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No Vacation Required Podcast

For fulfillment fanatics interested in traveling deliriously, living deliberately, and working virtually.

Vegas - It's A Wrap

NVR Guys

Aria vs. Encore. Our travel writing assignment in Vegas is over (at least the visiting Vegas part is). We’re back at our home-base, trying to get back to a normal schedule and trying - more than anything - to convince ourselves that we shouldn’t try to duplicate Society’s deep fried mac ‘n cheese at home.  That would not be a good thing.

You’ll remember from the initial post, that there were minimal requirements attached to our assignment. We had to stay at Aria, but we could write/submit anything (positive or negative) about that experience and anything else along the way. What a deal! We’ve also been writing about our experiences (informally) here on Tandem World.

Well, Aria was looking pretty darn good until, that is, Encore (Wynn’s sister property) came into the picture. We decided to tack on a stay at Encore in order to fold in another perspective and to give us more time/things to write about.

This is where we would have inserted a fun table with different categories and a column for each Aria and Encore.  There’s no need for that, though, because Encore wins in (nearly?) every category. Don’t get us wrong, Aria is quite special; it’s just that Encore is more so.

Report cards are in.

Final grades are posted.  Aria = B / Encore = A

We won’t get into the details all over again, but there are a few overriding thoughts to point out.

  • The simultaneously warm/cold vibe of Aria is arresting but leads the guest down a somewhat zig-zaggy road. For instance, the buffet’s environment is so cold that it feels like an Ikea, while the casino is so warm that it feels as though you are in a too-cool-for-school cocktail lounge.
  • Our room at Aria was fantastic, but the technology veered into overkill. Our room at Encore was warm and sleek – a killer bed, a comfortable living area complete with a sectional and appropriately current technology.
  • Aria is all about big and bold. Encore/Wynn is about attention to detail and little surprises (such as jeweled dew-drops deep in the petals of ceramic flowers).

Both are worthy properties, but Encore will be our first choice when in Vegas. The closer we are to those m&c bites, the better.

But what about the rest of Vegas?

Caution.  We’re about to make a big deal out of a fast food restaurant.

In the spirit of what we also did after South America '09 and Roadtrip '08 (and lost in a web crash), Some thoughts on our overall experience:

HARDEST PILL TO SWALLOW = $21 for a burger and fries at Wynn. It was good, but reminded us of the $26 burger and fries at the Four Seasons Lanai. We keep that receipt handy as a reminder of  what not to do. Which brings to mind...

MOST IMPORTANT NOTE TO SELVES = We're getting too comfortable swinging from vegetarian eating deep into flexitarian eating while on the road. This is especially true in Vegas.

TOP CHEAP EAT = Chipotle – located mid-strip. It was about $12 for each of us to have a huge, relatively healthy, burrito. You can make it vegetarian (we did) or even vegan. We stand by this pick so back off.

FAVORITE SPECTACLE = Female visitors pulling out all of the stops and wearing stilettos and bikinis at the pool. Starts to look like a rap video.

MOST UNEXPECTED MOMENT = The slot machine winner next to us putting money in our The Amazing Race machine.

MOST MEMORABLE SERVICE = Angela and Gabriel at Society in Encore (yes, the place with the m&c that we won’t shut up about).

BEST BUFFET = Treasure Island.  Don’t laugh until you’ve tried it folks. All your “comfort food” favorites. Try the bbq cobb salad.

SMARTEST DECISION = Stopping gambling while ahead.  Yes, its true.

SECOND SMARTEST DECISION = Walking to the grocery store to load up on stuff for the room. Go to the grocery store whenever you travel!

SADEST MOMENT = The cab rides to and from the airport.  Those drivers rarely have a happy story.

WISEST WAY TO BOUNCE BACK = Sticking to our workout schedule and going to the spa.