Wishing to respect the very cliché yet wise advice “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” I did my best to take very few pictures while celebrating a friend’s upcoming nuptials during a three-day weekend with a group of lovely and amazing ladies.
Our group travelled from three very different areas – Seattle, the Bay Area and Michigan – and most of us flew in Thursday afternoon and we all left Sunday. Yes; three nights in Vegas is a long haul. The first evening we enjoyed a family style dinner at Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s Otto Enoteca Pizzeria (sorry – no pics; my phone was dead).
Friday morning: quiet breakfast at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon.
Shortly after breakfast, two of us took a quick cab ride to the north outlets and while popping in and out of a few stores, we enjoyed a few moments to admire a perfect poolside bag at Kate Spade: the orange dotted bag on the middle shelf, in the lower right picture.
After some much-needed pool time in the afternoon and a disco nap, we had dinner at Tao and later enjoyed its club. A slightly blurry picture to help keep the details fuzzy.
Saturday: Cabana day (thanks W for the picture!) and we threw a surprise party for our guest of honor.
Saturday night: dinner at Public House, which touts the motto: “United we stand with pint in hand.”
And finally, my foodie geek out moment. A few of us headed to the Bourbon Room after dinner and we saw three very dapper-looking gents leaving a nearby restaurant. It quickly dawned on us we were looking at Alton Brown, Geoffrey Zakarian and Simon Majumdar (hint: Food Network). I pulled out my camera, aka phone, and walked after them. Well, let’s be honest here: I was like a kid chasing after an ice cream truck. None-the-less, these guys were all class in letting us take a picture with them not just once, but twice since the first one didn’t turn out. (So sorry for the blur. I’m blaming this one on my phone’s, uh, quality camera. Just squint your eyes.)
- Have a few planned meals and/or an activity that everyone needs to attend and note the agenda in advance. This makes it easy for people to plan their own agenda to explore, shop, or maybe nap poolside. Planned dinners are the easiest for everyone to remember and keeps the day free for everyone.
- If you’re hoping to hit a popular club, be sure to check out if there’s a dining option that allows access to the club. Or it may possibly have an online VIP deal. Like many other restaurant/club combos, Tao offers dinner specials, which gives your group VIP status, letting you skip the line and possibly the club’s cover charge. These dinner options might seem pricey at first, but once you start adding the cost of the actual meal served, the club’s cover and your own time while waiting in the club’s line, you might be surprised by what you saved. The big jump in price will be any drinks ordered. At Tao, we were given more than enough food for our group of nine – various appetizers, main course dishes and desserts – and we didn’t have to pay the cover, nor did we wait in a very long line. We split our bill evenly, including beverages, and I highly doubt we would’ve paid less per person had we ordered individually, bought our own drinks, and paid the club’s cover charge (or it might have been a not-as-tasty wash).
- If you wish to reserve a club’s VIP table, be sure to review and fully understand the requirements for the table. Ask for a copy of the agreement and a copy of the bar menu, which should include the per-bottle-costs, so you aren’t relying on the notes scribbled on the back of your utility bill. Usually for VIP tables, your alcohol goes toward reservation fee. Depending on the club, VIP tables can start at $1k, and bottles may average $250-$350 each, so you may need to buy four or five bottles to meet the required fee (of course, ask the club’s concierge services so you can better estimate your costs).
- Have your big night followed by a low-key day so no one has to dash for their flight first thing in the morning. Trust me on this – your entire group will thank you for not having to roll through McCarran right after leaving the club or attempting to use a very scratchy Vegas Voice on the flight to order another cup of coffee. Allow time to recoup.
- We made plans to rent a cabana to throw our surprise party on our last full day in Vegas. A cabana may sound fancy, but it was incredibly reasonable when it was divided among the group. Totally worth every penny spent.
- If you’re going to Vegas or other destination hot-spot, research all of your lodging’s amenities in advance and you might be surprised by the deals you can find by travelling with a group and splitting the costs. Also wise: before arriving, note a place to eat after checking-in so you won’t be “hangry” by the time dinner rolls around (hangry: being so hungry that one becomes angry.)
- Don’t rely on past experiences if you were in Vegas on business since often group rates might be different between hotels or traveling with a private group instead of a business.
- Vary your meal locations/pricing if you aren’t able to prepare meals in your room. Enjoy at least one night where you go all out, but compensate it by having meals at other locations that might be lower in price. And with all that you can find these days, it’s worth poking around online to find menus so you know the pricing in advance.
- If your group cannot stay at the same hotel, attempt to stay at the property next to or across the street from the primary hotel. Vegas hotels are like little cities within themselves and walking across one property can easily take 5 to 10 minutes. Crossing a street can also take a bit of time depending if there is a nearby pedestrian overpass.
- Most importantly: read up on where you’re staying and be adventurous. If you always wanted to eat at a favorite chef’s restaurant and Vegas happens to host one, check in with your group’s leader and offer to make reservations for the entire group so you have a table held (you can always decrease the number later on; never increase). As an option, consider going for breakfast or lunch if it won’t work for a dinner. If there’s a show you really want to see, do your homework before reaching out so you can give all the information upfront, including ticket status while asking if anyone wishes to join you. You might be surprised by the interest – but just make sure it doesn’t overlap with another planned activity, especially if it’s for the guest of honor!
Have a group travel tip? Any best practices? Feel free to share!
Until next time…
**no compensation or exchange of services was given for mentioning any of the locations above.