Last Tuesday, after spending four whirlwind days visiting family and friends in California (Anaheim, San Pedro, Woodland Hills, and Northridge) and Arizona (Bullhead City), Rich and I zipped to Las Vegas for a day of debauchery. Keep in mind, debauchery can be as innocent as departing from ones usually modis operates.  Planet Hollywood_bedroom

Where we stayed –a “resort” room at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino – was a huge departure from our usually lumpy mattress and threadbare towels at a Motel 6, Red Roof or EconLodge. Rich had originally reserved a room at New York New York through Priceline. A few days before our trip, however, he realized that he’d booked the room on the wrong date. Fortunately, he was able to cancel the reservation and get a room at Planet Hollywood.

Unfamiliar with the hotel and too cheap to use valet parking, we found a spot in the garage by the Miracle Mile Shops then dragged our bags through the shopping center to the hotel. It was a relief to quickly check-in, take the elevator to the 12th floor then slip the magnetic room key into the lock…

My initial reaction was “there’s no bed.” Of course, there was a bed (above). I simply needed to journey through the outlandishly large hallway, past the bathroom to the bedroom. The king-sized bed was very inviting with four pillows and soft linens.

Planet Hollywood_coffee tableEach room at Planet Hollywood features props and photographs from a movie. In our room were the trappings from the Medicine Man, starring Sean Connery (right). Ironically, Rich is half Scottish and in my humble opinion, looks like Connery. Check out the photo to below. They could be brothers!

While I wasn’t armored with the room’s color scheme – dark wood, goldenrod and off-white wallpaper, black marble, mirrored tabletops, and purple bath towels – I was thrilled with the funky furniture, red lamps, huge bathroom with two sinks, large shower, and soaking tub, and unblocked view of the strip. I took pictures galore! Rich looking like Sean Connery

Wanting to take advantages of all of the amenities of the hotel, we stripped off our clothes (doesn’t that sound provocative), pulled on our bathing suits and scurried to the swimming pool on the sixth floor. The water was cold. Or maybe we were simply too tired to swim. After a few pathetic laps across the pool, we migrated to the hot tub where a man who lives in Kirkland, Washington gave us the scoop on the Microsoft SharePoint Convention that was taking place that week. He was thrilled with the new features and talked endlessly about the wonders of Microsoft software. Planet Hollywood_bathroom

“Gotta’ go and hit the strip,” offered Rich after chatting for a few minutes.

We hustled back to our room and rinsed off in the double-wide shower, using the sample of snazzy shampoo that was on the counter. Refreshed, we headed for the Miracle Mile Shops, which according to Wikipedia has more than 140 stores and 15 restaurants and is 1.5 miles long! Wikipedia also explains why Rich and I found the mall, Planet Hollywood casino, and hotel to be out-of-whack. The hotel used to be the Aladdin and the mile of shops was originally the Desert Passage, complete with an ocean liner called the "Desert Passage" (below). I’d rationalized that the Moroccan motif inside represented a Hollywood set.

When Planet Hollywood took over the Aladdin in 2003, they attempted to incorporate a “Los Angeles” theme. I think they missed the mark. The casino and hotel is a strange mixture of mirrors, crystal-encrusted lights, dull psychedelic patterned wallpaper, and dreadful earth tones. Plus, it’s super noisy and claustrophobic!Planet Hollywood mall

They did, however, successfully capture the promiscuity of L.A. In the center of the casino is the Pleasure Pit where scantily clad chicks pole dance on a raised platform and female dealers wear fishnet stockings and corsets. According to the booklet in our room that elaborated on the hotel’s amenities, the Pleasure Pit is supposed to take the inhibitions out of gambling. I suspect its popularity more akin to the elation of visiting a nudie bar.

One of the shows featured at Planet Hollywood is Peepshow, a “full throttle production” that combines “sexy strip tease, playful storytelling and celebrity star power,” along with a “red hot band” and twenty-five “sizzling dancers and performers.” If you want to delve into the action, the hotel offers pole dancing classes.

Even the restaurants and night clubs associated with Planet Hollywood connote sex. The up-scale Strip House has “sultry silks and siren red walls” with photographs of “scantly-dressed women” on the walls. The clubs are named Privé, The Living Room, The Playing Field Lounge, and the Heart Bar. The latter features servers in “black leather go-go attire.”

Ravenous after swimming and walking through the Miracle Mile Shops, Rich and I settled for the Spice Market Buffet, which has been voted the #1 buffet in Las Vegas with Mexican, Italian, Asian, Middle Eastern, and American food. Buffets are always dangerous places for me because I want to try everything. I was determined, however, to exercise constraint, taking small portions from each station. I was feeling good about my selection until I hit the last station… Middle Eastern food.

The gauntlet was dropped. Bowls of baba ghannouj, tabouleh, hummus, dolma, fragrant rice with raisins and almonds, cubes of feta cheese, mounds of couscous, multi-colored olives, and flaky baklawa beaconed me. Even Rich lost his restraint, adding grilled meats and vegetables to his plate. After polishing off one plate, I returned for another. Rich opted to enjoy more shrimp, crab legs, and tender prime rib.

For dessert, I couldn’t resist the chocolate mousse and chocolate cream pie. Rich chose strawberry shortcake and banana cream pie. Burp!

Our bellies bulging, we waddled onto the strip with the intention of spending part of the $17 in change we’d accumulated over the past year. My key interest was walking off my dinner and seeing the bright lights and sights. We reached the Bellegio a few minutes before one of their crowd-pleasing fountain shows. The music and display of water and lights brought me to tears. It was disappointing, however, that the show lasted barely five minutes. Display at Bellagio

The next day, we want back to the Bellagio to marvel at the botanical garden with giant pumpkins, a talking tree, autumn foliage, and a miniature European town (right). Around the corner was Jean Phillippe Patisserie with heart-stopping pastries (below) and a floor-to-ceiling chocolate fountain that cascaded melted milk, dark, and white chocolate. It’s officially the largest chocolate fountain in the world.  Pastries at Bellegio Pastries at Bellegio_2

Our next stop of the evening was Caesars Palace. We walked around the casino until we spotted a Miss Kitty slot machine. Rich deposited a dollar, which provided him with one hundred points (penny slot machine). He played for a while, winning and losing until he luck started to run out. In desperation, I pushed his hand aside and punched two buttons… bing, Bing, BING, we were up 93-cents! I immediately punched the “cash out” button and lovingly cradled the receipt that flowed out of the machine.

The mall associated with Caesar’s Palace is spectacular with painted ceilings, columns, ornate plaster, fountains, huge carved statues, and a two-story Trojan horse by FAO Schwartz, a toy store.FAO Swartz and Caesar

That evening and the next day, we went from casino-to-casino in search of magic Miss Kitty machines. We’d insert a dollar and play until we either doubled our money or reached 50-cents. At which point,oo we’d cash out and apply the 50-cents to another machine (usually not a Miss Kitty machine, which were few and far between). By the time we left Vegas, we’d played at quite a few casinos and lost just 24-cents; although, we would have been up nearly 69-cents if I’d cashed in my initial winnings from Caesar’s Place!

As the night approached morning, the streets became slippery with tits and twats. In between the snazzy casinos were seedy establishments, selling everything from tee-shirts proclaiming “I Ymy penis” to coffee cups, magnets, key chains, and other tourist riffraff imprinted with Las Vegas sights. On the sidewalk, outside these joints, were Hispanics with stacks of baseball card-sized advertisements for buxom “escorts” and “entertainers.” They’d hold a stack of cards in one hand and with the other sharply slap two or three cards against the larger stack, making a snapping sound. As we walked by, they’d thrust a couple of cards at you. 

ANight scene large percentage of these cards were instantly dropped by passersby who innocently took them. As the night grew later, the streets and sidewalks became slippery with hundreds of slick cards containing pictures of scantily dressed or naked women.

One time, Rich eagerly grabbed some cards then walked a few paces and handed them to a woman who was also snapping card. Surprised, she backed up and cringed at Rich’s brazen advances then shouted “el stupid!”

I burst into laugher and could hear her also laughing, having realized that Rich meant no harm. He simply wanted to return the favor.

Night scene_2Of course, I grabbed as many cards as necessary for “research.” The price of the girls ranged from “$29 special” to $150 no hidden fees.” Some of the girls had unusual names like Addison, Ajay, Bailey, Berrit, Paris, Honey, Kiko, and Summer. Most were pedestrian like Christy, Sandy, Vicky, Beth, Tina, Heather, Heidi, and Carly. The cards provided the price, phone number and Web address, such as LasVegasXXXcorts, HotVegasStripper, CandyAppleGirls, and EzVegasEscorts.

While I thought it was strange that the porn hawkers were just as likely to hand cards to a woman as a man, going to one of the advertised sites, I learned that the girls offer a range of services from “professional escort services” to “sensuous escort for couple’s entertainment.” Jeepers!

Rich and I settled for hobbling back to our hotel room, taking off our shoes, massaging our tired feet, and crawling into bed. The next morning, we wandered a couple of blocks to a McDonald’s for coffee and Egg McMuffins. We spent the rest of the day visiting other casinos, looking for Miss Kitty machines, and gawking at and take pictures of the lionesses at the MGM Grand. Lion lounging at MGM GrandThere’s a plexiglass tunnel that you can walk through and look up at the lions and lioness. It’s very cool and I could have probably spent all day looking at them.

The interior of the MGM Grand is reminiscent of early Hollywood with art deco touches. It’s also the second largest hotel complex in the United States with 4,293 rooms, 751 suites, five outdoor pools, rivers and waterfalls, convention center, arena, sixteen restaurants, and largest casino in the area.

Around 3:30 – 24-hour after we’d arrived in Las Vegas – we headed to the airport to turn in our rental car, grab a bite to eat, and jump on a plane back to Seattle.

Below is a "washout" view from our hotel room along with some of my favorite sites on the strip:View from Planet HollywoodLas Vegas_dayMonte Carlo New York New York