Las Vegas, Nevada! “Vegas Baby! Vegas!”

Las Vegas, Nevada!
“Vegas Baby! Vegas!”

60363386_2838121736214374_1781750093070729216_n

Back from Las Vegas.
A fun trip to “Sin City”
Happy to be Home!

JOSHWILLTRAVEL! And travel to Las Vegas last week is what we did.*

*well, it wasn’t last week…. more like last month. Tempus fugit!

We were invited (very last minute) to our friend Frank’s 65th Birthday Adventure:
(via a series of text messages)
– Come to Vegas if you want we have extra rooms
– We arrive Wed and lots of different rooms. Party on Saturday
– The party at Topgolf should be good even if you dont golf. Has a private pool for us
– Then we got a big cabana by our pool Friday Saturday and Sunday

So, let me think about it….. and Road Trip to Vegas!
Left the beautiful San Fernando Valley at 1:30am on Thursday morning.
Highways to Las Vegas: 101north-134west-210west-10west-15north
We drove a rental truck, a no-frills silver Nissan Frontier, with unlimited miles.
No traffic! Driving 285 miles at night with the truckers on I-15 north.

60288317_2840544112638803_627913592926109696_n

“World’s Tallest Thermometer” in Baker, California

Stopped along the way in Baker, California, for gas and to see the “World’s Tallest Thermometer” once again lighting the side of the 15 freeway. It was “non-operational” for many years, but has been repaired and now it is again a beacon at night on the desert highway.
NOTE: Gas prices were “too f*ckin’ high” in Baker! 

Stateline! No stopping until we get to town.

60337423_2839901519369729_896118396297412608_n

Stateline! Primm, Nevada

Arrived at South Point Hotel and Casino before 6am on Thursday.

We have always heard good things about the SouthPoint. People regularly recommend their buffet as being very good. They were also recently featured in the Showtime series “Action” about legal sports gambling, so as we rolled into town we decided to stop there.

62210603_2889209531105594_2325219586665873408_n

SouthPoint Hotel and Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

Self Parking at SouthPoint is FREE. We parked outside, instead of in the structure, and it was only a short walk to the Casino entrance. We had to go to the High Limit Slots counter to get a Player’s Card because the Club Desk doesn’t open until 7am. We played some blackjack and a little video poker and won a little money.

We also earned 300 club points which entitled us to “spin the wheel” and we won 5000 points (so we cashed them out for $15.00), wandered around the casino, and then headed for their Breakfast Buffet.

NOTE: Get the SouthPoint Player’s Card and the Breakfast Buffet is only $9.95 + tax
(Really nice breakfast buffet for ~$11.00 + $5.00 tip for our server/waitperson)

Breakfast Buffet Time! The Las Vegas “Buffet Experience”! And we were hungry…..

On The Menu: Everything. It was a Good Buffet!

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

After breakfast we headed out and drove to the Wyndham Grand Desert Resort near the MGM Grand and across the street from TopGolf at the south end of the strip.
60340257_2840553642637850_7097430523177336832_n

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

Wyndham Grand Desert Resort

Parked near Tower 3, walked to registration at Tower 2 and Checked In.
Our friends had the rooms reserved and a quick phone call was made, our ID was checked, and we were handed a keycard and welcome instructions. We walked back to Tower 3 and met one of our friends in the lobby. She gave us the “nickel tour” of the resort property and showed us the adult pool and the cabana they had reserved for our party weekend. We walked back to Tower 3 and grabbed our luggage and weekend supplies out of the truck and rode the elevator upstairs.

The SMELL in the hall.
Okay, something died. rotting trash beyond rotting. it was terrible. really terrible.
FOR THE WHOLE TIME! It was disgusting. It reeked. It stank.
Yes, we complained. And they tried to mitigate the smell with deodorizers and sprays, but they should have called for sanitary cleanup immediately. They were really good about apologizing and they gave our hosts credit for the inconvenience.

60244010_2832562676770280_6845520855791828992_n

“It’s Kubrickian!”

The Sweet Suite!
Tower 3, Room 392 at the Wyndham Grand Desert Resort:

Happily, the smell was only in the hallway. Once inside the room, a “lock-out” connecting room, adjacent to the first room our hosts stayed in…. they moved to the Presidential Suite, and her brother moved into their room. More on that later.

Each room had a nice kitchen area, living room space and private bedroom and bath. Mine was a little smaller than the room next door which also had a bar and bar seating in the living room space. I was very happy with the accommodations and also the fact that it was FREE! My hosts were treated to drinks, gifts and other forms of thanks all week long in appreciation for the invitation.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

After the little tour of the resort the it was nappy time. Then once we were awake and active again, we joined our friends for a quick visit to the TopGolf mega-entertainment center across the street. We met our friends in the inside bar and had a cocktail while they finished their food (we were still full from the morning buffet).

60098558_2840575642635650_2497304117169356800_n

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

Our friend’s birthday party was scheduled for Saturday afternoon in the Chairman’s Suite, complete with private pool and lunch buffet, so they went to check it out.  More on that party later……
We wandered around and toured the massive four deck facility. There were lots of bar and seating areas, and a public pool area with lounges, private cabanas and a “swim-up” bar. There were televisions and monitors everywhere, and really big multi-screens by the pool and in the gathering and game areas. And there were a ton of people having fun at midday on Thursday! The Golf Area has private driving areas for rent, with computer monitoring, that tracks your ball and gives you distance, replay, and other fun golf info. And of course there is plenty of food and beverage service available everywhere.
Just mind the warning signs and watch for errant golf balls and clubs!
60323076_2840579522635262_1394491991709974528_n

And then back across the street to the resort.
Our friends moved their stuff to the Presidential Suite with a Private Veranda and we hung out there and waited for them to get settled in.
60217351_2840579375968610_6769131873135230976_n

60254757_2840578835968664_1660914881869643776_n

We made a run to the local market and picked up provision for the week. And then later we went back across the street to TopGolf for a late dinner.

60165285_2840586939301187_4409077649272471552_n

TopGolf Photo Op!

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

On The Menu: More cocktails
and Boneless BBQ Wings w/veggies & ranch dressing at one of the bars.
60213069_2840579979301883_6314122857408364544_n

FRIDAY at the Wyndham

Good morning! Cabana Time!
Our Large Private Party Cabana in the shade for Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

60336680_2832756416750906_4732896785863802880_n

Large Private Party Cabana in the shade for Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

Friday, Saturday and Sunday began the same way each day: Tiki drinks for brunch! And some kind of food from the resort kitchen, along with snacks we brought from the room.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

The cabana was equipped with a nice television and a noisy ceiling fan, and the public smoking area was right next door and there was a public cabana in that area. Most of the pool cabanas were positioned in the sun, and must have been really hot inside, while our cabana was on the other side and in the shade set back but facing the adult pool area.

 

Dinner time on Friday, and we had a meeting in the Presidential Suite to decide where to go to eat. There are many choices, so the group reviewed them, and eventually decided to go to Burger Bar (inside the Luxor Hotel, which we didn’t know at the time).

NOTE: Everything we did took a long time to get it together and actually do it. It wasn’t a problem, and we resolved to just ride along and see what happens (most of the time).

And then it started raining. A real Desert Storm! And a wet Friday night.
One of our new friends was the non-drinking designated driver, and he was a cool dude. But his driving was not cool. And it was dark and wet and it took a long time to get there. And then we toured the parking lot, for a long time, before finally parking.

We made our way into the Luxor and found the Burger Bar. Basically a $20 hamburger without anything else, so we decided to go spend our money at The Peppermill instead.

60353632_2840556382637576_6777594470536839168_n

MGM Grand Hotel and Casino on a Rainy Night in Las Vegas, Nevada

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

And so, after another wild ride in the rain around Las Vegas, we arrived for Dinner and Drinks at The Peppermill Restaurant and Lounge!

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

We had dinner and tiki drinks in the restaurant and then went into the lounge and had more drinks. The rain was really coming down and we were in no hurry to leave, so we rode out the storm in the lounge and met some fun new people.
60598395_2840567552636459_465416533233893376_n

On The Menu: Tiki Cocktails!
A Lava Flow and a nice Beef Dip Sandwich with fries and extra au jus

60351480_2840564125970135_5240943820153028608_n

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

60700467_2840566492636565_3566792476142338048_n

A good time was had by all! We enjoyed our dinner and drinks at The Peppermill. Frank had a big Scorpion drink (in a glass, not a bowl) and the rest of us had a few different drinks from their cocktail menu too.

One more drive around Vegas in the rain and back to the resort. We survived! We returned to the Presidential Suite and then back to our suite in the other tower. We decided to take a hot bath and then sleep in the next day.

60300338_2840554372637777_7267408161768734720_n

“Wanna take a bath?”

SATURDAY at the Wyndham and TopGolf

Cabana Time! Basically the same routine as Friday: tiki drinks, food, people hanging out and new friends stopping by until it was time to get it together and head over to TopGolf for the big shindig!

Frank’s 65th Birthday Party in the Chairman’s Suite at TopGolf – Saturday 2-5pm
Golf, balls, a buffet, more drinks and a private swimming pool just for us.

60332286_2834780529881828_2523588917588918272_n

Party at TopGolf in Las Vegas, Nevada!

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

 

60258094_2840596085966939_8627659527438729216_n

The Guest of Honor in the Private Pool in the Chairman’s Suite

On The Menu: Tacos (chicken, steak and pork), Sliders (cheeseburgers, battered fish and pulled pork), chips with salsa and guacamole, salads, and of course more tiki cocktails!

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

The party was a lot of fun, we got out drink on, and there was too much food! We ended up taking a lot of it back to the resort afterwards. There was golfing (unlimited balls, or something like that) and swimming too. The pictures are just a sample before it got crazy wild.

60314506_2840586732634541_738500973504233472_n

A beautiful day at TopGolf Las Vegas!

Saturday Night in Vegas!

And so we returned to the resort and hung out until it got dark. We decided our next destination would be (more) Tropical Cocktails at Frankie’s Tiki Room! 

60352427_2840598065966741_2789724422896877568_n

Saturday Night on the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada

After the wild road trip on Friday night, we decided we would drive to Frankie’s and meet the crew there. We cruised past The Strip and downtown to the bar.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

More cocktails! Famous tiki drinks! And it was really dark inside.
Here are some pics:

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

We enjoyed a Mai Tai and then there was a lot of conversation and more drinks. We moved around from our table in the cabana to a seat at the bar. Lots of kitsch and weird decor to see, even in the dark. Eventually, they decided to return to the resort and we decided to go back to The Strip and have some Las Vegas fun.

We drove to The Wynn, Las Vegas Hotel and Casino – FREE SELF PARKING!
60159235_2840601792633035_8557709302054256640_n

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

The Wynn is a beautiful property! And it was crowded, which was nice. We played a little and wandered around taking in the different areas of the casino and environs. We had some luck and cashed out and drove back to the resort and went to bed.

60457706_2840606102632604_5262970972247425024_n

SUNDAY (Mother’s Day) morning after waking up and getting ready, we walked over to the Presidential Suite for Breakfast/Brunch and more Cabana Time! It was a leisurely day of drinking and hanging out. There may have been an afternoon nap involved.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

So we were volunteered to cook and we grilled some steaks for dinner at 9:30pm on Sunday at the community BBQ Grills. There’s a curfew for cooking at 10pm, so we had to be quick! We took them upstairs and enjoyed a great meal on the private veranda (and of course, there were more cocktails).

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

Then we went on a mission to The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” Sign!
It was designed by Nevada-born graphic designer Betty Willis (1923-2015) in 1959.
60428662_2841116725914875_2867779852864323584_n

“The rounded diamond shape of the sign was inspired by the Goodyear logo and the idea for the starburst came from the one in Disneyland’s emblem, which to her meant a happy destination. The seven silver dollars were a symbol of good luck for visitors entering the world’s gambling capital. (Betty) Willis’s design was never trademarked.”

The sign was built by a small local company Western Electric Displays Inc, aka Western Neon. Western Neon was bought by YESCO (Young Electric Sign Company) and they have maintained the sign ever since. The original sign has been rebuilt, restored, and recognized as a cultural and historic landmark for the City of Las Vegas over the years.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

Safe and legal public access to the sign was finally made possible in 2008, when parking spaces and a pedestrian walkway were finally constructed. Clark County and the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office had the sign listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

60454899_2840557822637432_639075594453123072_n

NOTE: It was “Helldorado Days” a big holiday in the State of Nevada. There was a parade on Saturday and the Rodeo and other events were happening all weekend in downtown Las Vegas and on Fremont Street. So, we didn’t go there.

57154492_1834788406626023_331629672058060800_n

Old Vegas! Glitter Gulch!

We returned to the resort and stayed up until MONDAY morning!
“It’s HOT in the Hot Tub!” 
And sometime before dawn we hit the Jacuzzi and Pool! (the pool and jacuzzi at Tower 3 are open 24 hours) It was very Early AM, at Tower 3, after it was cleaned, before the crowd and we were almost alone.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

We had stayed up all night and after our adventures we finally decided to try out the 24 hour pool and jacuzzi in our Tower. The pool area was empty except for one couple, so we waited until they were out of the water and then we moved in. We spent about a half hour enjoying the warm, bubbly spa, and swam in the cool pool until the calm was interrupted by two small children and their mother….. as we left the pool area at 6am the mother was screaming at the children in the shallow end of the pool, “Get over here dammit, you pulled this sh*t all yesterday, I’m not gonna have it today!” 

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

Went up to the room and took a hot shower, ate some leftover tacos, and went to bed.
Requested and was given a late checkout time of 12 noon via the telephone.

And then,
Housekeeping knocked on my door three different times between 9:30 and 11am!
AND THERE WAS A “DO NOT DISTURB” SIGN HANGING ON THE DOOR HANDLE!
They also started cleaning the other half of the “lockout suite” and made noise like they were doing construction next door, making it impossible to sleep.

NOTE: We complained and Dan, the resort manager, gave us a $50 credit to use at our choice of restaurants “off-property” at a Caesars Hotel (there was a list of restaurants to choose from at each hotel) for our inconvenience and also took care of our friends who invited us. That’s real good hospitality!

Checked out of the Wyndham and drove back over to the Wynn. FREE Self Parking again.

60304327_2841122492580965_7675409198527545344_n

We walked to the Palazzo and Venetian, then went outside, crossed Las Vegas Blvd and went over to the Mirage. It was a beautiful day, but it was too hot of course.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

We visited the MLife desk, and asked about a MyVegas room rate. They offered us a Monday night room for $63.00 + taxes and the ridiculous resort fee, so we passed.

60401552_2841140772579137_1316513394412486656_n

We walked through the Forum Shops to Caesars Palace and enjoyed the weirdness!

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino was once the best place to stay and play in Las Vegas. Then they turned it into “Disneyland”, and they threw away all the class and quality that made it great. And then they added RESORT FEES and PAID PARKING.

We went to Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill and got a seat a the bar, but when we looked at the menu there was nothing that we wanted to order…. so we thanked them and left. We wandered around Caesars enjoying the sights while trying to decide where to eat.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

60262396_2841323895894158_4603819098629996544_n

The Bar and Sportsbook at Caesars Palace Las Vegas

Then we decided on dinner at Rao’s Italian Kitchen, Las Vegas at Caesars Palace!
60179289_2839825216044026_5208854495986974720_n

On The Menu: Good bread, an excellent Caesar salad and their tasty meat lasagna.
We ate the salad and half of the lasagna and bread, and had the other half packed “to go”.
No drinks or wine because we were driving later, so only ice water with dinner.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

It was getting dark after dinner, so we started walking back, watched the sunset behind Caesars Palace across the street, and then stopped at Harrah’s and the old Casino Royale on The Strip.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

60233888_2841348675891680_407792056535089152_n

Casino Royale!

 

60351051_2841348742558340_4882060617801793536_n

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

And then we walked back to the Wynn. We enjoyed our after dinner walk at night and took in the sights along The Strip on our way back. We returned to our car and hit the road. Destination: Los Angeles.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

LEAVING LAS VEGAS around 9:30pm on Monday.
hqdefault

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

 

 

Stopped at the new Mega-Gas Station Terrible’s Road House on the way back to California and filled up the gas tank and emptied mine. They have 100 pumps for “rush hour”, but the place was almost empty when we stopped in around 10pm on Monday night.

It was a quick stop, with lots of light and easy highway access. After getting gas, we took some pics and then got back in the rental truck and made a non-stop, no traffic, night drive back to Los Angeles. Home again before 2am. Had a really fun trip!

SouthPoint Hotel and Casino

Wyndham Grand Desert Resort

TopGolf

Peppermill Restaurant and Lounge

Frankie’s Tiki Room

The Wynn Hotel & Casino Las Vegas

 

Use these LINKS to FOLLOW and LIKE us on other social media!
RIGHT CLICK and “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW LINKS>
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Periscope | Experience Ashland Oregon 

Return to Homepage | The JoshWillTravel Adventure Channel on YouTube

The JoshWillTravel AdventureScope on Youtube> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoP3QQfRTfD-2eABWVd-JwQ

Have you seen my IMDB? http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0918756/

60032729_2838121846214363_5532418442801446912_n

The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” Sign Webcam>
www.earthcam.com/cams/nevada/lasvegas/index.php?cam=sign_hd



 

 

GBTA 2013 Convention in San Diego! (Global Business Travel Association)

GBTA 2013 Convention in San Diego! (Global Business Travel Association)

17425046_1734680193225206_2974422028337419638_n

NOTE: For ThrowbackThursday and FlashbackFriday we found this Blog draft. We laid out all the type and captions back in 2013 and never added the pics or details. So we went to the files for collateral from the convention, found old travel picture files on our other laptop for pictures that were never seen and also went hunting for the pics that we had already downloaded or posted, then we filled in all the details we could remember and constructed this Blog! And even though the event happened in 2013 we still hope you will enjoy this Blog for TravelTuesday in 2017!

We were invited to attend the GBTA 2013 Convention as a “Hosted Buyer”, but we had prior commitments and could only attend the first and second day of the event. So we made a one-night hotel reservation and arranged to attend the “preview day” on Sunday and the first day on Monday.

GBTA 2013 Convention Schedule for Sunday and Monday:
(Vendor Parties not shown) CLICK to SEE A LARGER PIC!

Road Trip to San Diego! – Ride along with me!

It was a foggy Sunday morning when we woke up very early and hit the road to San Diego. We left the San Fernando Valley at 7am to avoid traffic and drove south on the 405 and 5 freeways for about three hours. We were successful and drove fast (we also took pictures as we went) but other drivers were driving really fast! We were really amazed at the speed of some of the cars passing us at very high speeds like we were parked.

17553877_1746779458681946_3963916498341627424_n

GBTA 2013! – On The Road to San Diego (405 freeway south to 5 freeway south)

Ride along with me to San Diego, just click on the pics below:

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

17553751_1746792335347325_5962985259958240043_n

GBTA 2013! – Downtown San Diego

Embassy Suites Hotel Downtown San Diego (A Hilton Hotel)

17626144_1746782832014942_3071341242862283911_n

GBTA 2013! – Embassy Suites Hotel Downtown San Diego

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

17626520_1746785182014707_3709570407702883265_n

GBTA 2013! – Embassy Suites Hotel Downtown San Diego Atrium & Skylight

We arrived in San Diego and found our hotel, the Embassy Suites Downtown, sometime after 9am. We found metered street parking two blocks away from the hotel which was FREE and available because it was Sunday. We walked over to the hotel, had breakfast at the complimentary buffet and got an early check in.

1175018_709396115753624_1082540433_n

GBTA 2013! – Breakfast Buffet at the Embassy Suites Hotel Downtown San Diego

We went up to the room, checked it out and dropped our luggage. We set up the laptop, hooked into the hotel’s wi-fi and did our morning business via the internet and cell phone.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

After a short time in the room, we walked over to the Hyatt Regency and caught the Free Shuttle to the Convention Center.

Sunday was a “preview” day, so it was not very crowded, just busy. There were a lot of people checking in and the vendors and staff were making preparations for the week ahead. The Exhibition Hall didn’t open until Monday, but we were invited to the “First-Timers” lunch and the Welcome Party at the Hilton on Sunday evening.

IMG07191-20130805-1859

GBTA 2013! Global Business Travel Association Convention in San Diego

We rode the shuttle to the Convention Center, walked to Check-In, checked in and got our credentials, and then we walked to the “first timers” lunch in an adjacent meeting hall.

17554191_1746792728680619_8103678101311925841_n

GBTA 2013! – San Diego Convention Center

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

17458235_1746780512015174_8660700981282228145_n

GBTA 2013! – “First Timers” Lunch, Orientation and Welcome

On The Menu: Turkey sandwich with mozzarella cheese balls, lettuce & tomato and a slice of apple pie with iced tea, water and coffee

17554037_1746780635348495_8493750506164932165_n

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

After lunch, we attended the “Going Global” session, walked around the Convention Center and then we walked to the shuttle pickup point, rode the shuttle back to the Hyatt and then walked back to our hotel. We cleaned up and enjoyed a free cocktail and complimentary appetizers at the Embassy Suites’ afternoon Happy Hour downstairs.

1002342_709397225753513_1885518280_n

GBTA 2013 Welcome Reception Party Buffet at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront

After the Happy Hour we drove over to the Hilton Bayfront Hotel and paid $15 to park for the Welcome Reception and Party on the Great Lawn which runs along the Marina.  An outdoor evening buffet for 7000 people or so, with beer/wine and magaritas at the bar.

17554313_1746796485346910_9109142267184444348_n

GBTA 2013! – Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego

17629614_1746782742014951_981509755597842307_n

GBTA 2013! – Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego

NOTE: It was a huge convention! Every hotel in San Diego remotely close to the Convention Center was at capacity and filled with Travel Agents, Vendors, Travel Writers and other attendees from all over the United States and other parts of the world. We commented on the size of the crowd to a staff person at the Convention Center and they just laughed because Comic-Con had been in town the week before and the size of GBTA convention wasn’t even close to the overflow crowd for Comic-Con.

1090982_395357487235796_1525339426_o

GBTA 2013 Welcome Reception Party on the Great Lawn – the Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego

553072_395251243913087_567676434_n

GBTA 2103 Welcome Reception Party on the Great Lawn – the Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego

On The Menu at the Welcome Reception Party Buffet at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront:
Buffalo chicken meatballs, lamb meatballs in a tomato sauce, pasta in lobster sauce, pita chips and a bunch of types of hummus, prime rib sliders with cheese, chicken potstickers, veggie potstickers, pork potstickers, other stuff too, and then on to the dessert table! Nice truffle selection, chocolate covered strawberries, candy lollipops in a bunch of weird flavors and mini-pastries…

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

17523391_1746788602014365_8101338105313363499_n

GBTA 2013! – Sunset Over A Sea of Travel Industry at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

We walked to over to Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant for the next party. It was a long “Las Vegas” walk just after dark along the Marina and Bayfront to get to Roy’s, but it was worth it! We immediately regretted eating at the Welcome Party Buffet, because there was an amazing assortment of incredible food at Roy’s!

17554401_1746789858680906_7121924609214392609_n

GBTA 2013! – The Kitchen at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant in San Diego

There were all kinds of sushi and cut rolls, egg rolls, chicken and beef satay skewers, Hawaiian style ribs, other tasty appetizers and finger foods, fresh fruit and a lot of fancy desserts. We ate and drank and networked until it got too crowded inside the large restaurant and we didn’t take any pictures (except the one of the kitchen above). We left the party early and took a little food “to go” for later at the hotel. We didn’t want to do anymore walking or make the long dark walk back to the Hilton parking structure, so we negotiated with a pedal cab guy and survived a really fast and wild nighttime ride back to the hotel along the Bayfront for $10+tip.

We walked to our car and drove back to the Embassy Suites. We valet parked our car at the hotel and retired to our hotel room. We did some work, ate the “to go” food (ribs, sushi and little chocolate balls) after midnight and went to bed.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

Monday morning, we were up early and we enjoyed the Embassy Suites’ breakfast buffet again. We took the food up to the room, ate and did some more work, and then packed up our stuff, went downstairs and had a second breakfast. After eating again we got our stuff and checked out of the hotel. We picked up the car from the valet, drove to over the Convention Center and paid to park there. Parking was $15 for all day until midnight.

17553981_1746782218681670_2941245312581230576_n

GBTA 2013! – Embassy Suites Hotel Breakfast Buffet (in the room)

We arrived in time and got a pretty good seat for the Keynote Address and Lunch for 6000 people with a presentation and performance by singer/songwriter Jewel. All of the front area tables were “Reserved” so we took a seat at a forward table in the first section behind the front area. The hall at the Convention Center was massive! Lunch for 6000 is not an easy task!

17352043_1746790542014171_8143690973405863549_n

GBTA 2013 Keynote Lunch with Jewel at the San Diego Convention Center

Monday’s GBTA 2013 Keynote Speaker Jewel performs
“Who Will Save Your Soul” live at the San Diego Convention Center

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW VIDEO>
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=703198789706690&set=vb.337421319696080&type=2&theater (facebook video)

On The Menu: iceberg lettuce salad, bread & butter, stuffed chicken breast with pesto sauce, vegetables, a fruit tart dessert and iced tea.

After lunch they opened the massive Exposition Hall which ran the entire length of the Convention Center and was filled with Vendors and Suppliers. There were also Vendor meetings scheduled for the afternoon. We walked a portion of the Exhibition Hall, collected brochures/information/swag and received invitations to events later on that evening and later in the week. It would have been impossible to cover the whole Exhibition Hall in one day, so we didn’t try. Instead we did what we could between 3-6pm and dropped all the promotional material in our car before beginning the evening activities.

IMG07227-20130805-2036

GBTA 2013! – The Gaslamp District Sign in San Diego

The Gaslamp District!
The Historic Heart of San Diego is located across the street and train tracks from the Convention Center. Bars, clubs, restaurants, hotels and plenty of gift shops are within easy walking distance (unless you’ve already walked all day).

Let’s get this party started!
We were invited to eight different parties happening at different locations around the Gaslamp District and the Bayfront near the Convention Center.

Monday Party # 1 – Sunset cocktails and dinner at the Altitude Lounge

Our first invitation was for a party at the Altitude Lounge on top of the Marriott Gaslamp Hotel. We walked over to the Marriott Hotel next door to the Convention Center, but it was the wrong Marriott. So then we walked over to the Gaslamp District and found the right hotel. We ate and drank and watched the sunset from the rooftop patio.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

Excellent view of San Diego and Mission Bay from the outdoor patio!

1084963_395669733871238_1505716805_o copy

GBTA 2013! View from the Altitude Lounge in San Diego

IMG07193-20130805-1921

GBTA 2013! – View of Petco Park from the Altitude Lounge in San Diego

17554255_1746797062013519_2222312365938343941_n

GBTA 2013! – Sunset in San Diego from the Altitude Lounge

On The Menu: tray passed appetizers and a buffet with eggrolls, beef on toast, beef and chicken satay, tuna on wonton crisp, crab on cracker, pita bread and hummus and more… catered by Flemings Steakhouse!

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

Monday Party #2 –
We crashed The Parking Spot Party at Lou & Mickey’s at the Gaslamp

17457316_1746803965346162_4020095511995449363_n

GBTA 2013! – The Parking Spot Party at Lou & Mickey’s at the Gaslamp

We left the party and walked across the street and crashed The Parking Spot’s party at Lou & Mickey’s restaurant. We ate and drank and met the nice folks from The Parking Spot and told them we crashed their party. They didn’t mind. Their party ended early, and the place emptied as the crowd left for other parties that were just getting started.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

Monday Party #3 – GBTA 2013 “AMPED” Party at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego!

16640958_1683276538365572_3227897538626854_n

GBTA 2013! – Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Guitar at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

We walked over to our next event: the AMPED party at the Hard Rock Hotel! We ate and drank and met a bunch of really nice people. It started slow but soon the crowd at the main bar was five people deep, the music was rockin’ and it got pretty hopping.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

This party was on a very large rooftop patio, with several permanent bars, a couch area with fire pits and portable heaters, several floating bars and a bunch of buffet stations with a great selection of food. There was good music, of course, and a stage was set up for performance, but it didn’t get used until later. There was even a photo booth for taking pictures with silly wigs, hats and props.

1146621_709390049087564_1631960540_n

GBTA 2013! – Buffet Station at the AMPED Party at the Hard Rock Hotel

We asked permission before taking these pics of one of the Go-Go Dancers on a raised pedestal (there were several). She said “Go ahead, I don’t see why not” and posed for the first one. And she was a fantastic dancer too!

Monday Party #4 – Level Skye Club at the Andaz Hotel in San Diego!

1006299_709397212420181_1826982491_n

GBTA 2013! – The Bar at Level Skye Club at the Andaz Hotel in San Diego

We had one more party to check out or we would have just stayed at the Hard Rock, instead we left the hotel and walked over to Level Skye Club at the Andaz Hotel. We walked a lot and we were wearing our dress shoes, so by the end of the night our feet were really hurting. We were also tired from a long day at the convention and a long night of partying.
When we got to the club the upstairs was deceptively quiet because downstairs in the basement it was raging! The party at Level Skye was really “off-the-hook” with funky dance music and lots of light and a lot of drunk travel agents. Travel industry people love to party! Thanks American Express!

971192_395675677203977_385615913_n

GBTA 2013! – Big Party at Level Skye Club in the Andaz Hotel Basement in San Diego

We didn’t eat or drink anything alcoholic because we still had to walk back to the car and drive home to Los Angeles. So, Monday late night we walked back to the car on sore feet before they closed the Convention Center Garage for the night (at midnight).

17554116_1746789172014308_8462317270871650551_n

GBTA 2013! – San Diego Convention Center Parking ($15 all day – closes at midnight)

We drove back to Los Angeles on the 5 freeway north after midnight and hit a impossible “Stop-and-Go” traffic jam along the way because of construction at 2am in the morning.

When we finally made it home after 3am, we unloaded the car and crashed hard. We had a really good time, did a lot of business and networking, saw Jewel play live music, enjoyed our “budget” stay at the Embassy Suites, and ate and drank and danced and partied in San Diego for two days.

NOTE: We did a lot of walking, a whole lot of walking in our dress shoes, so next time we bring and wear more comfortable walking shoes.

17522544_1746807708679121_5693242715933493136_n

GBTA 2013! – San Diego Convention Center Stairs at Night

Use the links below to FOLLOW and LIKE us on other social media!
RIGHT CLICK and “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW LINKS>

RETURN TO HOMEPAGE> http://www.joshwilltravel.wordpress.com
LIKE & FRIEND us on Facebook> http://www.facebook.com/joshwilltravel
FOLLOW us on Periscope> http://www.periscope.tv/joshwilltravel
FOLLOW us on Twitter> http://www.twitter.com/joshwilltravel

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW OUR YOUTUBE PAGE!>
The “JoshWillTravel AdventureScope” is now available on Youtube!
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoP3QQfRTfD-2eABWVd-JwQ

17626604_1746784792014746_2501126087404452607_n

GBTA 2013! – We did not attend GBTA 2014 in Los Angeles

FINAL NOTE: We finished this Blog and hit “PUBLISH” and it did not. WordPress lost the Blog and the draft(s) totally disappeared! We had to use Google Cache to rescue it and then we had to start over and rebuild the original Blog again. Total waste of time. There is a flaw (BUG) in the wordpress program, because when we went looking for help we found that this has happened to other people as well. So, please ENJOY THIS BLOG, a lot of time went into it.



 

UPDATED Wednesday March 29, 2017 – We posted this Blog yesterday!

We collected a bunch of FREE stuff in the short time we were there, two bags full of stuff actually! Most was promotional “paper”: sell sheets, pamphlets, maps and brochures. But there was some fun giveaway stuff and cool “incentives” for visiting certain booths.

We were given a “Swag” bag at check-in provided/sponsored by Delta and the padded bag was very nice. We recently found it in Storage (see our previous Blog about Storage) and we are now using it as a laptop bag.

UPDATED April 5, 2017 – TRAVEL TIP!
We found these “hospitality cards” (restaurant and bar coupons, freebies, come-ons, etc.) from the San Diego trip. We had so much FREE food and drink and were only in town for one night, so we didn’t use any of them. They can be found at the Concierge Desk at the San Diego Convention Center (and these are just a few of the ones available).

17799353_1757167610976464_4847910702979018849_n

Hospitality Cards (Restaurant and Bar Coupons, Freebies, Come-Ons, etc.)

“Chinese Fast Food” Dinner at Good China Express in North Hollywood!

Good China Express! 

15380639_1594716627221564_9164686687700098149_n

Good China Express “Chinese Fast Food” in North Hollywood

“Chinese Fast Food” in NoHo on a Thursday night!

Hungry for dinner and driving around North Hollywood, the drive-thru line was too long at the In-N-Out Burger as usual, so we decided on Good China Express “Chinese Fast Food”.  The restaurant is located in the corner mini-mall, next to a check cashing place, across the street from the Sears at Laurel Canyon and Victory.

15492168_1594716630554897_2938273317411574220_n

Good China Express “Chinese Fast Food” in North Hollywood

We’ve eaten here before, but not in a long time. It’s very clean and has an “A” rating. It’s a Chinese hot table buffet restaurant like Panda Express and they have a nice selection of dishes to choose from. Menu choices are combination plates served with fried rice, chow mien, assorted side items and beverages. Quick and relatively inexpensive, you get a lot of food for the money. We took our food “to go”, put it on a plate and popped it in the microwave to heat it up when we reached our destination, and enjoyed a big, hot and tasty dinner.

15356731_1594716637221563_1219717648977762801_n

Good China Express “Chinese Fast Food” in North Hollywood

 

On The Menu: “Combo B” Two items: orange chicken, beef with broccoli and all fried rice (no chow mien) to go for $7.00 and a can of club soda to drink.

15319135_1594716633888230_7960212332194502223_n

Good China Express – “Combo B” 2 items with all fried rice (no chow mien)

Good China Express –  12102 1/2 Victory (at Laurel Canyon) in North Hollywood

All photos copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel

Use the links below to FOLLOW and LIKE us on other social media!

RIGHT CLICK and “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW LINKS>

LIKE us on Facebook> http://www.facebook.com/joshwilltravel

FOLLOW us on Twitter and Periscope> http://www.periscope.tv/joshwilltravel

RETURN TO HOMEPAGE: http://www.joshwilltravel.wordpress.com

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW OUR YOUTUBE PAGE!>

The “JoshWillTravel AdventureScope” is now available on Youtube!>
(And our Periscope videos from Katch are now posted on YouTube)
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoP3QQfRTfD-2eABWVd-JwQ

http://www.twitter.com/joshwilltravel

 

 

 

Party at the Culver Hotel in Culver City

Graduation and Dinner Party at the Culver Hotel in Culver City on Sunday night!

THIS BLOG IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION!
WORDPRESS BUG IS CAUSING THE PAGE TO FREEZE AGAIN
FORCED TO PUBLISH OR LOSE THE WORK!
Last update: Tuesday, May 17, 2016

13256358_1391343937558835_6155077770891649916_n

The Culver Hotel in Culver City, California

A beautiful Sunday evening in Los Angeles and an invitation to a Graduation and Dinner Party at the historic Culver Hotel in Culver City, California.

13177903_1390715254288370_4685192801280195835_n

The Culver Hotel and The Lion’s Fountain in Culver City

The party was called for 6pm, so we left the San Fernando Valley a little after 5 o’clock, and drove the 405 freeway to the Venice Blvd exit and into Culver City. We decided not to valet park or park in the public parking structures, so we drove around for a little while and finally nabbed street parking at a metered space. The meters don’t run on Sunday, so we took a short walk and arrived at our destination right on time.

The 405 Freeway south (through a dirty windshield):

Downtown Culver City (founded 1917)

The intersection of Washington Blvd and Culver Blvd in downtown Culver City.

13256138_1393762560650306_1450222716047264750_n

View of Washington Blvd & Culver Blvd in Culver City from Harry Culver’s Office

Parking Sucks! There is metered street parking and there are public parking structures in Downtown Culver City (first hour free, then $1.00 every 30 minutes) in case you don’t want to valet park. However, you don’t have to pay to park at the meters on Sunday, so if you can find a space on the street, you’re golden. Be sure to check the signs carefully, because there are many restrictions and some other strange valet parking rules.

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW ON YOUTUBE> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVSLpa6OdQ8
Walk With Me: Sunday Evening in Downtown Culver City!

 

The Historic Culver Hotel 1924 Six Story Flatiron Brick Building

13239294_1391066437586585_8918082494942545410_n

The Culver Hotel in Culver City, California

National Registry of Historic Places 1997

13178749_1391066420919920_8827592355961667123_n

The Culver Hotel in Culver City, California

 

 

13240527_1391066510919911_1040029621311237499_n

13241143_1391066424253253_5090189073870324599_n

13263921_1393763270650235_5226234603365261872_n

Built by Harry Culver, the founder of Culver City. Originally named the Hotel Hunt and later known as the Culver City Hotel. Culver had offices on the second floor of the hotel.

003

Harry Culver’s Office (Then)

13226735_1391027997590429_5784335080843509675_n

Harry Culver’s Office (Now)

Culver City became a movie-making mecca in the 1920s and was the home of MGM Studios. Many legendary Hollywood stars maintained private residences and cast members from classic films like Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz  (including the 124 actors who played the Munchkins) were guests of the hotel.

The hotel was later owned by Charlie Chaplin. Legend has it Chaplin lost the property in a poker game to John Wayne, who owned the hotel for several years and eventually donated it to the YMCA.  The property fell into disrepair, was boarded up for a time and almost demolished in the 1980s.

Dwight D. Eisenhower had a Presidential campaign office in the hotel in 1952.

The Culver Hotel was restored and reopened by Lou Catlett in the mid 90’s and was then purchased by Abraham Hu who ran it for several years until 2007, when he sold it to the Mallick family. Since 2007, the entire plumbing and electrical systems have been upgraded and the guestrooms and the public spaces have been redone, all 140 handmade windows in the guest rooms have been replaced while maintaining the property’s history and architectural integrity.

13179461_1391066430919919_4484163407407090081_n

ICP Graduation 2016 and Dinner Party on the 2nd Floor

13244892_1391343944225501_7006407814179652846_n

 

13254267_1391343870892175_8791523328586466094_n

Diplomas were awarded and Speeches were made before Dinner

6pm Reception, Cocktail Hour & Hors d’oeuvres
7pm Welcome, Introduction, Graduation Speaker & Graduation
8pm Dinner & 9pm Dessert (with a brief award presentation in between)

On The Menu: Tray passed appetizers: mac’n’cheese, tuna poke with wasabi cream cheese and bruschetta with cream cheese & tomato; red wine, Buffet: chicken, salmon, pasta in red sauce, roasted cauliflower/broccolini/root vegetables and a coke; Dessert: mini cannoli and macaroons….didn’t stay for coffee.

13256394_1390736717619557_4863095068022216134_n

Party at the Culver Hotel in Culver City

RIGHT CLICK AND OPEN IN NEW WINDOW TO VIEW LARGER PIC AND GALLERY>

 

13245262_1391343934225502_4516823826430561930_n

The Ground Floor Lobby and Bar are used for special events. There was a wedding in progress and we took a couple pictures on our way out.

Culver Hotel9400 Culver Blvd Culver City, CA 90232

All Photos copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel

Our Periscope videos from Katch are now on YouTube:
RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW OUR YOUTUBE PAGE!>
The “JoshWillTravel AdventureScope” is now available on Youtube!> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoP3QQfRTfD-2eABWVd-JwQ

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW THE VIDEO ON YOUTUBE>
Walk With Me: Sunday Evening in Downtown Culver City! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVSLpa6OdQ8

RIGHT CLICK and “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO VIEW LINKS>

http://www.facebook.com/joshwilltravel
http://www.twitter.com/joshwilltravel

http://www.periscope.tv/joshwilltravel

RETURN TO HOMEPAGE: http://www.joshwilltravel.wordpress.com

13245298_1390813747611854_6566049338767359827_n

A couple of my travel answers about South Lake Tahoe

A couple of travel answers about South Lake Tahoe:

Q: Nice hotels in South Lake Tahoe? I will be traveling to Reno/ Lake Tahoe in the beginning of December and I’m having a tough time figuring out where to stay. I would like to stay between 100-150.00 a night. Any suggestions? I have looked at the Hyatt and Harrahs but wanted to try something maybe a little less corporate. Not much of a skier so I’m trying to stay away from big ski lodges. ~Stacey B., Denver

Aston Lakeland Village (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Aston Lakeland Village (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

A: Aston Lakeland Village Resort in South Lake Tahoe is a pretty good value. The lodge rooms are nice (and some have full kitchenettes if you like to cook on your own to save money). The property is right on the lake so you can walk down to the beach and watch the sunset. There are tennis courts and 2 swimming pools, a jacuzzi spa, laundry room and free coffee too. The property is a 10-15 minute drive from state line and the casinos: Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Harveys Lake Tahoe, MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa and the new Hard Rock Cafe Lake Tahoe. It’s definitely not corporate and there are lots of walking paths and tall pine trees on site. For less expensive accommodation options try the motels along Hwy 50 Lake Tahoe Blvd. (Watch out for the Police and Don’t Speed!)

————————————————————————————————–

Q: Best bars and restaurants in South Lake / near Heavenly? In a few weeks I’ll be spending a weekend snowboarding at Heavenly Mountain in South Lake Tahoe (and will be staying at the new Hard Rock Hotel). What are some of best places to eat in the area? I’m specifically interested in good breakfast spots and must-visit places for dinner (from $-$$$$ I’m open to all suggestions). Also, if there are any great bars (especially those with a great beer selection) I’d love to know. Thanks! ~Trevor M., Los Angeles

A: The Forrest Buffet at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe in South Lake Tahoe is pretty good. It’s on the 18th floor and has a great view of the lake and mountains. If you time it right you can watch the sunset while you dine. “All You Can Eat”, there’s a lot of good stuff on the dinner and Saturday/Sunday brunch (sorry no breakfast or lunch) menus and it’s a pretty good value for the price in my opinion. (and you can usually find a coupon for a few dollars off per person)

http://www.facebook.com/joshwilltravelhttp://www.twitter.com/joshwilltravel

RETURN TO HOMEPAGE: http://www.joshwilltravel.wordpress.com

Lake Tahoe Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Lake Tahoe Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

 

A couple more travel answers about Las Vegas

A couple more travel answers about Las Vegas:

4f8d874fe4b067794ba2b3bf_pm9

Q: Best Buffet for the money in Vegas? I’m heading to Vegas and naturally looking for the best all you can eat buffets that will put all other buffets to shame. What are your favorites and why? ~ Cameron W., Los Angeles

A: Best Buffet in Las Vegas?

The Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace, The Buffet at Bellagio, and The Buffet at Wynn are three of the best ($$$). I also like the Flavors Buffet at Harrah’s which is less expensive and has a huge variety of good things on the menu (and you can usually find coupons for Flavors and save $5 per person on the regular $18-$30 price)

NOTE: I ate at the MGM Grand buffet last year and it was TERRIBLE! It was the worst buffet I’ve ever eaten at in Vegas. The food looked good but literally everything was cold and tasteless…. I would also advise avoiding the buffet at Circus Circus.

—————————————————————————————————

Q: Which hotel would you choose?

Having some difficulty choosing my hotel for my next trip to Vegas.  I actually have a reservation at the newer SLS hotel but am hesitant about it. Hesitant simply because it’s on the North side of the strip which I don’t usually stay. Everything I want to do/see is on the South end. So do I try out the newer hotel with a really nice room or go with something else location wise? Which would you choose and why? ~Karen H., Maryland

SLS –  Lux Deluxe King – Corner High Floor With extra wind – got a great Cyber Monday deal on the room at 1/2 off the regular price.  Price $122 per night

Tropicana –  either a 1 KING BALCONY W/POOL VIEW – BUNGALOW or 1 KING 2 ROOM SUITE – CLUB TOWER Suite.  price either $88 or $100 per night

Treasure Island –  Petite Suite or Tower Suite at $98 per night or $115 per night.

A: SLS Las Vegas Hotel, Tropicana Las Vegas, or Treasure Island?

Tropicana Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Tropicana Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The Tropicana has the advantage of being across the street from the MGM Grand Las Vegas (lots of great restaurants just don’t eat at the buffet) and monorail adjacent (which will save you time and money). Spend the extra money on the Suite and ask them to waive the resort fee. Get a monorail pass and you have transit access to Bally’s & Paris, the Flamingo & Caesar’s, Harrah’s & the Linq, and the other “center Strip” hotels: Mirage, Bellagio, Monte Carlo, the Venetian, etc. And also off-strip to the Westgate (Las Vegas Hilton) and SLS (the Sahara) at the north end.

http://www.facebook.com/joshwilltravelhttp://www.twitter.com/joshwilltravel

RETURN TO HOMEPAGE: http://www.joshwilltravel.wordpress.com

Dinner at Taj Mahal Cuisine of India in Encino

Dinner at Taj Mahal Cuisine of India in Encino 

Dinner at Taj Mahal (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Upstairs in one of the weirdest “strip malls” in the San Fernando valley, is the Taj Mahal Cuisine of India restaurant. Climb the stairs (or ride the elevator) to this fantastic dining establishment and enjoy a wonderful culinary experience!

There’s usually street parking (metered 8am-8pm) available on Ventura Blvd. There are a few spaces in the small parking area in front, and many spaces in a very large underground garage below the mall…and it’s FREE. No valet parking surcharge!

The restaurant is a “mom and pop operation”: mom manages the restaurant and pop runs the deliveries and catering. The space has a sterile, modern design with big windows and lots of light during the day and it is always clean. When you enter, you’ll be greeted by the wonderful aromas of fragrant and exotic food cooking in the kitchen. They also have an outside patio dining area with a nice view of Ventura Boulevard and the Ralph’s parking lot across the street. (yes, it’s the valley)

Dinner at Taj Mahal (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal – Dine In, Take Out or Call for Delivery! (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Amazing Indian Food!

Dinner at Taj Mahal (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal – Menu and a Mango Lassi smoothie (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ON THE MENU: Crispy flatbread crackers served with spicy sauces, Chicken Coconut Curry, Chicken Tikka (Tandoori style), Bangin Bharta (eggplant), Basmati Rice, Peshwari Naan (warm flatbread with fruit and nuts), Raita (yogurt), Mango Chutney, and a Mango Lassi (smoothie).

Dinner at Taj Mahal (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal – crispy flatbread cracker w/spicy sauces (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

For starters, there’s a crispy flatbread cracker served with spicy sauces and pickled root veggies. We like to order their mango chutney, which is sweet, tangy and delicious.

Dinner at Taj Mahal (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal – Mango Chutney (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal – Starter (“bread”) plate (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

They have a wonderful selection of fresh baked naans and kulchas (seasoned breads) served warm out of the oven. I really like the garlic naan and onion kulcha, and they have a fantastic Peshwari naan with fruit and nuts baked in. Have it as an appetizer or with dinner.

Dinner at Taj Mahal (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal – Peshwari Naan, flatbread w/fruit & nuts (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal - Onion Kulcha and Mango Chutney (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal – Onion Kulcha and Mango Chutney (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

They have terrific appetizers. I like the Samosas.

Dinner at Taj Mahal - Samosa Appetizer (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal – Samosa Appetizer (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

They have a great menu! There’s a good variety of chicken, lamb, fish and vegetarian dishes (no beef, of course). In addition to the tasty appetizers, they have wonderful soups and a unique dessert list.

Each flavorful entree is served with tasty basmati rice and raita (seasoned yogurt). My favorite dish is the chicken coconut curry, which can also be done with lamb. The Tandoori chicken is also a good choice, and is served sizzling on a skillet with grilled onions. Have it on the bone or served without bones as chicken tikka.

All of the food is constructed with a mix of spices that delivers a real taste of Indian home cooking. I’ve tried some of their other dishes on previous visits and without exception they have all been excellent. They use a wide range of ingredients and there’s something on the menu for every taste. The cooking is traditional Indian style, but the taste is extraordinary!

Dinner at Taj Mahal (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal – Bangin Bharta (Eggplant), Chicken Coconut Curry, and Chicken Tikka Tandoori Style (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Bangin Bharta is a spicy vegetarian dish made with eggplant and peas, and like all the main dishes you can request it “mild, medium, or hot”.

Dinner at Taj Mahal (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal – Raita, seasoned yogurt (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal – Chicken Coconut Curry, Chicken Tikka (Tandoori style), Bangin Bharta (eggplant), Raita and Basmati Rice  (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

I love this restaurant and we come here often for dinner and sometimes have it delivered. They’ve also catered several large parties for us at our home. The food was excellent and it’s easy to serve buffet style (they’ll even provide the chafing dishes).

They also have the classic “all you can eat” lunch buffet and a champagne Sunday brunch at a great price! They advertise in local “coupon mailers” and offer discounts on the buffet and brunch as well as 2-for-1 entrees ($10 off) when you dine in with coupon. There’s also a nice selection of beer and wine available, again at very reasonable prices!

NOTE: the only thing that I’ve found to be annoying at Taj Mahal is the service. My advice is to request anything you need or want when there is someone at your table. If you ASK for ice, extra napkins, additional beverages, water refill, and the check, rather than waiting for service or someone to ask, you will have a much better experience!

There’s also one more thing I don’t like (this is my own personal opinion) and that’s that they’ll plate your food at the table for you, as part of the service. Some people enjoy being served this way, but I prefer to serve myself and determine my own portions and placement of food on the plate. So, I usually tell them “thanks, I’ll just serve myself.”

Dinner at Taj Mahal (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal – Cooking in the Kitchen! (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

 Taj Mahal Cuisine of India17815 Ventura Blvd, Ste 201, Encino, California 91316 818-345-2244 http://www.tajmahaldining.com

http://www.facebook.com/joshwilltravelhttp://www.twitter.com/joshwilltravel

Dinner at Taj Mahal - Mango Lassi, pickled veggies & crispy flatbread cracker (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Taj Mahal – Mango Lassi, pickled root veggies, spicy sauces & crispy flatbread cracker (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)


UPDATE December 17, 2016:
We enjoyed “take out” from Taj Mahal last night and it was great!
This is, in my opinion, the best Indian food in the San Fernando Valley!

On the Menu: chicken coconut curry, chicken tikka masala, banging bharta (eggplant puree with peas), basmati rice, raita (yogurt with cucumber and dill), mango chutney and Peshwari naan (flatbread with dried fruit & nuts).

15590053_1606364826056744_2826906761643357892_n

 

UPDATED Friday April 7, 2017

We enjoyed another fantastic dinner at Taj Mahal Cuisine of India tonight!