Alistair at the Venetian
*Winner Best Hotel in the World
*Winner Best Public Washroom in the World
April 5, 2000
Flamingo Hilton | Paris | The Mirage | The Bellagio | The Venetian
First Stop -Flamingo Hilton (Bugsy's Place)
Rating- 4 paw prints
Things to do: You can see the Rockettes or Forever Plaid. Of course you can gamble too. Alistair's favourite slot machine was 25 cents and involved a train that made a stop every once and awhile. You are the passenger on the train and when it stops you get to match windows for money or pick a bag of loot. It's fun!
There are some reasonable shops here as well with lots of good Flamingo Hotel souvenirs.
Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so: Check out the wonderful garden where you wander past waterfalls, ponds, flamingos, penquins and some of the most spectacular swimming pools anywhere. Winner of Alistair's "Best pool in Vegas". It's equally impressive day or night. Don't miss the "Bugsy" memorial. It is subdued but a nice remembrance to the man with the vision.
Places to eat: Paradise Garden Buffet (serves a reasonable breakfast and the view of the gardens is great). Lindy's is awful, avoid it at all costs. The Bugsy Deli is never open but when it is the service is very slow. I've also heard the Flamingo Showroom dinner is lousy. The best deal by far at the Flamingo is the room service. Excellent menu, excellent prices with prompt and courteous delivery.
Next Stop -PARIS - (Nice tower Mr. Eiffel).
Rating- 4 1/2 paw prints
Alistair and the Eiffel Tower
(Of course I went up the tower)
Things to do: Obvious gambling of course but the shops and restaurants are wonderful. Great spot to practise you French. Everyone on the staff speak some French but many sound fluent.
Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so: Grab a pastry at the lovely J.J. Boulangerie or better yet have breakfast at "La Cafe le St. Louis". They do a lovely basket of croissants, scones and french bread (enough for two). Don't miss the Eiffel Tower and buy yourself a ticket to the top. Great views of Las Vegas.
Places to eat: (See above)
Next Stop:The Mirage
Rating: 4 paw prints
Things to do: The Casino, the shops and don't miss the large aquarium behind the check in counter.
Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so: Go see the "Secret Garden" and the Dolphin Habitat. Allow a 1/2 day. Take the little tour of the water treatment plant and stay around while they exercise the dolphins. They have no pre-set show they just play with the dolphins they are not expected to "perform". The white lions and tigers are impressive in the garden. It's worth you while to pick up the headset and learn a little something about the endangered animals. They have a nice, well run, snack bar by the dolphin pool. Pick yourself up a little snack.
Places to eat: Only had the snack as mentioned.
Handy Bathrooms: - Dolphin Habitat area has lovely washrooms (second best public washrooms in Vegas).
Next Stop:The Bellagio
Rating: 3 paw prints
Things to do: Nothing with children, in fact they are banned if they are under 12. You can't even take a shortcut through the hotel. I didn't wander down by the lake but hopefully it's more impressive than the rest. The shops are very expensive and not really for browsing. If you want to see the biggest waste of $10 million check out the incredibly gauche "flower" sculpture. I wouldn't pay $10 for it. I thought it actually detracted from the hotel. Okay so now you ask, if I was so disappointed ,why I gave it any paw prints. Well read on.
Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so: The Conservatory. One of the most stunning displays of flowers I have seen anywhere. Every camera was at the ready for photos. Also the casino is beautiful with awnings over the gaming area. Very posh and elegant.
Next Stop:The Venetian (Alistair has found heaven. If you want to make a bear cry make him leave the Venetian).
Rating: 5 paw prints (nah make it a million paw prints)
View from my gondola
Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so: This is the most glorious hotel in the world. They spent $1.5 billion and I can see where every last dollar went. You don't want to miss a thing so allow a full day (12+ hours). Bring your camera and a full roll of film. The outside hotel is a replica of the Doges Palace in Venice and the Bell Tower. As you enter to your right is Madame Tussauds (excellent). May as well start here. They encourage you to pose with and touch the celebrities. Some of the best are Shirley MacLaine, Liberace, Nicholas Cage, Pavarotti and many others. At the end is a little presentation in a little theatre.
Next you walk into the Doges Palace and look up at the ceiling. Yes it is just like the ceiling in the real Doges Palace. You will spend the rest of the day wandering the canals of Venice and the shops and galleries are exquisite. Some affordable and some not but all are worth a look. St. Marks Square is stunning. In the evening they recreate Carnivale with some incredibly talented street performers. Numerous restaurants are located around the square. Do not miss a gondola ride. All the gondoliers are from Italy and are trained opera singers.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. After 12 hours of wandering Venice you remember that there is a casino in here somewhere. You can get there going down the escalator in St. Marks Square. It is a nice casino with live lounge music. Alistair even won some money here.
At CK2 you can check out a performance by Andre Phillipe Gagnon. It's Vegas so of course he'll do Sammy, Frank and Dean.
Alistair has saved all his winning and birthday money and put them in his "Back to the Venetian Fund". Oh and if you are not awestruck check out the view of the Venetian at night. So much beauty it's hard not to cry. Sophia Loren opened the hotel and in her own words she was "flabbergasted" by what they had achieved.
The Venetian is Venice without the dirt and rats and old bread floating in the canal. By far the most impressive hotel in Vegas and in my opinion the world.
Handy Bathrooms:Down the escalator from St. Marks Square.
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Last updated April 24, 2000