Friday, June 18, 2010


Ah, Las Vegas. I hadn't been there in years, and frankly, it is not-- or was not a favorite place. I have family there. My mother and my sister, so Las Vegas does not end up being strictly a vacation, but sometimes an obligation. Also, let's face it, it is hot and expensive. Also I spent some years there as a kid, and it does not hold particularly good memories.
But Vegas has changed. Grown up.
First, the doggie part, because I have some obligation to tie this into dogs. First day we went to my sister and brother-in-law's house for a one night stay. They have three large dogs. The largest being Dixie (not after the Dixie Chicks) who is a mastiff-shepard mix. This huge dog ran the other direction immediately upon our entrance. Even my 13 (almost 14-- Happy Birthday Ani in eight days) year-old granddaughter scared Dixie at first. Nonetheless, the behemoth did warm up some to the women in our group by the end of a day. I have not spent a lot of time around big dogs for awhile. At one point, my wife and I shared a home in San Francisco with five dogs, three of them large. So there's the dogs, except for the sight of a pit bull in sunglasses on the strip, a homeless person's chihuahua, and a dog or two cradled by tourists, dogs were not in profusion on this trip.
What was in profusion was good times. We stayed at Aria for three nights. Now Aria and the City Center is Vegas all grown up. Gone are the glitzy lights. There is only one casino in the complex of four hotels/co ops /apparments. Aria and the center is gorgeous. My sister is the head of uniforms for the Aria. She purchased uniforms for 7,000 employees, keeps the uniforms in order and fitted, etc. She has some 30,000 uniforms I believe. If they are not being worn, or cleaned, they are kept in order on a huge conveyor system. Each employee goes to a locker, slips in a badge,and the conveyor brings the uniform to the employee. My sister travelled the world in search of the uniforms and the vendors. She even got wined and dined by top designers. I'm proud of my kid sis. She works hard and has succeeded-- though she did not arrange a private cocktail waitress fitting for my benefit.
The food at Aria is fantastic. We had amazing Jean Phillipe pastries every morning for breakfast. At Sirio, the Italian restaurant inside Aria, we ate a wonderful meal that included five desserts plus-- and even a sparkling dessert wine from Asti.
As for the shows. What a great time. First Viva Elvis at Aria is a Cirque du Soleil show all about well, Elvis. It is disappointing if one goes expecting strictly a Cirque show replete with amazing feats of acrobatics. There is an amazing trampoline section of the show and some other acrobatics, but in truth, it is more fantastic music, incredible dance and costumes, and energy than eye-popping acrobatics that make the show. Just go with an open mind, even if you don't like Elvis, you'll come out happy.
Last night we crossed the street and saw Cirque du Soleil's KA. Do not miss KA. There is a moving, flying, standing stage/boat/mountain/desert island that is the centerpiece of the show.  This is more allegorical story than the usual Cirque shows perhaps. But the show is simply astounding. (When I say astounding I want to say it like Bjork would sing it. Ah-stound-ding.) Again, go to Vegas, see KA. It will not disappoint.

Lastly, let me congratulate Las Vegas, and especially the City Center and Aria. They have changed the face of Las Vegas. You know, it's not easy to find service in this world anywhere, even if you pay for it. But everyone at Aria treated us very well. The maids, the servers, the doormen, and front desk folks all treated us like royalty. They are efficient and hard-working. And that is what I noticed about Vegas. Whether it is the staff of Aria, my sister, or the people selling bottled water on the streets, everyone seems hard-working in Las Vegas. Even the noisy, ever present men and women handing out naked girl picture cards promising a naked girl to you in 20 minutes-- work hard. Since I was on vacation, I managed to greet every person I dealt with a thank you or a good morning/day/evening. It worked. I walked away from almost every situation with good wishes for my stay.
My wife, who is even less than I a Las Vegas person, wants to go back to Aria.
My granddaughter loved it.
Viva Las Vegas. May you ever grow and prosper.

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