Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Back from Vegas - Quick Review

We got back from our last pre-baby vacation last night. We went to Vegas for 5 days. It was very much a spur-of-the-moment type vacation. We found a good package with air fare and a hotel, so we took it. We didn't plan anything for our trip besides the hotel room at the MGM Grand.

How did that work?

Well, it was strange. In some ways, it was relaxing. No schedule, no where to be, no plans to keep. On the other hand, we kept asking each other, "what do you want to do?" Then we'd shrug, talk about it for 10 minutes and do something random. We'd already been to most of the hotels, and some we didn't want to go back to (Tropicana is top of the list).

I think we've been to Vegas too much, too recently. But even given that, it broke us out of the awful ennui that had gripped us both the last few weeks. It was nice to get away and do something different, even if it was eating M&Ms on the hotel bed while watching CNN in the afternoon. (Don't get me wrong, that wasn't the only thing we did in our hotel room.)

The MGM Grand:
First impressions: Big.
Second: Disappointing Room. I paid for an upgraded room in the West Wing. The advertising on their website made it sound like it had this great decor, great furniture, lots of space and cool tech-y gadgets. They gush about the TV in the bathroom mirror, the extra large bathrooms and the showcase of modern design.

When I first saw our room, I went "This is it??" It's tiny. It had just enough room for 1 king size bed and a couple of uncomfortable, modern chairs. I only sat in it a couple of times to put on my shoes. There was no relaxing in it. No place to sit down and have a meal except on the bed, and then you worried about getting mustard on the super-white, fancy coverlet. The bed was comfy, I'll give them that. The shower was large, and the water was hot and had lots of water pressure. Would I stay in the West Wing again? Never. Even given the fact that I don't care for modern design, I felt like I got stuck in a tiny room and they tried to shoe-horn in a bunch of amenities that should really be standard. I mean, flat-screen TV? That's getting to be standard just about everywhere.

Oh well, it fulfills our requirement of staying somewhere different every time we go, but for my money, my favorite place was still the Mirage. Spacious rooms that didn't make you feel like you were sleeping in a shoebox and comfortable design with chairs and a table you could really use.

(Edit: I also have to say the entire place was spotless, from the rooms to the casino to the restaurants. They were very thorough and it was very nice.)

The food at the MGM Grand:

Good - The studio cafe. The french dip sandwich is the absolute best I have ever eaten in my life. If you're there, order it. You'll be thrilled. Their omelet was delicious, filling and satisfying, and the chicken strips were generous, tasty and not overly greasy.

Nice - Fiamma's. For once, we splurged on a fancy, ritzy, celebrity chef restaraunt. Our last night, we went to the Italian place in the MGM, and it was nice. The portions were not oversized, the pasta was light, even with a cream sauce, and I'm trying to figure out how to recreate that incredible insalata with pears, gorgonzola and pistachios.

Bad - The Buffet at the MGM. Save your money. The food was worse than boring. It was bland, unimaginative and limited. And they charged us $30 for this pitiful spread. They don't even have a bathroom in the restaurant and they don't provide you with little towlettes. I had crab legs, and it was awful trying to clean my hands off afterward. Even the desserts were boring. Two words - Stay Away.

One final comment on the weather. We are four for four now. Four trips, and every single time, it's rained on us. They should pay us to come to Vegas when they're having a water shortage.

More to come later, including pictures, lions and a pregnant woman's guide to Las Vegas Bathrooms.

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