I love the colder months, honest. Spring starts to roll around and I tend to get a little sad. I know, it’s not normal. But something happened this year, and I think more than the weather, I’m blaming my shift in desire on our home remodeling (which had gone well past it’s original completion date and had set in my nerves). I found myself needing to get away from everything and everyone. To someplace warm. Preferably on a gorgeous, clear beach, like Hawaii or Florida. Where I could do nothing but lie there and drink. Unfortunately, I don’t live anywhere near these places, and flying to one of them was too expensive to consider (again, thanks to the beautiful changes made in our home). So what could I do? I felt like any minute I was about to lose it on my husband and we’d end up like a scene out of The Money Pit (a film that everyone should watch prior to starting a remodel). I had to think of something. Where could I go that I could do nothing but relax, drink, lounge, and feel like a million bucks? Vegas, baby.
Las Vegas isn’t exactly my favorite city. It’s the epitome of excess. But like any kind of train wreck, you can’t help but get drawn in. It’s intriguing. There are some really cool and crazy things to see. Anything you can think of, you can do. Want to drive a race car? Of course. Shoot automatic weapons? No problem. Get a cupcake from an ATM machine? Why not. And I discovered, it’s the perfect place to go if you either A. have tons of money, or B. want to feel like you have tons of money. I looked into the cheap Allegiant flights, which were doable, and a nice hotel with a nice spa, which was also doable. So I called a girl friend, and next thing I knew, I was planning a mini-escape to Sin City. With a pastor’s wife.
This was my fourth trip to Vegas, so I didn’t have much interest in doing much of anything but soak up sun by the pool, indulge in spa treatments, and enjoy unique cocktails. My friend said it sounded great, but she had never been, so exploring a few key sights were on the list to do as well. After the spa, obviously. Turns out, dressing up for a night out felt just as good as getting a Thai Silk Aromatherapy Wrap (yes, that’s a thing, and yes, it felt amazing).
So, three days and nights we were VIPs. A nice-looking gentleman in a suit with my name on some sort of electronic tablet picked us up at the airport, opened (and closed) our doors to the Cadillac that took us to the Vdara Hotel, where we were met curbside, and taken straight to our room that had a view of the Bellagio fountains. We kicked off our first night with an authentic Italian dinner at Carbone, where the waiters wore crushed red velvet suits, the oversized booths matched the giant menus, the NY cheesecake was to die for, and our exquisite meal was topped off with house-made (complimentary) Limoncello, reminding me what fine dining is really like.
Sadly, the weather was not cooperative with my plan of pool lounging. I somehow had managed to pick the three days that week that were windy, cloudy, and below 70 degrees. But it didn’t really matter once we arrived at the Spa at Aria, where we soaked in variously heated pools, sweated in a eucalyptus steam room, dried off in a cedar sauna, enjoyed Thai-themed treatments, and meditated in the Himalayan salt room. By the time I had reached the Ganbanyoku Heated Stone Beds, I felt myself in a state of total relaxation. I thought, there is nowhere I need to be, nothing I need to do, no concerns, no one to take care of but myself. The warmth of that slab of stone permeated deep into my muscles and eased the stress right out. I decided right then, I gotta get me one of these.
Several hours, and a trip to the hotel’s salon for some hair maintenance later, we were out on the Strip, feeling foxy and ready to walk. Fortunately, Vdara is centrally located, so we were close to the spots I thought my friend would like to see: Caesar’s Palace, where we wandered the shops amongst the statues; The Mirage, where we caught the volcano show; The Venetian, where we dined in St. Mark’s Square and glimpsed a few singing Gondoliers; and topped the night off with one of the most unique cocktails in one of the most unique bars I’ve ever experienced: The Chandelier at The Cosmopolitan.
Our third and final day kicked off with a fabulous brunch at Mon Ami Gabi, at Paris. We sat inside the atrium, which allowed a view of the Bellagio fountains without the street noise. I loved the rustic green metal, stained windows, the atmosphere of old Europe. Then our waiter came to the table and reminded us we were in Vegas with his personality. Boisterous, loud, flashy, who-gives-a-shit Vegas. He was (because there is really no other way to say it) totes adorbs. Aside from our Quiche Lorraine and mango-papaya crepes, he made the meal. We both decided sitting there all day drinking coffee and mimosas, or “champey-champs” as our waiter coined, would have been just the way to do it, like being in Paris. Other than my super-zen moment, this was my favorite part of the trip.
We decided to explore the newest walking section down by the Linq (where you’ll find that Cupcake ATM I mentioned) which ends at the High Roller, the observation wheel. Since it was afternoon, there was no crowd, and at a discounted rate, we shared an entire pod with only two other people. Certainly the night lights would have been more spectacular, but we caught some amazing desert clouds and views while drinking our slushy margaritas before heading back to Vdara for one more spa splurge. After a mini-facial and foot massage, we got ourselves ready for our final night in Vegas, which meant of course, catching a show: Cirque du Soliel’s ‘O'. Thanks to some connections, we found ourselves escorted in before everyone else, and alone in the light booth at the top of the theater. While it probably would have been more immersive sitting in-house, we couldn’t complain about the free admission and backstage tour afterwards. The only downside was we didn’t get back to our room until after midnight and wakeup call was at 5:30 for our flight home.
Once I’d returned to the real world and had a nap, I sat on my couch scrolling through and editing photos. I was overcome with gratefulness that my husband was willing to send me off to the desert, leaving him with the kids for three days, and that my friend was willing to spend some money with me on a completely frivolous idea. But most of all, that I was able to gain exactly what I had hoped from the trip: relaxation, fun, and pure VIP pampering.