An August 1999 trip
to Las Vegas by Re Carroll
Quote: Las Vegas is famous (infamous?) for its casinos but recent years have turned it into a destination resort with a wide variety of sights and attractions. Now, non gamblers can have just as much fun as their gambling counterparts.
Although it is THE gambling hot spot of North America, Vegas has really expanded to become a family destination with adventures and attractions that will appeal to all ages and budgets. This works well for my hubby and I since he's much more interested in the traditional Vegas of casinos galore while I like the theme park type of attractions that are everywhere.
There are so many great themed casinos and the designers don't scrimp on extravagant exhibits and attractions. My long time favorite is the Luxor with its 30 storey replicated pyramid and interior exhibits and decor designed to resemble ancient Egypt.
On our last trip, I was also impressed with Bellagio's extensive indoor gardens that include topiary Victorian ladies with colorful flower decorated dresses and umbrellas. Outside, water fountains perform musical ballet on an hourly basis.
Hotel | "The Excalibur"
Although the outside is bright white with colorful turrets of red, blue and gold, the dark color scheme in the guest rooms is a bit dull for my taste but the location and price compensate and since this is Vegas, you''re not in the room much anyway. On the plus side, the rooms are large with 2 queen size beds and our room had a large picture window with a good view of the strip. The bathrooms are also large and contain a hairdryer and the usual toiletries.
One of the features I really like is the security. You can''t get access to the tower elevators where the rooms are unless you show your room key. Since my husband usually stays up later to gamble than I do, this security helped me to feel very safe heading up to my room alone at 2 a.m.
Excalibur has a shopping arcade, lots of restaurants and an extremely large casino. If you hear loud trumpets, it means that King Arthur and his court are in the neighborhood and you may want to keep an eye out for their procession.
The large outdoor pool is sort of U shaped with a rock ledge and small waterfalls diving the sections. A lifeguard is on duty and there is a small shop beside the pool where you can buy sun screen, etc. if you''ve forgotten yours at home. Naturally, poolside beverage service is available and this is a great place to relax and recoup your energy for another round of sightseeing and/or gambling.
There are a number of large, popular casinos in the immediate vicinity, including New York, New York and The MGM. The Luxor and Mandalay Bay are a short monorail ride away.
The price is downright cheap - double rooms start at $59.00 but I''d recommend paying a bit more for a room with a view of the Strip - it''s quite spectacular at night.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 14, 2001
Excalibur Hotel & Casino
3850 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
The tables are set along the windows overlooking the artificial lagoon where the nightly pirate ship battle takes place.
Like the rest of Treasure Island, the theme is pirates and the restaurant decor resembles the inside of a fancy pirate galleon but you don't have to worry about hard tack or gruel for dinner. The menu features lobster, prime rib, steaks, seafood, duck, etc. My husband loved the sea bass which was pan fried and served with rice and crisply steamed vegetables. I had chicken which was good, but the portion was small. Other members of our party had prime rib and lobster and said theirs was delicious.
Prices are not cheap but the quality of the food and the excellent service combine to make a memorable meal. One benefit to smaller size portions is that there is room for dessert and we were very pleased with the Grand Mariner souffle. There is a good selection of wine and liqueurs as well.
Don't come here expecting to get a front row seat for the nightly pirate battles. The restaurant is located behind the ship and most of the special effects happen in the front so there isn't a lot to see but do come here for an excellent meal with great service and ambience.
By the way, they don't make you walk the plank although one wonders what would happen if you couldn't pay for your meal?
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 14, 2001
Buccaneer Bay Club
3300 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
+1 702 894 7223
Restaurant | "Luxor Pharoah's Pheast Buffet"
Don't even think of coming here for breakfast unless you've built up an appetite because the presentation and selection is so appealing that you're going to want to try a little bit of everything.
The lay out is spacious with lots of room between the long buffet tables that are piled with sausages, ham, bacon, potatoes, pancakes, eggs, salads, fruit and pastries galore and more items than I can remember.
Seating is rather tacky because there is such a long line up that you feel like part of a cattle herd as you shuffle along but the wait isn't usually longer than 15 minutes and once seated, the booths have enough space between them that you do have some privacy.
We've not been here for the lunch or dinner buffet - usually we eat so much during a late breakfast that it keeps us full for most of the day.
A word of caution - if you plan to make a habit of eating at buffets, you better make a habit of getting lots of exercise to burn off those calories.
Pharoah's Pheast Buffet
Luxor Hotel - 3900 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89119
Attraction | "The Rio"
This is one of the few casinos where it was easy to find nickel video slot machines and since I'm not much of a gambler, I was in my glory. The touch screens had a wide selection of games to play. It didn't hurt that I won and even if it wasn't enough to retire to Europe, it was still lots of fun.
My favorite part of Rio was the roof top lounge that is truly outdoors on the roof. There are sweeping views of Vegas, especially impressive at night when you can see for miles. The elevator from the casino lets you out at an indoor bar with large glass walls that let you see the view from inside but what's even better is the outdoor area where you can pull up a chair and enjoy the night air and the fabulous views.
A large number of the patrons were in the 25-35 age group and when we were there, a jazz combo was performing.
Rio Las Vegas Hotel & Casino
3700 West Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, Nevada 89103
Attraction | "The Freemont Street Experience"
Part of Freemont has been covered with a high canopy and equipped with a state of the art sound and light show that makes getting a crick in your neck worthwhile. It's a riot of color, sound and images and the street action stops while everyone watches the presentation. There is no charge for the show because the downtown merchants and casino owners are hoping this will entice tourists (and their money) away from the Strip for a little while. The show is presented every half hour and each one of the three shows we stayed to see was different.
The street is blocked to traffic and there are street vendors and outdoor cafes and the whole area takes on a street party atmosphere. If you want to kill time between shows, look for signs for .99 shrimp cocktails or pop into one of the many casinos and tempt Lady Luck. The classiest of the downtown casinos is the Golden Nugget and it is located right on Freemont Street.
This area also has lots of neon signs and looks like the Vegas you see in the 70's movies.
Fremont Street Experience
Westernmost 5 Blocks Of Fremont
Las Vegas, Nevada 89101
(702) 678 5777
Attraction | "Wedding Chapels"
We visited the Little White Wedding Chapel with its drive up window (...that'll be one wedding and a side of fries, to go).
Their sign states that Michael Jordan and Joan Collins are just a few of the thousands of people who have gotten married here over the years.
There is a nice little outside garden area and a kitschy mural on the wall as well as white limos parked outside waiting for the happy bride and groom.
Why not grab some bird seed (the environmentally friendly alternative to rice) and help the happy couple celebrate their nuptials?
Wedding Chapels at the Bellagio
3645 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
+1 702 693 7700; +1
Abbotsford, British Columbia