Stepping into the Bellagio Las Vegas just shy of midnight, my eyes were drawn to the Chihuly installation of colorful glass flowers hovering over guests in the main lobby. “G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S”…Fergie’s song immediately played through my head and did so each time I walked through the lobby and Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. Somehow, I’ve let my life become focused on making others happy and successful – through my job and personal endeavors – yet for a weekend in April, time belonged to me and it was my goal to be selfish, indulgent and happy.
Yes, People Do Win
Ever wonder if people really win contests? I’ve won little things here and there but last summer I won the mother load on Twitter – a trip for two to Las Vegas compliments of the U.S. Travel Association and MGM Resorts International. Not only could I choose which MGM property I could stay, I received VIP seating to Zarkana (the newest Cirque du Soleil show at Aria Resort & Casino), dinner for two at a restaurant of my choice (I chose Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge), and an American Express gift card for $1,000 to cover airfare. Best of all, I shared the experience with my sister, Lizzy. I may have to say that this is probably one of the best experiences of my life, so far! If I were to plan this trip on my own, I would have looked into the idea of short term rentals, as it would be affordable, in comparison to staying in a high end hotel. But seeing as I had won this in a contest, I did feel like I was living my best life. Plus, I didn’t have anything to worry about.
Spoiled by the M Life
Having lived and worked in Death Valley National Park for a year-and-a-half, Las Vegas was our playground and civilization but that was back in the ’90s when the destination thought it wanted to be a family-friendly vacation getaway. Today, Vegas has a sexy sophistication yet still has the power to wash your worries away and enjoy what’s important in life. In the case of our visit, it was the M Life.
M Life is MGM Resorts’ rewards program affording the opportunity to earn perks for everything you purchase. It’s also an attitude and way of enjoying your Las Vegas experience. Honestly, I didn’t register for the M Life program because my flight was cancelled out of Tampa and I arrived to the hotel about 12 hours after my initial scheduled arrival. I made arrangements for Lizzy to check in and she registered for the program.
Here’s a brief summary for what we experienced. After all, I have to keep some secrets in Vegas…
Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
I’ve tiptoed through tulip fields in Oregon and was just smitten with Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical gardens. Although we could have easily avoided it when leaving and entering the hotel, I always opted to walk through it to stop and well, smell the flowers.
Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana was Mesmerizing
This was my second Cirque du Soleil show (I’ve seen La Nouba in Orlando, in addition to a backstage tour) and although I won’t say which was better, I will say Zarkana had me on the edge of my seat. The performers, costumes, and music were engaging, entertaining and mesmerizing. It was playful, dramatic and in class Cirque style it was bizarre. Moments had me holding my breath. If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and go see a Cirque du Soleil show, either in Las Vegas, Orlando or one of the traveling shows. Zarkana performs at the Aria Resort, also an MGM Resort, within walking distance of Bellagio.
We also had incredible seats. Literally. It was like watching the performance on my couch at home complete with drink holders and place to rest our popcorn. We were pretty close to the stage, too.
Start the Day Right with…Chocolate?
The Bellagio is the closest place I’ve visited to my vision of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Although not edible, the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens are vibrant with gorgeous blooms with exaggerated props such as over-sized swans, mushrooms and ladybugs. Like most of Las Vegas, it’s a place to allow the imagination run wild and you can be whoever you want to be. It’s also home of the world’s largest chocolate fountain, verified by Guinness World Records, at Jean Philippe Patisserie. The glass-enclosed floor-to-ceiling fountain features melted chocolate in colors of white, light brown and dark brown flowing over little waterfalls.
Both mornings of our visit, Lizzy and I picked up breakfast from this European-style cafe and watched as the small works of chocolate art were placed in their cases. Yes, it was tempting to grab one of these gorgeous little pieces to start the day but we opted for something savory and more appropriate for breakfast. But if you choose to start your day with chocolate, don’t worry, I won’t judge.
Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge
I’m all about bragging rights and tasted something I hadn’t before, sushi infused with Pop Rocks Candy! Read about the review in this post called, Pop Goes the Sushi at Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge at Bellagio Las Vegas.
Who You’ll See
I thought our opportunity to see celebrities would have been at Yellowtail, since Justin Timberlake dined there the week prior. Instead, we saw a bevy of celebs walking the red carpet at Aria for Michael Jordan’s Invitational event. We were waiting to get into the Zarkana theater when I looked over and saw Bruce Jenner and his son Brody.
“Who?” My sister asked.
“You know, the athlete, the Olympian. The Kardashian father!”
We saw baseball legend Paul O’Neill (who I know from Seinfeld), Buck’s quarterback Josh Freeman and a bunch of other athletes I had no idea who they were. We had just missed Michael Phelps and a few others.
Keep your eyes open in Vegas, ya don’t know who you’ll see.
Dreaming of the M Life
It was a blast running away to Las Vegas for the weekend. I didn’t win big in the casinos (I lost $20 playing penny and nickle slots) but I returned home refreshed, rejuvenated and a little spoiled by the M Life. Thank you MGM Resorts International and U.S. Travel Association for an unforgettable weekend.
Bellagio Las Vegas
600 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
More adventures from this trip to Las Vegas:
- Appreciating Las Vegas’ Heritage and Culture with Neon Museum Tour
- Barefoot through Badwater in Death Valley National Park
- Pop Goes the Sushi at Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge at Bellagio Las Vegas