|Welcome Sign as you enter the Las Vegas Strip|
If you've been to Vegas I don't have to tell you how cool it is. Well, not cool in temperature--we sizzled in temps of 108 degrees Fahrenheit and with scorching wind that took our breaths away--but cool in sheer dazzling spectacle. Let me put it this way: It's like an adult Disneyland with booze, gambling, top-notch entertainment, and buffets big enough to feed all the starving people of the world. Las Vegas is maybe not for everybody, but it is a place that will leave you goggle-eyed when you first encounter it. It's sun, sin, and spectacle all in one big city, and you can have a pretty good time and stay within a reasonable budget if you avoid the sin.
I've been there enough times now where it's not such a big deal anymore, but I still enjoy popping in now and then. And even while I was still at home making my travel arrangements, I realized that this trip was going to be somewhat different than my previous visits. First of all, I realized that there were some pretty big conventions in town and that fact, combined with the summer tourist season, meant hotels were going to be booked up and the value prices I am usually accustomed to getting were not going to be available.
This was a correct assessment. Harrah's, the hotel where we usually stay, only had rooms that were $200 per night or more--not for me. Likewise, up and down the Las Vegas Boulevard Strip--the most happening part of town to be--hotels were totally booked or at prices I was not willing to pay. Other nearby hotels of a dubious nature were available at cheaper rates, but my finicky nature doesn't like to take chances on places where I'm going to be taking my suitcases into and sleeping for the night.
I finally decided to book our room at the Springhill Suites in Henderson, which is about 15 miles from the Strip. This was no longer going to be as much of a Vegas experience as it was going to be a Henderson experience, and that was fine with me since it would be a new experience. As I pondered some of the things we might do in Henderson, it occurred to me that this was the home of Zappos.com and I had read where they gave facility tours. Now that was something I could get into more than the usual Vegas shenanigans.
Upon investigation of the Zappos.com site I discovered that tours were available Monday through Thursday, but they had to be booked ahead of time and there were no openings available until July 7th. I was disappointed. Still, I planned on going there anyway just in case there was a cancellation. More about this later.
On Thursday morning we got a later start than I had originally thought. The trip to Vegas from our house is three and a half hours as long as everybody is speeding, which is usually the case. I like to stay with the flow of a traffic cluster as I prefer not to get speeding tickets. The trip went smoothly. Once we had negotiated the Las Vegas traffic and gotten our daughter dropped off at the Imperial Palace, where she would be staying with her new friends, it was twelve-thirty--lunchtime.
|South Point Hotel and Casino|
My wife and I were both famished, but decided to avoid a buffet. On the interstate I had noticed a billboard advertising a Steak 'n Shake at the South Point Casino a few miles south of the Imperial Palace. We don't have this restaurant chain anywhere near where we live, but we have always enjoyed eating at these restaurants on our travels back east. Also, I figured the parking would be easier and the restaurant would be less crowded than those around the Strip. I was right about the parking, but there was a line for the restaurant. We waited anyway and didn't have to wait long. As always, the burgers and fries were darn good and shakes were about as good as you can get. I wasn't super impressed with South Point, having never been there before, but I would go back for the Steak 'n Shake if I got that craving. And what the heck!--If the rates were right I might even consider staying there sometime.
By the time we had finished our lunch and dawdled at the South Point Casino a bit, I realized it was going to be too late to catch the last Zappos tour for the day. Since there were no tours on Friday, according to the website, I figured a visit to Zappos.com was not going to be on the agenda for this Vegas excursion. So we went to our hotel.
It felt like the middle of nowhere in the middle of the desert. A panoramic view of the Las Vegas Strip stretched before us fifteen miles away. There was a lot of residential housing and industrial complexes around us, but there wasn't much in the way of restaurants or stores in walking distance. Not that this was such a bad thing--we did have a car if we needed to go anywhere. And the desert view was pretty spectacular.
|Springhill Suites in Henderson, Nevada|
When I arrived at the front desk, I was greeted by a charming young lady by the name of Natasha. As I was checking in, I mentioned about how I had wanted to tour Zappos and had missed that day's tours. She told me to wait a moment and that the hotel's sales manager might be able to help me. The sales manager was Annie Clark. She came to the front desk and I told her of my interest in Zappos. She said that she had connections there and might be able to help me and would get back to me.
My wife and I unloaded our suitcases into a comfortably air-conditioned room. With the 108 degree temperatures outside, that room was a welcome retreat. As soon as we were settled into the room the phone rang. It was Annie Clark. She said we were on for a tour at 12 noon the following day and that we should get there by 11:45. I was thrilled and I was grateful for Annie's superb handling of my request. I must give my kudos to Annie, Natasha, and the entire Springhill staff for a delightful stay while we were there. And now we had an activity planned for our Friday.
That afternoon we slept some in that refreshingly cool room and then I blogged for a while. I had recently acquired a wireless mouse for my notebook computer and it made my activities so much easier than that pad thing on the laptop. Later we decided that we should probably have something to eat and went out to look for a restaurant. Signs of dire economy were all around us as we came upon one closed restaurant after another. There were some Mexican restaurants, but I'm overdosed on Mexican and just wasn't in the mood. We decided to head in the opposite direction from where we started and it was a good thing. A few blocks from the hotel we found something that sounded good--and it was.
|Metro Pizza in Henderson, Nevada|
After dinner we took a bottle a wine back to the room and relaxed. It was such a comfortable room and we wanted to take advantage of our stay. After all, we didn't need to go out and gamble or hang around the strip. Chilling out--and I mean chilling in the air conditioning--was good enough for that evening. Besides tomorrow we had our tour for Zappos set up. More about that on Friday.
Have you been to Vegas? If so, what do you think about it? Do you have a favorite place to stay while there? Is there any particular hotel chain you prefer to others? Are you familiar with Zappos.com?