Sorry all you Vegas residents - I really dislike this place! But, I'm forced to be here on business at least several times a year. Normally, I rent a car and stay at the Marriott - that will be my plan once again in the future. But, I was tired from other travels and figured since the conference is at the Venetian, I'll just hang here.
Lunch on Day 1 was the Grand Luxe Cafe. It's the Cheese Factory in sheep's clothing. Stepford Wife staff, massive menu and enormous portions. Enormous portions are de rigeur in Vegas. Guess it helps to explain the enormous guest poplulation. Who says America has an obesity problem! More like morbid obesity.
Dinner was a room service pizza. A frozen Red Baron would probably have been better. This was a tasteless glop of cheese on a soft, soggy crust. Since Postrio is located in the shopping mall here, I think they should hire Wolfgang for some pizza cooking lessons. Or at least get his cookbook.
Day 2 lunch was the Asian Noodle place off the casina. This was actually the best meal of my stay. Got the Shanghai noodles which were done well, excellent mix of meat and vegies and service without the cloying small talk. I want the server to serve, not be my best friend.
Day 2 dinner was Canaletto, "from the creators of Il Fornaio." Same mediocre type food but at least it's more expensive. This time the waiter wasn't my friend, he had a serious attitude problem. My halibut special was dry and tasteless. We dined al fresco under the shopping mall fake sky with the wonderful aroma of a large cigar wafting over from the next table. Class act. Close your eyes, turn around 3 times, open your eyes and you don't know whether you're under the fake sky at the Venetian, Caesar's, the Aladdin or any of the other cookie-cutter casino/malls.
Day 3 lunch was the Tsunami Asian Grill. Started with so-so calamari and then I had a bowl of Phad Thai that was large enough to feed a family of 6 in Bangkok for a week. Well, or the two Goodyear Blimp look-alikes at the next table. The server seemed insulted that we didn't order sushi.
Day 3 dinner was Aquaknox. I had eaten several times at the Stephen Pyles original in Dallas. This was more expensive and less impressive. My $30 grouper was pretty uninspired and had to fork over another $6 for a side of fontina laced mashed potatoes. The crab cake starter was decent but not worth $16.
I had asked for a quiet room, I know, an oxymoron in Vegas and for a $35/night upcharge got a room facing the pool and strip. After more than 25 years coming here on biz, I should know better. The front desk definition of quiet and my definition are different. Woke up each morning to the pool aerobics class being called on a loudspeaker. Went to bed at night listening the the ridiculous pirate drama played out across the street at Treasure Island.
Management would like to think of this place as a world class hotel. I've stayed at the Four Seasons in Istanbul, Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong and Munich and Essex House in New York, among others. This place is not anywhere near the same league.
All in all, Vegas was much more civilized when the mob ran things. In the future, I'll be back to my original program staying off the strip and eating locally. For those of you who live here, you have my sympathy.