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Super Vegas

Author: Quadex
Date of Trip: November 2006

We all know Vegas as the gambling capital of the world, but the trip I made for my 50th birthday proved to me that Vegas is also the entertainment capital of the world.

The 5-hour, non-stop flight from New York City to the Nevada desert on Delta Airlines was long, but comfortable. I bought the airfare and hotel as a package from Travelocity for the 4-day, 3-night affair. We left NYC at 10:00am and after boarding our prepaid shuttle from the airport to the Las Vegas strip, we arrived at the Aladdin Hotel around 1:30pm.

The Aladdin Hotel staff was very friendly and cooperative. I'd read that the Aladdin was undergoing a transformation to Planet Hollywood and that construction might be a problem, but, because we stayed there on the weekend, there was hardly any sign of construction until we were leaving on Monday afternoon.

We had a fountainview room (Room 2693) which gave us a beautiful view of the Bellagio fountains and the Eiffel Tower replica at the Paris Hotel next door. The bathroom was exquisite with a separate shower stall, large bathtub and separate closed-off toilet area. It was large enough for me and my partner to shave, shower and dress at the same time (something our New York apartment doesn't afford us!).

We attended the Toni Braxton Revealed concert at the Flamingo Hotel on Friday night. The showroom is beautiful, the show itself was glitzy, and the drinks were moderately priced at $8.00 for the special Toni Braxton Tonini martini. The show itself was pretty good. Toni Braxton revealed that she has an autistic son, and thanked the audience for her job so that she could continue providing the best health care for him. She also sat on the laps of patrons in the audience and took pictures. My only complaint is, I wish that she would enunciate more. If I hadn't been such a big fan of hers in the 90's, I may not have known what she was saying half the time.

On Saturday, we ventured out to the Liberace Museum. A shuttle leaves about every 45 minutes to an hour from the Paris Hotel to take interested parties to the museum which is several miles away from the strip. The $12 entrance fee was worth it to see Liberace's family history, his blinging car collection, his extensive collection of antique and modern pianos, and of course, 20 or so displays of his fur and jewel-encrusted wardrobe pieces, including capes, shoes, and diamond rings given to him by everyone from the owner of the Las Vegas Hilton to Queen Elizabeth II. If you like bling, this tour is for you.

The comedy relief festival with Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams and a host of other comedians was going on at Caesar's Palace at the time, but we had tickets to see Barbra Streisand at the MGM Grand that night. Excellent concert and not a bad seat in the house except for the ones directly behind the stage. What a voice. Good during the first half but excellent during the second half with the help of Il Divo.

On Sunday, we did a Grand Canyon tour through Scenic Airlines. They picked us up at the valet parking of Desert Passage (the humongous indoor mall attached to the Aladdin Hotel at the casino level). We were told to be there at 8am, so after the Streisand concert, we took a walk to the spot to make sure we would know where to go the next morning. The bus ride from Aladdin to the Scenic air terminal up into the mountains was around 45 minutes. We then took a twin engine plane with a recorded narration over the Mojave Desert and mountainous terrain to a site where helicopters waited to take 6 passengers at a time into the Grand Canyon. The plane and helicopter rides were extremely smooth and although we were warned that there might be some turbulence, we felt absolutely none in either the plane or the helicopter. The planes were staffed by very young pilots, one of which was a beautiful blonde-haired young lady from Texas. She impressed both of us with her talent, professionalism, and her personality.

We also opted for the Colorado boat tour, which was a 15-20 minute pontoon boat ride less than a mile down the river with grand views of the jagged rocks above us. Awesome. Then the helicopter took us back up 4000 feet, to the port where we boarded another bus that took us to Eagle's Landing, Guano Point, and gave us a small tour of the tourist setup for the Indian reservation in the Grand Canyon. We had a delicious lunch of barbecued beef, pork, or fried chicken with corn, beans, coleslaw and cornbread and peach cobbler as side orders. A ceremonial dance was done by a member of the native Indian tribe complete with boom box exuding tom-tom recordings. Teepees and huts built in traditional Indian fashion were set in an area with placards explaining how they were built and what they were each used for. However, the view from this area was the most memorable and most spectacular. Picnic benches are set at the edge of the canyon so that beautiful views could be seen from all angles. You feel that you could almost fly over the deep chasms, you are so close to the canyon edge. The weather was also spectacular, clear skies and sunny, probably one of the best times of year to go. The Scenic tour should be booked in advance through www.grandcanyontours.com. It's an excellent investment if you like nature. Total trip time was about 7 hours, so make sure you have the entire day booked for it.

Sunday evening, we managed to get fourth row seats to see LeReve, one of the best Cirque Du Soleil style shows I have ever seen. It was at the fantastic Wynn Hotel. Cab fare from the Aladdin to the Wynn was about $5.00 and cab service back was easy to get right outside of the Wynn. This is a must-see show, ten times better than O. Lots of water, fire, angels, demons, scantily-clad gymnasts, underwater ballerinas, and fantastic "Chant"-style music. The experience almost brought me to tears, especially after the champagne toast we made to my birthday. Small plastic 4oz glasses of the bubbly were $12 a glass, but so what...you only turn 50 once! And once I told the server my birthdate, she let us have an extra sip or two, and refilled our glasses.

Monday, we treated ourselves to the Elemis spa in the Aladdin with the Well-Being massage and full use of the spa facilities including exercise and weight room, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. The staff was very, very attentive, asking if we needed refills on our complimentary juices and water before we could barely finish what we had. The $110 fee (with 18% gratuity added on automatically) gave us the opportunity to use the facilities all day until 7pm, but we were there for about 4 hours. It was a wonderful experience, very relaxing and quieting after the exciting time we'd already had. Elemis Spa has a full service salon for both women and men, hair, nails, etc.

And finally, we saw one last show at the Aladdin, which has several large theaters, called V, the Variety show. After Toni, Barbra and LeReve, this show was rather anti-climactic, but the host of the show kept us laughing until we couldn't take anymore! The show started at 9pm and our plane left for New York at 12 midnight, so we were entertained until the last minute.

And we spent less than an hour gambling! We were thoroughly entertained and I recommend Vegas to anyone who hates to lose money, but loves to be thrilled!

Photo Credit: Image appears courtesy of the Las Vegas News Bureau.

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