Leaguefest: A Preview
Leaguefest 2012 will be from May 25 to May 28. To make your reservations, call (800) 635-7711 and advise that you are registering for “The League of Ordinary Gentlemen.” If there is a problem with that, you can also try group reservations code “SGGCM2. The group rate is guaranteed through April 25, 2012. Please book your rooms directly with the hotel, rather than through an aggregator like Expedia or Vegas.com — there is a hint that if there are sufficient resources, we will be able to secure upgrades for everyone with a large enough bloc of rooms sold. We need a team effort here, Leaguesters.
And this is what my recent experience was, so you can get an taste of what you’re in for:
I admit that I’ve been something of a Strip snob in the past. But the off-Strip location is actually good. Having wandered around the Strip last night, frankly, it was too much. Too many people distracted by too many bright lights and loud sudden noises and every concievable product or service being sold accompanied by images of functionally nude women. As a spectacle there is nothing like it anywhere else — but it would be entirely possible that the roughly twenty of us (including spouses) who, for the most part, have never met in real life, would miss one another in the crush.
The Las Vegas monorail favorably impressed me as a useful transportation vector. It’s pretty handy for getting to the Strip from the LVH if you’re of a mind to take your partying and gambling mobile for whatever reason. It’s faster and less costly than a taxi, with fewer pitches for girlie bars. I was favorably impressed with the utility of the monorail for taking your partying mobile, although there may be some walking through crowded casinos on the Strip to do if you have a particular destination in mind. If you’re going to be visiting the Strip during LeagueFest, don’t cheap out — buy the unlimited three-day pass right away, that’ll be good for basically the whole time you’ll be there. The only significant criticism I have of the monorail is that it doesn’t run to the airport, and I suspect that is by design to keep it from being crowded with arrivals and departures with baggage. The monorail station is right next to the SpaceQuest bar where we’re planning on meeting Friday night.
Speaking of which, the SpaceQuest bar is still recognizable as the old Star Trek Experience bar back from the days when the Hilton had the Star Trek Experience, although there is nothing definably “Star Trek” about it. It’s got a wooden parquet dance floor, which seems incongruous compared to rest of the decor. There are slot machines intruding into the area, and when we were there the bar was manned only intermittently for lack of interest. On the busier nights, though, this will not be a problem.
If you’re like me, it takes a jarring event to shake the cheap out of you. For me, it was when the casino bar demanded nine dollars for a G&T. Once I got over that and said, “Burt, you’re on vacation, just relax,” I was able to relax, drink, and have a good time. As a lover of obscure cocktails, I’m perenially disappointed, though — my favorite martini variation is virtually unknown in the entire city. Instead, each bar seems to have its own special drinks, the bulk of which are exceedingly sweet.
The steakhouse was excellent. I had a perfectly-made hunk of prime rib worthy of service at the White House — juicy, tasty, and beefy. A few words with the manager confirmed my suspicions — we need to secure a reservation right now for a group dinner on Memorial Day weekend. So I’m going ahead and setting up that group dinner there right now. That’s where dinner will be.
The LVH has also combined its wine and coffee bars. For those who choose not to partake of alcoholic beverages, this is a fine place to meet and relax, a variation on the ubiquitous Starbuck’s (and indeed, the coffee is Starbuck’s) which is now found de rigueur in every casino.
The 24-hour coffee shop in LVH is entirely adequate. I had the Eggs Benedict and I’m too much of a snob to have truly enjoyed them. If you don’t mind reconstituted-from-powder Hollandaise Sauce on your Benedicts, then you’d have been very happy with them.
The room is comfortable and quiet. This is the only hotel I’ve seen in Vegas with a thirteenth floor. Since I’m neither much of a gambler nor superstitious this does not bother me but I find it amusing nonetheless. On the down side, internet is $13.99 a day, which seems a bit high to me even at Vegas rates and even after overcoming my aversion to ten-dollar cocktails. The cable in the basic room is, well, basic. As with the classic Vegas hospitality mentality, the room is intended to be a place where you rest and relax, but not a destination. In the upgraded rooms, there is more luxury in which one can wallow.
The pool is good, there are tennis courts on-site, and the Las Vegas Country Club is right there and the Wynn Country Club is only a block away, if you like golf. Although these are private clubs, the concierge at the hotel can arrange a tee time if you’re interested in that sort of thing. Don’t forget to tip the concierge when she arranges something for you.
Same thing is true if you use a concierge to line up a show. The show that all the staff and a few of the guests were talking talking about is Absinthe at Caesar’s Palace. It’s part comedy, part magic, part burlesque and the people I spoke to and overheard all said they enjoyed it immensely. I’ve also seen Penn & Teller at the Rio, and that’s a very enjoyable show. Country-music fans will enjoy Garth Brooks at the Wynn Encore. The shows at the LVH were an Elvis
impersonator tribute and a multiple-musician impersonator, neither of which particularly interested me. There are often reasonably big-name acts at various casinos; when we were there Mötley Crüe was doing a two-week gig at the Hard Rock, and judging from the pictures, those guys are looking a little weathered. By way of comparison, the LVH was promoting two days of shows by Chicago, who are about the same age but whose photographs show the benefits available from good grooming. There are six Cirque du Soleil shows at various locations on the Strip (they claim seven, but that’s counting the magic show at Luxor). Those are about the most expensive shows to see but you probably get the most entertainment bang for your buck there.
The whole Vegas experience is a bit surreal. There is no time — no clocks, climate control, lighting control — and a lot of environments are filled with bright lights, loud sudden noises, and the Brownian movement of throngs of distracted and mostly-aimless people. So it becomes difficult to gague how much time passes in any particular location or to maintain a mental focus on anything. But there are refuges available, in the quieter bars, near the nicer restaurants, on the south side of the hotel nearer the convention facilities.
For what we have in mind, we’ve happened across what ought to be a very good venue. We don’t want the sensory overstimulation of a Strip hotel, we want an opportunity to meet and mingle with one another. The LVH is filled with good places for that. And we are filled with good folks to meet up with. Give the LVH a call, book your room, get a flight, and we’ll see you Memorial Day weekend!