My earliest memories of Las Vegas date back to the mid ’70s as a young ski industry professional. Going to Vegas was an exhilirating experience. One of most distinct memories is crashing the SKI and Skiing Magazine free lunches on the penthouse level of the Las Vegas Hilton – the tallest building in town! Today, just 30 some years later, the Hiton isn’t even in the top 50 in Vegas!
We used to hit Vegas four or five times a year, en route to visit family in SoCal or attending the SnowSports Industries America trade show. Both have now moved on and our recent stopover was one of only a handful in the last five years. The change is amazing.
The legendary hotels of the past are dwarfed by the gleaming towers of today. The Hilton itself plays second fiddle to a host of concrete and glass hotels and apartments spiraling skyward from what used to be a parking lot. On the strip, the golden reflections of the Wynn and Encore stand sentinel on the site of the old Desert Inn. The aging Fronter across the street is gone (thank God) – a vacant lot now with the massive Trump International out back.
I remember vividly when Steve Wynn opened the Mirage and Treasure Island. Still important anchors on that part of the strip, they are joined by the likes of the massive new Palazzo across the street adjoining the Venetian.
Down the street, the new Fountainbleau is among a host of skyscraper resorts the have created a new Las Vegas skyline. Walking down the strip today is akin to being in a Grand Canyon of glass and steel!
While we don’t spend a lot of time sitting at slot machines or tossing twenties down on the craps tables, we have always loved visiting Vegas. There’s an electricity there 24 hours a day. We’ve long ago mastered the “Vegas for Free” concept, hopscotching from the pirate ship show at TI to the water show at the Mirage (not big fans of the new Sirens of TI show). Or having an after dinner cocktail at the Lake of Dreams at Wynn, and peering into Penske Wynn Ferrari Maserati dealership.
Like anyone who has visited Vegas, I have myriad memories which all come back with each successive visit. My first In ‘n Out experience.
Hauling athletes and journalists out to a sunrise breakfast after the 1992 Olympics. Steve Wynn entertaining the 1994 and ’98 Teams at Treasure Island and Mirage. A waitress slapping my sleeping friend to wake him up at a restaurant at 5 a.m. so he could order. Leaving the rental car at the curb in the early ’80s when I was late for a Western flight to MSP(yes, I really did).
And as much as we’ve maintained a continuity of visits over 35 years, the change this time was very striking. And it remains one of our world’s most amazing wonders!
Tallest Buildings in Vegas
Over the years we’ve grown to love a variety of restaurants off the strip including Piero’s (thank you Gary!), Lawry’s Prime Rib, Cozymel’s (RIP) and others. For a change of pace, we decided to follow one of our favorite chef’s, Mario Batali, and checkout his four-year-old B & B Ristorante in the bowels of The Venetian. Every single bite was a treasure! Watch for our TripAdvisor review coming out soon.