Insights on Travel from Costa Rica Expeditions’ Founder Michael Kaye and his Expert Friends.

Vacation Time Is Precious: Coming to Terms with Las Vegas.

Since the early 70’s I have been going to Las Vegas on an average of at least once a year.  And in all those years I have never once gone to Las Vegas to go to Las Vegas.

In the early years I went to Las Vegas to go to the Grand Canyon.  Later on  I also went to Las Vegas to attend travel industry events.

At first I simply hated Las Vegas because it was so garish and tacky.  Moreover it was politically correct to bad-mouth Las Vegas. It was convenient to hate Las Vegas to be able to sincerely bad mouth the place.

Over the years without my realizing it my attitude towards Las Vegas slowly started to change.  It’s emotionally corrosive to unreservedly hate a place that you know you will return to often—and besides no place is all bad.

What I came to appreciate about Las Vegas is how good it is at being garish and tacky.  It takes genius to do garish and tacky that well.

I became conscious of this change of heart just a few weeks ago at the Conde Nast Specialist Summit.  The last evening, a good friend Zach Rabinor from Journey Mexico remarked that he was getting use to Las Vegas and to really appreciate it we should have dinner at the rotating restaurant at the top of the Stratosphere.

What Las Vegas does brilliantly was reflected in that restaurant.  At night from a continually changing vantage point of 100+ floors up Las Vegas is at it’s most beautiful.

When they seat you they emphasize that if you leave your table to go to the rest room, it is important to remember what section you are in.  If you forget you might never find your table again.

The food was perfect.  Any worse and we would have complained.  Any better and they would have been wasting money.

The third person in our threesome, Andrea Grisdale, from I.C. Bellagio (The real Bellagio in Italy, not the hotel in Las Vegas) had been up-graded to a three-bedroom wrap-around suite at the much talked about brand new Cosmopolitan Hotel.  Not wanting the evening to end we decide to check out her suite and have a nightcap.

By now the moon had risen a perfect backdrop to the lights of the strip.  Standing there with two dear friends it was hard to hate Las Vegas.


“You know something,” I said.  “Last night from my balcony on the other side of the hotel, I saw the same moon.  One of the moons has to be false!”

What I appreciate and hate so much about Las Vegas is that for just a few seconds they believed me.

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3 Comments and 0 Replies

  • At January 26, 2011
    7:20:10 am
    Shannon Borrego said:

    What a great post! I have always hated Vegas as well and taken foolish pride in my “discerning” taste and politically correct travel preferences. As your post points out, there is good to be found everywhere. We need to lighten up and enjoy the ride– wherever we find ourselves.

    • At January 25, 2011
      5:34:23 pm
      Max said:

      I’m finally over Vegas, after several trips over the years centered around gambling and general carousing. :) However, I still have great appreciation for the shows and the food. It would be nice to get my parents (definitely not “Vegas types”) to go and see “O” one day.


      • At January 25, 2011
        5:04:59 pm
        Kathy said:

        With you Michael, Vegas is not a place we would go unless someone has a well paying speaking engagement;-)
        That said- we had a delightful time…got up and headed out at 7AM (after saying good morning to all those folks just getting IN!)to meet a van that took us to Red Rocks Canyon, which dropped us off on a 13 mile loop with bikes. We were literally the only ones there (except for the wildlife), 20 minutes outside of Vegas. No matter where you go, you can find something that makes your heart sing…you just have to be willing to look! And you Michael, always are!
        (Gee, wish we got comped these kinds of rooms, but given that we don’t gamble, they don’t come our way!!)