Unlike most of my trips, which tend to generate income, and where I enjoy a substantial amount of freedom, this trip was for a convention of sorts. So with that you get all the misery, and none of the fun or control. Luckily I wasn’t asked to be a booth babe as I have been in the past.
Let’s start with my company’s travel policy. Specifically the policy that says no rental cars, or you have to team up for the car when it’s a company event. Normally, my gigs are paid by customers so the car is nothing. Not that it would have been a huge benefit here, but having a car I’d probably have bailed out on the casino and skittered off to a normal hotel.
Prior to the job I have now, I had been to Las Vegas only on business, and not a casino business. So my visits have been to the more industrial areas of the city. I can say with some authority that outside the “strip” where most of the casinos exist, is one of the ugliest cities I’ve ever been to. The desert consists of dirt – not sandy dunes like you’d see in the movies. Any flora and fauna at all is fake as there is very little native vegetation. So, in areas where in any other city would be a green grass field, what you have in Las Vegas is a plot of dirt. Sandy, shit colored dirt.
The strip, where nearly all the casinos exist is a huge Disneyland. I guess I can see the tourist aspect, but for an impatient business traveler like me, Staying in a casino is a nightmare of epic proportions. So when I say I was at the Mirage, don’t blame them entirely for my rant. I’m certain all the others are as bad.
First, tourism is what Vegas is all about and tourists are what I avoid wherever I am. Rarely am I in a city to gawk at the sites. Ever get to stand at a hotel’s check in counter for an eternity as a huge tour group checks in ahead of you? I have.
Second, Once checked in you need a sherpa to guide you on the incredible journey to the elevators. A casino resort is laid out for you to spend as much time as possible in the casino. This being the case, the check-in counter is actually in a different physical building. So you have a huge schlep through the casino to the elevators and your room. I reckoned our journey was at least a half mile or so.
Third, did I mention it’s touristy? People are there for fun. However, I am not. I’m there to work. After work, I get anti-social and want to flee to a peaceful spot. There are no such places in the Mirage. In the past, that quiet place would be a bar where I could drink myself stupid. Alas, no more. I’ll settle for quiet these days. I find being around loud partying people an irritation. Having said that, loud partying people blasting out of your elevator past your room at 3AM is a double bonus irritant, especially when you have to get up at like 7AM, and speak in front of a few hundred people. Throw in the odd encounter with your company’s power structure out partying, and you have yourself a double-plus fun time.
Lastly I’m on a budget, more or less, and it’s a hideously expensive environment. My boss and I walked for an hour solid looking for a place to have dinner that would have been less than three times our budget. We found a place that had decent happy hour pricing. Too bad the waitress didn’t hype us to the fact that happy hour was over. El jefe ended up on the carpet for that one. Which is unfair considering the effort we expended to meet some sort of budget.
Had I been in possession of a rental car, Much of this would have been moot.
The final insult came in checkout. You see, Las Vegas is a big union (SEI) state. So, we can’t pay our shipper to deliver my gear to the conference room we reserved. That takes a union doofus in the employ of the casino. And, since I was the recipient (As opposed to our event coordinator, who did all the arrangements), I got to pick up the tab for the union doofus to move my gear a few hundred feet to our room – $675, each way. That’s right! over thirteen hundred toad-hides for the privilege – right off the old gold card. Words fail me – Grumpy, pissed, disgusted, not-a-happy-camper? I was only too happy to hit the airport. Couldn’t get there fast enough.
SO, I can’t give any advice for enjoying yourself in Las Vegas. I never have. I can gamble far cheaper in Oklahoma or Louisiana if the urge ever hit. Outside the carefully crafted and maintained major casinos, the city is a puss-hole, more or less. And remember, the sole function of a casino is to vacuum your wallet empty.
Next time, if there is one, I’ll be at the marriott with a car keeping my exposure to the lunacy at a minimum.
PS -There was some real dumb fallout from this trip, most of which I’ll leave off. It suffices to say there was some political shenanigans happening internally before the trip and the results of the class we held fed this silliness. When you have an open class (anyone can come), the larger the number of participants, the larger will be the number that are either 1 – over their heads, or 2 – bored silly. We’ve seen this in live classes
for years. To try to make sense (or any hay out of it) is silly.