Feature Article: Limping Around Las Vegas: Limp, Limp, Limp, One Dance

It turned out to be a metatarsal stress fracture. A broken bone in my foot. But a few days before my long-planned trip to Las Vegas, when my foot all of a sudden started bothering me, I had a decision to make. It wasn’t until the day after I came back from the trip that an x-ray revealed the hairline fracture in the long bone connected to my second toe.

But back to the beginning of the story.  The story of limping around Las Vegas. I can’t think, off the top of my head, of another city where “never leaving your hotel” still equals a good time.

Luckily, that hotel was the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, and, with 5000 plus rooms, the property had an entire city’s worth of restaurants and things to do.

Our trip was built around a Thursday-Friday conference I was in Vegas to attend, plus the weekend. Nowadays, as soon as I have an upcoming trip planned, we sign up for the hotel’s and destination’s facebook fan pages, twitter and I-Phone app. That’s how we came to know about the Prima Card, MGM Grand’s Privilege Program.

Of all the amenities offered, and that includes two-for-one entrees, two-for-one drinks and free spa access, the single most appreciated perk was being able to go to the front of the taxi line, much needed when you want to get off your foot.

For an upfront commitment to spend $500 in the hotel, fairly easy to do, pre-charged to your credit card, you get a black room key card with your name imprinted on it, to flash around. Very fancy.

So we made our own “staycation” at the MGM Grand, and luckily the award-wining restaurants and the shows are go-to destinations themselves for any visitor to Vegas.

Ka, the Cirque du Soleil show playing at this hotel, was a spectacular work of acrobatic feat, this time, in particular, by the set designer who created a masterful production with a stage which elevates and rotates 360 degrees. The show starts even before the stage performers begin, as the ushers engage you in some loony fun. “Where are you from?” “New York.” “Do you mean New York, New York or upstate NY?” “New York, New York.” “Do you mean Long Island or NYC?” “NYC.”  “Which borough: You don’t sound like you’re from Brooklyn.” “Manhattan.” “These are good seats. Who is responsible for the seats? Well, he owes you a beer.”

Once seated, waiting for the show to begin, and listening to Portuguese being spoken by the theater-goers sitting next to me, the point struck home that this show is ideal for non-English speakers. Which must be why the pre-show “Please Turn Off All Cell Phones” announcement was driven home with a non-speaking skit. A (planted) audience member in one of the first rows, whose cell phone was (staged) ringing, was thrown into the fire pit.

Every highlight of the show involved the rising, rotating stage with scenes of falling sand, snow and ice and skilled acrobats scurrying about as crabs, starfish and other sea creatures. A unique and recommended theatrical experience.

Our meals at the hotel included dining at award-winning restaurants, another good reason to eat “local.” We ate at Craftsteak, Fiamma, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, Studio Café and the MGM Grand Buffet and, so, got to try these familiar and proven yet new restaurants.

The most outstanding meal at the hotel was at Craftsteak where I enjoyed, possibly, the best steak I have ever eaten, and it was free, since it was deducted from the bill when we showed our Prima card. I’ve eaten at Craft restaurants in New York but here I got to try bacon ice cream. When we tried to book a same day reservation for 8:15 pm we were told nothing was available. But we showed up anyway to take our chances and were seated right away.

I’ve eaten at Fiamma, in New York but here I had a divine meal in a simple house-made pasta. I don’t know about you but I can tell the difference. And, once again, one entrée was deducted from the bill.

At the risk of being repetitive, I have eaten at a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in Los Angeles, so I ordered a favorite Chinois Chicken Salad with Candied Peanuts, Crisp Wontons and Chinese Mustard Vinaigrette. No discount here, but lunch for two was very modest.

We did our bar hopping (well, limping) at MGM Grand’s Centrifuge and Rouge, Zuri and West Wing where, in each place, we got 4 drinks for the price of 2.

I was glad my Prima card got me free access to the Spa, (a $25 value) where I enjoyed the sauna, steam room, whirlpool and used the lockers when I went out (slowly) to the pool.

With “fewest steps to get there” being the new criteria for choosing activities, the Sony electronics store, with a couch to watch a 15-minute loop on a soon-to-be-available 3D flat screen television, was an appealing entertainment option. With our provided 3d classes (cleaned after every visitor’s use) we enjoyed shows I actually never watch when home in New York, including soccer, cartoons and nature shows.

And we took in “CSI: The Experience,” which offered two-for-one tickets and seats in front of every lab station. I had no idea what to expect, (“Is this a ride?”) but even though I never play board games or participate in scavenger hunts at home, CSI (Las Vegas) is my favorite TV show so I had a good time. We had our choice of three murders to solve, and after analyzing finger prints, insect growth stages, text messages, tire tracks across a body and watching an autopsy, I figured out who killed Penny and now have received my congratulatory email from Gil Grissom for solving the crime and a CSI: Diploma.

We did venture out once or twice and that is where the “jump to the front of the line of taxis” Prima Card privilege came in handy.

Even though we agreed in advance we probably wouldn’t dance, we had to check out the new country western bar at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino, Gilley’s,  the honky-tonk saloon and dance hall from Texas. We watched the bull riding for longer than I might have but soon the wood dance floor looked too inviting so I did limp through one slow, flat footed glide two-step.

And, as fate would have it, it was the weekend that the TV show Lost aired its final episode, and the bar/restaurant/club Tommy Rocker’s on Dean Martin Drive was having a viewing party. I had never seen a minute of the show but sitting for 5 ½ hours sounded good to me so I happily agreed to go. There was pre-show entertainment, themed drinks and food specials, live music featuring songs from the show (what? Petula Clark’s “Downtown?”) trivia contests and prize give-aways during the commercials breaks over the 7 pm two-hour recap episode and 9 pm two and a half hour season finale.

From a show of hands and by the comments of the winners who went up on stage to collect their prizes, at least half the audience was visitors from out of town, wanting to share the collective experience of seeing the show together. These Lost fans came from as far away as Florence, Italy.

So, as luck would have it, it was not a “lost” weekend for me, as I still had a fabulous Vegas experience, limping around and all.

While this is not the article I wanted to write, you’ll have to check back later, as I’ll be returning to Vegas to research and write my Rat Pack Las Vegas and Multicultural Las Vegas articles.

By Lisa Skriloff

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