I had the opportunity to take a short vacation with my wife to Las Vegas to enjoy some shows and eat some good food.  I thought I would just share some of the highlights of my experience for those who have also taken a nice vacation to Vegas or are looking to do so.

First, I usually stay off the strip when I go there for work since the cost is usually lower and the parking is much more convenient.  I am also a Marriott rewards member so strip properties don’t usually work for me. 

My wife did a quick search on the Marriott website and found that the Cosmopolitan was part of the Autograph Collection and I could redeem my points for a nice stay at a new strip property!  The decision was quickly made and we booked our room at The Cosmo. 

When we arrived, I pulled into the underground parking garage and took the elevators up to the main level.  To my surprise, the registration area was just to the left of the elevators – I didn’t have to walk a mile through the entire casino like most of the other strip properties!!  At the registration area, I noticed there was a line for Platinum members and Invited Guests so I jumped in that line (I’m Platinum with Marriott) just in case it meant Marriott Platinum and it was.  I was checked in and upgraded to a Terrace Studio Suite with a view of the Bellagio fountain.  As my free amenity, I chose the free breakfast for two at the Wicked Spoon Buffet.  We were also told that we could use the Invited Guest line at any of the restaurants or entertainment locations throughout the property – sweet!  The guest room elevators were right behind the registration area and only 10 – 15 yards away from the parking elevators – another plus for this hotel.

We had tickets for Celine Dion on our first night in town, Phantom of the Opera on our second night and then Ka on our last night.  My wife did a great job of searching high and low for the best seats at the best price and we had awesome seats for all three shows.  In fact, for Phantom of the Opera, we were in row 2 of the center section and I could clearly see the faces of all the performers.  The “worst” seats were for Ka and that was slightly to the left and 11 rows back – still pretty awesome!

Before the Celine Dion show, we decided to have dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s Spaggo in Ceasar’s.  Our dinner started with a sampling of 5 different breads and a heirloom tomato soup – awesome flavors!  I ordered a pizza off the lunch menu as an appetizer and we had the Salmon and Halibut dishes for our main meal.  All three were super tasty and we were too stuffed to fit in dessert. 

The Celine Dion show was more of a concert than a “show” and was very enjoyable.  She sang some of her original songs as well as the more “recent” ones and did some other interesting things.  I don’t want to give away all the surprises so I won’t give all the details here, but she does make use of a lot of technology during the performance.  As a tech geek, this of course got my interest.  Smile  The only annoying part of the performance was the stupid guy next to me who insisted on singing along with Celine.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if he could actually sing.  His wife must have punched him a dozen times or so to have him shut up, but he didn’t listen very well.

The morning of the second day, we decided to do breakfast at The Egg & I (4533 W. Sahara) and it was AWESOME!  In fact, it was so good, we went back for breakfast on the third day as well.  Since the Phantom was showing at the Venetian and we heard great things about Delmonico’s Steakhouse, we decided to give that a try after the show.  The gumbo and Louis crab salad were excellent and very flavorful.  There was plenty of crab (lump, not shredded) in the salad – just wish there was a little more lettuce.  We both ordered the bone-in ribeye as that is our favorite cut.  Mine was cooked just right (medium rare) and the seasoning was fantastic.  My wife’s, unfortunately, wasn’t as good.  Hers had a lot of fat, grit and veins and made over half the steak inedible (the manager did credit us for this steak).  We finished the meal with an awesome espresso crème brulee – totally yummy.

Phantom of the Opera was a great show.  Since we were in the second row and just about center stage, we had an awesome view of the action on stage and great audio from the orchestra pit right in front of us!  The set was spectacular and was clearly built for Phantom.  Everything flowed smoothly and the performers did a great job!

For dinner before the Ka show, we were craving sushi so we tried Yama Sushi (www.yamasushivegas.com).  We sat at the sushi bar and did the all you can eat for $23.95.  Pauw and Bon were the two sushi chefs that helped us.  They were fast and responsive.  The names of the rolls were just too funny not to try them – one minute man, man whore, sun of the beach, baby one more time and strip tease.  They were all super tasty.  The wait staff was excellent and refilled our teas regularly (only had to ask once).  I will definitely be back in the future (with some friends)!!

Ka was also a great show!  Like the other Cirque de Soleil shows I’ve been to, the performers also come out into the audience area and interact with folks before and during the show.  Once again, the technology used during the show was very intriguing.  One of the main platforms used by the performers was also some kind of display and totally added to the experience.  I don’t know how to describe it, but it was definitely COOL!

Other than the “token” quarters I’ve put into a slot machine here or there over the past 13 years in Vegas, I have never really gambled in Vegas (nor has my wife).  I have quite a few co-workers and friends who love playing craps and have taught me the basics over the last 10 or so years.  We decided we would complete the Vegas experience by playing a little craps while in town so we headed to the Paris to find a $5 craps table (too scared and cheap to do a $10 or $15 table at The Cosmo).  We decided $50 was a reasonable amount of money to lose if we didn’t win anything and so that’s what we decided to go with.  The dealers at the craps table were very nice and always willing to provide tips and guidance on how to bet.  With their help, we played some money on the “hard ways” and parlayed the winnings on those to really capitalize.  This totally paid off on a couple of rolls (a particular lady kept getting 10’s and 8’s the hard way)!  This was definitely fun and we had enough control to stop while we were ahead.

We took advantage of our free breakfast at the Wicked Spoon on our last day in Vegas.  There was a great selection of food – including sushi.  The sushi selection only had 2 rolls (shrimp tempura and salmon) and 2 nigiri selections (shrimp and salmon) but it was good quality.  One of my favorite dishes was the banh mi sandwich.  They used the same pancake dough normally used with Peking duck versus the normal baguette and we really liked that.

I really wish I had taken the opportunity to take my wife to the shows in Vegas years ago!  I found we can have fun in Vegas without spending a fortune and getting drunk!  The only thing I would change is the time of year I would visit – way too hot in summer (was almost hotter than Phoenix while we were there).

Harold Wong