Las Vegas Strip early morning from Mandalay Bay, 15th floor. Kind of blurry; like my stay there.There’s a lot of flesh in Las Vegas.

I know – so what else is news, right?

Given my general dislike of fakery and skepticism about Vegas before my first visit there this past week (for BlogWorld and New Media Expo, ’cause ya gotta go where the geeks are to get ahead of them) I want to report that I actually had a pretty good time and look forward to returning.

Whoa, did I just type that? Um, yes.

Here’s what I brought home as impressions….

***   There are more amazing restaurants than you can shake a stick at, run by renowned chefs and many clustered in a single resort like the MGM Grand or the Mandalay Bay (where I stayed.)  Below the top-shelf food offerings, though, is something of an overpriced vast wasteland with long lines.  Bring PowerBars for the between-expensive-meals starvation.

***   There’s a lot of flesh bared by people who are deluded that they look good in skintight outfits.  Yeah, I said it. We’re not that into you, even at midnight, in a casino.  Skank-o-Rama.

***   My hotel room had chilled vodka and tequila, but no coffee maker. Priorities!

***   Everything is pretty spread out along the Strip and you’ll do a ton of walking. Cabs are not cheap and the monorail system is not very efficient. I love to walk but didn’t expect quite that much of it so didn’t bring enough Rockport-ish shoes.

My business partner Becky McCray and I at a BlogWorld dinner 2010

***   I got a great perspective on the fake places like New York, New York, the Mini Me Eiffel Tower, etc.  Gary Arndt, who writes the blog Everything Everywhere, said to look at them like a Beatles tribute band – not the real thing, but a nice version of it.  I can live with that.

***   The people-watching there is simply unparalleled.  I sat outside of the House of Blues and watched some fairly decent half-nude dancers, a bar fight and families going by in strollers.  All in the same half-hour.

***   You can make a run out to see Hoover Dam for a morning or afternoon (takes about 3-4 hours including transit, and depending on traffic.)  It is a magnificent piece of architecture and well worth the jaunt.

***   Be ready for wallet thump, at least at the major resorts. US$4.99 ATM fees. US$5.00 to access the internet from a kiosk so you can check into a flight, then US$1.50 to print the boarding pass. My favorite bourbon and Coke? US$8 – 11.  I seriously considered bringing a flask, and I’m 49 and did college cheapo life already. Isn’t that pathetic?

***  Most Vegas resort properties totally “get” social media and are all over Twitter and Facebook. The Las Vegas CVB? Not terribly responsive on those channels. A missed opportunity, I think.

***   The lights on the Strip at night are really stunning. My favorite was the glass pyramid Luxor resort, with moving lights along the pyramid edges and a big spotlight shooting out of the top.  I was always kind of sad when it turned off around 6 am.

***   The air is super-dry and you MUST drink water….a lot of it….all day and night. Despite my best efforts, I had a dehydration headache the first two mornings till I could hit it with some Tylenol and massive Starbucks infusion. Bring a bottle of acetaminophen with you, or fork over for it in the hotel convenience stores.

***  Each and every staff person I met, at every resort and at every level, was unfailingly nice, enthusiastic and welcoming.

I think we’re going to bring the new Tourism track back to BlogWorld in 2011, so I’ll have a chance to dig deeper into this quirky city.

Thanks to all of you who told me to approach it with an open mind, and have fun. I did and it worked!

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