Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Paris Las Vegas

Mea Culpa! I just finished reading the post about Seattle that I posted, oh, I dunno, MONTHS ago, when I promised to have more about Seattle food and restaurants "in the coming weeks." Doh! This is what happens when you start a new blog and teach 8th grade Language Arts at the same time. No time! No time! Now it's summer, and I can't for the life of me remember enough about the restaurants we ate in, or even their names. There was a great place for satay, a great tapas place, and then of course the French bistro, and that place for crumpets.....Hmmmmmm

But now I'm an "ex" 8th grade teacher (long story......short version? burn out!) so now I have much more time to devote to a blog about travel that noone is reading ;) So I'll just start fresh, ok?

Last week my husband and I returned from yet another fun-filled drunken vacation in "Lost Wages". This is the third time we've visited, and I swear, each trip gets to be more adventurous, more of a reminder of how young we ain't than the last. I'll spend a few entries talking about where we stayed, where we ate, etc.

Paris Las Vegas

First, Paris Las Vegas. We've stayed here all three trips. Not for any reason, but simply on a friend's recommendation. This friend travels to Las Vegas at least twice a year (or she did before she had kids) and she said that for your money, this hotel had the best view, biggest bathroom, and all the amenities you could ask for. She's tried all the others, the cheap, the swanky, and she found this to be the best of both worlds----cheap, but appearing to be swanky.

Needless to say, we agree. All three trips have found us here, for several reasons. Of course, each trip is different, and each trip brings with it its own set of problems, but overall, it's a great place to stay.

Plus = Checking In

You can check in at the airport, therefore bypassing the long lines at the front desk. They hand you your keys, you get in a cab, and more often than not, you walk right up to your room. Nice.

Plus = The View

We must be livin' right, because each time we have stayed, we've been given a corner room on an upper floor. This means your room has huge windows, floor-to-ceiling on two sides, with an awesome view of either The Strip, or the gorgeous mountains which surround Las Vegas. It's breathtaking.

Plus = Bathroom

HUGE! It's gargantuan, with a walk-in shower, bathtub, and huge vanity/sink area. Lots of towels, and everything is marble. Swanky. And I love the shaving mirror, not because I have to shave or anything, but my eyesight ain't what it used to be and the 6X mirror helps me put on my makeup without looking like Tammy Faye.

Plus = Housekeeping

These ladies must be magic or something. Every time I stay in a hotel there is that inevitable guilt-trip of the housekeeping staff hovering outside your door around 10-11am, wondering if you are ever going to get out so they can clean (What can I say? I like to sleep late), but here, they never intrude. No guilt. You leave when you want, and you return to a clean room. Ta-dah!

Plus = Casino

Gorgeous, in a "I'm an American and have neer been to Paris so here is my movie version of it" kind of way. I like the sky-painted ceiling, bright blue, that fades to a pink with the coming of twilight. I like the Casino signage that mimics the Metro signs in Paris, I admit it. I even like the waitresses' uniforms, though I'm not sure what part of Paris it's supposed to evoke (short gold and blue dresses). Would a Can-Can outfit get in the way of pouring drinks? Probably.

Yeah, it's tacky, but it's cute, too. All the signs with "Le Cafe" and "Le Front Desk" and "Le Concierge" and "Le Show Tickets" and "Le Casino" make me laugh. The Hispanic woman wishing me "Bonjour" when I buy my coffee in the morning.

I always wonder if French people come here and groan, or do they laugh too? It's so obviously a stereotype, a fakery. But you kind of expect that in Vegas, no? (Uh-Oh, I'm starting to talk with a fake french accent like the guy who teaches what the fire escape plan is on Channel 22 of the "Paris Las Vegas" television station).

I do like the fact that the casino isn't overly huge, like Caesar's or MGM Grand. You can actually find your way from point A to point B with out getting lost. A big plus for this directionally-challenged traveller.

Plus = The Pool

Yes, it's not the biggest, and yes, they don't have gladiators and Egyptian queens serving you drinks, but I love this pool. It's not overly big, so you don't get lost finding your way to the bathroom. It's not chock-full of screaming kids. Hey, I love kids, but this is a VACATION right? It is just nice to be in an adult environment for a little while.

The drinks are scrumptious and huge - I had probably the best Pina Colada of my life at this pool. They pipe in music that isn't overly obnoxious, sometimes even surprising (Jethro Tull anyone?) and depending on where you sit, you could be in the shade for a while, a great relief in this strong a sun.

The pool here is up IN the hotel, on the 3rd floor facing The Strip, so you have a terrific view of the Bellagio fountains, Bally's, the Monte Carlo, etc. It's a neat sensation, pooling on The Strip. The design is kind of an "English Country Garden" with lots of flowers, topiaries, etc. There's even a rose garden next to the hot tub (which I didn't try, just too darn hot!)

There are misters above each archway to the pool, so depending on which way the wind is blowing, you can get a cooling mist while you sun. And the waitresses are attentive and friendly, even bringing food from the adjacent cafe right to your chair. My fruit platter was yummy!

But be prepared! Did you know Las Vegas was windy? We're talking 40mph gusts! During the week we were here, I had to "tie down" my beach bag more than once. The breeze feels great in the 100+ heat, but wow! It gets really windy!

Plus = Les Notres

I believe this is the name of the coffee/dessert cafe, I couldn't find a listing for it on the website. Right next to the elevators, this casual spot serves fresh croissant and pastry, as well as coffee, to go or dine in. A godsend after a night of Las Vegas partying. And their French sandwiches with prosciutto, cornichons, and basil on a baguette are outstanding. In no other casino have I found a place where you can just run in and buy a snack or a cup of joe without standing in a massive line, or spending an arm and a leg. Often, we will snack all day and save our big meal for dinner. Les Notres is perfect for this, and their pastries look too good to eat.

Plus = Gustav's Casino Bar

Gustav's Casino Bar sits smack-dab in the middle of the casino, and it's a great people-watching spot. One of our favorite things to do our first night in Vegas is to sit and drink, while watching all of the world's humanity in its many forms (the good, the bad, the schlumpy touristy) walk by. Those couches are just too damn comfortable. And they serve mighty healthy pours! There's another great bar called Napolean's, which is more for late night. We've watched many a traveller get downright stupid when the dueling pianos get going. Fun stuff.

Minus = Checking In

Just minor quibbles. This last trip, a plus turned out to be a minus. Traveling from Pittsburgh, we always arrive around noon, a full 3 hours before check-in time. Usually, it's not a problem, but this last trip our room wasn't ready. No worries, we simply checked our bags and went to eat lunch (another minus it turned out). Except every hour we checked back, we were told something different about the status of our room. At one point it was "almost done" and then later, "she hasn't even started cleaning." Well, which is it? Finally, on our fourth time checking it, it still wasn't ready and we requested another room - is one available? Turns out, it was. So why didn't they just give us another room to begin with? Sigh.

Minus = Le Cafe Ile St. Louis

This is where we ended up eating lunch while waiting for our room. I had had a mediocre omelet here during our last trip (a 4am omelet), so my hopes weren't all that high. The ambience is cute, a sidewalk cafe within the casino, so you can watch everything going on, but it's hard for me to like a place that keeps a line waiting out front when there are obviously tons of empty tables within. Weak marketing tactics if you ask me.

Service was fast once we were seated (a 10 minute wait for a table - at least 15 empty tables within) and my Cobb Salad was good. However, I was tasting that Cobb Salad, or more importantly the bacon within it, for HOURS afterward! Yuck. Hubby had a BLT later on in the week, and I warned him, "Stay away from the bacon!" but he didn't listen, something he later regretted.

Two strikes Le Cafe Ile St. Louis! For my money, there are much better places to eat within this hotel/casino. Don't let the ambience fool you! Eat at Mon Ami Gabi instead (more on them later).

All in all, the Paris is a great little destination. Check it out. And I promise, more on Vegas in the coming days......

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