For those who know me, it's a bit of a surprise that I had not yet visited Las Vegas.
Many times I was slated to go, but for one reason or another I did not. I have been to Atlantic City and Lake Tahoe, as far as comparisons go, but this past week I was in Las Vegas for a conference and had a taste of what my clients' would experience. I would have to say WOW!
First, I was there to attend the annual Signature Travel Conference, where member agencies are updated with the latest technology, news and products related to travel.
So much to learn in such a short time, but I came away with a head full of travel products and ideas for my clients.
The conference was held at the MGM Grand, located on the main strip at Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. The hotel was great, but vast. Our room was in the main tower, which was accessed by central elevators. The room was nicely appointed with a large bathroom and huge windows overlooking Las Vegas.
At night you would have to close the heavy drapes to keep the light out. Las Vegas is so bright at night, even in our room on the 16th floor it looked like daytime in the middle of the night.
We had a view of the mountains in the background. That was an incredible sight in the afternoon with the sun bouncing off them. They looked like they did not belong there beyond all the lights of the strip.
We were pretty busy during the few days we were there, but we did venture out a few times.
The MGM Grand is connected by two bridges that take you across Tropicana Avenue to the Tropicana Hotel and across Las Vegas Boulevard to New York, New York.
You can connect to other hotels and casinos through the many of the hotels that are connected by bridges and trams. The Excalibur is right beside New York, New York, and you can take a tram from there to the Luxor and Mandalay Bay (which we did).
Each hotel with its theme was incredible. Some of the older hotels still have some type of theme but it just does not compare to the big, newer hotels and their grand styles.
You can board the monorail as well, and take it down the strip, however, it moves behind the hotels on the strip.
Beware, there is a lot of walking in Vegas. Even in the MGM we were exhausted just getting to and from the conference center that is located in the hotel. It might as well have been a half-mile down the road, because it felt as though we walked that far every time we needed to be at the conference.
One good thing, though, is we did not feel as if we had to go to the gym for exercise; we got it all day long.
One evening we ventured to downtown Vegas in the old section. We decided to take the shuttle bus that goes along Las Vegas Boulevard. You have two choices for the bus. The Ace, which was an express bus from just outside of the MGM to downtown, or the Deuce, which stopped at every stop along the way.
We chose the Deuce since I had never been there before and we could see everything along the way.
You can purchase a ticket for $5 for three hours or one that will last for 24 hours for $7. They have a kiosk at the bus stop, but you must have exact change or use a credit card to purchase it.
Oh, the lights.
There was not really anywhere along the strip that there wasn't something flashing. There were huge television screens everywhere advertising shows, dinner specials or what's going on at the different hotels.
We were in the front seats on the double-decker bus and did not miss much. There were areas that I would not want to be walking in on our way to Fremont Street in the downtown area.
The Fremont Street experience is four blocks of dome-covered area, which extends across and along the length (about a half-mile long) and houses street entertainment including a light show on the underside of the dome. One of the light shows we enjoyed was an old concert of The Doors with Jim Morrison singing "Light My Fire." Everyone was dancing in the street. It was fun.
There was also a plethora of impersonators including Elvis, Michael Jackson, KISS members, etc., a live band that played some great music, and a zip line that folks took advantage of. People would zip from one end of the street to the other. It was something to see.
There was so much to do and see in Las Vegas there is just no time to see it all in one trip.
If you love to gamble, take in one the fantastic shows, or love an incredible night life, you will love Las Vegas.
There are certainly other things to do in and around Vegas such as take a trip out to the Grand Canyon or Hoover Dam or take in some of Las Vegas' museums.
More than likely, I will be going back there next year. This time I will make time to see one or two shows while there. Oh yeah! Vegas, baby!
Patty Toppa is a travel consultant with Gadabout Travel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.cruisetraveltours.com.