TRAVEL THURSDAY: Visiting Las Vegas as the Pandemic Winds Down

More than a year after the Coronavirus Pandemic turned Las Vegas into a ghost town, the city is rapidly coming back to life, fueled by the vaccine rollout, the lifting of mask restrictions, and the reopening of many attractions. 

Since we’ve personally been vaccinated, we thought we should venture out so that we can give our readers a firsthand experience of traveling after the pandemic.  After a relatively easy flight, our plane arrived in Las Vegas. Once off the plane and in the terminal, we were surprised at just how busy the Las Vegas airport was. Getting a rideshare was close to a half hour wait, our longest ever at McCarran International Airport (LAS).

Nomad Hotel

Our first stop was the Nomad Hotel – a boutique hotel located on the top 4 floors the Park MGM Hotel, and comes with a luxurious décor and upgraded amenities.  We checked in at the Nomad’s dedicated check-in area and the staff couldn’t have been nicer and friendlier.  The room itself was very chic, inspired with French décor and styles throughout.  We stayed at the Grande Suite which came with a large in room bathtub and some really nice touches, like an old style phonograph with Vinyl albums of Cher and Lady Gaga – which, of course, became our soundtracks during the stay.

The Park MGM itself is a newer hotel, having taken over the space from the Monte Carlo hotel.  Located on the strip, the property reopened on September 30th and is the strip’s first smoke free casino.  Among other dining options, it features Eataly – an open-air venue of all things Italian, featuring a full-service restaurant, take out counters, a marketplace, and more.

Bardot Brasserie

Once we were all settled in our rooms, we headed out to lunch at one of our favorite Las Vegas restaurants, Bardot Brasserie located at Aria, a short walk from the Nomad.  Bardot was a delight, now in its seventh year, (staying power is always a good sign, and in Las Vegas restaurants can have an amazingly fast turnover).  The new Chef, Nick Dugan and his menu were a delectation.  We started the meal with a French onion soup for my hubby and a Salmon smoked platter with Kaluga caviar for me – so delectable.  Next, we both enjoyed the Le Steak Burger which was done to perfection.  After the burger, I was stuffed as I completely devoured the burger, but our wonderful server recommended we try the baked Alaska – and since I am a pushover when it comes to dessert, I said yes.  I am so glad I did because it was amazing, and I finished the entire plate with no guilt as it was that good.

After the amazing brunch, we decided to check out the pool at Nomad, which is exclusive to Nomad guests so there was plenty of space to lounge.  We really enjoyed just being outdoors and poolside after being cooped up in our home for more than a year.

Best Friend

For dinner, we decided to check out Best Friend from famed Chef Roy Choy at Park MGM.  The décor of the front entrance is very kitschy and consisted of staples you normally pick up at Asian food market.  We were quickly greeted by the hostess and she quickly brought us to the Chef’s table located in the open kitchen.  As is the norm due to COVID protocols, we used a QR code on the table to load the food and drink menu on our devices (you can ask for regular menus if you prefer). Our waiter Sam came over to assist with the menu and he was both helpful and fun.  Our drinks arrived quickly, and we highly recommend one of their signature drinks, simply named Cucumber. We were amazed at how quickly the food came out of the kitchen as their practice is to bring out the food as soon as it is done.  We tried many of the items on the menu, and while all of the food was delicious and a little spicy, our favorites were the Kogi short rib tacos and the grilled whole fish with jalapeno ponzu and vegetables.  The fish dish was first made famous on a Netflix show and we wholeheartedly agree with its assessment.  For dessert, we ordered the medjool date cake with caramel ice cream and it did not disappoint.

Primrose

The next morning, we decided to check out Primrose, a Charming, French-inspired bistro at Park MGM.  As soon as we sat down, our server immediately came over to offer beverages.  We started with the Mediterranean plate, which was quickly dispatched, and my hubby ordered an omelet while I chose the deep-dish pancake covered with chocolate. As you can see from the image, our table was immensely popular as most patrons who happened to pass by could not resist commenting on the pancakes, and yes, nothing was left on the plate.  Primrose is a definite must stop for us next time we are in Las Vegas.

After the meal, we took a quick stroll around Park MGM to try to burn some calories before going back to our oh so comfortable room to enjoy our books – something we like to do on all trips.

Din Tai Fung

Before dinner, we checked out Alibi Bar for drinks where we tried their signature cocktails and chatted with our friendly hostess.  Dinner was at Din Tai Fung, the newest restaurant at Aria and a world famous dumpling house from Taiwan.  We were not as familiar with the cuisine, so our friendly waitress assisted us with the menu.  For me, the standouts were the Truffle and Kurobuta pork long bao, shrimp dumpling, jidori chicken bao, and shrimp fried noodles.  We ate so heartily that we did not have any room for dessert, though there is always a next time.

Remodeled Bellagio King Room

The next morning, we checked out from the Nomad Hotel and into The Bellagio Hotel to see its newly renovated rooms.  The Bellagio is one of the most famous hotels on the Las Vegas Strip… it has so much to offer and is absolutely gorgeous! The Bellagio Hotel is iconic in Las Vegas and you may know it for its famous water fountain show, the fantastical indoor conservatory garden, and the beautiful glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly in the ceiling of the lobby.  Our reinvigorated room did not disappoint, with its light and chic décor.  The bathroom also got an upgrade, ditching the bathtub and replacing it with a much larger walk-in shower.

Since it has been more than a year since we had a massage, my hubby and I decided to treat ourselves with a couple massage at the Spa Bellagio.  The check in was very easy and we were shown into a private room with two massage tables.  We were given an option to add aromatherapy or hot stone massage with the treatment and since we were wearing masks, we decided to do the hot stone and wow, it was so relaxing and pleasurable – I had forgotten what a wonderful massage does to you.  After the massage, we were then ushered into a connecting room with a personal pool where champagne and chocolate covered strawberries were waiting for us.  They told us we had one hour to enjoy the space and we did to the last minute.

Later we decided it was time for more cocktails so we headed to the Petrossian Bar to indulge and enjoy some caviar and drinks.  The place was quite happening with a live piano playing in the background.  We ordered the signature cocktails and sampled a couple of caviar appetizers.  We highly recommend the Petrossian chocolate pearls – a chocolate dessert that is made to look exactly like real caviar.

Mayfair Supper Club

For our last night in town, we checked out The Mayfair Supper Club, as it came highly recommended.  We will be joining the chorus of high recommendations as this Sin City offering has become my husband’s favorite Vegas experience to date! 

The Mayfair Supper Club just might be the start of a new trend, offering a fresh take on a dinner and a show.  It’s a restaurant, bar, and club with live entertainment and music.  The place has a speakeasy/1920’s cool jazz bar vibe with a backdrop of the Bellagio fountains.   We ordered the spicy tuna and Hamachi sushi appetizers, followed by a filet mignon with crab and hollandaise sauce.  The steak was excellent, perfectly cooked, and melted like butter in your mouth.  For dessert, we had the soft serve ice cream with traditional toppings which was highly enjoyable.  All the while, acrobats, dancers, musicians, and singers performed all around us.

All in all, The Mayfair was superb! The service was fast and friendly, the food was as exceptional as we hoped, and the ambiance is like no other place we have dined before – an absolute enchanting and entertaining experience that is a must try for anyone visiting Las Vegas!

The next morning as we were preparing to leave for the airport, we both commented on how refreshed and relaxed we felt and how wonderful it was to be able to get away, decompress, and really enjoy eating out among others, especially coming from a very weird 2020.  If you are fully vaccinated, the world is now open for your enjoyment and I say, start with Las Vegas.  Until next time friends.

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