Monday, August 17, 2009

Mandalay Bay on 5500 Calories a Day: A Traveler's Review.

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.

Holy. Schnikeys.

"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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mommaof4wife2r said...

it was your boyish charm...i'm just saying! and man, i might have to schedule a trip to eat my way thru vegas! woo hoo!

Fresh Mommy said...

Oh yeah, you'll be spending your way through that trip... but you'll leave happy!! And gorgeous room!


Em said...

$9?! Are you kidding me!?

I'm going to stop shooting smokers the dirty look and start mugging them instead.

Wait for it...

Obviously, they're the last Americans with money to burn.

Glad you had a great time!! I'm thinking next time, hit Disney. It'll be cheaper.

Stethoscopes and Stilettos said...

We just received a post card giving us two free nights at Mandalay.....hmmph, "free" whatev.

Very tempting though...

angie said...

I didn't get an upgrade last month. I'm thinking it had to be your charm. And that I need to step it up.

I'm so glad you had such a great time. LOVED hearing how Vegas gobbled your money. Makes me not feel so bad about having had mine devoured last month.

Jillene said...

Looks like you enjoyed yourselves. And isn't the point of Vegas to go to the buffet and gorge yourself?! Yeah--I thought so.

Aleta said...

I've been to Vegas twice (once when I was 16 - had a blast though I couldn't play any casino games) and another time when I was in my late 20's. Times sure do change, because I remember how cheap the meals were. They wanted you to spend the $$ in the casinos, not on the food. We have plans to fly into Vegas for a couple of nights later this year. Thanks for the write up! Enjoyed!

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

I can't believe you passed up the all-inclusive Cancun deal. That's what my hubs and I did for our honeymoon and it was a SWEET deal. Tons of awesome food - INCLUDED - tons of on-site entertainment - INCLUDED - pool with a swim-up bar - INCLUDED. Think about it next time. And, we didn't have to inhale smoke. My husband did, however, get the Montezuma's revenge. I guess no vacation is perfect. Maybe he faked it to get me to carry all the luggage in the airport... who knows.

Candice said...

I completely understand. Chances of me fitting my fat ass on that plane for our trip back to Dallas tomorrow? Not fing likely.

Wide load!

Jenn@ The Crazies said...

Totally sounds amazing... glad you had fun!

Brandy said...

Yeah I agree with the running thru the money and gaining inches on your waistline I had the same problem last week when I was there.

Sharlene said...

What a Vegas amateur! You go to the store, pick up a case of bottled water, a couple cases of beer, and make use of the suites mini fridge baby! That alone saves you a few hundred dollars. Although your way does sound signifant;y less ghetto...

Lee said...

Should've seen me at the Rio's buffet.

Worst. Stomach-ache. Ever.

But pretty damn good food.

aforestfrolic said...

On yeahh, now that's what I'm talking about...Vegas Baby! We just got back last month from a 4 nighter to get some 'mommy & daddy' time, the kids call it, tee hee. We love Mandalay Bay...but the drinks at the pool, yikes! And unfortunately it sounds like I gambled a bit more than you all, ugh! But we always have a blast in Vegas & you know what they say ;-) By the end of our trip I got us comped so much food and husband thought it was hilarious. I can't resist the buffets either...I can't even imagine the calories we consumed, but it sure was worth it.

Jamie :)

Elaine A. said...

Fun, fun, fun! Well except for the second-hand smoke part. I woulda hung by the pool and ate a lot too. Sure you're not pregnant?? ; )

Eli's Lids said...

Mmmmm... I don't see the floating ad this time. It was a purple bar that stayed on the screen while I scrolled. I don't remember the ad. It's just a personal preferance though... hate those things. We did Vegas in July with the kiddos. Here is the first of 3 posts... very different with children in tow... except the eating part!

posthumous pointer
To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one's self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - this is to have succeeded. - Emerson