Vegas, baby! Before you plan Las Vegas travel, learn the hottest spots in Sin City — and how to score the best deals.
The epitome of glamor. That’s the best way to describe Herminia and Brandon. They have a timeless chicness you can’t help but admire.
Many people think of Vegas as Sin City, a destination for debauchery. And while it certainly has its seedier side, turns out there’s much more to it than over-the-top spectacles, legalized prostitution and an obsession with gambling.
I decided to get to the bottom of Herminia and Brandon’s fascination with Las Vegas. I honestly don’t know if there’s anyone who knows the city as well as they do. Here are their secrets to getting the best Vegas has to offer. –Wally
How often do you make it to Vegas?
We go to Vegas at least once a year, but some years we’ve gone as much as three times. But if Brandon had his way, we’d go every three months… He doesn’t get his way often.
What draws you there time and time again?
Bright lights city, gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire. –“Viva, Las Vegas,” Elvis
What we love most about Vegas is that you can tailor your trip to however you’d like. Most people see it as a party destination, which it most definitely is. But it’s also a place where you can have a relaxing getaway, go on a foodie adventure, enjoy art installations or even explore the outdoors (Red Rock Canyon, Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon are not far drives). There’s something to do for everyone, with activities to match the theme of your trip and your budget.
We’ve been for a bachelor party (Brandon), a wedding, Halloween, a 30th birthday celebration — those were all very much party trips and a ton of fun, but our favorite trips have been just the two of us. We like to stay at nice hotels, eat fabulous dinners, lay out by the pool, gamble, shop (providing the aforementioned was successful) and of course people-watch. (The people-watching in Vegas is like no other. Because there are so many adventures to be had in the city, there are so many different types of people.)
We have a rhythm when we go, and we’ve been so often that’s it’s not a surprise. We know what to expect, and every trip, the bright lights welcome us back right when we land. Oh, and Elvis. We love Elvis.
What are your fave hotels?
Our absolute favorite hotels are the Wynn and Encore. They’re connected to each other, but the Wynn has a more traditional feel while the Encore is more modern. Both are beautifully appointed five-star hotels, with an amazing crop of restaurants. The pools and spa are top-notch as well. It typically has a slightly older crowd, which means it’s a little more chill (except when XS nightclub empties in the wee hours of Sunday morning).
We also like to stay at the Cosmopolitan. Definitely a younger, more partying vibe, but the hotel rooms are well appointed. And, if you’re Brandon, you can talk your way into a suite with a balcony overlooking the Bellagio fountain show. Fun fact: The Cosmo is the only hotel on the Strip with balconies, since the property was initially built as condominiums.
What are the hottest nightclubs and pool parties?
We’re not big clubbers…anymore. But every now and again we can be swayed with a free cover. XS at Encore is beautiful, as it spills out onto the hotel’s pool area. We went for Halloween once and saw DeadMau5 spin.
Tip: All you need is to post a photo with #vegas, and all of these promoters will try to get you into any club you want for a better deal — especially if you’re a group of girls.
I personally think pool parties are giant cesspools, so we do not go. But all of the big clubs typically have a dayclub version. Just watch out for heatstroke and gonorrhea.
The Chandelier bar, while not a club, is a great place to get a few drinks. It’s a three-level bar set inside (yes, inside) of a giant chandelier at the Cosmo. At level 1.5, they have a few secret drinks that are fun to order.
Also, you get free drinks at every casino, just for gambling.
What are the best shows?
Our very first trip to Vegas, we went and saw a topless revue because…well, when in Vegas. I don’t think that specific show is on anymore, but it was kind of a fun, kitschy thing to do in Vegas.
The Cirque du Soleil shows are great (there's a Michael Jackson one we’ve been trying to go see), but more and more artists are doing residencies there. So it’s awesome to see who’s on when we’re there. We’ve seen Britney and she’s great, but can’t wait for Backstreet Boys next year (**Herminia currently shrieking with delight**).
Any tricks to score great deals?
We get the best deals from Brandon’s players cards (casino loyalty cards). You can get one at each casino, and you present it when you gamble at the tables or put it in the machines if you’re doing slots. They track your wins and losses and will always invite you back with some great hotel deal. The more you gamble, the better the deals. All the MGM hotels are connected on the same card, and will even offer you credits for any shopping or dining you do on the property as well.
Traveling during the off-season is also great. We usually go at the end of January for Brandon’s birthday. Hotels and flights are typically cheaper. And while the pools aren’t open, everything else is — and not quite as busy. Plus, the weather is always better than Chicago.
If there was one thing about Vegas you could change, what would it be?
Never change, Vegas.