Showing posts with label Bellagio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bellagio. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Las Vegas: Giving Thanks for the Garden Fairies

Thanksgiving in the United States has become synonymous with both travel and giving thanks.  Today while giving thanks for our latest travels in the Southwest, I’m adding a special thanks to the ‘garden fairies’ at the Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas. 

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Bellagio Fountains looking toward Paris Resort to the left Cosmopolitan to the right

While the dancing fountains may be the tourism icons at the Italian-inspired resort on at the corner of Flamingo and Las Vegas Blvds., it is Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Gardens that draw us back each time we find ourselves anywhere near the resort.

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The Conservatory and Botanical Gardens keep more than 100 horticulturalists (those folks, who create such magical settings that I’ve named them the garden fairies) busy year round as they celebrate the changing seasons with a vast array of designs that include bridges, buildings, ponds, towering sculptures and some 10,000 potted plants.

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There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that we were celebrating Autumn as we joined in the steady stream of tourists visiting the gardens this week. 

More than five million visitors each year stroll through the Conservatory, its glass ceilings towering 55-feet overhead.

That’s somewhere between 15,000 – 18,000 visitors a week.

Each seasonal display offers some form of animation that usually delights and sometimes startles the wee ones; this season it was the friendly talking tree who moved its eyes, changed its colors, smiled and spoke to guests in the garden.

PicMonkey Collage

Each of the four seasons is celebrated in this Conservatory as well as an annual tribute paid to Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year celebrated in 2010

The horticulturalists, designers, engineers and electricians begin planning for the next season some three months in advance of its seasonal debut. Once decided upon, it takes seven 24-hour-days for those creative folks to install the new display that fills the 13,573-square-foot area. 

Getting ready for spring

It is even fun to visit while the change over  is taking place. We are reminded, during those times, of what vision and hard work can produce.

Summer celebration in full swing

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And those potted plants . . . They are ordered from Southern California and delivered a few days before each installation. They are stored in a 40,000 square-foot-warehouse until they are placed in the gardens.

At the end of each display the old flowers – almost 90% of the Conservatory -- are recycled into mulch which is used on the resort’s grounds.

A trip along the Conservatory’s winding paths wouldn’t be complete without a stop to admire what ever the latest floral art work might be. . .we were lucky on one visit to see it under construction.

PicMonkey Collage

If You Go:

Vegas60Seattle 052The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are in the Bellagio Resort, 3600 S. La Vegas Blvd.

It is open to the general public free of charge, 24 hours a day. Live musical performances are a new addition since our last visit and take place from 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Tip: If you want to avoid the crowds, visit early in the morning.

Now head over to Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Traveler’s Sandbox for more armchair travels.

Good wishes from the two of us to all of you who are celebrating: 
Thanksgiving Day
may your smile of contentment as big as this fellow’s! 

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Free and Easy (Art) in Las Vegas

By Wednesday it was clear this would not be the trip we envisioned when we left the dark, damp Pacific Northwest last weekend.  The same clouds we thought we’d left behind were covering this sun-seeker paradise, rain was  falling, and that, coupled with wind blew any plans for poolside basking  out the window. 
So what to do?

Here’s our Strip Tip for rainy day entertainment:  A Do It Yourself Art Tour that costs nothing (unless of course you can’t resist buying a piece to take home).
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First stop:  Bellagio Resort Casino lobby where internationally-known-glass-artist-Pacific-Northwest-son Dale Chihuly’s flower sculpture , a 2,100 square foot chandelier fills the hotel lobby ceiling. There are 1,600 individual hand blown glass pieces (each weighing about 50 pounds.) that make up the piece inspired by Italy’s Lake Como and created at the Venini Factory in Venice.

polotowersscottsdale 015 Walk through the lobby to get to the the seasonal garden displays at the  Bellagio’s Conservatory. Designers have again created a seasonal whimsical setting that shouldn’t be missed.  This fall’s display includes a pumpkin made of 2,000 fresh carnation blooms and red apples made of red rose buds. And a framed art piece (pictured) made of flowers and greens.

polotowersscottsdale 017 Walk through the Bellagio casino to the Cirque du Soleil “O” Theatre Lobby and  gallery that showcases the figurative sculptures of Richard Macdonald. His passion for dance is captured in the dancers, mimes and performers highlighted in his pieces.   Watch a video of dancers and the artist capturing their moves as a piece is created.  No admission cost, art is for sale.

Macdonald is currently working on a massive piece – a tribute to the founder of The Royal Ballet that will be installed next year in London’s Hyde Park.

It will cost to tour  Bellagio’s Gallery of Fine Art (admission $15/adult) but in the current display (through January 2012) you’ll see pieces from Monet to Hockney that compare and contrast expressionism in landscape art.

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A new Bellagio gallery that opened within the last year– Jeff Mitchum Galleries –is next door to the Fine Art Gallery in a space once occupied by the fine art gallery shop. Walls are filled with Mitchum’s stunning light and landscape photography. Open daily at 10 a.m. Free admission, art is for sale.
Staff in each gallery were eager to talk about their artist and his work. At the Mitchum gallery art consultant, Jerry Olivarez, who was staffing  the gallery desk, was a great source of information about  the Las Vegas visual arts community.

polotowersscottsdale 023 One of our ‘fun finds’ this trip was on the second floor of City Center’s Cosmopolitan Hotel, just south of Bellagio.  As its name, Art-o-mat, implies  it is a vending machine for art. It is one of six they have in this property – reportedly the only place in Nevada you will currently find them. They are old cigarette vending machines that have been recycled into hip, retro style art vendors.  Insert $5, choose an artist and out comes a piece of art boxed and wrapped inside cellophane.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Bloomin' Good Time at Bellagio

Last month while on our California/Nevada roadtrip we stopped by the Bellagio Hotel Conservatory and Botanical Gardens only to find it filled with workers, heavy equipment and piles of landscaping supplies.  Bordering its perimeter were artist's renditions of what it would soon look like.

According to its website, it takes 140 horticulturalists to create and maintain the grand displays that change with the seasons at this popular spot.  Admission is free. The current season will be on display until May 9th.
Thousands of blooming plants spill out of oversized flower pots and giant butterflies hover over enormous insects and bronze cast insects are joined by other creatures such as the rose-bud snail.
After strolling through the gardens stop by the Bellagio Art Gallery (there is an admission charge for it) where you will find among its permanent collection works by Renoir, Picasso and Degas.  A new show opens May 1st, entitled "Firguratively Speaking - A Survey of the Human Form" with works from Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Design in San Diego.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Vegas: A 'Wynn-ing' Combination

"Vegas? I went there once. . .
it was, well,
. . .dirty
. . .dark
. . .smokey."

Fill in the blank.

That's the response from three different acquaintences to our recent stay there. Each paused and added though, "Oh, I was there about 20 years ago."

If you've not been there in the last couple decades, you might give Vegas a try. Sure. . .the touts still click their girlie tabs along The Strip at certain times during the day, but you'll likely find that Vegas is a rather classy place these days.

For starters, Nevada has a no smoking law (casinos are exempt, but even some of them limit smoking to areas of play with smoke free corridors). Our Wynn room pictured here was a non-smoking on the 38th floor with wide sweeping views stretching from The Strip over the valley to snow tipped hills in the distance. Smokers have their own floors.

Using our favorite resort as an example of what you will find: we window-shopped in Hermes where a men's leather belt had a $900 price tag and at Rolex where watches in one display ranged from $70,000 to $100,000. In between the two shopping wings housing those stores - and others like them - was the casino where I happily spent hours over the course of our stay at my favorite penny slot machine, betting 18-cents each time and taking home a profit of 53-cents. Developers have created a Wynn-ing combination of extremes for the vastly diverse clientele they serve.

Down the road at Bellagio there's a great display of Dale Chihuly's glass creations adorning the registration area and only a few steps away you can walk through their seasonally-inspired garden that brings squeals of delight from children as animated creatures among the floral arrangement come to life. Bellagio also has an art gallery.

Even the city bus, The Duece, that transports tourists and locals alike between The Strip and downtown's Fremont Street, is a classy, clean double-decker vehicle these days.

We've checked and there seems to be hotel deals to be had this spring even at the 5-star places. To a certain extent all travel is a gamble. . .but we think Vegas is a winner.


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