Monthly Archives: July 2008

Viva Las Vegas – Part I

Welcome to another post on my blog that I hope you find useful.

Just trying to catch up on my weekly blog posts. I recently  returned from a quick trip to Las Vegas using an airline called Allegiant Air.  They fly out of Bellingham which is about 30 minutes south of the Peace Arch border crossing (Canada / US). Bellingham Airport is a breeze to transit through. Minimal lines at check-in and passing through security is a minor inconvenience since you already crossed the border security so all the flights have Domestic Status.

Allegiant Air uses McDonnell Douglas MD83‘s which are an older aircraft but very comfortable (the seating is 5 abreast). Since they are a budget airline, there is a charge for checked baggage so travel light to minimize your expenses.

I arrived the evening of Friday, July 4th.  Hotel accommodations were very expensive on the Las Vegas Strip since it was the American Independence Day long weekend. So the first two nights were spent at a budget hotel casino a few blocks off the Strip called Terribles.

Here are my views from a travel agent’s perspective on all the major hotels I explored.

TERRIBLE’S HOTEL CASINO: This was great value for money. I would rate it approximately “two star plus”, the rooms were very comfortable and ours was furnished with a 42″ plasma TV.  There were complimentary facilities that included parking, the use of a basic fitness centre open 24 hours, and internet access from a computer terminal in the fitness centre. The Bougainvillea Café and Rotisserie offered excellent value for money and was nicely furnished. The hotel is off the strip but well located for bus services and it is approximately a 20 – 30 minute walk to the strip. There is a nice outdoor pool area which is open late. This hotel is a short car ride (or 45 minute walk) from the Liberace Museum.  After the first couple of nights, a relocation to Planet Hollywood was in order.

PLANET HOLLYWOOD RESORT & CASINO:  It offered a nice bit of pampering. This was the former Aladdin Hotel Casino which was transformed over many months into the amazing Planet Hollywood.  The hotel is furnished in contemporary soft brown and purple colour schemes.  Our room contained a large plasma TV as well as authentic movie paraphernalia from “Basic Instinct”. The exterior is just as impressive as the interior, with lots of neon lights and large LCD screens, almost like being at Piccadily Circus in London, U.K. The pool area is on the 6th floor and has a roof type set up with views of the surrounding hotel towers. Inside the hotel is the Miracle Mile Shops, a shopping mall offering a variety of shopping and dining options.  It also has a unique mix of shows in a theatre on site.  

MANDALAY BAY HOTEL & CASINO: The hotel features an outdoor shark reef aquarium and a saltwater aquarium which can only be accessed by paying an admission. There is a huge tropical fish tank in the reception area and beautiful floral displays. The hotel is connected to the Four Seasons Hotel and is only 10 minute drive from the Las Vegas Outlet Centre. It is connected to its sister properties, Luxor and Excalibur, by the free Mandalay Bay Tram.

LUXOR RESORT HOTEL & CASINO: Has an impressive ancient egyptian theme inside and out. The pyramid shaped hotel is clearly visible from the distance, especially at night when the bright beam of light is shown skyward from its apex.  It is undergoing a major interior renovation at the moment in the centre of the pyramid. but nevertheless, still an amazing structure, also a great location too. 

NEW YORK NEW YORK HOTEL & CASINO: It captures the New York city theme by creating the facade of the city skyline with tall skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, etc.  This 12 year old hotel casino is currently undergoing a significant renovation project…inside you’ll hear the sounds of construction echoing throughout the casino. The inside of the casino has an art deco theme.  There is a shopping restaurant area with cobbled streets with all types of ethnic food available. The hotel houses a huge roller coaster and a Harley Davidson store. 

EXCALIBUR HOTEL: An older hotel based on a Knights of the Round Table theme.  It resembles a castle from both the outside with its many turrets  and the inside too with many of the areas and restaurants having an Arthurian name. 

TROPICANA HOTEL & CASINO: This is an older hotel and was one of the early ones on the Strip. The hotel is located opposite the Excalibur and looks abit worn and tired. The hotel consists of a couple of towers and a low rise building of hotel rooms.  The pool area appears very nice though and has tropical theme. The are two major exhibits at the hotel casino:  Bodies the Exhibition and Titanic – The Artifacts Exhibit.

BELLAGIO HOTEL & CASINO: The Bellagio is a very grand hotel inside and out. It is renown for its large artificial lake between the hotel and the strip that is home to the amazing dancing water fountain synchronized to music.  The dancing water fountain runs throughout the day and most of the evening.  When you walk into the lobby what strikes you right away are the spectacular glass blown flowers hanging from the ceiling by the reception area.  It was created by Dale Chihuly and is called the Fiori di Como.  In the casino area, there are canopies with italian style patterns hanging from the ceiling. Adjacent to the reception area is a garden area with american imagery with a nest of eagles, statues of bears made from what appeared to be shrubs and clothing from actual moss, jumping water fountains, and a miniature train running along tracks across the different sections of the garden.

I’ll continue posting my impressions of the other major Las Vegas hotels and their convenient transportation system in a few days.

So many hotels…so little time. Be patient, part 2 is well worth the wait.

European Destinations with a Difference

Now that the European seasonal flights are well under way, don’t just set your sights on the capitals and the well known cultural cities but think further afield to the mediterranean hot spots, places like Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, and Turkey to name but a few.

During the summer, Vancouver is connected to the hub airports of Europe by charter flights.  These include the usual cities like, London, Manchester, Glasgow, Frankfurt, Paris, and Amsterdam.  However, there are some new destinations too.  Zurich opens up the breathtaking sights of Switzerland, as well as Dusseldorf for Germany and Central Europe.  The latest addition is Dublin for southern Ireland – original draft Guinness is closer than you think.

So what Mediterranean countries have you always wanted to visit but thought that they were always out of your reach?  Well, no they’re not.  How about the Spanish Costas?  For example, Costa Dorada (Salou airport), which boasts one of Europe’s largest theme parks called Port Aventura. Possibly the spanish Canary Islands, such as Tenerife. You will find luxury spas, new theme parks, designer shops, cosmopolitan marinas, and the last word in hotels; these draw visitors to the island’s stylish south while ecologically minded and active travellers come to discover the lush forests, small coastal towns, and the mountain villages of the North. All these “destinations with a difference” can be booked from Canada.

So forget the usual vacation spots like Mexico and the Caribbean, be the envy of your friends when you show them your holiday photos with a “difference”.  I grew up holidaying at these Mediteranean destinations and many others, so go on pick my brains, I will be happy to recommend some of these destintions to you based on what you’re looking for.

Rainbow Travel Blog - Mount Teide

Rainbow Travel Blog - Mount Teide

Rainbow Travel Blog - Port Aventura

Rainbow Travel Blog - Port Aventura