Vegas, Baby (Part 1)

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I seldom do things impulsively.

Yes, there is the occasional grab in the grocery store of something that I haven’t tried…or something for one of the grandkids I can’t resist…but as far as just taking off for a few days to kick back and relax? Never.

Until this week.

I got one of those emails from THEHotel at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas (http://www.mandalaybay.com/accommodations/thehotel/) saying that they would practically pay me to come there for a few days mid-week and since it is one of my very favorite places to stay anywhere…well, to paraphrase one of The Godfather‘s best lines…they ”…made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”  I decided that they had to be really desperate to make me this offer, since I am hardly a high roller. I’m not even a low roller. I play the nickel and quarter slots. I set a limit and that’s it. I think the very most I have ever lost on a stay was maybe just under $110. And I was there for nearly a week…not to mention I only go there once a year, if even that.

So, I rang up one of my friends and suggested that we just throw stuff in bags and head east to the City of Sin.

And we did. Black Beauty once again was given a pass on this trip. Mostly because we brought our golf clubs and her trunk can barely manage to fit a putter.

In fact, Vegas supplied so much blog material I had to divide it into two blogs. You’ll see why as you read on.

First stop on the trek through the desert was Peggy Sue’s Diner which we thought was in Barstow and my pal’s GPS also thought it was in Barstow. (Check it out: http://www.peggysuesdiner.com/)

It was not. It was in someplace called “Yerma.” Eventually we found it. Actually, I think it was the only thing in Yerma, except for Peggy Sue’s “arch-rival” Penny’s place, aptly named “Penny’s Diner.” Oh, and a truck stop.

Well, Peggy Sue apparently started this place in the ’80′s. Her husband Champ and she moved from Hollywood and brought their
extensive collection of memorabilia with them and well, re-created what I remember from my childhood, right down to the ”Five and Ten” selling penny candy. She still is there most days. The place is a hoot with life size Elvises, posters, tisssue paper carnation centerpieces, 45 rpm-records and vintage stools, tables and chairs. Even the waitresses, who were younger than some of my shoes, were dressed in the traditional style of the ’50′s. It wasn’t gourmet fare (mostly burgers named for some of the movie stars I grew up watching.)  I had a “Marlon Brando” which was smothered in mushrooms…wasn’t sure of the connection with him, but it was good! The whole experience was fun and filling and the people-watching was great. I used the facilities before heading back on the road and the booth was decorated with stars bearing the names of Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Connie Stevens. I wondered for a minute whether they had used that same booth and then I decided probably not.

On to our destination. We arrived and after dragging our bags completely through the entire first floor (including the casino) of The Mandalay Bay (and it was probably close to a mile walk) we wound up at the reception desk of THEhotel which turned out to be only steps from where we originally got out of the car. So much for my sense of direction. It was almost as bad as the GPS. We went to our rooms and that’s when I decided that I never wanted to leave.

Really.

I love this hotel. They are all suites and have any number of fabulous amenities and because of the state of the economy right now, a lot of the rooms are empty. Hence, the bargain basement price for the ultimate in luxury. There are two wide-screen plasma TV’s, one in the living room and the other in the bedroom and a small one in the ridiculously large bathroom, which boasts not only a soaking tub but a separate marble shower. Granite is everywhere and the wet bar in the living room is nicer than I’ve had in some of the houses I’ve lived in. Add to that, free high-speed wireless internet, fluffy spa robes, lotions and shampoo that are so rich they feel like heavy cream and 24 hour room service? C’mon! Why would I want to go home?

We decided to have one “splurge” night so we made a reservation at Mario Batali’s “B & B Ristorante” in the Venetian. I don’t love Molto Mario…I adore him. I’d eaten in one of his restaurants back in NYC but never here in the West. We had a nice table and a charming waiter named Jared took good care of us. I don’t think I ever met an Italian named “Jared” but he did an excellent job. There was a special being offered that night of lamb but it needed to be a shared entree for both of us. My friend and I both like lamb and neither one of us has it all that often so this added fuel to the “splurge.” Why not?

If only we’d asked what it cost.

My first inkling that I should have brought a bigger wallet was when the lamb was brought to us not by Jared, but by the maitre d’, beautifully displayed on a platter to be shown before they plated it for each of us back in the kitchen. It caused a real run of conversation between both of us and the people seated at tables around us. It was almost embarrassing. No, I take that back. It was embarrassing. All I could think of was they were looking at me and mumbling “The fat chick is going to eat all of that? Oh, man…no wonder.” I remember thinking I was glad I was wearing the greatest invention known to mankind: elastic waist pants.

I am a big eater. But this would have fed a family of four…for about three days.

Needless to say, neither she nor I ate it all. Or even ate half. Now we were faced with a dilemma; we had a small fridge/mini bar in each of our rooms, but it was filled with liquor and soft drinks, of course. I couldn’t bear to just leave all this delicious dinner there to be tossed. So, we asked it to be packed up. They actually gave us a coat check to claim our “doggie bag” on the way out. I’ve eaten in some truly excellent restaurants around the world, but this was the first time I was given a coat check to claim my left-overs.

When we saw the bill we were glad that we took the remaining lamb. That evening’s special entree for two was a whopping $115.00! Added to the appetizer we had and a glass of wine each, whoa…this wasn’t a “splurge”…this was a total budget blow-out for the few days we would be there.

Needless to say, we managed to re-arrange both mini bars to fit the boxes from Molto. I tried to convince the hostess that she should give each of us a pair of his signature Orange Crocs as a souvenir for the most expensive entree I’d ever had anywhere but she just smiled and said “We do hope to see you again. Please take our card.” I was thinking “…only if I don’t eat for the next year; then I could afford to come back…and maybe have a salad.” In fairness, it was our own fault for not asking. The other entrees were appropriately priced for a restaurant of this caliber, which is why we didn’t expect this to be so costly.

In next week’s blog I will tell you about our sort-of-golf game, how we came to share some of the limelight with some of the stars in town for the Latin Grammies, what it was like to not shoot an AK-47 and our “visit” to the famous “Pawn Stars” shop. And…oh yes… that guy really wasn’t going to mug us. Ooopsie. My bad.

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3 Responses to Vegas, Baby (Part 1)

  1. joan says:

    so did you eat the leftovers? funny blog. glad you got over to LV. we stayed at THEHotel for C&C wedding (everyone else was in THE Other Part as you may recall). concur it is luxurious. for $115 I would have wanted Mario himself to feed me! Jared was just happy with his tip for that check.

  2. Your Son says:

    you’d better hope the mini-bar wasn’t one of the “if you move it, you bought it” type – or you’ll get a bill bigger than the one for the lamb.

  3. Kris says:

    Good for you Judy! Grab all the gusto while you can! What a great “spur of the moment” trip! You’ve almost got me convinced to move to CA!

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