Since 2001 I have visited Las Vegas perhaps 15 or 20 times. I still really enjoy going there even though I don't gamble much anymore. It's gotten so it feels like an old friend. I keep up on the new restaurants and attractions opening and try the interesting ones each time I go. I know where the low stakes poker games are, which sportsbooks to check, etc. It's really one of the few places in the world where I feel like just being there is an event in itself, even more so than, say, Manhattan or the French Quarter. I've stayed at the majority of resorts one time or another, found off-Strip interests, fought with cabbies, lay in bed with the flu, been propped by hookers, discovered hidden gems, etc. I'm fully integrated into the experience.
I guess you could say I consider myself something of a minor expert, so I often hear, “We were thinking of visiting Las Vegas for vacation. You go there a lot. Where should we stay?" This can be a terrifying question. I used to feel the same sort of terror 15 years ago when someone asked, “Hey, you know computers. Can you help me with mine?" Essentially, it is someone looking for a simple answer to an enormously complicated question. I draw on years of experience and my own unlikely priorities when I make my choices and there no way to communicate that to someone who doesn't have a similar context. And if they have a bad experience now it will be because I failed them.
So I have a new strategy. My answer: “Vdara. Just stay at Vdara." Drops mic. Walks off stage.
You see, up until now I have been answering this question all wrong. I would usually respond with a couple of questions about their likes and needs then walk them through a simplified version of my own decision process and come up with a few options and suggest they price hunt from there. Their response is usually to nod and smile and generally treat me like some sort of schizophrenic. Like I said, ALL WRONG.
These folks don't want options. They want freedom from choice. They want one name of a place to stay and anything more is just noise.
Now, I am not talking about young 20-somethings who are just out to get epileptically drunk at some place like Senor Frogs and maybe see some boobies and/or weeners. They will crash 6-to-a-room in some dump, wake up in their own puke, and call it a good time. No, I'm talking about grown-up Vegas neophytes.
1) It's a condo-tel, so no casino maze or flashy madness to disorient them.
2) It's about a three minute walk to either Bellagio or Aria/City Center and about five minutes to Cosmo, Mandarin Oriental, or across to P Ho so there are all the casinos, restaurants, bars, etc. that you could ever need.
3) It's either cheaper or nicer than those surrounding properties.
4) It's not the absolute height of luxury but it's pretty darn high.
5) The pool is decent and on the low key side.
6) Since it is in the middle of the action but shielded from the maddening glare, it will make them feel like they were the beneficiaries of some secret insider knowledge and thus will hold me in higher esteem.
I will not offer alternatives. No “unless you are looking for…," or, “on the other hand if you want…" One and done. Vdara. If I'm asked why, I'll just say, “it's high-end luxury and convenience for a mid-range price." Then stop. I will not get sucked into trying to summarize my years of experience into some jumbled advice that is useless without context and will just as likely make them blame me if something doesn't turn out the way they want.
If they want to know more, they will have to ask specific questions which I will not hesitate to answer with the polite observation that they have a friend named Google.