Entries in ‘Nevada’ Journal

South Point Casino Hotel Spa, Equestrian Center in Las Vegas

Friday September 27, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 6 Comments

South Point Casino

South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa Review

Everything about Nevada is big; from Hoover Dam, to the casinos on the Las Vegas strip. One thing I didn’t expect to see in a Las Vegas casino hotel was a larger-than life bronze statue of legendary poker player, mobster, casino owner and cowboy Benny Binion, sitting on top of his roping horse, near the entrance to South Point Casino’s equestrian center on the casino floor. This really shouldn’t surprise me, as South Point is famous for its arena and equestrian center.  South Point Casino is the only hotel I know of where you can drive up in your horse trailer, unload your horses and check into your hotel room all at the same time.



South Point Hotel suite

South Point Hotel suite #2481

Stay and play at South Point Casino Hotel and Spa

The South Point Casino, located on the tail south end of Las Vegas Boulevard, features 2,163 hotel rooms, 11 restaurants, a movie theater, bowling alley, weekly entertainment in the showroom, a swimming pool and Spa Costa del Sur, in addition to the equestrian center, arena and exhibit halls. In other words, you can stay and play at South Point without leaving the grounds.

After a day of watching cutting horses work with cattle (many of the equestrian events are open and free to the public) I checked into my king suite #2481, with a city view and view of the parking lot. My non-smoking room rented for $79. plus tax during the weekend and $49. on a week day – check the website for details. The room included a Serta Perfect Sleeper Point Plush mattress, 300 thread count linens and Archive bath and body amenities.

South Point Hotel pool

South Point Hotel swimming pool in Las Vegas

Rooms offer LED screens, high speed internet, separate bathroom with combination shower and bath, large closet with safe, desk and in room coffee maker. There is a daily resort fee of $14. per room that covers in room Wi-Fi, fitness center, local and toll free in room telephone calls, boarding pass printing, airport shuttle (based on availability) and casino discount booklet.

South Point dining options

It was my good fortune to be in Las Vegas during Restaurant Week. Restaurant Week in Las Vegas is not only a good value at participating restaurants, $5 of each meal purchased is donated to Three Square to help end hunger in Southern Nevada. After dining at four of South Point’s restaurants, I have come to the conclusion that large portions are key to the casino’s success. In listening in on diners conversations with waitstaff, most everyone walks away satisfied.

Cowboy sculpture, "Saturday Night" Kelly Graham

Cowboy artwork hangs outside Cinch Saloon at South Point Hotel and Equestrian Center

As I walked into Silverado Steak House, I was thrilled to be surrounded by cowboys here attending the Las Vegas Cutting Horse Association Futurity. Call me an equestrian groupie; I like the smell of horses and leather and the jingle jangle of spurs hitting the floor as cowboys and cowgirls amble along.  After an appetizer of Thai crab salad, my Kona crusted flat iron prime rib with cafe de Paris butter arrived sizzling on the plate, accompanied with asparagus, a hand tossed salad and perfectly baked potato. A flavorful Merlot from Lodi, California was included with the meal, as was a chocolate molten cake paired with vanilla ice cream. A satisfying meal for any cowgirl.

Lunch at the Big Sur Oyster Bar was overkill. A Las Vegas local recommended the lobster grilled cheese on sourdough with white cheddar ($24.) While the waitress suggested the Maryland jumbo lump crab cocktail ($16.) Like a kid in a candy store, I ordered both and instantly regretted my decision as soon as the crab cocktail arrived. With its all meat lump crab, this was a wonderful meal in itself for seafood lovers. Then came the lobster sandwich, stuffed with slipper meat from China or Indonesia and house cooked potato chips. According to the chef, Maine lobster is cost prohibitive.

prime rib, South Point Steakhouse

Kona prime rib at Silverado Steakhouse, South Point Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada

Don Vito’s Italian restaurant was also participating in Restaurant Week. My dinner began with bacon wrapped scallops, followed by heirloom tomato salad, Scampi Puttanesca over spinach tagliatelle, concluding with warm chocolate bread pudding. The house Cabernet Sauvignon accompanied the meal with $5 per meal given to Three Square. Service was attentive. Again, large portions – the cowboy seated across from my table wasn’t able to finish his meal either.

Breakfast the next morning found me at Coronado Cafe, open 24 hours, this restaurant reminded me of Denny’s – friendly service, value-pricing. I ordered the three cheese omelette with buttered wheat toast and hash brown potatoes ($7.95.)

Costa del Sur Spa, South Point Hotel, Las Vegas

Make time for Costa del Sur Spa at South Point Hotel, Las Vegas

Costa del Sur spa

I’m not a fan of Las Vegas casinos, nor the accompanying cigarette smoke. I’d rather spend my money in the spa. To date, one of my best spa experiences was found at Costa del Sur. This 40,000 square foot spa features 28 treatment rooms, a relaxation room, jacuzzi and eucalyptus steam room.  I recommend you arrive at least 30 minutes early – why not make it a spa day – to enjoy the entire spa experience! Daily spa passes are offered to hotel guests for $30. My insider tip: ask for Denise – she has been with Costa del Sur since it opened at South Point in 2006.

My 80 minute Goddess of the Sun Ritual body treatment started off with a full body exfoliation with sugar scrub. This followed with a hydrating body wrap, along with a cool stone facial and warm Moroccan oil scalp massage ($170.) If you want to really knock your socks off, combine the Goddess treatment with a hot stone, deep tissue sports therapy massage (additional charge) and throw in Reflexology, using pressure points on the feet. Be warned; this custom spa treatment will leave you so relaxed you’ll be headed to bed early. As Denise says, “it’s all about getting the body to exhale.” Amen to that!

slot machines, South Point Casino, Las Vegas

Hotel room artwork and slot machines feature horses at South Point Hotel

Insider tip

Gambler or not, make sure to sign up for the South Point Club Card – it’s free (must be over 21) and gives you discounts. And who doesn’t like to save a buck, go bowling for free or get a complimentary dessert with dinner? For the night owls, Coronado Cafe offers graveyard specials from midnight until 6:00 a.m.

Need to know

South Point Casino, Hotel and Spa does not accept pets. The South Point Equestrian Center does not board individual horses, nor do they offer horseback riding to the public.

Check-in time: 3:00 p.m.

Check-out time: 12:00 p.m.

If You Go:

South Point Hotel Casino and Spa (702) 796-7111

9777 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89183

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of  Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Top photo courtesy of South Point Hotel. I was a guest of South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Aria Resort and Casino Las Vegas Hotel Review

Friday May 3, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 6 Comments

Aria Resort Lobby

Aria Resort & Casino hotel review

You have decided to travel to Las Vegas and get a hotel room on the strip. Now what? Is this trip a girlfriend getaway? Maybe you are headed to Las Vegas for a bachelor or bachelorette party? Of course, this could be a romantic trip to Las Vegas to take in some shows, discover a couple of new restaurants or simply hang out at the pool, enjoying the Nevada desert heat.  Whatever your travel plans, you’ll need somewhere to recharge after a busy day and night in Las Vegas.  My new favorite Las Vegas hotel is Aria Resort & Casino on the strip.

ARIA Resort & Casino hotel review

Opened in 2010, with 4,004 hotel rooms and suites, Aria Resort & Casino is one of the largest hotels in the world! Aria, owned by MGM Resorts, features a combination of amenities, high-end service, cool architecture and sustainable design. I liked the abundance of natural lighting in the public areas and the fact that the casino didn’t smell like smoke – they have state-of-the-art ventilation systems in the flooring. And while the 150,000 square foot casino does have a substantial presence in the lobby, non of the slot machines make obnoxious noises with constant ringing.

ARIA pool & cabana

Aria’s swimming pool and private cabanas

From culinary offerings created by chefs to nightlife, private cabanas poolside, spa treatments and Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil, Aria typifies the vitality of Las Vegas resorts.

ARIA’s restaurant scene

Las Vegas is known for its culinary chops. Any celebrity chef worth his salt has a presence in Las Vegas, Nevada. Featuring 16 restaurants under one roof, Aria is no exception to the more-is-better rule. Tequila fans, check out the Tequila tree at Javier’s Mexican-themed restaurant.

Those looking for an over-the-top breakfast, lunch or dinner buffet, with reasonable prices, might like to visit The Buffet. For great seafood, try Michael Mina’s American Fish. After sampling the truffled mac and cheese at Mina’s Arcadia in San Jose, I was pleased to see the truffled mac and cheese on the Las Vegas menu, as well.

While the quality of the food and chocolate is good at Jean Philippe Patisserie, they need to get the ordering process under control. I saw several frustrated folks on the morning of my Las Vegas departure standing on the sidelines waiting for, what appeared to be, simple orders to be processed.

Aria hotel room

Aria’s deluxe king room with Las Vegas city view

High tech, high touch hotel rooms

From the moment I walked into my Aria hotel room, I felt like a VIP.  Upon entrance to my hotel room, the tv turned on (showing a state-of-the-art menu offering every way imaginable to customize my room) the curtains opened and the bell man explained all the bells and whistles. He also pointed out my city view “city center view” that was an additional $30 upgrade.

My deluxe king room, #20018, rented for $175 per night, not including the $25 resort fee that covered access to the fitness center, pool and wifi. Please check the website for current hotel room pricing.




The Spa at Aria Resort & Casino

With 62 treatment rooms and 80,000 square feet of spa space, The Aria Spa will make anyone’s list of top spas.

I sampled the 50-minute reflexology massage – this was a first time for me to experience a massage focusing solely on my head, neck, shoulders, feet and hands. Did I mention that she used hot stones during this treatment? Make sure to arrive early or stay late to take advantage of the indoor hot tubs and sauna, as well as the outdoor therapy pool.



Aria Sky Suites

Sky Suites at Aria Resort & Casino

Five star luxury at ARIA Sky Suites

If you are looking for an ultra-luxury experience, Aria is also home to Sky Suites, Forbes Five-Star hotel-within-a-hotel. If you require a paparazzi-free zone, the Sky Suites are for you, as they offer a gated entrance to the resort.  Whether you visit CityCenter’s The Shops at Crystals or browse the public Fine Art Collection, Aria is a resort experience unlike others in Las Vegas.

Insider tip

Want to be a VIP in Las Vegas, Nevada? Sign up for M Life (it’s free) and be rewarded for hotel, dining, entertainment and spa experiences. All MGM properties – Las Vegas, Nevada and beyond – are affiliated with the M life reward program.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow Aria on Twitter. Aria is an AAA Five Diamond resort.

If You Go:

Aria Resort & Casino (866) 359-7757

3730 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109


Article written by and photos courtesy of  Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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How To Be a VIP in Las Vegas – M Life

Monday April 15, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 4 Comments

Las Vegas VIP

How to be a VIP in Las Vegas, Nevada

Do you ever wonder who is sitting behind the tinted windows in that stretch limousine cruising the Las Vegas strip? Who are those people who skip the long nightclub lines and are ushered to the front; seamlessly moving behind the velvet rope? How does James Bond know how to create the perfect cocktail?

The secret to being a VIP in Las Vegas is not who you know, but what you know.

Follow my suggestions and you, too, will be living the M life as a VIP in Las Vegas!


Javier's Tequila Tree

This Tequila Tree at Javier’s in ARIA Resort holds $30,000 worth of Tequila

Las Vegas not just for poker players

It used to be that casino loyalty programs targeted the gambler; slot machine, video poker or table game players. The folks at MGM Resorts have concluded that 60% of their customer base falls into the non-gaming category. As a luxury traveler, I fall into the non-gaming category. But that doesn’t mean I don’t spend money in Las Vegas. I like to think of myself as a VIP, and you can be one, too!

I go to Las Vegas, Nevada for the amazing shows (KA and Zarkana on my recent trip) the fabulous restaurants (Sensi at Bellagio is my new favorite) the spa (try the Reflexology Massage at The Spa at ARIA) and lounging at the pool.

While there is nothing wrong with spending time in Las Vegas casinos, I like spending the day experiencing moments, dining well and then crashing in a luxurious hotel room.


M life Moments

If you join the M life program (it’s free), you’ll be rewarded with points for every dollar you spend on hotels, dining, entertainment, spa experiences, slots and table games. All M life members start at the Sapphire level and work their way up to the ultra-exclusive Noir level with tier credits. While I’m a Sapphire M life member, I was fortunate to experience some memorable M life Moments in Las Vegas. Here’s what’s possible with M life moments:


Hit Bar & Lounge Mixology Training

Mixology Training at Hit Bar & Lounge, an M life Moment at Monte Carlo

Mixology Tasting at Hit Bar & Lounge at Monte Carlo

James Bond makes drinking cocktails look sexy. I had a chance to learn how to make super premium cocktails with Master Mixologist Michael MacDonnel. When I sat down at the Hit Bar, I didn’t know a Mai Tai from a Sidecar. After my Mixology training I know to “never muddle the mint.” I used my mint to garnish the Mai Tai. When I really want to impress someone, I now know how to burn the orange in a Blood and Sand cocktail.


Cirque du Soleil KA cast

M life Moment – having your picture taken with the cast of KA by Cirque du Soleil at MGM Grand

KA by Cirque du Soleil

If you have been to Las Vegas, you know that Cirque du Soleil has numerous shows featured throughout the strip.  I was fortunate to see KA at the MGM Grand and Zarkana at ARIA Resort & Casino.

Nothing shouts VIP more than meeting members of the cast, pre-show, having pictures taken with Cirque cast members and being ushered to VIP seats at one of Las Vegas premier shows!


Aria Spa Suite

Aria private spa retreat – an M life Moment in Las Vegas

Private Spa Retreat

For me, nothing says luxury vacation like a spa treatment. As this was my first time to visit Aria Resort & Casino, I didn’t know they had private Spa Suites.  Now I know why bachelorette parties and girlfriend getaways are so popular in Las Vegas. The spa suite is the place to gather for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres before your spa treatment!

I had the 50 minute reflexology massage – is there anything more important than hands, shoulders, feet and a scalp massage? I think not. As I say at most every luxury spa experience, “I could have stayed at the spa all day.”


Vincent Pouessel

Aureole Executive Chef Vincent Pouessel in the kitchen at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Private Cooking Lesson at Aureole at Mandalay Bay

If I were a VIP,  I’d have a private chef cook for me. The chef doesn’t have to be a celebrity chef, but he or she does have to know how to prepare fabulous meals and desserts. Perhaps I need my own pastry chef, too?

For this next M life Moment, I learned to cook like chef Charlie Palmer at Aureole in his Las Vegas, Nevada restaurant.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I watched Auerole Executive Chef Vincent Pouessel make his famous French onion soup, topped with puff pastry and I watched pastry chef, Megan Bringas, make her delicious macaroons.

Do I have any aspirations to become a gourmet cook? To the great disappointment of my husband and children, the answer is no. Will I come back to Auerole to dine and watch the girls nimbly climb the 42 foot, 10,000 bottle wine tower in the restaurant to retrieve a bottle of California Cabernet Sauvignon to accompany my meal? Yes, indeed.


Minus5 Ice Bar

How to be a VIP in Las Vegas at Minus5 Ice Bar

Minus5 Ice Bar

Want to party like a rock star in the Minus5 Ice Bar at Monte Carlo? This was one of my favorite M life Moments in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I have been to the Aurora Ice Museum outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, but the Minus5 Ice Bar, complete with faux fur coats and in-house photographer, made me feel live a Las Vegas VIP.

While you are welcome to bring your camera into the Minus5 Ice Bar, the in-house photographer has a professional camera that is better able to capture your VIP moments – the Ice Bar has different lighting due to the ice sculptures and frosty temperature of minus five degrees (twenty-three degrees Fahrenheit.)


Bellagio Fountains

The Fountains of Bellagio as seen from Hyde Bellagio

The Fountains of Bellagio at Hyde Bellagio

While there are plenty of other M life Moments in the mix, my ultimate VIP moment in Las Vegas happened when my song was played while the Fountains of Bellagio danced in front of me – now that was truly a VIP experience!

Located at the best seats in the house at Hyde Bellagio, my friends and I enjoyed VIP treatment while sipping cocktails and sampling hors d’oeuvres from this luxury Las Vegas nightclub.

Insider Tip

For the budget-minded visiting Las Vegas, Nevada, the Bellagio Fountains are free to everyone to enjoy! This complimentary Las Vegas show choreographs water, music and light seven days a week, every fifteen to thirty minutes on their 8-acre lake.

If You Go:

All of this is available to you, my friend, by joining M life here. You’ll be on your way to earning points and living the M life! (I don’t earn any $ from MGM for this program.)

Article written by and photos courtesy of  Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California.  Minus5 Ice Bar supplied me with this photo. I was a guest of MGM Resorts.

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