There are a lot of misconceptions about Las Vegas….. Some of which are true!
I have an unexplainable love for Las Vegas. Let me explain. I just got back from my 5th trip there. I was there for a week. The cab driver on the way back to the airport said ‘whoa, a week is a long time to be in Vegas’. Maybe if you don’t pace yourself. I could stay for 2 or 3 weeks. I love it. When I say I’ve been there 5 times, it may or may not sound like a lot to you, but it wasn’t like I spread those visits out over my entire life. They’ve all been in the last 5 years or so. After I first went, I’ve used any excuse to go. ‘Engagement Trip’, ‘Bachelor Party’, ‘Babymoon’. I would consider the following reasonable excuses as well….. ‘March Madness’, ‘Any other type of general madness’, ‘extra vacation days’, ‘good report card’, ‘bad report card’, ‘boredom’, ‘intense desire for a prime rib dinner that costs less than $10’……. I could go on and on. Perhaps I will……’tax refund’, ‘tax evasion’, ‘spending your kids education fund after they pissed you off’, ‘to watch in disgust as the Miami Heat win the NBA finals’…. these and many more are all acceptable answers.
I once considered becoming a blogger (which I’ve done and you’re witnessing it), but my first idea was to be a travel blogger who specialized in Las Vegas. Yes, I was willing to go exclusive with my blogs, and focus on one topic ALL the time. Then I thought if my blog was popular and awesome (don’t steal this idea btw, because as I’m rethinking it, I might still do it), that the city of Las Vegas would hire me as part of their travel and tourism team. Not to create brochures and pamphlets either, but to convince individuals one by one to go there (which I already spend at least half my time doing). If you know me at all, we’ve had this conversation before, and if you haven’t gone, I’ve made you curious.
Having just landed from there a couple of days ago, here are some scattered thoughts/ideas/anecdotes inspired by Las Vegas. I’m gonna have to go point form with this….. It’s that random!
– Food. Whether you are on a budget or you have money to burn, there is something there for you. Every celebrity chef, and his brother have restaurants in Vegas. It’s probably the most concentrated area in the world for fine dining (I’m making this up, it totally might not be). There is amazing food there every direction you turn. Flavours from all over the world!! If that doesn’t interest you, there really are Prime Rib Dinners for less than $10. I actually cracked my tooth on one a couple of years ago (but that had nothing to do with the quality of the meal, I’m just sayin’). Some of my culinary highlights include the smoked salmon Eggs Benedict at Mon Ami Gabi inside the Paris Hotel. The waiter that had a guacamole cart at the Mexican place at the MGM Grand (name anyone?), brought it over and made guacamole in front of us while carrying on a conversation. Also at Paris in an Italian restaurant a few years ago, the waiters would sing an opera song every 15 minutes or so, then go back to waiting tables (I don’t know if that place is still there). Who could forget $4.99 Steak & Eggs at Ellis Island (don’t know if they still do that or not, but go for the big portions, and great hash browns).
– Booze. First thing you need to know is that you can drink on the streets. This is important, because if you’re casino hopping, you don’t have to set your unfinished drink down to leave the hotel. You just bring it with you and drink on the sidewalk without the shame of a paper bag. There are intense sized slushy drinks that in some cases need a rope so you can carry it around your neck. This is incredibly unrefined, and can lead to bad behaviour, but you can’t expect a bunch of drunks to behave themselves. That’s just silly. I’m a beer guy, and if you are too, then you’ll appreciate $2 Coronas and Heinekens all day at the Fremont Hotel. The Yard House in Town Square has over 200 beers on tap (try the Belgian sampler which was the final nail in the coffin for me last Thursday). If you’re really a beer guy, and don’t give a shit about anything else, the Freakin’ Frog near UNLV is the spot. You’re cabbin’ it if you’re on the strip, but the selection is worth it.
– Comps. Do yourself a favour and sign up for a loyalty program or 5 the minute you get to Vegas. Every time you play cards or a slot machine or any other game, give them the card and let them track that shit. If you sit at a table long enough, someone will bring you a free drink, but that’s negligible since you’re pouring your life savings into their pockets at a much faster rate than if you paid for your own booze, but……when you’ve gone there a few times like I have, they start contacting you, and offering free hotel stays. As you become a Vegas addict, this comes in handy. Now let me be clear……. I didn’t do this, so I’ve never been comped anything, but the story I’m about to tell you is true. I won’t mention any names to protect the innocent, and so you won’t try to start hanging out with her for free hookups!! My buddy’s girlfriend is a savvy Vegas veteran of the getting comped scene. She’s forgotten more about getting comps than I will ever know. The two of them arrived last Wednesday, and my wife and I met them at the Cosmopolitan after they arrived there from the airport (which was in a limo that the hotel sent btw). We sat in the VIP check in room where they gave us Mimosas and apologized profusely about the wait (which really wasn’t that long, but it gave me a glimpse of how customer service could be if everyone thought you were rich). Then they gave her $500 of comped chips to gamble with (which on her first spin at roulette became $950) and $500 food credit at the hotel which we turned into a fabulous couple of meals at the hotel restaurants. This however, pales in comparison to the massive suite that they stayed in, with a corner balcony that over looked the strip, and particularly the Bellagio water fountains (not to mention the pissy little ‘off the strip’ hotel that I was staying in). How did this happen??? She signed up for a card, and used it every time she went to Vegas. The comps start out small, but this was her 11th trip there. She had to gamble some to get it, but she’s no high roller. Just a smart enough person (unlike myself) who takes advantage of a good loyalty program. Remember, an empty hotel room doesn’t generate revenue for a hotel. Comping the chips only costs them if the customer uses them to win money (which is usually not the case), and whatever the food and service cost is for $500 worth of food is nothing compared to what they’ll probably make off you if you go there with your friends regularly. Look into it. It’s awesome!
I haven’t even mentioned the bars, nightclubs, the women in their slutty outfits (even the ones who shouldn’t be wearing what they’re wearing for whatever reason….. I admire your courage), my beloved UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (who I’ve worked into back to back blogs), the Las Vegas 51s (AAA minor league affiliate of my beloved Toronto Blue Jays), the 24 hour buffet pass, the 24 hour bus, Red Rock, the energy sucking but loveable tackiness of Fremont Street, Microbreweries (did I mention being a beer guy?), wedding chapels, shopping (both outlet and boutique), concerts, Cirque du Soleil shows, magicians, comedians, hotel swimming pools, places to do stuff from golf to firing machine guns…….. man I wanna go back.
Pay me Las Vegas!!!
June 26th, 2012 at 4:36 am
I have to mention here that I HATE VEGAS.
I go every year for a conference and have probably been a dozen times, but would rather deep breathe continuously for 20 minutes in an enclosed public bathroom in China in 35C weather and 100% humidity.
They might actually PAY me for successfully completing this task, instead of taking my money away, like they do in Vegas 😉
June 26th, 2012 at 11:35 am
I refuse to believe that you gave it a fair shot 😉 Next time you have to go, I’m planning your itinerary!!
June 26th, 2012 at 10:14 am
Brent will tell you that you have to gamble an awful lot to get any comp, like dinner, let alone a free hotel stay. I’ve heard only of one or two people actually receiving decent comps so I’m not sure how easy it is to achieve this unless you really are pouring your life savings into the machines and at the tables. That said, I’ve heard Vegas is hurting for tourism dollars (but I don’t know that I believe that, when some smaller Cdn casinos makes a mil a day or so?). Re the restaurants, I think you’re right: I saw a special on the Food Network where they focused on the massive wine cellar at the Bellagio – they are one of the biggest buyers in the world. But thanks: all of this waxing nostalgia about Vegas makes me want to go and I can’t right now!!! 😉
June 26th, 2012 at 11:45 am
I’m just telling you what I saw regarding comps. I’m not saying all hotels provide the same experience in that regard, but I think a lot of people don’t get the card and use it the right way. Remember how many hotel rooms there are on the strip. They have to pay to keep the lights on anyways, so might as well fill them with bodies whenever possible. Casinos have to be smart about their comps too. If there’s a player that pours their paycheque into a slot machine each and every Friday, why comp them if I’m already getting their business? Better to comp an out of towner who may not come to Vegas otherwise.
June 30th, 2012 at 2:05 pm
I’ve never been – but am dying to go. I think we’d be staying in the pissy little hotel too but who cares. I was a severe East Coast snob for a long time. A crabby New Yorker who thought you lost brain cells the further west you went. I was dead wrong. I love California (even L.A.), I adore Colorado and Washington, and dream of moving to Portland. Vegas is on the agenda for sure. I laughed out loud when I read your line about spending the kids college fund. Great post!
July 1st, 2012 at 3:19 pm
Thank you! Let me know when you go, and I’ll make some recommendations. My new hobby is helping people plan their Vegas trips. It’s like Disney for adults!
July 10th, 2012 at 5:24 pm
I love Vegas, I’ve been more times than I can remember (maybe 9 times in 12 years (still not more than Changstein)) but this post has got me hype. I’m leaving for LV tomorrow!
July 11th, 2012 at 2:08 am
Niiiice!!!! Have a great time Skee!!