, who made a special trip to Vegas for the suite tour — his second — with buddy and co-worker Drew Garrity, 25, of New Haven, Conn.

The room — or rooms — in the Venetian spann 10,000 square feet, more than enough space for four bedrooms with two walk-in closets the size of hotel rooms themselves, a workout room with a sauna, a media room with mood lighting and a round table that sits eight near a sleek, black piano. 

Scott and Lanette Kavon, Las Vegas residents for 25 years, had never seen anything like it.

"Us normal people," said Kevin Odor, a 20-year Las Vegas resident. "We would have never had access." 

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