Friday, December 4, 2009
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I've never, ever had a problem finding a place to go that isn't a "mob scene," you just have to do a little research. A few years ago, for example, I went with some friends to Diablo Mexican restaurant at Monte Carlo. The first floor had food and two bars with a DJ, while the second floor (which has a covered patio that overlooks the strip) had a live band with a large, centrally located bar. We paid $50 and it included food AND They had a set amount of tickets so they didn't get overcrowded. $175 bought you all you can drink tickets.
Several years ago I went to a party at Sushi Roku restaurant. For $75 you took part in a champagne toast at midnight and could celebrate on a huge dance floor with a great DJ and lots of dancing. The crowd was completely controlled (limited admission) and the restaurant offered a perfect view of the strip.
If you are willing to spend more money, all of the clubs in Vegas offer tickets for admission. Almost every party is hosted by a celebrity or pseudo celebrity (last year's hosts included Avril, Paris, and JayZ). Whether you are looking to mingle with the stars or just find a cool, less expensive bar or restaurant scene, check out http://www.vegas.com/ before you book. The website provides a list of club, bar and restaurant NYE offerings around the end of October, beginning of November.
If you absolutely want to check out Vegas but you just can't stand the thought of a huge crowd, check out one of the off-strip hotels that offers a view of the strip. Some suggestions-- JW Marriott, Red Rock, and Green Valley Ranch. All three will likely host parties at their hotels that are more low key than the strip events, yet you will still have an opportunity to view the strip fireworks from these resorts. I went with friends to GVR for NYE about 8 years ago and it was great! We gathered out by the pool for a full 360 view of the fireworks on the strip and downtown. Then we went back inside to a very inexpensive dance party to complete the night.
One last option for the cheapest way to do Vegas is to check out either Fremont Street or the far south end of the strip, like the M, Silverton, or South Point. Silverton and South Point both have great parties for about $50-80 admission. M has an amazing view of the strip from just about every spot in the resort. The Freemont Street party is still pretty popular and can be a bit crazy, but Silverton and South Point are both mellow. For South Point, I'm 99% sure the cost of admission includes drinks! It's a great way to do Vegas on the cheap.
Finally, if you are looking for a room and don't want to pay a pretty penny, keep an eye on the Vegas hotel deals thread on http://www.fatwallet.com/. Otherwise, check out priceline and hotwire. You can score a great deal around late November at the earliest, with even better deals offered about 2 weeks before NYE. I've seen people score rooms on the strip for as little as $80 at 4* hotels just by using priceline in the weeks before NYE. If you need help identifying one of the hotels on which you are bidding, check out http://www.betterbidding.com/.
And now for my biggest secret that I'm only willing to share now that we've decided to start leaving Vegas for NYE--timeshare deals. If you know you want to come to Las Vegas for NYE and you are willing to be patient, you can really score some sweet deals on timeshares via ebay. For the past 7 years this is the route we've gone. Individual owners and brokers start selling their NYE weeks for great prices about 2 weeks before the holiday weekend. For the past two years we've stayed at Polo Towers on the strip in a two bedroom timeshare (sleeps 6) for under $500. The timeshares are usually sold as a full week (7 nights), with a standard minimum of 3 nights. You can't get a single bed hotel room for $500 for 3 nights! So definitely check out ebay at the very last minute for some sweet deals on timeshares.
You can't just show up in Vegas for the busiest weekend of the year and expect everything to fall into place. Do a little research and a litle planning using my suggestions and I really think you can have a wonderful time at NYE.
Monday, June 2, 2008
One of my biggest pet peeves is people who claim to "hate Las Vegas" and vow to "never return to the city" after what is most likely a very limited experience in the 131.3 square mile town of 2 million . Yes there's the strip, the location of many of the largest hotel and resort properties in the world, home to lavish casino resorts, the unrestricted availability of alcohol (as is true throughout Nevada), and adult entertainment, officially referred to throughout the world as Sin City. But let's face it people, the strip is only 4 miles long, and while it is often the site of 24/7 partying filled with drunken debauchery and lewd behavior, it's hardly representative of the entire town.
What do I love about Las Vegas? Among other things, I love the great outdoors. In fact, even according to a recent Forbes Magazine article, Las Vegas is one of the nation's best cities for the outdoors.
Perhaps it's the mild winters and low rainfall that encourages the population to head outdoors. Maybe it's the fact that spending per resident on the outdoors is almost the highest in the nation. Could it be that the high percentage of land devoted to city parks is enough to move people to the hills? I have to say, I've had many a houseguest from out-of-state remark on the high number of people they see hiking, biking, running, or just overall enjoying the outdoors. With popular sites like Lake Mead National Park and renowned hiking spots like Red Rock, just to name a few, this city is an outdoor heaven.
I recently read a post on one of my favorite websites from a girl who, after traveling to all 50 states and many parts of the world, determined that Las Vegas was her least favorite place and the city to which she was least likely to return. Meanwhile, she admitted that she just visited the town while driving across country and though she claimed to have "driven through the entire city," her post made it sound more like she had simply viewed the strip and seen the rest of Las Vegas from the freeway. This lead to a post of naysayers claiming they too never wanted to go back as Vegas is "dirty" and "disgusting" and "gross." Admittedly, most of those complimentary folk never left the strip except to go to the airport. Had they done so, they may have found that the city is actually extremely clean. Heck, it's even ranked one of the "cleanest cities in the nation!"
My point-- don't judge an entire town on the 4 miles that is the Las Vegas strip. If you are in Vegas and you really want to see what the city has to offer, get out of the hotel corridor and head to the hills. You will be glad you did! And do me a favor, if you are resigned to spend your entire vacation traveling up and down one street, please don't perpetuate Las Vegas' stereotype by proceeding to judge the whole city on your minimal experience. Thanks and have a lovely trip! :)
Thursday, May 29, 2008
1. It usually costs mucho dinero to get in, more for tourists than locals, more for men than women. Most will allow you to purchase a bottle and reserve a small VIP area. This may help you avoid the cost of getting in and avoid the lines that form, which brings me to my next point...
2. There will be a line. There's always a line. Not because there isn't enough room inside, but because the "bouncers" aka lifeguards think the wait will increase the pool's street cred. More people waiting to get in = more exclusive = more people WANT to get in.
3. Scantilly clad ladies abound. You will see all sorts at these parties, but for the most part, the women are wearing itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikinis. Dress accordingly.
4. Drinks are even more expensive inside the pool parties than they are outside of the pool parties, if you can believe it. For example, a typical beer at the MGM pool is $5. A typical beer at Wet Republic at the MGM pool is $10. Just know you will be dropping cash once you get into the party. The best way to go if you are with a small group--buckets of beer and bottle service.
Now for my reviews:
1. Rehab - Hard Rock Hotel: This used to be THE pool party in town. It was the first and only until about 2 years ago. It's even been the subject of a reality show. On Sunday morning the line would start to grow until people were wrapped around the casino waiting to get in. It used to take hours just to make it to the front door. Now, with all of the other parties in town, Rehab has died down a bit. It's still hip, it's still a huge party, it's still busy. It just isn't as busy as it once was. Be prepared--this is one of the most expensive pool parties in town. If you haven't been to the pool and want to check it out, Rehab is always an option. If you want to check out the pool but don't want to deal with the half nude ladies and oil rubbed men partying in every inch of the water, go during the week. You don't need to be staying there hang out at the pool if you go during the week. My beef with Rehab? Well, all of the beef. No kidding, it's like 10 meatheads to 1 scantily clad lady at this party. Plus, I am hesitant to get in the water. It's a shade of yellow that just immediately turns the stomach.
2. Ditch Fridays - Palms: AKA the calmer cousin of Rehab. This party occurs on Fridays at the Palms. I've been once and it was dead. I've heard (mainly from Jeff and his friends) that it's better now than it was when it first opened. Very beautiful people taking shots at 10:00am on a Friday. My favorite part of Ditch is the music, which is DJ'd by one of the local radio stations. Not the biggest or the best party in town, but it's definitely your best option for a Friday. Plus, it's cheaper than some of the others (though not "cheap" by any means).
3. Tao Beach- Venetian: There are lots of pros and cons with this one. First of all, the bathrooms are extremely hard to find and the lines are out of control. The drink service absolutely sucks. It was so bad that almost everyone was ordering two drinks at a time vs. maneuvering through the line each time a drink was in order. Bottle service is the way to go here, trust me. Otherwise, prepare to stand the whole time. The good news--this pool has a dance floor area. The bad news--it's always full of people just standing there (not dancing) because there's nowhere to sit! But the fact that they have a dance floor does give Tao a bit of an edge, assuming you are into that.
4. Moorea Beach- Mandalay: If you stay here, it's much easier to get in to the beach. No line and no cost, at least in my experience. Just check in with the VIP host and tell him you are staying there. The line can get out of control depending on what time you decide to go. DH calls this party a "sausage fest" where the guys outnumber the girls by about 5 to 1. Don't order the food here--it sucks. The drinks were awesome though and VERY strong. If you don't have an open mind, don't go here. I saw more sexual craziness than I saw at all of the other pool parties combined. Topless is permitted (or preferred, if you ask DH's best friend). There were plenty of ladies taking advantage of this, many who could pull it off and many more who couldn't. One thing I found interesting at Moorea was the median age, which I would guess was in the low to mid 30s. Not that 30 is old, but it definitely is older than I would have expected, especially based on the scene at the other pool parties.
5. Wet Republic- MGM: One of the newest of the group. It kinda looks like a club straight out of South Beach at first glance. After we were there a while I though it was a little too much concrete for me. Take out the beautiful people and the DJ and all you really have is a VERY crappy pool. I was there opening weekend so things could have changed, but there were plenty of lounge chairs and not as much craziness as Rehab and Palms. People were still drunk and crazy, don't get me wrong, they just weren't as nutty as the Rehab and Palms crew. If you want to check out a pool party but you don't want to see the all out nudity and drunken debauchery, this may be the one for you. UPDATE: This last season (2009)brought more publicity to this pool. Many celebs hosted birthday parties there and many other celebs were spotted hanging out in the cabanas. For that reason, this pool has really taken off. I'd say it's now one of the hottest pool parties in town and definitely one of the most crowded. Beware--you WILL wait and you WILL have to fight for a chair/spot in the pool/drink, etc. And the pool still sucks, but the party and atmosphere make up for it.
6. Flamingo: I've been to the pool but never the pool "party." This isn't really an organized party, just more of a free for all. Free admission, cheap drinks, fun crowd (not a 'see and be seen' type place like the others). It's like the difference between a bar and a lounge in Vegas. If you consider yourself more of a bar person than a club or lounge person, choose Flamingo. Just don't go in expecting the lobster when you've only paid for (or in this case, received for free) the bay shrimp.
7. Bare- Mirage: Not my scene. Very small compared to the others and even more like a lounge. Big chairs/couches, lots of deep, dark colors. Call ahead and get on the guest list, or you'll be waiting in line forever. And bring your wallet--$50 to get in and $15 per drink. They don't care whether or not you are staying there. Regardless, you will pay an arm and a leg. It's a cool atmosphere, but not worth the money in my opinion. Oh, and almost all ladies were topless.
8. Day Dream- M Resort: The newest of the group, the M resort's pool party is much more of a locals scene, mainly because locals receive free admission. The main pool seemed like most pool parties to me--fully of "sharks" sizing up every woman that walked in. Villaggio del Sole is the private, smaller pool that costs $15.00 to get in, even for local ladies. The interesting part--the drinks are double the price in Villagio as they are in the main pool area. Not sure why, but definitely a good thing to know before deciding to opt for the private side. The music is mostly rap and R&B without much variation. Overall this pool was ok, nothing special. If you are staying further North on the strip, don't make a special trip here--not worth it.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
1. Canyon Ranch Spa- Venetian
2. Bathhouse- THEHotel at Mandalay Bay
3. The Bellagio
4. Qua- Caeser's
5. Spa Mandalay -Mandalay Bay
6. Wynn Las Vegas
7. Wet- Treasure Island
8. The Spa at Mirage
9. Rock Spa Hard Rock
10. Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
New York New York- A roller coaster and an arcade/game area that spans an entire floor and somewhat resembles a carnival. Think Coney Island.
Gameworks - Located next to the MGM Grand Hotel/ A multi-level arcade that offers plenty for kids of all ages (even an upstairs bar for the adults!)
Circus Circus - Huge midway with a circus themed environment and real circus acts take place inside the casino. Even better, the Adventuredome--an indoor adventure park with roller coasters, water rides, laser tag, and arcade games. Check online for coupons before coming. Just be warned parents--this hotel is loaded with little ones. So much so that it can often be overwhelming!
Excalibur - The Carnival-themed midway is a great way to pass the time, but still not as impressive as the ones offered by NYNY or Circus Circus.
The Lied Discovery Museum - A fun museum that is children oriented.
Las Vegas Springs Preserve- Stroll through desert trails, indoor interactive exhibits and various gardens. You will be impressed by this place and your children will have plenty of fun.
Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay - Very impressive aquarium with sharks and a "petting" tank of stingrays and other water dwellers. Can be a bit pricey.
Bellagio Flower Gardens - Located inside the hotel, right next to the reception area. Flowers are changed several times a year and are themed to holidays, events, etc.
Caesars Palace "Talking" Statues- Two sets of talking statues are in Caesars and are free to observe. One is located outside of Banana Republic, toward the newer tower area. The other, newer statue is located next to Cheesecake Factory and Virgin Megastore.
Fremont Street Experience- Downtown light show. Very neat area, but can be a bit seedy during the later and very early hours.
Sirens of TI- Free 'pirate' show outside the Treasure Island. Get there early to get a front spot on the bridge. Has recently changed to become a bit more risquey, but still appropriate for all ages in my opinion.
Lion Habitat at MGM Grand- Small observation area where MGM lions are kept. Neat to see, but won't take up much time.
Sigreid and Roy's Secret Garden- Another animal observation area. Much larger than that offered by MGM. There used to be a cost associated with the garden, but I'm not sure if that's still in place.
Gondola Rides- Venetian. Can be expensive for a short 15 minute ride. Choose inside to save money, choose outside for a more romantic ride.
Restaurants (kid/underage friendly)
1. Kahunaville- Treasure Island
2. Cheesecake Factory – Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops
3. Grand Luxe Café- Venetian/Palazzo
4. Rainforest Café- MGM Grand
5. Carnegie Deli- Mirage
6. Food Court- NY/NY
7. ESPN Zone- NY/NY
8. Margaritaville- Flamingo
9. Planet Hollywood- Caeser’s Forum Shops
10. Hard Rock Café- In front of Hard Rock Casino
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Did you know…..
- Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular times to come to Vegas as it’s the most popular day for weddings.
- The last Monday in October is a 3-day weekend for Nevadans known as “Nevada Day.” You may see an influx in strip visitors.
- July 4th isn’t really a big deal in Vegas. There aren’t any fireworks on the strips or any large parties. It’s nothing special, so don’t expect much.
- It's much cheaper to come to Vegas during the week than it is to come over a weekend, especially a 3-day weekend or holiday weekend.
- What's the most expensive time of the year for Vegas? New Year's Eve. What's the best time of the year in Vegas, IMO? New Year's Eve.
- Perhaps the most important thing to know......It's Nuh- VAD-uh, not Nuh-VAH-duh!!!