Showing posts with label City Center Las Vegas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label City Center Las Vegas. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A First Class Start to 2014

We quite literally had a first class start to the New Year when Alaska Airlines upgraded us from coach to those big cushy seats in the front of the 737 on our Jan. 1st flight to Las Vegas from Seattle.

It’s the section of the plane where the real cups of coffee are constantly refilled  and real food is served on real plates.

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A real surprise.
A real treat.
A real reminder of why airline loyalty programs are still worth joining. (If you missed our article on other benefits a few weeks ago, click here.)

[Travel Tip:  The Scout had booked this trip an air/accommodation package on  The airfare was less than $200 per person round-trip, including taxes and fees.]

Vegas2014 046Our return from Vegas brought us back to reality – paper cups, one serving of coffee, and a package of nuts – ahh, but the memory remains of that New Year's Day  flight.

The unexpected upgrade was one of those ‘little things’ that are long remembered after a trip ends.

Sometimes those ‘little things’ fall into the ‘sad-but-true’ category, like this memory of Vdara, the hotel where we stayed as part of the package.

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Vdara, is a condo/hotel, a part of the recently completed City Center development. To get your bearings, that small tower in the photo above is a side view of Bellagio, home of The Strip’s famous fountains.

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Our room was a Vdara Suite, one of the smaller ones but at 810 sq. ft. plenty spacious for us and we had a killer view of the fountains next door.

[Travel Tip: We saved a tremendous amount eating breakfast and lunch ‘at home’ in the room. Had we needed them, it also was equipped with a washer and dryer.]

The kitchen (similar to the tale I wrote about The Cosmopolitan Hotel) was empty except here there was a coffee pot. (A make- or break-a-place item in my mind.)  However, with a single call housekeeping arrived bearing plates, bowls, flatware, cookware and utensils.  When I had called in advance to inquire about the kitchen I was told that in the beginning the kitchens were fully stocked but because so many items had ‘walked away’ with guests, they had to institute an inventory control system. 

[Travel Tip: The cost of our suite was just under $150 including taxes and booking fees; the resort levied a $28 additional resort fee per day for internet, telephone, use of the exercise facility and daily newspaper.]

We had daily maid service that couldn’t be faulted. . .and then on the third morning I thought the maid had forgotten to leave the wash (face) cloths in the bathroom.  We’d had had three – shower, sink and tub – each day.   I stopped her in the hallway and asked for one.  “Oh, they have to be ordered from housekeeping,” she explained apologetically.

Really?! I mean, really?! Without kitchen supplies for souvenirs could the guests now be taking wash cloths? I am struck with guilt when I forget to leave a plastic key that could be reused, the thought of taking property. . .hmmm. . .

As I said, it is those little things we remember when we come to travel. . .

That’s it for this Travel Tip Tuesday.  We’ll be back again this week and hope you’ll be traveling along with us.  You can follow TravelnWrite on Bloglovin and Networked Blogs or have posts delivered to your inbox. 

We’ve  just figured out Instagram and are posting travel photos there as well. Click the link to follow us there. 

Until next time, happy travels. . .
Jackie, The Scribe, and Joel, The Scout

Monday, December 9, 2013

Tasting a Vegas “Cosmopolitan”

We left the wide open spaces of Arizona and headed north to Sin City – Las Vegas – two weekends ago on a route that lead us through picturesque Wickenburg and Kingman, Arizona and past Hoover dam.

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On the road near Kingman, Arizona

Following our north-bound journey, we returned the rental car, hopped a cab and headed out for a new adventure on the famous Vegas Strip; we'd booked ourselves at the Cosmopolitan Resort, a Marriott managed property, between The Bellagio and City Center.

We’d watched its construction progress slowly in recent years and after its opening had visited its over-the-top glitzy casino and common areas, but its price tag for rooms had kept us from staying there - until The Scout found us a deal on Expedia.

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Las Vegas Cosmopolitan from The Bellagio

Following a groundbreaking in 2005, the hotel finally opened its doors in December 2010. The original plan for a condo-hotel mixed use property was dashed by financial difficulties during the construction process and the focus became solely hotel – but there was no doubt the room we were in was intended to be a condo. 

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[Travel Tip: I can’t emphasize often enough, how valuable are the brand loyalty programs. Our Marriott loyalty got us upgraded to a one-bedroom suite and a room with a balcony. But sometimes even an upgraded room just doesn’t make a property any more appealing to one’s personal tastes.]

The south-facing balcony (pictured above) got both morning and afternoon sun but the unit itself was very dark; decorated in browns, slate gray and muted blue colors. It was the camera’s flash that lightened its appearance in the photos below.

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There was no doubt this room had been intended to be a condo, as evidenced by a kitchenette complete with full-sized microwave, built-in dishwasher, small refrigerator and tons of cupboard space.

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The cupboards were empty – not a plate or spoon to be found. The refrigerator was pre-stocked with snacks, the kind that if you move them you are charged for them. (That empty part in the photo, is a freezer we quickly learned when those bottles of water in the above photo froze within an hour of being placed there.)

A selling point was the thought of coffee made in the room (sipping it while in your jammies in bed = perfection!) but there wasn't a coffee or hot water pot and cups to be found. Nor were there any to be had in the hotel. Coffee, we were told, had to be ordered from room service.

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The room décor was  also very modern and artsy. . .two features that don’t appeal to our more traditional tastes in hotel décor. These are two of the wall coverings: the left one blasts you from the closet and the right is a portion of the bathroom wall covering – take a close look at the one on the right, see the women? 

Housekeeping wasn't at the standard to which we've become accustomed to at a Marriott facility (and those details were noted on the follow up evaluation of our stay).

On the bright side: At least our two-night stay satiated our curiosity about the nearly 3,000 rooms that tower above that glitzy chandelier-draped common area.

PhxtoVegas2013 079But the reality was, we just didn't like the place.

Its vibe and our tastes just didn't mesh.

In fairness I have to tell you that we may be in the minority. I just read that the 2.5 million on-line users and travelers of named The Cosmopolitan the “Best Hotel in the World” 2013.

On the bright side - one more time: We’d signed up for a Marriott promotion, forgotten about it, and just learned that our two night stay here earned us a free night’s stay – which will be used at another Marriott property!

So there you go!  Have you ever stayed at a highly rated place to find that you didn’t like it? If so, tell us about it in the comment section below or shoot us an email and I’ll include your comments in a future post (if you give me permission to do so).

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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Vegas "Deal-ing"

We are taking a Vegas sunbreak thanks to Expedia ( dealing up some good prices on packages. We'll fly round-trip, on Alaska Airlines ( from Seattle, staying four nights at Wynn for $808 - total package price for two. It was a winning hand for us.

We probably should have tried one of the new City Center hotels ( the $11+ billion, 68-acre mega-development on the Las Vegas Strip between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo, but decided to stay loyal to Wynn, where we have consistently had great service, enormous rooms with floor to ceiling windows that provide expansive views such as the one I added to this post. (For those not familiar with Vegas, that space-age like structure at the bottom of the photo is the entry to the Fashion Show Mall.)

City Center began its phased in open this month so we do plan to explore the hotels there: Aria, the hotel/casino with 4,004 guestrooms, 16 restaurants and 10 bars and lounges; the non-gaming Vdara Hotel and Spa, which brought a total 1,495 new suites to the Vegas inventory; and the Mandarin Oriental, a combination of 392 guestrooms and 225 residences - and six restaurants.


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