Last week, I officially turned into an adult; I went on my first business trip. This also meant going to Las Vegas for the first time. I wasn’t originally going to write about this trip since I spent a significant amount of time in various conference rooms learning about an HRIS software system, but Vegas absolutely exceeded my expectations and boggled my mind. I didn’t even take my journal with me on the trip, but my mind is still spinning, so I feel like writing about my experience will be therapeutic and help me get my thoughts in order.
First off, I have to admit that my expectations for Vegas weren’t that high. I don’t gamble or drink heavily, and I have never found myself fancying a stripper, so I didn’t know if Las Vegas was going to have anything to offer me besides some new business insight and a bunch of neon lights, but I turned out to be very wrong. My company put me up in The Cosmopolitan, which is actually one of the nicest hotels on the strip. I usually travel cheap, which means hostels and Airbnbs, not swanky hotels, so I was a little freaked out when I read the sign on the door stating “must wear appropriate attire to entire.” I spent a brief moment worrying that I wasn’t dressed right in my joggers and jean jacket, until I looked around and realized that the sign just meant “don’t wear your bathing suit in the hotel lobby.”
My love for Vegas grew instantly, however, when I opened the door to my hotel suite. The nice man that checked me in had an accent, so I thought I heard him say he had upgraded me to a 1200 sq ft. suite, but I couldn’t really comprehend what that meant until I saw it, because, again, I like to travel, so I live in a 200 sq. ft. apartment to be able to afford to do it. I inserted my door key entered into a hall of mirrors that lead to the first of two bathrooms, a kitchen with fully stocked mini bar, a large desk, a sitting area, and then into my favorite part, the bedroom and second bathroom. I was on the 51st floor and had a wrap around balcony that overlooked the strip on one side and the mountains on the other. I was in heaven and my company was paying for it.
After skipping around my new digs literally squealing with glee and giving my boyfriend a quick Face Time tour of my suite, I remembered that for once in my life I was being affected by jet lag and decided the best move would be to stay in my little hotel paradise for the rest of the night. So I ordered room service, filled up the marble bathtub to the brim, and ate my turkey sandwich and French fries while I had a good soak, just like a queen.
The next morning I woke up at 7 (thanks jet lag) and after enjoying the early morning view of Vegas from my balcony, decided to seize the day and catch up on work emails. The conference I was attending didn’t start until 4, so I made use of the resort gym and set out to find something delicious for brunch. What I discovered has literally changed my life; its called “Bee Bread” and you can get it at place called The Juice Standard located on the 2nd floor of The Cosmopolitan. Its pretty basic ingredients; a piece of multi-grain toast, their homemade cashew walnut butter topped with a banana, seed granola and drizzled with honey, but it is one of the best things I have ever eaten. I had it for breakfast every day in Las Vegas, and would literally count down the hours until morning when I could have it again. In fact, it was so good that I immediately bought ingredients to make my own version when I got home, sadly it doesn’t compare to the real thing. But that just means there is a good chance I will go back to Vegas just to get my Bee Bread again.
Anyways, I digress, I could probably write a whole post just on the food, but back to my wonderful time in Vegas. After lunch I thought I would maximize my free time and the sunshine and headed down to the resort pool. This is a key selling point of Vegas for me; the idea that you can lay around the pool in mid-March is ideal. So ideal, in fact, that I decided to skip the first day of the conference and stay until the pool closed down at 6. This was a magnificent idea, and I don’t regret it one bit. I do, however, regret briefly forgetting the magic powers of the sun and what it does to pale skin. Needless to say, I got roasted and immediately regretted not wearing more sunscreen.
That night the front of my body slowly got redder and redder, and I had to scrounge through my limited wardrobe to find clothes that would cover me up to my neck in order to hid my burns and my embarrassment. I had dinner at Beauty and Essex, which turned out to be some of my least favorite food in Vegas. The food was served tapas style, which admittedly is not the best for single diners, but it was busy, which meant one of my orders got lost and the set up seemed more like a banquet hall. I ordered the tomato tartar, barbeque French fries, brussel sprouts and chicken arepas. The only things I might get again were the French fries or the tartar.
The next morning I woke up feeling like I had let Vegas get the best of me, namely that I had knocked off my responsibilities and laid out in the sun too long. This made it a lot easier to spend most of the day indoors at the conference. Wednesday redeemed itself, however, with dinner. I had a reservation I had been looking forward to at Bardot Brasserie, a French style restaurant located in the Aria Resort. It did not disappoint, the food was wonderful. I order the roast chicken with a side of truffle fries and the world’s best butter. I figured if I didn’t gain 5lbs by the time I left Vegas, I was doing myself a disservice. I think my favorite part of the restaurant however, was that right next to my table they had a quote from Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast,” which is one of my favorite books, painted on the wall.
I was feeling much more chipper after my good meal, so I decided to take my first walk up the strip. I was dazzled by all the lights and commotion that was going on. There were so many people from all over the world that had come to see Las Vegas. Part of me still finds it really funny that people come to this place that is just basically replicas of other famous landmarks around the world. I would still much rather see the real Eiffel Tower, but still, it was awesome. I loved peering into the windows of the designer stores, ogling over Chanel and Gucci and watching all the high rollers at the casinos. I made a little lap around the south of the strip and then decided I had had enough with the crowds and called it a night.
Thursday was my last full day in Vegas and I was excited because I had a really awesome dinner reservation and plans to check out The Mile Long Mall during a break in my conference. The Mile Long Mall turned out to be pretty disappointing, the store selection wasn’t great and I am still trying to figure out how its “a mile long.” But, the good news was the restaurant, Carbone, also located in the Aria, was amazing! It offered the best service I have ever received. I mean, they made my Caesar Salad on a cart right in front of me! My pasta was fantastic and they even give you a breadbasket, cold meat, Parmesan cheese and some pickled cauliflower as extras. You definitely pay a decent price for it, but again, it was all on my company so I didn’t mind. After happily rolling myself out of the restaurant, I finished off my night with a “private” concert from Maroon Five. The conference I was attending brought them in to close out the event, and even though I found it comical watching a grown man sing those lyrics with a serious face on, Adam Levine is a phenomenal musician and being able to watch him perform from about 10 rows back for free was pretty awesome!
I have to admit that after being apprehensive about Las Vegas, I was sad to leave the palace that is The Cosmopolitan Hotel. On Friday morning I ate my last Bee Bread and reflected on the giant wonderful surprise I had encountered. Las Vegas is funny because its a place you can go to indulge all your vices. There is drinking and gluttony and reckless spending and sex, but I guess that’s what makes it fun. It’s a place to go to enjoy man-made beauty and pleasure. For me, that just meant staying in a really nice hotel and eating lots of really expensive food, but Vegas gives visitors the option to pick their poison. I like to compare Las Vegas to a human hamster cage, every building connects somehow and we are all just being funneled along with the crowd, enticed to spend money on a hand of poker, or a designer bag, or a fancy dinner, distracted by all the flashing lights and colors. I didn’t think I would enjoy the hamster race, but I did. It turns out Vegas taught me it only really takes a 1200 sq. ft. penthouse suite and free gourmet dinners to make me happy!