What Happens in Vegas…
… goes on the internet. Is that not how the saying goes? It does now!
Many moons ago (I mean not that many moons, how old do you think I am, jeez?) my girl Kristin and two of our other partners in crime from high school jetted off to Sin City for our twenty-first birthdays. Our Hangover-style hijinks from that trip have gone down in friendship history and Kristin and I have been laughing over them ever since. We’ve always talked about going back and with Kris about to sign on for a demanding medical degree, we figured it was high time we go make some new good old days.
Our first order of business was getting a good hotel deal, which finally came in the form of Travelzoo‘s weekly email blast. You have to jump on those deals fast, and so when we spied an enticing deal for Vdara, we pounced — and snagged the last available dates in April. Our final take? Thursday through Sunday in a Vdara suite for $220 each, including taxes and resort fees. That’s $73 a night each for a five-star property on the Vegas strip!
The Vdara is flanked on each side by the two fabulous hotels I’ve stayed in on previous trips to Vegas — The Aria and The Cosmopolitan — so I figured it was at least in good company. As a relatively small non-gaming and non-smoking property, Vdara definitely has a more relaxed atmosphere than more places on the strip, and I was a little nervous leading up to the trip that it wouldn’t be the right fit for us.
Turns out Vdara was steps away from the frenetic energy of its neighbors, and was a calming oasis to return to when we needed a break from the madness.
Can we talk about this suite? Because it was all kinds of wonderful. Now, I know you can get some super cheap $39 hotel rooms on the Strip. And you know I love me some grungy hostels. Heck, I spent two weeks out of the last year sleeping in tents! But not in Vegas. In Vegas, it’s five star or bust.
We really appreciated touches like having a mini-fridge and a microwave, and being able to open and close the blackout shades with the (hungover) touch of a button. And don’t even get me started on that cloud of a bed.
Our views weren’t bad either — The Bellagio fountains in one direction and the sprawling city of Las Vegas in the other.
But one quick note to fellow Vegas deal seekers — the company we booked our Travelzoo voucher with, Jet Luxury Resorts, had some drawbacks. When we arrived, we sweet talked the guy at the front desk into giving us an upgrade, and letting us check in early. Score! But, actually not. He couldn’t, because we had booked through Jet Luxury Resorts. And after the first day we were surprised to see housekeeping hadn’t come. But, jokes on us — housekeeping cost an extra $40 a day, because we had booked through Jet Luxury Resorts (we passed). So while we got a good deal, there were some drawbacks.
But back to business — after landing on our direct flight from Albany (love you for that one, Southwest!) we spent the afternoon decompressing by the pool, toasting to the trip with some early afternoon cocktails. And why shouldn’t every hour be happy, I ask?
We kicked off our night early with a casual meal at Hecho in Vegas in the MGM Grand, which I can highly recommend for the tableside guacamole-making as well as the delish tacos. But what really set the tone for a great weekend was when we were sent a round of tequila shots from a nearby table of crematorium construction crew — true story. Oh, Las Vegas, how I love you and your limitless possibilities for amusing anecdotes!
Afterwards, we took ourselves back to Vdara to enjoy the bottle of champagne Kristin’s boyfriend had had sent to our room (future men in my life, take notes). And I mean we really enjoyed it.
At some point we remembered that there was a party going on somewhere outside our hotel room, and we went to go join it. After being unimpressed with the scene at The Aria’s Haze we retreated back to MGM Grand, where a promoter had sold us on trying out Hakkasan. We loved it — it was a massive, multi-level club with music we were seriously feeling.
Now, I don’t write in much detail about my after-hours activities on Alex in Wanderland, and I can assure you that’s because I can’t remember. Just kidding, it’s because they follow a pretty standard formula of mayhem that doesn’t need spelled out over and over. I can say that one special memory of this particular night was dollar bills raining from the ceiling, dollar bills that were later found located in my Spanx. I mean, I’m pretty sure my clutch would have been an equally great location to store them, but who am I to argue with myself after a bottle of champagne?
We were back in bed by about 2am which is basically grandma hour in Vegas time, but in our defense we had been awake more than 24 hours at that point due to the time change and our early morning flight. The benefit though was that we were up relatively early in order to make our way to Wet Republic’s Friday pool party! I was super excited to be checking out my first Vegas pool party, even more so since my girl Abby had our names put on the list. Just say no to standing in line in a bikini.
One thing you should know about Wet Republic — aside from the fact that “stylish upscale swim attire” is required, *snort* — is that you can’t bring anything larger than a nightclub clutch inside. So we were forced to check our beach bags for five bucks and carry in our phones, sunscreen, chapstick and other poolside necessities by hand.
When we asked one of the bouncers about it, he said it was to keep the poolside looking neat — um, wouldn’t it be nicer looking to let ladies put their clothes and other items into their bags rather than have piles of random stuff lying around? Clearly, we were not consulted.
Regardless, we had a great time at Wet Republic. As we were walking in we recognized a group that we’d chatted with briefly on our way out of Hakkasan the night before. They were splurging on poolside table service and we selflessly volunteered to help them meet their food and drink minimum for the day. We’re just nice girls like that.
It was everything I pictured a Vegas day club to be — loud music, beat synchronized splashing, bikini clad bartenders, and poolside twerk lessons.
After a serious siesta session back at the room, it was time to tackle Friday night on the Strip. We were joined by one of our dear friends from high school, Liz, who has relocated to Las Vegas for work and agreed to come party like a tourist with us for the weekend.
First up? Dinner at STK in The Cosmopolitan. Splurging there was one of my favorite experiences of my last Vegas trip, and I was not shy about pulling strings to get a table a second time. Hilariously, Liz chose our meal at a renown steakhouse to break the news to that she’s gone vegan (she knew how excited I’d been about STK and didn’t want to rain on my parade when I got the reservation) but the chef was amazingly accommodating. STK is basically a nightclub where they serve sixty dollar steaks, but we managed to have a heartfelt catchup while dancing in our seats. I can’t recommend STK more highly — but if you want to eat there on the weekend, make your reservation as soon as you book your flight.
Post-dinner we beelined for Chandelier bar, my favorite bar on the Strip. It was every bit as good as I remembered from the cocktail tasting I’d done there the year before. Each level of the bar, which literally sits within a three story chandelier, has a different cocktail menu, with level 1.5 being my favorite.
After seriously studying the menu I went for a Film Noir — an unbeatable mix of run, cardamom tea, movie theater buttered popcorn syrup, Olorosso sherry, and a garnish of popcorn. Liz ordered the Pioneer Woman, which was made up of fig and walnut infused Bourbon, butternut squash puree, and housemade pecan liquer, and topped with a toasted marshmallow bruleed foam. I don’t say this loosely, but these cocktails were worth ever penny of the $14 they cost. Can we get these guys some mixology awards up in here or what?
After, a promoter pulled us towards Rose Rabbit Lie, the Cosmo’s newest nightlife venture. I was super excited to check it out after hearing so much hype (including a comparison to the unreal Sleep No More) but we were shocked to see it was basically empty. We downed our free drinks and sought out livelier pastures.
Strangely, our night continued in a similar fashion — we showed up at club after club that was eerily empty, to the point that at one point I whipped out my iPhone to see if there was some kind of natural disaster evacuation warning we had somehow missed. Granted we had gotten a late start to our night, but even Liz confirmed she had never seen Vegas so dead. Later we discovered there had been a major boxing event and a big name DJ at the MGM Grand that “all of Vegas attended!” We were able to confirm that that was no exaggeration.
But you can’t have a bad night with good company, and so it still went down in the books as a smashing success — especially since this time, these grandmas stayed out almost till the sun came up.
Stay tuned for Part II!
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Many thanks to STK for our fabulous dinner. As always, you receive my honest opinions regardless of who is footing the bill.
I definitely regret not going to a pool party when I was in Vegas a few years ago! And those cocktails sound strangely delicious.
They were delicious! And yeah, I’m planning all my Vegas trips around pool season from now on!
I have never wanted to go to Vegas as an adult so much as after reading this post! This looks so fun! And those cocktails sound ridiculous…ly amazing.
They were — you can’t keep me away from Chandelier Bar! Definitely time to make it back to Vegas for you 🙂
Um yeah, embarrassing to admit that I’m 28 (yeah I said it), have lived my whole adult life somewhere in CA, and still have never been to Vegas? I’m a fun failure! Haha.
I still haven’t been to Vegas grrrrrr it looks so fun! I’m afraid when I finally go I’ll be old, boring, and not want to party like the dumb kid I am now! I definitely want to try that steak house, but need to lose about 10 pounds before any upscale bikini wearing
The thing I love about Vegas is that EVERYONE is partying, EVERYONE is there to have a good time and EVERYONE belongs 🙂 And ha — you made me laugh with your upscale bikini wearing comment!
That hotel room looks like a dream! I’m feeling a little jealous as I sit here in my modest little homestay in Colombia. But seriously it looks like you definitely succeeded in the making some new good old days department 🙂
Ha, I feel you! Take a look at the roundup I posted this week about my accommodation breakdown for the year — this is not the norm for me! But it definitely feels fun to splurge.
Oh my god Alex, I’ve just read this post, which was great by the way and feel so oooold. You are fantastic!
My daughter and I would like to have our joint birthdays in Vegas – when I will be celebrating the big 50 and Chloé her 21st.
Two and a bit years to go until that time yet. So watch this space!!! 🙂
There’s no better place for a big birthday! 🙂 I’m sure you guys will absolutely love it!
Sounds like so much fun! You so make me want to go to Vegas with my girl friends 🙂
Do it! There’s nowhere like it for a girlfriend getaway 🙂
Umm… what is “stylish upscale swim attire”
Um, check out what we are wearing! Ha, just kidding… I think they basically just don’t want people wearing swim team swimsuits 🙂
Yeah, you are totally stylin’ 🙂
Those cocktails sound amazing! And what could be better than in-club steak! Really sounds like an awesome girls getaway 🙂
I mean technically it’s a restaurant, but it feels like a nightclub, and everyone is definitely on their way out to the clubs 🙂 So much fun!
Ok Alex, so MyVegas on Facebook. It’s a game (promise I’m not spamming, I’m a regular reader!). You can earn free Vegas goodies. I’ve cashed coins in for everything from free rooms to cirque du soleil tickets and champagne brunches! Promise…it’s takes some time, but literally just collect the coins daily and put it on auto spin while you go about your business on the web. It adds up. Cheers!
I’ve seen this MyVegas stuff all over in Vegas but never knew what it was! I am actually going to check that out, thanks so much for the tip!
haha – dollar bills in your spanx, that’s so something I would do. I haven’t been to Vegas in a few years – it makes a great girls trip. I would splurge on the luxury too!
I’m up to splurge for luxury once in a while — but it has to be a good deal 🙂
What a fabulous weekend and it is great to relive great experiences with great friends.
Nice choice of hotel but shame on no maid service. I also didn’t realise non-gaming hotels existed in Vegas.
I’m with you on that no queuing whilst in a bikini, I hate that! 😉
Yes, there are a few non-gaming properties right on the Strip! This was my first time in one and we quite enjoyed it — no smoke, and a bit calmer to retreat to!
Looks like you had a blast! Vegas is so fun! And STK is so yummy 🙂
It’s amazing, right? I know next time I’m in Vegas I’ll end up there again despite my best intention to try something new!
Sounds like you did Vegas right! I would love to go back there with money one day and be able to splurge
Yeah, Vegas isn’t a place I would go to scrimp and save. Splashing out on a nice hotel (though I think we got an amazing deal) and nice cocktails and whatnot was a great choice.
Such decadence … I think I need to get off my butt and finally get to Vegas after all these years of dreaming about it!
Indeed you do! I can’t get enough of this town 🙂
Vegas is always a good time! I haven’t been back in a few years and it always seems like the “next hottest club” is always changing.
Sucks for no maid service but thanks for letting us know about that tid bit for the future.
Yeah, I’m still happy with the great deal we got but it would have been nice to understand the limitations when we booked. Hope this helps someone else!
When I went to Vegas for the third time, everyone told me I HAD to go to Marquee. But instead, we ended up going to Hakkasan and let me tell ya, it was HANDS DOWN the best night of the entire trip. I had such a blast there, and it looks like you did too 🙂
Word to the wise: do NOT buy 6 shots of fireball and a Budlight at Hakkasan. Your bill may or may come to $120 – oops! What happens in Vegas…
Ha, there should be a new saying — What happens in Vegas, ends up on your credit card bill 🙂
I am going to Vegas this Friday (so beyond excited) and we are staying at Vdara which we booked through a 3rd party and we found out it’s through Jet Luxury Vacations as well. Tell me all you can remember about your room. I am a little nervous because I’ve heard good and bad things. We land in Vegas at 9AM on Friday morning so I really hope we can check in early but I doubt it. Any tips, I would really appreciate.
Hey Alisia! Everything I can remember is in this post 🙂 I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time! If you can’t check in early, you can always store your bags and hang by the pool while you wait.
How did you get the hookup with STK? Did you go through a VIP host or did they just comp your meal while you were there?
I work with the PR team at Cosmopolitan, Ashley! 🙂
Ahh gotcha. Well you are great at your job! We are headed to Vegas for my bachelorette party in August and decided to check out STK. Thanks for the review!
Awesome! I can’t think of a better place for a bachelorette than STK! Definitely tell them what you’re there for… and head to Marquee after!