A weekend in Vegas

We go to Vegas a lot. At least once a year. The trips started as annual things due to all of the comped hotels and rewards we were recieving after signing up for the reward programs when we celebrated our 21st birthdays there. The first piece of advice I give everyone who goes to Vegas, is if you think you will come back some time in the future sign up for their rewards programs. Right now the offers aren't as lucrative due to the economy, but once things start getting in motion again, those will rise. Before the housing bubble, Harrah's Total Reward program provided us with two free plane tickets to New Orleans, LA, where we stayed at the Harrah's New Orleans Hotel and Casino free for 5 days. It was a real amazing experience that I hope to write about soon. This was roughly two years after Hurricane Katrina. Shortly after that trip, the economy crashed, and our comps dwindled from free rooms on a monthly basis at any hotel under the rewards program across the US to strictly Las Vegas rooms only during certian time periods. We did manage to snag a free trip to Harrah's in San Diego, Lake Tahoe, and Reno before they completly dried up.

The comps have slowly been getting better lately. I highly recommend Harrah's Total Rewards. The amount of Casinos and Hotels under their program is one of the most extensive I have seen. In Las Vegas we have stayed at
  • Paris
  • Harrah's
  • Rio
  • Ceasars Palace
All for free under their rewards program. Not a bad deal when it comes to a free room in the entertainment capital of the world.

This time around though, we wanted something a bit different. Something... not so free. Two new hotels just opened in 2009 in Las Vegas, The Aria and The Cosmopoloitian. We walked through both of them on our last visit and both were gorgeous hotels. The Aria has a beautiful modern design look to it which we both fell in love with and we were curious what the rooms would be like, so we booked a few nights at their Sky Suites.

We weren't there just to check out a hotel though. Oh no. This was another foodie adventure. One of the best parts of Las Vegas is the amount of restaurants available to eat at, all within walking distance of each other. The food range from phenomenal to weird, and one thing is certain, if you are craving it, its being made somewhere on the strip. We arrived to early for to access our rooms, and decided to get some lunch before checking in, so we walked over to the Bellagio across the street to check out the Olives.
Olives is a Mediterranean restaurant with glowing online reviews, and the restaurant dewfintily looks the part. We were promptly seated and handed what appeared to be iPad knock offs. You see, Las Vegas is attempting to go digital. unfortunatly they aren't ready for it. Every tablet that was handed to us malfunctioned in some way. Perhaps because the people using them abused them, perhaps because they couldn't buy something nicer and a cheap iPad knock off was all there was. Our waitress brought us four tablets before she gave up and just told us what we could order. The food arrived quickly after placing the order.
The restaurant showcases a lovely view of the waterworks in front of the Bellagio. It is a nice place to sit, have a meal and enjoy the view.

We ordered two starters and one flatbread pizza: Grilled Squid & Octopus, Beef Carpaccio and Fig & Prosciutto pizza. Beef Carpaccio was the only highlight of our lunch. It was quite tasty and balanced. It was perfect while other meals didn't highlight anything special. The grilled squid & octopus didn’t go well with chickpeas. The squid was dry and octopus was overcooked and very chewy. The pizza was disappointing and lacked balance. It was terribly sweet. The sweetness of the figs dominated all other ingredients - we were unable to taste the rosemary flavored crust or prosciutto.

After we set off to our hotel.
Vegas strives for bright lights and busy colors, which always seemed a tad gaudy to me, but the Aria was more than that. It was like stepping into a very nice modern living room. A very large living room, that just happened to have a casino floor. An amazing place with modern decor and subtle neutral colors. The Aria is a triple diamond hotel designed by César Pelli. Mr. Pelli is an Argentine American architect and just happened to be the designer of the San Bernardino County Hall in San Bernardino California. As residence of San Bernardino County, we found that interesting. Mr. Pelli is also known for designing some of the world's tallest buildings and has been listed as the ten most influential living American architects by the American Institute of Architects.

The Aria has hotel rooms and then it has Sky Suites. Sky Suites are a Forbes Five Star Hotel with a private entrance and elevator. We had choosen the Sky Suites out of curiousity. What is the Las Vegas experience like without a tight budget and staying in rooms that aren't ever comped.

A room with a view.


The room had a gorgeous view. A living room, the bedroom and two bathrooms. Both bathrooms had heated toilets and floors. The Master bathroom for the Sky Suite is bigger than our master bedroom back home in California. It's a shame we didn't get more pictures of the entrance and the Casino itself. :/ The rooms were much much larger than any hotel room we have ever stayed at, but was it worth the extra price? If you need the space sure. If you are going to Vegas to lounge around and relax at the hotel, then it may be worth the extra money, but if you are going to Vegas to explore and enjoy the nightlife, you'll hopefully be spending as much time as possible outside of your room, in which case, it gives no real perks compared to the comped rooms we recieved elsewhere.
A walk near the Venetian.
Eventually dinner rolled around and it was time to get some food. We had choosen Cut by Wolfgang Puck. For us, Wolfgang Puck was always associated with food that attempted to bring airport food to a new level. If you are a frequent traveler, you have no doubt seen their many "fast" food restaurants spread.... everywhere. It's not fair to judge Mr. Puck off his airport restaurants. These are designed to be quick and "relatively cheap". He's actually a exteremly accomplished restauranter. Accomplished putting it very lightly. His companies own many fine dining resturants and as well as top 40 resturaunts in the US.
Cut : Wolfgang Puck




After all this time we were finally getting a chance to dine at one of Wolfgang Puck's finer establishments. Cut is located inside of the Palazzo and is a winner of the AAA Diamond Award. We arrived a bit early before they opened and were offered a seat at the bar until they were ready to seat us. Once again, the drink menus were on digital tablets, but luckily these ones performed without any issues.
The bartender bought us some olives, wasabi peas, candied almonds and popcorns.
The restauraunt is beautifully lit. It's not too dark nor is it too bright.
Cheese bread bites
Maple Glazed Pork Belly, Asian Spices, Watercress, Seasame-Orange Dressing, Fuji Apple Compote
Big Eye Tuna Tartare, Wasabi, Ginger, Togarashi Crisps, Tosa Soy
Austrian Oxtail Bouillon, Chive Blossoms, Chervil, Bone Marrow Dumplings
Bone Marrow Flan, Mushroom Marmalade, Parsley Salad
Bone Marrow Flan on the bread




The meats presented for our selection. We ordered the "Tasting of New York Sirloin" which consisted of samples of their top beef steaks.
The seasonings provided - a waste. Not even necessary. Sauces provided - also a waste.
American "Kobe Style" from Snake River Farms 4oz
U.S.D.A Prime Dry Aged 35 days 4oz
True Japanese 100% Wagyu Beef from Saga Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan 2oz


If you ever get the chance we HIGHLY recommend trying Japanese Wagyu Beef. Even a small 2 oz tasting can take your taste buds to a whole new dimension of flavor. The meat is so delicate and rich it's hard to believe you are eating beef. Be careful of imposters though. Many restaurants attempt to sell "Wagyu style" beef which isn't actual true Wagyu and doesn't have the same texture.
Berry Cobbler with Pistachio Nut Ice Cream
Bruleed Banana Cream Pie with “10” Year Chocolate Sauce, Bananas Foster Ice Cream
Miniature Treats


Cut was an absolute supurb culinary experience. Everything about the meal was top notch. Although it is very, very pricey, it is worth every penny.

Our plans after the amazing meal were to see the new show at the Aria by Cirque du Soleil called "Zarkana". They are tons of different shows in Vegas to see. If you think you would enjoy a show showcasing a mix of circus acts / ballet / gymnastics, you may enjoy their shows. We picked Cirque de Soleil for the visual experience. It is a treat to the eyes. The one note worth mentioning, in our opinion, is although each show has its own unique flavor and most likely a specific "act" unqiue to the show, the majority of the performances are recycled. It's easy to feel that once you have seen one of their shows you have seen them all.


There's much to do in Vegas once the sun goes down and afterwards if your hotel room offers the view, you can watch the life as it happens below you.
The view from our room at night.

The following day we went to our favorite Las Vegas burger shop.

Home…

Winnipeg


Day 1

Winnipeg


Day 2

Winnipeg


Day 3

Winnipeg


Day 4

Winnipeg


Day 5&6

Calgary

Day 6

Calgary

Day 7

Calgary

Day 8

Maui


Planning

Maui


Day 1

Maui


Day 2

Maui


Day 3

Maui


Day 3.5

Maui


Day 4

Maui


Day 5

Maui


Day 6

Maui


Day 7

Maui


Day 8&9

Las Vegas

Julian Serrano

Las Vegas

Holstein's

A weekend in Vegas

Red 8
&
Red Rock

New York

City

Airbnb

Issues

NYC-Day 1

Soho Nolita

NYC-Day 2

East Village

NYC-Day 3 part 1

The High Line

NYC-Day 3 part 2

Ichimura

NYC-Central

Park

NYC-Day 5

Touring NYC

NYC

Smorgas burg

NYC-Times

Square

NYC-Brooklyn

Market

NYC-Brooklyn

Loft

NYC-Brooklyn

Bridge

NYC-Momofuku

saam bar

NYC

Endings

Revisiting

New Orleans

NOLA Preserve

Jean Lafitte

New Orleans

A Feast for the senses

Las Vegas

Tasting Menu

Japan

The Plan

Japan

Plans go awry

Japan

Gearing Up

Japan

Jet Lag

Japan

Singapore Airlines

Japan

Ginza

Japan

Ueno Park

Japan

Akihabara

Japan

Nakano Broadway

Japan

Ghibli Museum

Japan

Shinjuku

Japan

Shibuya

Japan

Harajuku

Tokyo, Japan

Final Thoughts

October

Las Vegas

Omaha
— to —
Denver

Japan
-Kyoto-
Hiiragiya

Japan
-Kyoto-
Fushimi Inari Taisha

Japan
-Kyoto-
Nishiki Market

Japan
-Kyoto-
Tsubara House

Macaques
and
Temples

Kyoto, Japan

Final Thoughts

Nara, Japan

Nara Park

Koyasan, Japan

Mount Koya

Koyasan, Japan
Okunoin
Cemetery

Hiroshima

Memorial Peace Park

Hiroshima

Sogo

Hiroshima
Shukkeien
Garden

Hiroshima

Mount Misen

Japan

Kagoshima

Yakushima

Sankara

Explore

Yakushima

Hike

Yakushima

Drive

Yakushima

List…