Las Vegas Ramblings

Actually spent Christmas in Las Vegas. It was nothing like we expected. The Strip was jammed with people parading around in all sorts of attire. There seem to be a preponderance of Asian faces among the crowds.  Anyhow it was wacky and wild.  We spent two nights in a great suite at Bally's. Had a Jacuzzi for two in the bedroom  and came with special club lounge and spa privileges. A modest breakfast is set out in the club lounge and hors d'oeuvres served in the afternoon. Liquor is extra but soft drin are part of the deal. So is the fitness center and spa. The workout area could use some work. But the spa's great.  We didn't dine at Bally's. Instead we opted to walk across the Strip to Caesars and eat at Bradley Ogden's and Mesa Grille. Both superb but pretty pricey. We spent the next two nights at the Monte Carlo. Our room was less lavish and not to our liking.  We enjoyed steak dinners at Blackstone's though and the Lance Burton show ($70 plus a person for a magic show), but it was good, very child-friendly.  We hoofed along the Strip a lot with the crowds. Nearly got trampled on a few times. Never saw this many folk in Vegas. We drove from LA and had our car but never used it. It's easier to walk with the bumper to bumper traffic, or take th Monorail. We stopped at, get this, Peggy Sue's Diner on the way home. A real greasy spoon but with lots of photos of celebs who have stopped there and left autogaphed shots behind.

A Letter From Las Vegas

 Hey baby, here I am in Las Vegas for the first time in five years. Man has this place changed. I got lost driving out of the airport. Nothing looks familiar. Well I’ve been here three days and found lots to talk about. Can’t figure out why they keep saying, “what happens here stays here.”  I mean they want to promote the town, right? So wouldn’t you think the Visitors Authority would want me to tell people about it?

I guess they mean those “Sex in the City” and pierced and tatted types I spotted at the late night pick-up joints and clubs, like the racy Tangerine Lounge at Treasure Island, or the outrageously wild Coyote Ugly bar at New York-New York, sipping Cosmos and Martinis.

Still I found sin city pretty tame.  There were still plenty of youngsters with their parents even though much of the children’s amusements were eliminated when Vegas decided it would fare better as an adult playground than one for toddlers.  Probably a good move as the place was hopping. But not jammed. And not too much action at the slot machines, which I might add are not coughing out the coins like they once did.  In fact I mean that both figuratively and literally. Get this; you now get a paper chit back when you cash in at the one arm bandit, which you have to go to the cashier cage to redeem. Some people just leave their winnings in the slot when it’s just a few quarters because it’s too much trouble to get up and walk over to the counter. Hmmmm seems like a pretty shrewd move on the casino’s part.

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There are many new restaurants now all with big name chefs like Bradley Ogden, Bobby Flay (Mesa Grill), and Jean-Marie Josselin ‘s 808 (which is named after Hawaii’s area code where the uberchef ran a group of hot restaurants called A Pacific Café) at Caesars Palace. Michael Mina is now a star chef at Bellagio.

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Most of these restaurants are pricey.  Get this, Kobe beef on the menu at Ogden’s, costs $175, now that’s outrageous even if it is supposed to be one of the best cuts of animal protein, come on. Cheap buffets are now a thing of the past, too.

 

I really chowed down.  But you know me I also worked it off. Which brings me to the spas and fitness centers. Boy have they changed. I loved the facility at Bellagio. But who wouldn’t.  Don’t like having to shell out the  $25 daily usage fee. Still it is one spectacular 65,000 square foot exercise and pampering emporium with 68 rooms dedicated to face and body treatments, fountains, water falls, marble and more. The workout room is chock full of every type of workout equipment.

 

You know how I enjoy pampering? Well I splurged on treatments at Bellagio. And I do mean splurged. But they were worth it. I had this  $190 Watsu therapy where you put on a bathing suit and get in a warm pool with a therapist who moves you around and stretches you and you feel like you back in your mom’s womb. Another called Ashiatsu blew me away. The masseuse hangs from a ceiling bar while she pummels with you’re her very well pedicured feet. It was simply divine baby (also set me back $190 for 70 minutes).

 Remember Cristophe, the Beverly Hills hairdresser who made headlines after cutting former President Clinton’s hair for a much-publicized $200, which was expensive back then? Well he now has a trendy salon at MGM Grand where he commands $350 to trim your tresses. However, his protégés charge $110 and up.  Still the high stylized salon s going gangbusters. Shows are back on target after a few ho hum years now that Celine and Elton play Caesars Palace, and variations of Cirque du Soleil headline at the MGM/Mirage resorts.  Saw Ka—an awesome Cirque production well worth the $125 ticket tab. Not only is the choreography and staging spectacular, it seems physically impossible that the cast can do such things with their bodies. Also took in La Femme at MGM Grand, which was someone docile in comparison, but enjoyable. Saw Rita Rudner at New York-New York, too. She’s warm and funny and likes to include the audience in her bits. Kept zeroing in on this cute guy up front named Tony used his name often. The audience ate it up.

 The monorail is back in full force and runs up and down the Strip, you now have to pay a daily fee, about $6 (it may change by the time you read this). But it’s less expensive than taxis, and for some people, less taxing than walking. Although I like strolling the Strip and walking past all the outrageous hotels like New York New York, Paris, Treasure Island, Mirage---- with their lively sidewalk displays.

Caesars Palace Tower Suites are some of the best in town, especially those in the Palace Tower where you ride the elevator down to a foyer that leads to the pool area. So you don’t have to walk through a casino wearing your bathing suit. Harrah’s is buying the hotel. Hope that doesn’t prove a bad thing. It was always such an elitist joint. They are also building another 949-room, $289 million tower that will have some of the largest suites in town from 650 square feet to 2,470 square feet.   It’s also going to host a Guy Savoy restaurant. Oh I forgot you’re not the foodie I am. Chef Savoy only runs an acclaimed Michelin three star restaurant in Paris.

 The new 51 Sklylofts at MGM Grand are out of the box outrageous. A friend of mine works for the hotel and have me a tour. While available to the public, it’s obvious that the 6,000 square foot loft with a $10,000 nightly price tag was designed for high rollers. I mean it’s got three bedrooms, Anichini and Fili D’Oro linens, whirlpool infinity tubs, steam rooms, an “Immersion Chamber” with waterfalls, HDTV and other high tech enhancements.  The one-bedroom units go for $800 a night, but are way beyond my budget. 

 

Well I’ve only touched on the surface. There’s much more going on in this neon-lighted gaming capital.  But to truly enjoy it, you’ll need to go armed with lots of bucks. I guess it isn’t called “Lost Wages” for nothing.

 

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