The Winning Team: From left: Melia Haigler, Mann Travels; Cynthia McMenamin, Touriffic Travel; Tracey Schraner, Abington Travel; Benjamin Setiawan, Discover Travel & Shipping; Vincent Condeni, Casino World Travel; and Meetta Simpson, Travel Center of Lexington.
We’re just back from two intense days in Las Vegas, where we participated in the 7th Annual US Airways Vacations Las Vegas Scavenger Hunt. The Hunt, created to both reward agents for booking US Airways Vacations trips to Las Vegas, and give them a firsthand look at the city, was expanded from the previous one-day format to a two-day, multi-event experience, offering a more in-depth exploration of Las Vegas.
Unlike years past, when participating agents stayed at different resorts (all bookable with US Airways Vacations) and were grouped according to hotel, all participants this year stayed at the Encore and were divided by team color. (We were placed with the Green Team.)
The first contest was a slot tournament at the Tropicana, which followed an alfresco breakfast buffet. From there, the teams continued to Bali Hai Golf Club, where every participant had to try different kinds of putts to win points. (It was much harder than it looked.) There are 36 holes at the golf course that cover a range of terrains, giving players of all skill levels a good challenge.
We had lunch at Cili, an on-site Balinese restaurant with a steak and chocolate cake too good to pass up... and even though we were still full from breakfast, what is Vegas for if not indulgence? The restaurant is comfortably high-end, and is a good pick for relaxing before or after a round on the links—or during a round, for those more interested in cocktails than putting.
Bordering on food comas, we headed over to the Miracle Mile Mall for the next challenge: creating a fashion show from clothes found in participating stores in the mall. (The stores, for the record, were Cache, White House Black Market, H&M and French Connection.) Tasked with the theme of creating an outfit for clubbing, the teams raced from store to store and designed unique looks for one model from each.
That evening, we went to the Gold Room at Aria for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres before heading over to see Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana, a combination of acrobatics, clowning, gymnastics and related circus acts accompanied by live music and singing. (Apparently, there’s a storyline to the show, but it’s really rather unnecessary. The acrobatics and clown acts are wonderful enough in their own right.)
The next day, following breakfast at the Golden Nugget (and a presentation from the LVCVA about the history of the city), we headed over to the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay for an brief exploration of the exhibit. When we emerged, we were presented with a pop quiz about the history of Las Vegas and the Shark Reef, which most teams apparently aced.
We continued on to Treasure Island for a buffet lunch—and for the kickoff of the classic Scavenger Hunt. For the first time, there was a time limit on the hunt, and also no transportation provided for contestants, meaning all the agents had to either shell out for taxis to get from resort to resort or walk the length of the Strip. Between those restrictions and the difficulty of the questions—e.g., “Tom Hanks has spoken to him and now it’s your turn to find him in the shopping wonder of the world. Bring back what he says!” was a fortune-telling machine in a store in The Shops at Caesars Palace, and we had to bring back the ticket the machine printed—no team was able to complete the hunt in the allotted time, so every team was disqualified from the activity and received no points for their efforts.
The US Airways team made it up to the agents at the dinner reception at the end of the day, however: we dined at Rio Las Vegas’ Buzios, with an impressive range of seafood. Following the meal, we learned that the Green Team came in last (hey, somebody had to), and that the Yellow Team was the victor of the entire two-day challenge.
The Yellow Team was made of Melia Haigler of Mann Travels, NC; Cynthia McMenamin of Touriffic Travel, PA; Tracey Schraner of Abington Travel, PA; Benjamin Setiawan of Discover Travel & Shipping, NY; Vincent Condeni of Casino World Travel, OH; and Meetta Simpson of Travel Center of Lexington, NC. We wish them congratulations and challenge them again for the 8th Annual US Airways Las Vegas Scavenger Hunt.
The evening, and the Hunt, ended with the group catching Penn & Teller’s show at the Rio, and it’s a must-see for fans of illusion or intelligent comedy. (There’s little in the show that wouldn’t be appropriate for families, but much of the comedy is on the mature side. Fortunately, those uninterested in comic musings will be amazed by the sleight-of-hand and clever visual tricks.)
Quick Tip: In case you didn’t know, the security line at McCarran Airport can be painfully long. Be sure to leave well ahead of time, even if your flight is an early one. Fortunately, the airport offers free Wi-Fi, so waiting in line doesn’t have to be boring.
Scavenger Hunt teams competed in a golf tournament at Bali Hai Golf Club.
Las Vegas Happenings
Wi-Fi Now Available at All MGM Resorts Hotels
In conjunction with Mobilitie, LLC, and Cisco Systems, MGM Resorts International, has developed Wi-Fi access throughout MGM Resorts destinations with the completion of the roll out at Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Luxor and Excalibur. The installations cover the low-rise public spaces, including pools, casinos, lobbies and restaurants.
The Wi-Fi was installed at Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay as well as THEhotel, and The Mirage, all completed at the end of 2012. The Wi-Fi at ARIA, Vdara and The Shops at Crystals, launched in 2009, has been integrated with the new system.
Aquarium at Mandalay Bay Introduces New Sea Turtle
Mandalay Bay welcomes OD—a 320-pound rescued sea turtle estimated to be 50 years old—to the 1.3-million gallon Shipwreck Exhibit at Shark Reef Aquarium. He joins two additional green sea turtles and 22 other species including sharks, rays, fish and more.
Bruno Mars is set to inaugurate The Cosmopolitan’s new show venue and event space, The Chelsea, with performances on December 29 and 31. A series of exclusive Bruno Mars concert dates is slated at The Chelsea in 2014.
Flamingo Las Vegas has renamed its show venue the “Donny & Marie Showroom” after the brother-sister duo, who recently celebrated their five year anniversary at the hotel by signing an extension through 2014.