If you ever want to have a true New Years Eve party there’s only one place: Las Vegas. Amazing hotels, world class entertainment, biggest music artists, fanciest restaurants and of courses several spectacular fireworks – all in one place in one night. Yes, you have to use superlatives to describe this city.
We came back from our Christmas trip in Germany, unpacked our bags from winter clothes and filled them with (party) outfits and headed to the airport the next day. What a breeze it is to fly 45min from Orange County to Las Vegas! The drive is usually 4-5 hours but over weekends and holidays can take up to 8hours!!!
We chose the Mandarin Oriental as our hotel for this stay…which is one of my favorites on the strip (see my previous post). First of all, it’s right in the middle of everything on the Strip and also right at the bustling City Center. The hotel is Asian inspired and is one of the few that doesn’t have a casino. The lobby is on the 23rd floor and guarantees some awesome views. Plus the customer service is truly superb! However, more important for this holiday it also gives you some privacy especially on a crazy NYE night.
When we moved to Southern California we always imagined doing weekend trips to Las Vegas…and that’s what we still like to do. People think the only reason to go to Vegas is to either gamble or get drunk, but that’s not us. We enjoy the one-of-a kind hotels, world class entertainment and good food. It’s one of our favorite destinations to get away. The drive from our home is about a 4 hour drive, but lately it’s been a lot of traffic and this time we decided to fly (only 45min) – which is so convenient. During this trip we experienced extreme temperatures in Las Vegas like we never had before – about 125F! It was so boiling hot that even flights got cancelled or had to be rescheduled to the night where it was “only” 115F. You know that feeling when you check on your baking pie in the oven and the hot air blows in your face? That’s how it felt the entire time – on your entire body. I thought my hair and skin were on fire. I’ve never experienced such dry and hot temperatures. We also didn’t know that there was a huge EDC (music) festival over the same dates and there were lots of very interesting teenagers in (non-existent) costumes walking around. When I say costume I mean crazy hair and boots and just patches placed in certain areas of the body. 😉
Hotels: I have a handful of hotels in Vegas that are my absolute favorite – and we stayed in two of them.
Bellagio: Our accommodation here was in an amazing Bellagio Tower Corner Suite with fountain view. My highlight: You turn the TV channel to music and follow the synchronized fountain spectacular from your room. Amazing! I also LOVE all the seasonal decoration in the hotel. This time they had Italy and Amalfi Coast as a theme…all decoration is made out of real flowers. Incredible! With these temperatures we also checked out the pools…may I say the best pool area in all of Vegas :-). Breathtaking pool scenery with hand crafted stone fountains, Mediterranean designed tiles and lush citrus trees imported from Italy.
Aria: The second hotel we stayed in on this trip is Aria. As soon as you enter the lobby you get enticed with their signature Vanilla smell … MHHHH. Usually in Vegas there’s smoke in the casinos, but not at Aria. It’s one of the greenest hotels and also is up to speed with the latest technology (you got my play of words here,right? ;-)) in the rooms and throughout the hotel. Aria has a young vibe and my favorite gym in Vegas with a fireplace to relax 😊
This weekend we went to the Rock’n’Roll run marathon, 1/2 marathon & 10k in Las Vegas. This event is very unique for several reasons. First of all, marathons are usually early in the morning, but this one starts at sunset. Therefore you run through the night and experience all the Las Vegas lights that are so famous. Another exclusive feature from this marathon is that it’s the only private event that shuts off the entire Las Vegas Strip. So from 2pm to around 10pm there are no cars allowed on the Strip. The only other time this happens is at New Year’s Eve (but this is arranged by the city). One more reason why this has become one of my favorite events is, as the name states, it’s all about music. There are several live stages and bands set up throughout the running course. The opening act this year was Snoop Dogg…run it’s like it’s hot…
Ulli signed up for the marathon and I decided to do the 10k. Our starting time was almost simultaneously but our starting location was on opposite ends of the Strip (about 3 miles apart). We signed up to pick up our race package on the day of the event which was earliest at 2:30pm. The pickup location was at the SLS hotel, where the 10k would start (which was strange, as Ulli had to get to the other end of the strip). We left our hotel at 2pm to have sufficient time and requested an UBER. However, our UBER drivers couldn’t get to the hotel and we had 3 back-to-back cancellations while we waited almost 45 minutes. At 2:45pm we were still at the hotel. While we saw many runners walking to the starting line (close to MGM) we were still trying to get a taxi to get us to the opposite side to pick up our bib numbers. I started to worry that we wouldn’t make it. We finally got a taxi, but the traffic was horrible. He dropped us off and we ran to the tent where they would have our bibs. As we got there, they told Ulli he must pick up his at the starting line of the marathon. AHHH! I’m not sure how we got the wrong information initially, but it was 3:45pm and his race would start in less than 45 minutes. With all this traffic it was almost impossible to make it. Fortunately, the lady said that there’s a monorail that he can take. While I got my bib number and was ready 10 minutes prior to the start, Ulli had to race to the other side of town, but with the rail he would at least make it if all goes as planned. Well, we didn’t consider that you need money for the monorail, and of course he didn’t have anything on him. Luckily one of the security guards made an exception so he could go on the tram without paying (Thank You! I promise we will pay double next time!). After this hectic start we just made it in time before they closed our corrals. Pheeewww! When I was standing at the starting line I was finally able to enjoy the beautiful weather (about 70F), live rock band singing the national anthem, and fellow runners (and their unique outfits). Everyone was in good spirits and excited for the race. My 10k started at the south end of the Strip (at SLS) and went past Stratosphere Tower, many of the famous wedding chapels, Old Downtown Las Vegas (Fremont Street) and the finish line was at the Mirage (for all runners). I felt great during my run. THANK YOU to all the volunteers that would give out water and cheering us on. Also the many police officers on each intersection where smiling and giving us thumbs up. Thank you to everyone for keeping us hydrated, motivated and safe! While running I thought about how this sport truly brings all people together. The struggles (and joys) runners go through are the same for everyone – no matter what race, religion or how much money you have. It was just wonderful to see how each person got together and was thanking the police officers when running by. I believe there are more good people than there is hate. It was really the most entertaining and quickest 10k run I’ve ever done. I think I smiled through the entire race. Shortly after the 5 mile mark, I hear someone screaming my name. I turn to the left and on the other side of the road Ulli was just passing by me. How crazy is that! With over 45,000 people running at the same time – what are the chances that we see each other at one of the few only sections where our two different courses even pass? That was such a happy surprise and made me run even faster for the last mile. 🙂 Crossing through the finish line I couldn’t stop beaming. My “runners high” lasted for the rest of the night. Ulli also had a great race, despite fighting with stomach issues. He completed the 26.2 miles in 3:49 hours and I was as proud as ever to see him coming through the finish line! The Rock’N’Roll series is truly a lot of fun and I can’t wait to sign up for the next event. On another note, the winner of this years marathon was setting a record for the fastest marathon run by someone dressed as Elvis Presley (full costume with wig) and finished in 2hrs 38min (is this human?). I’m curious to hear about any of your running stories or memorable events that you participated.