You’ve heard the saying, “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas,” but for my Travel Agent, Inc. colleagues and I attending our annual luxury travel conference in the City that Never Sleeps, what happens in Vegas comes home to Carmel in a big way! Our connections, our knowledge, and our newly-sparked creativity comes home to help you, our client. We want to share our adventures, not just on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but also one-on-one with you, the discerning traveler. Each year, our expert advisors attend Virtuoso’s luxury travel conference, Virtuoso Week, held at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. At this conference, our advisors meet with hotel owners and general managers, tour operators, tourism offices, and cruise line executives to discover the newest travel options, the best hotel renovations, travel trends, and to solidify our already strong relationships with the Best of the Best in travel worldwide.
Upon arrival, our team of advisors were met by our private limo driver–reminding us of the importance of having assistance with our luggage and the freedom of a private car taking us to the hotel. No taxi queue, no standing in 100+ degrees in Las Vegas, no trying to fit all of our luggage into the back of a taxi….just calm, friendly service to start off our hectic week. It was glorious!
My room in the Bellagio Tower offered a spacious setting including a large desk, a table, and comfy chairs, a deep soaking tub, a large sink and vanity table with large storage drawers (I absolutely love this feature!) and an amazing view of the Bellagio Fountains and the Vegas Strip (including the new High Roller observation wheel). Although the rooms with a fountain view had more potential for noise as the fountains came to their finale each hour until 12:00am, the sound was minumal and I was able to glimpse the fountains on many occasions–making me quite happy indeed! The music did not seem to penetrate the walls and glass in my room, but watching the ballet of water in relative silence from above was quite an experience!
Our clients staying at the Bellagio receive VIP designation and special amenities.
On Friday evening, we experienced the brand new Vegas attraction, the High Roller observation wheel. It is the largest observation wheel in the world and is located at the end of the new Linq retail and restaurant area. The High Roller affords epic views of the Las Vegas Strip—especially at night! The wheel itself is a beautiful, changing light show—it was spectacular viewed from my window at the Bellagio (especially as the fountains were going—the Eiffel Tower of Paris on one side and the High Roller on the other)… Each of the 28 Italian-made glass cabins can carry up to 40 passengers. Some of the cabins have open bars for a small upcharge and have two small benches for those who need to sit for a bit. The ride takes 30 minutes to complete.
We explored Las Vegas in our free time—reviewing the restaurants of: Jaleo, an upscale tapas restaurant by Jose Andres, Todd English’s Olives Restaurant and Chayo Mexican Restaurant and Tequilla Bar offering upscale Mexican cuisine, fantastic guacamole, and over 50 tequillas with handcrafted, artisan cocktails. Chayo is located along the brand new Linq pedestrian strip. This entertainment-centric pedestrian strip offers 300,000 square feet of restaurants, pubs, shops, a bowling lane, and the largest observation wheel in the world at 550 feet, the High Roller. The Linq also offers restaurants such as the Tilted Kilt, Guy Fieri’s Las Vegas Kitchen and Bar, Hash House a Go Go (featured on Man vs. Food), and the Yard House—just to name a few.
We also did our best to conduct stringent quality control at Baccarat Bar and Sensi Bar at the Bellagio–sampling a wide variety of champagnes, wines, and cocktails to ensure they will meet our clients’ expectations.
An Australian travel advisor colleague of mine stayed at the Vdara, which connects directly to the Bellagio by a sky walk. Her spacious room offered a full kitchen replete with small dining table, a sitting area and a fantastic view of the strip.
Saturday morning offered a variety of classes, and I opted for the day-long VAST Globetrotting experience to reconnect with all of my adventure travel suppliers and properties. At Vast, we connected with over 30 adventure tour operators, safaris, ranches, lodges, and cruise lines specializing in unique experiences. While spending time in each area, I was able to increase my knowledge base of high adventure and start thinking about travel in a more creative way.
Did you know that you could have a tent safari….in the Arctic circle? Did you know that you could stay on a luxury ranch in Montana and spend time on a cattle drive…and then relax in a spa? Have you considered a luxury hike to Machu Picchu? Would you like to discover the glaciers in Patagonia….or get up close and personal with elephants? What about discovering the art of falconry and horses…in Mongolia? How about taking a photo-safari with a National Geographic expert?
Or perhaps a spa is more your style….. We enjoyed a private tour of the Canyon Ranch Spa in the Palazzo Las Vegas and even got to make our own scent of body butter—mine was chocolate mango.
Our team of advisors were invited to experience a preview of Las Vegas’s newest luxury hotel, the SLS Hotel. We were not allowed to take photos, but our advisors took copious notes regarding this exciting new hotel. The rooms at the SLS Lux Tower are a fusion of Romanesque with shabby chic—very whimsical, but luxurious to the hilt. Some rooms have mirrors on the ceiling—so very Vegas! Even the hallways were artfully designed with dark colors and lots of texture. The rooms in the Story Tower have an urban ambiance—with bright colors and lots of textural elements. The World Tower offers a more traditional feeling of luxury with streamlined furnishings and muted, soft colors. The SLS offers over 1600 guest rooms with 250 suites. The hotel opens August 23, 2014. Our clients will receive VIP designation at this hot new hotel along with special amenities.
On Sunday, I spent the day speaking and listening to our hotels, tourism bureaus, and tour operators in Peru and Argentina—learning more about this history-rich area south of our border. Did you know that these areas offer a great amount of history—and baroque art and architecture? If you are a gourmet traveler, these two cultures offer a wealth of foodie options and artisan cuisine—including wine.
Early Monday morning, I had the great honor of meeting and listening to Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of Jacques Cousteau. Mr. Cousteau shared his vision of sustainable tourism—not simply for the health of our oceans, but for the health of the communities who depend on the oceans, who live by the oceans, and who benefit from the oceans. He previewed his upcoming 3-D IMAX movie, Secret Ocean, to be released in March of 2015. He also spoke of travel options that gave a percentage of profits to his organization, The Ocean Futures Society.
From Monday through Friday, my Travel Agent, Inc. colleagues and I each met with over 350 suppliers, hoteliers, and tourism bureaus. Collectively, we met with over a thousand different travel colleagues from all over the world—many of them owners and general managers. What does this mean to you? It means you have an educated AND a connected travel advisor—one with the means to make your travel dreams a reality.
After the meetings, functions, cocktail parties, and hosted events, we come away not just full of information and ideas, but solid connections to benefit you—our valued client. We’re bringin home Vegas, baby!