Thursday, March 8, 2012

Las Vegas - The Slow Tour

Tourists in Las Vegas
The last time we were in Las Vegas we did the entire “strip” in a couple of hours, seeing as much as we could in a very short time. This time we have 10 days to explore, so we can go slower. There are approximately 30 casinos and resorts within walking distance of our hotel, and today we managed to see exactly three. Oh, for those who do not know us; this was without putting $1.00 into any gambling. The slow tour of Las Vegas!

If you've been here you know this, but the BIG casinos are not big, they are HUGE, sometimes taking up entire city blocks. We decided to visit four of them today and take our time and really explore them to see what they had to offer. We started after breakfast (10:00) and continued until 5:00 when we came back to watch the NASCAR Parade of Haulers (Y'all know what that is . . right?), and we only managed to get through three casinos. Each Casino or resort is based on a theme, but ultimately they are all the same. There is a large central casino area, which in every case is on the main floor and in the centre of the complex. Around the casino are various restaurants and bars. Every casino has a huge attached hotel complex, sometimes two, and normally have a very complex and exotic swimming pool area. The bigger resorts also include a slightly separate shopping area. Some are massive malls, some just host a couple of outlets. The shopping is usually as far away from the casino as possible.

Mandalay Bay Resort
A note on the shopping areas. Don't look for any bargains; all extreme high end clothing, jewelry shops, shoes and purses and other high end shops; no sales, no “Outlet” shops. I think this is carefully thought out. The spouse who is gambling and loosing lots of money starts to annoy the “Non-gambling” spouse who goes shopping feeling entitled to spend an equal amount of “guilt free” money – no need of discount shops here! As well, the casinos and shops are well separated so that neither spouse can easily check on how much money is exiting the wallets and purses until it is TOO late.

We started at the massive Mandalay Bay Casino & Resort. The theme here is a Caribbean Island Resort. It has over 3300 hotel rooms and 135,000 sq ft of gaming space. It also has an 11 acre pool area and a 100,000 sq ft ballroom. This resort is at the extreme end of the actual “Strip” and is actually pretty quiet, because it does not get the huge walk-by crowds constantly streaming by the rest of the strip. To compensate for its remote location, there is a fast efficient elevated tram connecting it to two other resorts closer to the main strip. Although opened in 1999, this resort was updated and renovated in 2003, and looks and feels crisp and new. There is a very large shopping centre attached, as well as a huge convention centre. From outside the entire resort glistens in gold from actual gold leaf on every window. This resort hosts a huge shark aquarium where you can actually “Swim with the sharks”. I suspect the sharks call this “feeding time”.
The Luxor Casino & Resort

Next we took the tram to the Luxor, and big resort shaped like a pyramid and named after a city in Egypt. It is the second largest resort in Las Vegas with over 4000 hotel rooms and 120,000 sq ft gaming area. It also has the Luxor Sky Beam, the strongest beam of light in the world with 42.3 billion candlepower. Another interesting feature of this resort is 440 suite rooms on the inside slope of the pyramid walls. Although bigger, this resort does not seem a spectacular as the Mandalay Bay, but it has one of the best buffet restaurants in the city, and is actually a good deal in a city where few bargains exist especially in eating.
Excalibur Casino

Our last stop of the day was the Excalibur, with almost 4,000 rooms and 100,000 sq ft gaming area. As the name suggests this resort is based on a Medieval theme, and is designed to look like a massive castle. Although not actually as big, the casino area of the Excalibur seemed the largest to us. This is the last resort on the Mandalay Bay Tram system. This resort also has a huge buffet similar to the excellent one at the Luxor. This was the only resort that I actually got lost in, and we exited the wrong side and had to turn around and find the other end – not an easy task in these massive complexes.

Well, three down, only 27 to go.

1 comment:

  1. When Pete and I went to Reno, we stayed at the MGM Grand. They gave us each a $5 gambling voucher when we checked in, and ... being such insane gamblers ... we decided that we'd set goals. I would quit when I had my 2 cents worth, and Pete would try to stop when he had a dime left to his name. Without spending a penny of our own, we managed this feat, and still have the 2 and 10 cent vouchers! We should have given them to you ... although it may have exhausted you trying to spend it all ...
    Glad you're having fun!