Saturday, March 24, 2012

March Madne$$ in Las Vegas - Part 1

Since I'm from Hawaii, it's only fitting that I do my part and perpetuate the sterotype that everyone from Hawaii loves Las Vegas.  The first time I went to Vegas I was about 6 years old, although I don't remember much except for being locked in the hotel room with my cousins because there was a bad lightning storm; oh, and also because we were kids (this trip was way before Vegas launched their "family" marketing campaign). I started going to Vegas more frequently when I lived in the Bay Area, as it was so easy and relatively inexpensive to hop on a quick flight there for the weekend.

Over the years, there has definitely been a shift in the agenda/itinerary of my trips - in the past, it used to be more about clubbing and the pool; nowadays I'm all about eating good food, getting pampered at the spa and shopping.  Las Vegas will always hold a special place in my heart though, because so many good memories have been made here for me (including the lesser known fact that Rich and I got married here months before our big Hawaii wedding).  Anyway, Rich and I just got back from our 2nd annual March Madness trip to Las Vegas with some of our friends from Hawaii, and as usual, we had a blast.  

The first week/end of March Madness is a special time of year in Las Vegas - there's the start of the tournament, St. Patty's Day usually falls somewhere during this time, and for some colleges, it's spring break.  Needless to say, this particular week/end attracts a wide variety of people.  This year we arrived on Wedensday afternoon which we've decided is ideal because it gives us time to check in, pick up the basketball sheet from the Sports book and relax a little.  We always stay at the MGM Grand, which is currently undergoing renovations, and were interested to see what their highly publicized "new rooms" looked like.  From the moment we stepped off the elevators, the transformation was clear.  The decor in the common areas and the rooms was a lot more modern and sophisticated.  Personally, I really liked the color choices and I especially like the remote control blinds (and blackout shade, which is essential to getting any sleep in Vegas). 

Rich and I are totally creatures of habit and generally follow the same schedule while we're in Vegas (even down to what we order at restaurants).   Breakfast (or lunch, depending on what time we roll out of our room) is usually at Studio Cafe and is generally by ourselves because everyone wakes up at different times based on what time they end up going to sleep (if at all).   I always have orange juice, yogurt/granola with fresh berries and a bagel - I like to get in at least one healthy meal a day.  For our first dinner, we chose The Grand Wok at MGM, which serves Chinese food and sushi.  The calamari is definitely a must, as is the sweet and sour chicken, mongolian beef and honey walnut shrimp.  Despite the fact that I live in the sushi capital of the world, I also wanted some sushi, so I ordered the Red Dragon Roll which has spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, cucumber and unagi sauce - yum!  I also recommend getting a pot of jasmine tea to go with the meal.

The next day we were up early to hit the Sports Book and wait for our other friends to arrive.  After taking care of business and getting our friends checked in, we hit Fat Tuesdays for a few yard dogs (I refrained because it was only 11 in the morning, still a little too early for me).  Some other stuff happened during the day that I can't remember, but after a late dinner at Wolfgang Pucks, we met up with our friends at Tabu Ultra Lounge (don't ask me what an ultra lounge is, cause I don't know) where we had a table with bottle service waiting for us. I had only been to Tabu once before, but since Studio 54 was closed for renovations,  it was a lot more crowded than usual, which made me happy I had thought ahead and called to reserve a table.  Oh who am I kidding, these days I won't go to a club or "ultra lounge" without getting bottle service - seriously, why wait in line, pay a cover and then wait in line again for drinks?   After a fabulous time at Tabu, it was time to call it a night (or in this case early morning) and see what the next day had in store for us!

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