Review: Westin Lake Las Vegas

bridgeI’m often asked what the best family-friendly hotels are in Las Vegas. I usually suggest something without a casino, since those tend to be quieter. But it’s not common to find a hotel in Las Vegas that actually caters to families with children (though you wouldn’t know it, judging by the number of strollers you’ll see in casinos even after “bedtime”).

So I was interested when I found out that the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa was actually promoting itself as a family destination. I was approached with an offer to check out what the Westin has to offer (full disclosure: my room and cabana were comped, but I paid for our meals and incidentals), and I agreed. So late Friday afternoon, the family headed down the Lake Mead Parkway to Lake Las Vegas, for a one-night, two-day staycation at the Lake.

The last time I was at the Westin LLV, it was the Hyatt Regency. Since then, it’s been a Loews and now a Westin. I’ve got to say the property looks great. The vaguely North African theme works well architecturally, and the room was clean and spacious, which is about all you can ask. It included an ironing board and coffee maker, but not an in-room safe (at least none that I could find).

The centerpiece of the Westin LLV, if you’re not attending a group function there (or maybe even if you are) is the pool complex. There are two pools, one of which has a pretty IMG_6570neat waterslide, and a private beach, with kayak and paddleboard rentals. If you have kids, you’ll probably be spending quite a bit of time out here.

The fun really starts around 6:30 at night with a beach party. Your kids can splash around in the lake, and there is food available for purchase. A cheesesteak cost $7, and, seeing as it was made fresh on the grill in front of me, I can’t complain about that price. We shared one of those, some chicken skewers, Caesar salad, and mac and cheese, for a total of $20–not bad at all if you’re on a budget. The kids were fascinated by the fish swimming around in the lake. The fish seemed expert at getting close, but not close enough to touch, to the kids.

IMG_6523There’s also a firepit where you can roast marshmallows (they sell smores kits too), which I think all kids like.

To heighten the festive mood, there’s a DJ playing music (not too loud, which is good) and periodic beach party games, like hula hooping and a balloon toss. The party breaks up before the screening of a kid-friendly movie–this weekend it was Cars on Friday and Ratatouille on ┬áSaturday, to give you a sense of what to expect. We didn’t stay for the movie because the kids were already knocked out, so I can’t say much about it.

IMG_6573Saturday morning, we headed down to the pool complex. We had a cabana, which was a convenient place to stash dry clothes and get out of the sun. Prima was entranced by the water slide from the start. It’s a fun ride that sends you splashing down into the lower (kids) pool, and the line never got prohibitively long. The kids pool itself was about 3 feet deep, so people were wading rather than swimming, for the most part.

We also “rented” a pair of kayaks. If you’re staying at the hotel, kayah rental is free, though you must leave a picture ID with them. There is also an outfitter called “Outdoor to the Core” that rents paddleboats and the like, but the kayak was enough for us. Paddling into the lake and down to the bridge was quite the excursion, which the kids enjoyed. We also did some exploring, paddling into various nooks and coves along the way. It’s definitely a fun way to get out on the water, though if you’re looking for relaxation you’ll probably want to just lie down on a chair by the pool. Of course, if you’ve got small kids, you already know that nothing about your vacation is going to be relaxing, and kayaking really was fun.

Coming back, we spent some more time at the pool before getting changed and driving home. As you can tell, this was a very un-Vegas-like staycation, with no gambling, no shows, and, though the hotel has two restaurants, no fancy dining. I can see a few types of people enjoying a stay at the Westin LLV: Vegas residents who want a nearby staycation; people who “hate Vegas” who nevertheless have to travel to Vegas for work/family; and people who like Vegas, but want to stay for a day or two at a place that their kids will really enjoy. We all had a great time, especially on the water slide, and judging from how busy the hotel was (with a lot of California tags in the parking lot), we weren’t the only ones.

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