The Last Word In Authenticity, Not
I’ve looked forward to this trip for ages, hopes and dreams about breaking the bank and coming home with a million dollars. Since you’re only allowed to take $10,000 out of the country, I’m not sure how that can be done, but since five of us travelled, I figured spreading it around the group would help ease any customs worries. Still, the infamous Las Vegas strip beckoned, a 5 day 4 night stay in one of the city’s most prominent and brightest hotel the Venetian.
The idea of the place conjures something of a meditation 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 the anticipation of having a good time.
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 splendour 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 magnificent 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 the 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 a sum total of 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 lionesses lying on the floor. They were either sedated, depressed or incredibly bored. The only movie memorabilia 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.
The Venetian, replete with gondolas and a “Grand Canal” left a lot to be desired in my opinion, 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 indeed not flying from London, it would have to be on a stopover from somewhere within the USA, and only because I believe I could indeed achieve my goal of becoming a gambling millionaire.