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Only a hour flight away from Las Vegas we visit frequently, sometimes once a month. I'll be sharing our trip reports, tips on making the most of your stay in Vegas, reviews of restaurants and shows we have seen, along with my thoughts related to our favorite place to get away from it all.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Wayne Newton's Casa de Shenandoah Estate

I'm Gwen (YourStarla) and It’s an honor for me to guest write for Las Vegas Daze! Diana asked if I would step in to write this one, and I readily agreed. You’ve probably seen pictures of me on this blog, but for those of you who don’t know me, I am one of those psychotic people who goes to Vegas too often. Diana and I met years ago through Tripadvisor and over the years we’ve gotten pretty close and regularly plan trips together.
When I heard they were opening Wayne Newton’s house for tours I was on the website buying tickets within milliseconds. It’s not that I’m an insane Wayniac, but I have a rabid fascination with all things Vegas. At home I’m a boring slob in her sweat pants who forgets to brush her hair before she goes to the grocery store. But in Vegas I’m always seeking adventure, and the more Vegasy the better. There’s nothing more Vegasy than Wayne Newton. He is Mr. Las Vegas. Of course he is also in major debt, and desperate times call for desperate measures. And his desperate measures allowed me and Diana to finally get past the golden gates of Casa de Shenandoah.
We opted for the Diamond Tour, which was $95 per person. I know that may seem like a hefty price tag, but the tour was about four hours long and gave us a lot of access, so I personally think – and this is a big statement for me to make – it was the best money I’ve ever spent in Vegas.

Drop the mic.
Do you know how much money I’ve spent in Vegas over the years?
Our adventure started in a cab from Caesars Palace, where Diana was staying. We got one of those chatty cab drivers, except he was chatty in the way that makes you want to duct tape his mouth. He lost total credibility when he turned around at a light, took a look at Diana and said, “Are you Roseanne?”
Let me give you a few guidelines to life. One, if you drive a cab, just drive. Two, if you ask a woman if she’s Roseanne you are guaranteed to either get slapped or have your tip reduced. Diana was classy enough to choose the latter as his punishment and only gave him 18 percent. Note by Diana: I recommend taking Uber and not a taxi to Casa de Shenandoah, LOL!
Diana and I arrived at the visitor center across from the estate in about twenty minutes and the cab ride was around thirty bucks. The visitor center is brand spanking new, complete with a gift shop, restroom facilities and a very nice movie theater. We checked in for our tour and were soon led into the theater to watch a twenty minute movie about Wayne Newton’s life and a little introduction to his home.
We had a great tour guide, Steve. He was very laid back and full of fun tales. He led us out onto shuttle buses that took us across the street to the estate. I was so excited to finally get to go through those ornate gates. Every time I fly into McCarran I see his house down there, taunting me. Being able to finally enter was a Vegas dream come true.
Our first stop was the guest house on the property, which was the original house. It is where Wayne’s parents lived, and it’s full of untouched amazing retro-fabulous furniture reminiscent of your grandma’s house.
From there we moseyed over to the outside stables to chat with the beautiful Arabian horses. (We would go in the full stable later.) Those animals were just so gorgeous, and desperately enjoyed the attention of the guests. We weren’t allowed to touch them, much to my chagrin, but they poked their noses out the doors, obviously hoping we’d break the rules. Sorry horsies, but if I’m going to break a rule at Wayne’s pad, I am going to save it for something bigger. (I won’t disappoint you in that regard.)
It was about this point that I started to realize how many peacocks were roaming freely on the grounds. Full-plumed peacocks were enjoying the sunshine, strolling down the sidewalks and perching on fence posts. Typically I’m terrified of birds, but there’s something majestic about peacocks. Well, until they get too close. Then I take about 48 big steps back. But as long as they were several giant yards away I was happy to share my space with them. Or hide behind Diana as necessary.
But back to the horses! We were escorted out to some metal stadium stands and got to sit and watch several of them train. It was so nice to sit outside in the brisk December sunshine and watch the elegant animals gallop and enjoy the day’s exercise. We got to watch three horses take their turn in the ring, and after several days cooped up at the mercy of casino ventilation systems it was nice to just sit outside and breathe fresh air. Everyone kept saying it was cold, but I took my sweater off. The crisp air was refreshing and invigorating.
Wayne’s estate is home to many animals actually. Our next stop was his exotic animal area, where we saw a cage full of scary birds, as well as his monkey Boo, the wallabies, the penguins, the swans and, of course, more peacocks. Steve told us they are trying to get some sea otters soon. I love sea otters. That’s reason enough to go back!
I should mention that the estate is huge and Steve drove us in the shuttle bus to each stop along the way. It was great because if we didn’t want to lug all of our stuff with us we could just leave it in our dedicated bus.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Aria's Wonderland NYE Party 2016! We're All Mad Here!

This is my third consecutive year going to Aria's private NYE party for their gamblers. This year I didn't get the invitation when it first went out because they made the criteria higher to qualify for the comped party. Fortunately around the end of November enough high level gamblers had declined that it opened up some seats for us mid-high level gamblers and my host called and invited me to attend with a guest. My friend SDguy was in a similar position and got the invite the next day too and accepted.
I love Aria's NYE party. This year the food and entertainment was just as great as in past years but MGM Resorts has started to save money where they can so there was no mention of unlimited Cristal Champagne as in the past.
The welcome gift this year the expresso cups was not as nice as in years past, but hey it's free if you don't count the gambling losses for the year, LOL! As in years past the party would start at 8pm with cocktails and entertainment and then move into a large ballroom for the main entertainment and dinner.

The next day on January 1st, there would be bars and food all day in another ballroom with the college games playing.
I put together a slide show and a few videos of the entertainment in the below video if you want to view the party.

If you prefer to read instead of seeing a slideshow and video, here you go but there are some extra photos in the slideshow!
My friend Gwen (yourstarla) was my guest for the party and SDguy's guest was Nate.
Going down the escalator and walking into the party was a long and wide hallway area which had entertainment, many bars with themed cocktails and other libations including Dom Perignon Champagne and photo op stations.
The bars and photo op stations would be available until midnight with the party closing down around 1am. There were also a couple stations where the ladies could get false eyelashes, hair clips and other fun items to wear.
There were many drink stations set up with the usual librations and also featuring a themed cocktail for the night with a name appropriate for the Wonderland theme.
As Gwen, Brian, Nate and I walked around admiring all the different acts I ran into Yani who is a fan of this blog and her husband Jack from LA! Was great to meet them both and I hope you two had a wonderful NYE!
SDGuy and I have met Linda from Pasadena at last year's NYE party and also saw her this year for a nice chat.
As we were going around and doing the different photo ops, Donna from Huntsville, Alabama recognized me from the blog. Always a pleasure to meet someone fun and nice and hopefully Donna we'll see each other again in Vegas!
The main ballroom opened at 9pm and continued the Wonderland theme.
The menu for the evening:
This year instead of Cristal they were pouring Perrier-Jouet for champagne at the tables but I'm all smiles because I found the bar station that had the Dom Perignon and that's what I continued to drink.
Citrus Shrimp with Hackleback Caviar, Cocktail Sauce, Horseradish Sorbet, Cucumber and Tomato Water Gelee'. The Shrimp were great but the stand out was the delicious Horseradish Sorbet, spicy and sweet!
Our main course was Filet Mignon and King Crab with BĂ©arnaise Sauce, Potato Pave, and Spinach.
The dessert an Edible Garden of Wonderful was awesome and this photo does not do it justice. It was beautiful and tasted great!
Later in the four corners of the ballroom displays dropped from the ceiling and they had cotton candy on them.
I had lemongrass flavored cotton candy and it was good, Gwen said her caramel salted cotton candy was very good too. There were may other flavors and the cones had colorful led lights in them that could be turned on.
The entertainment during Aria's NYE parties never takes a break!
During the last couple hours of the party the staff circulated with lots of party favors. Nate looks cute with a rabbit nose! They handed out colorful lighted gloves, angel wings that lit up, sparkling leis, etc...
Gwen looks adorable with rabbit ears, and whiskers!
The entrance to the Hookahs that were on a outside patio but nary a caterpiller in sight!
Outside on the patio there were several comfortable Hookah stations set up with about 8 different types of flavors. I did try a couple of the Hookahs and after coughing a bit enjoyed the strawberry one.
There were bowls of sealed tips for the Hookahs so everyone had their own individual tip to use. There were also two attendants there to refill the Hookahs and answer any questions. Photos of them in the slideshow.
Our group loves a photo op!
SDguy and his selfie stick, LOL!
The sign says wrong way, is there every a right way in Wonderland?
Gwen with her bored pose!
If you can't win at Chess just hit them over the head with the pieces!
Back to the party, where I found out Nate was such a good dancer that we had both women and men trying to steal him from us!
Hugs and kisses after the countdown and 2016 begins!
The entertainment went on for about 30 minutes more after the countdown to NYE and after that we left to get our gamble on!
It was a great party, we all had a blast! If I'm invited to the Aria NYE party for 2017, I'll be there!