LAS VEGAS – The rugged mountains are still visible between two towers as the sun comes up on the Las Vegas Strip, which is eerily quiet so early in the morning.
This particular vantage point at the Aria at CityCenter is a new one for me. The last time I was in Vegas was two years ago and this part of the Strip was topped by a multitude of cranes as this massive development went up.
Having just arrived on Sunday, we haven’t had much of a chance to explore and it will take some time to do that, but the first impression is it’s a beautiful hotel with about every convenience imaginable. When I first walked in my room, for example, the curtains automatically opened.
In ever-evolving Vegas, the Aria has yet to establish a character, which I’m sure will come with time, but there’s plenty of it out there, specifically of the golf variety.
We got a taste of that character on a visit to the clubhouse at the Las Vegas National Golf Club, the home of the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame, which introduced an exhibit of classic photos and memorabilia from the game in this city.
The Hall of Fame right now is antithesis of Vegas, a humble yet interesting place without glamour and glitz, but there has been plenty of that over the years with chapters that include the Rat Pack through to Justin Timberlake and Natalie Gulbis.
There have been some shady characters too with exorbitant amounts of money changing hands on Vegas golf courses over the years and one guy who spins these yarns in a colourful way is author and Vegas golf personality Jack Sheehan.
We’ll get into the colourful history of Vegas golf later on, but a visit there if you’re in town is worth it and there’s some reasonably-priced golf to be had at Las Vegas National, which we didn’t get to play, but is part of the character of this desert playground.
From what we were told, the greens are small and the fairways are tight and this was the edge of town, where celebrities galore had homes at one time.
Head professional Vic Wilk, who played on the Canadian Tour, said he would love to add a Canadian Tour event to his facility’s schedule of events, so we’ll see how that develops.
On Monday, we’re scheduled to play the Wynn course, which is where the old Desert Inn once stood and quite often had the Rat Pack teeing off. I’m kind of feeling like one of the bad boys myself after a bit of excess the first day on the bar and culinary fronts.
It seems like it’s been a parade of fabulous food from brunch at the Bellagio Fountain to dinner at Bradley Ogden at Caesar’s Palace, where not only did we enjoy a fabulous feast, but I also found an American bartender who knows how to make a good Bloody Caeser.
It makes sense doesn’t it? Good Caesars at Caesar’s. Too good. The head’s throbbing and the eyes are squinting as I look out at the desert landscape beyond the Strip.