Monday, January 6, 2014

Las Vegas Trip Report - December. 30 - January 6, 2014

Last November, a year ago, my son and I sat at Mon Ami Gabi staring out at the Bellagio on the Strip.  It was the last night of our trip that had him at a gaming convention and I was just a roommate doing the solo thing. We had both wrapped up our trip and were talking about spending Christmas in Vegas together this year.

I'm glad to report that it came to fruition - sort of....long story short:  My son learned a lesson about saying that "he could he have Xmas off" when I asked him to confirm it with work back in May!  He can't (it's in his Union Contract) and it cost him $1600 in non-refundable pre-payments to re-book everything I had lost because of this...

Anyway, I had a busy year with trips and had a lot of great vacays throughout 2013.  I also laboured really hard at work (mentally) this past year (do I think this every year end???) so I was really happy to have had all my wonderful travels I experienced so far - it kept my sanity.  I was ecstatic to end/begin  the New year with a seven day stay in Vegas (and then five days in Disneyland).  Both are my favourite places to visit and I was thrilled to spend this trip with my wonderful son (23).

Because we have never made it downtown yet, I decided to start there and spend two days on Fremont Street first.  I booked the Golden Nugget (Carson Tower).  My son ended up paying this (part of his mistake) because the rates were much higher for Dec. 30 & 31st.  It was $139 and $229 respectively...I paid the deposit which cost $40 more than our original booking for two days.  Our original booking was $59 a night for $118 total for Fri/Sat.  The new deposit for our changed dates was $158.  On CyberMonday I called and got the 30th for $97 instead of $139 and we got two free Gordie Brown tickets too so that was nice.

Pic from Expedia website

Monday, December 30th:

We had a 10am flight time on WestJet so arrived to YVR airport about 8am.  We landed about 12:30pm.  We took a Bell Trans shuttle for $18 one way for both of us.  We were last to be dropped off.

Check-In was painless and our room was ready.  We had room 873 on a non-smoking floor in the Carson Tower with two comfy double beds. These elevators were right by the Starbucks in the hotel.  The room was dated but clean and spacious though not much of view.  We overlooked the parking lot.  My son wanted a nap so we had deli sandwiches we had brought with us and then I left him to go explore.

I bought a bottle of wine from the gift store which was rip-off.  $15 for Century Cellars Cab.  I was much happier with the selection and prices when I found the ABC store on Fremont Street beside the hotel.  The lady who checked me in recommended I go there to buy my wine.

The temp outside, but it felt warmer to me.  I didn't need a jacket.

The pool area was really nice.  The shark tank was very pretty and I liked the slide in it.  It was open and the sign outside said the deck, bar and hot tub were all open till 2am.  The pool only until 5pm.  I took pictures after dark.

That tube in the middle is the slide.

And here is where the tube slide ends.

I went and picked up our free Gordie Brown tickets for tomorrow at the Ticket desk beside check-in.  They were also selling Wrist Bands for New Years Eve for $40 for Fremont Street.  Some of the acts included Vince Neil (Mötley Crüe), Papa Roach and Loverboy.  I passed, at this particular time...(more later on this).  We got assigned seats in row Q, near the back but I wasn't expecting to be front and centre for free tickets.

Then I proceeded to gamble on the slots.  I lost $120 in about a half hour so went back to my room for a glass of wine.  I was also exhausted because I only had 4 hours sleep.  It was about 5-ish now.  We left the hotel about 6:30 to explore Fremont and go for dinner.

We enjoyed the atmosphere.  I walked my son by the Heart Attack Grill below.  He had never heard of it before.

It's a gimmicky place and I think I saw on t.v. that their largest burger is 9000 calories.  The waitresses are dressed as nurses and they spank you if you don't finish.  He got quite a chuckle over this and mentioned that it was packed.  That wasn't the dinner destination I had in mind though.  Mine was on East Fremont, below.

Le Thai restaurant

I had read about this place online in my research.  I generally don't eat any Asian food when I travel because we have so much of it at home and it's good to great.  However, I feel we lack good Thai so I was excited to try this place.  It's a very comfy setting and everyone was very nice who served us.

Our waitress explained the spiciness and said that between 1 and 5, their #2 would be a full blown hot at other restaurants.  We chose our Shrimp Pad Thai (below) at #2.  It was hot for sure but we probably could have went to #3.  We wanted to be careful that it wasn't too over-the-top spicy for us so were happy.

Shrimp Pad Thai $15

 Thai Wings with Sriracha Ranch Dip $9.  These were so good, we had 2 plates.

Crispy Spring Rolls $6.50

I would have loved to try some other dishes.  Everything coming out looked and smelled wonderful.  Everyone seemed very happy.  We left and wandered Fremont again.  I enjoyed how all the different casinos were so close to each other.  So not like the Strip!  We stopped at Binion's for the picture with the million dollars.  There was no line for this.  If you get it done with their camera, you will need to pick it up in about a half hour.  We just used our own camera.

Fremont Street under the Canopy

We gambled until I had lost $200 for the day.  My son lost $40.  

We sat at the Ice Bar in the Nugget and had a couple of drinks and called it a night just about midnight.  I was exhausted and couldn't wait for bed.  While there I asked a guy staying at the hotel who we were talking to at the bar if he was using the internet.  He said he was.  I asked him if the $12.99 was per device.  He said no, that he was using his phone and laptop and it was by password.  So, I was happy about that.

When we went up I signed up for the internet, there was no password.  I called the front desk and she said it was $12.99 per device.  So my son didn't bother getting it for his phone.  I totally believed the guy at the bar, so it just goes to show you...

Tuesday, December 31st, a.k.a. New Years Eve:

I awoke about 7:30am and felt much better and rested.  I started typing the trip report.  My son got up about 9:30, showered and went down for coffee at Starbucks.  We relaxed and used our 2 for 1 buffet coupon for lunch that came when we checked in.  It was $13.99 for two then which was worth it.  Full price would not be worth it in my opinion.

The food was what "you get what you pay for", average at best and salt bomb-ish, however, there were enough satisfying things to make a complete meal I suppose.  The made-to-order omelette was my son's fave.

Mini-sub (ok), Fried Chicken (SALTY and dry!), Tough Brisket (Inedible) & Salad

We went and gambled (lost) and then I went for a nap.  The hotel was much busier today, which wasn't surprising.  I awoke, showered and got ready for the evening.  I mentioned to my son that we should go get supplies at the ABC store before our move to the Strip.

We tried to exit on Fremont and were rejected.  You had to have a wristband to enter Fremont, period.  They told me I could not go to the store without a wristband.   I asked how we would get to the 4 Queens for our dinner and he told me about a back way.  We looked at getting wristbands but the line up was huge and long so we left.   I finally found the way into the 4 Queens but we kept moving along to check out "The D" instead.

I decided we should buy a wristband there because it wasn't busy and I didn't want to be trapped all night not being able to walk on Fremont.  So, it was $40 each.  We lost more money gambling at the D and then decided to go to the ABC store for alcohol.  You could only buy plastic so I bought some vodka.  We headed back to the Nugget for the Gordie Brown after we mixed drinks in our room first.

The show was good.  The audience was definitely elderly.  He does a good job trying to span the years of entertainment but I felt that my son probably didn't know a lot of his impressions.  He said he really enjoyed the show though.  The drinks I mixed were so strong, I had a pretty good buzz afterwards.  The show felt very 80's like to me...

We made our way over to 4 Queens though we were a half hour early for our 9:30 reservation at Hugo's Cellar.  They seated us no problem and gave me a rose.  He also mentioned that dinner guests could have a FREE wristband for Fremont St.  What? Really?  OMG, I wish I would have known that and saved myself $80!

Service was excellent, we had two servers, David and Dave.  I expected it would be and we enjoyed the room.  It is typical steakhouse and dark and I really liked the "cellar" feel to it.  We decided to have Chateaubriand and Lobster for two.  $150.  We didn't order appetizers because they prepare a table side salad for you.
Bread basket with Rose shaped Butter

My salad, I got everything in it and Peppercorn Ranch dressing

Dave or David removing our Lobster from the tails served with Warmed Butter by Candles

How my plate was served, Steak was a perfect Medium Rare

Complimentary Bernaise & Bordelaise Sauce, both delicious

Complimentary Dessert:  Chocolate Dipped Apricots & Strawberries, White Chocolate Dipped Figs

Kona Coffee brewed at the table $10

Dinner was pretty damn fabulous!  Enjoyed every minute of it and the food was great.  We had one drink each and bill was $250 after tip.  As we left we were asked if we wanted a wristband again and that made me grumble again...

We headed for Fremont St.  

Keeping the masses happy!

She was dancing to these guys playing 80's cover tunes like Bon Jovi, GNR, etc..

It felt like an 80's night, great for me, not so much for my son.  :) I bought a double Crown Royal and my son decided he had had enough so stopped drinking.  Wimp!  ;)  (Yeah, ask me who the smart one was the next morning).

We made our way to the 3rd street stage and watched Papa Roach and waited for Vince Neil from Mötley Crüe who was starting at 12:10am.  It was really packed before midnight and my shoes were sticking to the ground in the flood of alcohol that was running down the pavement.  Everyone was just tossing their cups into the street.  It was pretty well behaved though and everyone was chill and having a good time.

How it looked at just before Midnight

Looking up at the Canopy, Countdown, & then Happy New Year/Auld Lang Syne!

Vince Neil (below) took the stage shortly after.  We stayed until about 1am and then left back to the casino.  It ended up being a late night and I was up till about 4am.

Blurry, I know, I blew it up because we were quite a way back from the stage

Wednesday, January 1st:

I awoke about 9am and felt slightly "under the weather, a little worse for wear and tear".  I asked about a late check out but they said it would be half a day room rate to do that so I declined.  I packed and went to the ABC store so I could pick up some wine, Baileys and water for our next move.  I also grabbed a couple of sandwiches so we could just have breakfast in the room.  I lost a lot of money gambling downtown (for me).  My budget is $100 a day and I easily doubled that if not more. I only hit ONE bonus on all the slots I played and it was nothing worth mentioning.  I was over budget now and it was going to hurt me a little.

We got a cab at 11am and headed for the Vdara.  Fare was $25 pre-tip.  I originally had booked the Vdara for 5 nights at $79 with Travelzoo vouchers.  There was also a $25 per day resort fee that had to be paid.  It was booked through Jet Luxury Resorts.  We pretty much lost this room rate when we had to change our dates.  They did allow us to use the voucher amount but the rates were much higher for our dates now (of course).  It ended up costing my son another $400 to change.  Jan. 5th was $280 a night they said because of the CES convention...

Anyway...we got to the check-in desk about noon.  He told us our room wouldn't be ready until somewhere between 1 and 3 but said he would give us our keys and text us with the room number when ready.  We took our luggage to Bell services.  Everyone at that hotel was amazingly nice and helpful and it was the kind of service you hope for and appreciate.

So we walked over to Aria, a less than 5 minute walk and went to pick up show tickets at the box office.  I had two myVegas redemptions for Tournament of Kings and "O"  and one that I bought for Wayne Brady at the Mirage.  This ended up taking quite some time as it turned out the ToK show was booked not using myVegas so it had to be re-done while we waited.

Before the transactions were complete, we received a text that our room was ready.  Yay!  We were on the 52nd floor.  Being that high up our ears popped every time we road the elevator up or down.

Living room and the couch folds out to a double bed


Dining Table

Bedroom (there is another TV in here too)

Bathroom, great shower!  Lots of room

The view spanned the entire suite over three windows.  It was quite stunning.  I was very, very happy with the room.  We called Bell Services and our luggage arrived within 10 minutes.  There is no maid service through Jet Luxury except when you leave.  You are entitled to call Housekeeping for towels, toilet paper, and remove garbage for no charge other than tips.  There is no coffee maker and I knew that.  My son recently bought a Keurig so I just brought the old, small 4-cup machine we had and decided we would just leave it when we left.  It was a good decision.  However, there is a Starbucks in the lobby.  

I enjoyed the view and typed up the trip report.  I was tired!  The WiFi worked great and there is a desk in the living room so it was very comfortable to use my laptop too.  I took a shower and by then it was 5pm so we went for Happy Hour at the Cosmopolitan.  It was an easy 5 minute walk from the hotel too.

The Cosmo had posted this link on facebook with their happy hours which I loved.  We decided to go to Comme Ca which I have trying to get to for the last couple of trips and it just didn't work out.

THE COMME ÇA BURGER* vermont cheddar, secret sauce, onion slaw, french fries $13

OYSTERS, BLUE CrAB AND AVOCADO TOAST ruby red grapefruit $10, STEAK TArTArE* confit egg yolk, house pickles grilled country bread $10

This picture of the Steak Tartare does NOT do it justice!

We were starving and the food was terrific!  The bread for that Tartare was perfect with it and you got two toasts like above.  It was a very generous serving.  My son devoured his burger too.  He said it was great.  He also ordered profiteroles for dessert ($10).  I told her we were in a hurry so gave her my credit card to settle up.  And then no dessert showed, so we finally asked because we had to go.  She became embarrassed but said she forgot to order them so we said that was fine, not to worry and left.  I then realized that I had paid for them though and she didn't remind me of that...too late to worry about that now.

So we rushed down to Ballys to go redeem a myVegas voucher for the monorail because the office closed at 7pm.  We arrived about two minutes before.  I had asked them on facebook if the 2 for 1 deal for the pass meant all I had to do was give them the voucher and they would give me two passes.  They told me yes.  I also asked on Trip Advisor and people said that is how it worked.

Well, she told me I had to pay $44 to receive the other pass.  I was so pissed off, I just took the voucher back and said I would cancel it then.  I tried to explain what I was told and she just stared at me and didn't respond.  We had to get to the Tropicana but there was no way I was going to take the monorail now so we walked to the taxi line and took one.  Fare was $10 before tip so it was the same cost as the monorail anyway and took us right to the door.

I had a Groupon for Laugh Factory.  So we redeemed that and got VIP seating ($42 for two).  We were sitting in the front row and I was a little nervous because I wasn't in the mood to be picked on tonight.  They like to pick on my son and I it seems, from previous stand up comedy visits.  :)  We lucked out, though the headliner Ron Pearson did eye us over a couple of times.  He was funny and so was the first act.  The emcee/host was not funny at all.  I bought a glass of wine, a vodka/orange and a water for $28.50.  On that note we only had the one drink each.

It was a good time and I'm glad we went.  I also put $20 in a Wheel of Fortune machine, hit the bonus and won $100 so I cashed out. We walked back to the hotel and stopped at Aria to pick up a piece of pizza from Five50 Pizza Bar.  It was $11.98 for two slices but very good with a great crust.  We made our way back to the room, ate and I plunged into the bed.  I was EXHAUSTED beyond words!!!!

Thursday, January 2nd:

I awoke at 9am and felt much better today.  I caught up on the trip report and had a Baileys coffee.  We showered and headed to the Bellagio to use a myVegas voucher for lunch.  It was also about a 10 minute walk away.  We redeemed the voucher at the MLife desk and then proceeded to the buffet.  It was 1:00.

The line was hugely long!  The pic below was about 15 minutes after we were waiting in line, barely moving.

I normally would never wait like this, but because it was free and I was over budget, I was being cheap and decided to stick it out and get my $44 meal.  It took an hour and a half to reach the cash register.  We were starving!  Below is the view from the table we were seated at.

I had two plates and unlimited Sparkling wine (Totts) for $12.  I had two glasses.  I barely got through the two plates and was stuffed!  Everything tasted good and the salads I tried were really fresh and tasty.  It was good to very good overall.  My son had two plates and he was stuffed too though his second plate was mostly desserts.  

Our server asked me to tip her and the bartender separately.  I did.  I didn't need to be asked to tip but I suppose maybe it had to do with her wanting to make sure I knew the bill was for the alcohol/bartender, not her.  You pay for the buffet before you sit and pay for alcohol at your table.

That's roasted salmon, cous cous salad & mussels at the top.  In the middle is cheese blintz.

It's still Christmas at the Bellagio Conservatory

We were there at the buffet for about an hour and a half so this whole ordeal took a good chunk of our day.  We walked over to Aria and I found a couple of 25 cent slots that were max play of $1.25.  My first twenty in, I won over $200 so I played down to that and cashed out.  My son came out even.

We walked back over to Vdara as I was tired (again) and wanted to relax and have a glass of wine in the suite.  Standing in line for an hour and a half is really tiring, you know!

It's made of canoes and outside our hotel

We had the Tournament of Kings tonight so we walked up to the Excalibur for the 8:30 show.  I used to take my son to Medieval Times in Anaheim when he was young, so this was just to reminisce and it was free, so why not.

We sat at a casino bar, played video poker and had a couple of drinks before showtime.  There were a ton of kids in this casino and the majority were  downstairs where the show is held because there is also a midway down there.  They don't allow photography so the only picture I took was pre-show (below) where we were seated in the front row of "Russia".  We both agreed we have no need to see this again and it is best for the young ones though we still enjoyed it.

We walked to Aria again and went to finish the night gambling a little.  I lost $100 of my winnings, my son broke even again.  We each played dollar machines this time that were max play of $5 a spin which is what we did. That went fairly quickly and we called it a night.

Friday, January 3rd:

We slept until 10:30, had our usual Baileys coffees and then decided to get ready and go to Gordon Ramsay BurGR for lunch.  Again we had to wait in line.  This time it was about an hour so I went and lost $60 while we waited.

Service was very good when we were seated.  We ordered drinks first and then food.  My son had a chocolate shake and I ordered a "Green Tea Gin" $12 (below), and it was very good.

Fresh Roasted Chili Dawg $12: roasted fresno pepper + jalapeños  + cheddar cheese + avocado  + red onion + chipotle ketchup

Truffle Parmesan Fries $10: hand cut fries + truffle parmesan + truffle salt + truffle aïoli

Uber Cheese Burger $14: fontina cheese + raclette cheese + goat cheese

We shared, half & half

We were so stuffed.  I wanted to go nap but we didn't.  We wandered around and went to Walgreens for random items and then walked back to Vdara.  It was about 4pm.  I typed the report, had a glass of wine and got ready to go to our show tonight.

There are two "Canadian C Words" I swore I'd NEVER see in Vegas:  Celine Dion and Cirque Du Soleil anything.  Well, myVegas got me to change my mind because it was free.  We had tickets to "O" at the Bellagio for 7:30.  I figured I could only be pleasantly surprised because I had no expectations for it.  We left about 5:30-ish.

My son and I both lost our gambling budgets for the day and went into the theatre.  My glass of champagne costed $16 though it was Mumm's. We were seated in the third row, right of the stage.  The show was about what I expected it would be.  The acrobatic artists are amazing as is the choreography.  The stage was captivating, especially the seamless set changes.  We both enjoyed it but it's just not my thing where shows are concerned.

I forgot that Caesar's Palace is connected through the Bellagio and we instead walked out by the fountains and got caught up in masses of people.  We finally made our way to the Forum Shops.  I wanted to try Trevi after I had read about the deep dish pizza on the Las Vegas Trip Advisor forum.  We were both hungry from lunch now.  It was about 10:00pm when we arrived.

View from our table

LASAGNA PIZZA $17.95: TREVI’s Signature Pizza, deep dish with layers of Italian sausage, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses and tangy pomarola sauce 

It was very good though the crust didn't do it for me.  I've never had a deep dish pizza before so I have nothing to compare it to it.  All the ingredients were quality and I liked the sausage and sauce a lot.  We took half the pie home to put in the fridge for leftovers.

We walked back.  My son stopped at Jean Phillippe for a Mocha Frappucino that was $10.27!  He said it was worth it and really enjoyed it.  And with that, we were back at Vdara and called it a night.

Saturday, January 5th:

I awoke at 9am.  Today I made us reservations for brunch at Border Grill. We got ready and left about 11am.  We walked to Excalibur and took the tram from there to Mandalay Bay.  The restaurant was relatively easy to find though it's not on "Restaurant Row" though close by.  The brunch is all you can eat Mexican tapas for $35 p/p.  She advises to order two tapas each at a time and they will be cooked made to order.  I added bottomless mimosas for $8.  We sat on the patio.  They had heaters going but it wasn't necessary as far as I was concerned.

The above two orders are what they start you off with, a sweet empanada and corn tamales.  Those tamales are soooo good and love that crema!

Lobster Pancake

 Spinach & Leek Frittata

 Brisket Omelette

Peruvian Shrimp and Grits (Nice & Spicy)

Yucatan Egg Benedict

Crispy Potato Taco (My sons fave of the day)

View from the patio

Churro Tots

Fig and Blue Cheese Quesadilla

This meal was a real pleasure.  The food was very flavourful and balanced on most dishes and it was nice way to spend Saturday afternoon.  We thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

We proceeded to lose and donate at Mandalay Bay slots and my son was not happy he lost $60 so quickly...

We walked back the same way we came.  Stopped at Ross by the MGM for a couple of random items and got back to our room about 4pm.  We freshened up and went to American Fish at Aria for Happy Hour.   This is a lovely restaurant with excellent service.  All of the dishes below were $5 each.  They were very refined and tasted lovely though not amazing.  My fave was the lobster roll.  My son definitely liked the dessert best.  The scallop was pretty stellar though and cooked perfectly.

The bar (below) had a nice 3D like background of trees behind it.  It was hard to capture in a picture but we tried:

new england lobster roll w/ parker house roll, chesapeake bay butter & truffled mac & cheese w/ mushrooms, english peas

seared scallop w/ pretzel crouton, anchor steam foam (Scallop was amazing!)

beef tartare w/ crispy capers, whole grain crouton

baked oysters w/ wilted spinach, pernod, parmesan cream

king crab louie w/ deviled egg, baby lettuce, heirloom tomato

french fries w/ black truffle aioli

valrhona chocolate custard w/ red velvet cake, pecans, cocoa nib ice cream

And that was dinner.  I definitely enjoyed Happy Hour at Comme Ca more.  We went and got a cab.  We had tickets for Wayne Brady at the Mirage.  The cab driver didn't turn on the meter and talked on his bluetooth the entire ride.  I wasn't sure what to make of this.  When we arrived, he said he forgot the meter and the fare is $15 but make it $8.50 and God Bless us and enjoy the cheap fare.  I gave him $12.  I guessed the fare would be about $10 so I was fine with that.

We spent the end of our daily gambling budget at the Mirage.  I thought I'd be smarter and buy a drink at a bar pre-show and save money as no cocktail waitresses came by while we played.  A vodka/soda cost me $14 pre-tip so not so much.  And he did a really cheap pour on it too.  Exactly one ounce...

We made our way to the Terry Fator theatre and waited.  Wayne was about fifteen minutes late starting. Below is the only picture I took inside, pre-show:

The show was AWESOME!!!  So many laughs!  He did improv with the audience and it truly was laugh out loud funny.  This was definitely the best show of the trip.  My son agreed.  After it was over, we stopped by Carnegie Deli got a Hard Salami sandwich to go for tomorrow.  We walked back to Vdara and I went straight to bed and was out like a light.

Sunday, January 5th. A.K.A. Last day:

We had a wake up call for seven as we were going on a tour to Hoover Dam.  I had bought a Groupon for this.  When I answered the phone, a very pleasant voice said, "Good Morning Ms. K, this is (name) with your 7 am wake up call. The temperature is currently 36 degrees. Could I assist with ordering you breakfast or do anything else for you?"  I declined and she asked if she should call me back in fifteen minutes.  I agreed.  That was the nicest wake up call I've had.

I got ready, woke my son and we were in the Aria bus tour area for 9:15. The bus was there at 9:30.  I was glad we brought the salami sandwich with us and ate half each at about 11am on the road.

Our driver was OMFG annoying to me, but I let it go as I was tired but he just wouldn't shut up and laughed at his own stories.  And, he had story after story after story.  Like, did you know - he worked at Area 51 and saw Alien Spacecraft being flown and tested?  Yup, he could tell us about it because he didn't sign anything.  He was a master of all trades it seemed but Jack of none.  I could go on and on...Thankfully my son and I used the humour in this to laugh about our day.

 The Power Plant

We were given tickets to the Power Plant tour so we did that first as you are pretty much escorted to do it first.  We had two hours to cover what we wanted to do so I couldn't take the main tour which is what I wanted.  The power plant one took about 45 minutes and then we were on our own.  We went to the Overlook to see the dam, picture below:

Looking down at the Colorado River

Everyone got back on the bus and we were told we were going for another "view" shot of the dam and there was a store we could shop at too.  Below is the view shot:

And then it was off to the Ethel M Chocolate Factory.  I really didn't want to do this, but I just sat back and listened to more stories from our driver.  Here was one as we passed a huge Target store from him, 

"OK, so over at three o'clock on the right, you must have just seen we passed a mall.  Yup, that's what it was, a mall.  I don't know what the name of it was, or what stores were there actually.  But, did you know that malls were the place to hang out in the seventies and eighties?  Yup, they were"....

Shortly after, thank goodness, we arrived.  The cacti in the botanical garden still all had Xmas lights on.  I wished it was evening.  We didn't buy any chocolates but my son bought a mocha coffee and said it was very good.

A half hour later we were on our way back.  I won't go into all the "stories" from our driver and torture you like he did me.  We arrived at Aria about 4pm.  I went and had a well needed glass of wine and took a long soak in the tub!

I looked online for dinner reservations at Aria and we decided on Julian Serrano because there was a $59 three course prix fixe menu between 5 and 7pm.  We booked for seven.  We arrived, were seated but no set menu arrived.  I asked our server.  He said it is only valid between 5 and 7.  I said, "It is 7pm exactly, we were seated 5 minutes before".  Then he told me there was no prix fixe menus for a couple of weeks but he could make us one if we wanted.  So, I asked him to show me then.  So he pointed out a couple of choices for appy & entree and I asked about dessert.  He said no dessert and the price would not be $59 either.  So I asked him what then?  He said, "Whatever is on the menu".  So I stood up and thanked him but told him we were leaving...OMG.  :)

We decided to try Sirio but it was closed on Sundays so we walked over to the Cosmopolitan and decided to try D.O.C.G.  I really enjoyed Scarpetta on a previous visit so thought I'd give this one a try.

Service started slow and not very good but I decided to be patient.  Our second waiter was the best the entire evening and I thought he should switch places with the head waiter.  We shared three starters:

ESCAROLE & KALE SALAD - caesar dressing $13

PANCETTA WRAPPED PRAWNS - rosemary lentils $18

ARANCINI - calabiran chile aioli $11

The salad was slightly under-dressed being the opposite of the usual salad issues, though we still ate it all up no problem.  The shrimp were very good and tasty.  The heads on were a nice touch and they were cooked perfectly.  The star though was those arancini.  OMG, divine!  I could have ate that plate and been happy.

PROSCIUTTO - arugula & parmigiano $25

BRAISED SHORT RIB - potato puree & vegetables $28

SALTED CARAMEL BUDINO - pretzel toffee $11

My son had the pizza and said it was very good for Neapolitan style, one of the better ones he's had.  The short ribs were fork tender though I have had better including my own.  Our waiter said the above dessert was voted "best in Vegas".  It was very good for the one spoon I tasted.  My son is more the dessert expert.  He loved it.

We enjoyed the meal a lot but I'd go back to Scarpetta before here.  Scarpetta's bread basket is way better too.  We went and gambled in the Cosmo casino.  I won  $220 so I gave my son $40 because he was losing and pretty much out of money.

We went back to Aria and I ended up down $60 for the evening, he was flat broke!   We decided we should quit while ahead, sort of.  We went back to the room, I typed the report and stared out at the beautiful view of lights (none of those pictures turned out) and realized how much I was going to miss this sweet suite!  I would return to Vdara any time.  I never found the location a problem at all and we were on the strip in under 10 minutes when we wanted to be.

Saying good-bye to our beautiful view of the Bellagio Fountains

As always, I'll be looking forward to my return.  Hopefully it will be in May this year with my BFF.  (I already have the week booked off at work). 


  1. Great trip report, thank you for writing it and giving us inspiration for our visit to Vegas!

  2. A great trip report indeed! I especially like that you are so into the food and that you talk about the prices, too. This makes your whole experience much more vivid - at least for me ;) I often wondered how the other food specials looked like that I didn't order. I think the menu changed a little since then at Gordon Ramsay's, though..but it was rather delicious, most of the time. I was once at the Aria and really enjoyed dining there. I read that the two voucher-thing didn't work for you. I think maybe you were a little too demanding because it worked well for me and my boyfriend the last time we visited..hmm. When I was the first time in Vegas I didn't know that though, I just found us a cheap hotel deal for the night online :) maybe you should rather try this next time!