Bryan and I usually make it to Las Vegas every couple of years. I enjoy it for the sights, sounds, shows and people watching, and Bryan also does a little bit of low-stakes gambling. This trip has been strangely disillusioning though — here are my lessons learned.
Airplanes headed to Las Vegas have many fewer babies/toddlers per plane than the average flight. However, they have many more shrill, profane, loud, drunken idiots, so the making-me-crazy factor is pretty similar.
Las Vegas has major lines for everything – it’s like queuing up at Disneyland, except with cigarette smoke and no actual ride. Waiting for a taxi at the airport – 100 people, 30 min wait. Check-in at the hotel (at 11:30pm!) – 35 people, 20 min wait. Coffee shop at the casino – 25 people, 20 min wait. Unsurprisingly, the fine art gallery at the Bellagio, with a show on American Modernism – no line, no waiting.
Customer service, too, has been pretty lackadaisical. Lines backing out the door? People getting cranky? Please, feel free to gossip among yourselves before actually assisting a customer. One of my pet peeves is the taxi driver who won’t put down his cell phone, and we got one of those – bluetooth receiver in his ear, ranting, raving and gesturing with his hands in some African language. We did have superb service at the Luxor Steakhouse for our Valentine’s Day dinner, but we paid a premium for that privilege.
Whatever happened to cheap Vegas? You know, the town where you could find inexpensive rooms and meals because gambling paid all the bills? The casinos have learned to charge what the market will bear; nothing is a bargain anymore. Rooms are $99 a night at the traditionally ‘cheap’ hotels like Luxor, Treasure Island, Circus Circus, and Stratosphere, and speaking of stratosphere, the luxury casinos like Bellagio, Venetian and Mandalay Bay are outrageously expensive. The nickel-and-dime charges are huge – $30/night per extra person, and $13 per laptop per day for Internet (more later on that).
The smug sons have only been once before, and they have a blast because it’s such a sensory overload. Today the weather was fabulous – and more warm sun is predicted for tomorrow – so we tracked down a couple of swimsuits so they could spend the afternoon the pool. They love buffets as only a teenage boy can, and many hours at the arcades and amusement parks as well. The photo of them is of their new, post-arcade-win gig as Pharaohs Homenthotep and Hootenpooten.
I’m an anomaly here – I don’t gamble. I’m just not wired for it, it feels no different to me than shoving money down a garbage disposal. I’d rather take that amount of money and spend it on something I do enjoy – a spa day, a clothes shopping spree, or a great show.
As a matter of fact, we are disillusioned enough this trip (or maybe that would be broke?) that we’re checking out early and taking a side trip to the Grand Canyon for a couple of days. I haven’t been since I was very young, and it’s long been on my ‘places to visit’ list. We’ll be back on Tuesday night for Ben’s extravaganza evening at the Phantom of the Opera.
Planning that side trip would be why I sprung for the overpriced Internet connection (how did I ever manage to travel without the Internet?). I got the side bonus of blogging time too!