Slow Motion Vacation in Las Vegas

Four nights with three grandparents in their 80s, two teenage daughters, my husband and me. With people who have mobility issues and early bedtimes, there was no gambling or shows viewed, but we enjoyed some very fine dining and sightseeing at the themed hotels.

Amazing Sights for Free on the Strip

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by artslover on May 1, 2009

Since we did not manage evening activities, other than dining, we did not see any shows nor gamble at the casinos, although gambling seems to be something which can be done 24/7. In any event, we did manage to do some shopping in the many shops attached to the hotels along the Strip. While walking up and down the Strip we were well amused to spent a lot of time just looking at the themed hotels.

A couple of things to note about walking the Strip: everyone tells you how long the blocks are but you just don’t appreciate that comment until you try to walk somewhere. Crossing the Strip itself, Las Vegas Boulevard to be exact, takes longer than you think. The traffic signals show 45 seconds and it takes all of that walking at a brisk pace. The pedestrian overpasses become something you really appreciate especially when walking with people who are slow. Most of them even have escalators, although, early in the morning, they were stopped, and I understand, they get turned off late a night. The late nights were not a problem for our group.

The most interesting hotel sights:
The Bellagio with its fountains synchronized to music and the colourful glass flowers by Dale Chihuly in the lobby ceiling
Paris – just too funny to see the pint sized Eiffel Tower
New York New York with the petite Statute of Liberty and the Coney Island roller coaster riders whose screams you can hear from a long way off
The pyramid and Sphinx of the Luxor
The Venetian hotel canals, mini Rialto Bridge, Doge’s Palace replica and St. Marks Square – but what is with the heavy perfume smell inside?
Caesar’s Palace with the ancient Roman statuary outside and people posing as statues on the inside
The painted ceiling of the Miracle Mile shops, formerly Aladdin's Desert

The Las Vegas Strip provided some great eye candy and all for free.
Las Vegas Strip
Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, Nevada

Quiet Signature Suites at MGM

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by artslover on May 1, 2009

This was a trip with three grandparents, two teenaged daughters and ourselves, a middle aged couple. We originally booked the Bellagio for its central location but ended up changing to the Signature suites at MGM because one daughter wanted to be closer to the Lion Habitat. Because the location is a bit away from the Strip, it was preferred by grandparents who wanted afternoon naps. Our group was not concerned about lots of action going on in our hotel. We had three rooms on the 18th floor in tower 3. We were conveniently in three adjacent rooms and found them very quiet, clean and comfortable. I appreciated the non-smoking building and not having a casino at the bottom of the elevators.

This accommodation can involve a lot of walking. In our case, two of the octogenarians have some mobility issues, but the moving walkways were a help and we just allowed plenty of time to get anywhere in the resort complex. If getting somewhere quickly is important, this may not be an ideal spot for some people. Another plus for us with the Signature suites was the kitchenette which we used for breakfasts. With different waking times and morning routines, being able to make coffee, and store juice and fruit in the fridge was very convenient. One of us without mobility issues would get pastries from the Delights café or Starbucks which were at the base of the towers and bring them back to the rooms so we could all manage to eventually get ourselves going in the morning.

Our room was a one bedroom suite with our daughters using the pullout sofa bed. The website does not make it clear that there is a sofa bed but we confirmed that when we called the reservation telephone number. It is also worth noting that there was no additional charge for having four people in our suite. The rates were very good: $129 for the junior suites and $204 for the one bedroom suite plus the daily resort charge of $20 (which it seems could just be added to the room rate instead of the extra charge).

Our daughters appreciated the internet access in the rooms which is part of the justification for the additional charge. We also received bottles of water each day which were handy for our walking jaunts and daytrip out of town. Although we meant to, we did not use the fitness center and it was too cold to enjoy the pool. Nor did we find time to use the spa which looked quite nice. (If you read what little we did, you'll wonder why we didn't have more time.)

The grandparents particularly enjoyed the spacious bathrooms and the Jacuzzi to massage their tired legs after a day’s adventure (for them).

The rooms were kept clean, including the kitchens, and extra towels were brought each day.
MGM Grand
3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
(702) 891-7777

Not Very Like a Tavern, but a Good Restaurant

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by artslover on May 1, 2009

We pre-booked this on the MGM reservation line before we left because we were concerned that our group of seven might have problems finding a table on short notice. That concern probably was not necessary as we did not find the restaurant busy on a Sunday night even though the following Monday was a holiday.

Although called a tavern, this restaurant is not very tavern-like. It is basically a modern restaurant with a lively atmosphere and casual décor. The staff was very friendly and we enjoyed our meal there.

There is quite a range of prices and menu items. You can view the menu at: Our group enjoyed a variety from the menu – short ribs, scallops, lamb, and pheasant -- and the kitchen was able to revise an appetizer item into a main course. We were all quite satisfied with our meals. Cost for the a la carte orders was about $40 per person not including wine and no one had dessert because we were all too full.
Nobhill Tavern
MGM Grand - 3799 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, 89109
(702) 891-7337

Excellent Food

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by artslover on May 1, 2009

My husband and I had been to DB Bistro in New York so wanted to give this version a try. We were surprised we were able to get our group of seven in for a 7 p.m. reservation when we called at 5 p.m. Perhaps it is a sign of how the economic situation is affecting Las Vegas.

When making the reservation, we were advised of the dress code: collars for men and no athletic wear. Despite making it sound like we might be underdressed as our men were not wearing jackets and all the women were wearing trousers, we did not feel we were too casual.

The menu can be found at I had the db burger, which is a specialty of the New York bistro. It was just as good. Those who had the beef tenderloin declared it the best they had ever tasted. All of our group found the food excellent.

There is a patio outside the restaurant which faces the Lake of Dreams, a pool with a waterfall. The light and music display at the Lake of Dreams was an unexpected bit of entertainment.

Cost was about $45 per person, not including wine, and including dessert. Pretty reasonable for the quality, I'd say.
Daniel Boulud Brasserie
3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S
Las Vegas, Nevada
(702) 770-3310

Best Meal of our Trip

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by artslover on May 1, 2009

Our last dinner was at Picasso at the Bellagio. The restaurant faces the lake where you can see the fountains but sitting at ground level and at such close proximity, we discovered was not an ideal spot to watch. When we were outside or even across the street, the fountain show was much more spectacular since you saw the full effect. In any event, the food was our main entertainment.

One warning, the restaurant menu does not have a la carte. You chose either a five course degustation menu or a four course prix fixe. There are some additions, for an extra charge, also possible. One of our group was having trouble deciding between the two menus and was allowed to pick from both, although he was told never to tell anyone else.

Both the grandmothers protested that they could not eat so many courses and wanted to have only one item. They were talked into picking something from each course and if they were too full, not to eat it. In the end, they both ate every bite. We even managed to polish off the tray of small pastries that arrived after our dessert course was over.

The menu can be found at:

The wine list was the length of a Russian novel with a lot of items that would have required remortgaging our house in order to pay for them. It was an interesting read nonetheless and in the end, we found some not unreasonably priced bottles to order.

The dinner was incredibly delicious and the wait staff was some of the best -- efficient, charming, informative and entertaining. It was a great dining experience for everyone. As we left, the ladies were given cookies in a small box with a magnetic enclosure. It was a cute souvenir. We are now all trying to decide what we can use the box for.

The meal was very expensive: food was about $120 per person.
3600 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109

Expensive but Amazing

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by artslover on May 1, 2009

The admission for this is rather expensive, almost $17, with no discounts for seniors or students but the experience was eye popping, especially, the tunnel where sharks and other animals swim above your head. You get an amazing close up view of the animals often from an underwater viewpoint. There is also a pool where you can touch manta rays and other creatures – if you dare.

At the beginning, they talk your photo which they try to sell you at the end of your visit and there's also a souvenir shop at the end. In other words, this is a very touristy place. The admission includes an audio guide and you walk in one continuous direction from start to end so you won't get lost following the guide. You can linger as long as you like at any spot. Since none of our group lives near an aquarium, this was a unique experience for most of us.
Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium
3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89119
(702) 632-7777

Patience Pays Off If you Want to See Lions

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by artslover on May 1, 2009

One of our daughters was extremely keen to see lions so we booked the MGM hotel so she could make frequent visits to the Lion Habitat.

The Lion Habitat displays 1 – 3 lions in a two story plexiglass enclosure in a corner of the casino (the southwest corner, I think, if I have my directions straight). They are brought in from a site outside of Las Vegas where they have 37 lions. Of course, the Signature suites tower 3 where we booked is about as far as you can get in the MGM resort from the Lion Habitat. Nevertheless, our lion loving daughter visited at least once a day and since it was free, her persistence paid off. Most of the times, she went when the lions were sleeping. Still, she liked looking at the lions when they were sleeping on a clear plexiglass archway where you could get a close view and appreciate how big they are. But one time she visited, the trainers had them up and moving about. Many photos were taken and she was happy.
Lion Habitat at the MGM Grand
3799 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
+1 702 891 1111; +1

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