I'm currently staying at the Marriott Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel on Paradise Road. As a business traveler, I wouldn't recommend it. Since I'm not even a Silver level Marriott member yet, I have to pay if I want to eat breakfast (to give you an example of the outrageous prices, The All-American breakfast of eggs, bacon, & toast is $14.95). If I want internet access, I have to pay $12.95 per day (from noon to noon). And it's much more cost effective to find a dry cleaner off the strip than to pay the astronomical fees this hotel charges.
Not all chain hotels near the strip are like this. Last year I stayed at the Hampton Inn on Tropicana and got a complimentary breakfast each morning and internet was free! I'll probably be going back to that hotel next year.
The year before that, I stayed at the Bally's hotel and that was fun, except for the fact that I had to walk through the smoky casino anytime I wanted to exit the hotel (they're all set up that way).
And a few years back Oronzo and I stayed at the New York New York hotel and that was the most fun of all! We purchased an all-day pass to ride their roller coaster and I road it so much that my ribs were bruised!
One of these days I'm going to have to stay at the Paris hotel because I love their shops and restaurants most of all!
If you're into fine dining, Vegas is the place to be! Each hotel has a plethora of restaurants inside, catering to all tastes. Just don't expect to get off cheap when eating on the strip. Most of the restaurants are on the pricy side, making it a challenge for those of us here on modest government PerDiems. Gone are the days of the hotels offering cheap food and drinks to lure you in to gamble!
I believe each hotel has a buffet that, although pricy, might perhaps give you more bang for your buck. To give you an example on buffet prices, Le Village Buffet in the Paris hotel charges $14.99 for breakfast (from 7 a.m.- 11 a.m.) and $17.99 for lunch (from 11 a.m.- 3:30 p.m.).
You could skip the buffet and have a sweet or savory crepe at La Creperie for about $9.00. It's fun to watch the crepes being made while you wait! Or you can indulge your sweet tooth at one of the many pastry shops. Click on the picture I've posted to get a better view!
I have stumbled across an inexpensive and delicious place to eat breakfast! The La Salsa Cantina in the Miracle Mile shopping center serves a breakfast of 2 eggs, sausage or ham, potatoes, and 2 tortillas for the low price of $3.95!
And I can't forget to mention the plethora of coffee shops scattered throughout the strip. My all-time favorite is now The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf inside the Miracle Mile shopping center. A local clued me in that you can get free wireless internet access there. Sure enough, they were right! Not only that, the tall hot chocolate that I purchased for $3.26 is tasty, the staff is friendly, and no one seems to care that I've been sitting at one of their tables for over an hour, catching up on email and blogging!
If you have a car, I know there are great places to eat that are off the strip, I'm sorry I just can't recall the names. I'll have to get back to you on that!
I'm not much of a gambler (sorry, no reviews to offer in that area), but I'm in Heaven here at Las Vegas because of the shopping!
One of my favorite places to shop while I'm here is Sur La Table! It's got every imaginable kitchen gadget available inside! I could spend hours browsing through this store.
Then there's FAO Schwarz at Caesar's Palace Forum Shops. FAO Schwarz is 3 stories high and filled with toys, toys, and more toys! I went shopping there and, even though I balk at an overpriced meal, I had no qualms about dropping $64 on a very cute Halloween costume for Snuggle Bug.
There are a lot of nice upscale shops here on the strip and a couple of nearby shopping centers too! You could spend weeks here just on shopping alone!
You have several options for transportation if you're here on vacation.
My personal favorite is the monorail. The best deal right now is the $9 all-day pass. The all-day pass is really the way to go, compared to a single ride is $5, if you want to make a lot of stops to explore all the hotels. If you don't think you'll stop all that often, you could consider spending $35 for a 10-ride ticket.
The monorail is clean, air-conditioned, and what amazes me the most is that it's run on an automated system. No one is driving it! They can if they have to, but I've never seen a driver. It sure beats trying to walk the entire length on foot or hassling with a taxi.
If you just aren't sure about the monorail, or maybe you're not staying in a hotel that's close to one of the monorail stations, you can always rent a car and drive from place to place. Fair warning though, the traffic on the strip is almost always heavy.
When parking at the hotels you can self-park in the hotel parking garages and schlep back and forth on your own two feet, or you can do what I do, valet parking!
Of course, you are expect to tip with valet parking. I've asked locals and have been told that you should tip anywhere from $2 to $5, depending on how long they have your car. I tend to do $3 each time. One local recently told me that valet parkers make about $300/day in tips alone, can you believe it?!
Now, it is nice to have a car so you can go see sights off the strip, like the Hoover Dam tour (this is pretty impressive), take the kids to Bonnie Springs (Snuggle Bug loved this last year mainly because of the petting zoo they had), or head to Lake Mead for some nice hiking or boating.
Although many things stay the same, from year to year, I'm noticing a lot of changes too!
Last year when I was here, the new Wynn hotel was the place to be. Now I see that Trump International Hotel & Towers are going up. They're selling luxury high rise condos that can be placed in a rental program when not in use. A man told me yesterday that, "Trump needs to stay out of Las Vegas!" It appears to be too late for that.
I've also noticed that the Aladdin hotel sold out and is now owned by Planet Hollywood . Remodeling is in works.
Well, there you have it, my travel review of Las Vegas. I know, I know, I've neglected one of the key ingredients of a trip to Las Vegas...the gambling. Sorry, I just don't gamble. My impression is that you have to gamble a lot to get much in the way of comps. It's just not worth it to me.
Okay, time for me to vacate this table at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and do some more exploring. I do have a little bit of gambling to do. I'm heading over to the Mirage Sports Book to place a bet on my Huskers for the NU vs USC game. It may be a long shot but I'm standing by my Huskers!
Have a great weekend! Let me know if you make it to Las Vegas.