Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Las Vegas and City Center - As of October 23, 2009
It was an excellent show and it was our first time taking Montana to Vegas. She absolutely loved it and there is no doubt that she is our daughter!
I will post pictures soon. But for now I wanted to share the video I took of the multi billion dollar project - City Center. The complex will include a huge casino hotel - Aria, multiple condo buildings, flagship high end shops, and a Manderin Oriental Hotel.
Warren and I have watched it grow since the beginning and are stunned that it is set to open December 16, 2009. It seems to have arrived really fast. There is also alot of work to finish before their opening. I hope they can get it all done!
Here is a video I took of it so you can get an idea of how big it is, and how amazing it looks.
We have a trip planned for the new year to go and experience it for ourselves. Apparently it is supposed to be like no where else in Vegas.
I think it may be too big in my opinion. But I guess we will see in the New Year.
What is your take on the City Center in Las Vegas?
Thursday, August 27, 2009
15 Hours from Toronto to Charleston? Flying not Driving!
Hmmm... well here is the story.
My father and I were travelling from Toronto to Charleston SC. We were booked on a 10 am flight to Washington connecting to Charleston and arriving at 2:30 pm. United Airlines overbooked the flight to Washington.
They asked us to go to Chicago then to Charleston. They offered a $400 credit each and I asked for an upgrade to Business class (always negotiate - you never know what you can get when the airline messes up)
We arrive in Chicago with a 2 hour layover. We have a nice lunch at the bar, and then sit in the Business lounge. We check the board and our Chicago to Charleston flight is delayed. No worries - we have to be in Charleston for 7 pm. We should still make it on time.
We board the tiny United Express plane and sit there for 40 min with the door open. It is really hot, but can't close the door as apparently the anti-static strips are missing on the aircraft. That isn't good if we hit any type of electricity in the air - like lightening. And it's going to take 13 hours to fix it.
I run off the plane to the Red Carpet Lounge to book another flight. We get on a flight to Charlotte with a connection to Charleston. But we won't be there until 9 pm or so. And most likely without our checked luggage (I know before you remind me I should only take checked luggage - it wasn't possible on this trip for a variety of reasons).
So we have to make a claim with US airways as they transported us from Charlotte to Charleston. Even though it was United that lost our bags.
We walked wearily over to the taxi stand. We explained our situation to the taxi driver as he asked for our bags to put in the back. He was awesome and offered to stop at Walmart on our way to the hotel to get a few necessities - for no extra charge.
I left my house at 7 am that day. We arrived at the hotel at 10 pm, tired and we had missed our event at 7 pm. It took 15 hours from door to door. We could have driven in that time I think.
I have never taken so long to get somewhere so close....One note though, everyone we dealt with were quite nice. They were sympathetic and wanted to help.
My dad and I started our seminar out in the same clothes that we traveled in. It wasn't pretty :-(
Our take on the situation - Airlines are overbooking flights to be more "efficient" and cost cutting, and dealing with the consequences after the fact. If you ask me this is a poor business model.
It seems to be happening everywhere. All I posted on Facebook was "United Airlines suck" and I started a debate with others about US airlines. Hmmmm maybe it is time for the airlines to wake up and take a page out of other country's airlines. They don't seem to have the same issues overseas....
I think I will choose to travel internationally from now on. Well if I can.....
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Our Arrival in Macau and The Venetian Macau
The Cotai Strip is actually a newer area of Macau. It is on the Peninsula and is connected to mainland China. In fact from our room we could see China. Yes “we could see China from our room” tee hee.
As we approached the Venetian you could see the similarities to the Venetian in Las Vegas in the archetecture, but the shape of the hotel is different, also there are natural bodies of water and mountains around. Not to mention that there was only one other property open across the street from it. You could see the start of a "Las Vegas style" strip forming, but it is years off yet.
The Venetian Macau was completed in 2007 and is the same but different from the Venetian in Las Vegas. The same in that it “felt” like the Venetian, but didn’t always look like it. The rooms were the same and the Grand Canal Shoppes feel like the Venetian, but they were laid out differently and have many more shops.
Warren was excited to play as things are done differently here. And he loves playing baccarat with people from Asia... Well we certainly are in the right place!
We found that everyone was very friendly and the service is superb at the Venetian Macau. The other visitors, players and tourists found us interesting and were curious as to where we were from.
We went for a walk around the casino and Grand Canal Shoppes. I have never seen a property as big as the Venetian Macau. The casino is beautiful and well laid out. They did a good job of "making it hard to leave". I think the casino is about 4 times the size of a regular one.
Also the games are mixed differently than you would find in Las Vegas or other North American casinos. Most of the games are luck based, which coincides with Chinese culture. 70% of the tables are Baccaratt where as in North America only about 10% of table are. Also they love other luck based games like Sicbo, Carribbean Stud Poker and Roulette. In fact it was hard to find a blackjack table, there are only a few.
Unfortunately it is forbidden to take photos inside the casino so most of our pictures will be of the hotel and the Grand Canal Shoppes.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Losing your Luggage - What is your tip?
We travelled from:
Toronto to Hong Kong
Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Phuket, Thailand
Phuket, Thailand to Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand to Hong Kong
and Hong Kong to Toronto.
Every flight we were lucky enough to get our bags without an issue. I hate to admit it but we don't travel very light. So we had 3 identical suitcases. And I can't tell you how great it was to see each one of those black bags with the 'Canada Tags' show up!
We travel to Asia with no problems, however Warren had to fly to Calgary on business yesterday. He flew Toronto to Vancouver and connected to Calgary. His luggage didn't make it!
He did eventually get it this morning - the airline couriered it to him - but we were stunned that after all that travel - this was the trip that he had issues.
Then as I was looking at twitter updates, coincidentally, @Nancydbrown, posted she lost hers on a non stop flight from San Francisco to Chicago - and she went to the travel experts for advice on losing luggage.
Here is her video and this is the post:
My advice? Always take the essentials in your carry on - including a toothbrush and few toiletries, any medication, a pair of underwear, a swimsuit, anything that you may be hard to fit for and a sweater or jacket. And if you lose your luggage - stay calm - getting upset won't fix anything anyway.
What is your advice? Comment below to share with us!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Wow what a difference 16 hours in a plane makes!
We had an awesome flight from
The one thing that threw us off guard was how serious they are taking the H1N1 outbreak. We had to fill out a form declaring our health - although we didn't really need it as we didn't end up going through immigration.
The second we arrived and walked off the plane, many people had face masks on. To be honest it was a little disconcerting. Most of the people working at the airport had them on. And it made it hard to understand people. We couldn’t see their lips, and they seemed to talk quietly.
Apparently Hong Kong and
I have to say that they have things very organized at the
We didn't have to go through the health check or through immigration -we went through another security check which didn't make sense to us, but what do we know.
We sat for a couple of hours checking our email on the free Wi-Fi, and then got on a bus that took us to the ferry terminal.
We chose super class as it wasn't much more it cost and Warren isn't a fan of boats, it was a good choice. We got to sit upstairs on the ferry, many less people they served a snack (it tasted like an egg/tuna salad sandwich on a a sweet bun, a yogurt, a mousse like dessert, and an orange drink-much like a McDonald's orange drink we used to get as kids).
The ride was rough due to the Typhoon. But it was only 45 min. I crashed and don't remember much of the ride. I only had 2-1 hour naps on the plane and it was 4:30 in the morning after all. Well for me anyway. Warren got about 4 hours sleep so be was doing much better.
The best part of the super class was that we got off the boat first. That allowed us to be first in line at immigration. We were shocked by how many people came in the line after us. It was crazy!
The silliest part of the whole journey was what came next... The porters took our bags off the ferry and then brought them to a waiting crowd of people. We hadn't seen our bags since Toronto so we were concerned when after the first 4 carts our bags weren't there.
Thankfully they came on the next cart and we were off....
Friday, June 19, 2009
Summer is Here! - Hazelmail will help us stay in touch!
With Montana being at camp, the only way we can communicate with her is through fax or letters. We usually set up a fax to email service so she can fax us whereever we are. This works great as we get to hear from her and her adventures while we are away.
This year we are also going to send her a postcards showing our travels. I hate buying and writing out postcards while traveling. I never know which one to choose and to be honest I think it is a waste of money as it really doesn't show what we are up to on our travels.
Recently I found Hazelmail. It is an awesome service where you upload a photo you took while on vacation and can mail it to your loved one. They do all the work - all you do is upload the photo, add your message and address and hit mail. They also have a prepaid option and an IPod App that makes it really easy to send the postcards.
I tested it out with a photo from our trip to Australia last year. It is addressed to our dog Gracie :-)
This is how it looked (sorry the photos ended up a little fuzzy):
I am looking forward to sending her postcards from our upcoming trip from Hazelmail.
Have you tried it? Will you? If you do please tell me how you like it!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Planning Our Romantic Trip to Macau, Hong Kong, KL and Thailand
This summer, due to great airline mile accumulation and deals, we have chosen to go more exotic and romantic, and have planned our trip to Macau, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Thailand. Montana wanted to go to camp all summer, so that gave us some great options.
I spent a month working in KL, Malaysia a few years back and loved it. Warren has not been to Asia yet, but has always been drawn to it. We have friends that moved to Hong Kong last year, so we will visit them and I have friends that I worked with in Malaysia a few years back that we will also visit.
The flights are booked, hotels are booked, and now the question we are asking is: "what shall we do while we are there?" So I started researching.
Do you have any ideas that could help? I would love to know what you have done, or would want to do in Macau, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Thailand (Bangkok and Phuket).
Or do you know a great site for reviews and video of awesome and romantic things to do in these places. We like to have experiences more than sight see if that makes sense.
- please comment below and share with us!
I found this video that gives us an idea of Hong Kong
Watch more Hong Kong videos at tripfilms.com
Is it time for a Romantic Vacation with your significant other? Check out these Romantic Escapes at Expedia!
Thursday, May 28, 2009
What is your Perfect Day in New York City?
We took Montana there for the first time in March of 2008 and she was hooked! So we took her back for our 10th Wedding anniversary and her 14th birthday this past weekend - see our blog post here.
From Central Park to street fairs to shopping on Canal Street to dining in some of the best restaurants in the world to wandering through neighborhoods, we love to spend a weekend there. Especially if we can get a good deal!
That led me to think...what is the perfect day in New York? So I ask you...what is your perfect day in New York City. Share it here What would you add to our New York Travel Guide?
Last minute New York values at Expedia.com.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The Big Apple for Fleet Week - New York City - Our 10th Wedding Anniversary
We arrived on Friday afternoon went for an amazing deli lunch at Carnegies Deli and went straight to work looking for a dress for Montana's Grade 8 graduation. I was surprised as Bloomingdales had limited selection and Macy's had nothing! She ended up with a beautiful dress from Bloomingdales in SOHO.
We wandered through SOHO, and then back to the hotel - Sheraton Hotel and Towers at 53rd and 7th, a perfect location as it is right next to the subway and a short walk to Times Square.
We wandered through Times Square that night and I was happy to see the tkts booth and the bleachers and table and chairs they put out for people to sit and enjoy the area. On the Sunday they closed the traffic to the main area of Times Square to traffic. I think this is an AWESOME idea. I love Times Square and think they have done an amazing job of making it a "town square" type concept.
I have to say the quality is suffering. I used to buy these bags etc a few years ago, but they don't look as good as they used to.
We ended up in Little Italy and had a nice lunch outside. I would recommend Angelo's, the place we ate this time wasn't so great, but we have always had a nice meal at Angelo's on Mulberry Street.
It was right around the corner, and very cute. Food was good too! Next was shopping on 5th Ave, well more browsing on 5th anyway. Worked our way to Rockefeller Center and the NBC store.
Last minute New York values at Expedia.com!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Skylofts - Staying in Wonderland....
The ambience was set perfectly, relaxing and chic, low lighting and two lovely concierges’s sitting behind an elegantly appointed desk, without a stitch of paper cluttering it.
We were escorted down what seemed like a hallway that would go on forever and ever and could see 2 people with warm smiles waiting beside a doorway. Oh wait they are waiting for us at our Skyloft #73 our home for the next couple of days.
After introductions to our butlers – yes butlersssss – we were taken in to “check in” on the dining room table. The Concierge – Mary- took care of the paperwork quickly, while our butler, Christine, offered us some of the Sky Loft signature juice.
Once the “check in” was complete, Mary excused herself and Christine did the grand tour of the Loft. Starting with the 900 channels and free pay per view, it took her 10 minutes to show us how to use the Bang and Olufson system. The entire loft was hooked up to the console, from the TV to the drapes, to the lights (can set them to any lighting, including mood lighting).
Through the 2 story floor to ceiling windows, we had an incredible view of New York, New York and the Mansion and of course the Monte Carlo and the City Center. The MGM Grand sign stood proud, right outside our window 30 floors up.
At this point I started to furiously text Andy and Michelle so they would come and check it out. We so wanted them to come and enjoy the experience too!
Next the delightful Christine took us upstairs to the bedroom with the upper part of the view and into the most incredible bathroom I have ever seen in all my years of travelling.
It has a spa ambience, with 2 TVs, one in the mirror with the controls on the wall, and one over the Infinity Tub. If you don’t know what an infinity tub is, that’s ok; I haven’t seen one like this before either. Oh and I can’t forget the steam room shower.
The bathroom was such a luxury; Christine had to show us how to use almost everything in it. The infinity tub is really a tub within a tub, the inside tub overflows into the outside tub. Then when it is full in continually runs over, then you can hit a button and the lights change colour, providing light therapy. Ahhhhh….. (I made sure I enjoyed it one night while watching a movie!)
The shower, well it really is more than a shower, it is a steam room as well. There are 2 “rain” shower heads, and faucets on the wall that shoot water out. There is a bench and it is large enough to fit at least 6 people comfortably.
And then of course the toiletries, which are Bulgari, and the scent is beautiful! So much so we asked for extras to take home!
Here is the video I did showing you the Skylofts:
After the grand tour and educational session, Christine mentioned that the Butler service came with an unpacking and packing service. It felt strange, but I decided to take her up on it. My goodness am I ever glad I did.
After quite a while it seemed, I went up to see how she was doing, our clothes had never looked so organized! I asked if she would come home with me but she said I would have to take her 2 kids too… It was almost worth it!
We asked the concierge to book us a cabana at the pool. The Wet Republic had just opened, so we had to choose between the regular pool and the Wet Republic (their “party” pool). I asked if the people were young and she said she was at the opening the day before and there were a lot of girls dressed in postage stamps and dental floss. Thank goodness she mentioned that – as it made our minds up – regular pool it is then.
Stay tuned for my last but not least post about our Vegas trip :-)
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Friday, May 15, 2009
Skylofts - Stepping into Wonderland...
Andy and Michelle had a sleep in, while Warren and I had to get ourselves packed up as we were on our way to the Skylofts. We went for breakfast in the Augustus Café, and then finished checking out of the beautiful Caesars Palace.
The Skylofts Concierge had confirmed with us that our “ride” would be picking us up at 12:00 pm. Warren had said something to me about “The Maybach”. Apparently it was this super luxurious car that would be picking us up to take us to the Skylofts.
The front entrance and driveway of Caesars Palace were packed with people leaving as it was Sunday morning after a really busy weekend in Vegas.
I could see a silver car inching up the driveway with all of the other cars, taxis and limos. I asked the bellhop for our bags as our ride was here – it was the beautiful silver car. The bellhop was completely overwhelmed and said that it would be a few minutes.
Note to self: when you have a ride waiting for you – luxurious or not, take your own bags, or start the process earlier. It took at least 30 minutes to retrieve our bags.
The limo driver was of course gracious and asked us if we would like to wait in the car. He dealt with waiting for the bags. How can I describe what happened next?
We got in the car and my first impression was “boy it smells good in here” I could smell the leather, it was awesome. As I sat in the seat behind the driver, I couldn’t reach the dividing wall where the TVs were.
The seat surrounded my body like it was made for me. Warren started playing with buttons and the next thing we knew he was lying out flat in a recliner better than any I have ever seen. It was first Class plus. It was incredible and to honest a little overwhelming.
But I let that go and sat back and enjoyed the wait. The sun roof was incredible. In the touch of a button it would change from opaque to clear instantly. The driver finally found our bags, and we were on our way. We had a nice chat with the driver, he showed us the features of this $200,000 car – yes I said $200,000!!!! It was bullet proof (which is something I am always looking for in a ride) and was incredible to drive or drive in for that matter.
We drove past the In and Out Burger and thought that we should take it out for burgers one night! According to the driver this is a regular occurrence.
He called ahead to the concierge to tell them we were on our way, then called again as we approached the Skylofts entry and Lobby. We were greeted with a bell man and the Concierge. The Concierge opened the door and said “Welcome to the Sky Lofts Mr. and Mrs. Fine” She asked if she could escort us to the Skylofts and said that we would do in suite check in. Ah yes please!
We walked through the lobby to the VIP lounge, through what felt like a secret door to the private Skylofts elevator into what felt like another world……
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009
My Tweet - What are your Travel Phobias ?
"What are your travel phobias? Here are the top 5 http://bit.ly/4EmPx #travel"
It was related to an article that I came across on MSN Travel.
It says that the top 5 travel phobias are these:
- Fear of flying.
- Fear of Being away from home, family and work.
- Fear of illness.
- Fear of a bad flight (they actually call it an annoyance instead of a fear).
- Fear of losing your luggage.
The one I am most worried about is someone putting something in my bag and I get arrested in a foreign country (like the movie Brokedown Palace). Apparently I am not the only one.
These are some of the great responses I got:
"Bed bugs, getting mugged, getting stranded in a foreign country, having drugs thrown in my suitcase (brokedown palace)" - just like me!
"mine is waking up with a bad back!"
"My top travel phobia is getting hit on the "oversized bags" charge for my golf clubs - airline baggage charges have to go!"
"My travel phobia is forgetting to pack underwear after having to buy granny panties in a remote Vermont drug store once. :-)"
What are your travel phobias? Comment below - I would love to hear them. Remember the first step is to admit you have the fear!
Overall whatever your travel fears are, I hope they aren't stopping you from traveling!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Elton John's Last Saturday Night Show at Caesars!
Warren and I have seen the incredible Elton John Show before, however Andy and Michelle wanted to see it. We loved it the first time so it was an easy decision to make. As we play at Caesars a lot we asked our host for tickets. The issue with getting tickets from the casino is that you don't always know what tickets you will get until you pick them up on the day of.
We shared some appetizers and I had the most amazing (and huge) tiger shrimp. Others had the traditional Spaghetti and Meatballs or the Chicken Parmesan and they all enjoyed them!
The show is incredible. We laughed and cried and danced. And during the song "Saturday Night" the first few rows were invited to DANCE on the stage! It was so cool! Michelle, Andy and Michael got right up to the Red Piano and watched Elton John play! Warren and I stayed back a bit and danced on stage to the song "Saturday Night" on Saturday night, on the last Saturday night Elton John played at the Colloseum.
Another amazing night in Las Vegas!
Monday, May 4, 2009
Day 2 in Vegas - Brunch and the Qua Baths & Spa
I decided to go and check it out with her as I had heard great things about it. And what better way to spend an afternoon then pampering yourself in the spa especially after all that walking the day before?
The guys decided to play a little, and Warren had to meet our client who was flying in from LA to join us for the Elton John Show tonight.
I have to say that the Qua Baths and Spa have got to be one of the best spas I have been to in Las Vegas. The staff were attentive and helpful, and the baths were beautiful and luxurious.
You could start with a good workout in the full fitness center with weight training and aerobic equipment, (not that I worked out as I was too tired - I know silly huh?) and end with a soak in the Roman Baths.
From the time you walk in, you feel relaxed and taken care of. Luxury everywhere. From the smooth stone floor, to the dark woods and the water flowing. The Tea Sommelier that offers tea to match your needs. Their signature iced tea is fantastic!
We were escorted from the check in desk and taken on a tour through the baths to the change room. They have various temperatures and sizes of baths and saunas and recommended that you alternate between hot and cold seven times. The Arctic room (complete with snow falling from the ceiling - soap actually but it looked cool - pun intended) felt really good after the awesome herbal steam room.
The spa is set up to provide a social experience. You can experience the baths and sauna's with your girlfriends and then enjoy a chat and a cup of tea in the tea room - the only place with a clock and where you meet your "Artisan" (aka-therapist) for any treatments you have booked.
Michelle had never experienced a spa like this and was in heaven. I didn't think she would leave that day if we didn't have early dinner reservations!
Michelle couldn't get over how it was only $45 to go into the spa for the day. Note: if you are a Diamond Member you can use the baths for $20 less - so that is about $25.
I spent a couple of hours there, after I felt like a bowl of Jello, I left Michelle to her massage and her soaks and went to get ready for dinner at Rao's with our friends and client, then off to Elton John.....More on that in the next post!
Friday, May 1, 2009
What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas?
It's funny how when you don't plan to have a great day while traveling, sometimes it turns out quite amazing. Now we didn't do anything overly special. But we did spend part of the day with our friends Andy and Michelle, which always makes it more fun.
We started out early our first morning walking the strip. Being from Toronto, it doesn't matter how late we get in to Vegas we still are awake by 6 am on the first morning. We spent the first 3 nights at Caesars Palace and power walked up to New York New York, back down to Treasure Island and back to Caesars Palace.
Later that night Warren and I had a quick dinner at Mesa Grill - Bobby Flay's restaurant in Caesars - It was yummy!!!! We then went out the the Texas Station Casino to see the 70's and 80's band Foreigner - They were my FAVORITE band when I was a teenager so I was thrilled when Warren got us Front row tickets - We danced all night and then got to "rush" the stage and I really felt 16 again! - It was so much fun and I was shocked at how amazing they were.
Note to self - if going out to a Station Casino off strip - make sure you arrange for a taxi - it took us an hour to find a cab!
We then met up with Andy and Michelle (they went to see the Price is Right at Bally's and had a great time!) and Andy and Michelle played Baccarat with Warren while I went and played a hour or so of poker.