I’ve been looking forward to this trip for ages, dreams of breaking the bank and coming home with a million dollars. How you do that I don’t know since you’re only allowed to take $10,000 out of the country, but since there were five of us travelling, I guess spreading it around the group would have halped ease some of the customs worries. Still we were on our way to the infamous Las Vegas strip to enjoy a 4 night 5 day stay in one of the city’s biggest and brightest hotels the Venetian.
The idea of the place conjours something of a reverie amongst a group of forty something women from London. After all, we come from one of the biggest, most exciting cities in the world so you have to go some way to beat it in terms of anticipation.
But the folklore, movies and personal tales of Vegas we’d all digested over the years, enable a kind of romanticism about the place. Add to that the reputed splendor of the Grand Canyon, and the Hoover Dam, I had plenty of film and cameras packed, sure I would run out of time and space in which to capture all the sights and sounds of Vegas.
What a disappointment it all turned out to be.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the place isn’t spectacular, it’s that it’s a spectacular facade. If you’re looking for an authentic American experience, then Vegas it so not the place to go.
It lacks a soul, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, it’s kind of an almost place, not quite real, not quite unreal.
In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, there was no shortage of people, however I suspect that the big hotels on the strip were only operating at 40-50% capacity.
The malls were pretty empty, the bored looking croupiers standing dutifully behind their tables waiting for people to drop money in exchange for chips. Rows upon rows of slot machines with a couple people dotted here and there, not quite a ghost town, but not the buzz and atmosphere I was expecting.
And if you’re looking for glamour of any kind, then this is definitely not the place to come.
We took a taxi from the city centre one night downtown to the old strip where you’ll find the Golden Nugget. This was at least full, but full to the brim with some of the seediest, grimiest characters you could hope to meet. To quote one returning passenger on our flight out, “downtown is hold on to your purse territory” We stayed there 30 mins before hailing a taxi back to the Bellagio, which for me was by far the best casino we spent time in.
The MGM Grand was a huge disappointment. I couldn’t understand why they would have a lion habitat in the foyer which at the time we passed it, contained two listless lioneesses lying on the floor. They were either sedated, depressed or incredibly bored.
The only movie memorobilia in the whole place was in the ladies toilets. Again not really something we were expecting at all.
By far the best looking hotel on the strip was the newly opened Cosmopolitan, which is sleek and hip, much more stylish than the mock renaissance Venetian in which we stayed.
Repleat with gondalas and a “Grand Canal” which resembled a long winding bath, such was it’s shallowness, and the fake daylight sky, the ambience of the Venetian left a lot to be desired, even if their suites were roomy and well equipped.
I just couldn’t get over how disappointing I found the whole experience. I think I would go back to Vegas in the future but certainly not flying from London, it would have to be on a stop over from somewhere within the USA, and only because I believe I could indeed achieve my goal of becoming a gambling millionaire