A recent long weekend in “Sin City” prompted me to ask the same questions I’ve had from previous visits concerning the puzzling things about Las Vegas. I’ve been at least twenty times, for personal and professional reasons.
No matter how I try, I can’t wrap my head around some of the stuff that goes on. No, not the bawdy behavior of the Millennials who now flock here. (I’ve seen them, teeny dresses hiked up to their waists, spiky heels in hand, passed out in doorways. They’re just the latest generation to “over-indulge.”) Nor the continuing growth of the Strip, claiming more space–and water– as it expands in both directions. And it seems there can never be enough accommodations or Cirque de Soleil shows. But none of this is really new…
I have three “why” questions…
1. Why do parents bring their children? Help me out here. Of all the puzzling things about Las Vegas, this is Number One. Besides an irresistible all-expenses-paid-once-in-a-lifetime luxury trip to a conference–complete with a hotel suite and nanny–why would you even think about bringing children to Las Vegas? There is NOTHING here for kids, beyond the pool. In the 1990s, Las Vegas tried–unsuccessfully–to rebrand itself as a “family friendly” distinction. Big mistake. Las Vegas has always been an Adult Destination.
When children are not even remotely allowed in or near casinos, there’s precious little to amuse the kiddos. You can only visit the M & M Store so many times. Heaven help you if the weather’s not water-worthy. Yet parents continue to haul their children to a city that is made for adults. Only. Adults. And adults go there to be, well…adult.
Forget the pretty lights and Bellagio fountain displays. Why would anyone want to expose their kids to the stuff that goes on? How much fun can it be for the parents not to be able to enjoy those adult pleasures themselves? And what to you say in the face of the the antics that go on…because many people tend to believe the “What happens in Vegas…” Hello…tell us again, what’s the purpose of the tagline?
Okay, I will try to keep an open mind. Personally, I think families could go a zillion other places and have a better time. To convince you otherwise, here are two bloggers who think it’s an ideal destination for families:
2. Why folks stand in line to pay $50 for a breakfast buffet. Gone are the days of the $1.99 breakfast and $.99 shrimp cocktail. The original idea was to draw in visitors to gamble.
Now, people spend many, many times as much on food and clubs than on slots or craps. Hotels have recruited big-name chefs to set up restaurants–and the prices reflect it. From morning to night, everything is expensive. One morning’s “non-buffet” breakfast: $91! ($5 coffee and $8 juice–times two, if you’re a couple–jacked the price up faster than you could say “Royal Flush.”)
Maybe people figure that $50 (before tip) for a breakfast buffet that includes shrimp and tiny crab legs is part of the experience. Dropping a “benjamin” for a few trips to get eggs, bacon, pad thai, cold cuts, and sweet rolls might make one feel like a high roller.
It makes me feel like I’ve been bamboozled. I mean, really, how much can you eat at breakfast? At least the coffee is included!
Let me continue: food is outrageous. Truly one of the puzzling things about Las Vegas is the willingness to pay ridiculous prices. One meal featured $21 for a glass of chianti to go with the $32 spaghetti and meatballs. Salad? Only $15 more. I could go on and on, but you’re smart people.
Interestingly, there’s a snappy new White Castle on the Strip–so popular, that it has had to close twice. Ran out of burgers. Now, you can reserve a table online!
3. Why critics predict the demise of Vegas. Aside from the serious water shortage that doesn’t seem to slow down the growing number of fountains, gardens, and pools of the hotels, someone is always moaning that Las Vegas has changed and is going under. I have noticed that the grumps tend to be Boomers, who aren’t happy with the changes that city planners have made.
But with 40 million visitors a year–the state of Nevada only has 2.8 million residents. With tourists spending $27.4 billion annually, it’s hard to see signs of crumble. What is happening? Make way for the Millennials! More bars, more chains such as Señor Frogs, more trips with friends instead of spouses.
Beach clubs and night clubs abound. For a $50+ entry, you can dance and mingle, from noon into the early morning. Grand hotel driveways have succumbed to sidewalk beer stands. Precious land that is put to financially better use.
Real estate is too valuable for free stuff, such as the former Pirate Ship Battle in front of Treasure Island. Las Vegas has always evolved to entice people to visit. And it’s very, very smart about knowing its visitors and how they spend.
I’m pretty sure the city wasn’t founded as a major conference destination–get the History.com story–but now who doesn’t get excited when your industry announces the Las Vegas is the next location for a meeting?
If you loved the Vegas of the past, you likely won’t be thrilled with the changes. A smart “brand” adapts to target demographics…and Las Vegas is definitely a brand.
This is NOT one of the puzzling things about Las Vegas.
It’s not going anywhere, baby .
Other Places to Go? SURE!