What happens in Vegas…mostly stays in Vegas, when you’re there on business. Thank God, because in the spare time I did have to explore the city for the first time as an adult, I quickly discovered how much Sin City is not for me.
The highlight would have to be seeing the Cirque Du Soleil show, “O”, at the Bellagio. This show is different from their other shows because it’s water based, so there are divers and synchronized swimmers in addition to the acrobats and usual mind-blowing acts. My splurge for great seats on my last night was worth every penny, and probably the only redeeming quality of Vegas.
Here’s why everything else sucked:
1) FOOD is unnecessarily expensive
I’m not a stranger to bougie restaurants and overpriced cocktails, but man there is no reason for the food to be as expensive as it is here. Portions are small and the food quality is honestly nothing to rave about. This was the one thing people told me I’d love about Vegas, and it turned out to not be the case at all. A very average meal will run you at least $30-60, and the restaurants have a somewhat overdone look to them. Casual restaurants or coffee places are hard to come by, and it’s impossible to just “stop in” anywhere.
I ate at two of the restaurants inside the Bellagio hotel: Harvest, as part of my “progressive dinner” one night, and Lago, before the Cirque show. Harvest had a late-night happy hour with a good deal on drinks, and my cocktail was pretty good. The food on the snack cart looked like it had been sitting out for hours, and tasted like it too. At Lago I enjoyed my aperol spritz and lobster gnocchi, but the portions were so small I had to order a second dish – a ricotta honey focaccia which had great flavors, but was kind of soggy.
Unfortunately I didn’t have time to wait in line at Eggslut or Bouchon Bakery, but I did have a mediocre crab cake at Hexx (inside the Paris Hotel) and extremely disappointing pad thai from Lotus of Siam (which had come highly recommended to me!) I also had several terrible Postmates/Uber Eats experiences, which is another strike against this city because food delivery is synonymous with work trips. Unless you want to shell out on your per diem for insanely priced room service, that is.
2) VEGAS TRAFFIC IS unnecessary
There’s no public transportation, and you can’t get anywhere by walking. Everything is concentrated in one area, so there’s nowhere to go except with traffic – for no good reason. And why do taxis cost $40 from the airport?! The only redeeming quality here was that I got to ride in one of Lyft’s Level 4 autonomous vehicles on my last night. The ride-hailing app partnered with Aptiv to launch a Las Vegas pilot program in May 2018, and is one of the few public autonomous vehicle programs in the U.S. Having organized a panel at SXSW in Austin, TX on AVs earlier this year, this was very exciting for me!
3) awful weather
Vegas is stupid hot. Worst of all, it’s DRY. While this may be wonderful for some people’s hair, it just makes my nose bleed. I also have never had to apply lotion 3x a day to keep my skin from cracking and flaking – gross, I know! I get that there are beautiful parts of the desert, but they are not in Vegas and I crave greens and blues, not browns.
4) LACK OF culture/originality
If you spread out Times Square (the worst part of NYC) over five miles, what you get is the Strip. Even the most famous attractions in Vegas are a copy of other overly-tourist-infested places around the world (Eiffel Tower, Venice…) There’s no culture unique to Vegas, unless you count having no open-container laws and regular sights of half-naked people as culture. In one word, it’s just fake.
5) predatory gambling
Gambling, if you’re not addicted to it, can be a thrilling form of entertainment. On the other hand, the entire premise of gambling is getting people to make irresponsible decisions. To me, there is something very ethically questionable about getting people to drink, smoke, and objectify women as much as possible so that they then lose as much money as possible. There were so many wrinkly old people gambling away at all hours of the morning, I felt icky inside. A business model that creates more addicts and targets vulnerable populations cannot be something I advocate for.
On top of all that, I had the worst customer experience in a hotel I’ve ever encountered at the Hilton Grand Vacations on the Strip. I purposely wanted to stay a bit away from the hustle and bustle, but it was not worth it. I wrote management a lengthy list of complaints in a “To Whom it may Concern” email, the most egregious of which was being accosted by an employee for not having my ID when trying to buy overpriced ice cream. Yes, ice cream. At 11pm. Wearing pajamas. #traumatized. I switched hotels after two nights, and the service at the Four Seasons was a world of difference (duh).
So – is it just me? I can think of a thousand better places to have a bachelor/bachelorette party than Vegas, and would never choose to spend my own money on a trip here. Anyone else?