Tuesday, June 9, 2009
A Las Vegas Trip Review!
Seeing as how great my vacation to Las Vegas was, I would like to share some of the things that made the trip so great and give some tips on how to make a trip to Las Vegas fabulous for anyone deciding to go there. First of all, I will start with getting there. I booked my trip through Universal Travel and they were great! My sister was flying from a different city across country to meet me in Vegas and they were able to arrange our itineraries so we would meet close to one another and they found us the lowest possible prices. We were also able to fly with our favorite airline, West Jet. The airline was also very accommodating to our needs both before and during our flights and they didn’t loose our luggage like some other airlines, which I won’t mention here, tend to do quite often! The West Jet flight attendants were friendly and well-trained in making even the most nervous flier feel comfortable in the air. On-board, there is free TV viewing, complimentary snacks and water and the choice to purchase blankets, pillows and movies for small fees. The best thing about this airline is their policy of never over-booking so your seat will never be given to someone else! They have a very simple check-in procedure which can be done over the internet, at the self-serve kiosks at the airport or at the airline customer service desks and you have the option to pick your seat 24 hours before boarding. Upon arriving at McCarron Airport, thanks to our travel agent, a shuttle was waiting to take us to our hotel, The Luxor. The Luxor is the giant pyramid that can be seen from almost anywhere in Las Vegas due to it’s massive structure and a powerful beam on top. Although not the most luxurious hotel on The Strip, it was top-notch for our needs! Everything we needed was there including a 24-hour convenience store, valet parking, Starbuck’s, numerous lounges and restaurants and, of course, slots! The area around the Luxor is quieter than other resorts on The Strip because it is on one far end of the street. This brings me to tell you about the one disadvantage to staying at this hotel. It is located on the southern end of The Strip and it is far from everything else and you will need to walk quite far to get anywhere else on The Strip. The walk from The Luxor to the Stratosphere is about 4 miles so bring some sturdy walking shoes even if you don’t plan on staying this far down the street! Our third day in Vegas, we rented a car from Dollar Car Rental at the airport. Although the rental was cheap and the car was well-maintained on the outside, there were a few minor problems. First, we rented a convertible but could not get anyone to show us how to properly lower the top and when we did ask someone in the garage to help us, she was very rude and told us to ask someone else. Secondly, for an extra fee, we rented a GPS system. We realized that it wasn’t updated and working properly when it led us to a deserted, gravel road in the middle of the desert after we had programmed it not to take us on gravel roads! We had typed in Death Valley National Park and it took us in the complete opposite direction! Thirdly, the interior of the car was not cleaned after the last person used it and there were crumbs and candy all over the back seat. Although we didn’t get any flat tires or have any other mechanical problems, the next time I rent from Dollar, I will bring my own GPS and be prepared for a scrub-down of the interior! Since we didn’t make it to Death Valley that first day due to the malfunctioning GPS, we drove around the desert enjoying the scenery. I recommend that you spend a day driving in the areas outside the city as there is some fantastic scenery out there! The next day, we left early in the morning and headed for The Valley of Fire State Park. A few hours in the park was enough time to see it all and for around six dollars per vehicle, it was well worth it. The scenery is so different from everywhere else in the area and there are walking trails, look-offs and a visitor’s centre and gift shop all in the park. Next, we headed for Death Valley. It took a couple of hours to get there from the Valley of Fire but the drive was worth it. A cautionary note about Death Valley: Even if it is cold and raining everywhere else, bring sunscreen, a hat and lots of water with you into the park because chances are, it won’t be cold or raining! The average temperatures in the park in the summer fall between 41 and 47 degrees Fahrenheit and the average annual rainfall is only 1.58 inches. It was freezing cold everywhere that day until we reached Death Valley and the heat nearly knocked us out when we stepped outside! Due to arriving so late, we did not get to spend nearly enough time there but what we did see was amazing. I recommend that if you decide to visit Death Valley, you go there early in the morning and stay all day. There are many ways to see the Grand Canyon. My preferred way would have been to drive there and explore it myself but that was not possible so I did the next best thing; I booked a tour through lasvegas.com with Pink Jeep Tours and, trust me, even though I didn’t try any tours with anyone else, I’m positive I picked the best one! We left early in the morning and made our way to the Hoover Dam first. Our guide made sure we stopped long enough to get pictures and he even offered to take pictures of everyone together. The Grand Canyon was next. We made a few stops on the way to stretch our legs, take pictures and we were provided with water and snacks along the way. Once at the Grand Canyon, we boarded a helicopter that brought us down to the Colorado River and than boarded a boat that took us up the river and back and than it was back onto the helicopter to return to the top. For the next leg of the tour, we were given two options; Option number 1 was to pay an extra fee and wait in line for a couple of hours to see the skywalk. Option number 2 was to go to a place where only our tour operator was allowed to go and for no extra fee, we were guaranteed no line-ups, no crowds and a great view of the Canyon. Everyone agreed on the second option and we were not disappointed. We were the only people there and the view, along with the peace and quiet, was just what we were looking for! Next, our guide took us to a western-style ranch complete with cowboys and farm animals and the best veggie burger I have ever had! It was a far cry from the lunch I thought we would have on the side of the road somewhere. On the way back, we took a more scenic route and stopped at various places, including a Joshua Tree Forest, to take pictures. We were back at our hotel before nightfall, a day well worth the low price of 340.00 dollars per person considering what was included! The only complaint I had was that it was not long enough! The last few nights in Vegas, we spent exploring The Strip. We didn’t eat at any local restaurants because we were on a budget but I do know that there are many places to eat if cash flow is a deterrent to eating at the more costly Vegas restaurants. Here are some of the budget friendly places that I know of on the Strip: • Subway • MacDonald’s • Quizno’s • Denny’s • And many other sandwich bars and food courts in various malls on the strip I’m not much of a shopper so I can’t really say much about that except to say that if you like to shop and you like to drop lots of money on highly priced designer items, you’ll be in shopper’s heaven in Vegas. I did manage to buy a couple of Vegas themed souvenir T-shirts and they were pretty cheap at under twenty dollars and I heard there were a lot of outlet malls in the area although I didn’t see any. Than again, I didn’t look either! There are many things to see and do on The Strip, day or night. Here are my favorites: • The fountains at the Bellagio • The Sirens of TI pirate show at Treasure Island • The volcano at The Mirage • Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden Animal Habitat • The lions at MGM Grand • The shark aquarium at Mandalay Bay] • Just walking The Strip! On one of our last nights in Vegas, we managed to snag some tickets for a comedy show. There are many kiosks on The Strip where you can purchase tickets but most of them had insanely long line-ups. We got ours at the Walgreens close to our hotel and there was no line-up. We chose to see Vinnie Favorito at the Flamingo. At twenty-two dollars each, I felt this was a good deal considering the show was extremely shocking and hilarious! Warning to budget seekers, show tickets may be cheap but if you decide to have a drink at the show, be prepared to pay more for two drinks than you did for your ticket! Two highballs cost us close to twenty-five dollars! You are better off getting your buzz on before you get to the show rather than spend that kind of money on what I considered to be a pretty watered-down and expensive glass of cranberry juice that I was told had Vodka in it. Hopefully this is somewhat helpful for anyone traveling to Vegas. These are just my opinions so your best bet is to do some research online before you go. Talk to people in forums, download discount coupons, print off maps and any pertinent information you think you may need while there. I printed off tons of information before I left and put it in a binder that I kept in the hotel for reference. Since there is a lack of signage on Las Vegas, it’s best to know what is around and where it is before you go. Las Vegas is a gambling town and most of the city’s revenue comes from gambling tourists so be prepared and don’t be surprised if no one knows what you are talking about if it has to do with anything besides gambling! I asked a security guard in Ceasar’s Palace where the bathrooms were and he led me to a desk where a casino Rep started telling me about a new promotion they had going on while I tried not to pee in my pants! But these things aside, the good outweighs the bad in Las Vegas and there are things for everyone of every age to enjoy in the Neon City!