Las Vegas by Nite!
By James Shillinglaw
August 16, 2012 11:45 PM
Las Vegas' famous slogan over the past few years has been "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." So, at the risk of violating a sacred confidence, I'm going to tell you a bit about one of my nights in Las Vegas -- though not all of my nights!
I'm here this week to attend Virtuoso Travel Week, the newly renamed conference formerly known as Virtuoso Travel Mart. It just happens to be the largest travel agent event around these days -- and probably the largest gathering of luxury travel professionals in the world. I arrived a week ago -- a long time to spend anywhere, let alone Vegas -- and I found I had some time on my hands last Saturday.
A few weeks back I got a press release from a company called Nite Tours, which offers "club crawls" of Las Vegas' top nightlife. I contacted the company and they suggested I experience one of their tours.
Now I'm not exactly into the club scene. I had my time in New York City in the 1980s, of course, but I've become a bit more sedate in my later years when it comes to nightlife. On the other hand, this is Las Vegas after all, and it's a good place to let loose (supposedly). So I booked a Nite Tours VIP Club Crawl program that started out at Gold Lounge, a bar in the Aria resort, where we checked in and received our colored wristbands. Those bands gave us front-of-the line access to the three clubs we were scheduled to visit that night.
We met our guide (more of a leader in nighttime fun actually) and he gave us the ground rules. Well, I'll amend that, since there was only one rule: "Don't throw up on the bus." If you ignore that rule, you could be paying a $500 fine, we were told. Well, that's one rule I couldn’t agree more with!
Our group of a little more than 20 consisted of a several young women, one of whom had just turned 21, as well as the mother of the newly minted 21-year-old. There was also a group of five post-college age guys, a couple in their 30s, and one single guy in his 40s. Also on the tour was Taylor, the marketing coordinator for Nite Tours and her friend, as well a friend of mine who at the last minute decided to give the tour a try (though he sadly bagged out after the first club, the victim of jetlag). It was a fairly disparate group of people, but we came together to take on the Las Vegas night.
First stop was Haze, which I had actually been to at the opening of Aria three years ago. We moved past the waiting throngs given our new VIP access credentials and went inside. There was a pretty good crowd considering it was only about 11 p.m. Our guide told us we had an hour and then had to meet back outside the club. I had a drink, talked with Taylor, her friend and my friend. But mostly it was just people watching amid the din of some pretty good music. Soon it was time to go, so our group met outside and proceeded to the party bus.
The bus, believe it or not, is one of the highlights of the tour. It offers transportation for about 25 people that comes complete with cushioned bench seating, drinks (beer and coolers), two poles in the center to hang on to (or, in some cases, to dance on), and a thumping sound system.
We took the short ride to Luxor, where after walking through the casino we found our next club, LAX, where again we got front-of-the-line access. LAX is a throbbing, somewhat hot (temperature wise) and crowded club that offered plenty of people watching opportunities. I got another drink at the bar (you pay for your own drinks inside the clubs) and started to walk around to check out the scene. Again, we had an hour inside.
We met up again, and surprisingly still had most of our group together (the guide tries to track everyone down, but sometimes they lose a few stragglers). Back on the bus, the group by this time seemed to be well acquainted. The guys decided to dance for the girls' party and it got a bit wild. Maybe I should just stop right there before I tell too much!
We arrived at Caesars where we went to Pure, supposedly one of the hotter clubs in Las Vegas. I did my people-watching thing, but also hung out with a few members of our group, which suddenly had become a bit more of a fraternity. But in the end, at about 2 a.m., I decided to call it quits, knowing that just a short walk away was my bed at the Bellagio. The rest of the group soldiered on into the night. Indeed, at that point they had the option of staying at Pure or heading back to one of the other two clubs.
At a starting price of just $79 per person, Nite Tours VIP Club Crawl seems to be a pretty good deal to me. Three clubs, front-of-the-line access, a party bus, drinks on the bus, a guide and a group of like-minded partiers -- I mean, who could top that for an unforgettable Vegas night. I'm not exactly the demographic, but heck, sometimes it's good to just step out of the box once in a while (as long as nobody remembers what happened the night before!).
Nite Tours was founded in 1990 by Darin Feth, a former professional comedian from Canada. His idea was to offer a safe, high-quality and entertaining environment and deliver an experience that was previously only available to high rollers, celebrities and those with the right connections.
In 2006, Feth made Las Vegas his headquarters, but his company now operates in San Francisco and he soon plans to expand to Los Angeles, Chicago and New York as well as to Frankfurt (Germany) and other cities in Europe and Asia. I met Darin a couple of days after my tour and he couldn't have been a nicer guy -- and one who may have latched on to a great idea. Look for some TravelPulse TV interviews with him later this month!
In the meantime, I just hope I haven't told too much about what happened on our Nite Tours of Las Vegas experience. There are a few details I could have included, but let's just say those run into the realm of "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!"
James Shillinglaw is editor in chief of TravelPulse.com.