Vegas is known for its opulence, yet every time it amazes me. The reputation of Vegas is well-known, proclaimed as Sin City, and yet somehow it always out does itself. Vegas is America’s adult playground, where fortunes are won and lost daily, marriages begun and ended nightly, and livers beaten and abused hourly.
The decision was simple: comp’d room + free flight = weekend in Vegas. We arrived on a Friday morning with plenty of time to hit the hotel pool, gamble, and hit the club. One of my other companions from Argentina and another friend, my former manager, were ready to take on Vegas… and we were already up on the house.
The Cosmopolitan Hotel is one of the newest, hottest hotels on the strip and it did not disappoint. You might ask yourself how we managed to lock-down a $495/night room for free and with a view of the Bellagio Fountain. Here’s my first tip: work the system. Customer loyalty programs are no new concept. In exchange for your personal information and the ability to track your spending and usage habits, you sign up to earn free rewards. These extend from airlines to hotels to casino gambling. Once understood and taken advantage of, you may reap the benefits. In our case, one of our companions had signed up for the casino’s Players Card during a previous trip; no cost, just sign up and earn points. Points = free rooms, hence our trip! In addition to that, for frequent travelers, hotel points add up quickly, further offering amenities. My other friend’s Platinum status provided a free upgrade to the fountain view, free buffet tickets, and VIP line entry for the dining room. Work the system and you win.
We hit the ground running the first day, or swimming I should say, at the hotel pool. After a few hours of taking in the Las Vegas strip views, we closed down the pool around 6p. During that time we managed to make friends with an Armenian bachelorette party and, coincidentally, also ran into some friends on a bachelor party for the weekend. Things were lining up nicely.
That evening we planned on getting bottle service at the Marquee Night Club. Typically, not my style due to the outrageous prices and ridiculousness, but fortunately my buddy knew someone that could get us a table for $500; not bad for 3 guys… yet still ridiculous by everyday standards. To put things in perspective, the table next to us had a minimum of $2000; we got lucky, it helps to know people!
The following morning, we heard from the girls at the pool; they had a day bed and we had the name on the reservation, jackpot!… so I thought. Upon trying to enter, they demanded we add on another $500 bottle… shit. Not what we wanted to do. After hemming and hawing, we conceded and walked in. Worst case scenario we had to ante up and buy a bottle, but we were willing to play the odds. Chances were that the 10 person bachelorette party would be buying several bottles anyway. After 3 checkpoints, one bouncer took our ticket and let us slip in. I assumed they’d escort us to the table and add on another bottle but we just walked directly into the party without looking back; no cover, no bottle! Tip #2, meet new people. Had we not made those friends at the pool the day prior, we would have likely had to return to the not as exciting hotel pool, considering the Marquee Pool Party was sold out. Granted things won’t always work out as advantageously, but in looking back at my experiences, the best memories have come from those I’ve met unexpectedly! Once you open your mouth, life gets interesting. The pool party ensued.
Following the pool party, we headed out in search of food. (Note: it’s best not to eat or drink on the strip. If possible go off the strip, buy alcohol from chains such as Walgreens and eat at the cheaper food courts, such as the one in Planet Hollywood.) Fast-forwarding into the night, we had a similar plan in mind: meet up with my friends on the bachelor party, drop a name, and slip in. This time it worked even better. The bouncer insisted we had to wait for our group unless we wanted to put a card down for the table. That wasn’t happening! Upon waiting for the bachelor party in line, the opportunist in me saw an opening and went for it. Generally speaking, as long as you are able to go with the flow and act “as-if,” you can get away with a lot. In our case, we saw a large group entering ahead of us, blended in and walked in with them. The two guys with me caught on and quickly followed suit. No questions asked; we were in, yet again! Tip #3: be bold, be adventurous!
Though I was not entirely pleased with being at the same club for the third time in two days, I wasn’t complaining, given we didn’t pay cover once and only paid a fraction of what most would have to get our experience. We eventually met our friends inside and partied the night away. I’d elaborate more, but you know what they say, “what happens in Vegas…”
The next day had a wake up time of, oh, say about 1p. Thanks again to our upgrades, we had a 2p checkout time which was much needed! While one of my companions had to catch his flight out, the two of us remaining rounded out the trip with an afternoon at the hotel pool, sipping on Modelos and chatting with some local pool crashers. We smoked some cigars while walking the strip and threw some craps at some of the cheaper casinos – which, by the way, are much more forgiving than some of the nicer casinos – before our flights
All in all, it was an awesome trip in Vegas, put together on a whim and done for under $1000 bucks. Planning is good, but just enough to get you there and back. Everything in between can be made up as you go. Have fun along the way, meet new people, and find some adventure!