It's been a busy month! Immediately after returning from our younger daughter's wedding this last weekend, we turned around and headed to Las Vegas to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary. Our goal was to celebrate our anniversary and have a blast doing so, but also to stay on budget . . . a difficult task in this city of excess.
It started with a promotion I spotted on Travel Zoo a few months back offering an overnight stay at Bally's plus a nightly buffet dinner for two at either Paris, Planet Hollywood or Rio, all for just $56 a night. I bought a two night stay for $112 total, and began quickly planning out the rest of the trip. Neither Mike or I care to gamble - we view Las Vegas primarily as an easy-to-drive-to destination where we can enjoy top notch shows and fabulous dining. Neither of which come cheap by the way. The days of cheap shows and even cheaper buffets are long gone, at least on The Strip.
Hotel reservations secured, I zeroed in on which shows we wanted to see. The budget allowed for one blow out show, which we had already decided would be Viva Elvis by Cirque du Soleil, plus one or two more shows that were considerably less expensive. I turned to my trusty discount sites, TravelZoo and GoldStar, and quickly found 50% discounted tickets to The BeatleShow at Planet Hollywood. Perfect! We had buffet privileges at Planet Hollywood because of our TravelZoo voucher, which would make for a perfect dining/entertainment combo.
I then spotted a 25% discount deal for the CSI Experience at the MGM Grand which sounded intriguing, so I purchased two tickets to that as well.
Now to try and score discounted Viva Elvis tickets . . . there was nothing on either the official Viva Elvis site, GoldStar or TravelZoo, so I did a general search next, using "Discount Offers for Viva Elvis in Las Vegas" as my search phrase. Success! Displayed were numerous sites offering a 25% discount per ticket. I selected a website that appeared credible and purchased discounted, mid-range $90 per person tickets that placed us in Row 8, stage right. And yes, $90 was only mid-range, even after the 25% discount!
On the morning of our trip, I packed a bag with granola bars, bananas, apples, bread, peanut butter, jelly, cookies and pretzels, and filled a small portable ice cooler with water and soda, to cover us for breakfasts and lunches during our trip. Buying all three meals out becomes quickly cost prohibitive, not to mention calorie prohibitive. We prefer to eat simply for two of our three daily meals, and splurge on just one. I also brought a bottle of wine to enjoy in our hotel room, allowing us to bypass the ridiculously overpriced restaurant and bar wine offerings. To give you an idea of how steep the markup is, I brought a lovely J. Lohr 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon that set us back $30, but I have personally seen this same bottle offered at $105 in more than one restaurant.
We took off in our car, and were settled into our spacious and attractive room at Bally's three and a half hours later:
|You'll note the wine is already out and ready to go on the coffee table . . .|
On day two, our actual anniversary, we started off the day by walking over to the MGM Grand to do the CSI Experience. I knew it was an interactive event that involved trying to solve a crime CSI style, and I liked that I'd bought the tickets at a 25% discount, but other than that I wasn't sure what to expect. Well, it turned out it was a lot of fun! We were given a file folder and a set of visual clues, and then had to use our own powers of observation to determine who did it, in CSI style of course.
After coming out of the exhibit, we walked over to Wolfgang Puck's Bar & Grill, still within the MGM Grand, to enjoy a must-try appetizer I'd read about while putting together this trip - Truffled Potato Chips with Bleu Cheese. When they brought out the plate below, we about passed out from the wonderful aroma. What can I say other than that they were deliciously decadent . . . and that we ate the plate clean.
We walked a portion of The Strip next, to try and burn off at least a few of the calories we'd just ingested, before heading back to our hotel to change into swim suits and while away the remainder of the afternoon at the pool.
We headed back up to our room afterward for much needed naps, then got ready for our fancy-schmancy anniversary celebration evening - our free dinner at Paris' Le Village buffet, followed by Viva Elvis at The Aria hotel, about a 30 minute walk from Paris. Given I'm not a night owl by nature, I was counting on the walk to refresh and revive me before we arrived at the show and took our seats, which it did. And what a show it was! A rockin', rousing 90 minutes of music, dance, acrobatics and special effects which knocked both our socks off. Honestly, how did we exist before Cirque du Soleil came along and raised the bar so on live entertainment?
|I know, not the fanciest of dress for our 30th anniversary, but it was hot, hot, hot at over 100 degrees, and shorts and sundresses just seemed the sensible way to go!|
|The free water fountain and music show at the Bellagio|
Take away the pricey 30th Anniversary celebration to go see Viva Elvis, substituting a less expensive and discounted show like, say The Australian Bee Gees at the Excalibur for $25 a ticket, and the cost drops significantly to somewhere around $375. Which, for an action packed two night stay in Las Vegas, is not a bad deal at all, and proof that with a little pre-planning, Las Vegas can still qualify as a bargain destination.