Sunday, April 06, 2008

Your next visit

If you plan on coming to Vegas for a vacation or trade show I’ve put together a few tips for you:

1. SUNSCREEN!!! It does not matter what time of year you come, there will always be sunshine. We do have some cloudy days and rain; I think last year we had a total rainfall of 2.2 inches. But we usually have over three hundred days of sunshine a year. Especially this time of year, when people come out here from snowy where ever and see the sunshine and the temperature is a lot better than back home but still not really hot, so they lay out by the pool for just a little bit, or they wear their shorts and t-shirts when walking the Strip. Please, put that stuff on! And I don’t mean wimpy stuff, no, use the SPF 60. You will still get a tan to show off back home, but you don’t want to look like some of the people I see every day. Which brings up another tip – be careful what you name your image files if you post pictures. I just searched Google images for sunburn, here are a few of the shots that came up (among several hundred thousand). I have not idea who these people are, so apologies to them, but you posted the photos first:

2. Sunglasses. Along with the sunscreen; it is bright out here. I am a cheap person at times, so rather than buying those fancy Armani sunglasses I just go to Home Depot, hit the tool crib, and get a handful of the safety glasses with sun and UV protection tint. For under ten bucks, we have them everywhere. They are cheap, but I don’t care too much if the break or get left behind. Be sure you have the ones with UV protection; you don’t want to damage your eyes. So when you are walking the Strip and wander into a casino, you just pull them off rather than taking ten minutes for your eyes to adjust to the ‘darkness’.

3. Money! Yes, you need money to enjoy Vegas. We might have more hotel rooms that all of Delaware, but that doesn’t mean that a room is cheap. Sure, you can find good deals at some of the lesser known places, but then you are miles away from the action. You’ll end up spending money for cabs that you save on the room. Standard rates for the big hotel next door start at around $300 per night, but there are some hotels right on Las Vegas Boulevard that are not too bad with lower rates. The TI sometimes has good specials, and the location is great. Up to the north end the Sahara is usually much lower priced, but then it is quite a walk down to the rest of the casinos. We used to stay at the Luxor when we came down, I really liked the rooms in the pyramid. You will have to buy food in addition to paying for your hotel room. The big buffets charge around $30 per person for dinner. Even a hamburger in a coffee shop will be $10. Mention one of the fancy restaurants and expect a bill, without wine, of well over $100 per person, with the really big names getting $400 for dinner. Want to hit one of those ‘ultra lounges’? You’ll probably end up blowing $500 per couple before the night is out. But there are bargains out there if you search for them and work on things – you can find coupons for just about everything, two for one deals and money off and all sorts of stuff. You just have to search.

4. Shows. Yes, they are expensive, but since you are coming out here to be entertained then spend the money to see one of the big shows. Bally's and the Tropicana still have the old fashioned feathered showgirls on stage.

The late show for both of them is still topless if you really want to sit a half mile away and see real (well, no guarantee there) breasts. Big performers always come through Vegas on their national tours, but be prepared; tickets here are two to three times the price of the same tour show in other cities. For example, coming through will be Bon Jovi, The Police (yes, with Sting), George Michael and Rod Stewart. Most of the resident shows are well worth seeing. I really like the Cirque du Soleil shows, and we have five of them now, with a few copies in addition. My two favorites are Mystere at TI, the oldest one around, and O at Bellagio. All of the shows sell tickets over the internet, so make your reservations in advance; you don’t want to wait until you get here and then find out there is a big conference that just bought up all the tickets. Remember the regulars here – Barry Manilow, Bette Midler, Cher, Elton John and many others.

5. Red lights mean stop. This goes for pedestrians as well as cars. Cab drivers will run you over, and you don’t want to spend any part of your vacation sitting in an emergency room waiting several hours for that x-ray and cast. When I go for my lunchtime walk we wander around in front of the Big Hotel Next Door and it’s new expansion on the corner. There are traffic lights at the driveways for both, and it seems that everybody walking just ignores them. Come on people, if the light is red, and there is a red hand in the box, it means you should stop. Cars need to go by. Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean that you can ignore the laws that are inconvenient. I’m glad they put the pedestrian bridges over the heavily traveled corners, which has sped up traffic quite a bit, and cut down on the number of people run over. But there still are a few places on the strip where you cross the street itself, so please be careful, watch for cars coming, and stop walking if the light changes. It is far easier for you to stop than a car or truck. In the photo below note the red light, the people ignoring it and walking anyway, and the cab which should not have to look for people had to stop for some idiots over to the right taking photos in the driveway.

6. Comfortable walking shoes. Yes, the ones I had in the last post might be pretty for hitting and Ultra Lounge (no, I have no idea who came up with a name like that, must have been a PR person) but they look like torture devices if you wear them all day. Check out what my wife eventually bought, she loves them. When you come here you will be doing a lot of walking. The distance from the front desk to the parking garage in most casinos is about a mile, and that is if you park close to the elevator. I take a walk at lunch every day, through the Big Hotel Next Door, and it can take over forty five minutes without retracing my path or going outside, and I still don’t cover the whole place. That’s inside of just one hotel/casino. Wander through the Miracle Mile shops in Planet Hollywood (formerly the Desert Passage at the Aladin); they say it’s a mile walk. The shops at Caesar’s Palace is just as long. If you just wander through the MGM Grand casino floor you will get lost. Vegas all looks like it’s stuck together in the pictures I see, but believe me, you can spend three days just walking and not cover everything.

7. Just walk the Strip! I know in #3 I said money, but you can spend several days just looking at things and not spend much. Go back and read my post on The Strip in three days. If you have comfortable shoes, sun block, sun glasses and a smile you can spend a lot of time just looking at things, window shopping, and looking at people. And make a point to stop and sit down periodically. I tend to just keep walking, but it is really nice to stop for a coffee and watch people go by, have a glass of wine in front of Paris and see the Bellagio fountains across the street, have a coke (or more) at one of the small bars inside the Bellagio while looking at everyone on the slot machines.

OK, there are a few things that I thought about. If you have any questions please feel free to email me. Oh - almost forgot the most important one: if you are one of the regulars around here, be sure to email me in advance so that we can meet for lunch.

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