8/03/2004

GROWN*UP GIRLIE'S GUIDE TO LAS VEGAS HOTELS

Hubby and I are thinking about a return trip to Vegas for our anniversary. We both love Vegas and return to it year after year. Last year we didn't go, and therefore, we're way overdue. We're thinking way in advance because the flights are cheap right now (Southwest). This will be our fourth trip to Vegas together. That's 3 hotels. Here's my guide to Las Vegas Hotels (that we've stayed at together).

Imperial Palace: aka "The I.P.". This was the first hotel we stayed in together. We got this hotel as part of a package bought from a travel agent. Yes, this is considered a discount hotel/casino, but the location kinda makes up for it. For a first-timer, this was a great choice. It's located on the strip, next to Harrah's and the Flamingo, and across from the Mirage. This means that you don't have to walk too much. Despite the cheesy Oriental decor, the rooms were clean and the people were friendly. I wish we had more time to spend by their pool, which we had a lovely view of. We were able to eat a free breakfast both mornings we were there, thanks to a check-in/establishing credit with the hotel deal. But, I didn't really feel pampered and I did feel that we were staying at a discount hotel. Not like we spent much time at the hotel, however.

Sahara: We didn't pick the hotel this time. We were traveling with a group of friends, and one of the guys talked to a travel agent and worked out a good deal. So we ended up staying at the Sahara. It was, well, somewhat of a fiasco when we arrived early. None of our rooms were ready, and the room we got was smoking (ick!). One night in that, and we had to get another room ASAP. The location kinda sucks, although located on the Strip...at the very END of the Strip, by the Stratosphere. This means the money you saved on the room was spent on cab fare, and sore feet from walking everywhere. Buffet was disappointing. I got a pedi in the spa (my first professional pedi ever), and the pedi person seemed annoyed and she totally rubbed the sides of my toes raw. Even though it was hot, the pool was closed and the hot tub was open (what gives!) The only redeeming factor was the $1 Blackjack, which was fun. I could play for hours, and get free (albeit weak) drinks. I'm never staying here again.

Paris: This was an unexpected place to stay. Originally, we were booked to stay at Bally's (right next door). But because they were overbooked and we arrived early, they offered us a room at the Paris. (This is the correct way to treat the situation, unlike the Sahara "wait at the buffet until rooms are ready, and then end up with pissed off hotel guests".) Fortunately for them, they are related properties and could do this. Fortunately for us, we got a better room and were very happy. This was our wedding day, after all, and everything was going smoothly. The hotel was very nice. Since we had upgraded our Bally's room when we made the reservation, we had an upgraded room at the Paris. We had a suite with a pool/Eiffel Tower view and we could watch the "Fountains of Bellagio" show. We were treated very well. I loved our room and King size bed. The pool was open (even though it was December) but we didn't end up going swimming. It looked very nice, though. Location was superb, across from the Bellagio, next to the Aladdin and Bally's. Definitely the best place we've stayed at so far.

Bally's: Ok ok. This is four hotels on the list. Call this one a bonus. Yes, we were to have stayed here originally, but ended up not. But we chose this place based on the great experience Hubby had while on a "boy's weekend". He had a great time drinking and turning a nice shade of lobster by the pool. He felt that he and his friends were taken care of nicely, though his first night there, they had to stay in a smoking room. They bitched and got some comps. He also took a bump on the flight and got a free flight voucher.

Dream List:
Here's where we would love to stay, now that I'm looking for our next trip. We just might end up and splurge (and therefore not give gifts).
Bellagio: Talk about luxury! One of the most lovely hotels on the Strip, along with great shopping and a superb location (in the middle of everything). This has the best buffet we've ever eaten at. And, we're hoping that the price tag will bring much pampering.
Venetian: Another luxury hotel. This is where we got married, and therefore, have a special connection to this resort. The rooms here are among the priciest, although very large and well-appointed. Someday, we tell ourselves. The Canyon Ranch Spa at the Venetian is HIGHLY recommended. I had my hair, nails, and makeup done there, and really did feel like a queen.
Mandalay Bay: Although the location here is so far away from everything else, and very much close to the airport, this is one cool hotel. They have a great beach and cool shark tank attraction. An oasis, if you will, in the middle of a desert. Too bad I can't see their hotel availability right now....

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