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Vegas Vacation Report

I recently vacationed for three days in Las Vegas, Thursday afternoon until Sunday afternoon, and had such a great time that I can't resist writing about it. Enjoy this rare economics- and politics-free post. :)

I was there with my main squeeze (who wishes to remain anonymous) and we stayed at Treasure Island (natch). Almost everything we did was on the strip, but it was still an excellent idea to rent a car because we spent time at four different casinos and had many errands to run, too.

I can happily recommend Treasure Island. The room was great: spacious, clean, attractive and comfortable furniture, and the shower/bathtub was excellent. In fact I only have three complaints about the room: 1) It didn't have a phone book. 2) The toilet ran a little (but you couldn't hear it outside the bathroom). 3) The alarm clock didn't work. It was originally stuck at 11:10pm with no apparent means for the guest to set the time. Housekeeping eventually fixed that but they got AM/PM reversed, so the alarm didn't go off.

I was hoping for a lot of pirate-themed stuff at Treasure Island, but it isn't very themed at all. It felt like a hotel and casino, not like a pirate adventure. <sigh> But speaking of pirate adventure, one night we did see the free "Sirens of TI" show at Treasure Island, and… once was enough. Almost from the beginning we both thought the show was awful. The lip-syncing and revealing costumes I can understand, but they should have taken some of the special effects budget — or some of the casting budget — and spent it on the script. The dialogue and song lyrics were groan-inducing. Literally. I groaned.

Even though I didn't enjoy that particular show, I still marvel at Las Vegas for its private provision of public goods. All that free entertainment! Oops, I did say this would be an economics-free post, didn't I?

The free entertainment at Bellagio — the water fountains — was much more enjoyable than the Treasure Island show. (But it really snarls traffic. Driving southbound past the Bellagio is painful. I think the problem is pedestrians ignoring traffic signals. They don't let cars through, so several lanes of traffic back up.) But my favorite free entertainment was at the Venetian. Singers in costume perform at several spots along the indoor canal, and always drew a crowd.

Of course the paid entertainment is better than the free entertainment. We saw four shows: Blue Man Group (Venetian), Cirque du Soleil's O (Bellagio), Zumanity, (New York New York), and Mystère (Treasure Island).

We saw Blue Man Group shortly after arriving, and I was amazed. It far exceeded my expectations, and I said that it was the best show I had ever seen. (It was also the most expensive show I had ever seen, and the economist in me can't avoid making that connection. Oops, right, no economics in this post…) The show is exciting, funny, energetic, surprising, and entertaining. You won't realize until it's over that you just thoroughly enjoyed a mime act.

That first show set the tone for the whole weekend. The Cirque du Soleil shows were also fantastic. The shows are so varied, and there's so much inside each show, that I don't know how to begin summarizing them. O is a water show, with a stage in several sections that submerge, permitting diving and swimming stunts. Zumanity, my favorite of the three, is very much an adult-themed show — sensual and beautiful and erotic, and the finale is incredible. Mystère was my least favorite of the shows, but was still an impressive showcase of acrobatics and music, and extra points if you love trampolines.

We had a specific mission when we went to Vegas. It has a reputation as a city couples elope in, and we took advantage of that. My companion dropped hints to a few of her friends along the lines of running off to Vegas and getting married as she discussed me with her friends. I told my parents that we were taking a vacation together but didn't say where we were going. So, on the strip, we looked for a seedy authentic Vegas chapel to get a picture in front of. We found two.

The one we wanted to use, but ultimately couldn't because it wasn't lit well at night, was a small chapel right next to an adult video store. We would have arranged the picture to have both signs visible simultaneously. The one we used was the Chapel of the Bells, where they'll chauffer you to a courthouse to obtain a marriage license… and yes, they even have an Elvis package!

When we arrived we asked the security guard to take our picture, which he was happy to do… until a strung-out hooker walked toward the area and the guard had to do his job and take care of the situation. Happily, at almost the same time, another couple showed up who wanted to do the exact same thing! We all laughed at the situation, took pictures of each other in front of the chapel, and went our separate ways. My companion sent a cell phone to a few of her friends immediately, and to some of mine the next day. We each had one person believe we had gotten married. Much fun!

This was a superb vacation. We knew that we would enjoy it simply because we could spend that time together. It turned out to be tremendously fun, too, much better than either of us expected. It was thoroughly wonderful and highly memorable.

And yes, we took a gondola ride at the Venetian. :)

Us in front of the Chapel of the Bells

Us in front of the Bellagio

Tiny Island