Las Vegas is somewhere I never wanted to go, until I did. I imagined Vegas to be a city of only gall and glamor, a city that never sleeps, and of non-ending buffets. Well, it is those things, but so much more.
My first trip to Vegas was in 2006, which you can read about in my book, A Year in the Life of a Recovering Spendaholic, available from Amazon. I have been back to the city several times since. My latest trip was last week when I accompanied Mike on a business trip. We were in the city for a week. We stayed at the Excalibur Hotel near the Mandalay Convention Center, where the MAGIC Trade Show Mike was there for, was held. (Less you wonder, MAGIC is a trade show for clothing Brands and Retailors.)
I had a lot of time to walk and think on this trip, two of my favorite things to do. As I toured the city on foot, I thought about what I like about Las Vegas, and what I do not like about it. While some things on both lists can be found in other cities, some of them are unique to Las Vegas.
What I Love about Las Vegas:
- The beauty of the resorts, casinos, and restaurants. There is a feeling of quality and class, with heavy moldings, art, and lovely decorative accents. The Wynn, Bellagio, and Venetian are good examples, assuming one can see past the man-made quality of them. Certainly, the resorts cannot compare to Europe, but they are lovely, nonetheless.
- The shopping. One does not have to buy to enjoy shopping in Vegas. The retail establishments are abundant, and the choices of items are many. Shopping in Vegas is a feast for the eyes.
- The customer service. From Saks, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom to the many specialty boutiques, the service is exemplary. My best example of this trip was Bottega Veneta, where I was shopping to replace my favorite perfume. I had one of my best ever customer service experiences there. This was due to the service of the manager, Melissa, who not only gave me important information about my perfume and other products, she also gave me a travel size of my perfume! There is so much detail about this experience that it deserves its own blog, which I will write in the near future. This positive experience was about much more than the gift of the perfume.
- The pedestrian bridges and escalators. It is possible to walk from the south end of the strip to the north end without crossing many streets. The pedestrian bridges lead one into many of the lovely shops, allowing one to exit the cold (the weather this trip) or the heat, as well as shop, if so inclined. I was curious about the fact that most of the escalators operated well going down yet were not working going up, requiring the use of steps or elevators.
- Lovely, clean, and well-equipped public bathrooms everywhere. There were toilet seat covers in every bathroom, an item usually lacking in bathrooms (when you can find them!) in the south.
- The shows. We did not go to any shows on this trip, but I have on previous trips. I loved Celine Dion but did not enjoy Blue Man Group.
What I Do Not Love About Las Vegas:
- The smoking. It is everywhere, not just in the casinos. For a non-smoker, the prevalence of smoking is almost enough to counteract all of the positives about the city.
- The scantily clad women trying to sell photos taken with them. They are (of course) in the casinos, but also on the streets. A female walking alone is not their target audience, but the prevalence of it still bothered me. I will also add the scantily clad visitors, women, and men. I think it is good that there were not many children on the strip.
- The poorly dressed people, those that were dressed at all. This includes the pajamas worn in public places, something I have only seen before at Walmarts in the south! Mike commented, “I am amazed at some of the outfits people are wearing. I am in the clothing industry, and I don’t know where they get them!” In the spirit of kindness, I chose to not take a photo of this.
- The drinking of alcohol everywhere and at all times. I mention this not as a non-drinker, but as one who does not appreciate the drunkenness that often accompanies drinking behavior, which occurs from early in the am until all hours. Goodness knows what else accompanies the drunkenness.
- The absence of books and bookstores. The only bookstore that I could find on the entire strip was the Bauman Rare Books bookstore. The only books I found to purchase were a few cookbooks in Eataly. This is a major drawback for a reader. Some of my favorite books have been found in the cities I am visiting. Desmond Tutu’s book discovered and read when I was visiting South Africa is one of those.
You may notice that gambling is not on either list. I am a non-gambler, preferring to not waste my money trying to win money when I am not one who is normally lucky in those ways. So, I do not usually gamble when in Las Vegas, although many people do. As long as the gambling is entertainment of a manageable amount of time and money, I think it is a fine sport. But it is not a reason for me to enjoy Vegas.
When I review my two lists, I see that my positives outnumber the negatives, in number, at least. I am not sure the actual number of the positives and negatives are how I should evaluate this city. And it really isn’t. Overall, I love Las Vegas and look forward to my next trip there.
But when I go, I will not stay at the Excalibur Hotel. The Excalibur Hotel is somewhat dated, but that isn’t the reason. The staff were all very helpful, and that means a lot to me. But there is one weakness in the Excalibur Hotel, one that I cannot overlook. The hotel does not offer the CNN channel! (I called the front desk to be sure, and they verified the fact.) Yes, I am a CNN junkie. While I realize that some reading this are of a different persuasion, and are anti-CNN, I missed my favorite channel while there. Any other channel that I could think of was offered, but not CNN.
So I watched NBC and MSNBC, and FOX.