Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vegas, for the atypical Vegas traveler

We've been talking about a Vegas trip since graduating from business school last year, sort of a way to treat ourselves with the epic 16 course tasting at Michelin Three Star restaurant Joel Robuchon. Somehow even with a convenient short 43 minute flight, we got distracted with other things such as business trips and a Mammoth condo for the winter. Now that the snowfall has subsided, we decided to make our Vegas trip happen.

Here's the thing, I don't really like Vegas *gasp*! I don't really gamble, don't particularly like the club scene, hate laying out poolside. But people, Vegas ain't all that, so I've recently come to realize. There are many other attractions that too can make your trip memorable. So for all of those girls who hate dressing up in tight mini skirts and getting hit on by creepy guys at the clubs, for the guys who hate waiting in long lines and paying cover or $1,000 for bottle service, for those of you who have bad luck at gambling and for those that are too pastey for the pool scene, here are some suggestions, taken off my Vegas itinerary from this weekend.

1) FOOD!! reviews to come.
As a foodie, Vegas is paradise city for me. Lots of dining options and many well known chefs have set up shop here, albeit they might rarely make an appearance at the locations.

Brunch at Thomas Keller's Bouchon at the Venetian. We had to try it since we weren't able to get reservations when we were in Napa.

Casual dinner at the bar at Charlie Palmer's Aureole at Mandalay Bay. We were looking for something along the lines of small-plates, so Aureole fit the bill.

And most importantly, the sole purpose of our trip, dinner at Joel Robuchon at the Mansion.

Hey, I'm not only all about high-end. Sometimes, I gotta stop for snackies like a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed donut. Oh, and throw in a jello shot while you're at it.

2) Partying
Bars (vs. clubs) are really my sort of thing. Somewhere loungey, nothing too fancy and preferable with decent music.

I grabbed a cocktail at Baccarat Bar at the Bellagio while my friend ventured off to the blackjack tables. Yes, I'd rather spend $14 on a cocktail vs. at a slot machine. This was the Bellagio Cocktail, with sparkling wine, Alize red passion and fresh passion fruit puree.

You can also hang out at a cool spot such as Minus5 Ice Lounge at the Mandalay Bay where you donned a winter coat, drank an icy cold vodka cocktail in an icier cold cup made of ice, in an even icier cold lounge. Kind of a fun thing to check out for one time only.

Even though I don't like dance clubs, sometimes you just gotta go with the flow. Ladies really have it good in Vegas. We were on the guest lists, didn't have to pay cover, got walked right to the front bypassing the lines and were showered with free booze. Some of the places we hit in our two night stay were Mix at TheHotel at The Mandalay Bay (lovely view from the 64th floor), RokVegas at New York New York (didn't care for the music or scene but this came recommended by two locals) and Vanity at Hard Rock Hotel (it didn't really feel rocker enough to be at the HRH, I much prefer Wasted Space where the DJ plays awesome rock tunes from yesteryear).

3) Gambling
I know I said I don't like gambling, but you gotta do it, even if it's just for an hour. I mean, it's actually a very sound investment. $60 (which is what I spent) gets you entertainment and free drinks for about 1.5 hrs (unless you really suck at Blackjack, which I do, but I had my friend on one side and a kind male stranger on the other side to help me out). I ended up ahead so basically I got paid to drink and socialize. Not a bad concept. You just gotta set yourself monetary limits and walk away when you reach them.

4) Day trip to Hoover Dam
Alright, I'm a dock, I know I should be laying out by the pool at Rehab, but I'd rather do something more constructive. Also, my mom would not be happy if I returned with freckles and a darker tan. After doing some research, we decided to spend the morning at Hoover Dam. The Grand Canyon was too far away. There were a few options that we found. Bus tours were about $40 which included pickup from your hotel. Unfortunately we had early dinner reservations so we needed a more flexible departure time. We ended up with the Hoover Dam Tour on a Hummer for only $30 more, but with our own private guide and a comfy ride.

Pretty impressive structure. The dam was built in the 1930's for irrigation and to maintain water supply during the flood and drought seasons. It was completed two years before schedule and under budget. Try doing that these days. The cost of the dam and its annual operating costs have broken even through the sale of electricity from its power plant.

5) Hit the gym
If you're going to order the tasting menu at Joel Robuchon and consume countless units of alcohol, it might be a good idea to go for a run. It's a great way to flush the bad stuff from your system so that you can fill it up with more bad stuff. If you don't want to hit the gym, walking along the strip and dodging unsavory characters make a good workout as well.

Apart from the clubbing, this was quite a different Vegas trip from what I'm used to. Guess that means I'm growing up...


Diana said...

Hah, I am sooo the right audience for this post! I sort of hate Vegas and everything it represents too.

Except, of course, for the food. :)

sku said...

Great tips! Vegas is for eating. What, they have gambling there too? Who knew? Looking forward to your trip reviews!

Unknown said...

ur post is perfect timing,stef. dont care much for lv at aaaaaall, but i like to eat, so! staying @ aria this weekend, trying the new jean georges, and the new michael mina, and todd english pub!!!

stuffycheaks said...

Diana - I'm sure you would have brought your running shoes as well!

Sku - I'll try to finish up my JR post, the photos will help us relive that amazing 16 course meal.

Dex - oooo all good choices! saw your photos of NY dining! Looks like you had a blast