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Markus is an enthusiastic traveler, who lives in Houston, TX (USA) most of the time, but also spends some time in Saalfelden, near Salzburg (Austria). He is fascinated by travel and also by his experiences gathered by living in two different countries and continents.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009
Anniversary in Vegas

We spent the weekend before last in Las Vegas with friends of ours, who celebrated their 25th anniversary there. It was a hoot! Ellen and I went, our friends went, so did their son with his girlfriend, and - as a total surprise to all of them - my parents (who are also good friends with them) went there too.

The surprise was a complete success! We all stayed at the Mandalay Bay hotel, which was great (as always) and - due to the economic crisis - less expensive than usual. We went there a day early and arranged for one of the large stretch limos from the hotel to go to the airport and pick up our friends, who flew in straight from Austria. My parents waited in the limo while we picked them up. So once they got into the limo, they saw my parents and where completely blown away. :-)


The rowdy Las Vegas party contingency :-)

Over the next few days, we had a great time. It is always fun to go to Vegas with people who have never been there, or - as in this case - have not been there in many years. We went from hotel to hotel and from sight to sight. They even did the rides on top of the Stratosphere tower. 2 of the 3 are completely insane. You couldn't pay me to go on them, but they went for it and had a blast!


Crazy Dobretsbergers riding one of the amusement rides on top of the 1,145ft tall Stratosphere tower. (This is the least scary of the rides, actually)
 

We also saw Cirque de Soleil's "O" at the Bellagio hotel, which was great as always. It was also pretty expensive ($170 a person), which is a little steep if you ask me. I probably wouldn't have gone again by myself (we have seen all the Cirque shows a number of times before), but with the whole group it was great.

Other entertainment included the usual Vegas fare (gambling, going from hotel to hotel, frequented various buffets, we stopped at our favorite Piano Bar (Bar at Times Square) in the New York, New York hotel, ... ). On their anniversary evening, we all went to a Brazilian Steak House (Via Brasil) which was pretty good. Not quite Fogo de Chao or Guri do Sul quality, but still pretty good. Via Brasil is a little ways from the Strip (about 15 minutes in a cab) but it is much better than the Brazilian Steakhouse offerings on the strip.

Overall, Vegas is visible hurting. We were told they have 60% less visitors than a year before. Not sure how accurate that number is, but it would not surprise me. I also assume that the people that do go to Vegas are probably spending a little less. Overall, times don't seem to be good for Vegas. On the other hand, I would have expected some better deals. We got a reasonably good price for the rooms at the Mandalay Bay, but they weren't super-cheap either. And the price of "O" really surprised me. There were a few other annoying things too. We went to the buffet at the Planet Hollywood hotel and were charged an 18% gratuity, because we were a party of 8. I generally am annoyed when I am charged a penalty for giving someone more business, but 18% at a buffet where the waitress showed up twice to refill the coke (or Pepsi... don't get me started ;-)), is an outrage.

Anyway: Overall, we had great fun. We spent most of our time indoors, because it was still a little on the cold side. The Mandalay Bay just opened all their pools, but in late February, things are not exactly warm there, and for some reason, none of the hot-tubs were heated. Seems odd to me that early in the year, one would operate all the pools except for the heated ones. But such is life I guess. On the other hand, they had about 20 life guards positioned around their wave pool to watch the 5 or so people who were tough enough to go in despite the low temperatures. Only in America...

 

Posted @ 3:05 AM by Egger, Markus (markus@code-magazine.com) -
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