When I first landed in Las Vegas during the1980s, I found the place to be sleazy and cheap. Of course, I was not a high-roller (see previous paragraph), and I did not have the money to stay in anything but a basic hotel room. The food was primarily buffet style and most casino restaurants had such long lines that it was not worth the wait. Back then if you gambled for any amount of time, you were given free alcoholic drinks, this also was also not a big draw for me.
There were plenty of working girls out in the strip, and they would approach any man who was walking down the strip with his wife or significant other, it just did not matter.
That behavior was shocking even though I was from New York City. In New York that kind of behavior was limited to certain areas that I did not frequent.
Fast forwarding to 2011, I landed in Las Vegas and stayed for a few days just for fun late this winter. The Las Vegas strip of today is neither sleazy nor cheap. I didn’t see any working girls; there were few buffets and even fewer lines to get into any of the casino restaurants.
We stayed at the Caesars Palace. It is a beautiful and luxurious hotel. There a dinner will run you approximately $35.00 per person, and a bit pricey, I think for the quality of the fare. We went to the Beijing Noodle No. 9, and the food was just okay. The most interesting thing about the restaurant was that you were surrounded by televisions that featured an Asian variety show, and it was very different from anything I have ever seen on American television. The music, the clothes and the choreography were colorful and lively. The dance numbers featured large groups of dancers and all of their movements were in sync.
The second night we went to see one of several Cirque du Soleil productions that are now playing in various Las Vegas Hotels. These magnificent shows are pricey to see, costing about $150.00 each ticket. We saw the “O” production and it is unique in that it features a pool that is on and off the stage through magical stage props and it is used for awesome water acrobatics. It is the first Cirque du Soleil show performed on the strip. The level of acrobatics, just like with any of the Cirque shows I have ever seen, was world class. You did not feel like you overpaid once it was through.
On the third and final day of our trip, we ate lunch at the Parisian hotel, sitting outside in the sun under a true replica of the Eiffel Tower. This was such a treat to a sun deprived mid-westerner. Lunch was very good, and not outlandishly expensive.
Later in the day, I had to walk through the shops that are connected to the Caesars Palace. All of the shops are high end such as Anthropologie (a beautiful store), and you can purchase all manner of exquisite jewelry and fur, items I never purchase. If you go, you have to try the gelato–the stand is in the middle of the rambling shopping center and you cannot miss it. I loved the coconut-chocolate gelato.
That evening we saw the water show at the Bellagio Hotel. It is free of charge and worth a look. The water performs for you in a series of different colored and rising fountains. I also had to the see the Cosmopolitan Hotel and sit at the bar accurately called “The Chandelier”. It features a web like enveloping chandelier made out of Stravinsky crystal with clear lights-it felt like you were sitting inside of a big diamond. It is sparkly and beautiful and I cannot imagine not feeling anything but wonderful while sitting in it.
Las Vegas is worth a visit because it is a feast for the eyes and the spirit. It is unabashedly camp and best enjoyed off the gambling floor, if you are a non-gambler like me.