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  • Katherine Dudley Hoehn

Baby Boomers Do Vegas

Updated: Oct 3, 2019

My travel experiences have been varied and broad but never included Las Vegas. That has been on purpose. After all, my biased opinion of Vegas was not good. My favorite city in the world is Venice and, with a trip coming up later this year, I wanted to see how it was attempted in Vegas. I talked two good friends into taking a short trip. Here is our story, or at least part of it.

Lobby decor at The Palazzo

We all arrived at the airport in the morning and took a cab to our hotel together. There, the clerk at the front desk welcomed us to The Palazzo at The Venetian Resort. We were given chilled bottles of water and told it would be a short wait until our rooms were ready. We rolled our eyes, knowing he was just feeding us a line. After years of working in Washington, DC, all of us knew not to believe anyone who promises timeliness.

"The Grand Canal," Vegas style

We took a quick tour of the “Grand Canal” connecting The Palazzo and The Venetian. A retail extravaganza, it has a very short shallow canal, a “Bridge of Sighs,” a “Rialto Bridge,” a miniature “Doge’s Palace” and a “St. Mark’s Square.” The ceilings are painted to look like the azure blue of the Adriatic sky but they missed the mark in shade and lighting.

It is not possible to condense the list of all that is missing from the Vegas Venice, but like the real Venice, it was full of shoppers, tourists, and restaurant patrons. We passed up the $36 per person opportunity to ride in a Vegas gondola that went nowhere. Thankfully, since the Vegas Venice is indoors, it was absent the pigeons.

In less than an hour, and long before the official check-in time, our suite was ready. We were pleasantly surprised and made note that maybe people in Vegas do and say what they mean, or at least until they get you to gamble your life savings (kidding about that of course). Our suite was lovely and roomy with a bathroom large enough for a wedding party.

At that point I abandoned plans to make comparisons to the Venice I love, because Vegas is just never going to be comparable. Vegas is a pretend version of a lot of things, and just uniquely itself at the same time. The tackiness was surely not going to spoil the fun of three old friends, who plan regular get togethers in different places. After all, we can have a grand time simply sitting, chatting and people watching, something that is easy to do in Vegas.

The theme of Love was everywhere – The Beatles Love, the Cirque du Soleil show at the Mirage across the street from our hotel, was entertaining and included old film clips from The Beatles in concert and the usual gymnastic feats and creative costuming of all Cirque performances. In particular, the song, “All You Need Is Love” echoed in my head for a whole day.

Love was alive in the décor in The Venetian Resort, with giant red L-O-V-E letters for photo opps and numerous brides and grooms posing in front of them. There were many brides to be in Vegas, obvious because they wore sashes and sometimes tiaras and were surrounded by same-aged young women, all drinking heavily, laughing, and sometimes steadying the tipsy next “Mrs.”

There was love expressed by the generosity and pleasant spirit of those who helped make our stay more pleasant. We saw happy couples, drunken couples, and many people from other countries who were heavily laden with shopping bags from the plentiful designer stores. Thank you for supporting the U.S. economy; we love you for that.

And finally there was love of good friends. We decided that the together time was the best part of the trip for us – catching up on our lives, grandchildren, health, and dreams. I love these ladies and anyone who saw us together would instantly realize that we are just the best of friends.

Our time together was short and we decided that we did not want to spend much of it outside on “The Strip” but rather preferred to see the Grand Canyon, enjoy pool time and have some great meals.

There was a heatwave those few days and the temperature climbed to 109 degrees. While everyone called to my attention that it was absent the humidity of my home in Florida, that did not erase the feeling of walking into an oven every time I went outdoors. The indoors, however, was kept very cool and, except for our day at the Grand Canyon and going to the pool, we stayed indoors.

The people we met, were served by, and who guided us in Vegas made the most positive impressions on us. In any destination, people make the experience and Vegas did not disappoint us. By far it was the friendliest place we three had ever been together and we began collecting a list of the nice people experiences. Of the many, three stood out:

Jake, a young man who moved to Vegas from Colorado, greeted me early my first morning at the Palazzo coffee shop after I awoke on eastern time. He was pleasant and energetic considering the early hour. We shared some friendly banter as there were few customers in the wee hours.

I ordered my large, strong coffee and asked for heavy cream. He cheerfully asked, “but how much cream do you like?” “Make it the color of a manila folder,” I replied. His face took on a confused and disconnected look and I realized he was barely 20 and had likely never filed paper in a physical folder, only the cloud. “Don’t folders come in lots of colors?” he asked.

Quickly I pointed to the caramel frosting on a display pastry and said, “this is manila color.” “OH, the color of Beyonce,” he joyfully exclaimed, relieved we were again speaking the same language. Beyonce coffee was delicious and may have lightened my steps a bit too.

The next morning I stopped for coffee before Jake arrived and left him a message, “Kat stopped by for her Beyonce coffee.”

Liam is the owner of 7th& Carson, a restaurant recommended by the concierge at The Palazzo. In the old section of Vegas, it has an interesting “vibe,” good menu and creative drinks. Our Lyft driver was somewhat reluctant to leave us outside the location, a few blocks from the more populated part of old Vegas. With a warning about not straying too far alone on foot, he dropped us off as we promised to call a Lyft for our departure.

Lovely and delicious food at 7th & Carson

An Irishman, Liam is a storyteller, good at caring for his customers and proud of his establishment. We enjoyed his stories about starting a restaurant, business practices in Vegas, and how he came to own a restaurant. One of his unique design features is tables made from old doors, that have thoughtful hooks for your purse or murse.

“A nice little drinking spot with really great food” is the motto of this casual, hipster kind of place and we three older ladies were a bit out of our element. But we loved every minute of it thanks to Liam. My meal was lovely to look at and delicious. As only the Irish can, Liam viewed my clean plate, with a twinkle in his eye, and said, ”we mustn’t have met your expectations!”

Door tables at 7th & Carson

His attentiveness made us feel like we fit in with the cool crowd that had begun to arrive. We left, feeling satisfied with our delicious meals, fun and interesting drinks and a pleasant experience getting to know someone who is making waves in Vegas with and sure to become a huge success.

Helen is a concierge at The Palazzo. She was exceptionally pleasant and interesting , and moved to Vegas from California. She lives in the suburbs of Las Vegas, which sounds like it is a nice place to be, although still exceeding 100-degrees in the summer. Interested in our agenda, she wanted to know how she could help and what we really wanted to do.

She provided restaurant guides, suggested places we could go for fancy drinks, and led us to Liam’s restaurant. I thought it was extraordinary that The Palazzo doesn’t simply push their own restaurants, many of which are very nice, and that we patronized (see list of recommendations), but focuses on meeting the needs of the guests. They encourage the concierges to listen and respond to what the customers want. This thoughtful attitude reminded me of the movie Miracle on 34th Street, where Santa directs Macy’s customers to other stores and it turns out to be a very good public relations move.

Helen was interested in our experience, exceptionally friendly and had a sense of humor. Later, after I met up with my friends and we were heading out for our evening of fun, we all waved to her and said “thank you,” while she returned a wave and replied, “have fun.”

It was a good trip. It isn’t possible to compare The Palazzo at The Venetian Resort to the real Venice. What I was strongly reminded of this trip is that it’s the company you keep and the people you meet that create the experience. We were flexible and enthusiastic and willing to try new things. It turns out that was exactly the right attitude in Vegas. With the help of the people we met along the way, also including the three women from Los Angeles we met at the pool because they overheard our conversation and introduced themselves, the waiter who brought one of us bags of ice for a swollen ankle, and the driver of our Gray Line luxury sprinter for the Grand Canyon West Rim tour, we had a great time.

I left feeling better about Vegas than I thought I would, although finding no relevance to Venice, and knowing next time I would not visit in July during a heatwave!

Next stop – the real Venice later this year. I can’t wait to talk to the people, see the real azure sky of the Adriatic, and feel the energy of the early morning light along the Grand Canal. As in Vegas, the people I meet spend time with will be an important part of the experience.


Restaurants we enjoyed in The Venetian Resort

Morels: In the lobby of The Palazzo, this restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We were the first patrons of the morning and had excellent omelets, delicious coffee and enjoyed interacting with the staff.

Yardbird: Located in The Venetian complex, this southern restaurant was our first stop and we indulged in delicious chicken and salads and had wine to celebrate the start of our trip. Our waitress was friendly and helpful.

Solaro: A Wolfgang Puck casual restaurant, located poolside at The Palazzo, it has a nice American menu and very pleasant staff. My gluten free pizza was delicious and the girlfriends enjoyed their burgers and salads.

Once: The fusion of Japanese and Peruvian styles and flavors did not disappoint us. Our exceptional waitress helped us negotiate the menu and encouraged us to try new things, perfect for their small plates offerings. Stuffed yuquitas (yucca) and jidori chicken were among our favorites.

Smith and Wollensky: Having been to their former location in Washington, DC, we knew we were in for a treat with our steak dinners. The waiter was knowledgeable and helpful and we devoured our tenderloins, cooked to our exact specifications.

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Jul 30, 2019

Love all the details of what sounds like a great trip. It is all about girlfriends! Grand Canyon may be my favorite place on earth and I have been to a lot of places on earth! Keep up your great writing. Can't wait until you tell us about your BIG trip!

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