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The Girls’ Getaway Guide to Las Vegas, Part I

26 Jun

View of The Strip from the Mandarin Oriental Tea Lounge

I was just in Las Vegas this past weekend to celebrate one of my best friend’s Dirty 30.  It was great to see her as well as meet girl friends from all parts of her life: college, law school, and her current life in Los Angeles.  While my friend and I had visited Vegas several times in the past, some of the women in our group this time around were Vegas virgins.  We, of course, initiated them into the ways of doing Vegas in a way that maximizes fun while minimizing hassle.  Since not everyone could be on this trip, I thought it would be only fair to share the wisdom that I have gained over my many trips to Sin City.  So, without further ado, here are the rules for girls who want to do Vegas RIGHT:

1.  No boys.  This rule should go without saying, but, seriously: leave your husbands, boyfriends, and guy friends at home.  Sin City is such a life-affirming place for women who love to dance and party–if you play your cards right, you don’t have to wait in line or pay cover for clubs (see Rule #5), and people just generally fawn over you.  Bringing guys with you automatically kills this whole situation.  The best-case scenario for guys is that they’ll have to pay a ridiculous cover to get into clubs or pool parties (see Rule #4); a worse case is that they’ll be able to get in for free (or for reduced cover), but only if they have a ratio of at least two girls to every guy in their group; the worst-case scenario is that they’ll have to pay $1,000+ for bottle service to have a shot at entry, and, even then, they’ll probably be waiting in line for a while.  In short, unless the dudes that you want to invite have killer connections and/or know the scene inside and out, hug and kiss them goodbye and promise that you’ll do a jello shot (or three) on their behalf.

2.  Alcohol.  Speaking of jello shots, alcohol will more likely than not play an important role in the festivities.  As you might imagine, drinks are ridiculously expensive in Vegas.  Paying these prices makes sense every so often, but, for the most part, it’s better to cut costs in this area.  Fortunately, this is pretty easy to do.  First, I highly recommended the $1 Everclear jello shots at Fat Tuesday.  There are multiple locations in Las Vegas, and a visit is a quick, fun, cheap way to get the party started with your friends.  If jello shots aren’t your speed, they have various other drinks of varying sizes to suit your fancy.

In addition to this, you’re probably going to want to pre-party in your room.  To to this, the best way is to stop by the local drugstore–seriously.  If you’re in the middle of The Strip, for example, there is a great CVS where you can buy a wide variety of beer, wine, spirits, mixers, and snacks with which to stock your room.  You can even buy a cooler, in case your hotel room doesn’t have a fridge (or if the fridge is too small for your needs)–all you’ll need to do is add ice.  In short, there is no need to blow your budget on alcohol in Vegas–score!

I would be remiss if I didn’t share this, even with my reservations: some women like to get free drinks (and precious dance space) by accepting an invitation to join some guys at their table in a club’s VIP area.  While this is effective, let’s be real–there’s no such thing as free.  Your ability to make this work for you depends on how much you are willing to flirt with the guy and/or his friends.  Sometimes, the guys will be totally nice and respectful, just looking to have fun.  Other times, you’ll have to keep a smile plastered on your face as you try to gracefully avoid Mr. Octopus Hands.  For me, this isn’t worth it, so I just get my own drinks.  If you want to go down this route, God bless, but proceed with caution.

3.  Location, location, location.  Where you choose to stay in Las Vegas is key to your fun.  On this trip, our group stayed at the Mandarin Oriental.  The environment was very serene, and the service was absolutely top-notch.  Plus, it was located in the middle of The Strip, so it was convenient to everywhere that we wanted to go (including the aforementioned CVS, which was right next door).  Staying on The Strip makes it easier to get between places because you can catch taxis at any of the hotels (note: you can’t catch a taxi on The Strip itself!) and shuttles in a handful of places; you’re also in the middle of all the lights and action that makes Vegas so famous.  That being said, staying in another location in Vegas can be significantly cheaper and perhaps quieter.

Once you’ve made the location choice, the next choice is the hotel property itself.  The Mandarin Oriental is a non-gaming property, which means that the lobby doesn’t have the typical smoky, cheesy-looking, blingy environment.  On the other hand, the few girls in the group who wanted to gamble had to pop over to the Aria next door.  The Mandarin Oriental also does not have a dance club (which was fine as we could just walk over to Marquee at the Cosmopolitan or hop into a taxi).  Also, the lack of party atmosphere meant that we could get lounge chairs at the pool at any time of day without any wait.  Still, if you want direct access to partying, you’ll need to take this into account as you pick a hotel.  Basically, don’t just pick the top hotel on TripAdvisor that’s in your price range; make sure that the one you choose has the amenities that will make your stay epic!

4.  Party by day.  While lounging by the pool at the Mandarin Oriental was amazing (see Rule #3), I kind of missed the more-happening atmosphere that I experienced at other hotels where I had stayed on previous trips.  I did not miss, however, having to stalk pool chairs, split up our group, and/or get to the pool by 8:00AM to stake out a spot, especially after a hard night of partying.  Obviously, different pool scenes have different advantages and disadvantages.  I won’t get into the details here because one of my favorite websites, VegasChatter.com, has the definitive pool guide for Sin City.  Again, you’ll need to figure out your needs and pick the pool that suits you.  Wherever you go, though, the sun will most likely be hot and the day, beautiful–just be sure to not get so distracted by the luscious warmth that you forget sun protection.  Sunburn will probably not flatter the sexy outfits that you’ll be wearing when you go out at night….

5.  Party by night.  Four words: don’t forget your ID.  Bouncers (and even the server at Fat Tuesday, who said that it was “obvious” that I was over 21 but that he was having a hard time validating my Georgia ID) are religious about checking IDs and examining them closely.  We thought disaster had struck when one woman in our group was ID-less because her wallet didn’t make it into the purse that she took to the airport that morning; while we were able to overcome this, shenanigans were involved–definitely not recommended, and definitely not for newbies.  At least everything ended well, but, on your way to Vegas and each time you leave your room, check, re-check, and check again for your ID.

Four more important words for partying in Vegas: get on the list.  Don’t be like the suckers who stand in line for hours with no shot of making it inside; that’s an amateur move.  Instead, make some calls.  You can get on the list for most clubs simply by calling in advance (even as late as the afternoon of the day that you want to go).  Usually, as long as there are only girls in your group (see Rule #1), you’ll be added to list with pleasure.  Once you do this, you’ll most likely not have to pay cover at all (depending on the club and the night); even if you do have to pay, you’ll bypass everyone else who thought that showing up unannounced and/or with guys was a good idea.  Solid!  Just make sure to put yourself and your girl friends on 2-3 lists per night; that way, if the first place isn’t great, you’re not locked in.

To really do Vegas master-class style, though, let all of your friends and acquaintances know that you’re going.  This may seem counterintuitive, as you don’t want to make people jealous and/or let them know how much you like to party.  However, you never know who has connections that can help.  For example, this past weekend, the birthday girl’s high school friend’s husband’s friend’s dad (whoo–that’s a lot of relationships!) is business partners with Steve Wynn.  This meant that we got on the list to all of the clubs in the Wynn and the Encore, didn’t have to pay cover, and were hurriedly ushered through the line (like, 5 minutes, max).  Yay!

There are some additional options to make sure you make it to the club.  First, stay at the hotel that has the club where you want to party–assuming that you don’t go on a holiday weekend or other particularly busy time, the hotel will happily offer up line-skip passes and/or free or reduced admission.  Second, go shopping–club promoters can sometimes be found prowling shopping areas during the day to look for people to add to their list and will actually aggressively lobby for your names–good times!  Finally, talk to locals.  From your servers, to the guy behind the counter at the drugstore, to your taxi drivers, to even random strangers, the locals will tell you the hottest parties on each night and can even put you in touch with club promoters.  Once, we had a raucous good time laughing with a taxi driver, and, out of nowhere, he gave us free passes to multiple clubs–just because he liked us.  See?  Your mom was right: be nice!

What if you don’t know which club to choose?  Well, I certainly have my preferences, and I’m happy to share them–feel free to ask away in the comments to this post!  That being said, the club scene in Vegas is, unsurprisingly, always changing; for the latest information, it’s good to keep you eye on Yelp! and VegasChatter.  Supplement that research with some on-the-ground intel from locals once your arrive, and you’ll be set.

Did you think that this was the end of my tips?  Not even close!  There was just too much goodness to squeeze into one post, so tune in next week for Part II.  In the meantime, happy travels!

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5 responses to “The Girls’ Getaway Guide to Las Vegas, Part I

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