What an opportunity! Working in travel, we are lucky enough to visit some amazing locations, and I can honestly say that this was the trip of a lifetime!
We started in beautiful sunny San Diego, and the finale was the entertainment capital of America – Las Vegas.
I hadn’t formed too much of an idea of San Diego, as I knew relatively little about it, and always thought that Las Vegas was not for me …
San Diego has uber trendy breweries & micro breweries a plenty. We visited one of the Karl Strauss sites. If you like shopping then ‘Fashion Valley’ is a stunning pristine mall, only walking distance from the Hotel Circle area. I loved the quaint hop-on-hop-off trolley tours, which took in the Island of Coronado, and the USS Midway Museum which was actually an enormous retired war ship (fun fact #1; the US Navy is San Diego’s main employer in the city). One stop along the way, we spent many happy hours in the Seaport Village, watching crooners whilst people danced in the square (I may have partaken!)
So it turns out that San Diego is massively a family destination, as well I discovered after visiting Legoland, Sea World, Sea Life and San Diego Zoo.
Now onto the subject of hotels…
My group stayed in the ‘Hotel Circle’ which is so named due to the majority of hotels being concentrated in this area. Our hotel was the 3.5* Handlery; a pleasant single storey hotel, centred around a courtyard pool area. The only downside to our stay was that the bar closed very early some evenings, however the staff could not do enough for you.
Then a quick visit to the tropically designed beach front property – the 4* Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa in La Jolla area, which is stunning! Dining in the ocean front restaurant watching the sunset was something to remember.
The 4* Kimpton Solamar, is in the Gaslamp area of downtown San Diego. A very trendy hotel, with rooftop pool and bar, complete with fire pit and private cabanas. A nice touch for guests is the daily ‘happy hour’ with complimentary drinks downstairs.
The final hotel was the Del Coronado, which is a luxury iconic Victorian property, set on El Coronado beach. (Fun fact no. 2; the classic film ‘Some like it hot’ was actually shot at the Del Coronado, also Baywatch was filmed at this beach).
If you are a nervous flyer, I’m afraid landing into McCarran International is not generally a pleasant experience. Circling the airport four times until it is safe to land, followed by four other aircraft, (not so fun fact no. 3; extreme turbulence is apparently common due to desert air pockets).
Recovering from this did not take long, as I was immediately blown away by our hotel for the duration – the Vdara. An all suite hotel part of MGM resorts. The view upon entering my room of the Vegas skyline at night was just WOW. The Vdara is actually one of the only hotels in Las Vegas without a casino, but worry not as there is an inside walkway straight to sister properties; the Bellagio & the Aria, both with plentiful gambling experiences.
The highlights for me were the fountains at night at the Bellagio, in procession to the music. Seeing Cirque du Soliel perform ‘Ka’ was both terrifying and awe inspiring at the same time. Dining on the Bellagio’s Grand Patio, overlooking the Mediterranean infused al-fresco pool area, was simply stunning.
Overall Vegas was pristinely clean, money orientated with a huge amount of bling, and an extremely entertaining destination.
Please also note all Gates Travel colleagues have a wealth of acquired travel knowledge and experiences, have recently also visited Bali and Hong Kong, the Maldives, cruises featuring Green Spain / Asturias and the Low Countries and Channel Isles plus a city break to Budapest.