RAS and I went to St. George, Utah and Las Vegas last weekend, and stayed at three different places – the Suncoast in Vegas, which was about six miles from the Strip (thank God), the wonderful Red Mountain Resort in St. George, and the gigantic Monte Carlo back in Vegas. In between all of that, we ran the St. George Marathon.
Well, I sort of ran it but didn’t finish – I had to stop at mile 20, due to unbearable pain in my feet and ACL-operated knee. My husband did, though, and in a much better time than his first one seven years ago. I don’t want to say the tailwind and the generally downhill course contributed to that, but hey…
St. George was an awesome place, with red rock glory on the scale of Sedona, but without all the New Age-y vibes. It’s a mix of small-town simplicity and Southwestern modernism, but it all seemed to work well.
This was taken the day after the marathon, when we could barely walk. Apparently, there is really good hiking if you go toward the canyon that is straightaway in the this picture, but we never of course found out.
Before and after the marathon, we stayed in Las Vegas. It’s been about 20 years since I was last there, and I remember the architecture then being pretty impressive. The Luxor, Excalibur, Mirage and Treasure Island were all new, and the rebuilt MGM Grand was just opening up.
Well, I have to say that Vegas is completely different, and not necessarily in a good way. Every square acre of the Strip that was somewhat empty before has now been built up, nothing spared. Mega-resorts and their over-the-top architecture dominate. Any other buildings are either uber-riche shopping malls with nothing but designer boutiques or faceless strip malls crammed with fast food and cheap souvenir stores. Most of the sidewalks now have pedestrian overpasses to avoid massive crowds crossing the street – probably mostly for traffic and crowd control but likely also to avoid untold auto-pedestrian accidents.
On our first night, we were far away from the Strip, at a golf resort called Suncoast. It’s definitely not a place people would first think of if they came to Las Vegas. If it were not for the casino, I would’ve thought we were in a hotel in Sun City, Arizona. Like RAS said, I think we were the only people under 60 in that place. But we had a spacious suite with a great view, so overall it was nice, relaxing place to be.
The same couldn’t be said for the Monte Carlo, where we stayed after returning from St. George. Right on the Strip, it was an impersonal place which likely and unfortunately is characteristic of most of the resorts around it now. There were probably over a 1,000 rooms total shooting off in three different buildings, and the room itself was pretty ordinary, not much above the Holiday Inn quality. I think that’s the problem with a lot of the Strip hotels now, a lot like a pretty, popular but bullying high school queen bee – beautiful on the outside, soulless on the inside.
But we did manage to see the fountains at Bellagio, which was impressive. Yeah, I know, it’s a little hypocritical for me to say how great this was after slamming the Vegas commercialism, but after a while, I had to enjoy what I could.
If I don’t go back to Vegas again, though, that would be OK with me.