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We had a terrific trip to Las Vegas, Sedona & Grand Canyon!

We had a terrific trip to Las Vegas, Sedona & Grand Canyon!

Old Oct 7th, 2004, 10:53 AM
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We had a terrific trip to Las Vegas, Sedona & Grand Canyon!

We just returned from a great trip to Las Vegas, Sedona and the Grand Canyon. We flew from Albany nonstop on Southwest Airlines. The flight was delayed, but no big deal, we still landed on time. We started with 4 nights in Las Vegas at the San Remo Hotel, $45 per night. Nothing fancy, but it was OK. I prefer to pay less for a hotel and save my money for really nice meals and shopping. The only real complaint about the San Remo was the ton of chlorine in the water. As soon as you turned on the faucet, you could smell it, and there was no way you could drink that water! Doesn't do much for your skin and hair, either. The hotel has a decent breakfast, including steak & eggs for $5.95. Service was a little slow. I'll give prices for meals, as I think that helps people planning a trip, and all dinner prices include wine. I usually just have water at lunch, my husband sometimes has tea.

I had read a lot of conflicting reports on most of the restaurants in Las Vegas, which made it difficult to decide where to eat. At first, I had planned to eat at Emeril's Fish place at the MGM Grand, then had read some bad reviews about it, some good. Patrick's very recent good experience there made me decide to try it for our first night (Mon). Our meal was excellent! Pepper-Fried Yellowfin tuna was really delicious. Two salads, two entrees, wine, $153.75. Note that it can be very expensive to have a glass of wine at the bar while you wait for your table (we were a little early getting there). My husband had asked me what I thought it would cost. I said, "Oh, probably $8-10 a glass." Turned out to be $12. But I have to admit, the wine was delicious! And of course, the wine is just as expensive when you order it with your meal.

We checked out the Lion Habitat on the way there. I had been to Vegas three times, the last time eight years ago. I was really disappointed to see that they had changed the entrance to the hotel and the huge lion head that used to be there was gone. I couldn't believe it, at first I thought it must be at the other corner of the hotel. It was so much more impressive than the lion that is there now, I couldn't imagine why they would do that. Then two taxi drivers told us that it's because the Chinese people wouldn't go in there, as it was bad luck. Maybe because you were walking into the mouth of the lion?

Hotels we checked out were Mandalay Bay, Luxor, NYNY, Venetian, Bellagio, the free Exotic Bird Show at the Tropicana. It was fun, they have them do some cute tricks. Lunches were at the Mexican place at Luxor, La Salsa, good food, poor service, $17.75, and Tintoretto's at the Venetian, good food, not terrific, $27.40.

We were going to the Aladdin and decided to walk, as we wanted to stop at the drug store. This is where we began to discover that it's not a good idea to ask hotel personnel for directions or where things are located. Suffice it to say that the drug store was nowhere near where two different people had said it was! We eventually found it a LOT further down the street. I had read about Aladdin's Slot Tournament in Frommer's Budget Travel Magazine. We're not big gamblers, and this sounded like fun. For $25, you get $50 worth of pulls on a slot machine. If you have the highest total for the day, you win big (can't remember how much now). Of course, there's not much chance of that, but you also get $10 on a regular slot machine, a T-shirt, cap, a discount on Steve Warwick's show (which we didn?t use) and $10 off a meal. We went to the Spice Market Buffet, which was really very good, and a bargain at $15 with the $10 discount. I won about $23 on the $10 free play. I know, not a lot, but at least I was ahead of the game!

The next day we got on the bus to the Venetian. I had planned to take the bus a lot, but more on this later. The Venetian is beautiful, wonderful ceilings. Lots of beautiful shops, but expensive. They have one of those guys completely dressed in white and white makeup who stands like a statue. I had to have my husband take my picture with him, as he looked just like one we had seen in Paris two years ago in Montmartre.

Now we were off on a scavenger hunt to find a bus back down the Strip. Fairly easy task, wouldn't you think? Ha! Two different people at the Venetian said to go across the street in front of Treasure Island. The second one mentioned a statue of Siegfried & Roy. I did wonder why their statue would be in front of TI, when they had appeared at the Mirage for so long! Of course, when we got over there, we were told that naturally the statue was over in front of the Mirage, as I suspected. So now we're on the hunt for the statue, which apparently IS the bus stop, so you would think that it would be out by the sidewalk. Well, even though we were obviously looking for it, we never found the statue, even though we went back a little ways to check again. We went into the Mirage, because of course you can only get a taxi from the hotel lobbies. When my husband mentioned to the valet at the taxi line that we couldn't find the bus stop, he kind of smirked, as though that was a common problem. He said there was a small sign by the statue, but it was obvious that he wasn't surprised we couldn't find it.

After a rest back at the hotel, we were going to the Bellagio for the evening. By this time, my husband had lost all patience with trying to take the bus, even though we knew for sure where to catch the one we needed, so we decided to take a taxi. We get in the taxi, tell the driver we want to go to the Bellagio, and he promptly says, "Well, that may be a problem." At first, I thought he was kidding, but no such luck! He said that everything was slow due to rush hour (he had just come off the Strip). Well, guess we hit it lucky, because he was wrong and we got there fairly quickly. We went and picked up our tickets for "O" and then just walked around the Bellagio until it was time for the show to start. It was a great show! I had seen "Mystere" ten years ago, but my husband had never seen a Cirque show. We both really enjoyed it.

After the show, I had made dinner reservations at Olive's. Although I had asked for a table with a view of the fountains, they had said they couldn't promise it, but we could ask when we got there. We were about ten minutes early, and the lady (a bit flaky) said she had a couple of tables opening up on the terrace by the time of our reservation and asked if we wanted to wait at the bar. We said sure and ordered a glass of wine. After twenty minutes, my husband went to see what the holdup was, and she said, "Oh, I didn't know where you were." We were right where she suggested we should go! A few minutes later, another lady comes to lead us to the table, but she is giving us one inside. When I told her that the other one had promised us one on the terrace, she went to check. Couldn't find the first lady and finally said she was just going to give us one on the terrace. I'm very glad we didn't just take the one inside, because the outside table was fabulous! It was wonderful seeing the fountains go on every 15 mins, plus you have a good view of Paris. And the dinner was delicious, $175.20 (probably around $45 of that was wine). I must have taken about 20 pictures of the fountains between courses! Truly a lovely evening.

Our last evening we decided to stay close and go to Emeril's again for dinner. It pays to mention to the maitre d' that you've returned because your first dinner was so good. Before we had even ordered, they brought us a complimentary sample of tuna sushi wrapped in cucumber with a sauce that I can't remember. It was delicious. We had another very nice dinner there, $177.34.

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Old Oct 7th, 2004, 11:52 AM
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The next morning, we got our rental car and drove to Sedona. Stopped at Mr. D'z Diner on the old Route 66 for lunch. It was a fun place, but the bacon cheeseburgers were VERY well done (guess they wanted to make sure that cow was dead!). $15.64.

We had a timeshare exchange for a week at Sunterra The Ridge on Sedona Golf Course in a studio unit. It's actually in the Village of Oak Creek just south of Sedona. Very nice place, nice pool which we used a couple of afternoons, some rooms have a view of the Red Rocks. I had called two weeks ahead to request a view but was told they couldn?t promise one. When we checked in, the girl said no studio units had a view. We then got the arrival information from the one who hopes to set you up for a timeshare presentation. I felt a little sorry for the girl; everything she told me, I already knew thanks to Fodors! Every restaurant she mentioned, I knew (I actually already had reservations at two of them). She said, gee, you could just do my job! Anyway, when we got in the car, we realized the check-in girl hadn't given us a key. My husband went back in and we went and unloaded our stuff and unpacked, realizing afterward that she had given us 1804P instead of 1804. Well, at that point, I certainly wasn't going to move, and guess what, we had a view of some Red Rocks. Don't know about the different key, they didn't ask us to move.

After getting the exchange, I had found out that we would be there the weekend of the Sedona Jazz on the Rocks Festival. We enjoy jazz, so I had ordered tickets for the Fri night show, which was a wonderful jazz flutist, Walter Bell. I was especially looking forward to this, as I play the flute. It was a fantastic concert! Afterwards, we went to the Cowboy Club for dinner. Very good, I had to try their cactus fries and enjoyed them, $87.17.

I won't go minute-by-minute here. I can give more info on what we ate if desired. Breakfasts in Sedona were at the Coffee Pot, 101 omelettes to choose from, good food and service, $21.26, and Blue Moon Café, steak & eggs, so-so food, poor service, $22.00, not recommended.

On the Rocks Jocks, good food (not really excellent), good service, $27.50.
Additional Dinners:
Shugrue's Grill at Hillside, excellent food, poor service, $100.70. We were at one end of the restaurant, and other than us, all our waiter's tables were at the other end. Not a very good plan! It was difficult to get his attention, as we never saw him.
Heartline Café, excellent food and service, $112.86. I think this was my favorite in Sedona.
Dahl & DeLuca (Italian), excellent food and service, $99.52.
Steak 'n Sticks, very good steaks, although I didn't like the chipolte sauce on the side (too sweet), great service, $111.00.
Javelina Cantina (Mexican), again great food and service, $88.00. (Note that you could eat here for a lot less, but we had a gift certificate for $75.00. You could just order the Nacho Grande appetizer and have enough for a meal, even if you order the small version--the large version is meant for four people.)

During our week in Sedona, we drove up for one overnight at the Grand Canyon. Of course, it's gorgeous! Stopped at a couple of the viewpoints in Oak Creek Canyon for the beautiful sites. We stayed at the Kachina Lodge, which I thought was very nice. I felt that it was better than the basic lodge description you usually read about. The curtains and comforters looked fairly new, the place was spotless, it had a safe, refrigerator and coffee pot. We didn't have a rim view, as they were all booked when I made the reservation in April, but you just have to walk outside to see it. Had lunch at the Arizona Room, good salads & sandwiches, $22.91.

I had asked lots of questions about seeing the Canyon and other spots without a lot of hiking, due to my arthritic knees, and thanks to all who answered those questions. I'm not handicapped but would be in plenty of pain later if I did too much steep climbing. My knees actually held up pretty well. We did take the shuttle bus around and stopped at every other stop, didn't end up walking between any of the stops. At the Maricopa viewpoint, it's a bit of a walk out to the end of it anyway (I'm sure this is nothing for most people, as I didn't have any trouble with it myself), but thought it might take too long to walk between stops (I'm a very slow walker!).

After a short rest back at the room, we went out for the sunset. I got some nice pictures of great color in the sky. We had dinner at El Tovar, delicious food (strawberry mousse in dark chocolate taco for dessert is wonderful), excellent service, $103.58. I had read a lot of conflicting reviews of this restaurant, but our dinner was great.

The next morning, I got up for the sunrise. As I walked past El Tovar to a better spot for viewing, there were 10 elk lying in the small half-circle backyard of El Tovar. It was still dark, so I almost missed them. Note that it was very cold! It got down into the 30's overnight but was in the high 70's/low 80's during the day. I'm not a morning person at all, but of course don't regret getting up for this, it's nice to watch the changing shadows on the Canyon. On the way back, the elk were all grazing around the front of El Tovar. We had breakfast at El Tovar, good food, $20.90 (we gave extra tip, as the waitress went out of her way to accommodate my diabetic husband).

We drove back to Sedona via Rte. 64 east out of the park and stopped at numerous viewpoints, including Desert View at the end. Great views along the way. Then drove down 89 and did the loop around to stop at Wupatki to see the cliff dwellings. That was really interesting. Also drove past Sunset Crater, although we didn't stop there, except on the side of the road to take a couple of pictures. We needed lunch and stopped along the way at the Village Inn on Rte. 89 in Flagstaff. Very good sandwiches, quick service, $19.16.

Views not to miss around Sedona: Rte 179 from the Village of Oak Creek up to Sedona, gorgeous red rock all around, Bell Rock on the right, Cathedral Rock on the left. Don't miss the Chapel of the Holy Cross on Chapel Road off of Rte 179. Not only is it a beautiful chapel, but the views from up there are amazing.
This will be a right-hand turn off of Rte 179 going from Oak Creek to Sedona. Then turn right off of 179 on 89A and Snoopy Rock will be on the right. I had made reservations for a Pink Jeep tour before we left home, and of course had told my husband about it. When we got there and he saw the picture on the front of the brochure (where the jeep is practically vertical), he said, "I'm not going on that! I'd rather go golfing!" Well, I wasn't about to miss it, so he went golfing and I went on the Pink Jeep. Wonderful tour, you really get some fantastic views at the two spots where they stop. At some points you look ahead and think, there's no way this jeep is going up there, but they do!

We really enjoyed Sedona and didn't get to several things I had sort of planned (Montezuma's Well, Jerome, etc.). Guess that means we need to go back. I guess I also don't agree with so many people who say a day or two is enough in Sedona. I would never get tired of looking at the scenery, all those beautiful red rocks. Also, I'm a shopper and there's plenty of it around! You couldn't check out all the shopping unless you wanted to do nothing else. However, I wanted to mention that I saw a Dry Creek Turquoise bracelet that I wanted at Art Mart, left on 89A off of 179, and found the same bracelet on 89A in Upper Sedona (right off of 179) at The Naja shop for $18 less.
I'd be glad to answer any questions.
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Old Oct 7th, 2004, 03:57 PM
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Susan -
Enjoyed your review as we are living at the weekend for 5 days in Vegas. Quick question, did you find diner reservations necessary during the week? We do have reservations at Olives the night we see O but that is it
What do you think?
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Old Oct 7th, 2004, 05:50 PM
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alds, I think if you want to eat at the more high-end restaurants, you are better off with a reservation. Both Emeril's and Olive's were full and we probably would not have gotten in without one, and we were there Mon-Thurs. Do try and get a table on the terrace at Olive's. Of course, you don't need a reservation for the buffets. Have a great trip!
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Old Oct 8th, 2004, 03:51 PM
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I believe we had responded to a few of the same posts a while back while planning trips out west. I am glad yours turned out so well. It certainly sounds like you had a great time. It is a wonderful area for sure! I know I am definitely going back. I did a whirlwind tour of Sedona, Zion & GC and know I will spend more time in Zion & Sedona on a future trip. Again, glad you had a terrific time, I really enjoyed your trip report! Thanks.
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Old Oct 9th, 2004, 07:01 AM
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Sherry, Glad you enjoyed the report. I, too, would like to go to Zion, maybe a trip back to Sedona along with it.
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Old Oct 9th, 2004, 01:08 PM
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Wow SusanP, you certainly ate better than we did! No one will argue when I say gourmet, or any close facimile thereof, is wasted on my sister. She want's a rare steak and a baked potato, maybe with a little cheese squirted on it. ;-) LOL.

The restaurant I really enjoyed our one night in Sedona, Cucina Rustica, is the same ownership as Dahl & Deluca. Good food, atmosphere and service. It was a great meal.

But you ate REAL food, often! Glad you had such a good time.
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Old Oct 9th, 2004, 07:16 PM
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thelmaandlouise, Yes, we did eat very well! I always try to budget a good amount for meals, as that's an important part of the enjoyment of the trip for us. As I said, that's why I go for a cheap hotel, otherwise I wouldn't be able to afford those meals! Glad you also had a good trip.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 09:55 AM
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SusanP. I am looking at doing a very similar trip this summer, so I found your trip review very helpful. The one thing I was wondering is how long of a drive is it from Las Vegas to Sedona?
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Old Jun 19th, 2005, 05:16 AM
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SusanP; Your post convinced me to make a trip to Sedona In Oct. Booked 4 nights at Tha Canyon Villa B&B in the Ocotilla room--the pics/views look fabulous!. I have taken your dinners into account and we will do the GC round trip in one day.
Looking for the perfect plane ride.
Thanks for your trip report.
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