Nevada's newest resort center has more nature than neon

Sure bets inLake Las Vegas

Think of this fast-growing vacation spot 17 miles southeast ofLas Vegas as the opposite of the Strip. There's little neon at LakeLas Vegas Resort but a lot of nature: a 320-acre lake, waterfalls,and red rock cliffs and canyons to explore. Even the resort's twocasinos whisper rather than shout.

Millions have been spent to create the place, but the mood isopulent, not flashy. At dusk, MonteLago Village, known for shoppingand dining, glows like a surreal Italian city-state, complete withits own Ponte Vecchio-style bridge, Spanish Steps, and gondolarides. You may spot celebrities ― Céline Dion owns oneof the estates along the lake's south shore ― but they'lllikely wear golf duds, not sequins.

Golf is a big draw here. Two championship golf courses are opento the public: the Jack Nicklaus-designed Reflection Bay Golf Cluband the Tom Weiskopf-created Falls Golf Club (greens fees at eachfrom $160; 877/698-4653).

Set on the north side of the lake, the Hyatt Regency Lake LasVegas Resort, Spa and Casino (493 rooms, call for rates; 101MonteLago Blvd.; 702/567-1234) has a sandy beach, Camp Hyatt forkids, and Casino Baraka for grown-ups. MonteLago Village Resort(148 condos from $99; 30 Strada di Villagio; 866/564-4799) offersstudios and one- to three-bedroom condos in the Italian-themed mainresort village; the Casino MonteLago is adjacent.

The Ritz-CarltonLake Las Vegas (349 rooms from $249; 1610 Lake Las Vegas Pkwy.;800/241-3333) has sumptuous public spaces, the Italian-accentedMedici Café and Terrace, and the Spa Vita di Lago. After a spatreatment, you can head out to the hotel pool, overlooking thePonte Vecchio; you'll feel like you've wandered into some bit ofTuscany transplanted to the desert Southwest.

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