One of the best parts of a vacation is sleeping-in, a rarity in our household, especially for Dan. On the Sunday morning of our long weekend, we got a very late start. Travel advice for Vegas...11ish on Sundays is the worst time to try to eat a meal. Everyone has checked out of their hotel rooms and they head for the last, splash-out meal of the vacation. You want a buffet? Forget about it.
We wandered, saw long lines, and finally ended up at the Le Cafe Ile St. Louis, basically the obligatory cafe that every hotel offers. Paris did it a little fancier than average and we enjoyed our French themed breakfast.
After breakfast, we drove to The Mirage to see the new tiger cubs.
In the early 2000's, I visited The Secret Garden of Siegfried and Roy. It was awesome. In addition to the big cats, they had many other animals, including elephants. All of the animals were clearly well-cared for and it was a beautiful mini-zoo.
The best part was the audio tour. Narrated by both Siegfried and Roy, it was filled with awkward moments and unintentional comedy. I don't think that I stopped laughing the entire visit. Most memorable, was learning how each tiger is like " a delicate little snow flake" and how they like lollipops. Who knew?
I was very excited to go see the tiger cubs and to have Dan experience The Secret Garden in all of its cheesy glory.
I was very disappointed to discover that The Secret Garden of Siegfried and Roy is a shell of its former self. Gone, is the awesome audio tour and there are significantly less animal exhibits than on my previous visit. I'm not certain, but I think that they might have used some of the former zoo space to put in an topless/adult pool complex.
The tickets were twenty-two each, pretty steep for what we saw. If they had been half the price, it would have been good value.
We saw a bunch of big cats...tigers, lions, leopards, panthers...
But nothing beat the tiger cubs. They have four, two white and two orange. We saw two on display with a trainer. Doesn't this guy have the best job on earth?
It took us about fifteen minutes to walk through The Secret Garden of Siegfried and Roy, plus another fifteen to watch the dolphins, which live in a multiple pool habitat adjacent to the big cats. We visited during one of the dolphin behavioral training sessions and we watched as they played with rubber balls ( they can open their mouths wide enough to fit a basketball sized ball. Wow.) and pose with tourist who had paid extra for a behind the scenes experience.
That night, we had dinner plans with Dan's former boss and his wife. We started with drinks at Bound in The Cromwell.
This was our first time visiting The Cromwell, a small boutique hotel next to Bally's. Our initial impression was very favorable. We loved Bound, which had amazing, unique cocktails and no televisions. It was classy. Plus, Bound had a book theme going on = Love.
After Bound, we moved to dinner at celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiss' first restaurant, Giada, located at The Cromwell. Being out with friends, I resisted the urge to document our meal, so no food pictures. Giada had spectacular views of the strip and featured a menu filled with tapas. We started with a shared cheese and meat board, which was very good. My main was a three cheese tortellini with braised beef. I was left unimpressed. It was very rich, small, the beef was microscopic, and to top it off, it was expensive. With so many restaurants competing for our business, we would not likely return to Giada.
When we left the restaurant, The Cromwell's elegant atmosphere, had been transformed, as college-aged kids were arriving for Drai's, a late-night club. Security was swarming and the casino was packed. We went back to Bound for after-dinner drinks and found the servers to be overwhelmed. As we were sitting, the club opened and the casino emptied out. I think that it might have been the music from Drai's that kept me up that night. This changed my impressions of The Cromwell. Clearly, I'm getting old and grumpy. Those kids and their music...get off my lawn!!!