…was the city’s follow up attempt to their famous “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” slogan. I’m pretty sure I hate it, but Vegas has a way of clouding ones judgement into thinking it’s okay to try to try to shove your way backstage at a Tiësto concert by insisting you’re his beloved second cousin, for a completely unspecific non-personal example, so I can see where the tourism board might have thought it was the best idea ever.
Anyway, where were we? Two days into our Sin City getaway, and our Vegas was definitely showing. It was Saturday morning, and Liz, Kristin and I set our sights on the Tao Beach pool party. Once again, my fabulous friend Abby had gotten us on a guest list, meaning we sailed past the line and directly into the madness. And about ten minutes later we were sprinting back out. Vegas pool parties are very subjective and while Tao was brimming with bikini-clad twenty somethings having the time of their lives, in our delicate conditions it was simply sensory overload. As we made our way to the exit I remarked that everyone as Tao Beach seemed to be staring in their own personal reality TV show, and Liz laughed like it was the funniest thing she’d ever heard. Have I mentioned how much I like Liz?
We retreated back down The Strip to Liquid, The Aria’s pool and lounge, and sighed with bliss. It was exactly what we craved. Size-wise, Liquid is somewhere inbetween Tao Beach, which is teeny tiny, and Wet Republic, which is enormous. Energy-wise, there was a party going on but it was nowhere near the mayhem levels we had fled at Tao, a trait we attributed to the slightly older crowd.
Basically, there’s nowhere my Big Bird bikini would have rather been. The day took a turn for perfect when we bumped into the group we’d hung with at Wet Republic the day before, who had splurged on a cabana and all the goodies that come along with it. Once again we selflessly volunteered to help meet them meet their food and drink minimum, and they reciprocated that kindness with some much-appreciated twerking demonstrations.
No offense to my first two trips to Vegas, but after this third one I don’t think I’ll ever go again outside pool season. There’s just no better way to spend a day in the desert than sipping on mango mojitos with your feet in the pool.
The pool closed at 5:00pm, which was a welcome excuse to head back to our Vdara suite for a siesta. While after the day we’d had I probably could have slept through ’till the next morning, you don’t go to Vegas to sleep. We didn’t want to fuss with a fancy dinner or fighting for a reservation, so we made our way down to Bar Vdara to indulge in some stress-free warm-up drinks and bites instead.
While the cocktails were sweet and the flatbreads and sliders delicious, it was the warm churros that won my heart. If you stay at Vdara and miss out on these, you are simply doing Vegas wrong. It was the perfect pre-show stop before heading next door to The Aria for Zarkana.
Zarkana was every bit as magical as I’d expected my first Cirque show to be. From the oversized sofa seating to the score sung entirely in a fantasy language to the acrobats quite literally flying over my head, Cirque de Soleil transported us to another world in that theater.
The most unexpected detail was seeing the concentration on the performer’s faces as they attempted to psych themselves up before a big move. It kind of jolted me back to reality and reminded me that I was not in a fantasy universe where no one could get hurt — these were real people doing unreal things, and occasionally the inevitable happens. I was on the edge of my cherry-red sofa.
After the show, we were looking for somewhere to get sentimental about our final night on The Strip, and with it’s unbeatable views and rooftop swagger, Mix fit the bill pretty perfectly.
Within moments of Abby showing up — or as I like to call her, The Queen of Vegas, we were escorted to a table with complimentary bottle service overlooking all the neon jungle below. Well, you know what they say, right? When in Vegas, do as the ballers do.
Guys, that is definitely how that saying goes.
And check out this bathroom. While I can’t promise you’ll get comped a bottle if you go to Mix, I can promise that you too can pee with this view over Vegas. Which I’m pretty sure we can all agree is the next best thing.
Though we could have easily called it quits at that point and patted ourselves on the back for a day well done, we had one more stop to make — the Ling Ling Lounge at Hakkasan.
“Get ratchet ladies!,” the elevator operator called out to us as the doors closed. “What does that even mean?,” we asked each other. Leaving the packed club and booming dance floor an hour later, Kristin turned to us and declared straight faced that she now knew what ratchet was. And with that peal of laughter, we finally ended the night.
Sunday was a much slower speed. With an evening flight back to Albany, we took the day to recover from the hedonism of the weekend without stepping foot outside our hotel. The Vdara pool is deliciously unscene-y, and the prices reflect that. While a daybed at Liquid carries a thousand dollar food and drink minimum, you can snag one for fifty bucks at Vdara — including a pitcher of refreshing cocktails.
Our day passes gave us access to the sauna, steam room and whirlpool, as well as the lounge and all the snacks and healthy juices we wanted. But best of all we had use of the showers, blowdryers, and toiletries we needed to get travel-ready without tearing apart our suitcases.
For us the spa saved the day in allowing us to refresh after a day at the pool and before our evening flights. At $28 for a day pass, it’s around the same price as two people splitting late checkout, which I overheard another guest forking over $60 for. I know which option I’d go for.
And with that, we were leaving Las Vegas. One thing that’s not a gamble? I’ll be back soon. I just can’t seem to stay away from this particular desert playground — especially when I’ve got my partners in crime along with me.
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Many thanks to Vdara for providing us with a complimentary day bed, spa passes, and Bar Vdara experience, and to Cirque de Soleil for inviting us to Zarkana. As always, you receive my honest opinions regardless of who is footing the bill.