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The So-Low Vegas Trip

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Quixote, Dec 5, 2012.

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  1. Quixote

    Quixote Tourist

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    My Trip Report

    I went to Vegas for my birthday (Thanksgiving weekend). Overall it wasn't that good a trip. Mostly this was because I came down with a severe chest cold a few days before the trip and the worst day of that illness, when I was feeling like absolute death-warmed-over was smack dab in the middle. Walgreens got a lot of my money this trip as I attempted to drug the symptoms into oblivion and was only 30% successful.

    I was also fairly lonely/depressed this trip. Normally I can bull past that when on vacation, but my mental batteries where drained by the cold. Really, it was mostly bad timing there. These combined to put a big wet blanket over my fun while I was there. It didn't stop me from doing stuff, but often that stuff was in slow motion. Anyway, on to the specifics of the trip.

    The Hotel: I stayed at the Aria. The Aria is a very beautiful hotel, surrounded by a very beautiful mall and several other very beautiful properties - none of which fit with each other. The lack of an overall theme (and by this I mean a unifying vision, not your typical Vegas-theme like Paris being french themed or the Luxor being ancient Egyptian themed) made the whole place look like it was designed by a committee.

    I got the basic room but managed to score a minor upgrade to a strip view (in practice this means a view of the Veer towers) and a free bar fridge for no charge. This was all when I attempted the $20 trick. The lady at the front desk made it very clear that she would try to accommodate me and that the twenty dollars was not part of the equation (she tried to give it back to me when we were finished, but I insisted she keep it, thus firmly moving the money from the bribe category to the tip category).

    [​IMG]

    I quite enjoyed most of the green aspects of the room as well as the tablet console they gave you to control it. I expect we'll be seeing that feature in renovated rooms from now on. My only two quibbles about the room were the low water pressure in the shower and the brightness of the tablet. Neither of these would prevent me from staying at Aria again.

    The Food: Part of my deal with Aria was a $100 dining credit. This was a nice perk even if my first two choices for restaurants were closed for assorted reasons while I was there (barMasa and American Fish) and a third wasn't part of the promotion, possibly because it's brand new (Javier's). This meant I went outside my comfort zone a little. Julian Serrano had a very nice prie fixe menu and cocktails. As an Albertan I've avoided steakhouses in Las Vegas for the same reason a Parisian would avoid French Cuisine in London - what's the point travelling to get what you can get at home cheaper and better. Live and learn - Jean Georges steakhouse was simply delicious. The couple at the table next to me might disagree though - they did nothing but bitch about the meal. Either their standards are impossibly high, or the kitchen screwed up their order epically. To the restaurant's credit they did everything they could to make it right, up to simply not charging the couple for the meal. Me, I was quite satisfied. Rounding out the Aria dining was several quick bites at Jean Phillipe

    Had quite a few meals outside Aria too. Naturally I had to have the Earl's holiday turkey sandwich. It was, in fact, the first meal I had after I checked in. Tacos and Tequila at the Luxor serves a damn tasty burrito (as well as a nice margarita). Upon learning that it was my birthday the bar tender gave me the traditional salt/lime/shot of tequila. As I twittered at the time, I wasn't sure if he was trying to kill me or get a monster tip - no reason why they couldn't both be true!

    [​IMG]

    Killing time before my flight back home I had some truffle chips with blue cheese at Wolfgang Puck's Bar and Grill at MGM Grand. It's on my list of meals to repeat, so I did.

    The Shows:

    The Addams Family Musical at the Smith Centre

    This was really my birthday present to myself. I asked about it here earlier (in the context of whether Smith Centre tickets were available at discounters) and got a terse reply saying I should simply buy the tickets direct because they weren't. This ended up being good advice as the matinee was damn near sold out when I bought them months ago.

    I ended up being front row of the balcony. Here's an image of the stage from low-Earth orbit:
    [​IMG]

    The show was nicely funny in that Addams Family way (i.e. if you liked the movie with Raul Julia and Anjelica Houston, you'll like this), but as a musical it could have been better. A week later I don't remember any of the songs and that's not a good thing for a musical. The actors did a good job. After the show I got a photo taken with the actor who played Lurch.
    [​IMG]

    One last observation. Since the Smith Centre is a venue for showing "regular" shows, I imagine a lot of the people in the theatre were Vegas natives. Certainly it was the most kids I've seen in Las Vegas in all of my trips. Admittedly well-behaved kids of parents who can afford to take them to Broadway musicals, but kids nonetheless. It was an interesting change of pace from being in the tourist zone all the time.

    Fantasy at Luxor

    I wanted to see one of the burlesque-ish shows that Vegas is famous for and I decided to see Fantasy this time. Beautiful girls dancing in next to nothing, plus some decent comedy and singing. I quite recommend it. The dancing wasn't quite up to the standards of Crazy Horse Paris, but it was still very good. It helped that two of the girls had more than a passing resemblance to two actresses I've had a crush on forever: Kate Beckinsale and Jewel Staite. Yum.

    I was also seated dead center of row C, which put me at boob-level of the performers. They (the performers, not their boobs) were often looking directly at me! If I didn't have a couple of shots of tequila in me, I'd have likely turned bashful about that. Instead I just felt that this was the way the universe should be.

    However it was not my universe that night but Steve's universe. Steve was the guy in the front row who was brought on stage for some good-natured audience participation. He did pretty good taking the embarrassing banter. But then why shouldn't he? He was the luckiest man in the audience since he was getting fawned over by the performers and was there because his wife (Stephanie) decided to take him there. She herself was a knockout, so had nothing to fear from the girls of Fantasy. Damn they were a cute couple.

    Zarkana at Aria

    Zarkana is a surreal rock-opera acrobatic spectacular. I enjoyed the hell out of and it is now my second favourite Cirque show (After Love). Heavy on acrobatics, low on dancing make it the polar opposite of Viva Elvis (which it replaced). They did recycle a bit of Viva Elvis (the tumblers toward the end were nearly identical - I suspect the same performers), but not much. Sadly, the soundtrack i not yet available. I'd love to own it if only to have access to English lyrics (I've heard the lyrics were originally in English, but that was distracting the audience from the acts, so they changed them to "Cirque-ish" - i.e. nonsense sounds). I'm still wondering what the story is with the giant nightmare baby and the floating eyeballs. I guess I'll have to see it again someday.

    Terry Fator at Mirage

    Not my cup of tea, and really, it was my own damned fault. You see, I've never heard of Terry Fator (when I asked for the tickets, they corrected me on the pronunciation of his last name). I have heard of the Terry Fator theatre and the fact that a lot of headlining comics that I enjoy (i.e. Lewis Black, Bill Maher) perform there. I figured he was like them, only with puppets.

    Nope. This was a fairly inoffensive singing/imitation act aimed at my parent's generation (I'm in my forties and I was one of the youngest people in the audience). Also, it was Christmas themed and I wasn't quite ready to get into Christmas when it was still November.

    Anyway, Terry does his thing well, and people seemed to enjoy it, but his thing isn't my thing. Had I known, I'd have just watched Love again.

    The Chuck Jones Experience at Circus Circus

    If you're a hard-core Chuck Jones fan (like I am), then you'll likely enjoy this, though it is pretty sparse on value unless you make a point of inspecting everything in detail (like I did). Others will feel their twenty dollars was wasted.

    The staff was amusing in their apathy. I think if I wasn't there (I was the only person in the exhibit the ninety minutes I spent inside on a sparsely populated Monday afternoon) they'd have started to play Russian roulette, just so that they could feel something other than mind-numbing boredom.

    [​IMG]

    <strong>The Gambling:</strong>

    I mostly lost money, especially at Aria. Won some back at Mirage, and also made a point of picking up more $1 chips at assorted venues. I had fun but I wasn't into it as much as other trips.

    I also broke my rule, to my detriment; specifically the rule about walking away from the table when you've doubled your money. Had I done that, I'd probably have broken even overall. Oh well, live and learn - I didn't bet more than I was willing to lose, so I'm OK.

    Lessons Learned:

    1) At no time were the tickets I got through the half price vendors worth the time or effort. I think next time, unless it's something I'm only so-so interested in, I'll just skip it and pay full price. Certainly that's the way to go with a Cirque show.

    2) Don't get sick. Well, that's not 100% within my control, but if I could do it over I'd have cancelled the trip and gone later (It's a week after I've returned and I'm still not feeling 100%). Sadly I was locked in for anything less than hospitalization by Expedia.

    3) Take someone with me. Loneliness was a bigger problem for me than illness. Given I could easily have afforded to treat someone, I'll definitely do that next time. I did hint that this may be possible to several friends; next time I'll skip the hints and move on to the two-by-fours.

    One final note: Thanks to the people who gave me advice in an earlier thread when I was still planning - I used a lot of it!
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012
  2. BeeeJay

    BeeeJay President of The Red Lobster Hostess Satisfaction

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    Very nice report with lots of great pictures!

    Sitting out home right now with a house full of sick people, including me, I feel your pain and give you kudos for really doing as much as you did.

    I can commiserate with the occasional feelings of loneliness on a solo trip, but contrasting that with the annoyance of others can give one a little perspective at times.

    Sounds like you made the most of a less than ideal situation, thanks for the report!
     
  3. cxi

    cxi Tourist

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    I greatly enjoyed the detail of your report! Hope you're feeling better too!

    Really enjoy the photos!
     
  4. dewey089

    dewey089 Guru of Value

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    Hey, sorry that the trip was not up to the usual. It is a bummer to be sick in Vegas. Thanks for all the show details.
     
  5. Royal Flusher

    Royal Flusher Savvy Gambler

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    Thanks for writing up an entertaining trip report. Sorry you kind of had a down time, but you told it like it was and not every trip can be The Best Trip Ever.
     
  6. pebbles

    pebbles VIP Whale

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    Thanks for writing. You did plenty considering you weren't well.

    I hope you get over your cold soon.
     
    First trip of 2017.
  7. Lady Fortuna

    Lady Fortuna High-Roller

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    Great trip report! I especially like the descriptions of the hotel, view and room. And how you got the upgrade with the 20$ trick. Oh... that frightening 20$ trick, which I'm sooo intimidated to try. I always love to read about that lol. Cause I would really want to do it, but for some reason I just don't dare (I'm sure it has to do with being Dutch, even though we are known for being frugal, it's not done to bargain or ask for a discount, gift or favour, oh nóoo, people might think we need it, we can't afford it, we're depending on their mercy, the horror!!).

    There is just a part in your post which I don't completely understand, the part of "the green aspects of the room as well as the tablet console they gave you to control it" and "the brightness of the tablet"? I hope you will explain it?

    PS: Sorry you felt lonely! That's actually one of my fears for my upcoming solo trip (although I really feel a lot better with the low limit poker tip from dewey). I'd like to think that your loneliness on this trip was directly related to you being ill? (just to make myself feel better). Therefore, how was that on other trips?

    Sure too late, but still some TLC from Amsterdam! :kiss:
     
  8. sammowhammo

    sammowhammo VIP Whale

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    Sorry you got sick, you did an excellent job soldiering through it.

    Thank you for posting the TR you gave us all a lot of great information and the pictures - that burrito with mole sauce looks scrumptious!

    I hope you don't mind a few questions but some of the things you did are up for consideration for my upcoming trip:

    Zarkana looks interesting - does it have a story line? If you have seen Ka which would you think is better?

    Chuck Jones - my DH is a big Bugs Bunny fan - will he get bored with the other stuff or is there lots of loony toons?

    thanks - get well!
     
  9. Quixote

    Quixote Tourist

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    Lady Fortuna: Aria is world renowned for being a very green building. This includes conserving water and power. One of the ways it conserves water is through low-low plumbing. Filling a glass from a sink will take three times longer than you expect. The shower is nice, but lacks any sort of pressure, so it's less a brisk shower (like I like) and more like a gentle (but warm) rain.

    Other green aspects of the room are control of the powered elements of the room and the ability for the room to detect whether it makes sense for the drapes to be open or closed. Basically, if you're not in the room it will adjust these things to save the building's overall power. I think that's smart.

    It would be interesting to have a time-lapse camera aimed at the building from a distance to see if the drapes open and close in waves in reaction to the sun coming up or setting.

    Now you can control all of those things too for your own reasons - i.e. you want bright sunlight in the room and don't care that you need to use the A/C to keep the room from turning into an oven. In addition to regular switches on the walls to control these things, you're given a tablet (like an ipod, but not quite so nice) that lets you control the room's items: The lights, the TV the drapes, when your alarm goes off. When not in use it just looks like (and replaces) a high-tech alarm clock. Unfortunately, it's very bright and distracted me at night when I like things pitch black. My solution was to turn it face-down on the side table.

    As for my loneliness, that's normally a function of reality. I don't have a partner and I'm not close to my extended family. If I want to travel (and I do), that pretty much means travelling solo. The alternative is to wait until I'm in a relationship, which has the potential of me never travelling. Combine that with depression and it's something I simply have to cope with. most of the time I can but being sick took so much of my energy that I didn't have much left for my usual cognitive strategies. Re-reading my post, it comes off a lot worse than it actually was. Certainly my previous solo trip two years ago it wasn't nearly so big an issue, despite being sick that trip too.

    Since you're planning a solo trip yourself, I recommend searching the board for threads that specifically deal with this topic (I remember several). Focus on doing what you want, when you want to and have a strategy for something to do (even if it's just quietly sitting in your room reading) in case you get bored/lonely. Alternatively, you could simply go out and meet people (not really an option for me since I'm shy and introverted, but it might not be a problem for you). Vegas is a friendly city.
     
  10. Quixote

    Quixote Tourist

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    sammowhammo:

    Zarkana has a story line, but I'll be arsed if I could figure out what it was. The program might give you hints, but I failed to buy it. Not understanding doesn't really distract from the spectacle though - you will enjoy it even if you don't precisely know what is going on. It is enough that you can tell something is going on and that it informs the set pieces.

    There is a non-acrobatic piece about half way through of a woman creating sand paintings (the paintings themselves are projected on the screen) and they basically retell the plot to that point. It might help.

    Ka's story is easier to follow. Zarkana has better acrobatics as well as a couple of nice songs. Interestingly, they recreate the Wheel of Death portion of Ka in Zarkana, so don't expect every act to be unique.

    The Chuck Jones experience is pretty sparse, as I mentioned. It's basically seven rooms. One room loops a 90 minute documentary of Jones' life and includes numerous clips from his more famous cartoons. If you can name five "essential" Chuck Jones cartoons, I'd bet good money that each was represented. However it is a documentary so it might not hold a child's interest for the whole 90 minutes.

    There were two rooms with giant cartoon character models, a room of Jones' art, a room representing his study (so it had a desk and some bookshelves arranged as though he had just stepped out).

    The last room allows you to make your own cartoons. It included a pair of zoetropes you could insert your own drawings into to show the basics behind hand-drawn animation and also had a microphone/sound mixing station where you could create voiceovers for a preexisting cartoon. I spend the least amount of time in this room, but I think it's the part that a child would find the most fascinating.

    If you take a kid to the CJE I think they'll enjoy it but they'll tire of it before you do. Since it's not their $20, they won't mind. Plus, they're at Circus Circus which has plenty of other things to occupy a kid's time.
     
  11. Quixote

    Quixote Tourist

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    Thanks everyone, for all the well-wishes. I am slowly recovering.
     
  12. johnvic

    johnvic VIP Whale

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    Sorry you were sick, that really messes up a trip. Good trip report though. Great pic with Lurch! I also did a trip to Vegas where I arrived sick and wondered if I should've just cancelled. Plus, I waited until it was half over before visiting the doctor. But being sick in Vegas sucks. Congrats on the Aria upgrade! I liked Aria but thought it was a bit mallesque. Solo trips are tough if you're not outgoing, being sick does not help. Hopefully next time you'll have a travel companion!
     
    Super Bowl Weekend for a Bachelor Party!
  13. Quixote

    Quixote Tourist

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    johnvic:

    I forgot to mention: I'm six foot four and routinely tower over all of my friends. Tom Corbiel (the actor playing Lurch) is clearly a very large man!
     
  14. dw2121

    dw2121 Low-Roller

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    Thanks for sharing the trip report. Sorry you came down sick during your trip. I enjoyed your report on Fantasy at the Luxor. We may have check it out when my wife and I go in July.
     
  15. mjames1229

    mjames1229 VIP Whale

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    I also get lonely when I travel to Vegas with the poker buddies... not necessarily while doing "stuff", but while lying in bed (in my own room) at the end of the day, recapping it in my head, wishing my wife were with me to share it.

    Taking a trip to Vegas/Reno in May with the bowling guys (the wife is not coming with on this one, either) and since I've never done Vegas solo, I've already told the boys that from the time we land around 9:00 AM Saturday until we load the car for the drive to Reno on Sunday, I don't want to even know they are in the same city. Very likely that I will be missing my wife, but very likely I will enjoy myself even more without having to do everything by consensus.

    Besides, I will be with the buddies for the 8-hour drive to Reno and three days in Reno... plenty of bonding time.
     
    Super Bowl with my son
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  16. Lady Fortuna

    Lady Fortuna High-Roller

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    Dear Quixote,

    Thank you for my private TR nr 3, I feel honored! :D

    LOL when I was reading "Aria is world renowned for being a very green building", I felt really dumb (Vegas amateur lol) for never having noticed and quickly looked it up on Google pics to see the green color of the building, DUH!! So now I feel even dumber for not realising that "green" means saving the environment. :eek:

    About the brightness of the tablet, I can totally feel you! As you know, the figures on alarms clocks are lighted so you can see them in the dark? Well, mine has to have red lighted figures, cause when they are yellow or green, it is way too bright and I will still see it with my eyes closed, bothering my sleep.

    For me it was exactly the same consideration, when deciding to go solo. I'm single without kids and everyone in my circle is either in a relationship or has children and they have no fascination with Vegas or poker or anything related. Also, the way life goes ones you're settled with responsibilities like mortgage etc - everyone occupied with their own life and things; working, eating, sleeping, keeping house together, spending time with family, and so on - it's not like you meet new people every day. Especially not like-minded people. And I'm not looking for a new relationship either. But life is busy and full and to enjoy it, I want to take a break now and again, to avoid it becoming stressful or a drag. So the only alternative is to go solo.

    On the other hand, I very much enjoy my (single) life and there are a lot of good things about traveling solo. It's just those few moments when loneliness overcomes you. And when not taken care of (or in your case being ill and without energy), can drag on and take over. I'm indeed looking for threads dealing with this topic. That's even how I came to read yours (tip from dewey, tnx!).

    The strange thing to me though is, I'm reading a lot on the board about people traveling solo and wanting to meet-up with other VMBers ones there, verifying if anybody is traveling on the same dates etc. And then a thread about the best time of year to travel to Vegas, where most people seem to like the same times (late April and beginning October). So why don't we set something up for those periods? Then there is no need anymore to find a travel buddy (which in many cases is not really an improvement to being alone anyway). We can still travel solo, but will have a much greater chance to meet-up with other like-minded solo travelers whilst we are there. And the solo travelers who prefer another time of year, can still decide to go their own period, or to change their plans and travel during the period when a lot of solo travelers will be there at ones, whichever weighs heavier. Just an idea...

    :peace:
     
  17. Lady Fortuna

    Lady Fortuna High-Roller

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  18. sammowhammo

    sammowhammo VIP Whale

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    Thanks Quixote - I may reconsider buying those CJ tickets. The new Circ show however sounds good. Glad you are on the mend
     
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