From the sublime to the spectacular
27th April 2017
"There is literally no place on Earth quite like Las Vegas. It is as awesome as it is absurd, as preposterous as it is phenomenal. A city of spectacle, delivered with an unmatched level of detail and flourish.
Glorious sunshine meets us as we step off the plane and a brief transfer takes us to the Tropicana Resort and Hotel – our home for the next five days. The Tropicana is vintage Vegas – vibrant and pristine yet comfortable and welcoming. The flashing lights and jingling tunes of the slot machines provide the sound track for our stay (and they say New York is the city that never sleeps!)
Our first adventure: a stretch limousine to the Venetian Hotel for dinner. Only in Las Vegas would you find a life-size replica of St Mark’s Square, winding canals (and gondolas with singing Gondoliers) on the first floor of a hotel. Even the ceiling is painted to look like the Italian sky, the sun setting as opera singers serenade the passing crowds. Our dinner in a private room overlooking the square sets the tone for our trip – something unique, exclusive and utterly delicious.
Then it is straight out into the neon wild of the Las Vegas strip. The only way to beat the jet lag is to power through – a visit to the Bellagio Fountains, the Mirage Volcano (!) and several other must-see landmarks before heading downtown to Fremont Street and “Old Vegas”. The backdrop to almost every classic Vegas movie (think Elvis and James Bond) Fremont Street is now a riot of sights and senses – over 12 million led bulbs power the light show on the ceiling that now encloses the street. If you’re feeling brave, you can do the zip wire from one end to the next (and our ladies did!) or you can grab a beer and enjoy a live band thumping out some classic rock tunes.
We’re flagging now – awake for over 24hrs so a quick dash back to the Las Vegas sign at the south end of the strip followed by a stroll through the Luxor and then to bed… and this is just day one!
A more relaxed day two – some free time to explore the strip. Cocktails on rooftop pool bars interrupt valuable shopping time (as do bars along the strip and back at the Bellagio – I sense a theme!) before we know it the sun has set and the strip comes to life. Music, live entertainment – every which way you turn there is something to amaze and surprise. The world famous Cheesecake Factory is first choice for many for dinner – you have to pace yourselves otherwise you’d be too full to actually get to dessert!
Day three – The Grand Canyon. A private transfer to the airport followed by a thrilling flight swooping over the Hoover Dam and landing on the West Rim of the Canyon. The adrenaline junkies in our group headed out onto the Sky Walk – a glass-floored walkway suspended over a 4000ft drop. You could fit TWO Burj Khalifa’s underneath! From Eagle Point we move onto Guano Point. At one time a cable car stretched across to the far side of the canyon. The views are indescribable. The Grand Canyon is a sight to behold – a true wonder of the world. Just don’t step too close to the edge!
Back to Vegas and another stretch limo trip (this time accompanied by a spontaneous sing-song) to the Aria for dinner at Lemongrass. The classic yet contemporary Thai menu had something for everyone and leaves us full to burst – life can be tough sometimes.
Sunday – our final full day and again, one of leisure. We take the monorail from the MGM Grand up to the Linq – a complex of shops, bars and entertainment. This is New Vegas, full of hipster swagger. It is also home to the High Roller – think the London Eye but bigger. A half-hour round trip affords us the best views of the strip. It’s then time for another rooftop bar (rude not to) and more shopping.
I am often asked what has been my favourite memory of any Usborne Travel Incentive. Sunday night in Las Vegas may well have stolen the crown. It starts with Beau, our now regular stretch limo driver, taking us to “Dinner with the MD” at Le Cirque – a Michelin-starred French masterpiece overlooking the Bellagio Fountains. Every great meal is about theatre, from the performance of the waiters and sommeliers through to the presentation of the food itself. Usborne history has been made: this is without doubt the finest meal we have ever enjoyed!
The theatrical theme continues – we head across to see “O”, an aquatic Cirque De Soleil show that leaves us completely speechless. The choreography, the music, the humour and the sheer audacity of the stunts… again, possibly the best show we have ever experienced on an Usborne adventure. None of us want to go home. So we stand by the Bellagio Fountains until the last show. If you’ve seen the final scene of Ocean’s Eleven, you’ll understand – imaginary waves of Debussy drift off into the night as do we, eventually.
Monday morning. Time for last-minute shopping and a chill by the pool. The flight home is a little quieter than the one heading out. Some of us manage to sleep – sweet dreams of memories that will last a lifetime. The casinos didn’t win this time. We arrive home better off for our time together and the experiences we have shared.
Thank you to all our Vegas companions. You worked SO hard to earn your place on this trip and you deserved every treat and surprise we threw at you.
Which leaves us with one last question – who will be joining us next year?"
“Amazing, inspiring, mind-blowing and motivating. A must do experience for every Organiser” – Sarah Higgs
“An amazing opportunity – time for reflection, motivation and inspiration all in one trip! The perfect way to get to know more about other Organisers and, just as importantly, the Head Office team” – Carly Cavilla-Hunt
“A Travel Incentive always makes me feel spoilt, recognised and rewarded for my hard work” – Maria Scrivens
"A fantastic opportunity to see new places, meet new people and be treated to new experiences! I loved having time to myself to relax and reflect, time with other leaders to share advice and ideas and time to be treated with amazing food, entertainment and surroundings (plus all the cocktails of course! :-)" – Helen McIntyre
"An amazing experience! A great time getting to know the wonderful winners, spending time together and enjoying the complete luxury of a travel incentive" - Maria Cooper