Travel: Downtown Las Vegas Nevada

I can remember clear back to the first time we drove to Las Vegas, like it was yesterday; only it was at least 20 years ago. We were leaving a club in downtown Hollywood, when our driver had the bright idea to drive straight to Vegas, which was what we did. We headed straight to Vegas, without stopping at any of our homes first. We drove for 6 hours and arrived at 8am; in a town that slept during the wee morning hours.

Needless to say we were much too early for the pool party, much too late for after hours and much too tired to do any gambling. Since that was the era of cheap, massive amounts of food at overflowing buffets; we queued up to chow down. It took about 45 minutes and made us feel much more sleepy than anything.

So there we were without clothes or toiletries, short on cash and depleted of energy; riding on the escalator into Caesars Palace. We tried our best to entertain ourselves at 8am in Las Vegas, but after a few unsuccessful minutes of blocking out the bright energy of glowing and clanging casinos, we gave up and decided to return home to California; to sleep in our own warm beds. Needless to say, I wasn’t sold on the Las Vegas experience just yet.

That didn’t happen until a few years later, when I took to Vegas for the work experience of a lifetime. I was given the most fabulous job of mystery shopping several Five Star Hotels and Casinos.

The food and amenities were unlimited, the partying was paid for and the service was impeccable. I was a very young looking 23 year old, throwing a lot of money around and it was one of the best experiences a young girl can have.

It was also my first taste of First Class service; and I was sold.  Delivering First Class service in  Uptown Las Vegas during the 1990’s was second nature. Regardless of your age, gender or ethnicity, you were treated to exceptional service with a smile; because they wanted you to return. They were professional and knew how to treat you, so that you would return, even after leaving your savings account on their gaming floor.

That was also the time of the Casino turned family Amusement Spectacle. Las Vegas went balls out adapting to the world of tourism, slowly incorporating Foodie retreats for families, alongside the dens of sin for the mischievous.

There were volcanoes that erupted, boats that went to war, as well as lions that slept as you watched; which were slowly followed by an influx of indoor boutique malls, food courts and water fountains. The entertainment became more seductive, grandeur, explosive and mysterious.

As time went on the Casinos grew like phoenix’s out of the dust of older imploded casinos. They became much more posh and mall like, and soon the competition was fierce. So the new thing is bigger hotel and smaller casino.

Such as it was in Downtown Las Vegas this past Labor Day weekend when we stayed at a Hotel on Fremont Avenue in the center of it all. They are upgrading the older original hotels and turning them into sophisticated places to lounge. The casinos are still the same size as they always have been, but the amenities and the services are growing and bursting at them seems.

At the Golden Nugget they have gone overboard offering swimming with the sharks in their shark tank. At their indoor pool you can take a slide on the 3 story glass enclosed slide that takes a turn through the shark tank; where sharks swim all around you.

The newest opening was on the strip. Labor day was the grand opening for the SLS Las Vegas Hotel, which was gorgeous and illuminating. The design and decor were sophisticated and grown up, with a little twist of naughtiness.  They also opted to scale back the casino area and it works nicely. To make up for the lost revenue they have brought in fabulous restaurants and 80,000 square-feet of dedicated meeting space.

Another new and out-of-the-box concept is the newest and my most favorite! The recycled Downtown Container Park. It’s a plaza made up of mom and pop boutiques, housed inside recycled shipping containers. They used their noggin when it came to designing this place. I just knew I would love it when we walked up to find a humongous fire-breathing preying mantis just outside the entrance. The center of court is held by a gigantic tree house that is so majestic it takes all your restraint not to hope on board and climb it, even if you’re an adult.

If you haven’t been to Las Vegas in a while you will be astonished with all the new Hotels, of which I haven’t even began to share with you. If you have a place you think I should visit please share it with me below in a comment.

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