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Monday, September 25, 2006

The Rest of Our Vegas Trip

Okay, so where did I leave off? My last post was mid-way our Las Vegas trip. So here’s the second part of that. Saturday in Vegas was spent exploring the Strip and visiting the opulent shops at the Bellagio and Caesar’s Palace. We had a late lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, which is hardly original given Las Vegas’ multitude of eateries. But we were tired and hungry – and The Cheesecake Factory offers something for everyone and so it worked for our group. After lunch, there was more shopping and lots of time spent trying to regroup and find each other. Aaah, the perils of traveling with a big group! Yes, it is fun, but it can be a bit challenging too. All I can say is “thank god for cell phones and free weekend service”.

My friends decided to watch Cirque du Soleil’s “O” in two batches (there was a 7:30 pm group and a 10:30 pm group). Jojo and I decided to pass since we had planned meeting up with my other group of friends (Ence, Rich, Muri and Carl). Carl had promised us a crab and oyster dinner that would be worth the 4 and ½ drive from LA. I know it sounds strange to drive to the desert for seafood – but we were up for it! Plans changed though when Muri called us at around 8. They were still at the outlets waiting for Ence’s family get their shopping done. It seemed dinner would be very, very late and it might be better to postpone to another night instead.

So, since Jojo and I were left to ourselves, we walked around some more, drove down the Strip, played some slot machines, lost some money, and finally headed back to our hotel to kill some time. At around 9:30, we met up with my friends who came from watching “O” and had appetizers and drinks at TGI Fridays – again, another unoriginal choice – but it was close by and we just wanted a place to hang out. We called it a night past midnight.

Back in our hotel room, I had decided to revise my opinion about The Orleans hotel. Originally, I had found it to be a good deal for a three-star property. Yes, it was off-the-strip but the spacious rooms and neat appearances made up for that. It was a plus too that the hotel was not that crowded and there were hardly any lines at the registration desk or for the elevators. But on our second night, we came back to a room that was partially cleaned, a sink that was clogged, an air conditioner that was blowing out lukewarm air, and problems logging onto the internet even after we had paid $12.00 for it. Plus the staff was a bit abrupt when we called to find out what was wrong.

Sunday morning, Jojo and I checked out of our room before meeting up with Les, Su, Mark, Pam, Jamie and Ginger. We the drove to the Wynn Hotel and met up with the rest of the group (Mei, Ben, Thomas, Ahna and Kenny). Luckily the second half of our group arrived much earlier and reserved us seats for the brunch buffet. The lines were really long!

I have to say the Wynn Casino is gorgeous – yes, so much so that it held its own over it’s other 5-star counterparts. Even the casino floor – normally hazy with smoke and garishly designed – was tastefully done with plush carpets and leather chairs. The restaurant where the buffet was served was really bright and impressive too. It was decorated in bright yellows and greens, there were lots of foliage inside, glass windows and mirrors reflected bright sunlight, heavy brocade drapery were hung on the walls, and there was good quality silverware and china. It was reminiscent of having high tea at someone’s garden estate. I loved the ambience of the place and the way the buffet was arranged. It was not the run-of-the-mill buffet where food is heaped onto huge chaffing dishes under hot lamps. This one had the food on narrow but elongated ceramic platters, enclosed behind stained glass panels. The food was arranged by cuisine: Asian, Italian, American. And there was a salad bar, an omelet station, a shellfish bar and of course a two-sided dessert station. And although the serving dishes were not huge, the food never seemed to run out. The service was impeccable from the omelet chef, to the carving station chef, all the way to the servers who kept our coffee cups and juice glasses constantly filled.

I wish I could say that the food was as impressive as the décor. But sadly, there were not that many choices and the food that was there was nothing remarkable. Actually most of the dishes were bordering on ordinary. For breakfast there was eggs benedict, bacon, sausages, and frittatas. The Asian section had stir-fried squid, shiu-mai, flat rice noodles. Italian cuisine was represented by an array of pizzas, pasta, ravioli, and a baked fish. The usual American fare of barbecued ribs, fried chicken , mashed potatoes, was also present. There was also a lot of cold selections like shrimp cocktail and smoked salmon. There was lots more, of course, but these were basically the highlights. The one thing I will say, though, is that the carving station’s prime rib was excellent and that Jojo was in dessert heaven since there was a wide array of no-sugar pastries that could pass for the real thing.

The true highlights of the meal were really the ambience and the company. It made every penny worth it! But, as with all good things, this one had to come to an end. Jojo and I had to bid everyone good-bye and drive back to LA since we both had to go to work the next day. It was a great weekend, though, and I hope we get to see everyone again real soon.


jol said...

The company of your friends made your Vegas trip a truly memorable one. Sure hope you can meet up again soon and this time with some kids tagging along.

marc said...

It sounds like you had so much fun with your friends! It's like a reunion! It must have been an amazing feeling!

leslie said...

just read the second part of the vegas was really fun to see you and our other high school friends....i think it might take years (or another honeymoon) for us to see each other again....

i miss you!!!!!