Out There: My Vegas Vacation

Most people know the old saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” This cheeky little adage offered innuendo, and often a misrepresentation of the city. In fact, for the past few years, Visit Las Vegas has flipped the script with their motto: What happens here, only happens here.

The Vegas experience is something unique, and one that is absolutely to be shared. When AAA Travel Advisor Michael Collins returned from his recent trip to the strip, we connected to hear about his experiences.

AAA Travel: Vegas has had a special place with AAA members, as it seems to attract people for a variety of reasons. You’ve been to the city more than once, what do you think draws so many to the strip.

Michael: First off, Vegas is so much more than just the strip. Yes, most people think of the giant hotels, casinos and all the neon, but the city offers so many unique experiences in such close proximity. One moment you find yourself at an award-winning musical, and the next day your flying in a helicopter over the canyons or out to the Hoover Dam.

AAA Travel: Very true! It is located close to quite a few other destinations, correct?

Michael: It sure is, making it a perfect place to stay, start, or end a trip. Las Vegas is only a 6-hour drive from Arches National Park., and is only a two-hour drive from the Grand Canyon West Rim. For people looking to experience the canyon, including a stay in Vegas may make the trip even more memorable. The city is under 4 hours from Joshua Tree National Park, so don’t overlook Las Vegas for those thinking of a National Parks trip.

AAA Travel: There are so many hotels and resorts, and on this recent trip you popped in at more than one property, including New York New York. From the street, this resort looks amazing as it mimics the monuments and skylines found in NYC. Is it just as fun on the inside?

Michael: You bet it is! At one time it was labeled as the first boutique hotel in the city, and since opening in 1997, the resort has had some of the most fun activities on the strip. Home to a rollercoaster that runs indoors as well along the rooftop edge, the resort has surprises around every corner. There is a piano bar, several restaurants, and a family-friendly arcade. Las Vegas has often been associated with weddings, and New York New York offers a bridal package where couples take their vows on the rollercoaster. Now there is a wedding photo opportunity! I will say this though, the rollercoaster runs until midnight, so if you have a room with a “coaster view” be aware.

AAA Travel: What a fun property! Now you didn’t spend your whole trip at New York New York however, you wanted to experience a few places?

Michael: As a travel advisor, I like to make the most of my trips so that I can take back first-hand experiences to share with my clients. After my visit to New York New York I spent a few nights at the Park MGM Las Vegas. This resort was once the Monte Carlo, but boy has it been refreshed and updated.

AAA Travel: The Monte Carlo was a popular stay for decades, how has MGM revitalized the location?

Michael: Architecturally, the resort has been modernized. My room was a standard king, with very comfortable bedding. The room had a casual seating area, but right away I noticed there was no desk. MGM removed all office furniture from these rooms when they renovated and decided to make the Park MGM more like a “home away from home.” Even the art in each room is unique. No two pieces throughout the nearly 3000 rooms are the same.

I think the best part of the Park MGM was the culinary scene! The resort is home to Eataly, Best Friend by Roy Choi and Bavette’s steak house. I couldn’t tell you which place was best, as I enjoyed myself at all three.

AAA Travel: Good food and good stays! Speaking of which, do we have a AAA 5-Diamond hotel in Las Vegas as well?

Michael: Bellagio and Aria! are both 5-Diamond locations! With over 4000 quest rooms, 16 restaurants, 10 bars and nightclubs, and 150,000 square feet of gaming space, Aria has quickly become a landmark since opening in 2009 and hass been featured frequently in movies and television too!

I think one of the most fun parts of Aria is the main lobby. Aria features installations by artists from all over the world. The installations change frequently and add to the unique luxury atmosphere of the property. When I visited there was this very cute display of brightly colored polar bears by multimedia artist Paola Pivi.

And let’s not forget the Aria sky suites. These suites include transportation to and from McCarron International Airport. Guests get a private check-in area with key-controlled access from the valet area and main Aria lobby.

AAA Travel: You mentioned Aria becoming a landmark, and one of the most known spots on the strip is the Bellagio, and the fountains. Did you view the water show?

Michael: Yes I did, and if you want a great view of the fountain, visit the Paris Hotel and Casino across the street and make a reservation for the patio seats overlooking Las Vegas Blvd at Beer Park and you can get a great picture.

I also recommend heading inside the resort. Bellagio boasts some very unique features in addition to its famous fountain. Fiori di Como is an art installation by Dale Chihuly. It is comprised of over 2000 pieces of hand-blown glass. Art critics from around the world have attempted to appraise the piece and have determined it to be priceless. Bellagio is home to the world’s largest chocolate fountain too.  There is also a botanical garden that changes five times a year for each season and for the Lunar New Year celebrated by East Asian cultures throughout the world.

AAA Travel: There seems to be an art scene in Vegas!

Michael: Not only is there this new approach to art, but also wellness. Resorts are taking a healthy approach to stays, with features like the Stay Well rooms at MGM Resorts. These rooms include air purification, aromatherapy, specialized lighting, and enhanced cleaning protocols.

Another trend is in touchless experiences. All MGM Resorts in Las Vegas offer free mobile check-in. This is also your digital key in most resorts. Simply open the app and touch your smartphone to your key panel and operate the elevator. This option is completely contactless and is super convenient. I checked in the night before I left home and when I opened the app at the airport the next morning I had my room assigned. I walked into the resort and went straight to my room.

AAA Travel: Las Vegas seems to truly have something for everyone. From the lights, the sights, the food, and art, what happens there should be shared!

Interested in the Aria? AAA Travel has exclusive member benefits at this Five-diamond resort.

Perhaps your next adventure awaits in Las Vegas. No matter your destination, your trusted AAA Travel Advisors are here to help you plan the perfect escape. Meet with an Advisor now.