Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bellagio Review

Being one of the most expensive resorts on the strip, of course the Bellagio is oozing luxury. The resort’s biggest draw is the water at front, which performs to over thirty different numbers. The nightly performances cause people of all nationalities, races, and religions to stop and watch in awe as the water dances to music.

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Upon walking into the resort, you’ll notice guests staring up at (not to mention taking photos of) the colorful, glass ceiling.

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Behind the front desk is a garden-like area, which the natural sun shines through during the day. If it weren’t for the constant “bah-da-ding” of the adjacent casino, one might think they were residing in a tropical environment. Though I liked the bright color scheme, I must say that I found the lobby slightly unimpressive after having entered the magnificent lobbies of the Grand Floridian Resort and Wilderness Lodge in Walt Disney World.

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The Bellagio is also home to The Conservatory, an indoor garden that, seemingly, never seizes to mesmerize guests. Now, I, personally, never seemed to understand why this attraction was so popular. It’s just flowers. Yes, they’re pretty, but what’s the deal? I suppose that in the overwhelmingly concrete city of Las Vegas, flowers are a rarity (if you want more flowers, visit the Wynn, which also has a lovely indoor floral area). If you can shove your way past the mobs of people taking pictures into the glass house, you’ll see a couple of brown butterflies (which also screams, “Photograph, me, tourist!” [this is a slightly hypocritical use of satire, considering I, too, photographed the ugly, brown butterflies]). There are some lovely ladybug topiaries, and some cute watering cans that might justify this location’s popularity (though I do not recall seeing people photograph the watering cans – they were more mesmerized by the color-changing glass ball), but I wouldn’t put this on the top of my to-do list. This belongs on the to-do-if-we-are-bored-and-in-the-area list.

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Right next door to the Conservatory is a high-priced art museum. I cannot tell you what kind of art, though. Possibly paintings of flowers (one would think, considering the location). However, the entry fee to this art museum is too high for me to even read a description of the artwork that is inside. Now, if I were a little more interested in art, I would investigate and possibly pay the seemingly high admission. But having no interest whatsoever, I decided to ignore this attraction and move on to something more thrilling – the buffet.

Dining

We did try out the Bellagio’s buffet one morning. We waited in line for forty-five minutes for breakfast, approaching the cash register at 11:00, therefore charged the lunch price ($10 more) so that we could eat breakfast. We did eat lunch entrees (sushi and dessert), as well, so we would at least feel as if we were getting our money’s worth (there is no such thing). The food was pretty good for buffet food. Now, I’m no food connoisseur, so that’s the best food description you’re going to get from me. It was a high-class buffet (if there is such a thing). Instead of being surrounded by grimy children sticking their hands in the desserts and slobbering on the silverware, we were trampled over by senior citizens wearing Ralph Lauren.

We attempted to eat at the Bellagio Café one night. However, after being seated for twenty minutes without being waited on, we decided to walk. Twenty minutes, however, gave us enough time to read our menus cover-to-cover, examining the rather outrageous prices. Seven dollars for a bowl of cereal. For seven dollars, one could buy a box of cereal, a gallon of milk, and even a plastic bowl and spoon to eat with. (This made walking out extremely easy.)

When we left, we headed to John Philippe’s Patisserie, which served crepes and other baked goods. This is also where we got our breakfast for the week (that is, when we did not go to a buffet). The crepes were delicious. I got a completely chocolate one and had no problem eating all of it (mwuahaha!). It cost just a few dollars more than the bowl of cereal.

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We dined at Gellatio after having spent the day at the pool. I got the seafood wrap, and my father got some sandwich. They were both good, but rather pricey. The bill totaled to $30 for two entrees and two fountain drinks ($3.50 each). Of course, this pricing is rather typical for the resort.

We stopped by Snacks at Bellagio to get a pretzel. We wanted a cinnamon pretzel, but they didn’t have that. Mom and Rachel held off, while I settled for a pre-made salt pretzel. They microwaved it for me, but it was still hard and not that great. But I ate it anyway because we paid for it. I don’t recommend.

Noodles was the only real restaurant we ate at. They did not take reservations, but but we were seated quickly by a graceful young Asian lady (I would guess Korean). The walls were white and shelves were filled with glass jars of noodles and such. Mom remarked that the decor made it feel more like we were sitting in a store than in a restaurant. I liked the simple decor. I ordered Kim Che with brown rice, Rachel ordered a vegetable platter with steamed rice, Dad ordered some noodle dish, and I don't recall what Mom ordered. We all ate each other's food.

Shopping

There were two gift shops with logo souvenirs, as well as toiletries, near the elevators of the spa tower (there were likely replicas of these stores by the elevators of the main wing). If you venture to the other side of the building, you’ll come across Bellagio’s Forum Shops. These are high-end stores that I can’t afford to set foot in. Armani Exchange, Chanel, and Ralph Lauren remained empty throughout the week. Likely the result of the ever-worsening economy, the employees of these shops stood around with no clothes to fold and no guests to attend to. I’m sure if some lost tourist were to wander in to ask where the restroom was, the bored-to-tears employees would rush to his or her aid, having not seen a person set foot in the store for so long.

Room

Upon check-in, we were upgraded to the new “Spa Tower.” Dad did not consider this a true upgrade, since the Spa tower wasn’t a part of the main building. However, the rooms were newer and likely bigger than those in the main wing.

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We were in room 15619. It was very large and spacious and furnished with two queen beds, two wing chairs, a table, and a desk against the wall with the window. The room was equipped with top-of-the-line electronics, including a flat-screen television and an iHome that would charge my iPod (a second generation touch – for some reason, most docking stations will not charge my iPod… I tried to order it online, but apparently this brand is available only through wholesale), not to mention a weight-sensitive box stocked with goodies (unless you want to be charged, do not go so far as to touch this box – lift something out to examine it closer, and you’ll have a fee upon check-out). What wowed us the most, however, was the button-controlled drapery (the switches were located beside the bed and the entertainment center).

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The bathroom was also quite large. It reminded me of the bathroom at Universal’s Portofino Bay in Orlando, only with a shower as well as a bathtub. Though big, the bathroom’s layout was not ideal for a family – or any guests that are not a couple, for that matter. The shower was clear glass and the toilet and vanity were all within the bathroom. Therefore, if someone needed to use the restroom or get ready at the vanity while someone else bathed, they’d get an eye-full.

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My biggest complaint about the resort is the housekeeping. It was quite inconsistent. I believe that someone different fixed our room every night. One evening, we’d come in to find towels and chocolates for two; another, there’d be enough for four. Sometimes we came in to find no turn-down service at all. After calling, they’d cheerfully come to our room to bring us two (or four) extra sets of towels and chocolates (we soon learned that they were more generous with the chocolate when I answered the door than when my father did), but it was still annoying to return to our room to find it made up incorrectly. I seem to recall this happening at other four and five star resorts we have visited. I find it odd that when we visit a “moderate” resort, our housekeeping is flawless, yet when we shell out the big-bucks to stay at a high-esteemed resort, we get lousy housekeeping. We are paying for the service, as well as the amenities.