One-half of Huckleberry Travel just so happened to have a milestone birthday this past weekend, so we made a pitch to friends and family that since it coincided with the Super Bowl, why not convene a big group in Las Vegas. At first, we thought maybe it'd just be a handful of friends and family. But since getting group rates for travel doesn't require you to have massive numbers of people, even if we just had a few folks joining us, we knew it would be fun.
For Party Central, we booked a luxe 4-Bedroom unit at The Elara, which happens to be a Hilton Grand Vacations property. Even if you're not a timeshare owner (and especially if you're not a timeshare owner, actually), it's possible to rent out lots of units, which can wind up being real values, considering that they come with well-equipped kitchens, and in some cases even washer/dryer units. Here's a tour of our suite at the Elara:
Some people in the group stayed in other rooms at The Elara, which they booked as hotel stays, but we also took out a block of rooms at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, which was very nearby. Still other travelers in our group booked into rooms at other nearby properties. The great thing about Las Vegas is that there are a ton of hotel options, at various price points and levels of luxury, all within a short walk of each other.
We planned a very loose schedule for the weekend. On Thursday and Friday evenings, we had a meet-up cocktail hour at one of the bars in Planet Hollywood, that was easy for people to find.
Then, on Saturday late morning, we hosted some gaming lessons in our suite. Our guests learned Pai Gow Poker (which is a great way to lose your money sloooooowly), and our system for Craps (which is a good system for getting all the fun out of the game, while minimizing the risk a little bit). We also gave people the basics of making bets at the Sports Book, for the Super Bowl.
On Saturday evening, we arranged for a brief cocktail party at the Alto Bar at Caesar's Palace, followed by a group dinner at Rao's--the famous Italian restaurant in New York City. Only this Rao's wasn't in NYC. It was in Caesar's Palace! You see, in order to get into Rao's in New York, you basically have to know someone who has a table there. Even though we live in New York, we're not really connected to any bigshots, so we've got zero chance of ever eating at Rao's in New York. But in Vegas, not only can we make a reservation for ourselves, but we could arrange a group dinner for fifty people there! The food was incredible, the service was delightful, and everyone had a really great time. It was so special.
The next morning, part of our group convened at The Wicked Spoon for a fabulous buffet brunch. The Wicked Spoon is located at The Cosmopolitan, which is directly across The Strip from where most of our guests were staying. We had a fabulous meal with everything you could expect from a high-end buffet--and more!
Then, finally, on Sunday, it was time for the Super Bowl. Those guests who hadn't already departed, joined us in our suite at the Elara to watch the big game like a high-roller. We had drinks and snacks, of course, but we also brought in the largest pizza I've ever seen. The game was playing on two screens, including having the game projected onto one of the giant shades that covered the floor-to-ceiling windows in our living room. And in the second living room of our suite, we had the Puppy Bowl going! It was a great time.
The logistics of the group were surprisingly easy to manage, because we kept it very loose--all of the events--even the main dinner--were optional. People arrived and departed at different times--some only came in for the big dinner on Saturday night, then turned around and returned home, and others built in a lot of sightseeing and activities. We kept people posted by using a new texting app, where we could update the entire group as to our whereabouts, alert them to the next planned activity, and put people in touch with each other in case there were small groups that wanted to do other things, like see shows or make short day trips.
And there was so much to do for our group. People went to the Hoover Dam and to the Neon Museum. They won money at the Casino and gawked at the fabulous Chinese New Year displays. They took in the iconic Bellagio fountains and saw The Strip at night from the giant High Roller ferris wheel. They solved crimes (sort of) at the Mob Museum, and experienced Freemont Street and old-school Downtown Vegas. And they saw shows--Cirque Du Soleil's Beatles LOVE, Donny and Marie (where we got upgraded to primo seats by tipping the usher--that's how it works in Vegas, baby!), a paranormal magic show and Cher! And, of course, they had meals at different celebrity chef's restaurants!
At least one person in our group had some misgivings about Las Vegas. I was privately told, "You know, he's had no interest in Vegas, but we got him here because it's your birthday." Well, a few hours into the visit, he realized how many ways there were to have fun in Las Vegas.
If you're thinking of a group trip to Las Vegas (or really anywhere), for a fun long weekend away, whether it's a milestone birthday, a bachelor/bachelorette party, a family reunion, a girl's or guy's night out. Planning it with us can take a lot of the stress and hassle out of dealing with logistics, so that you can focus on having fun!