Well, it really wasn’t a surprise for me. But let me tell you how it came to pass that I found myself willingly conspiring with myself to take Sue to see the sights and lights of Las Vegas (you did know that its called ‘Sin City’ right? I didn’t – I had to google it).
We don’t have a bucket list, but if we did, Sue would have Las Vegas up there in the top three, but the place wouldn’t be on mine at all.
Las Vegas to me conjures up images of rowdy, overly loud crowds of people indulging in casinos, smoking weed, getting married in Elvis chapels, visiting strip clubs and other unsavoury activities. Truly a city that never sleeps. Over the years (and with increasing frequency more recently) Sue has dropped many a hint of her desire to visit, and I know a driving force has been her love of all things Osmond, particularly Donny, and the fact that Donny and his sister Marie happen to be resident in Las Vegas.
But no, I’m not being swayed. Except…
Shortly after Sue’s birthday in 2018, I accidentally caught sight of a little news item stating that Donny and Marie were retiring. No more Vegas shows. And I thought about it, lots, and despite every bone in my body saying “Nooooooooooo”, something inside said – “Sue’s not going to get another chance.” So I silently caved and decided to book a four night / five day stay.
Many people have told me that is too long for Vegas, but as we get older, our walking speed is in serious decline – so what some people can cover in two or three days takes us twice as long!
I decided that this would be an excellent birthday present for Sue for 2019, so straight after her birthday cake candles had stopped smoking I jumped on our British Airways Executive Club portal, and checked reward flights to Las Vegas in July 2019. Sure enough I had more than enough miles for a premium economy ticket to McCarran International, and with Sue’s annual companion ticket, she got a matching ticket free so it made for a cheap flight. I paid around £900 for both tickets (tax and admin fees) which saved around £1400 over the published fares.
I could have got cheaper flights in economy, but the extra space for the 9 1/2 hour flight is well worth the additional cost. I get terribly claustrophobic when the kind travellers in front recline their seats in the first ten minutes of the flight, effectively pinning me in my seat.
Sue travels with special assistance due to her struggling with the aircraft stairs, and an added bonus from that is that we get to choose our seats for free. A top tip is to book the front seats up against the bulkhead – there’s a lot more room there. But they always reserve one seat on each window row for travellers with babies (and two in the centre block of seats), and so its impossible to book an adjacent pair of seats without a child reservation. HOWEVER, nothing stops you booking the two aisle seats next to the reserved ‘baby’ seats, separated by the aisle and sure enough, there was no baby seat user, leaving the window seat empty and available for me to slip over and join Sue.
With the flights secured, it was time to book a hotel, so a lot of research was required to make sure the whole trip was manageable for the boss.
I found that Vegas has a decent monorail running the length of the strip, and there were a few walkways over the highway which made crossing the road much easier. So my aim was to try to get a hotel close to a crossing point, accessible to the monorail and as central as possible.
Time to search booking.com, which has three things going for it:
a)An excellent map of the area with the hotels shown on it
b) I’m a so called genius member (loyalty club) so I get additional discounts and offers
c) Most hotels can be booked with a free cancellation up until the night before.
Unfortunately most of the central strip hotels were out of my price range, except for the Flamingo, which I booked – ideal as this is home to Donny and Marie’s show.
However, a quick review of Tripadvisor found a whole host of poor reviews, centred around very poor customer service and a few sleazy aspects including a lot of ‘weed’ usage which people were finding quite noticeable.
Although I tend to take Tripadvisor reviews with a pinch of salt, on this occasion the bad reviews were so frequent and so bad I took the view that they could not all be wrong, and cancelled the Flamingo. Instead I found a very good room rate in the New York New York hotel at the south end of the strip.
I’ve reviewed the hotel separately here.
The hotel was nicely positioned next to a pedestrian bridge leading to the MGM grand hotel, which also happened to be the last stop on the LV monorail.
Finally, I decided (as we normally do) to book a Stay, Park and Go (SPG) deal at the Holiday Inn Gatwick Povey Road, which is an excellent place to stay, no more than 5 minutes taxi to either terminal, and as a SPG member I get 15% off of the normal parking rates. Well worth checking out if you are flying from Gatwick.
So, the trip was planned. The only thing I needed were Donny and Marie tickets. And that’s when the plan started to unravel….