Thursday, June 02, 2011
An evolving Vegas
Mijo wanted to go away for Memorial Day long weekend because he is starting on a new job the following week in the same company. For this trip, we wanted a quick but relaxing vacation. Would you believe that we both thought of Vegas? We did our research and we found out that one can definitely relax in Vegas. Sight-seeing? I've done this during the few times I've been to Vegas. Casino and gambling? It gets tiring and they're all alike. If you've seen one, you probably do not need to see the rest. Plus I only enjoy the slot machines and my black jack skills are so-so. Shopping? I wish! It is more like window shopping. Buffets? Well, maybe. Shows? Definitely... not Celine Dion.
Vegas keeps evolving. New attractions keep popping up and newer hotels are getting even more stylish. What I thought was a cutting-edge hotel back then seems no longer fashionable today. The Vegas crowd is changing too. I noticed there were not a lot of smokers! I remember my eyes used to get so red because of the second-hand smoke in the casinos. There are now trams connecting the hotels to move people through the stip. The Aladdin hotel now has a new owner and it has been renamed to Planet Hollywood. The Tropicana looks deserted and ready to be demolished to give way to a newer and bigger hotel?
The one thing that has not changed is the long queue. Long lines at the airport gates to/from Las Vegas, long queues at the hotel lobby checkin, long waits by the elevators, long lines at the show ticket counters, long waits when ordering drinks, and long waits at the restaurants.
All in all, we always have a great time going to Vegas. It truly is the Entertainment Capital of World.
For this trip, here are my top three and an honorable mention.
Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. If you want a relaxing Vegas experience, this is the place. The hotel is located on the far end of the strip close to the airport. It may not have topnotch shopping and its casinos are not as exciting as the others but its tropical themed pools are one if not the best in Vegas - several heated pools, a waterfall, a lazy river and the beach pool complete with imported sands and surfing waves. The standard rooms are not exotic-themed but they are big with floor to ceiling windows and the rooms have huge bathrooms with a big tub. The musicale Lion King is a resident show at the hotel. There is a free tram that connects this hotel to the Luxor and the Excalibur so moving around is easy. The first tram service starts at 9a and it shuts down at 12:30am. The Bayside buffet is a bit pricey than normal but offers a higher quality and a good selection of food in my opinion. Wi-fi and flat screen TVs inside the rooms. The Bathhouse offers blissful spa services.
Viva Elvis by Cirque Du Soleil. In Vegas, one can see around five different Cirque du Soleil productions. There are similar Cirque shows that travel to San Francisco every holiday season but I haven't seen Viva Elvis travel anywhere. So it was just logical to see Viva Elvis because this is the only place you'll see it. The show is a resident at the Aria Hotel and Casino and they have two show times on the weekend. One at 7 o'clock and one at 10:30 pm. It is different from the other Cirque shows I've seen because they made it more like a musical and a tribute to the King of Rock and Roll. They have the usual dare devil stunts but none of the bizarre contortionists. I especially liked their rendition of Elvis' songs and the sensual number on the hanging rings. The show gave me different view of Elvis. A visit to the Viva Elvis store is a must for those watching the show. If you are picking up the tickets at the will-call, get there at least an hour because the line can get very long.
Aria and City Center. This is the newest hotel in town. We came here to check out the hotel lobby, its interior and the hotel's outdoor and indoor sculptures. The hotel is modern and ultra chic in my opinion. Though it looks as if it belongs more in Miami or L.A than Vegas. The Crystals shopping mall at the City center is also the newest shopping complex in town where high end stores like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada and Yves Saint Laurent reside. We went here to checkout the nice man bags but it didn't go any farther than check them out. We had lunch at the Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria and Cucina. Their ceasar salad was fresh and delicious! There is a free tram that connects the the Monte Carlo hotel to the City Center and the Bellagio.
The honorable mention goes to Le Village buffet at the Paris Hotel and Casino. I especially liked the French inspired dishes and most of all the grilled veggies, the crepe and the creme-brulee. The price was not bad either.