Love or Loathe Las Vegas?

Here are two different view points on Las Vegas. One from the Bon Voyage Product Manager, Karen, who adores Las Vegas and another from Alan, the Managing Director, who is clearly less of a fan!

Loathing Las Vegas………..

Welcome to Las Vegas – prepare to be “stripped” of your cash!

‘There’s no tea or coffee maker in my room?’ Of course not, sucker, we want you spending money in our on-site Starbucks, conveniently located adjacent to the casino.  The smoky casino that is!  Yes, incredibly it’s still allowed, but it would be wouldn’t it – they don’t want the smokers running around with spare cash in their pockets!

When I go to Vegas I feel like the raw ingredient entering a sausage machine.  In a little while I’m going to be cleaned out, processed and despatched from the other end.  The mass of humanity thronging the Strip all seem to buy-in (literally) to being ‘Vegased.’ To me, this is just a city with its hand outstretched.  No amenity exists for its own sake, as a place of refuge or because it’s pleasing on the eye…..there is always a commercial imperative.

People tell me to look at the free drinks they give you in the casinos, free casino gaming lessons, a free tram ride. Don’t they get it?  Every freebie is an enticement; the entry fee to part you from your hard earned.

And, oh my God, my worst nightmare of all: the buffet line.  Enter ‘all you can eat buffet Las Vegas’ as a Google search and you will find over 1million results.  I only have to read the first paragraph from a2zlasvegas.com to feel a little queasy:-  ‘Las Vegas is more than just blackjack, bingo and poker. It offers quality dining. In fact, it has some of the best buffets in the United States.’

Now I’ve been told off by my wife (she loves Vegas) and the rest of the Bon Voyage team for not being “with the times”. Apparently I should acknowledge the high standards that now exist at the lovely feed lines – I’m still not biting. 

I’m sorry but what happened to taking the weight off your feet, tripping through the delights of an eclectic menu and hearing from your charming server about today’s specials?

I admire much of what mankind has devised; a pleasing piece of art, a sleek jetliner or beautiful car, even a suburban semi can have its merits but I draw the line at the Las Vegas Strip:- miles and miles of concrete punctuated by ridiculous edifices (known as casino resorts) each uglier and more outlandish than the last.

And what about those Las Vegas shows?  Now this is where I waver slightly because I do admire and enjoy the fabulous Cirque du Soleil productions and think the Beatles ‘Love’ show is genius.  But as for the outrageous ticket prices which provide a pension plan and another facelift for the ‘long agos’ and ‘has beens’, you can count me out.

I’m not saying never go to Las Vegas.  Everyone should go there once because you will never in your life see anything quite like it. So visit for a couple of days and then forget all about it.  There is so much that is so much better in the US of A.

Loving Las Vegas….

Just thinking about booking a trip to Las Vegas makes me smile. I’ve been to my own personal Mecca fifteen times now. On average I stay five nights at a time; once I was there for ten nights. My family (who’d never been, incidentally, but have lots of opinions about it) thought I was crazy but I was in Holiday Heaven. I never want to leave. I find the place totally intoxicating.

Looking back, my first visit to ‘Vegas in the ’80s was a bit of a blur. I had constantly to remind myself to blink – I didn’t want to miss one tiny morsel of what this neon city was showing me. On the ‘plane on the way back, weary, with dry eyes, I just knew that this would be my first visit of many. Gazing around the plane I felt others were thinking the same.

Do you know that in all of the times I’ve been to ‘Vegas I’ve actually only parted with a total of $23 on gambling. As part of the ‘Vegas experience, I do enjoy studying the people who whittle their hard-earned cash away; I just have no desire to do it with mine. There are too many other interesting pursuits there.

Interested to know what my ideal day is in Vegas? Thanks for asking! Well, early morning stroll to The Paris Hotel for breakfast al fresco at Mon Ami consisting of warm croissants and glass of chilled bubbly. Followed by a saunter along to the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace, where I always go into Abercrombie & Fitch, moan about the darkness of the shop and the extra loud music and walk out again. It’s an age thing. It never bothered me a few years ago.

Next, back to one of my favourite hotels, either The Cosmopolitan or Wynn, where I’ll recharge my batteries by sitting in the sun by the pool, sucking in my stomach and carefully hiding my chunky thighs under a sarong. I’ll probably enjoy a refreshing cocktail; I am on holiday after all.

For lunch I’ll grace Olives at the Bellagio Hotel, where I know what time to order my entrée to coincide with the famous fountain display. The afternoon would be taken up either on a trip into the desert (I thoroughly recommend Valley of The Fire), a boat trip on Lake Mead or a jaunt to the Neon Museum.

The evening is when Sin City comes alive; it’s a joyous sensory overload. My ideal evening in ‘Vegas would be cocktails (I’m not an alcoholic, honestly) in MIX in The Mandalay Bay Hotel. The views are incredible. Followed by a juicy steak in the private dining room at the excellent Smith & Wollensky.

A show is a must; forget Elton John, he’s just going through the motions, I feel. Check out Matt Goss at Caesars Palace. He’s gone from cheesy Boy Band to Las Vegas’s new Sinatra. I’d end the evening with a limo drive (they are reasonable if you chat up the bell boys at the big hotels) back to my hotel, where I’d just soak in the electric atmosphere before I crash out.

So what draws me back year on year to “Lost Wages”? I love its escapism. To me, it’s Disneyland for adults, chewing gum for the eyes, and I can’t get enough.. …. 

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20 thoughts on “Love or Loathe Las Vegas?”

  1. Vegas certainly does polarise opinion. I arrived there at the end of a BV-arranged holiday in 2008, having previously sampled the natural wonders of the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon – and everything struck me as fake and tacky.
    After a couple of days, however, I was sucked in by the sheer ‘joie de vivre’ and ludicrousness of the place – and would happily return in the future, although my wife remains far less enamoured of Vegas’ charms.
    The biggest absurdity – and irritation – for me was the people handing out ‘Come see sexy girls, dial this number’ cards every five yards along the Strip, absurd because my wife was standing right next to me as they tried to persuade me to take one.
    It would be a very broad-minded spouse indeed who would stand there smiling while you haggle over the price for a couple of supposedly ‘hot babes’ to visit your room.

  2. Hi I agree with the Love it Brigade!! although have only been once, My husband and I loved everthing about “The Experiance” we were lucky to be able to leave our Son with Grandparents as this is definately not a holiday to have with children. We just enjoyed walking up and down the strip and experiancing all the different hotels and sights, Thought it was very glamorous and was great to get dressed up in the evening. also thought it was a very fun and friendly place. Would go again and would make sure did the helecopter ride over The grand Canyon. The shopping was also good and the outlet malls very good value. Enjoyed the shows ( Even though expensive) thought the food was good and catered for all tastes. best bit was visiting the different hotels Stratosphere, Bellagio, Venetian, Treasure Island all have great themes and entertainment. Hope to go again in the near future, think 5-7 days is about the right lenght of time, also don’t need to spend a lot in the casinos. Just great to have a go, and soak up the atmosphere and excitement.

  3. Thanks to Bon Voyage we spent 5 fantastic nights in Vegas and are already looking forward to planning our next visit! We LOVE it!

  4. Well Alan! cant believie anyone wouldnt love Vegas its one of the best places on earth, you should have stayed at the ENCORE they have tea and coffee in the rooms, half price show tickets can be brought if you know where to go, Ceasers Place have a happy hour every day (wine excellent) perhaps you need to have a word with your staff they told us all the tips!!!!!

  5. Las Vegas is everything I hate, crowds, Bright lights, and noise. But I love the place the visit this year on Route66 tour will be my third time. Can’t wait

  6. Having visited Vegas in 2002 as a family we travelled through every passage of every hotel not to miss a thing.Staying at the luxor we travelled up one side of the Strip on foot as far as the Stratosphere to watch a matinee ! Not the best show we’ve ever seen but then if you manage to get to the top of the building the views are amazing ! As a couple we revisted Vegas last year staying at Caesars, we did take our own travel kettle which is perfect as it was $12 for coffee in your room ! We went to see Rod Stewart at the Collosium a brilliant show far superior to our matinee several years ago. Las Vegas hadn’t changed ,each morning there would still be playing at the tables still dressed in dinner suits and the slot machines were still going ! Its never going to be a cheap break over there but you’ll always come away with amazing photos and knowing you’ve climbed 3 floors of “m&m’s” that’s Vegas! Las Vegas is a world on it’s own a must to visit if you ever get the chance .Having been there ,got the T shirt, it was oh so nice to move on !

  7. Las Vegas has to be seen, to be believed. The place is crazy, with sights and sounds you`ll never see anywhere else. My wife and I loved it!! In fact, we`ve been twice and will go back sometime soon. Stayed at the Flamingo in 2007 and Luxor in 2010.
    On our second visit, we made sure to see some of the Nevada desert and spent a whole day in The Valley of Fire. Outstanding scenery.
    Saw two amazing shows – Phantom and Cirque`s Mystere. Both worth every penny.
    Downtown was just as glitzy with the giant light show on Freemont.
    Walking The Strip was an experience, with people handing out flyers advertising certain adult pleasures. ( Wife said no!!) Saw many of the hotels but loads we didn`t see – hence, we`ll have to return.
    Try it, at least once.

  8. Me and my partner went to Las Vegas as part of a USA trip to celebrate my 50th birthday in October last year. Both of us had a really good time, thought it was an amazing place, enjoyed being there, did all the great touristy things that Las Vegas is brilliant at – and both of us said that we wouldn’t ever bother going back!

    Why? We both thought it was what a friend of ours had described it – Disneyland for adults.

    From the fake Elvis’s (Elviii??) that we had a picture taken with to the fake Eiffel Tower, it was all fun, glossy, entertaining and about as real as a New York New York skyscraper.

    What was real though was the beggars (ordinary people not down and out’s) begging on the pedestrian walkways over the intersection by MGM /New York New York, the Hispanic guys and girls handing out the hooker’s business cards all along the Strip and the Bail Bond stores next to the wedding chapels in the old bit of the town. I’m not saying “hide these” – they are every bit as “Las Vegas” as the glitz, but “all that glitters sure ain’t gold” in this town!

    Whilst we were there, a local TV news channel reported that Las Vegas had the highest suicide rate in the USA – and we could sadly see why….

    I’d still say “go and see for yourself though!”

  9. Everyone should go to Vegas at least once, if not more!!!! I think 3/4 days is ample and you don’t have to gamble but just watch everyone else and be amazed at how much they spend and how long they sit at the machines! My friend and I were so excited when we put $5 into a machine and won $20 – everyone around us thought we had won much more than that but hey ho we were over the moom. We have been 3 times now and would love to go back again!!! During the day you take it easy, shop or take a trip or I can recommend sitting at the 18th at Wynn’s with a drink watching the golfers finish off. In the evening people watching is just amazing!! Have sat in the bar at Bellagio’s quite happily enjoying the comings and goings of the people. In fact one year there appeared to be a ‘business deal’ going on near to us and when one of the bodyguards got up and walked past our table you couldn’t help but notice the Magnum tucked into his jacket!!! The Luxor also has a nice bar to sit at and listen to the music and watch the world go by.

  10. Loved it. Can’t stand fakeness so thought that I would hate the place. After driving up & down the strip both during the day & at night really got into the Vegas vibe. Only spent 2 nights here & stayed in a cheap motel off the strip but just loved going into many of the famous hotels & having a look around. Do regret not getting to have a look around the Venetian but just didn’t have time to look round them all. What a fasinating place & would love to return in the future.

  11. I’m still in the ‘love’ camp but 4 nights at a time is my limit. We are literally just back after visiting for the twelth time this weekend, after a heaving ‘Cinco De Mayo’ weekend when a big boxing match was in town also. It was mad & soooo noisy but that’s Vegas.
    We also don’t gamble but did waste a whole $10. The only thing we gamble with when we visit is our sanity & our waistlines!! Walking up & down The Strip helps to balance out the 24 hour buffet deal for $45 each. If you plan it right you can get 4 meals at least in & even if you fancied an ice cream cone you could pop in for that! This time there were no queues at all but as always the food is luke warm.
    The shows are something else & there are great free shows like the Bellagio fountains & The Fremont Street Experience which are both ‘must sees’ on a very long list of ‘must sees’.
    The fact that they are appealing to Stag & Hen parties primarily now is a concern as I would hate to see the people who like to drink to excess take the place over & trash it but hopefully the local police & authorities will keep a lid on it. It was noticeable in just 18 months how the place was ‘morphing’ yet again.
    I agree about either loving or hating it & I can see how people could view it either way. However I feel it’s a special place everyone should experience, even if they never return.
    It’s also a great gateway as within a few hours you can escape the lunacy in favour of the calm & scenic National Parks, which is exactly what we’ve just done. A ‘Beauty & The Beast’ tour I called it.
    If you are an Elton John fan you simply MUST go while he’s at Caesars. We’ve been fans for 40 years and this was the mosty amazing show ever, as playing to a US audience was quite different.
    We are already planning the next visit & hopefully if Elton’s still playing in 2013 we’ll go again!!

  12. Booked 4 nights in the MGM ‘Signature’ through ‘Go America’, an absolute bargain for a 5* complex. Highly recommended. This came at the end of a 3 week tour of California and the final drive from Palm Springs to Vegas across the Mojave Desert was draining, but we found Vegas a fantastic place to unwind after all that travelling. Sure, its big and brash and hot, but you don’t have to face that all the time. We loved hanging around the MGM pools and paced ourselves around the other hotel’s attractions. It was a very full stay and most enjoyable even though we didn’t spend any money in the casinos.

  13. We had a great time when we got married in September. We had an Elvis wedding which was great fun.

    Loved it so much we will have been 3 times in 15 months !!

  14. Went to Vegas in April of this year. It was as expextected ,brash. Many of the hotels and casinos are very cleverly done, we especially liked the Venetian, but there are no seats or coffee shops along the Strip. They obviously want you to go into the Casinos. It was like living on a fairgrounf. Found it interesting for 3 days (to see the sights) but any longer would have been overdoing it and have no particular desire to return.Alan.

  15. Love Las Vegas! I have been 3 times so far in a year. There is so much to see and do as well as the strip. There are some fantastic national parks like Zion, Grand Canyon, Valley of Fire, Lake Mead, Mount Charleston, all within easy reach of Vegas….. and why not have Hire a V8 Mustang and drive down to the wonderful town of Sedona that is in the middle of Red Rock national park, a truly magnificent place!

    Another good day out is Bonnie Springs, where you can see a real cowboy town with gun fights and a mock hanging! Only a 30 minute drive from vegas.
    Be Dirty Harry for a morning and pop down to the Gun Store and fire a .44 magnum… visit Circus Circus and try your luck at the balloon water pistols game from the James Bond film Diamonds are Forever film… the list is endless.

    The Strip is a wonderful place and you can spend days just wandering around seeing the sights but there is so much more to see and do that is outside of the Strip!

  16. Visited Vegas last September with my wife and 24 year old son. My wife hated the place and couldnt wait to leave. My son loved it and I couldnt help contrasting the beauty of the Grand canyon where we had travelled from to the sweltering commercialism of Vegas. All I would say is you have to see it to believe it.

  17. Love Vegas, have been every year since 2000. First few years were with my mum who was 73 years of age in 2000..she was the one who wanted to go. Have been back on my own since she died and I still love it. Vegas is always reinventing itself. Was there at the end of June and stayed in the Bellagio–will defintely stay there again

    1. My wife and I loved Vegas, too. Will go back one day but not before we`ve seen more of the States. The Strip is outrageous and Freemont Light Show is awesome. And the surrounding area is beautiful. Stayed at Luxor on one trip and Flamingo on another.

  18. Samuel Johnson said “If you are tired of London you are tired of life”. Nothing could be more true of Las Vegas. Vegas is all things to all people and there is so much to see and do beyond the casinos. Above all it pulses with life and after three visits we still find it entoxicating and compulsive. I love the analogies other have made with the great scenic wonders of the world. We’ve been lucky enough to see and enjoy wonderful tranquil scenery abroad and here in the UK and hope to enjoy a lot more – but Vegas is a total one-off and as much as we’ve stood in awe of the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley et al we are in love with Las Vegas and we will go back. It is it’s own unique “Wonder of the World”.

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