Las Vegas: One-Night Stand

Snap! Snap! Snap! That was the sound that greeted my travel companion Gemma and me during our first and only walk along the iconic Las Vegas strip.

As we made our way past the new $8.5 billion City Center 7-building complex; Luxor and Mandalay Bay hotels, in the direction of the classic Las Vegas welcome sign, we were accosted by mini-teams of florescent clad folks flicking stacks of naked lady cards in our faces. This was just one of the many assaults on our senses: pungent scents of perfume and cologne wafted through the air, carried along by mist from peculiar outdoor bar mist machines that dampened our skin, and there was a dizzying flash of multi-colored lights coming from nearby hotels and billboards.

Here are some tips for surviving the sensory-overload offered by the adult playground known as Sin City:

*When renting a car, as we did, get a comprehensive quote before making a reservation. Ask about an upgrade (for power locks and windows), GPS and insurance costs. Also see if there are penalties for returning a car late/picking it up early. Take photos of the vehicle at pickup, so you won’t be charged with a surprise later!

Bellagio: Stay at this world-class hotel during the off-season (June-July) for a fraction of the cost and still enjoy all of the lavish amenities. In the evening the housekeeper sneaks into each room to turn down the beds, lay out fresh robes and leave goodnight notes and chocolates.

Casino tips: Boy did we blunder our way through the casino.  In the end, we found where we belonged: the one-cent slots!

  1. We took photos. Photos are not allowed
  2. Each table has a minimum chip $ amount for playing. You have to put down the minimum amount each round. At the roulette table we stopped at, the minimum was $10 to play. I was playing rounds with only $2 or $4, until the dealer shouted at me.
  3. Do not place anything on the tables.
  4. Don’t make any sudden moves.
  5. For roulette, don’t place a bet for a new spin until the dealer has lifted the marker off the winning number from the previous spin.
  6. Drinks are free, so tip generously.
  7. Craps tables are intimidating.
  8. Before starting, set a maximum $ amount you will bet for the evening and DO. NOT. GO. OVER. IT. There is no shame in returning to your room before 2am after gambling only $50!

Free parking: Self-parking is free at the majority of LV hotels and casinos, The Flamingo and Bellagio among them.

Kitschy postcards: The best are found at the Flamingo hotel gift shop.

Olives:  Celebrity chef Todd English's Italian eatery in the Bellagio hotel. Snag a table outside on the terrace for the most incredible, up-close views of the world-famous fountain show. The show happens on the eight-acre lake between the hotel and the strip every 30 minutes in the afternoon and every 15 minutes from 8pm to 12am. Highlights are the rabbit two ways and the three-way salmon.  

Virgin America: Like being in Miami's South Beach mid-air, this atypical airline is a trip. Decked out in florescent purple nightclub lighting, pass the time instant messaging other passengers using their seat-to-seat chat. Even the safety video is entertaining--done comic book-style.