As a resident of Los Angeles, I’ve become a bit desensitized to the concept of a VIP. Seems everyone I meet is only a couple of steps removed from some rock god or movie star, but living in such close and constant proximity to the rich and famous did nothing to prepare me for the extravagant weekend Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas had prepared for me (and a slew of other lucky media personal) in celebration of the ten-year anniversary of REHAB, the resort’s decadent day club.
With my husband (and LA Music Blog co-founder) Mike by my side, I checked into the massive hotel Friday afternoon with apprehension and excitement. I’d never been to Vegas before, and ever since receiving the email invite just weeks prior to the event, I’d been very skeptical about the whole thing. Really? You’re going to put me and a guest up for three whole nights AND feed us AND hook us up with tickets to see Prince? Prince? It all sounded far too good to be true, but all worries that I’d somehow fallen into a timeshare trap drifted away the moment I entered our room.
Situated on the 16th floor of the Paradise Tower with a pool view, the room was, in a word, sweet, and it set the tone for the whole weekend. The television was on and tuned to a music channel, a mini guitar case gift basket was filled with tasty delights, and the black leather trim adorning the room made it clear that this wasn’t just a hotel. This was the HARD ROCK hotel. I now understood why the resort chose to show a rag tag group of bloggers and journalists a good time in lieu of renting extra ad space or securing celebrity endorsements — they had a great product, so why not simply show it off?
After meeting the amazing Hard Rock staff at one of the relaxing Spa Villas (and catching a bit of the NFL draft in the process — go Steelers!), we headed over to Culinary Dropout for the first meal of our trip, which turned out to be my personal favorite. This gastro pub was the epitome of rock star cool with a uniform-free, heavily tatted waitstaff and a menu that seemed just as suited for post-concert room service as an early dinner with my husband.
That evening the VIP treatment continued with a reserved table at Body English Nightclub & Afterhours, complete with bottle service and a straight view of the packed dance floor where 20-something singles mingled as I admired their outfits and amused myself with their lack of inhibition. This was clearly the place to be for guests looking to go wild, but as I’m a bigger fan of down comforters than getting down, we headed back to the room after a couple of drinks and fell asleep to the sound of music drifting up from the pool area sixteen stories below (it didn’t end until 3AM, so I’d recommend against a pool view if you’re a light sleeper).
Saturday began with a delicious breakfast at Mr. Lucky’s, a 24-hour diner situated just off the casino floor and with French toast so good, I ordered it again the very next morning. We spent the rest of the day exploring the resort and trying our hands at the penny slots (high rollers, I know), before another mouthwatering meal, this time at 35 Steaks + Martinis (noticing a pattern with the food?).
Then it was time for the main musical event: Prince! We joined the rest of the media in a luxe balcony suite to catch the artist’s third of four shows at The Joint in just two days, and he certainly delivered on our high expectations. Backed by 3rdEyeGirl and packing more charisma and attitude in his five-foot-two-inch frame than most five-piece rock bands, Prince was a dynamo, dancing, singing, and engaging the crowd throughout his lengthy set (check out the full setlist on Live Music Blog). How he could possibly have the energy to give a SECOND performance after ours completely blows my mind, and if you can score tickets to one of his shows at the Grove in Anaheim next week, I suggest you do.
After Round 2 with Mr. Lucky’s French toast (I came out the big winner), we donned our swimsuits and headed out to the pool area to partake in Hard Rock Hotel’s infamous beachlife. The VIP treatment continued with a private press cabana, bottle service, and the best sliders I’ve ever eaten, all soundtracked by DJ sets from Destructo and Justice. Yes, that Justice.
I spent the afternoon alternating between chilling in the cabana and seriously chilling in the pool (the water was freezing for just a moment upon entering before quickly feeling divine), and as someone who never ventured down to Daytona Beach or Cancun during my college years, I felt like I was experiencing spring break but without any looming midterms or pinched pennies.
As was the norm the entire weekend, the staff was simply amazing, keeping a whole lot of alcohol-imbibing people happy and safe, and my time spent soaking up the rays while listening to great music (Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” was a crowd favorite) was the highlight of my weekend.
We closed out the festivities with dinner at Fu, a Pan-Asian restaurant that just opened in November, and while overall the food wasn’t my favorite of the weekend, a few dishes did stand out (I could have eaten a dozen of the curry lobster puffs and the miso sea bass in lettuce cups was unlike anything I’d ever tasted before, in a very good way).
A few more dollars on the slot machines, and we were ready for bed after a weekend that was somehow both relaxing and exhausting, which I imagine pretty accurately describes the rock star lifestyle. Now if we only could have managed a private plane for the trip home…
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