Catching Up: Vegas XXII- XXV
I thought I would update my trip log. These aren’t full reviews of any shows, resorts or restaurants but include some of the highlights from our most recent rips.
Some of the highlights and how I would grade the experiences:
Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. at TI- B
Michael Jackson ONE- A+
Penn and Teller- C+
Blue Man Group- B+
Venetian Gondola Ride- C+
X Burlesque- B
Golden Knights Game- A
Adam Sandler at the Chelsea- A+++
Restaurants and Bars
Mon Ami Gabi- B+
Chandelier Bar- A
Maestro’s in City Center- A
Julian Serrano’s Lago- C
Aria Tower Suites- A
Renovated Room at Park MGM- C+
Game of Thrones- A
Dragon Spin- B
Bette White- B+
XXII- Aria, August 5, 2016- August 10, 2016
We had another wonderful stay at Aria. We checked out the Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. at T.I. As Anne and I both really enjoy all of the Avengers films, it was worth the price of admission ($35 per entry) to see some of the memorabilia from the films. The “experience” had some sort of story line and we had to use an app on our phone to navigate the different stations but we were more interested in seeing all the displays. The highlight of our trip was going to Michael Jackson ONE at Mandalay Bay. We purchased tickets through the concierge and received a moderate discount. Immediately after the show, we both agreed that it was the best Cirque show and that it may have been our favorite Vegas show. The show did an outstanding job of weaving the history of Michael’s career through a series of engaging vignettes. The best seats are not in the first eight rows. We were seated further back but, as it was explained to us, in order to fully enjoy the show you need to be able to see the entire stage as the performers utilize the space on, above and to each side of the stage. In some ways, the show is like a series of complicated music videos that put you at the center of the action. For even casual Michael Jackson fans, this will be the Cirque show I most recommend. A+
XXIII- Aria, April 8, 2017- April 13, 2017
We once again had the opportunity to meet Giovanni and Matt! Vegas with friends truly makes the experience even greater. One of our highlights was having breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi. We had wanted to dine there for years but never found the right opportunity. While we didn’t get to enjoy outdoor seating and the Bellagio Fountains, we had a wonderful breakfast. The food was much better than I expected. I enjoyed a fantastic Bloody Mary which was a meal itself. For other firsts, we finally made it to the Chandelier Bar at Cosmo before dinner. I think Anne enjoyed it more than any of us even though she only had her standard Pinot Grigio. I, on the other hand, had the Verbena. The Margarita-esque drink is enhanced by the Verbena flower which, as the server thoroughly explains in her directions, is to be chewed extensively before taking the first stip. The flower causes your tongue and mouth to feel slightly numb and tingle and the flavors of the drink really pop. It is awesome. After a perfectly fine dinner, we went to see Penn and Teller at The Rio. Overall, the show was somewhat disappointing. We saw them years ago when they were on tour. Maybe our expectations were too high but I found the show underwhelming. I was glad to have seen them and I think it is great that Penn stays after the show to take pictures (for free) but I think I expected to be “wowed.” We were sad to see Gio and Matt leave the next day but were happy to spend some quality Vegas time with them. Lastly, Anne and I finally went to Maestro’s in City Center. Overpriced? Absolutely. But, we have every intention on going back. I think we would be more likely to order appetizers and sides instead of hunks of meat and fish. We loved the spinach, shoestring potatoes and asparagus. And, the Warm Butter Cake is one of the greatest dishes I’ve ever tasted. I dream about it.
XXIV- Aria Tower Suites, August 4, 2017- August 8, 2017
As a special treat for Anne’s 20-20 celebration, we booked a Tower Suite. She and her best friend Mandy went a few days ahead to enjoy some quality BFF time. Her husband Rob and I joined a few days into the trip. After a horrendous flight experience, Rob and I made it twelve hours later than we were scheduled to arrive. First, the Tower Suite is spacious, has a lovely view, the bidet is amazing and the staff tends to your needs just a little more than they do in the standard rooms. What we enjoyed the most was the Tower Suite Lounge which is open very early in the morning until after midnight. They keep the refrigerator stocked with soft drinks, the coffee fresh and snacks plentiful. They serve soft pretzels in the afternoon! At the right price, the upgrade is worth it. In what will surely become a show we will confidently recommend, the Blue Man Group at Luxor was impressive. We sat in the second row just outside of the “splash zone.” The show, which I find hard to describe, is a non-stop combination of bass-filled and thumping music combined with lots of non-verbal comedy. We left feeling like we were in Vegas. We also finally took the gondola ride at The Venetian. You can either choose the inside or outside canals. We floated outside. Anne found the ride a bit too short (maybe 15-20 minutes). I liked it but didn’t love it. We were glad we did it but won’t be rushing back anytime soon. It won’t become something we highly recommend. Lastly, Bette White paid me big!! On our last night, I was down a bit and was ready to call it a night but caught the Golden Girl staring at me while I enjoyed a slice of Five 50 pizza and a Fat Tire beer. I sat down and she treated me like Blanche would treat her many male companions—very kindly!
XXV- Monte Carlo/Park MGM, November 16, 2017- November 20, 2017
This was one of my favorite trips. We booked the trip specifically to see the Golden Knights as Anne and I thought, since we loved Vegas so much, we may as well become VGK fans. I flew out on Thursday. I went to Julian Serrano’s Lago at Bellagio for dinner. I wanted to love it and didn’t. The Italian Tapas just didn’t do it for me. I had the polenta which is normally one of my favorite foods but I found it too rich but not flavorful. I made the mistake of ordering the seafood bucatini which is hollowed out linguini. I learned that I really don’t like bucatini. It was an incredibly high priced meal that just wasn’t worth it. I also checked out X Burlesque at the Flamingo. It was lively, fun and would recommend it if you’ve already seen Fantasy at Luxor. Anne landed in the mid-afternoon on Friday and we had a full evening highlighted by seeing Adam Sandler at The Chelsea in Comso. At some point I’ll really need to write a full review. Adam Sandler hits the perfect tone of humor and heart and the venue was very conducive to his delivery. This was one of my all-time favorite Vegas nights. A few days later we went to see the Golden Knights and LA Kings. Like the Adam Sandler show, I hope to write a full review. The game exceeded my expectations. Coming from someone who has been to his fair share of professional sporting events, I was impressed by the overall experience. Lastly, we stayed in a recently renovated Park MGM room at Monte Carlo. While it was new and clean, we are not looking forward to returning. The room is incredibly small and basic. The “wellness” features made no difference. Supposedly the shower water is infused with Vitamin C and they pump some cleansing air into the room. I’m not sure about any of this. I just know that the bathroom wasn’t much bigger than the closet which we also thought was much too small. The bed was about six inches off the ground and I found it uncomfortable. As for gaming, between the sports book and the slots, I just about broke even. Some of my favorite machines have been Dragon Spin and Game of Thrones. If you are a GoT fan, you MUST give this machine your money and hope for a few bonuses based on the show’s most popular characters. And, nothing is better than the in-game dragon bonus. Dracarys!!!!!