Leaving Las Vegas???

Tropicana Hotel 1974

My first visit to Las Vegas was in 1974. I arrived on my 18th birthday. I was there to see The Osmonds. When the Greyhound bus pulled into the downtown terminal, I had no idea about old Vegas or the Vegas Strip. I found a taxi and told the driver to take me to the Holiday Inn, near the Dunes Hotel. He asked my age. I told him I had just turned 18, one hour ago. The cabbie stopped the meter and began driving. He warned me that the bus station was in old Vegas and that I should always stay around my hotel, on the strip. He began pointing out safe places for me to see and cheap places for me to eat. He pulled up the the driveway of my hotel and said “Good luck, kid!” The ride, along with his advice, was free.

Backstage at The Tropicana, 1974

I had a great time in Las Vegas, being part of a group of teenage girls taking over a major hotel and casino. We were everywhere. If one of the brothers went to the pool, we followed. If they went to the tennis courts, we did too. I made fast friends with girls in the know and received inside scoops. The day Donny did a private signing, I was there. He signed my hat. During the next seven days, I saw the family perform each night. At the end of the week, there was a pool side Meet and Greet, with all the brothers. It was a great end to my first Las Vegas adventure. I took Greyhound back to Detroit.

Corner Suite Vdara Hotel

Years later, I was all about that Vegas spa life. A day pass would get me into the lounge area and I could use the sauna, whirlpool, and steam room. I could also help myself to juice, water, soda, coffee, tea, nuts, cookies, and vegan muffins. The drinks and snacks alone were well worth the $30.00 day or $75.00 for a three day pass. At the Aria Hotel Spa, I also had access to their Japanese stone beds, Shio Salt Room, and infinity-edge therapy pool. Plus, you were allowed to go in and out all day. I would often head to the spa for showers, using all their bath and beauty products.

Dining room and Kitchen, Aria Sky Suite

My best Vegas trip happened at The Aria Hotel. My standard size room was fine, but there was a large clump of hair, near the tub, in the bathroom. I took photos, called housekeeping, and the issue was addressed. Once home, I received the standard “How was your stay?” email. I quickly figured out the email address for VP of Hotel Operations and sent him copies of the photos. I received a reply and was given a number to call. I called from work. The VP’s assistant picked up and then transferred my call. The VP apologized for the room and offered me a five day comp, in an Aria Sky Suite, with airport limousine service. I just needed to call his assistant with my dates.

Two water walls, inspired by the Nevada desert’s natural springs, at Park MGM.

These days, I’m no longer “balling” in Las Vegas. I’m not there to see shows. I don’t spend my time in casinos or Post COVID-19 buffets. Spa passes are long gone, only those receiving treatments are allowed to enter. All my room comps are from using reward points. Once in Vegas, I wake up and walk to Target. I get an iced coffee, (from the Starbucks in the store) and then fresh fruit, (from the grocery area). Next, I’ll cross the Vegas Strip and head to the new Park MGM. There’s a small seating area, with shade, facing Shake Shack. I can sit there and people watch for hours. Every few minutes, some tourist will walk over and run their hards up and down one of two water walls. Kids just love splashing the water.

Merrill Osmond, Las Vegas, July 1974

This year, Merrill Osmond retired from performing. His final American show was last April, in Las Vegas. He took his final bow, this month, at the Concorde Club, in Eastleigh, UK. I wonder if my October trip to Las Vegas was my final bow? Next month, I’ll head overseas. For more than forty five years, I’ve said that I traveled to Guam and The Philippines. Truth be told, I landed in those two countries, during refueling stops, on my way to a temporary duty assignment at Kadena Air Force Base, in Okinawa, Japan. And so, Guam will be my first stop, on a five year GGT world tour. I could very well be in my 70s, the next time I visit Las Vegas.

I sure hope my favorite spot is still there. See you, when I see you! XOXO —GGT

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