Las Vegas Pre-trip Report

I am taking my Mom to Las Vegas for her Christmas present this year. We will be in LV on December 18, 19, 20, and 21. My past trips to LV have always been unplanned. Don't get me wrong, I planned to go and I planned to return home. But, everything in-between just happened. Not this time! I have a plan and a backup plan.

A good plan requires research. I started out working the Internet for flight reservations. I am leaving from Cleveland, Ohio and Mom is leaving from Lafayette, Louisiana. Making an airline reservation with a computer is a little sterile for me. I spent a large amount of time researching hotels. Trip reports had a great impact on all of my decisions. I used hotel stay reviews and hotel rankings to pick the Paris LV. Paris LV is rated high everywhere I look. I then called my travel agent. She booked us at Paris LV, made the flight reservations and took care of the car rental.

I spent a large amount of time on the Internet researching restaurants, attractions, and production shows. Trip reports and reviews where extremely helpful. It's the little things that make a vacation special. Trip reports and reviews are filled with little things. It would be impossible to plan a trip to LV without the Internet. There are a multitude of attractions. Many shows are rated very high and some are rated very low. Some shows are Dark (not playing) this time of year. There are different reservation rules for different shows. We are going to one show the first day, two shows the second day, and one show on the third day. I called each box office and made reservations at least 30 days in advance.

I set up an excel spreadsheet to track every hour of our stay. It is even color-coded. If you are going to plan, why not go all the way? This exercise helped. I have built in 'free' times before and after every major event in case the plan doesn't go smoothly. All plans breakdown sooner or later. If the plan goes smoothly, my free time will be spent at the slot machines giving away as little money as possible. Hey, I plan on winning.

I will be using Funjet out of Cleveland. I arrive in LV a few hours before Mom. Time enough to pick up the car rental and do some ground work. I am going to check in early and upgrade our rooms. Upgrading, tipping, getting comped, losing a bundle and hitting it BIG are all basics in Las Vegas. I will upgrade Mom's room to a suite and my room to a great view. Next, I will gather up all my show tickets. Hopefully I won't need to go to each casino. Otherwise, I will race to Treasure Island, Tropicana, Mirage, and Harrah's. Then back to the airport to meet Mom. Mom by the way is almost 80 years old. She has two new knees she is ready to put to the test.

I have two hours allotted to pick up Mom, get her to Paris LV, get settled, get dressed, then cross the street to make a 5:30 pm (8:30 pm my time) reservation at the Olives Restaurant in the Bellagio. The Olives has Mediterranean style food and overlooks the $30 million dollar fountains. Reservations are accepted up to one month in advance. All the reviews are impressive. I am going to order the tenderloin and the Fallen Cake. I figure the meal should take an hour, which will give us an hour to get to Harrah's for a 7:30 reservation for Clint Holmes. After the show, we will be ready for bed.

Early coffee at the most convenient place followed by a drive to the 'Valley of Fire State Park.' Watch the sun rise over the desert at 7:32 am. Five hours later back to LV and the Garden Court Buffet at Main Street Station for lunch. The Garden Court Buffet is rated tops. I have been to LV a dozen times and have never heard on it. It pays to listen.

Sometime around noon a relative (I have never met her) shows up and joins the fun. She is from California and Mom says she is fun. What does that mean? She will share Mom? room at Paris LV. At 2 pm, we have reservations to see Rick Thomas (magician) at the Tropicana. We also have reservations at 8 pm for, drum rolls please, Danny Gans at the Mirage! Danny is second only to Wayne Newton in LV. Wayne is okay but I would rather see Danny. I am looking forward to his show the most. Before the show, we have reservations at Kokomo's in the Mirage at 6:30 pm. Kokomo's is a steak and seafood restaurant nestled in a tropical rain forest. After the show back to the Paris LV. Bedtime!

Early coffee at the most convenient place followed by a drive to the 'Hoover Dam Hard Hat Tour.' I have been to Hoover dam several times but have never been on the Hard Hat Tour. This will be fun for me; I hope Mom's new knees are up to the trip. If not, I have a backup plan. First tour is at 9 am. Later, we will have lunch at the French Market Buffet in Orleans. This buffet is rated very high and is not far from Paris LV. After the buffet I figure we may need a nap. I would like to ride the Desperado roller coaster before dinner. The Desperado is second to the Millennium Force which I rode this past summer. Dinner is at Treasure Island's Buccaneer Bay Club Restaurant at 6 pm. Very expensive place to eat that overlooks the pirate battle. You only live once right? After the million-dollar meal we have reservations for Mystere at 7:30 pm. Mystere is rated at the top and is supposed to be a great show. We will see. After the show back to the Paris LV. Another hard day of having fun will be over. Bedtime!

We will eat brunch at Le Village Buffet in the Paris LV. This buffet had so many good reviews; I interrupted my printer after 10 pages. Check out of the hotel by 10 am and take Mom to the airport. Mom's flight leaves at 11:30 am. My flight leaves at 4:15 pm. I may move it up a bit if I don't have some last minute things to take care of.

That is the plan. Believe it or not, there is plenty of room for spontaneity. For example, we will perform a 'walk about' at each casino. A little shopping never hurts. I have three beautiful children and Christmas is right around the corner. Merry Christmas to you all!