This is Part 3 in a 4-part series comparing two casino resorts in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Part 2 detailed the Food & Beverage offerings and Part 1 covered the Rooms. The 4th and final part will talk about Gaming. In this part of the series, I cover Resort Amenities and Entertainment.
Comparison Of The Resort Amenities And Entertainment | Lake Charles Resorts
Spa & Pool
The Golden Nugget and L’Auberge both have a pool and a spa. Done.
Just kidding. But really, not so much. The pools at both properties are better than your average hotel pool and better than about half of the Vegas pools. I would even rank L’Auberge’s pool up there with some of the best Vegas pools. But, to be clear, they also bring Vegas prices with them. Unlike other resort amenities, the pools at both properties carry the higher price tags of Vegas pools. $250+ (and usually higher) cabana rates that don’t serve as an F&B credit (as we can find at many quality Vegas pools). Drinks are upwards of $12 and frozen drinks can be even more. Food is relatively cheaper but if you can, wait to eat at one of the many outlets mentioned in Part 2. And, the last naysayer comment from me is that both pools attract kids. Lots and lots of kids…especially on weekends. Some come with parents. I think some drive up in biker gang formation two-by-two on Power Wheels. Either way, it’s a regional destination market for a big chunk of the South so people bring their kids and they do stupid kid stuff like dive into the lazy river, swim under your tube, and then overreact when you (accidentally) kick them in the face.
Those things assumed, the pools are definite amenities at both properties, but they each hold a much different character. The Golden Nugget pool is more about socializing and standing. If you like the Vegas dayclub vibe of standing in still water, drink in hand, sun working on your tan, and a loud oontz of DJ tunes filling the air, this is your place. The L’Auberge pool, however, has a much more tropical feel, quieter but still present music, and more shade. Umbrellas are high commodity items at the GN pool, to be sure. Similarly, tubes and noodles are almost as hard to come by at the L’Auberge pool. So, if you want to find an ideal spot at either pool, arriving near opening is recommended, especially during the summer months.
Both pools have two bars, but L’Auberge’s pool has one of these bars in a fenced-off adult pool and the other as a half-swim-up half-patio concept built into the lazy river. We use both about equally as we generally home base in the adult pool area and then spend some time in the lazy river. The L’Auberge lazy river offers a nice long ride (sans kicking any children…accidentally) and meandering up to the bar in your tube to grab a Miami Vice (with a rum floater) and then floating off is just pure vacation bliss. The Golden Nugget pool does have a lazy river, but it is smaller and definitely doesn’t have a swim up bar.
As far as the spas go, I have only had a service (free monthly for Preferred, 3rd tier card holders) at L’Auberge; although, I am booked for a massage at GN later in April. The L’Auberge spa and service has always been nice but the last few visits I’ve found the upkeep subpar with a disposable razor and someone’s used washcloth left on the floor of the shower I wanted to use and an overflowing towel hamper near the whirlpool. Still, my actual massages have ALWAYS been of the highest quality, professional, and worth every dime (and yes, I have also paid for them). Remember folks, tip your spa attendant and tip your massage therapist. I’ll add any commentary on the GN spa once I visit. After a brief period of disparity, prices between the properties’ spas are now almost identical. $110 for a 50-Minute Swedish Massage at either, Mon-Thurs. That’s at least 20-50% cheaper than the same massage in Vegas. Take THAT Vegas.
While I like to shop and I indeed enjoy some nice mid-range high-end retail (think Nordy…Neiman…), I don’t shop at these casinos. But, both do have shops for…umm, shopping. So, I asked the expert…my wife. She said L’Auberge has better shopping. She also noted that the price point is higher at Golden Nugget for an overall less diverse selection. L’Auberge has a wider array of style and taste options and has more sales and more reasonably priced non-sale items…says the expert. I can note she has come away with bags of stuff from L’Auberge shops more often than Golden Nugget shops…and she reminded me that I even bought my favorite red Vineyard Vines polo on sale at the men’s store at L’Auberge.
Another bonus is that you can often get 50% gift certificates (usually $25 for a $50 certificate) for many of the L’Auberge shopping and dining establishments via the KPLC 50/50 Thursday program – sign up for the email notices. They only email you when a new offer is released…but some deals go fast (like the rare Asia gift cert) so it might be a good idea to check the site Thursday mornings to see what will be released at noon that day.
Regional casinos are magnets for a constant rotation of not-quite-current but once popular touring musical and comedy acts. Both the Golden Nugget and L’Auberge play host to these acts, which cross multiple genres and many decades. If we throw those out of the mix, we only need consider what each property offers for entertainment that is unique.
First, neither has a dedicated performance space, but instead use convertible grand ballrooms. Golden Nugget’s space is larger and is located in a 2nd floor space that allows for multiple entrances and, more importantly, multiple bars. I’ve never had to wait longer than a minute in line when getting a drink at a concert (Pat Benatar was the last I attended…amazing). The Golden Nugget lineup is a bit older and a bit more Country. I do appreciate the nods to the 80s (we’ll see you soon, Belinda Carlisle) but I wish there was more of that and less, well, everything else.
L’Auberge hosted a concert that surprisingly still holds rank in our top 5 concerts of all time: Matchbox 20. Standing room only, Rob Thomas and crew put on a great show (don’t judge me, I knew like almost every song they performed…and I liked it, damn it!), and I believe my wife married Mr. Thomas with her eyes when she saw him rip off his shirt and change it right in front of her (on second thought – back OFF, Robby!). However, their concert lineup is inconsistent, infrequent, and seems to host more of those nebulous “Asian shows” us non-Asians never get to see. Their “Party by the Pool” summer series (held at, go figure, the pool) sometimes has great national acts…and sometimes has a bunch of local bands not very many people have actually heard of… Plus, Gulf weather in the summer is not always pleasant..so, cool concept bro but I’ll stay inside.
So who has the best of the “everything else” categories? For me, it’s pretty clear. While the L’Auberge pool and Retail win for me, the Entertainment is above and beyond better at the Golden Nugget. In this case, this is where the resorts work best as a paired destination. Taking time to shop across both resorts, enjoying the spa at one and then a show at the other…that feels very Vegas. The casinos have figured this out and have linked the idea with physical manifestations.
Both resorts share a free trolley service that runs between properties most hours of the day at 15-minute intervals. Drivers have always been cordial and should also get a toke upon exit (that means…tip your drivers, folks!).
When Golden Nugget was built, the resorts connected their lakefronts with a nice boardwalk with short piers that serve as lookout points, boat slips for your yacht (…), fake (i.e., manmade) but well-presented sand beaches complete with nice wooden Adirondack chairs, fire pits, volleyball nets, a Tiki bar (GN’s Cadillac Beach Bar & Grille) and an Airstream trailer with beachside fare (L’Auberge’s Touloulou’s). In a slow meander, the walk from the L’Auberge buffet-side exit to the Golden Nugget’s Pool/Starbucks exit would take about 15 minutes. That’s 15 minutes of exercise and 15 minutes of not losing your money, folks!
In the end, at least for this section, this is one area (of miscellany) where the collective offerings really increase the overall value of the experience. So, I’m not going to call a winner…or, I’ll call both as the winner because they work together nicely to deliver a bigger better experience.