A little bit of this town goes a very long way.
Hunter S. ThompsonKelowna. That is where our trip began.
We don't travel a lot but the times we have, have given us some good ideas on how to maximize what little time/money we do have. We dropped the Girls off at my in-laws in the afternoon and then drove to Kelowna to check into our superduper cheap hotel, The Days Inn. I found a great deal on booking.com. It was close to the airport and that was key as our flight left at 5:50 AM! 😳 It is a small airport so you only need to be there an hour early but it is over an hour away from our house. Plus, the roads were ridiculously icy! We opted to take out all of the early-morning stress and just stay a close 8 minute drive to the airport.
It was a Saturday so I had called around to all of the sports lounges and found a great one! We went to The Canadian Brewhouse & Grill. We watched the Oilers on Hockey Night in Canada with our own personal speaker at the table which was a good thing because apparently something called UFC 😜 was on and they can get pretty rowdy. We shared some bacon cheese sticks then I got some poutine and a Caesar. We got all of our Canadiana in while we could 😂.
After the first period we went back to the hotel and finished watching the game there. Now, we had the best of intentions but apparently the other hotel guests did not have early flights LOL it felt like we are on spring break… People arrived at all times of the night, the couple beside us had a drop-down fight and screamed at each other for at least an hour, it sounded like there was a herd of elephants above us and bottles were being smashed in the parking lot 😡!
When I "woke up" at 4am the next morning and looked at my Fitbit it said that I got 1 hour and 15 minutes of sleep! And that's how we started our first day of our Las Vegas trip.
After a quick flight to Calgary and some breakfast we were on our last leg, the 2 hour flight to McCarran airport!
We got in 25 minutes early at about 11 AM. The cab ride to our hotel was interesting… The first thing the driver asked us was about our Canadian healthcare system😳😷🤒😂. We pulled up at our hotel, New York-New York and the sun was shining and the skies were blue ☀️!
As most of you know… I am a planner. When Ninja and I go on vacation we don't like to waste a second. We like to see and do as much as we can. The best way to save money and do this is by planning.
Ninja and I are both M life members, we both spin on MyVegas Slots (a Facebook game that allows you to cash in your loyalty points for actual rewards), and we took full advantage of Groupon! The only problem with this is when you get there you need to go to separate concierge, M life desk's, and box offices to pick up each of your tickets. It's kind of shitty but it's worth it to us as we wouldn't be able to afford to do all the fabulous things that we did unless we used all the tricks we could to our full advantage.
We picked up our $100 worth of free play for New York-New York slots, Ninja's free cirque ticket, and our hotel credits (I called the New York-New York concierge when booking and using my rewards I got one free night, the lowest possible rate for the other 2 nights, 2 tickets on the roller coaster, and a $50 drink credit). After we picked up all that we took the skywalks to the Tropicana to pick up our Groupon show tickets. Of course, the skywalk from the MGM to the Tropicana was closed down for maintenance 😐. By that time I had already done 11,000 steps and it wasn't even noon!
After all of our "housekeeping" we headed over to the Mandalay Bay. Ninja used his rewards for 2 free tickets to the Shark Reef! After a little blip (more walking to different places to get the damn tickets), a lot more walking and a delicious cheeseburger & beer at Johnny Rockets we finally got our tickets.
The Shark Reef was fun. I don't know if I would pay money to see it but it was interesting and we saw a lot of super cool fish!
After our underwater adventure it was time for a real Vegas drink! We went back to our hotel and in front of the Hershey store is the Chocolate Bar! We felt very fancy ordering 2 very decadent chocolate martinis.
We felt even cooler when we found out we could take our martinis and walk around the casino with them! As my feet were already killing me by this point *SEE TIPS AT BOTTOM OF POST* I thought my boots were my most comfortable shoes but apparently I was completely wrong! Halfway through the first day my toes were blistered, raw, and on fire! We decided to take our martinis up to our room. Our room was in the New Yorker tower.
Ninja is such a gentleman that he held the elevator door for me as I pretended to be very la-de-da with my very la-de-da chocolate martini. Unfortunately the doors of the elevator closed fast and they didn't bounce back when they hit Ninja's shoulder, instantly his fancy martini flew from his hands and shattered throughout the elevator in millions of tiny glass shards, the Hershey kiss that was at the bottom of his lovely drink was now sitting on the floor directly in the middle of the elevator on the floor 😞. You should have seen his face 😒!
After a refreshing shower and a quick change we headed off to the Bellaggio!
Ninja and I went to a lovely lounge called Lily for a cocktail before dinner. If you keep your eyes open you can find a ton of deals in Las Vegas. A beautiful blonde handed us a ticket for bogo so we took advantage 🥃!
We still had a little bit of time before our dinner reservation (we got there very early to request a patio table.) so we walked through the Bellaggio and took in all of the sites. They had a gorgeous exhibit in the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens based on the Chinese New Year, year of the Rooster. It was stunning.
For dinner we treated ourselves to Todd English's Olives. Everybody has heard of the famous Bellagio Fountains right? From the strip, They are stunning! From the balcony overlooking the fountains... they are beyond anything I could have ever imagined! Every 15 minutes the fountains danced to a new song with new choreography. It was jaw-dropping. There weren't a lot of tables on the patio, we were very very fortunate to get one. It is an experience I will never forget.
SBesty and SHubby arrived and we had a phenomenal dinner!
BUTTERNUT SQUASH TORTELLINI
brown butter, amaretto cookies, sage, & parmesan cheese
roasted tomato basil sauce, sweet italian sausage, & garlic bread crumbs
OLIVES CHICKEN “PARMESAN”
pesto whipped potatoes, roasted root vegetables, and blistered cherry tomatoes.
SEARED HOKKAIDO SEA SCALLOPS
braised oxtail risotto, smoked baby squash, & burgundy reduction
OKLAHOMA PORK CHOP
warm pecan couscous, english peas, caramelized cipollini onions, red pepper coulis, & marsala cream
The food was amazing, the company was tremendous and the view/show was spectacular! I highly recommend!! However, we spent too much money because this was our 1st night and we weren't thinking properly lol. I ate so much of the delicious bread basket I could have saved us $30 just by getting an appetizer for dinner. I didn't finish even half of my delicious chicken and I couldn't box it up for later as we weren't going back to our room yet and besides there are no fridges/microwaves in your rooms anyways. 💩 Bad Bad Bad!
After dinner we went to the Laugh Factory and saw Brian Scolaro. He was hilarious! When the show ended it was midnight. Midnight of our first day. Although SBesty and SHubby were ready to GO the only place we are ready to go was bed 😂.
The next morning we met up for breakfast at America. The food was nothing special but this is something we learned about Vegas on our last trip... We saved our money for a few fabulous meals and supplemented our other meals with less expensive choices. I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong, all the restaurants offer something unique and/or yummy. In America they had a giant 3-D map of The United States. It was pretty cool.
For our second day we split up. Ninja and SHubby went to the Luxor and enjoyed The Bodies Exhibition while SBesty and I took the Deuce to the Fashion Show Mall!
We had a great day window shopping and enjoyed a fabulous cocktail and an amazing bowl of Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (caramelized shallots, ginger and crispy kale) at The Neiman Marcus Cafe. Actually, the best thing about that stop was the popover! Every table received a popover or giant Yorkshire pudding with a side of whipped strawberry butter. Oh my Gawd it was so good I was tearing off the popover and dunking it liberally in the butter! I will definitely be trying it here at home 💕!
The Guys met up with us and then we walked down to Circus Circus. Ninja was my superhero and took me to Forever 21 and picked me out some inexpensive but super cute strappy sandals! He even put them on my brutally blistered feet. Honestly, once my piggies were set free I felt like I could take on the world! LOL SHubby was our Alcohol Ninja 😂🍾🍸🥃 he carried a backpack that included a Ziploc full of ice, a bottle of gin, a bottle of rum, mix and cups! As we walked he made sure our cups were always full!
We had dinner at Vince Neil's Tatuado. We bought a fabulous Groupon for $54 a couple & we received 4 steak dinners, 2 bottles of wine and 2 large pieces of cheesecake for dessert. It was good. Not great, but good. The music was awesome though and the retro decor was tacky but cool. The wine selection consisted of Reds: Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Merlot. No names just varietals... so you can guess the quality right there 😂. It's a good thing we had a few gins before the wine🍷!
After a quick change in the restroom Ninja and I walked to the Mirage.
We got there just in time to take our seats and enjoy a spectacular cirque show, Beatles Love. Wow! What can I say about the show? It was spectacular! I have never been in a theatre that big, it was a feast for your eyes! It was visually stunning! Of course I think we must've missed the free drugs being handed out in the foyer because I didn't understand a freaking thing that was happening 😂but I don't think that mattered, every song had a different stage, a different set, different tricks and amazing talents! We had hoped to use our Vegas Rewards for 2 free tickets but they were continuously sold out. I can see why. We ended up buying the tickets on a Valentine's Day special which made it very affordable. However, even at full price I would pay to see that show… And that is saying a lot for me LOL.
At the beginning of the show they warn you, NO CAMERAS! Of course I had to try, but I got caught 🙈. This is a little glimpse of the magic of Love,
After the show we took the Deuce back to our hotel to meet up with SBesty and SHubby. They went to Ka and said that it was pretty damn fantastic as well! The Deuce. Ohhhhh the Deuce. You really get to see people of all walks of life, all nationalities and all levels of education when you take the Deuce... especially later on into the evening. It is a show all to itself! 😂
After some more drinks, some gambling with our credits, and some late-night snacks, we called it a night (even though it was clearly morning lol).
Day 3… Valentine's Day! 💛
Ninja and I had a little sleep in and then took the Deuce to Paris Paris. We enjoyed an incredible breakfast on the patio of Mon Ami Gabi in front of the Bellagio. The sun was shining, the skies were blue, we had the most amazing street performer right off to the side playing his saxophone and he just topped off our experience ☀️🎶🌴! What a beautiful way to start our morning!
3 eggs anyway with rustic toast, blistered cherry tomatoes with rosemary, buttery shredded hashbrowns and date glazed bacon.
After breakfast we explored Paris Paris a little bit. The detail is ridiculous! It is 1 of favourite hotels to walk through for sure!
Then we used our Groupon to take the elevator over 460 feet up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I thought I was going to puke on the glass elevator but it was so worth it to see Vegas in that way. Last time we were lucky enough to go to the top of the Mandalay Bay and enjoy the strip at night. This time we got to view the entire city in the beautiful sunshine, spectacular!
It was gorgeous to see the bowl of mountains surrounding us, then the whole stretch of red desert before finally seeing the entire city. It was pretty phenomenal! Plus, by taking a picture of the Bellaggio pool we received our very first Nevada geocache souvenir!
When we were back to solid ground we took a lovely stroll to the Flamingo. Would you believe I had another Groupon 😳🤗? We got a fabulous Groupon for the Flamingo Spa, 2-25 minute relaxing foot baths and a 50 minute aromatherapy couples massage. It was a beautiful spa! Ninja and I were taken to separate men/women spas for our foot baths. While my feet soaked in an arnica bath I was comfortable in my fluffy robe, heated neck wrap and had cucumber slices resting gently over my eyes. After that 25 minutes of heaven our hosts lead us to a joint room where we each received a eucalyptus Swedish massage. It was absolute pure bliss! They gifted us each with a bottle water and a chocolate and led us back to our sides. Once there we each enjoyed the pools. There was a cold pool, a warm one, and a hot tub with blowers and Jets. After some supreme pampering, a sauna, and a steam... I took a shower, in the glass shower with 4 jets 😍 and then got ready for dinner.
We met up outside in our fancy clothes and walked to the Arc De Triomphe. It was a beautiful evening!
Then we went inside to have a drink before dinner. I ordered a beer and I got Id'd! 😂 I started laughing at him but he looked very serious and said, "no seriously I need to see your ID." Well he just made my day 😘!
The moment we walked through the "chunnel" passing from Paris into "London" we knew why people waited in line to get in! It was beautiful!
And the food! Oh my GAWD! The prices can be overwhelming to be sure 😳 however, we started with cocktails and appetizers. I got a Strawberry Martini and Chris opted for a craft beer.
One of our many servers brought us the bread plate. Holy shit! I will dream of that bread plate for many nights believe me! It was black sea salted creamery butter, walnut and blue cheese rye, 2 different brioche buns 1 a pancetta and caramelized onion and the other black truffle! It also had 2 lemon rosemary loaves soaked in olive oil that was absolutely to die for!
Ninja had a Caesar salad, of course LOL which was amazing but what really took it over the top was the Scotch Egg. It was a quail's egg that was wrapped in panko and ground sausage! Delicious! I had a bowl of British Ale Onion Soup, Boddington’s pub ale, caramelized onion broth, and Welsh rarebit (melted cheese on toasted bread). It was so thick and creamy! The flavours were so rich. Best. Soup. Ever.
For dinner we each opted for a glass of red wine. Ninja ordered the famous Gordon Ramsay Beef Wellington which came with glazed root vegetables, potato purée, and a red wine demi-glace. It literally melted in your mouth.
Now here is another trick, sometimes your eyes are bigger than your belly. The portions in Las Vegas are huge and if you are not a big eater, an appetizer or sharing dishes would work just as well! I took that into consideration and ordered American Wagyu Beef Sliders, demi-glace, pickles, onion jam, white cheddar sauce, & spiced “jo jo” potatoes from the appetizer menu for my entrée. I am so happy that I did! It was the perfect amount of food and they were so delicious that they may have ruined me for McDonald's forever 😢.
Although all the tables around us order dessert and they looked phenomenal we were stuffed so we asked for the cheque. We were pleasantly surprised later on after further review to notice that our server forgot to add all of our drinks to our bill! It was actually $80 less than we had anticipated!
Start the car! Start the car 😂😜😳!
After dinner we took our time and walked back to our hotel. There we met SBesty and SHubby at Zumanity. We got our tickets through the Rewards program and therefore they were free as well!
Zumanity. What can I say? Another cirque show, another phenomenal experience! The talent level is through the roof! The music was great, the humour was seriously the best and it was SEXY! The perfect show for Valentine's Day 💕!
Being our last night we went hard 😳. After the show we filled up our cups (thanks again to SHubby) and hit the New York-New York Rollercoaster, The Big Apple Coaster! We had 4 free tickets so the Guys went on twice. Yeah, the glass elevator up the Eiffel Tower was enough thrill seeking for me 😂.
After the rollercoaster we went to the Duelling Piano Bar. It was crazy packed so we hit up The Centre Bar to use up the $50 free drink credits each couple had.
Ummmmm we were hammered 🍷🍾🍻🍸🥃.
So hammered we went for expensive late night snacks at Tom's Urban! It was a beautiful night/morning for garlic fries and nachos on the patio! Beware the Spanish Coffee though!!! SBesty and I asked for special coffee and paid for each shot that went into our coffee! $10.50 for the Kaluha and $10.50 for the Brandy!!!!!! That is what happens when you drink too much, you pay $25 American for a coffee and he forgot to bring me my side of milk 😂.
The next morning we were up early and we met downstairs to check out and get a cab to the airport. Ninja got to see the new arena up close! It looked like it was going to be another gorgeous day in Vegas ☀️🌴!
So we figured all together, including hotels, flights and airport parking we spent just over $2000. About $500 more than I was hoping but I'm not going to get bent out of shape about it. I had the BEST time 💛.
Now, what can we take from our Las Vegas experience?
Top 12 TIPS to do Las Vegas right!
1. Bring an Alcohol Ninja with you 😂! You will save SO much money in drinks if you bring your own. Drinks are the most expensive thing on the Strip, a breakfast cocktail can set you back $15... pace yourself 🍻.
2. Use Groupons, rewards programs and any other discounts you can find to make the most of your vacation $$$.
3. Remember the "eyes are bigger than your belly" saying. It is ok to share dinners/breakfasts or have appetizers for an entree... if you are hungry later, that just means you get to try out other delicious appetizers at other places and STILL won't spend more than 1 entree would cost at some of the restaurants!
4. Check out a Cirque du Soleil show! Any one of them I'm sure it doesn't matter, it is well worth the expense!
5. Take cash! Hotels have safes in them. Split up your cash and only take out what you have allotted yourself each day. There are so many temptations out there but if you know you only have so much to spend, you will stay within your limits.
6. Go to CVS to buy late night snacks... take it from us, nachos at 1am may seem like a good idea at the time but it is expensive and leaves you with morning gut rot, especially if you are not used to late night eating... right SHubby 😜?! This is also the place to stock up on water. Thoughout the day you will get thirsty for something other than alcohol (it's true lol) but we found that bottled water did not come cheap $6 for a small bottle! However you can get it for $3 or less at CVS. It all adds up.
7. Gambling. Don't do it... but if you do, know when to cash out. We had a $100 playing credit and spent $30 cash on slots. We walked out $20 up. It was only $20 but we felt better knowing we didn't leave down.
8. Menu boards are everywhere. If you are unlike me and didn't research all the restaurants on the Strip, use them! If the prices are not to your liking, don't go in. Also, there is happy hour everywhere... early dinners can be so much cheaper with happy hour prices. However, see tip #6 about late night eating.
9. The Deuce is the bus that stops up and down the Strip the SDX is the Express version of the Deuce. They also go to Freemont and the North/South shopping malls. A 3 day bus pass is $20. The SDX and the Deuce come about every 15-20 minutes. The easiest way to navigate the bus system is to snap a picture of the route so you know your stops. Also, the bus is interesting and shows a whole different side to Las Vegas 😉.
10. Turn off your data roaming!! Every hotel has free wifi. As soon as you enter a hotel you can add yourself to their network and use the internet. However, turn off your data roaming so you don't accidentally use your cell on the streets and come home to a CRAZY bill.
11. Patio tables cannot be reserved. If you want 1 and you do 😉, prepare to show up to your reservation early and wait. Most places will give you a little light to let you know when your table is ready. You can go explore while you are waiting and then come back to your table with a view!
12. Always, Always, ALWAYS wear good walking shoes!