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Worldwide Vegas Vacation - Trip Report July 2005

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Worldwide Vegas Vacation – It’s All About the Water
_______________________

In one day, we visited Greece, Italy, Monaco, France, Egypt, NYC and Las Vegas.

Our trip to Vegas coincided three events : July 4th, Jacq's birthday (Mrs. Delay) on the 6th, and Mike & Sandi’s Bachelor/ette parties on the 9th and 10th. Am I the last person in the room who has never been here as an adult? The now-long-gone lion's head entrance of MGM Grand was just being welded together in steel tubes last time I was in Vegas.

We flew from SJC Monday at Noon on the 4th. Our research showed the temperatures in Vegas had increased just one week prior to our departure. 70ºF in Santa Cruz and 105ºF in Las Vegas. Hades revisited! I learn from Fodor’s that prices of nearly everything in Vegas had a similar increase in the last seven years.

Gamboling in Las Vegas

I was braced for the expenses when we absorbed a solid $100 whack after losing ourselves in Rum Jungle w/ an early dinner at 6pm. I say ‘early dinner’ because the intense heat shifted our circadian rhythms and we felt like it was only lunch time.

The entrance to Rum Jungle in a hall of restaurants at Mandalay features a doorway centered in a grey concrete wall of about 100 small gas-fed flames in a checkerboard pattern behind glass. Doorway divides a pair of 1-foot-high gas-fed flame humming along on each side : each in a unique, windy, vortex funnel of flames. Can’t miss this place.

She ordered the Jambalaya for $32, served in a halved pineapple and accompanied by half a lobster – a chick at best. I ordered something forgetful for $26. It was great, but the other was superior. A pair of $11 mojitos allowed me to forget the difference. At night, Rum Jungle transforms into a nightclub with Go-Go Girls in cages and others that spin and swing from cables on the ceiling.

We wouldn’t be here that long. We needed to see the beach in the desert. Not far from their lazy float river, Mandalay Bay has a pool with a wave simulator that is fun for kids, and for 37-year-olds who act like kids. The wave pool is well done. Nearly every ten minutes a single wave of 1 meter height emerges and is enough for a person lighter than myself to body surf for about 35 feet to the tapered upslope where the deck chairs rest on sand. Waves from the 8-ft deep end can be made 2 meters high for board surfing.

We’ll never see that. At this end, a person can float and watch the last rays of the setting sun reflect off the black glass pyramid of the Luxor in the distance between the gold tower of the 41-story Mandalay Bay – and the 43-story gold tower of THEhotel. Black and Gold are a timeless pairing.

Our goal on every trip is not to be in the hotel room, so we don’t normally spend $450, but we don’t want to be afraid of our room, either. The standard room w/2 queens at Mandalay has marble tiled separate shower and Jacuzzi tub, dbl vanity w/lit concave mirror WOW!, enclosed throne room, wireless ‘net for $11/day. You can determine the age of a hotel room by viewing the bottom 3” of every piece of furniture. Vacuum cleaners and drunks have been here for six years. About what you expect for $110 midweek. Add access to several pools, the lazy river, and the wave pool.

I read that finding deck chairs was near impossible poolside in Vegas, as many people awake at 8am to secure chairs with towels, only to return to their rooms to nap(?) and they arrive at “their chairs” at the respectable hungover hour of 11am. Didn’t see this.

For the 100th anniversary of the city, a large party occurred on January 1st. For the Fourth of July, nobody in the hotel industry nor online knew of fireworks on the strip. Off strip, yes. From our room on the 30th floor, we filmed aerial explosions in eleven different locations from 8:30pm until nearly 11:00pm while we rested. No exaggeration. It was a pretty cool experience.

Two blurs in our photos are glass elevators on the side of THEhotel whisking diners to the 43th floor to visit Mix, a stunning vision of a restaurant by Alain Ducasse – featuring a $500,000 13,000-glass bulb chandelier and legendary grub. We should have been here to view the pyrotechnics outside.

Explored the strip and discovered a reaction to chlorine (or something) made my left eye flush red and sensitive to bright light. Are you kidding? Wrong city for that condition – day or night. A few hours later we returned. Given a night’s rest, the pupil returned to normal dilation and my eye was nearly white again.

At a lounge in Mandalay, a live band drew us in and we danced with a bride in a 4th of July wedding gown. Red, white, blue. Mostly white. Good girl. Good night.

_________________________

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    July 5th, TUESDAY

    Drink the Water
    We began Tuesday rather late, but understand that we (Jacqueline) was up until 5am noisily packing and cleaning --on the day before we left-- so sleeping in late with clothes-pinned drapes allowed us both to slowly morph into humans once more.

    Did I mention that Southwest Airlines exercised its option not to include half of my checked luggage on the plane which brought us to Vegas? Oh yeah. Upon arrival at McCarran, I stood at the luggage carousel like a father at the front door, expecting a teenager to return home past curfew. After perfunctorily filling out the paperwork, the SWA rep extended a posthumous handshake & reassured me that my bag was not “lost” it simply was not “here”.

    On this morning, there was no news of the luggage.

    Our first meal of the day was on the patio of Border Grill, just outside the gate to the pools at Mandalay, where I had pork tamales with moist masa. How many times have you had dry tamales? I had to try their best margarita. I used to say that you can judge a Mexican restaurant by the chile verde. Somebody countered that the margas tell the story of a restaurant. I now include both in my “test” during every nighttime meal. Jacq ordered tortilla soup, which was topped with blocks of avocado and goat cheese. Nicely finished.

    At every meal during our entire stay, we are offered tap and premium bottled waters from various sources : Panna, Fiji, Pellegrino, TyNant . . . it goes on. Are you aware that Mexico is the only country that doesn’t export spring water? Think about it. If you were offered “fine mineral water from Mexico”, would you pay money for it? Pshaw!! Here, we had Aqua Panna : best described after margarita & tamale as having non-flavor.

    After, we found more than 2 open chairs and took full advantage of the pools midday at Mandalay. After downing a Lava Flow and experiencing severe brain freeze, I found myself swimming with the kids, trying to equal their buoyancy and emulate their body surfing stylings. Not a chance, at my svelte 15-stone weigh-in.

    For the lazy river float, a brightly colored inflated tube can be purchased for $10, or rented for $20. No typos. My guess is that they want to sell those $.39 Taiwanese child-labor-made items for the $9.61 profit to anyone who will drop the cash. The tube is not necessary, you simply float on your back or swim forward.

    Time in the sun had escaped us. My red eye knew the time. Our exit pivoted on our mutual agreement that we had received our RDA of vitamin D at the discretion of Ra (the Egyptian god of sun.) Thus, we bailed out of the pools area to change clothes in our room. We took the tram next door to the Luxor to see Blue Man Group and collected the tickets at will call with 42 minutes to eat.

    But, where? The faster I walked, the more my shoes chafed my feet. Searching for something fast and good, we found Hamada in the Ra and sat at the bar for Japanese food. For whatever reason, the restaurant wasn’t too busy to accommodate our quest for the Guinness land-speed-record for sushi consumption.

    After the Gyoza, Miso soup, Luxor roll, Philly roll, and Salmon Sashimi were washed down with iced tea, it was discovered that the credit card used to pay for the show tix was left at will call. None of the restaurant staff at Hamada could reach a human via telephone. In an off way, it’s good to know that even they cannot reach somebody live on the phone. We finished the Fiji water, escaped after paying $78 w/another card, and now had 00:06 to get to the theatre.

    Blue Man Group was tight. I truly recommend it. I term their act performance art, while they do have musical talent on them there PVC pipes which initially put ‘em on the map. They took song requests from the audience and tore through Freebird with teutonic precision. They do other things you won’t see twice in one lifetime. We sat in Row M, although in this theatre, you could rent the lesser-cost seats and see everything just fine. (Just don’t look directly at the lasers with your red eye.)

    Focus, Focus
    With camera in hand, you’re seeking “the shot”. Without a tripod, photos are brutal at night. The still light reflected from the Venetian canal water suggests a stillness of the air that rarely exists in 24-hr Las Vegas city limits.

    We arrived at our room, and yep, a quarter-sized blister blazed on my right heel. This happened from wearing formal sandals without socks. That’s what you do, right? It felt like the Big Apple. It looked like pepperoni.

    My personal forecast for the night included waking up in the middle of sleep because the blister had stuck to the bedsheet, (imagine tearing more skin) so I called every extension printed on the hotel phone until I was transferred to their Emergency Medical Technician, who brought me some large-sized bandages at 3:20am. Service.

    It was an awkward few moments as this guy in full EMT uniform and I stood at the vanity to discuss my pansy-ass skin quietly to not wake up Jacq just a few feet away. I didn’t want ‘Dr. Jumpsuit’ to mention the eye thing. He was gone in 60 seconds. In the absence of an autoclave, the bathroom sink was used to sanitize a pocket knife and I operated on my flaming heel. I fell asleep wondering if my luggage was having a better trip than its owner.

    ____________________

    July 6th, WEDNESDAY

    Double Your Odds by Overpacking
    With the compounded injuries of the heel, the eye, and my misplaced luggage, I was ready to rename this place Malady Bay. BUT, this is not about me… It’s somebody’s birthday today! Jacqueline has had a 29th birthday 4 times now. We wander over to the Four Seasons to thoroughly enjoy lunch on the patio at restaurant Verandah. Go there. As one would expect, the 4S is not flashy. It is not even really Vegas. The pool of the 4S is 60 feet from the patio dining. On the other side of the pool is a wall for the boundary of Mandalay Bay’s compound. That single wall makes all the difference.

    We begin by selecting a better table. Because we could. The waitress then substituted my white napkin with a black napkin, because she noticed I was wearing black – and the white would shed. Good call. The table breads were same-day fresh and varied with poppyseed, wheat, lemongrass.

    Asian Chicken Salad for my guest; Crispy Salmon for myself. A couple of Arnold Palmers and we finish with the 4S sorbets : Apple, Mango, Watermelon, Raspberry. Very nice. $67. After, we gave ourselves a tour of the modest pool area where we found that the waterfalls provide white noise for discreet conversations – and insulate the area from the neighboring hotel.

    The birthday honoree did not wish to view the Grand Canyon via helicopter touchdown, so we changed plans and scheduled her into BATHHOUSE, the spa in THEhotel, for a late afternoon massage.

    Meanwhile, we hit the bricks and went shopping at the Forum for something special for her Bday. The entrance of FAO Schwartz is marked by a two-story wooden horse. Periodically, the eyes light up in red and the head nods mechanically. The 2nd floor of the store includes a walkway that is bridged through the ribcage of the wooden horse. It is a ginormous piece of art.

    At the entrance, a man dressed in a formal marching band uniform stood in the center of a round two-tiered platform, surrounded by large teddy bears. He allowed Jacqueline to stand on the dais next to him for a photo. Nice. When we exited the store, he had been replaced by a teddy bear 3x the size of the others. Timing is everything.

    Inside, we watched two 20-something, classically-trained pianists dance duets on a 40-foot x 6-foot piano keyboard. Footsteps on keys produce lights and tones. They played songs requested including: Beethoven’s Fifth & the theme from The Sting. They also allowed kids (and Jacq) to run around on the keyboard. Back and forth, giggling. What a treat. (that wasn’t in the brochure.) Remember Tom Hanks in the movie “BIG” ? Something like that.

    Can you guess her favorite store? GUCCI. The rule is: On her birthday, she receives a new Gucci purse. $760 later, she was all smiles, singing the Gucci song all the way to BATHHOUSE. I think only she knows the words. Trust me, she has the matching wallet, keychain, sunglass case, biz card holder in Gucci monogram.

    I took Gucci up to our room for safekeeping after she checked into BATHHOUSE for a deep tissue massage. Normally, that’s my job. When I arrived, the little red light was blinking on the hotel phone. Know what that means? I instantly knew. A message says SWA delivered my lost bag to the hotel! I bailed out my Tumi for $10. My nice clothes are in this bag. I learned long ago to double-pack for just such a malady.

    After collecting a languid Jacq at BATHHOUSE, we moved to Aureole. This is one of my new favorites. 3,000+ bottles of wine in a 4-story glass tower --- unlike any other “cellar” you’ve seen. Three stories of temperature-controlled wine racks are visible through glass on all four sides, as this tower rises in the center of the bar/lounge area. Why take the elevator down from the entrance level, when you can walk the stairs which encompass the tower?

    To retrieve a customer’s wine selection, an ebony woman named Ebony (wearing a harness) clicks into a cable system to “float” up to the predetermined grid location and then she “floats” down to the ground again with the wine in hand. This must be seen once.

    The food & service make statements of equal impact. We had flawless service from Jason. I don’t give out A-grades easily, but he earned his. Knowledgeable, attentive, personal, accommodating, professional, affable …to no end.

    We ordered Trio of Tuna: three small samples of tuna prepared very differently, with exotic accoutrements. Mesclun Salad was an excellent partner. The table breads were brought fresh to our table by the baker, himself. We had olive bread, tomato, and another that escapes me. A peach mango rita and a ginger collins were light cocktails for the afternoon. $86.

    At Aureole, we were invited to play with an HP tablet which wirelessly accessed the dense wine list. Search by country of origin, region, type of grape, price, bottle size – any parameter you wish. Bookmark your favorites. Check for pricing of a California Merlot by split, glass, or even baltazar. It’s all in there. Most expensive I found was a $36,000 bottle of red from France. “It’s a domestic pinot without any inbreeding. I think you’ll be amused by it’s presumption. It possesses a unique singular duality by at once offering the gilt-edged riches of modern-day Kuwait and the ravages of Constantinople during the Paleozoic age…” Okay. Fine. Whatever it tastes like. But will the price, alone, make us hurl?

    Departing Aureole, we changed clothes and entered Mon Ami Gabi at Paris, where I had secured 8pm reservations via Open Table.com the prior week. The idea was to have great views of the Bellagio fountains on the cusp of nightfall, without a heavy meal. This worked fine as the sky blended from Tiffany to Sapphire, while every half hour, the fountains erupted and melodies coursed across the street. For $60, we shared Grey Goose Martinis, Escargots, Steak Au Poivre and, when the guest of honor returned from the restroom, she was surprised to see that the waiter had brought a small cake with a single candle which he then lit. No song was necessary. The fountains were singing.

    Now, off to see “O”at Bellagio. Everything you have heard and read about this show is verifiable. I will say no more than it was fantabulous. Go to O. My personal fave is the “Wish You Were Here” scene with the man reading flaming newspaper.

    Killing time at the Venetian, we were tempted by the sorbet vendor cart since we were too late to ride the indoor gondolas. Instead, at 10:55pm, we opted to be the last table seated at Canaletto, which appears to be an outdoor Italian café while located indoors in the Nevada desert. We dined under the fair weather cumulus painted on the celeste-blue sky of the ceiling.

    She subbed angel hair into the Linguine Buranella (w/seafood). I sampled this; it was exquisite. I supped on Petto di Pollo - equally satisfying. The water for this meal was Fonteviva. For dessert : Colombina, which combines white and dark chocolate and offers raspberry and kiwi sauces. Add a glass of milk for balance. Very nice. $72.

    We marveled at how successful this city is at proletarianization of the minority elite.

    __________________

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    July 7th THURSDAY

    Here’s a Tip
    Everyone that poses in our photos, or touches my baggage, food, drink, or taxi door, expects a tip. I kept a grip of 5s and 1s in my pocket at all times.

    I began the day feeling that, for this day, we should be WTA (white trash Americans) in Vegas. Somewhere inside the mall, a white ‘Roman statue’ mime poses for a photo with me in my Western straw hat, orange T, and brown/orange/white geometric + floral board shorts. What contrast we were. She is petrified on a dais splashed with fives & ones while people snap away with cameras.
    On our return route, she was gone. Timing is everything. We serendipitously ‘found’ another GUCCI store and procured our 2nd Gucci purse for $1,270. “Happy Birthday to you, Mrs. Delay”.

    On this afternoon, I fended off four different hucksters for Timeshare properties. Must have been the orange shirt. “We’re in the same business”, I explain. “Knock ‘em dead, kid” I told a man 15 years my senior and then resumed my wander.

    We’re dressed for the water, but we saw the beach once already, so we’re cruising the strip for shade. We walk through Caesar’s for their A/C and nearly split our sides laughing when we hear some guys in their 20s walking nearby call this place “Geezers”. Sauntered in and out of a morgue called Aladdin. I read that they are planning renovations. Ever hear the expression, “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic”?

    This air-conditioned 24-hour city offers magician Mac King at 2pm and 4pm. Only. This gem of a midday show costs most people $20. There is a coupon available near the entrance which offers entry & a cocktail from a limited bar menu for $8. Eight dollars, folks. American. Mac King is alternately funny and a spectacular illusionist, performing before 2 nearly sold-out shows daily at Harrah’s. What do a goldfish and a carrot have in common in the world of magic? Go see & find out.

    Later in this week, we paid $95 for Penn & Teller. I’ve seen them perform in my home city. Mac King may never graduate to the million dollar player level of P&T, Lance Burton, or David Copperfield, but it would be deserved. Mac King is simply the best valued show in Vegas. Period. It was a fantastic performance suitable for all ages -- seriously. You don’t even need to like magicians to like Mac King. $8? Come onnnn. Cocktails are $12 in this city.

    The high-falutin’ Royal Star (chinese cuisine) in the mall opens for dinner at 6pm. We coincidentally arrive at 5:55. Timing is everything. I prefer to eat before or after the crowds, but not with all the other sheeple. We had excellent service. Dishes were fresh, servers were happy. Lettuce Cups, Potstickers (she loves those things), Won Ton Soup, Orange Beef, Chocolate Martini, Tsing Tao. $83.

    From there, an outdoor gondola ride completes our incongruent day. Sure, it’s hot outside, but it’s too phony cool to ride the indoor gondolas. For $25 a couple, you can share the ride with another couple. For $50 a couple, it’s all yours. I went cheap and they ended up giving us a free upgrade and we rode with just the operator. Snort!

    Gino takes our photos and serenades us with songs (including theme from The Godfather) as we pass through the tunnel bridge which carries pedestrians over the canal. Great photo perspective with the boat, water, clock of the Venetian. Interesting experience. Maybe not $50 worth; definitely $25. $10 tip.

    I catch a glass reflection of the mocha-colored Gucci bag and I’m stunned at how well it balances my WTA hat. I am reminded we need to swim soon, knowing that Mandalay beach closes at 8pm. We easily found two chairs together. After a mix of swim & sun, we bolted for a wardrobe change and then for Mystere at Treasure Island.

    We were not lucky to see Mystere from front row seats. Never again. We actually did not know where our seats were located when we received the tix. This location is too close to have the proper perspective for the aerial acts and, when platforms or other movable items are placed onstage, the view is partially obscured. A bittersweet experience.

    Another excellent show. I have seen every show that came to San Francisco and now, two more notches on my belt in Vegas. Although the familiar and repetitive gymnastics of each show bring to mind Cirque du Cliché, the troupe does continue to introduce new elements & reveal arcane storylines.

    Cards, anyone? We played at Bellagio until 4:something a.m. Mrs. Delay has spooky luck playing 21 with five open chairs. Let it ride.

    ____________________

    July 8th FRIDAY

    Excuse me, Sir. Errr, Miss…
    Inside the Monte Carlo, the Women’s Tri-Fitness contest was being held. At the M.C. pool, fitness was being displayed. In one place I’ve never seen so many beautiful, firm, bikinied, disciplined, orange women who…could kick my ass! And I’m in the gym regularly. I wonder to Mrs. Delay, “How can they not tell each other that they look orange with the ‘tanning’ products being used?”

    >>>The day was consumed by sleep, pools, exploration of the strip, shopping, food, and for dinner, we met the entire Bachelor/ette party of 10 from NY, MT, CA at Nobu inside Hard Rock. Loud. This place is loud. Maybe our table was loud? If your age begins with a 2 or a 3, you’ll be happy at the Hard Rock. OR, quoting cheapovegas: “If you’ve never bothered to develop a personality…” Beyond that, I dunno.

    We had some great plates of food at Nobu. Sashimi was not ordered by consensus, so I couldn’t verify the quality of the fish. Beneath all the sauces on all the plates, there was every fish you’ve ever eaten. $624.
    $100 worth of sake bombs ruled this table. It wasn’t long before the Groom-to-be was simultaneously entertaining and offensive. After the bill was paid, we watered down the Bachelor and divided our group by gender. The ladies went to La Bete at Wynn.
    Secrets of Las Vegas Revealed!

    One of the guys had procured a set of cigars for us all. Well done, my man. As we taxied past Luxor, I was reminded that the ancient Egyptians believed that sun god “Ra” traveled through the underworld at night. We, too, traveled through an underworld at Jaguar and again, at Olympic Gardens.
    >>>As we entered Wynn, we found the ladies of our party exiting LaBete. Timing is everything. Half of our group entered the Hold‘em corral at 2:30am. Three of us played 21. When losses reached $xx, I looked up to notice our dealer had changed. Natasha arrived after cocktail #3 for me. The previous dealer, Benny, had allowed us to stack chips rather well. Quite generous, he was, with the casino’s money. Natasha, with the eyes of an angel, quickly began to clean us out. My mind paused… Natasha backwards is… Ah Satan. We collected ourselves and walked.

    ________________________

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    July 9th, SATURDAY

    That Was My Head
    The ancient Egyptians believed that sun god Ra was swallowed every night by the sky goddess Nut, and was reborn every morning. This statement nearly exemplifies my experience Friday night. By 3pm Saturday, I was ready to roll again. “I love the smell of cigar smoke in the morning. It smells like victory”. (The hell, it does.)
    Most of the morning, we toured other hotels’ pools. Friends showed us the Wynn, Bellagio, Monte Carlo, Aladdin. What a range.
    Upon arrival at VooDoo Lounge for dinner, etc., The Bachelor sequestered himself in the men’s lounge to sell Buicks. Huh? He did the Technicolor Yawn. What? He spoke to Ralph on the big, white phone. Ohhhh.

    I had Sea Bass with crab claws and garlic mashed potatoes. It really was great, but didn’t knock me over. Our waiter was operating in disjointed harmony with the kitchen and our table. This is a party place first and a restaurant second.

    We really had a kickass time at VooDoo. I didn’t expect to. Three weeks ago, the manager was contacted for a special evening for the wedding party. When we arrived, Mr. Mgr. had nothing special on the table and no tricks up his sleeves. A few conversations renewed our hopes. A waiter brought a dessert cart to the table and made crème brulee for the bride and groom. The flashes of blue were visible to everyone in the room. Once the bill evaporated, our group moved to the bar where the bride and groom consumed their celebratory drinks called blowjobs.

    A pair of comedic magicians named “S and Chris” entertained our group at the bar for half an hour. To begin, spikey-haired Chris pulled his wallet from his pocket, opened it, and it was on fire!! I’ve never seen so many illusions performed so near. Literally two feet from my eyes & the best part : I could not determine how they were done! These two were rippin’. I’m an instant fan.

    “S” is 6foot2 + 275 lbs, wearing a red velvet zoot suit and wide-brimmed hat. Anywhere else and this Vegas suit would have brought strange looks. He deftly creates intricate balloon sculptures and makes things appear/disappear magically. Sharp guy.

    The other wore a black nametag on his shirt that --like a stock ticker-- scrolled words in red dots. ‘HELLO, MY NAME IS CHRIS’ it scrolled in perpetuity while he and “S” traded off, keeping us guessing and laughing. Chris does the trick where somebody selects a card from a full deck, shows us & hides the card from Chris, then returns the card to the deck, and…the…nametag…message… accurately…changed…to… ‘YOUR CARD IS THE 8 OF HEARTS’. I give up. We passed the hat and collected a nice cash tip for the guys. Their act opens in a hotel soon.

    After, we went to the roof of the Rio for those spectacular views of the strip and beyond. Sparkling jewels on a blanket of black velvet. From the sidewalk, the white beam of the Luxor straight up until it fades, is nowhere nearly as impressive as it is from the dance floor rooftops of the Rio.

    Bottle service at private tables with couches are available behind the velvet ropes by paying $350 each for two bottles, minimum. We did this 1x in Lake Tahoe for $150/bottle. Call me something, but I just don’t see the value in quasi-privacy for $700. Maybe if it was comp’d.

    75 minutes later, when the phone call came in, some in our group of 12 leapt at the chance to join a friend at such a table at GhostBar atop the Palms hotel. This friend of our friend had been comp’d decanters of Gin, Vodka, Rum at a table inside GhostBar. Seven layers of security men with thick necks wearing black suits screened us before we were granted access to this example of a good thing gone bad.

    Most frequently heard complaints are the lack of seating and a lack of seating in the ladies’ lounge. 2 stalls only = long lines for the ladies’ toilets. Here’s the equation behind the story. Less seating = higher occupancy in compliance with fire code = Profits. I understand.

    The views on the patio here truly are magnificent. Equaling the views at the Rio. The ten-square-foot clear acrylic section of flooring allows one to peer straight down from 55 floors up. This view creates vertigo when sober. The clarity was so much better before the clear plastic was scratched by shoes.

    The music at GhostBar is too loud for conversation and dancing was possible, but not allowed. What? Why are we here? Nice place, yes; but popular simply for being popular. Opinion has nothing to do with $25 cover charge. All the good nightclubs in Vegas are a green chip to enter. This one averages 18,000 customers per week. If only 2/3 are paying customers, their $25 door charge alone returns the bar’s $15 million opening cost in less than a year.

    We bounced & then played 3-card and 21 with our friend, Julie, until the sun came up. I have an accurately blurry photo of the bedside alarm clock upon our return – 6:01.

    ___________________________

    July 10th SUNDAY

    Did You Get That on Film?
    Exiting Monte Carlo, we passed the doors to the pools & a food court with national franchisees not far from their Brewery. A video game arcade is nearby. Non-guests are seen entering the pool area via the Brewery’s doors. All these are on the same hallway as the tram from Bellagio. This morning, we paired crepes and coffees for $35 at Jean Phillipe. The video of people making custom cakes and desserts is mesmerizing. (check your receipts; they may still be printing the full CC# and exp. date after the EFT.)

    We hadda lotta territory to photograph in a little time>>> we beat feet about the strip to fill the gaps in our photo album. We needed daytime and nighttime shots of everything and had a mixture of each so far. Took pix with a roving Elvis. Captured the beauty of the Bellagio fountains on video.

    Olive’s at Bellagio made a fine vantage point around 2pm. They also make a fine Swordfish, Salmon Salad, Boston Bibb, Squid & Octopus appetizer plate. $81 with Arnold Palmer twins. At any of the restaurants with great views, if a person makes an arrival a few minutes before the hour or half-hour, one could see/hear the fountains 3 times in 65 minutes.

    Contorted the camera to fit the Eiffel Tower and surrounding architectural details into one frame. Which has faster action? The World Series of Poker --OR-- the paint drying on the walls of the parlor in which it is played? Yawwwnn. Definitely an event for TV coverage and a fast fwd button.

    Had coffee in the restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. If dining here, see if you can get a table numbered in the fifties. Table 56 is in the corner. You’ll know it when you see it. The shades lowered automatically at (dinner menu time of) 5:00pm to obscure views now visible only while seated at the tables lining the glass walls.

    We swam away the most infernal hours of the day and gamboled at Mandalay’s wave pool. They aren’t checking us at the gate. Two chairs were available to us, once more. I had read that open chairs poolside were rare. I realize that 106F this week keeps people away from Vegas…

    We cleaned up and drifted into at Sensi in Bellagio. A new favorite here. We informed the host we had 45 minutes from bell to bell; and hot tickets for a show. The service was excellent. The food was excellent. The ambiance was very nice – including their visible kitchens. My guest had potstickers w/3 sauces and a great salad that isn’t on the receipt. My selection of yellow curry chicken in steamed young coconut was perfect. The rice was precision milled and drizzled with a menagerie of je ne sais quoi du jour. Whoops. Wrong restaurant. I really can’t say what the drizzle was, but it was green and tasty. Maybe it had wasabi, maybe it did not.

    Sensi and Aureole are now our top picks in Vegas.

    We bolted and cabbed over to the Rio to make good on our promise to use the prepaid tix to Penn & Teller. We arrived with 2 minutes to spare. Excellent show. First class magicians.

    Penn & Teller exit the theatre on their final illusion. Somehow, my guest and I were first out of the theatre and my photo was taken individually with each of P & T. Penn is a self-described Sasquatch, but he doesn’t appear so tall in our photo. We have been TiVo’ing their HBO program, Bullshit, since it began airing. Check it. We first caught their live performance in the 10th largest U.S. city six years ago. Their double bullet illusion is amazing. Several artists have died doing this since it was developed many years ago.

    Wanna See a Trick?

    A quick snack after the show, and we went back to the tables once more. After 20 minutes, we’re ahead $xxx! Fantastic! We placed bets for Angel, the dealer, and had a whirlwind run-up. Soon, Dick showed up to relieve our lucky dealer, Angel. This new dealer was a true magician. He made all of my chips disappear! And us, too. We left the casino and fogged the mirrors in the Pano room at Wynn with a bottle of merlot as inspiration.

    Our friends had left us their room, as they returned home early. We made sure the bedsheets were changed, not simply turned down. Wynn has done well here. Another masterpiece. You can’t favor one child over another. People compare and contrast this new hotel with the Bellagio ad nauseum.

    The entire hotel is designed to be appreciated from the inside, looking out. Instead of the previous Wynn projects which are built to be viewed from the outside – or the sidewalks. The fit and finish of the room is nearly perfect. I didn’t bring a loupe, but it was very fine. The reds/browns in the materials of the room are warm. This was the best way to end our 8 day stay.

    ___________________

    July 11th MONDAY

    Touch My Squeegee
    On our last day here, the pressure is on for us to cross the t’s and dot the i’s. We say goodbye to the Wynn and check our bags into storage. With our exit flight info in my pocket, we toured the common areas for daytime photos.

    At some locations of the Wynn, it was as if the entire design team had ground up and then snorted the Pantone Matching System prior to discharging a kilo of semtex in a Costa Rican aviary. A person is wise to take note of this in selecting fashion for the hotel nightclubs to avoid clashing or banding. A quick peek at Gizmos is recommended --- if your appreciation for retail displays is above-average. Excellent job on modifying perspective and angles and scale.

    We had lunch at Red8. This may be the only superfluous restaurant in the Wynn compound. My gut says that every major hotel needs a Chinese restaurant. But, two? The décor here outshines the food. There is absolutely nothing wrong with our plates. The food really was great. Jellyfish, Beef Ginger, BBQ Pork, Watermelon & Mango juices. Everything was fine for $66. It simply did not knock me out of my socks. The camera was particularly amused by the arrangement of bone china and silverware on the ceiling above the hostess station.

    Elevator buttons are ‘missing’ from 40-49. I’m told this pleases the Chinese clientele who disfavor the numeral 4 as bad luck. Hmmm. If so, why are there buttons for floors 4, 14, 24, 34, 54… etc?

    We paid for the compulsory cocktails to sit outdoors at Parasol Up/Down. The statuary in Lake of Dreams are visually stimulating. At the bar, I overheard a compliment RE: the radiused escalators beneath the tassled wonders overhead. If Willy Wonka and Liberace had children together, these would be the persons responsible for the interior decorating at Wynn. I can’t wait until 2008 for Encore to open.

    We caught a cab to catch magician Rick Thomas at Stardust. This cabbie obviously had misunderstood “Right of Way” to be “Right Away”, as he raced through a 4-way stop w/o stopping. Cab drivers in Las Vegas : The less English they speak, the more recklessly they drive.

    The cheap seats for Rick Thomas can be had for $25 and better seats at $35. We walked across the street to see what the Half Price Tickets trailer booth had to offer. Well…not quite half price when you add their service fee, but the actual amount we paid was $29.96 with service fees (and I assume LET tax.) Whatever. Had to try it once, right?

    We should have seen this character first out of the 4 magicians on this trip. He was a bit curt with the audience volunteers. We saw strings connected to “floating” props. Rubber bands fell to the stage from live doves he produced from his shirtcuffs. The yellow w/ red squares backdrop revealed its “hidden” door to us. The dancing moves are c-h-e-e-s-e-y. This is the stereotypical Vegas magic act that comes to mind. The others were far superior.

    We kicked around some more, collected our baggage and read Vegas magazine from the airport newsstand.

    We were so glad to get home, but I wished we had maids here to squeegee the clear shower glass after me. Spoiled by restaurants w/chefs & hotels w/maids, I must once again do the cookin’ & cleanin’.

    “Turn off that water! We’re not in a hotel!”

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    Wow! Great trip report. You sure made the most of your stay in Vegas. This was the first trip report I've read since we returned from that city (1st time there). It was so great to picture everything you are talking about, although we didn't experience nearly what you did in our brief 2 day visit. We did see Mac King and loved him. We were choosing between Rick Thomas and him and I'm happy to hear you say we made the right choice. Wish we'd known about the $8 coupon. We paid $20 (with a coupon) and still thought it was worth it. He was great!

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    One more ttt.... with thanks for a very entertaining read.

    A couple years ago after we had visited LV during the summer, my then 11 year old daughter, in her obligatory first day of school what I did on summer vacation report, wrote a sentence very similar to your first one, TripleSecDelay. Except, we missed Greece. Where's Greece?

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    Thank you, everyone, for your kind words.
    wanderluster: I'll try to top the thread that gives editing tips here.
    beachbum: I'm actually an 11-year-old girl passing herself off as a 37y.o. father of two. ;-) Why, the Greek Isles, of course! We originally were set to see the World's Greatest Magic Show, and later changed plans.
    Thanks for clarifying that one. http://www.greekislesvegas.com/location.htm

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    Hmmmm. Online grafitti from fehgeddaboudit? Can't wait for school to start again. At least it wasn't RexSkidmore this time.

    Hey Everyone : are you ready for chapter two of the trip report?

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    OK, not exactly another chapter - as much as another layer that would feather into the above.

    There are sections cut out where the bold type appears. They didn't read well on the 'net. Something about G-rated storylines becoming storylines about G-strings.
    Speaking of xxx, I was taken by MaxwellSmug...one of us was in the fitness contest. That's spooky, guy. I read another of your posts. You've kinda punked-out what could have been a great screen name.
    Brian in Char : I agree. I didn't plan this trip as much as prepare a tactical response to it.

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    I noticed you didn't say what you did at Olympic Gardens or how much you spent there! I sure hope you got your money's worth there and that it was better than dropping $1200 for a freakin' purse!!!! :)

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    TripleSec, excellent! Don't know how I missed this the first time around!

    Outstanding trip report and props to Mrs. Delay for scoring two grand in Gucci for her birthday!

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    Wondering how good for you trips can be. So many tales and great storys you have here for sharing. Thanks you for info on chairs by the pools & magic shows. Have you gont this year any more? Do tell us how you travel in Vegas now.

    AR

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