Viva Las Vegas for Ladies

by Verity Geere on 14 November 2012, 12:11PM Viva Las Vegas for Ladies

Magic FM's Breakfast presenter Verity Geere recently took a trip to Las Vegas with a friend. Here she reports back for Travelbag on her time in entertainment capital of the world.

 

Neon lights, the constant cha-ching of slot machines, huge billboards, and a breath-taking heat was my lasting memory of Las Vegas, after visiting aged 15. More recently, as a 33 year old broadcast journalist for London’s Magic 105.4, Las Vegas has featured highly in my news bulletins, thanks to Prince Harry inadvertently giving it the Royal ‘seal of approval’. It’s also become well known for boys’ trips and stag do’s, following the success of The Hangover. But, despite this endorsement by lads, I wanted to find out what it has to offer for a girl’s holiday.

My partner in crime for this adventure was my good friend and fellow broadcast journalist, Louise Brierley. She met me at Gatwick, where we flew to McCarran Airport, on British Airways World Traveller Plus, worth every penny, for the extra leg room on a 10 and a half hour flight. Due to the 9 hour time difference, we arrived in Vegas and gained our Friday night all over again. One of the benefits of creating a completely new city in the middle of the desert is that the airport is strategically placed close to the action. So, only 15 minutes after departing the airport we arrived at our hotel, the MGM Grand, smack bang in the middle of the Strip.


Day 1
On our first day, we wanted to explore the Strip, so the receptionist advised us to get a day pass for the mono-rail ($12 per day), which runs from the MGM Grand and right up to The Stratosphere. The mono-rail was fun, as it whips past the hotels and main attractions in minutes. On the face of it, Vegas can look like a giant theme park thanks to the plastic-looking architecture of the New York ‘skyline’ hotel, the Excalibur ‘castle’ and ‘Egyptian pyramid’ Luxor Hotel. However, if you take the time to explore The Strip by foot, you can’t help but be in awe of the construction of this capital of entertainment. We rather enjoyed just watching the free street performers, plus, it can even be amusing being pestered by the ‘sales men’ offering clubs and male strippers. One guy telling us, “come on, what goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas, especially with my boys!”
This was not really what we had in mind, so we headed to Caesars Palace to confirm tickets for Sir Elton John’s Million Dollar Piano show, at the Coliseum. This was an incredible star-studded night. Thanks to the world-famous venue, the amazing crowd (we even spotted actor Morgan Freeman) and of course Sir Elton churning out hit after hit. Afterwards we ended up bumping into some of his band over a drink and even got an impromptu piano lesson from the Million Dollar piano tuner!
As we were dressed up for night, after seeing Elton John, we decided to hit one of the highly-recommended clubs – Hyde, at The Bellagio. Hyde as a venue is amazing – boasting floor to ceiling windows, looking out onto the world famous Bellagio fountains. These are a must-see and became one of our favourite ‘free’ spectacles. We danced the night away and enjoyed a few cocktails.


Day 2
We woke, in need of a decent breakfast and discovered Mon Ami Gabi, situated at the base of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel. Another example of how Vegas can ‘transport’ you to another part of the world with its culinary delights and replica architecture. It offered everything from fruit, granola, bagels, eggs Benedict, blueberry waffles, bacon and crepes, through to more familiar French dishes such as Croque Monsieur and pain au chocolat. We filled ourselves up, before a bit of impromptu shopping – which is all too easy in Vegas.
There are malls in most of the hotels, but we particularly enjoyed the high-end shops in the City Centre, The Bellagio and The Forum at Caesars Palace. Even though we couldn’t afford the likes of Prada, Chanel and Gucci, it’s still fun window-shopping in immaculate malls emblazoned with chandeliers and marble floors. After the previous heavy night, by the afternoon we were ready to lie by the pool. As one local said, “we don’t have clouds in Vegas” and this was music to our ears, as English girls desperate to get some winter sun.
For the evening, we got dressed up, like you do every night in Vegas. There are few casually dressed folk at night, with most men in smart trousers or suits and the ladies in dresses and heels. We treated ourselves to a meal at The Top of The World. This is a superb revolving restaurant, 800 feet up at the top of the Stratosphere Hotel. It takes 1hr 20 minutes to complete a revolution and you can also spot crazy people ‘skydiving’ off the side of the building while you eat! We loved gazing at the breath-taking view of Vegas by night, while eating delicious Lobster Bisque, crab cakes and the most divine succulent steak, I have ever tasted.


Day 3
The next morning we had the alarm set bright and early, ready for a day long jeep trip to The Grand Canyon. We made the most of the awe-inspiring cliff drops with numerous photos ‘on the edge’ and even braved the Skywalk ($30). It is pretty terrifying for anyone scared of heights but the transparent horseshoe-shaped bridge allows you to experience almost walking on air over the edge of the West Rim of the Grand Canyon – an unbelievable experience.
The eight hour round trip allowed us to see ‘beyond’ Vegas. It also made us realise how mad it is that such a hedonistic city is simply plonked in the middle of a desert.


Day 4
We had now been in Vegas for four days and the casinos beckoned. We still hadn’t gambled a single dollar. We slipped a few one dollar bills into slot machines, had a go on a ‘Craps’ machine and watched a few people on the high-stake roulette tables. But we soon learnt, you need to be willing to part with a lot of cash to make a fortune and we wanted to save it for shopping (how girlie!) If you are willing to ‘invest’ more than we did, you can be served free drinks while you play. Cleverly, there are no windows or clocks, so if you want to, you can gamble the day or night away.
All too soon it was time for us to check out of MGM Grand, the hotel we had called home for four nights. But little did we know what a treat we had in store by staying at The Cosmopolitan. We had another night of activities to prepare for. I had another moment where I forgot I was even in America. This time I was in Italy. The food at Allegro at The Wynn, is like Naples on a plate, in the heart of Las Vegas. We even heard from our waiter, that executive chef Enzo Febbraro has fed Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. We were treated to a ‘taster’ menu, which included melt-in-the-mouth lobster Calamarata and lamb shank. We were really starting to understand why Vegas was recently described in Forbes magazine as “the biggest culinary stage in the United States”.
Our eight(!) courses were a divine pre-show dinner ahead of the spectacular ‘Le Reve’ - The Dream show, just across the hallway from Allegro at The Wynn. Working in London’s West End I am lucky enough to be a seasoned theatre-goer but I have never seen anything quite like this. A jaw-dropping, eye-popping spectacle of acrobatics set in a one million-gallon capacity circular swimming pool. It’s similar to the shows produced by Cirque du Soleil and at one point I was in tears watching such incredible acts hurling themselves across and under the water. I can totally see why it’s been voted the Best Show in Las Vegas 2012.
 
Day 5
We had started to get used to being spoilt rotten. A girl’s trip would not have been complete without a bit of pampering. We indulged ourselves at The Cosmopolitan’s Sahra Spa and Hammam. I didn’t realise how much I needed to be stretched out, until I had every part of my body awakened with the Sahara Signature Massage. This combined with the luxurious sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi was exactly what we needed after so much walking. Like many of the spas, you can also make use of the gym facilities. So we spent a token hour in the gym, to make ourselves feel better about the enormous American portions we had been tucking away.
Continuing with our theme of fine dining, Wicked Spoon at The Cosmopolitan was our next haunt. After eating so much it was high time we tried to burn off some calories on the dance floor. It would be wrong to stay at The Cosmopolitan without paying a visit to the world-renowned Marquee Nightclub. Spread across 62,000 square feet with a boom-tastic multi-million pound sound system, this is a club like no other. For us, it was a bit a case of champagne taste-beer money! But, it enabled us to see how the other half live in Vegas. Getting chatted up by US marines “Hello Mam, we love your English accent”, was also very good fun!

Day 6
For our penultimate day we wanted to make the most of the fabulous Vegas sunshine, which is easy to forget when there’s so much entertainment indoors. So we spent much of the day lounging at the ultra-luxurious Boulevard pool at The Cosmopolitan.
On our last night we were fortunate enough to take a helicopter tour over The Strip. We arrived at the Heli USA terminal to be greeted by plush ‘Ferrari’ helicopters, which definitely made me feel more at ease as I am a bit of a scaredy-cat about small aircraft. There were only six of us on board and it was truly exhilarating. Having already seen Vegas from the top of The Stratosphere and from our hotel rooms, it was great to hover above it, especially at night. I also think I got some of my best photos of the whole holiday, seeing Vegas in a chopper.
Throughout our week, several people told us “you must go Downtown, to the Fremont Street Experience”. And boy, is this an experience! It’s basically an outside mall covered in a gigantic barrel vault canopy, with a light show wowing you every hour. It attracts a variety of ‘acts’ hoping to pick up ‘tips’. We even met Michael Jackson and for $2 had a photo with him! Downtown was also much cheaper. Having paid $6 for a bottle of water on the Strip, we were able to get two bottles for a $1 on Fremont Street.
Day 7
We left it to our last day to explore the Las Vegas Premium Outlets. For shopaholic ladies like us, these are second to none. The mainly American brands are a fraction of the cost compared to the UK, even if the pound is weak against the dollar. We picked up bargains from Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Gap and DKNY to name but a few and I managed to snare a Michael Kors handbag which would normally cost £400 pounds in the UK, for £200. We also squeezed in one last delicious buffet at the Makino Seafood and Sushi Buffet – shopping is hungry work!
Once we had crammed our purchases into our bulging suitcases it was time to say hasta luego Las Vegas. Exhausted yet exhilarated, the British Airways Club class back to London was more than welcome. I cannot recommend this enough, for the ability to sleep off Vegas Baby! The seats allow you to lie completely flat, in your own private pod. We were also served a delicious a la carte menu, after a glass of champagne to welcome us on board. This was the icing on the cake after experiencing Viva Las Vegas to the max. There were no tigers in the bathroom moments, we didn’t marry any strangers and we didn’t lose a month’s wages on the roulette table. However, we did manage a sophisticated yet thrilling trip. This Nevada desert city also has enviable weather for the best part of the year, with average temperatures getting up to 94 to 104 °F (34 to 40 °C) in the summer and staying a comfortable 60 °F (16 °C) in the winter. Overall Vegas proved to me, it is possible to have a classy ladies city break. It offered a combination of spectacular culinary delights, fun-packed, upmarket partying, impossibly luxurious hotels and spas and some of the best shopping in the world. This was not only one of the best girls holidays I have ever been on, but one of the best weeks of my life!


For more information on Las Vegas go to www.lasvegas.com


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