Planning a 40th birthday party? Getting married to your longtime companion? Looking for the ultimate bachelor or bachelorette party where the boys will only want to see boys? And the girls, well, they tend to opt for more-refined fun than the boys.
The Vegas Strip can be crazy to navigate. Las Vegas is so big, so exciting and there is so much to do. Where is one to start when you are “The Travel Top?” (Note: “The Travel Top” is the one who is charged with doing all of the travel organizing for your group, while the travel bottoms enjoy your great effort and planning.)
This column was borne from a friend who called me to ask how to celebrate his partner’s 40th birthday in Vegas. It had to be fun and affordably over the top, but gay with a touch of Vegas fabulous.
So I turned to my secret inside Vegas guru. He is so inside, so expert, so “in the know” that I am forbidden to reveal his identity. He is my Vegas secret — but in this month’s column, I am sharing his secrets with you.
His first piece of advice is that the best gay parties in Vegas are on Sundays, so extend your weekend. Don’t rush home!
Best hotel rates book early
Vegas — unlike the rest of the world — is a destination for which people book their hotel rooms and airplane tickets first. My expert says the average hotel booking in Las Vegas is three months in advance. To get the lowest price, you must book early. Rates tend to go up as your date of arrival comes closer. Today, most travelers decide on their destination first and then book the airfare, then the hotel, then the restaurant and the entertainment. My Vegas guru advises otherwise. Book the hotel as soon as possible. If you are booking fewer than 10 hotel rooms, just reserve the rooms online. The hotel’s website is the best deal. If you are booking more than 10 hotel rooms, call the main number of the hotel and ask for the sales department. If you are booking more than 10 hotel rooms for multiple nights, the sales department will help you; otherwise, the hotel website is just fine.
Hotels are plentiful in Las Vegas. To make your travel planning easier, consider staying with properties affiliated with MGM. You choose between the Bellagio, Aria Resort, MGM Grand (the largest hotel in the world, with 5,000 rooms), Luxor, New York New York and others. Staying at one of these properties gives you lots of perks, including signing charges to your hotel room and the ability to earn points with the “M Life” benefits program. Insider’s tip at Aria: Try to book a regular room in the Sky Suites tower. You get the perks of a high roller in a sexy room without the added cost of an oversized room. (Check out my column on the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas at www.epgn.com.)
Hotel concierge works for you
Once you have booked your hotel room, call the hotel concierge to plan the rest of your trip. My Vegas guru suggests that you book your anchor events first and then fill in with spontaneous gay outings. Your anchor events are dining reservations, spa appointments and signature Las Vegas shows, like “KÀ” by Cirque du Soleil.
The Vegas Strip is known for luxury spas. Spa appointments book fast. Insider’s tip: Book the early-morning appointment and try to book on a weekday. Be sure to pick a gay-friendly spa. Spa & Salon at Aria specifically trains its staff in LGBT-friendliness and offers same-sex couples therapies. A Vegas spa day for your group? Done and fabulous. It is usually quieter in the spa and, in summer, you can enjoy the private outdoor pool that overlooks the Liquid Day Club & Lounge.
Tickets to signature Las Vegas shows sell out quick. Celine Dion and Cirque du Soleil’s “O,” an underwater fantasy show at Bellagio, are always sellouts. My Vegas guru recommends “KÀ” by Cirque du Soleil for a group event. The show defies everything you thought a stage can do. If you are like me and only have seen a traveling Cirque show, then you haven’t really seen the creativity and amazement the performances can offer. Of course, there are comedy shows, main-stage shows and traveling mega-stars like Justin Timberlake. Insider’s tip: Ask your hotel concierge if there are any discounts for guests staying at an MGM property.