Vegas is on sale...that's what they say. The economy has taken a squeegee to Sin City, and they are practically giving away flights and hotels. So this experienced traveler and his bride recently took it upon ourselves to find the true cost of 4 days and 3 nights in Las Vegas.
It came down to either an all-inclusive in Cancun ($1400), or an above average hotel in Vegas...and ultimately the winner was Mandalay Bay. Less travel headaches, plenty to occupy my ADD head, beautiful pools and a more reasonable price tag of $900.
Now, it is far too easy to stop comparing at that point, and it would be wonderfully naive to leave it there. But vacations cost you, and in more ways than one, so lets look at how daily activities affect the human condition to the soundtrack of slot machines.
Arrived at the airport. Taxi, $15. Checked into the Mandalay, where they upgraded us to a mini-suite either due to my boyish charm, or to the fact that I have a friend who is considered a "whale" at Mandalay Bay. He maintains he did us a favor on the room, I maintain I had the nice lady at the front desk drooling over me despite my wife's presence. I know what you're thinking here, just let me have my pride. gorgeous room, complete with freaky little hangout couch for "chatting", and a view of the Hotel's seven pools.
Walked throught the casino to our suite, ingesting an entire pack of secondhand smoke along the way. This is not a criticism of Mandalay, mind you, this is simply a fact of Vegas. Part of the cost of your trip will be shaving an entire year off your life due to the smoke. Plus, I learned that a pack of cigarettes these days is nine dollars. NINE DOLLARS. This next statement comes directly from the empathetic, previously charred lungs of this long time ex-smoker....WHAT in the HELL are you people thinking??!!
Get to the suite...FAN.FRICKIN.TASTIC. The Mandalay Bay is a wonderful hotel, truly, but I had never enjoyed it from the comfort of an upgraded room overlooking seven world class pools. My wife and I were absolutely BEAMING as we unpacked.
5pm. A swim before dinner, and a chance for my beautiful girl to put her toes in the sand as she had been longing to do for upwards of two years. Two margaritas, $20. Ouch...Really? It's been a while since I have been a vacationer here, and not throwing drinks on a business tab suddenly became real. I often forget as a married man living in the central US what has happened to the cost of partying while I've been starting my family. And I thought you said this city was on sale? How 'bout throwing a gift-with-purchase on my drink bill, pal? Maybe a two-fer?
Dinner. We had a sushi craving, and Mandalay Bay willingly provided raw fish in the desert. You bet it's fresh, pal. Just flew it in from the "coast". (Hoover Dam) Spicy yellowtail, California Roll, Las Vegas Roll (because it's state law), one vodka, one nondescript white wine, $110.
"Say honey, you know that downtown tends to be a bit cheaper, why don't we head down to Binion's and the Fremont Street Experience and have some fun tonight?"
Cab, $25. Two yard dogs of Jungle Juice, complete with extra shots, $35. But then with the exception of the $25 cab ride home, we simply walked around, enjoying the lights, people and music of Fremont Street. And one hot showgirl. Great time.
The morning brought about the need for strong coffee, several lifeforce-sustaining Advil, and a greasy breakfast to enable transition back to the land of the living. Starbuck's Coffee and banana, $6. Two breakfast buffets and tip, $40. Twenty toes back in the 300 degree sand, 3 bottles of water, a true necessity in the desert, 3 bucks apiece, $9. Didn't bring nearly enough sunscreen, one bottle of waterproof SPF 15, $14. And finally, a $40 lunch brings the first 24 hours to a close.
The next logical step would be to add it all up, and do some apples-and-oranges comparison...and I am NOT going to do that. Because there is one more way that Vegas costs some of us who have less-than-average restraint having paid $20 for an all you can eat buffet. Inches on your waistline.
I gorged myself. There. I said it.
Months of exercise and restraint came to a sudden and abrupt halt when presented with endless entree options and oceans of desserts. And I mean, I ATE. And Drank. And then showed several hundred people at the pool what over-intake of salt, fat and alcohol does to the human form.
It would be far too depressing to sit here and actually tally up calories, so I will just let it lie.
The good news is that we barely gambled.
I was too busy eating.
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