The Travel Diary

Month: May 2014

What Happens in Vegas….

Well travel compadres, it’s that time again! Blog #2 is here!!!

It’s only fitting that we pay homage to my second favorite city in the USA- Las Vegas, Nevada!!!

Now…where do I start?

Let’s first take a look at where to stay.

For the luxury lovers, my “on the strip” hotel recommendations include Encore, Bellagio, Wynn, Aria, Four Seasons, Cosmopolitan, Mandarin Oriental, Venetian and Palazzo. Two additional longstanding “old school,” upscale favorites, are Caesar’s Palace and MGM. Though they teeter between the higher (older) end category, and moderately priced, they are still viable options for the elite traveler. However, be aware they lack the finesse of the new “posh” kids on the block that are listed above. Keep their age in mind when booking! I must say, I do personally still like Caesar’s. Maybe it’s the whole toga, Roman theme that wins me over- I can’t say exactly. Also, MGM, has served as host to many of the major boxing matches for years. Therefore, don’t completely rule either of them out if you come across the right deal.

For good mid-range options and a budget friendly price, I’d consider New York New York, Paris, Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Monte Carlo and Planet Hollywood. Depending upon what site you review, and who is recommending…. the following can be found in the mid to lower range priced hotel categories as well- Treasure Island, Mirage, Harrah’s, Flamingo, Tropicana and Bally’s. Keep in mind, you will spend so much time out of your hotel room, that if you are on a budget, these are not bad options for your first Vegas trip.

*If price is no concern, go for the gusto and opt for one of the higher end resorts listed above. The service is superb and the amenities and rooms are stellar.

For families- consider Circus Circus, Excalibur, and Stratosphere. New York New York is also a family favorite because of the roller coaster, as well as Mandalay Bay because of the Shark attraction. These locations offer a mixture of things like room cribs (for the super little ones,) arcades, carnivals/circus themed events, and a host of other kid-friendly must- haves, and activities onsite. Be aware that there are in some cases adult themed shows running, so be sure to check with the resort before booking!

I’ve only listed the most popular accommodations based on my personal experience, and the feedback I’ve received from others. I try to stay somewhere different during each visit. This provides me first hand insight as to what’s going on in a variety of places. Vegas has tons and tons of resort options!!!! I stuck primarily to those on the strip, which is the heart of it all. There are a host of hotels off the strip, as well as downtown, and outside the immediate area too. Don’t feel bad if I left your favorite place to stay off of this list. I promise, it’s not personal, it’s just Candace’s recommendations!!!

What must you experience on the strip?

The complimentary fountain show at Bellagio has perfectly choreographed water fountains situated in front of the hotel, that perform for spectators throughout the day and night. I most enjoy it when it’s late, because the music and lights coupled together, are a fantastic sight amidst the nighttime backdrop. It’s an absolute must see. Another favorite is the erupting volcano at Mirage. Get ready for a show that lights up the area, complete with music, sound effects and fire. I actually enjoy watching it as much as any kid would during each of my visits. Making a stop into as many hotels as possible during your stay is another great way to to become acquainted. Each hotel has it’s own theme, and a host of offerings and shows that run regularly. There are Roman clad impersonators walking the halls of Caesar’s Palace, as well as Egyptian replica’s that grace the building at Luxor. Even New York (hotel) has their very own Statue of Liberty out front. For a romantic to-do, couples can take a gondola ride through the canal at Venetian, or catch the long (elevator) ride up to the top of the Eiffel Tower at Paris- the views are simply stunning at night!!! Let’s not forget about all of the amazing shows from Blue Man Group (which I thoroughly enjoyed,) to Le Reve, which is a vivid display of acrobatics and color to say the least (my eyes were all over the place.)   In addition, there are a number of Cirque du Soleil shows, concerts and comedy extravaganzas. I assure you, you won’t have difficulty finding things to do during your stay.

Spa Services-

Many of the hotels have spas. Prices vary, but remember to check around, as specials are frequently offered at various times. You can opt for high end services at one of the posh establishments, which is perfectly fine, or consider other options.  I can also personally attest that one of the best massage’s I’ve experienced to date, was at none other than Bally’s. For the price, I can’t say that it was any different than what I previously experienced at one of the more “exclusive” resorts. Please don’t rule out the spas at the more moderately priced hotels, as you may find that you’re pleasantly surprised with their service- at least at Bally’s anyway! Do your homework before you schedule an appointment! Just because you can afford it, doesn’t mean you have to always spend it.

Where to eat?

This will be extremely difficult. There is no way I can cover everywhere, so I’ll attempt to point out a few choices for you. I’m going to make this short and sweet. For upscale, visit Michael’s in Southpoint Hotel for black- tie service, for an awesome buffet, try Bellagio’s for a wide variety (I was first introduced to their cuisine during my 2005 stay with them,) for families, the kids will love Rainforest Cafe in MGM, while Wynn offers vegan options for those who are not a fan of meat (like me-though I’m actually pescatarian, but do thoroughly enjoy yummy vegetarian and vegan meals.) There are a number of other really wonderful eateries, pubs and fine dining options- that are guaranteed to play symphonies upon your palate. Dig in, eat up, then walk it off as you take in all that the strip has to see.

This concludes my Vegas preview, and while a bit of a lengthy one, it’s packed with useful information. As the punch line goes, what happens in Vegas….is mature adults have a splendid time without ending up in a “Hangover ” (the movie,) type of situation. I promise you can still have a fabulous time without all of the craziness! Until next time!!!



Las Vegas, Nevada

From atop the Eiffel Tower at Paris Hotel




The Miami Way

After a long and gruesome winter for most of the US, I’m certain that just about everyone is looking forward to a little fun in the sun. Miami is an awesome choice for those desiring to get their daily dose of vitamin D.

There’s the hustle and bustle of South Beach against the serenity of  the North Beach community at the opposite end. If you are looking to join in the action, pull up your lounge chair on the Southern end, or park a seat at an area restaurant on Ocean Drive. If you prefer a little less action, opting for an eatery on the north side might serve as a better option.

Looking for the fresh catch of the day? Select from any number of spectacular dishes on Ocean drive. I’ve personally tested a number of restaurants on the strip including the Clevelander, Columbus, Carlyle and many, many more. I wonder if I have a thing for “c” restaurants because of my name. Oh well, back to my point….there is plenty to choose from. French toast, pasta, seafood, salads…. you name it!  Once done you can relax on the beach and still have time to catch a Miami Heat game by evenings end! I’m a huge Heat fan! The area is also a shopper’s paradise with a wide range of retail stores and boutiques to patron.  For the super sophisticated shopper, you’ll  just about  faint on a visit to Bal Harbour Shops a short drive away. They house everything from Jimmy Choo to Roberto Cavalli. If you’re looking to catch up on some shopping, or treat yourself to a much needed gift, be prepared to spend and I mean big! Miami is also the ideal location for the sunshine enthusiast. I can’t say enough about this place. The blue skies, palm trees, ocean and blazing sun will lift the lowest of spirits. It’s by far my most favorite US city of all time. Vegas would probably be a close second.

Additional Advice-…. be sure to brush up on your Spanish, grab your swimsuits and be prepared to hit the Atlantic ocean by (swimming) laps, on a wave runner, or you can charter a boat for the day. Either way you choose to enjoy it, you won’t be upset!



Miami, FL



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