Enjoying and navigating the crazy life in Las Vegas

By Rita Joy Egan

Friends always told me that everyone must go to Las Vegas at least once. After my trip there a few months ago, I agree.

Keep in mind, I’m not a fan of crowds, which Las Vegas has. I’m also not big on walking miles to get from the front door of my hotel to my room, which you’ll do at most resorts, but all and all that’s worth it so you don’t hear the noise from the casinos and bars while you’re sleeping. However, the city has many pluses, so dealing with the crowds and the long walks are worth it for a quick trip. I say a quick trip because I wouldn’t suggest visiting for more than a few days unless you’re big on gambling and partying. Then, you may want to stay longer — or not if you don’t want to go broke. During my three-day trip, I didn’t get to visit every place I wanted to, but I did see a good amount and attended a couple of shows, which added up to a memorable vacation.

I highly recommend visiting as many of the hotels as you can. Each one has its own theme and shops. Even if you’re not gambling, there’s plenty to take in and experience. I stayed at the MGM Grand on the South strip, which has a cool view of the hotel New York-New York when you exit the MGM. In addition to those two resorts, I took in the sights at the Monte Carlo, Paris, the Flamingo, and Bellagio.

Hands down my favorite hotel is the Bellagio. Amid the wildness Las Vegas is known for, you can experience tranquility visiting the hotel’s indoor botanical conservatory or viewing the more than 1,000 Bellagio fountains streaming and jetting across a man-made lake outside of the hotel. No matter where you view this water ballet, you’ll be spellbound. Fountain shows occur every half hour after 3 p.m. on weekdays and afternoon on weekends. From 8 p.m. to midnight spectators can view the fountains dancing every 15 minutes.

I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t make it to the Venetian. Friends have highly recommended the hotel as well as the gondola rides offered there.

One of the biggest draws of Las Vegas has been the exclusive shows. In recent years, the strip has been attracting big stars such as Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Cher, and Bruno Mars. For me, the main goal of the trip was to catch Donny and Marie Osmond’s residency show at the Flamingo and Ricky Martin’s residency at Monte Carlo.

As a faithful-viewer of the Donny and Marie Show in the 1970's, I knew I had to catch their performance while in town. The siblings have been appearing at the iconic hotel for nearly 10 years, and after renovations, the hotel renamed their concert venue the Donny & Marie Showroom. The 90-minute performance is reminiscent of their television hit with a combination of their old songs and newer music, plus the good nature ribbing between the two. It’s a must-see for Osmond fans or anyone who is looking for a good old-fashioned show.

As much as I love Donny and Marie, the highlight of my trip was Ricky Martin’s residency show at the Monte Carlo’s Park Theater. Originally the singer was scheduled to appear a few months at the hotel, but his exclusive Vegas show will be returning March 15. Martin has dubbed it “All In,” and that is clear with every song. While the heartthrob sings a good number of swoon-worthy ballads, the majority of the songs are his dance hits. The majority of the show includes his English hits that most will remember including “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” “Maria,” and “Cup of Life,” which is smart on his part to draw in the Las Vegas audience, but also includes enough Spanish songs woven into the show to please his fan base. Add in talented dancers and backup musicians, and Martin has produced a show with Las Vegas written all over it. If I traveled to Nevada from New York just to see his show, I would have been happy. Martin’s residency show is one I recommend to everyone who is going to Las Vegas for a fun time. He doesn’t disappoint.

Finally, one tip I should share. Make sure you talk to your concierge before stepping out of your hotel to find the most effective way to travel from one point to another. I discovered to avoid the crowds on the streets, the Las Vegas Monorail runs from the MGM Grand to the Sahara Avenue Station with five stops in between, is a valuable mode of transportation. Fares run from $5 for a single-ride ticket to $12 for a day pass. I also took a free tram from the Monte Carlo to the Bellagio, and there are a few others on the west-side of the strip. I should also note that you can’t cross the strip at every corner, and some hotels have walking bridges to help you navigate the streets a bit easier. Planning is the key to navigating the wildness of Las Vegas.

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