round the world romance

Friday, December 16, 2005

Las Vegas, Dec 2005

A quick trip to attend the Luxury Travel Expo, Dec 7-9 took me to Sin City.

Somewhat like the energizer bunny, Las Vegas keeps growing and growing and growing. Towers and towers of hotels and luxury condos are going up everywhere, though the north strip area before downtown still remains kinda seedy. Maybe IvanaTrump tower will clean it up some when it opens.

After a $2 ride form the convention center on the trolley, I got to see the latest casino hotel on the strip known as the "Wynn". It's pretty impressive, very tall with a curvy shape and walls of golden glass windows. I guess one claim to fame is that it rests on the sacred ground of the old Desert Inn. It's convenietly located across from the convention center (ride the free red buses) and from the Fashion Mall. (Maggianos and Capital Grille are both there).

Still, it's little too far north for my taste...I like to be closer to the heart of the strip.

I first entered through the side door that took me past all the designer shops, tons of them and all high dollar.
It felt a little like the halls of the Beau Rivage in Biloxi and those felt a lot like the ones at the Bellagio. Clearly, they are all children of Wynn.

For RTW lovers the best spots at Wynn would probably be a patio table next to the big wall fountain, (more so when the weather is mild) a cozy booth in one of the fine restaurants, or a cabana out by the pool. A couples treatment room in the Spa would be great too.

There are three wedding salons in various sizes on the end of the ballroom wing and a lovely patio adjacent that's ideal for private receptions. Each salon is non-denominational, plush, and quiet, and has soft pinkish bench seats that make it feel like a mini chapel. Certainly a very refined ceremony could be arranged there for couples who want to be married in Vegas, with or without Elvis. Supposedly, they only do one wedding a day so that one bride doesn't accidentaly bump into another!

On the other end of the huge ground floor/casino, restaurants, and theatre area, there's the infamous car dealership/service center and Ferrari gift shop. All three strike me as really silly. I saw no one pay the $10 "admission fee" but lots of people peeking at the door (including me!). I guess you can't blame them for discouraging visitors...the cars could easily be damaged. But, I can't imagine that current car owners (they get in free) would want to have to go through the entire casino to pick out their new Maserati or Ferrari. Maybe there is a separate entrance for "real" buyers or perhaps they just send their reps to do it for them? I wonder how many vehicles they have actually sold to lucky big slot winners? It will interesting to see if that dealership is still there a few years from now.

I went out through the back door and took the non-scenic red bus ride back to the Expo.

The Hard Rock Hotel is kinda cool, not as huge as some of the others. It's neat that there's a circular bar right in the middle of the casino floor and it was filled with lots of young people drinking, not gambling.

The best part is that it is not nearly as noisy and loud as its restaurant cousin.

NOBU for dinner there was fabulous if you like asian moderne and young authoritatian servers. I had a great meal with five brand new friends/colleagues. It was very nice but not quiet.

My overnight was spent at the Monte Carlo, a first for me. Across from the Aladdin, between the Bellagio, an old shopping mall, and NYNY. It feels good, not to foofoo, it's moderately priced, casual and informal with just a touch of European decor thrown in. The rooms were big but perhaps a tiny bit dated (especially the baths). I'd stay there again.

My trip ended with the last few hours at the bar at MGM with friends. It's the same old MGM from 1977 but the lion's no down there anymore and the downstairs "shopping" area did not feel as refined as I remember it.

Overall, Vegas is still and always will be Vegas but its nore spread out and much more expensive than it used to be.

I did not see any porn papers on the street but then again I did not walk the strip. There were some naked girl cards left on the car windshield though while it was parked at the CC.

McCarran Airport is HUGE.