We went to San Francisco to visit the boys last month over Thanksgiving, so for the Christmas holiday we just decided to stay here in Vegas. Since it’s just the two of us we thought that we would do something a little different – since over 30,000,000 visitors come to Vegas during the course of a year we figured we could play tourist too. A few years ago we did Christmas Eve at the Venetian, this year we did the far south end of the strip, and we spent two nights at The Hotel in Mandalay Bay. After the National Finals Rodeo is finished and the cowboys go home December is rather a slow month for tourists and the room rates drop really low.
Las Vegas is not really a town for kids, several years ago a number of resorts tried catering to children; the MGM was made up like a movie set, with Wizard of Oz characters roaming around, the Excalibur was built to look like a castle, Circus Circus aimed at the younger crowd with circus acts and a big arcade and Treasure Island was made up to look like a pirate fortress, with big game room, skeleton decorations and the big pirate battle out front with ships shooting at each other in the lake on the Strip. The resorts realized that filling the rooms with families and creating things for the kids to do did not directly relate to an increase in income. Parents tend not to gamble and drink while here with their children, and those are two areas that bring significant revenue into resorts. So over the years the kid themed stuff has been disappearing. Treasure Island is now renamed TI, with all the pirate stuff taken down. The ships still battle out front, but instead of pirates one ship has been painted white and is the habitat of the scantily clad Sirens, who defeat the bad guys in the black ship every evening. MGM dropped the movie themes, and right now is rebuilding the front entrance again. Excalibur still looks for families, but then it’s hard to rebrand a fairy tale castle into something else, and Circus Circus built the Adventure Dome out back, filled with amusement park rides, so you can still do some things with children. There used to be a big water park across from Circus Circus, but that was replaced with condos.
When we stayed at the Venetian on Christmas Eve a number of years ago (before the downturn) the occupancy rate was under 20%, so walking the canals and restaurants was an isolated experience. The Hotel had a 100% occupancy rate on the eve eve and over 90% on Christmas Eve itself, so things were rather crowded. But we booked early and got pretty cheap rates. It looked like there were a lot of families with multiple kids. All of the rooms are suites, with one large sitting room and a separate bedroom, so with the door between closed there was some isolation and room for two or three fold out beds for the kids, so it is more family adaptable than the single big rooms at the Venetian. It looks like The Hotel (yes, that’s the name) caters to travelers from the Pacific Rim, with many people speaking Japanese, Chinese, Hindu or Korean.
On Christmas Eve we wandered down the Strip to look at the decorations in some of the other hotels. Caesar’s Palace did have some decorations up, and the shopping center was rather crowded. Out front it was rather cold (at least for Vegas) but sunny, with one of the hotel towers shading the front drive from the low winter sun
Inside they did decorate the statues for the holidays
It wasn’t decorated for Christmas, but the ceiling over the card tables in the casino still looked nice
Wandering through the casino to the shopping center we passed a restaurant known by the Brits
The transition to the Forum Shops is rather dramatic
I always liked the ceilings of this area, they used to cycle between day, sunset, night, sunrise every twenty minutes, but now the lights are set for evening, I guess the lighting changes confused people
About halfway down one of the main halls is a large fountain, with the statues periodically coming to life and putting on a little play
There is a grand entrance at the end furthest from the casino, the way people walking down the Strip from the north usually enter
I’m still impressed by the circular escalators
No, didn’t buy anything there, just walked around. It was rather crowded, with a lot of people in the shops purchasing stuff.