I’ve been to Las Vegas quite a lot, each time for a different reason. A few times for work and a couple of times with friends planned way in advance. Each visit had a different set of travelers ensuring each trip was filled with a plethora of different activities, schedules, and commitments. But what I love about Vegas is the ability to take a quick, last minute trip there – knowing you can usually find a good deal and knowing you have plenty of activities to choose from at the spur of the moment once you arrive. This was one of those trips.
Mandalay Bay would be my home for three nights, a resort that came highly recommended. It’s also one of the easiest resorts to get to from the airport. My Thursday afternoon check-in gave me plenty of time to get comfortable in the room and make some relaxing plans for the next few days.
Since it was an R & R trip, my husband and I decided to have a spa day. We quickly scheduled Friday to visit the Bathhouse Spa at the Delano Hotel, adjacent to Mandalay Bay. I chose to have a body scrub which was really relaxing and relieved a lot of stress as my therapist was amazingly good and very aware of the pinpoint stress points in my body. The Delano and Mandalay complexes were very accommodating. As par for our entire experience at Mandalay, the resort went above and beyond and provided us “anytime access” to both Bathhouse Spa and Spa Mandalay just in case there was any inconvenience experienced. There wasn’t, but we welcomed the hospitality and had plenty to keep us well occupied and well relaxed.
When I had come to Las Vegas before, there was a lot of rushing around to go to place to place, resort to resort, and I didn’t want that as much this time. There is a lot to see which can become an overload. That's why night two of our trip found us taking in the sunset at the Skyfall Lounge at the Delano, right there at the Mandalay Bay Complex. I had been at other high-rise spots in Las Vegas at night and this one is a definite must. It was a two-drink sunset. Both sunset and the drinks finished just in time to for dinner at the Rivea at Delano.
Rivea is the newest restaurant offering a renewed take on a French and Italian Riviera influenced cuisine from internationally celebrated Chef Alain Ducasse. We can really say that nothing here disappointed. From the spectacular staff who truly go above and beyond to make your visit special, to the impressive views on the 64th floor, to the amazing food prepared by the chef – everything was top notch. I highly recommend a meal here for those of you thinking of visiting Las Vegas soon.
We had flirted with Mandalay Bay for two days since our arrival on Thursday and Spa Friday, and it was amazing. Saturday morning, with our restless legs and the inspiration from last night’s French cuisine, we set out to have brunch at Bardot Brasserie at Aria, a restaurant from celebrated chef Michael Mina. The brunch at the Bardot Brasserie was sumptuous. Hello foie gras parfait and the hunter’s waffle. Done and done! The food was so delicious and the ambience was Parisian chic and the staff was very attentive and friendly. And don’t miss out on ordering the Everlasting Rosé, a bottomless glass of rosé that makes the brunch that much better. Our overall dining experience was excellent. The phenomenal service and cuisine we expected was delivered. There's such quality in Michael Mina's restaurants and Bardot is one of the finest. I look forward to coming back – hopefully very soon!
Returning to Mandalay Bay area that evening, we did something we had never done before … probably one of the most touristy things one could do in Las Vegas … we went next door and saw The Blue Man Group at Luxor. Luxor is home of the famed Temptation Sundays -pool parties every Sunday during summer for the LGBT community and their friends. The Blue Man Group was highly recommended by some friends who had just visited and the show lived up to the hype – a fun time with grandiose color, sound, and laughs. Red is usually my favorite color, but for that night, it was blue.
On Sunday we had planned to check out of Mandalay Bay and check into Bellagio for two more nights. After checking in, we decided to have another brunch – this time at Lago by Julian Serrano. Lago is a new sleek and very modern contemporary restaurant at the Bellagio overlooking the famous Bellagio fountains. The decor is atypical of most Italian restaurants with a light and bright setting that makes for a very pleasant atmosphere. We requested an outdoor table and enjoyed the fountain show while we waited for our meal. As for the food – absolutely delicious – will definitely be going back again.
After brunch we walked around the main floor and were amazed once again at the Chihuly Glass Sculpture that adorns the lobby ceiling. Almost every time I’ve come to Las Vegas, viewing this sculpture has to be on my list, which is odd since it never changes, but is still so inspiring. The attraction that does change is the display at the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden. Take your time and take in what the designers do to these displays seasonally. Some of my favorite pictures from my Las Vegas trips have come from the Bellagio Conservatory. You can go to the live web cam and see not only current shots, but go back in time as well to previous displays.
To continue our Las Vegas visit, we decided to spend Monday afternoon exploring more of Bellagio. Lucky for us the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art’s current exhibit was “Picasso — Creatures and Creativity” which showcased 43 Picasso works created from 1938 to 1971 — 19 lithographs, 13 linocuts, eight paintings and three rare plates centering on the artist’s favorite theme, the human figure. Like the Garden, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is closed during transitional times between exhibits so keep an eye on the Garden and Gallery schedules online.
Our last night in town, we chose to go to Carbone at Aria to continue with the Italian theme. Carbone’s tag line is Timeless Italian Cuisine. Needless to say, this meal along with Lago, rekindled my love of Italian food. Of course, there was foie gras on my appetizer plate and the main course was just as rich and hearty.
As we checked out of Bellagio on Tuesday morning and were saying goodbye to our R & R weekend in Las Vegas, I thought, this trip with me and my husband was what the doctor ordered. This stay in Nevada showed me that a quick getaway to Las Vegas could be had without a lot of running around and long planning. Plenty of hotel choices, amazing chefs and restaurants, and an ever-growing list of activities means you’re definitely going to have a great time once you arrive. Keeping it simple was the plan and it ended up being perfect. Mandalay Bay and Bellagio were great places to call home and great buildings to lose oneself in, in a good way, and add a dash of Aria, made for a blessed journey. It might be time for a return trip. Who wants to meet me there?