Tripping Down Memory Lane Spring Break Trip Report Part III

All good things and great vacations come to an end. Tripping Down Memory Lane Spring Break Trip Report Part III winds down our 2008 spring break trip to Las Vegas in getting back to Vegas basics style.

Filling In The Vegas Days and Nights: Hotels, Casinos & Restaurants 

Venetian ~

Spending the afternoon at Venetian surrounded by copies of and renditions of famous Italian works and decor was the plan for our Thursday afternoon. The machines, bonus rounds and green felt covered tables will take a backseat to sightseeing and lunch at Grand Lux Cafe at Venetian.

Venetian-domevia

I get into the theme of it all and appreciate it for what it is- a gorgeous imitation of inspired artistic works of architectural wonder.

Venetian-ceilingvia

People often comment negatively in regards to Grand Lux as a dining choice while in Las Vegas.  “It’s a chain. Why in the world are you eating at a chain restaurant?”

Grand-Lux-food

How do we love Grand Lux Cafe?   Let us deliciously count the ways:

The food is always excellent.  See images above.

The menu offers a wide variety of delicious something for everyone dishes.

The dining room design and decor is lovely.

The price is right.

If it ain’t broke…

I did not break with my dining at Grand Lux tradition ordering the seafood salad and a shared order of double-stuffed potato spring rolls. Dave ordered the fish and chips and gave it 4 forks out of a possible 5 review. The casino at Venetian was packed. I played $1 Top Dollar slots with no big wins. Dave didn’t fare too well at the tables so he was in hot pursuit of a $1 Double Top Dollar slot machine to play. We both love Top Dollar and Pinball.  I did not receive an ounce of respect, love or pay from the numerous Top Dollar or Pinball machines I played during this session.  I now fondly refer to them as “sucker machines” and Dave now fondly refers to me as a sore loser.  If it was in the cards for me to be a loser, at least the rocking band playing at La Scena (casino floor lounge that sadly is no more) was churning out some fantastic music.  Win, lose or draw I like to get my boogie on.  We have boogied to really fantastic lounge acts playing the casino lounges. That part of old Vegas is slowly going away too.  My parents tell of the now famous singers they saw years ago in Las Vegas when the entertainers were up and coming lounge acts.

Paris  ~

I got it together earlier than usual so we could be on our way to lunch at the Paris Le Village buffet.

Paris-Las-Vegas-Dining-Buffet-Le-Village-Buffet-1.jpg.stdimg.hd.xlLe Village Buffet at Paris

I knew I would want to play before lunch and also figured the line to be seated could be rather long on a Friday afternoon.  I could not squeak out a win, but left the casino floor for the buffet line even. That’s always a win in my book!  The lunch at Le Village was good, but this is a buffet that shines at breakfast. Dave pointed out the French onion soup and I informed him I had worked the French onion soup enough for a while. However, the crepe station did call out to me and I answered apple with raspberries, blueberries and crème fraîche, se il vous plaît.  5 forks out of 5 very French c’est si bon forks.

Paris-slotsvia

Moving Day: From Treasure Island to Rio We Go

I packed the room up with a cup of in-room brewed strong Louisiana coffee in hand. Traveling with a coffee pot isn’t for everyone, but we do it for two reasons.  In extremely short order after my eyes pop open in the morning and my feet hit the floor or carpet I need coffee- hot, fresh and Louisiana strong.  I also like to have a cup or two in the afternoons or early evening when we are relaxing in the room before dinner or a show or just regrouping.  The other reason is pure economics I swear we would go broke by the third day in town feeding our coffee fix.  A fellow Vegas travel nut cued me in on a coffee pot travel tip.

walgreens

There are several Walgreens and CVS locations up and down the Las Vegas Strip. Pop in a pick up a coffee maker and supplies and ignore the initial sticker shock investment.  It will pay for itself within the first day. If you don’t want to contend with packing it up and carting it home, simply leave it in the room. Easy peasy.  It is ridiculous what hotels charge for coffee ordered from room service or in the coffee shops, and speaking of coffee shops- coffee shops are quickly becoming an extinct dining option on the Strip.  I am not the biggest fan of the buffet, but for breakfast dining the beverage selection and cost included reasons this to be a reasonable option.  Dave went down to visit with the host with positive results. We checked out over the television and said goodbye to Treasure Island.

 cokevia

Our host at the Rio met us at VIP-Diamond check in and assigned us a room in the Ipanema Tower.  The room reminded me of the suites at the Stardust we loved. These rooms impress me more in terms of size and layout vs decor. Various tell-tale signs give the age of the property away, but nothing we can’t live with for five nights.  We got our gambling on for about an hour, and finally I declared victory with a $$$ win on a five-line .25 3X  4X  5X machine in front of the performing stage. Cocktail service at Rio was fast and frequent. My server took my Coke order. “Is Pepsi okay?” My “not in this lifetime” answer produced a chuckle on his part. I changed my order to a Shirley Temple (I was on the hard stuff this afternoon) and returned to my play. In a flash he returns with his own version of comedy with a “You had the ice-cold Pepsi?”  I spun my seat around to find him standing there holding my ST with the biggest grin on his face.  We both laughed and he became my cheering section for a big win.  The time clock was ticking for me to be back to the room to get ready for Cher.  Time clocks can be a good thing or a very bad thing when gambling.  It was a good thing this go round and the $$$ win money made it to the room.

Cheesecake-Factory-Forum-Shopsvia

I covered the Cher experience in a previous installment. We hit The Cheesecake Factory in The Forum Shops for our post show dinner of a shared pepperoni pizza, strawberry shortcake and two glasses of Riesling. Very tasty.

strawberry-cheese-cake-grand-lux

Happy Birthday, Dave!  Shopping for birthday gifts and perhaps something new for both of us to wear to the birthday celebration dinner this evening is the plan, and Vegas knows shopping. Dave was a sport and kept me company while I spent the afternoon shopping at the Fashion Show Mall.  Starbucks supplied our very light lunch break of shared pastry and coffees- just a quick bite of something to keep a headache at bay.  Our plan for the birthday celebration evening was for a quiet and relaxing dinner at the Range Steakhouse at Harrah’s (presently Ruth’s Chris). We enjoyed dinner at The Range so much on our last trip.  We were seated by the window and with James as our waiter (requested). His personality and professionalism adds to the evening.  Dave started with the lobster bisque and I selected the blue cheese and fresh apple salad. For our entrees we both ordered the 12 oz. center cut pork chop and shared Yukon gold mashed potatoes.  The manager knew we were celebrating Dave’s birthday and sent over the most fantastic chocolate cake with strawberries and coffee for two.  The food presentation and preparation was done very well.  The service and the wait staff could not have been more professional or friendly, and it all equaled a memorable birthday meal in Vegas.

Rio

We were dressed and waiting in the Rio valet at 8:15 AM Wednesday. Trust me, I am not the up and dressed and ready to greet the day while on vacation kind of girl.  By the time of day and level of enthusiasm, Dave realized I was serious about this slot tournament. I grabbed the keys, gave the valet a good morning hello and it was touchdown Flamingo events area.

Flamingo-hotel-Vegas

The tournament was open to all Total Rewards card holders so Dave put down a few $20’s and we were registered for 10:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 12:30 PM, 1:00 PM, and finally 2:00 PM. Wow! That’s a lot of hope and fun packed into a late morning and early afternoon at the dirty bird, and you would think we had a snowball’s chance in the desert of winning. Goodness knows as many times as we entered we sure thought we did! We didn’t even come close to placing, but we had an absolute ball trying.

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The last day in Vegas gives me a pit in my stomach no words can describe. Staying busy cures it.  Gambling for this trip was officially over.  I had not been able to win enough to make it accumulate over what I started with, and the wins were too far apart from each other to save me.  I find it is easier to swallow if I quit without too much damage to the initial bankroll. The suggestion of In-N-Out Burger for lunch and a business mixed with pleasure venture was met with no complaints. We headed out to dine in style and visit a few design and antiques shops.

4950783496_cff6e4382c_bIn-N-Out Burger

We saw parts of Vegas new to us, and I lucked up on a few items I could easily pack. We grabbed a couple of coffees, parked and watched the airplanes landing and taking off from McCarran International.  I must admit after nine full days and nights in Vegas this was a nice change.  We caught a couple of afternoon fountain shows at Bellagio and it was Monte Carlo time.

bellagio-fountains

Dave and I discovered the Wizard of Oz penny slots complete with flying monkeys, the yellow brick road and the wizard himself.  The graphics and sound effects are amazing, and Oz turned out to be a magical place.  I put in a $5 voucher and cashed out with $$$ for a nice win.  The beautiful Glenda appeared to me in bonus round goodness resulting in the big hit.  I could become addicted to these machines with no problem.  There’s no place like home and Vegas on a sunny winning afternoon.

Vegas-sunrise

The Friday going home wake up call came at 5:30 AM with coffee shortly after. We checked out of Rio and at the car rental return by 9:15 AM.  We were through security and to Continental gate D 20 with fifty minutes to spare.  I took in the final sights of the Strip from my window seat on the airplane.  I settled in for the three-hour flight with good tunes, better memories and big plans for our next trip.  Getting home to a full house of family and friends on Hurricane Gustav alert and all he dumped on Central Louisiana naturally put priorities where they should be. Normalcy is back in our reach and has allowed me to share with you my trip report.  The overall casual tone was the right way to go for us this Vegas trip.  It was easy on the schedule, expectations and the wallet. I wasted no time bringing to Dave’s attention with all the money saved this trip it would be stupid not to book another trip out to our desert oasis within the next six months.  My logic has him thinking about it.  Then again, my logic always has me thinking about Vegas.

Thanks to all who have stayed with the reading.

 

images: The Cheesecake Factory, Grand Lux Cafe, Rio All-Suite Hotel, Google

Tales of Road and Sky: Vacation Trip Reports

The Places In The Home gang will not be taking a vacation until later this year, so to feed my traveling jones I’m living vicariously through vacation trip reports from readers, friends and family this summer. Thanks to the tales of road and sky journaled through the lenses of varied mobile device cameras, I’ve traveled to Tennessee, North Carolina, Crete, Las Vegas, Toronto, Cocoa Beach, Destin, Georgia,  Seattle and New Orleans.  Incoming vacation trip reports show the traveling masses are living up to my travel motto.

vacation trip reports

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I called our son this morning to ask if he would mind me posting this picture of him and his girlfriend from their June trip to Las Vegas.  He thought about it for a minute and in his characteristically witty manner replied, “You have my Viva Las Vegas permission.”

J&K VegasBellagio Conservatory & Botancial Gardens, Las Vegas, Nevada

A picture tells the story long after the vacation ends.

Crete1Balos Beach Crete, Greece

The intended purpose of a vacation is fun,

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Lake-BurtonLake Burton, Georgia

and fun is always in style.

LB-porch

A fun accent piece makes for an interesting conversation piece, a fun night out with friends knocks at the door of nice to see you again, and a punch of fun color shows off the ever appropriate sense of spontaneity.

Eiffel-tower1Eiffel Tower – Paris Hotel

Music is the ultimate traveling companion. It’s the soundtrack memories dance to.  I put as much thought into selecting our travel tunes as I do the travel itinerary.  It’s very High Fidelity.  Gosh, what is it with me and movies references this week?  The music we travel to stays on the mind and the memory, and believe me, I speak from experience.   My dad decided one extended summer trip many summers ago that since he was a Willie Nelson fan the entire family was going to become Willie Nelson fans, like it or not.  Before the seat belts were buckled and the tires had cleared the driveway our self-appointed travel DJ popped Stardust by Willie Nelson into the cassette player (told you it was many moons ago).  The cassette played and played over the mountains and through the woods all the way to grandmother’s house and back.  As much as we bitched and protested about it then, we have never forgotten that trip nor that album. To bring it all home, guess what comes in as my number one  playlist starred under travel tunes?  The music is good, but the memories are what makes it great.

Where are you going on your next vacation? What music will be making your travel playlist?  Share your vacation trip reports here!

Love your style!

Pretty Up Your Travel Plans With Marriott Destinations Information

There’s no place like home, but there’s beautiful places and spaces that do a fabulous job of stylishly standing in.  For the holidays, memorable milestone days or discovering new highways and byways, the gift of travel travels well.

luggage tagsvia

 

Merriam-Webster gives more than one definition of the word vacation, but the general scenario we’re all looking for is:

Vacation:

1:  a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation

2:  a respite or a time of respite from something

world travelvia

 

One of the best and most memorable Christmas gifts I ever received was a trip to Las Vegas.  The window of time from “Hey baby, let’s go to Vegas” to “we would like to begin the boarding process” was super small. Fun in the desert sun details kept me searching, hopping and quite frankly, second-guessing if I had covered the travel information bases.  An informed traveler is a savings savvy traveler of time, money and second-guesses.

suitcasesvia

Where do you want to go on vacation?  Eight lovely words, don’t you think? Marriott does.  Marriott International is a leading hospitality company with over 3,800 properties in over 74 countries and territories around the world. Choosing the destination is only one part of the exploration equation.  You’ve got sights to see and places to go.  Hello, Marriott Destinations information for all things know where to go because being in the destination loop need not be an exhaustive exercise in travel what to dos.  If ringing in the New Year New York City style is on the travel agenda,  this New York City’s Five Boroughs infographic from the team at Marriott New York Hotels is a must read. 

Marriott NYC infographic

New York City’s Five Boroughs – An infographic by the team at Marriott New York Hotels

Bright neon lights of another city calling your name?  Even if you’re on a budget, Las Vegas can be a great destination for a fun, yet inexpensive getaway.  Here’s an example of valuable Welcome to Las Vegas info from the in the know folks at Marriott Las Vegas Hotels.  Planning your trip during the weekdays or the off-season time of July-August results in deals hotter than the desert temps.  Cha-ching!  That’s one way to win in Vegas.  The Las Vegas on a budget infographic gives the scoop on how to get the most out of your trip.

Marriott Destinations information

Las Vegas on a Budget – An infographic by the team at Marriott Las Vegas Hotels

 

From first hand travel experience, destination information saves valuable time (the most important travel commodity) and gives you the all important pre-trip info on the places high on your list of what to see and where to go.  Attention to detail is an important aspect of successful travel plans.  Travel in savvy style and pretty up your travel plans with Marriott Destinations information.

 

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, however all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

 

To Protect And Conserve In Sustainable WaterSense Style & Pfister Faucets Giveaway Opportunity News

As you all may know from reading my blog, my parents live with me and Dave the Builder.  My darling mother’s father preached water conservation to her from an early age, and that conservation conversation is had on a frequent basis here at Places In The Home. Also from reading this blog you may know that my favorite travel destination and desert oasis is Las Vegas.  Water conservation is indeed a big concern for Las Vegas, which sits in the middle of the Mojave Desert. I distinctly remember a conversation I had with an engineer from Las Vegas on a flight out to the desert.  His firm worked on the concept, building, and installation of The Fountains of Bellagio. He explained to me how the water recycled from a well beneath the property for conservation and earth friendly responsibility.  Kudos, Bellagio!

Bellagio Fountainsvia

As I am considering replacing the not in use at the moment dressing area sink faucet set in the master bathroom, I am taking a few things into consideration. High on my list is water conservation, savings, reducing energy consumption, and as always- sustainable style.

bath faucet

The  Pfister Arlington WaterSense  2-handle widespread bath faucet is the stylish and logical choice, all things better for the environment considered.  The Brushed Nickel finish and high arc satisfy my desired style requirement. The fact the Arlington is WaterSense Certified, meaning it offers  30% less water consumption without compromising the water experience, will satisfy my darling mother’s water conserving requirement. It’s a win-win situation for Earth Day and everyday, baby!

Pfister Arlington faucetIs the need or desire for a  new Pfister WaterSense kitchen or bath faucet in your future or Earth Day celebration plans? It just may be! From April 15th to the 22nd, Pfister is giving away two WaterSense faucets per day to promote water conservation and Earth Day awareness. Pfister’s Earth Day Giveaway celebrates Earth Day by promoting sustainability in give back to the community fashion.  Entries will be accepted on Pfister’s Earth Day blog starting today, Monday, April 15th.  Two Pfister faucets per day- that’s good odds.

Pfister Earth Day Giveaway

 

If you do enter Pfister’s giveaway and win, please let me know! Good luck, good style, and Happy early Earth Day!