Archive for the Category »Las Vegas «

  Hotels Displaying Christmas Spirit!

If you are looking for a place to have a holiday dinner with good friends…. share the spirit of the season with children… 0r grab a drink with a special someone… hotels are a fantastic place to capture some holiday spirit. Some of the displays are absolutely over the top…and most are gorgeous.

Here are some to consider:

1) The Bellagio, Las Vegas, NV:





The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has an extravagant holiday display..complete with flying reindeer.

2) The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, AZ:

Tree-fairmont-scottsdale-princessThe Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has carolers, outdoor light displays, and even a visit from Santa!


3) Coeur d’Alene Resort, ID -

idaho-lights-santaI’ve written about this resort before – a phenomenal light show, with more than 1.5 million lights sparkling above the picturesque lake…and of course, one of the world’s largest living Christmas trees.

4) The Drake, Chicago, IL:

large_PalmCourtKnown for it’s wonderful spirit… and also the gingerbread houses – the winners of a local contest are  displayed here.

13-pc-gb-header5155) The Four Seasons Beverly Hills, CA

IMG_5340Of course, there is the tree… but this hotel has so many cozy different rooms off the lobby that are decorated with only the classiest of touches.  Just look at this bar….

IMG_5349IMG_5350Intimate. Not the kind of place you’d bring a business associate, if you know what I mean.

IMG_5352 IMG_5355But a great place for a date…or a holiday celebration with old friends.

Merry Merry to you and yours!

  Hotel of the Week: Vegas Baby for Less Than $50 a Night


Vegas is one of the most popular travel destinations…. and summer in this desert is a great time to go if you want to save money (ahem – assuming you don’ t blow it at the tables…)

You can find hotel rooms at the nicest of hotels for $100 a night – or even less. That’s because it is pretty darn hot in the Nevada desert this time of year, and many people are booking family-type vacations since kids are out of school (In my opinion, Vegas is an adults-only playground)…

But think about it – so it’s hot. How much time are you really spending outdoors when you visit Vegas? Indoor air-conditioned shopping… indoor spa treatments… incredible indoor restaurants… over the top indoor shows… and of course, all the slots and blackjack tables are indoors! You know how you travel, so if much of your activities are indoors, the time is right for some deals.

How about a girls trip? You might want to think about booking a suite at one of the hotels that offer suites.

Two bedroom suite, Vdara, Las Vegas

Two bedroom penthouse suite, Aria

You get perks along with the suite like transportation and access to private happy hour since the suites are usually designed for VIPSs. You could do four women in a two bedroom suite for the same price practically as two regular hotel rooms, and you have a living room and dining area in the suite.

Tip: Be sure to specify a non-smoking room. You will thank me if you don’t smoke.

There are plenty of websites to help you find a good deal in Vegas – I found the Hard Rock for less than $40 a night! And Aria for $100 – the Aria is one hotel that has two bedroom suites for girls trips. I found a two bedroom suite in July at Vdara for $479 a night- if you have four people staying, it equals a little more than $100 a night for a luxurious room.

Think out of the box when it comes to travel – don’t let off season scare you… and when traveling with a group, look into a suite.

  Hotel of the Week: Zen Meets Sin City – One to Watch in 2013! #Nobu Vegas

It should be no surprise that an unabashedly glamorous hotel opens in Las Vegas. However, what is special about Nobu Hotel Las Vegas is that while it maintains it’s panache, it also retains its Japanese calm, understated aesthetic…and based on it’s location, it is a welcome bit of zen in a frenetic Vegas world.

Famous restaurateur, Nobu Matsuhisa, just opened the splashy hotel within Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas…. so all the gambling, bars, and fantastic restaurants are swirling around this oasis of calm. And yes, … one of his restaurants dwells in the hotel so late night sushi after a show is ON..

There are about 180 rooms at Nobu, so it is significantly smaller than the other towers within Caesars which combined has more than 4,000. Although the hotel is open for business, the official grand opening takes place in April because some of the top suites are not complete yet.

There will be 2 and 3 bedroom suites which is a nice option for any families who want to stay in an upscale environment. (I know – Vegas is not marketed as a kids destination, but you’d be surprised at how many families go as a stopping point on the way to somewhere else.)

The rooms are Asian in design, as well as many of the special touches…. I would love to shower in this luxurious shower… Plus – sake in the mini bar, and tea service delivered to one’s room after check in. I have only had that service in Hong Kong.

The rooms, since they are new, reportedly have PLENTY of electrical outlets since we travel with so many chargeable gadgets these days – a thoughtful touch. BUT  - the hotel still charges $15 a day for WiFI – my pet peeve. C’mon peeps! WiFI i s free in so many places! When are the high end hotels gonna get on board?

The Nobu restaurant that is part of the hotel is the largest of the 20 some Nobu restaurants – and serves breakfast, which is sorta essential in a city that never sleeps – I know I know, that’s New York, but the same can be said about Lost Wages.

Anyone in the mood for a little fun? Nobu Vegas is worth a gamble…Great shows too – Rod Stewart this summer, and Absinthe for the ones who dare to be bold. Weekend room rates start at $299.


  Hotel of the Week: Just the Right Amount of Wrong

Vegas is infamous for it’s slogans… but this slogan “Just the Right Amount of Wrong” advertising the Cosmopolitan Hotel in on the strip has to be my favorite. Especially if you’ve ever been to the hotel – very hip and sexy, just tempting you to be a little bad.

It is a newer hotel in Vegas… and since there are so many that are over the top, this hotel does a great job keeping up with the competition  – but this is not OTT in a cheesy way – more in a seductive, glamorous way. The whole ambiance is EYE CANDY to the max. The lobby, bars, game tables, restaurants, pools , everything.

Check out this bar off the lobby – it sparkles and glows.

Other bars are enchanting too…

I loved the pool table lounge areas just in the middle of open spaces.

The dining is to die for – so many choices you will find yourself wanting to try a new one each night.

From sushi, to steak, to Sicilian, most of the restaurants are all on one floor so it is a smorgasbord of gastronomy..each restaurant more stylish than the next.

We ate at STK – a contemporary steak house with  cozy, intimate seating in petite booths, and a a happening bar with a sexy vibe. The booths could be a little farther apart for more privacy with your date. The menu:  you order a steak or other dish and then order all your side dishes from a long list. Make sure you ask for the pre-dinner bread.

The shopping is unique- once again, the Cosmopolitan is trying to make a statement that “we are different, but cooler” by offering boutiques that offer eclectic items – for instance, one reportedly sells limited edition sneakers.

There are three pools… Day Club Pool is for adults only, and at night becomes an extension of the night club. We’ve come a long way since the Rat Pack.

Then there’s the Boulevard Pool.. which has a laid back vibe, with fusbol and a bar on the deck. Great place to hang out.

The only caveat: while many hotels are practically giving away rooms this summer,   the Cosmopolitan is still charging $350-$450 a night for a basic room on a weekend.  Go to their website for special packages.

One last note- not my usual type of recommendation, but I saw an acro-cabaret show while in Vegas that was everything that Sin City is- provocative, fun, funny, wild, – and warning: RAUNCHY. It is called Absinthe and it is definitely not for everyone – don’t bring your mother – but if you can tolerate the totally shockingly crude humor – you are in Vegas so it is somewhat more palatable – then you will marvel at the extreme stunts that are performed almost in your lap.  It is  at Caesar’s Palace – we walked from the Cosmopolitan.   It satisfied my craving for something out of the ordinary… as if that is difficult to find in Vegas. :)

Here’s a little taste. Happy travels.

  Travel Tip Tuesday: Channeling Jack Nicklaus in Vegas

We ALL know there is plenty to do at night in Las Vegas. During the day, it’s either hang by the pool, shop, or try to win back what you lost the night before. (mistake!)

Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy, Las Vegas

But I discovered something well worth doing where there’s no smoke or ringing of slot machines. In fact, it is actually good for you…or at least your golf game. The Jack Nicklaus Academy of Golf in Las Vegas is a state of the art golf instruction center, where golfers of all handicaps can work on their long and short games. In the process… you actually have some fun…

Especially if you get golf pro Seth Glasco as your instructor. Once a stand up comedian, he uses his humor to gently tell you what you are doing wrong (let’s just say I was laughing a lot)…and elevates the class beyond dry technical advise.

My day started out on a wacky device called the “Free Motion Tonic.” It is vibration training that increases muscle activation – basically, it is a shortcut to stretching, warming up your muscles. I was skeptical – and although I didn’t feel that much more stretched, my mind was as alert as if I had just downed a double espresso. (Warning: if you were overserved in the casinos the night before, use caution.)

After that Seth asks what you want to work on. Since I said, “everything,” it was a long session. Out on the putting green, he showed me drills to make my putting more rhythmic and even. These are drills you can use at home by the way, because he writes it all down for your personalized lesson.

Next – into the air-conditioned teaching facility, where my swing is analyzed in a 3D imaging system. THAT is cool.

Seth shows you what you are doing wrong by replaying your swing and marking it up with computer graphics.

After he works with you to improve, you are taped again and you compare the before and after swings.

It is illuminating to actually see  – instead of only feeling – what you are doing wrong. (Notice I am hinging more in the second swing!)

Afterward if you want to practice what you learn… or just scream in frustration because you can’t execute all the great drives you were sending back at the academy… Dragonridge Golf Course is right there. Normally a private course, you have access through the golf academy.

Dragonridge Golf Course, Las Vegas

The academy is not cheap  – but there are various different packages for groups, even kids.  It is perfect for a group of moms wanting to learn to golf… or a bunch of guys in Vegas.

The ONLY drawback is that it is about a $45 cab ride from the strip. I think if the Academy offered a shuttle and marketed that, it would be a hole in one. (bad I know…)

For info go to

  Tuesday Travel Tip: Fly to Vegas for $9

Yep. Nine bucks. In writing anyway…. once you add all the taxes and baggage fees, it could be more like $98 round trip.

Spirit Airlines is offering this $9 one way fare on their new Los Angeles-Las Vegas route… good if you fly on a Tues or Wed between May 10 and June 15. Sounds like an AMAZING deal  – and it is pretty darn good..I just don’t like the misleading advertising. After you add taxes and fees it is more like $39 one way.

And baggage?  Luggage that fits under the seat is free… a carry on bag that goes in the over head bin is another $20 each way..bringing the total to $98 round trip.

I don’t like when airlines waste people’s time getting them to go to their website to learn the fare isn’t really what they are promising. Yet, if you can pack lightly, $78 might be less than what you spend at craps.

  Waxing Nostalgic: Trips That Touch

I have a personal confession to make. I cry at Christmas carols. Not of the “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” type… but more of the Bing Crosby and Carpenters genre.

Why would I share this? Catharsis. Analyzing my melancholy over holiday music is making me more melancholy. I can’t seem to figure it out, because the holidays have always been a source of joy, but I am sure others experience this.  One explanation is that at this time more than any, we think of people who are not with us, either by death, distance, or duty.

So do we ever get over it? When will I ever be able to keep “White Christmas” on the car radio?

It is almost impossible to conceive things will change – especially if you have reached a point in your life where you find you certain traditions have taken place for years…only building on the nostalgia, reminding you of  decades past, and where the time has gone. One tradition that recently sparked this feeling is an annual holiday dinner I have with three close girl friends that we have done for 10 years. It is always a fun time; Proof: A few tables away from us was an “Only-In-LA” comedic ensemble of Larry David, Billy Crystal, and Martin Short all dining TOGETHER. Truth is, there was more laughter at our table.

There are also places that can make us nostalgic – unrelated to holidays. Here are some travel destinations that may make you long for something past:

National Pinball Museum, Washington, D.C.

1) The National Pinball Museum in Washington, D.C. – Relive your youth and forget your troubles for one afternoon while you revisit a childhood game. The museum just opened and is more than 14,000 square feet of pinball machines dating all the way back to the 19th century. There are more than 850 games here.

Other must sees for pinball aficionados: Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, CA… and the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas – more like an arcade, but you probably won’t lose as much money as you would at the casinos since we are dealing with quarters here :)

Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA

2) Hearst Castle – Relive the indulgent 20s and 30s when newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst entertained all the movers and shakers up at his San Simeon mansion. Taking some of the tours here will make you appreciate the castle’s history, and bring you back, even if you aren’t old enough to remember the times. Also- if you make it to Santa Monica ever, tour the guest house of Hearst mistress Marion Davies. This was the spot of their vacation home, but all that remains is the guest house, which is open to the public. It is not as ornate or glitzy as the castle, but once again, the history and stories of Davies and Hearst are fascinating. Marion Davies is an interesting woman in her own right.

Freedom From Want, Norman Rockwell

3) Norman Rockwell Museum, Berkshires, MA – His work is iconic…for years on the Saturday Evening Post… reflecting family life and holiday celebrations that can make anyone nostalgic for old-fashioned values. Right now at the museum through Jan. 16, 2011, a special exhibition titled “Home for the Holidays” might put you over the holiday-nostalgia edge.:)

4) San Diego Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park offers a great glimpse at different model trains – and even offers a summer camp for kids. Also the Twin City Modern Rail Museum in Minnesota is another option if you are in the Mid-West..and there are others across the country.

For many, this has always been the childhood toy that brings back memories. I still have one grown up friend who spent a fortune on a model train to go around his Christmas tree…,

Of course, you can always climb aboard a train yourself and travel North by Northwest style… There are many amazing train travel tours – the Orient Express is one well-known company, and I’ve always wanted to travel across Canada by train –,


Even though I can’t listen to the music, I can still appreciate the lyrics… so to borrow a line from Bing  – ” And though it’s been said, many times many ways… Merry Christmas to you.”

  Travel Tip Tues: Surprise Twist in City of Indulgence

No it’s not tigers in bathrooms..babies with sunglasses..or missing teeth (OK you “Hangover” fans, you know who you are..) But it IS the abundance of rooms that don’t indulge your pocketbook in Las Vegas.

This weekend, my husband is going on a boys trip to Sin City and asked if I knew of any hotel deals in Vegas.

Almost every traveler in the know has read about how Vegas is the great value right now thanks to the new 6,000 rooms added in City Centre, and the decrease in travel (even for conventions.) But I had to check if any of these deals are available for a last minute bookings.

At Aria in the brand new City Centre, I found an average room rate of $205 checking in Friday 3/5 and checking out Monday 3/8.

BUT – added to that is a $75 resort credit that can be applied to food, gambling, room cost, or entertainment. That makes the room cost more like $180 a night.

On weekdays, it is a better deal: rooms for $149 with the same $75 resort fee – this deal lasts until May.

I thought I could find better and I did.

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