Oh boy, was it a scorcher!
It was 45C when we landed. We knew how hot it will be as it was all over the news that Las Vegas almost hit 50C days prior to our arrival. When we stepped out of the air conditioned airport, it was still a shock. There was blustery wind but it made things worse because the wind made us felt like we’re in a furnace.
We took a cab from the airport to the hotel. I wanted the cab driver to drive through The Strip but part of the street was shutdown because there was a fire at the top floor of the Venetian Hotel. So, he took the longer way through the highway. On the off ramp, the taxi was rear-ended by a SUV. I had a bit of a whiplash but the rest of the family was OK. The driver claimed he had a bump on his forehead but I think he’s trying to make a big fuss out of it. What a way to start a vacation!
A new cab came by to take us to the hotel. The good thing is that the cab company decided not to charge us for the trip which came up to about $25. Now … what a way to start a vacation right?
We stayed at the Circus Circus which is about one of the two kid friendly hotels in Las Vegas. The bad thing about this hotel is that it’s located almost at the northern most part of The Strip. This hotel is very old and is almost 40 years old. I think it’s only a matter of time before they implode this hotel and build a new one on this site.
Compared to the newer hotels, this hotel does show its age. We chose this primarily it’s kid friendly and its now exorbitantly expensive (about $75 per day for a double queen room). Like most hotels in Las Vegas, this hotel is huge. It’s a long walk from the front entrance to the tower block.
This hotel is used for the filming the James Bond’s Diamond Are Forever and Baby Geniuses. There is an indoor amusement park called Adventuredome in this hotel. We decided not to take on any rides here since we’ll be going to the Great America park the following week.
There is a free circus performance about every hour or so. We managed to catch a 10 minute contortionist act at the Midway. There are very limited seating available. We had to reserve the seat 30 minutes before the show.
After checking out the hotel, we decided to brave the heat and walk The Strip. I can’t believe how dry it was. I mean, just barely 3 minutes out of the hotel, I can feel the dryness — it was really bad for the skin and the nose. There were quite a few vendors selling bottled water for $1 each (which costs 30 cents if one get it from Safeway). So, we decided to dive into McDonalds to get our drinks because they have all you can drink soda bar!
Suanne and I tried their Iced Coffee. I think it’s a new product in McDonalds and came in several flavours. We tried Hazelnut and Vanilla. The Hazelnut Iced Coffee was particularly good — I like it a lot and had this several times throughout the entire vacation.
With drinks in hand, we started our long trek down The Strip. On the map, it seems like a manageable stretch but it is 4 miles (6 km). Even in good weather, it is still a long walk. There seems to be a lot of traffic at all hours of the day. I like the simple layout here … it’s just a long stretch. It’s very exciting walking down the stretch and lots of photo opportunities. We started off from the north of The Strip and planned to walk down to Bellagio for a meal before going as far south as we can for the day.
The Strip is very pedestrian friendly with numerous connector footbridges between hotels. In some locations, there were mist showers but it was quite useless in this weather.
The Frontier is one of the oldest hotels on The Strip and was built during the Second Wold War — oh wow. This sign on the front said that this hotel will be closed forever in a few days. Without saying, this hotel will be imploded and over the next few years will be a new hotel in its site.
We came to learn of the following names while here — MGM Mirage and Steve Wynn. We had always thought that most of the hotels along the Strip were separately owned hotels but many of them were controlled by just a few corporations. Treasure Island is owned by the MGM Mirage.
Treasure Island is one of the most exciting hotels and is famous of their free “Sirens of TI” performance every night. We wanted to catch the show but did not manage to get to it in time. Anyway, it was extremely crowded when we walked past in the middle of the show.
We just walked past Wynn, which obviously is another hotel built by Steve Wynn. It had a very simple design. Up close it is an imposing building. Because of it’s sheer size and simplicity, one would not have known that this is 60 stories high.
Our next stop was the Forum Shops at Caesars. It was a good respite from the heat. They have indoor fountains and lots of seats with great view of the intricate interiors. Suanne and I took a seat while we let the boys roam the shops — they have more energy than us.
What struck me was their spiral escalators — first time I have actually seen one. It was pretty cool.
We also went to the moving statute free show. Suanne and I was was here 15 years ago and caught the same show. The good part of the show is that we get to sit down and recover in an air conditioned place! We can’t get a single word out of this show — and trust me, it’s very boring.
The Venetian is the classiest hotel to Suanne and I. We simply love this hotel the most. It had canals, lakes and so much to discover at every nook and cranny. It is also not overly casino-ey. What we appreciated a lot when we asked for directions is that they pointed us the way around the casino since we had two kids in tow.
This hotel is still half completed. Once fully completed, the Venetian will be the largest hotel complex in the world with 7000 rooms.
The Mirage is another hotel built by Steve Wynn. It is best known for the Siegfried & Roy’s show but since the white tiger attack incident, there is only one white tiger on show.
The Mirage is best well know for the free Erupting Volcano show at night. Suanne and I had seen this before 15 years ago. Back then it was pretty exciting but watching this again now, it is quite boring — Arkensen and Nanzaro felt the same way too.
Another hotel by Steve Wynn and MGM Mirage, the Bellagio is perhaps the most elegant hotel on The Strip. This is the place we had the first of our ten (yes, TEN!) buffets on this vacation. We’ll blog about the buffet tomorrow.
The fountain shows on the lake are a major free attraction and provide a romantic ambiance for couples walking along the strip. It’s hard to believe this vast man-made lake is right in the middle of a desert. While waiting for the fountain show to start, I was thinking how much water is required to fill this lake and how much precious water is evaporated every hour.
Having just visited Paris earlier this year, I was drawn to this new hotel. There is an actual replica of the Eiffel Tower which one can take a car to the top. When it was first designed, the builder (Harrah’s) had wanted to make a full size replica but were forced to scale it down because of the proximity of the airport. This Eiffel Tower here is half the height of the original. We had a buffet here too — thanks to the tip given by MammaViv.
Monte Carlo — we just walked past this hotel. I think this is a badly designed hotel. You could not really see the hotel from the street having being blocked by the small albeit pretty entrance. Something tells me this hotel does not cater for the masses and is full of luxurious private suites.
The Flamingo is another old hotel. Despite its age, it is pretty well kept up to date although it does lack the ambiance of the new hotels around it. I have always remembered this hotel because Suanne and I had one of our best pictures taken in front of it a decade and half ago. Back then there were a lot of empty spaces around this hotel but now it is hemmed in all round.
The traffic at the southern end of The Strip is much lighter with wider road and no construction. We enjoyed this stretch as the crowds are much lesser.
The Excalibur, another MGM Mirage hotel, is based on King Arthur’s theme with castles and colourful turrets. It has perhaps the most dreamy facade of all hotels. We had initially wanted to stay in this hotel. While the rates were reasonable, the reviews found on the internet for this hotel was quite bad.
New York New York is impressive and exciting. It had a very busy look with even a high roller coaster which travels both interior and exterior of the hotel. The icons of NY was very visible … the Statute of Liberty, Chrysler Building, Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge. While this hotel was built before the 9-11 attacks, it does not include the Twin Towers.
Last but not least, the MGM Grand is imposing because of its bright green face. One could pick this hotel out from anywhere because of the striking color. It’s one of the biggest hotels on the Strip.
Well, how’s this for a blog entry? It’s amazing how much grounds we covered on our first day in Las Vegas. Needless to say, we were dead tired by the time we got back to the hotel. One day down, twelve more to go!
Tell me about your favourite hotels on The Strip …