May 24, 2008

Las Vegas...the notorious 'Sin City' without doubt.

Only in Vegas
...will you find;
slot machines at your arrival terminal
casino chips used as currency
rain in the desert
high heels higher than hemlines
revealing undergarments as clothing
shirts on men as optional
alcohol as hydration
inappropriate cussing as language
and caffeine as form of rest
but it is also here in Vegas where you find;
Topnotch celebrity Chefs
Excellent restaurants and superb dining experiences
High end designers with the trendiest fashions
Captivating world renown acrobatic performances
Mind blowing architectural and engineering feats
and of course... the high end city slickers to match.

This is what really puzzles me; How do these 2 very contradicting descriptions of the same city harmonize into one that attracts flocks of local and international tourists 365 days a year! My first guess would be that most people want a taste of something different while on vacation; and Las Vegas has it all! The glitz, the glamour... the crud and the nasty.
Shirley and I stepped off the plane not knowing what to expect. We we greeted by dozens of ringing slot machines desperate for attention. The temptation has begun! *tsktsk* I wasn't sure if it was exactly the best first impression of the city for me.
The long flight from Florida has left us both exhausted and eager to hit the sheets down at Mandalay Bay hotel where our luxurious beds await. Cushy warm sheets and fluffy towels must definitely be my favourite things at hotel rooms. Shirley was disappointed to discover the missing 'tea+coffee' facilities in our room. *laughs* She's English, tea before bed is a necessity!
I'm so glad I took this trip to Vegas with Shirley. We've had nothing but fun all weekend! We hunted down excellent cuisine together; sampled extraordinary works of notable pastry chefs and had brilliant conversations throughout the 3 days. We received nothing but star treatment all the way!

Discovering Hotels on the Strip
  • Mandalay Bay Resort and The Hotel Shirley and I both agree to the Mandalay Bay as our safe 'haven'. The crowd drawn to the Mandalay Bay are civilized high end rollers who know a thing or two about behaving themselves in public. The casino and lobby was often just as crowded as the other hotels; but we never felt claustrophobic like in the others. The ceilings here were higher, the floor space was very much organized and spaced out; unlike the others which were grand only on the outside; Mandalay bay kept its guests feeling comfortable and exclusive. The pool -'beach' at the center of the hotel was exceptionally fun and unique! Where else in the world do you find a private beach resort in the middle of the dessert! This place is spectacular! A shark reef to entertain the kids as well; there really isn't many kid friendly activities in Vegas. Don't bring the kids guys... bad bad idea..
  • Bellagio- Stunningly luxurious hotel; both inside and out. The dancing fountain show facing the strip would be my favourite thing about this beautiful and romantic place. Shirley couldn't help but shed a tear as we watched the mesmerizing movement of water to heart warming classic, Broadway and opera tunes. It was enchanting... would definitely love to watch it again.
  • Venetian- Discovering Italy and Venetian gondolas in the heart of Las Vegas's party Strip. Its pretty extraordinary. The walls and ceilings throughout the themed building was magnificently done; I just wished I had more time to admire it without the loud and pushy crowd leading the way.
  • The Pallazo
  • New York New York- It felt like the real thing! It looked and smelt like NYC! .... I can almost sense mixed feelings from everyone now. And if you're thinking... human odour, hotdogs, beer and pretzels... you got it right! *laughs* The place had a hip urban feel about it. The bars and food stalls were always jam packed with tourists succumbing to temptation from the intoxicating smell of freshly baked goodies and ice cold beer. The roller coaster around the city replica was a cool touch too!
  • MGM Grand - The lion Habitat in the middle of the Casino was definitely a wow factor... it's perfect how MGM = roaring lions... don't you think? This place has the most impressive strip of high end eateries with the names of world class chefs being mentioned in every bend. Wolfgang Puck, Emeril, Micheal Mina, Tom Colicchio and Joel Robuchon just to name a few.
Will no doubt delight any foodie on the prowl for good food! I've been told Shibuya; Japanese at MGM is worth a visit as well. I wish I had the time to pay it a visit.

  • Paris- The many magnificent structures in the City of Love condensed into one.
  • The Luxor- Eygpt? Pyramids? King Tut? Yeap... he's here alright. *laughs*
  • Excalibur- I've read that it wasn't easy to construct this amazing toy-like structure. Personally... I wouldn't sleep in something that reminded me of Lego. :P

Le Reve- Enchanting Cirque Du Soleil acrobatics done in water. Le Reve was created by the man who birthed Cirque, Franco Dragone. The design of the Wynn Resort's theater to create a dome around the performance where every seat had the best view of show. The aerials and choreography was dreamlike and inspiring. I thoroughly enjoyed myself... looking forward to more Cirque du soleil performances in other cities.

Chef Vincent Pilon
... I don't know where to begin... to first tell you how established he is as a Chef or to describe his astoundingly charming and pleasant personality. This young man truly has it together. Winner of numerous competitions and championships; respected Executive Pastry Chef of Mandalay Bay; acknowledged as the 'creme de la creme' of the Pastry industry and how did all begin?
To a budding entrepreneur like myself; his stories really are inspiring. And did I get a chance to hear them? YES! He took time off his extremely busy schedule to invite Shirley and I to lunch. We felt regal walking around with Chef Vincent; discovering his pastry kitchen, meeting his excellent team behind all the magic, entering secret unseen 'staff' tunnels around the hotel and most of all getting to know this incredible chef over a casual lunch of delicious Italian pizza.
It was an unforgettable experience. It really was the highlight of Shirley and I's Vegas trip. We couldn't stop smiling that afternoon. I don't think he realizes how much we appreciate his sincere company and priceless words of advice... we felt special.

L' Atelier de Joel Robuchon
I trust a French man when he says the food is 'good'. Chef Vincent had pointed us in several directions in terms of 'Where-to-dine'. Robuchon was one of them which topped my 'must-have' lists. I've read so much about Joel Robuchon before discovering he had a precious gem hidden here in MGM, Las Vegas. I jumped at the opportunity! The hole in my wallet can be tailored in due time. *laughs* I was so happy Shirley was pleased to oblige my hefty eating adventures.
L' Atelier; is 'workshop or an artist's studio' in French.. and he has definitely succeeded in creating excellent dining experiences for those who walk in. London, Monaco, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Macau and New york has now been blessed with delicious and inventive French cuisine. Headed by Chef de Cuisine Steve Benjamin, Robuchon in Las Vegas has definitely been achieving top notch French dishes just the same.
The concept of the restaurant is as interesting as it's plates of quality compositions. Shirley and I took a seat at the bar where we could peer into the open kitchen where chefs worked their magic into high end French ingredients and local American produce. Furnished in black, red, hints of silver; low lighting and bouquets of neatly arranged luscious red roses gave the place a sexy and contemporary feel. I loved it! The food? oh... wow.. every dish was spot on. The service was more than excellent and the menu was very organized and well thought out. The dessert?... it was the highlight of my night. La Framboise; a white chocolate sphere, with yuzu icecream, raspberry coulis and lemon mascarpone hidden in the center. It had inspired me in more ways imaginable! Kudos to Swiss Pastry chef; Chef Kamel Guechida and his team for a wonderful finish to our meal.

MIX (Alain Ducasse)
Perched atop the new prestigious new Mandalay Bay towers at THEhotel on the 64th floor; MIX by Alain Ducasse was definitely another meal Shirley and I enjoyed worth mentioning. World renown Chef Ducasse; has been building his empire with both 3 star Michelin restaurants in Paris and Monaco.

Chef Jean Phillipe (Bellagio)
Guess what? Whilst admiring Chef Jean Phillipe's pastry wonderland at the Bellagio, out walks the man himself from one of the corners! Shirley and I jumped at the opportunity for a photograph!he graciously obliged. The miniatures, frozen desserts and chocolates were incredibly inspiring. Of course... the enormous chocolate fountain is hard to forget too!

..... yes, you read right; Starbucks! Hehe ;)
Going on holiday with an English lady will naturally result in many large cups of tea. First thing in the morning; after lunch, in the evening and of course; before bed. *laughs* I've made a little Vegas trip scrapbook of Starbucks cups and their wonderful tidbits on the back. The green angel seemed to be haunting us around town... there was a Starbucks everywhere we looked. More power to Starbucks! wOoo~ I wonder what this handsome little Matt had to drink. *giggle*

The party animal in me has long left to recuperate in its cave of immaturity. Being in 'Party-central' didn't exactly wake it up from hibernation either. We spent a decent amount of money on our trip; but none of it went to gambling at casinos. Uh huh... none. Well we did drop a dollar into a slot machine on our last day just for the significance of it all. It is definitely possible to have fun in Vegas without bringing out the hidden devils within ourselves. Being with someone more mature and conservative in such a place allowed me to observe up close the habits and activities of kids in our generation. To be honest; I was embarrassed... embarrassed for having participated in such degrading habits in the past. To watch others just like me make a fool out of themselves truly gave me a rude awakening. I was embarrassed to explain to a very bemused Shirley; how moral values and self pride have been given the backseat to make way for greed, peer pressure and arrogance. We questioned where had the elegance and grace of yesteryear gone. In some instances, I feel it really shouldn't be called progression of time if all it advances to is for the worse. Is this really where us kids are headed? Has alcohol and illegal substances led us to forget what it is like to have self pride?


Sarah said...

Hey Su-yin!

Wow, you had a busy weekend!

I'm surprised you said Las Vegas was no good for kids. My parents took me there when I was 8 and I went CRAZY at the cheap buffets and at the theme parks. Haha, things to keep the kids busy while mum and dad play the slot machines.

xox Sarah

Anonymous said...

They don't put coffee/tea in Vegas hotel rooms because they don't want you to spend ANY time in your room, LOL.
I was there in January and the dancing fountain at the Bellagio garden was fantastic. I loved it so much.
You and Shirley did it right - Robuchon is the creme de la creme, currently one of the best chefs of the world.

Don't look so down at gamblers - most people do it as occasional casual fun. It's isn't the end of civilization, I promise! I'm glad you had such a nice trip!

Unknown said...

omg. i LOVE vegas!! i just returned about 2 weeks ago from there. things there change so quickly, i.e. that huge lady sculpture at jean phillipe patisserie (it was a HUGE wedding cake when i went!). i'm glad you had fun. looking at your pictures make me want to go back..yet again!

Yan Lim said...

Oh god I seriously envying you. I wish I can go to so many nice places like you do with good food around.

Nice pictures too.

You take care there, Su.


Anonymous said...

Hey Su yin!
you blogs are always inspiring and great fun to read! especially those beautiful photos you put on.
i know this have been asked before but i dont remember which blog i read it on.. what camera are you currently using to take those pictures?

thanks :) enjoy you time over there in the US.


Anonymous said...

Vegas is a contradiction within itself, there are gardens in the deserts. Places that are supposed to be dark, light up the sky with such brilliance that people do not realize what time of night it is. I'm glad that you got to experience some of the greatest food the US has to offer. Those pieces of cake look delicious and I agree with you about hotel rooms, comfortable beds and soft sheets are the best part.

Su-Yin -D├ęcorateur said...

sarah: haha i just thought there was a little too much 'mature' fun going on for kids to be around.

gina: I guess youre right; we had to go down for tea and coffee every evening and morning.. it was kinda ridiculous! haha. We loved robuchon!
I don't exactly have a problem with gambling.. just drunk and obnoxious gamblers...:P

lesley: Sigh* that place is magnificent! it looks like a pastry wonderland.

the juicy bunny: your time will come :) be patient there bunny :)

jess: hi there! lovely to hear from you. there is a link to my camera details on my FAQ on the side tab. I use an olympus SP-550 Ultra Zoom

las vegas: advert much? :P

Unknown said...

I'm sorry Su, but as much as I love you and your blog, I'm going to have to disagree with you about "kids our age" partying in Vegas. While there is a minority that do tend to go pretty wild, the majority go there just for casual fun. I don't know if you notice this, but the casinos are very good at keeping down any sort of disturbance. Plus, you have to remember that Vegas was built for gambling. There are slot machines everywhere because the city's main business is centered around gambling.