Sometimes What Happens in Vegas Need Not Stay in Vegas
“The emotional bond between Las Vegas and its customers was freedom…to do things, see things, eat things, wear things, feel things. In short, the freedom to be someone we couldn’t be at home. And freedom from whatever we wanted to leave behind in our daily lives.”
– R&R Partners, the ad agency responsible for Las Vegas’s advertising campaign, “What Happens Here, Stays Here”
Okay, I hope I’m not going to get in trouble with my Vegas travel buddy for revealing TMI about our recent trip to Vegas – but we had an awful lot of good clean fun, so I think I’m safe 🙂
Vegas is a funny place: I think you either love it or hate it. Some people visit time and time again, whereas others go once just to see what all the fuss is about and then never return.
My friend, Alison, and I love it – which comes as a bit of a surprise to both of us because it is loud, expensive, over-the-top man-made/synthetic and neither of us gamble or party (well, okay, I do still party on the odd occasion but strangely enough, I never have in Vegas).
But we do both like to shop (Alison far more than I), walk, eat and get all dressed up and go to a show, so that’s exactly what we did (again) on our recent trip.
We stayed at the Mirage Hotel, partly because it was fairly reasonably priced, partly because it’s close to the Fashion Show Mall, partly because it has the theatre where Cirque du Soleil’s Love is staged (so not far to walk in high heels) and partly because…well, I’ll get to the fourth reason in a moment.
If you haven’t seen the Cirque show, Love, I highly recommend it. It’s set to Beatle’s music and is brilliant. I could watch that damn show five nights in a row and probably not get sick of it.
Shopping-wise, the deal of the trip for me was a pair of uber-cool Steve Madden shoes…for $35! The shopping itself, however, wore me right out.
By our third night in Vegas, we were both so flippin’ exhausted that we actually stayed the entire evening in our hotel room, chatting, watching TV, drinking wine and scarfing down popcorn and chips for dinner. Since I’m obviously in full-disclosure mode, I may as well confess that it was, in fact, the fish tank channel we were watching.
Yes, that’s right: the fish channel. It’s rather like the log-burning channel (they had that, too) but the fish channel (ONLY at the Mirage) is live video footage (we think) of the fish and coral in the giant tank that’s behind the reception desk. Let’s just say that nothing overly fast or exciting happens on the fish tank channel – but the accompanying classical music is rather soothing.
Then, on our last night, we went for dinner at the Italian restaurant, Rao’s, in Caesar’s Palace. Their mammoth meatballs are an absolute must, as is the Caesar salad and ravioli purses. Add in a basket-full of bread, a couple of salt-rimmed Caesar’s and a slice of cheesecake and after that, we pretty much waddled over to the Bellagio to watch the fountain show.
Watching the waters dance in front of the Bellagio Hotel is another favourite tradition of ours. We arrived just in time to catch the show set to Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On. But we forgot to do our Ocean’s Eleven thing, so stayed for a second song which was Time to Say Goodbye by Andre Bocelli – after which, Alison and I re-enacted the end of the Ocean’s Eleven movie where she slips off in one direction and I go off in the other. This cracks us up every time.
At any rate, we had a fun few days. My one ear is still plugged and Alison’s leg is still sore (possibly a shopping-related injury but who am I to say) but hey, a trip to Vegas wouldn’t be complete without a few unexplainable ailments.
No, our Vegas experience wasn’t quite the same as The Hangover movie but perhaps that’s a good thing.
Which brings me back to the What Happens Here, Stays Here ad campaign. For there is far more to my love of Vegas than merely what I do there – or who I am there.
In 2003, the Las Vegas Tourism Department and the ad agency, R&R Partners, came up with the idea for their highly successful ad campaign, What Happens Here, Stays Here. Here is a bit of background about the campaign:
“The emotional bond between Las Vegas and its customers was freedom. Freedom on two levels. Freedom to do things, see things, eat things, wear things, feel things. In short, the freedom to be someone we couldn’t be at home. And freedom from whatever we wanted to leave behind in our daily lives. Just thinking about Vegas made the bad stuff go away.
At that point the strategy became clear. Speak to that need. Make an indelible connection between Las Vegas and the freedom we all crave. The result was a decade of ads that create situations around missing information. This allows viewers to fill in the blanks and begin imagining their own Vegas adventures.”
So although what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas, since I have already broken this rule with the fish channel confession, I may as well share with you a story from a previous trip to Vegas…and you can take from this what you choose.
Just over fifteen years ago, my husband, John, and I went to check-in at the Mirage Hotel – in front of the huge fish tank – but our credit card got declined because the rental car agency had put a hold on additional funds. A quick call to the credit card company sorted that out and away we went.
And let’s just say we had an awesome time at the old Mirage 🙂
He was lying on a stainless steel gurney, covered in a white sheet, and at the top of his chest I could see part of the incision from his heart removal surgery. I debated about pulling the sheet down to take one last look at the chest of the man I loved so much.
But then I thought back to our special time in Vegas – for the Mirage would end up being the last place we made love – and decided no. I wanted to remember John’s chest as it was when he was alive and happy…not as the exit point for his beautiful heart.
So for me, I don’t go to Vegas to escape my life. I love my life now – I have no need to escape it. And because of John’s on-duty death, I have the financial freedom to do the work I wish to do and live where I want to live…and for that, I am eternally grateful.
Nor does thinking about Vegas make all the bad stuff go away. In fact, Vegas brings back what were once some pretty painful memories. But perhaps that’s partly why I love to go there so much? Having loved and lost and learned how to be happy again on my own, it has become the perfect place for me to check in with myself on the big question: am I happy?
Funny…as artificial as Vegas is, it has become my reality check.
Perhaps it won’t come as a surprise that Alison, too, is a widow – and she and her husband also had some wonderful times together in Vegas. Her husband passed away six months after John did – and over the years our friendship has grown from sharing our journey through grief to having fun and doing some traveling.
But who’s kidding who? Vegas isn’t called Sin City for no reason. So the next time I’m there, I sure as heck hope I’m snuggled up with a sexy guy watching the old fish channel 🙂
If you are a fan (or foe) of Vegas, I’d love to hear about your experience…I think!
Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive Maryanne’s weekly blog, please sign up here.