So last week my husband and I made our first ever trip to Sin City…and it was a blast!
First things first, I got a Vegas-appropriate Shellac manicure: bright pink with sparkles. It’s not a rule per se that you have to look like a showgirl in order to enjoy your experience, but I figured a little taste of it couldn’t help but get me in gear!
To make the timing work out, our flight down was with Air Canada, which is the only airline we had ever used. I assumed that the choose-your-own movie on board was a standard airplane feature, but we flew American Airlines on the way home, and didn’t even have our own TV’s!
We booked a couple of months in advance through Expedia, and got the best hotel deal at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino…and wow! It could safely be called a resort, as it was huge, with a variety of food options (upscale and casual dining choices, all-you-can-eat buffet, and a food court complete with McDonald’s and Starbucks).
Our room was in “The West Wing”, which is known for its modern-style accommodations. However, we did feel like we were far away from the action, and had a bit of a walk through the building just to get anywhere. The more old-style-Vegas rooms are closer to the casino, restaurants, etc…but I’m sure they don’t have TV’s embedded in the bathroom mirrors! (Have I already mentioned TV twice in this post?)
West Wing Room
One recommendation I would make is to stay at a hotel where you are seeing a show. The MGM Grand is relatively far south on the strip, and it ended up being a fair hike to each of the three other hotels we hit in the evenings. (Not an unreasonable walking distance, but the 45 degree Celsius heat and a pair of heels affected my perception.)
Apparently Vegas is always hot, but we were there during a heat wave…which made the MGM Pools even more of an attraction. There are 5 large pools (some designated adults-only), 3 jacuzzis, 5 bars, and a lazy river. Honestly, I could have spent days just lounging outdoors…and that is very out of character for me.
We arrived on a Friday afternoon, and after checking in and unpacking, we explored the hotel and then headed up the strip towards the Wynn Las Vegas Resort
. We intended to check out their dinner buffet, but the line was too long and we were worried about time, so we did a pizzeria thing instead, and a bit of shopping. I now own cute pink Wynn Las Vegas flip flops, and a nice Garth t-shirt. (Yes, I like to work out in cheesy souvenir apparel.)
The concert was at 8:00, which to East-Coasters like us felt like 11 p.m. (I’m sure my fellow book club members are incredulous as they read this, as I usually break up the meetings around that time, as I need my sleep. And by “break up”, I mean I leave to go home to bed, and everyone else remains to talk about me.)
First we stopped for the requisite concert-poster shot, and I have to tell you, our fellow tourists were so friendly on this trip. My poor husband had to keep fighting people off when they offered to take pictures of the two of us together. His short answer: “Oh, no, thanks.” (The long answer: “Oh, no thanks. My wife is a crazy blogger, so I know these pictures will end up online and I don’t want to be in them.”)
I actually used the word “fanatic” instead of “crazy” when I first wrote the sentence above, but then I worried that you, dear reader, might be skimming my work (for shame!) and think that I said “fantastic”…which sounds a bit cocky. Even if it’s true…but I digress.
Garth Brooks was fantastic. I knew it was just going to be him and his guitar, so even though I’m a huge fan, I expected something fairly simple. However, he still managed to put on quite a show all by himself, with not only his own music, but samples of various genres and artists that have influenced him all the way back to his childhood, and even some stand-up comedy thrown in for good measure! If you love Garth, you will definitely love the show. If you’re more a country-come-lately fan, then maybe not so much…and avoid it if you’re anything like a girl who passed us in the hallway and was overheard asking “Is he that guy who sings Achy Breaky Heart?”
The buzz after the show included comments like “That was way better than I thought it would be!” and (you need to visualize big blonde hair and a southern drawl for this one): “I’ve seen a whole lot of shows, but this was one of the best. It was so intimate!” You really did feel like you had Garth Brooks right in your living room for a chat and a jam session. But be forewarned: he does a lot of first verse and chorus, and then moves on to another song…so don’t be disappointed if the second verse is your favourite and you don’t hear it. And definitely don’t start belting out a line, assuming that it’s coming, because then when it doesn’t you might feel embarrassed. I’m just sayin’.
We cabbed it back for the sake of my blistered feet. Oh, and Vegas isn’t like New York, where you can just hail a taxi randomly on the street. They line up at the hotels, and you have to line up too and wait your turn for one…so they’re not necessarily a time-saver, more an indulgence for the lazy (or sore-footed).
Saturday we “slept in” (although the time change confounded my system all weekend), and dined at “The Grand Buffet”. You might assume that I’m wearing flowy summer dresses in these photos because of the heat, but it’s actually because of their capacity for expansion. Buffets in Vegas are incredible! After breakfast, we spent a couple of hours at the pool with some books and magazines.
In the afternoon, we explored the hotel further and checked out the Lion Habitat. For all of you animal-rights advocates, I’d like you to note that there are more than 30 lions brought in interchangeably from their as-natural-as-possible habitat off The Strip, so no one lion actually lives in the casino. A couple of times per week, each animal gets gussied up and brought in to town, to be shown off for a few hours (which, let’s admit, is the same thing we do with our own children).
Later in the day, we headed to a very VIP, celebrity-packed event at The Venetian. (Rural Ontario mom bloggers get incredible perks, you know.) Can you believe all of the amazing people we met?
Bradley Cooper and me
Chatting up Will Smith
Saying hello to Angie and Brad
Striking a pose with Eva Longoria
Okay, for the sake of journalistic integrity, I should be a bit clearer. When I say we were at “The Venetian”, I am actually referring to a business located at The Venetian called “Madame Tussaud’s”. And when I say it was packed with “celebrities”, I probably should have prefaced the word with “wax figures of…” But you get the idea!
Honestly, did any of them fool you? I thought the first two were pretty good. Now that you know the truth, here are a couple more fun (and even less believable) shots!
Watch out, Faith Hill!
Simon Cowell judges my performance (Randy found it “pitchy”, but at least Paula thought I looked pretty!)
My first interview with Oprah (I’ll be pulling this one out for sure when I have my first real interview with O)
Alright, enough of my corny, pop-culture-addicted fun.
We returned to The Wynn, not because it’s our last name only spelled differently, but because we were dying to try their dinner buffet, and there we stuffed ourselves to the point of pain. I am a picky eater, but I managed to fill my plate three or four times before sampling five different desserts.
Somehow we managed to walk over to The Mirage for Cirque du Soleil Love: Songs of the Beatles. I have to admit that Cirque du Soleil isn’t really my thing, but this show felt more “Broadway Musical” than it did “Acrobatic Contortionists” (which is a good thing)…and how can you go wrong listening to Beatles music for an hour and a half?
On the walk back from The Mirage, we stopped at The Bellagio to witness their famous fountain show (add it to your list).
Next stop: The Nine Fine Irishmen pub at the New York New York Hotel. The live music was awesome (if you’re in to Irish music, of course).
Sunday we buffeted and pooled it again, explored the lobbies and attractions of several other themed hotels along The Strip, and enjoyed fine dining at a quaint little place called The Outback Steakhouse. (Sometimes you just want the familiar!) That night was the grand finale of the trip…Celine Dion, live in concert! Yes, we saw Garth and Celine both – our tastes are eclectic. It was funny leading up to the trip, when we would tell others our plans for Vegas, they would either say “Garth! Wow!” or “Celine! Wow!”…but never both!
For this show, I wore appropriate footwear (because ladies, if you can’t wear gladiator sandals to The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace, then where can you wear them?)
Celine did not disappoint. It was quite a contrast to the Garth Brooks performance, as she shares the moving-parts stage with a 31-piece band, and her music is enhanced by high tech lighting and screen projections (e.g. adorable footage of her three children). I won’t spoil any surprises, but there are some interesting duets, and she covers songs of other artists as well. I felt like a lot of her fast stuff was missing, as it was more a flowing-ball-gowns-and-ballads kind of show. But we got to eat special Caesar’s Palace M and M’s during the performance, and had a great professional photo taken of the two of us in the theatre…for only 45 bucks. What a steal!
Speaking of money, you probably want to hear all about our experiences at the slots and tables. Sorry, we didn’t have any! Well, we each spent $20 at the slots right before the concert, just to be able to say that we gambled…but it didn’t last long! Here I am spending my last pennies at the Sex and the City machine:
I would totally recommend Las Vegas for a couples’, girls’ or guys’ getaway. As for bringing kids…while there are tons of things for older ones to see and do (pools, tourist attractions, shopping, activities), they may cramp your style depending on what you’re going for (e.g. they aren’t allowed around the slots/tables, there’s a lot of walking, etc.) Definitely not a trip for babies…and I think my 3 and 5 year olds are too young to get enough out of it. I would, however, consider going back with the girls when they hit the tween years and we would all be able to enjoy it together.
Feel free to ask if you have any questions, or if you’ve been to Vegas, add your own tips and tricks to help others plan their trips!