The cities I visited were vastly different. Hawaii was everything I imagined and more. As the sea crashed on the shore, a wicker fan spun overhead, waiters in Hawaiian shirts served me and I sipped POG juice, that is passionfruit, orange and guava juice for those who haven’t visited the collection of islands.
While the glitz of Las Vegas and I are well acquainted it was nice to get out of the city and see natural Nevada, as well as seeing a different more cultured side to the city.
While I still have a few stories to share with you – including reviews on Hawaiian Airlines Economy Comfort and Business classes alongside reviews of the beautiful Outrigger Hotels I stayed at in Waikiki, Hawaii – here is just a small selection of my favourite photos from Hawaii and Las Vegas, as shared through Instagram.
Exploring O’ahu, Hawaii
Landing early in Honolulu, I began my stay at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Reef. The sky was blue and wisps of clouds danced across the sky. Palm trees swayed and the people below played as I watched the world pass by below.
Waking early the next morning, Japanese blogger Remi and I headed off to Ko Olina to spend the morning snorkelling with fish, turtles and dolphins!
Remi didn’t tell me that really she was the fish as she duck-dived to the bottom of the ocean to get closer to the turtles and corals.
For lunch, we were invited to the Ala Moana Centre – the world’s largest open-air shopping mall! We decided to save the shopping until after lunch at Longhi’s, a Hawaiian institution that began in Maui. As we settled in for lunch I was told that there’s only one thing that you need to try when at Longhi’s – the lobster rolls.
You cannot visit Hawaii without learning more about the islands culture and so Remi, He and I headed to the Polynesian Cultural Centre to do just that. While we only had a short time to check out the villages about the different countries that make up the area, we did have the chance to enjoy the delicious luau and buffet dinner with huge fresh pineapples that contained mocktails!
While we ate dinner a team of dancers performed hula and taught us the history and meaning behind it! To finish the evening we saw a show an amazing show that tie aspects of each of the Polynesian cultures together called Hā: Breath of Life.
Between our day-trips we tried to spend as much time around the Outrigger Reef on the Beach‘s pool. Relaxed vibes and enjoying a few cheeky drinks at the Kani Ka Pila Grille in the evening was a great way to end the day.
Each day the hotel offers different morning lessons on Hawaiian culture. While we were there Remi and I joined in the Lei making, hula and ukulele classes. For those celebrating anniversaries or feeling romantic, there’s also vow renewal ceremonies on select days that we quietly watched from the nearby restaurant as the couples took to the beach.
Las Vegas, Baby!!
Our private chauffeur awaited us as we touched down in Las Vegas, complimentary when staying at the Aria Sky Suites!
Immediately after taking the photo I laid down wanting to relax and enjoy the space but a hectic schedule called and we were quickly heading out to see one of Vegas’ most iconic sights.
As we settled into our table at Hyde Bellagio, one of the best views of the fountains – and also home to some fantastic cocktails! – our host asked us what type of music we liked. He and I left the choice to Remi who suggested Michael Jackson. No sooner had the words left her mouth than he was on the phone. Five minutes later the fountains were dancing to ‘Beat It‘.
If you don’t fancy a drink or a dance (Hyde turns into a nightclub when the sunsets), you can always enjoy a romantic dinner on the balcony of Picasso, the hotels Spanish-inspired restaurant which features original works by the artist himself.
After dinner at Picasso, we spent some time wandering around the Bellagio. The casino & hotel was inspired by Italy’s Lake Como in the region of the same name.
Indoor gardens take centre stages, the themes changing regularly, but it is Dale Chihuly’s Fiori di Como that is a must see.
Located in the lobby, the stunning artwork is composed over 2,000 hand blown glass flowers.
Visiting the city for the DMAI conference we didn’t have much time to explore the city but we did have plenty of time to explore the food!
A favourite was Aureole by Charlie Palmer at Mandalay Bay. The chefs take on classic dishes like our appetizer of prosciutto, bocconcini and tomatoes was just the beginning before he followed with an innovative menu, including updating old favourites – I finished with a pineapple topped coconut creme brûlée that I tucked into before taking a photo!
When given a chance to wake up at 4am to see Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon from a helicopter, we were ready to go bleary eyed but excited.
Just a few days later I was back at the Hoover Dam, this time to see it from a completely different point of view. Heading out onto the waters of the Colorado River, the Hoover Dam rose before us as we were explained the history and what happens today from the raft.
It wasn’t just Vegas that I wanted to explore, I wanted to get outside and explore the state of Nevada!
With limited time on my hands, I decided to explore with the experts at Pink Jeep Tours who suggested I pay a visit to the Valley of Fire – Nevada’s oldest state park – and have an adventure in one of their Pink Jeep’s and go off-roading in Red Rock Canyon!
The Valley of Fire left me feeling tiny amongst the towering ancient sandstone rock formations (above, below, far below).
While Red Rock Canyon had a wow-factor it was much more about the nature and history of the place, with a side of adventure when we went off-roading of course!
We saw desert tortoises, cottontails, and plenty of stunning landscapes that seemed to change dramatically around each bend. We also got up close to some petroglyphs left by the Native Americans that once called this place home.
Of course, no trip to Vegas is complete without visiting some of the cities shows; and with ticket prices dramatically cheaper than New York or London I was happy to oblige!
While staying at the Vdara Hotel & Spa – the boutique property at the Aria – Edward, one of their amazing concierge team – spent some time planning out five great shows to see in Vegas. Five shows over six nights? Heck yes!
This particular costume was from a display out the front of Kà, a martial arts-themed Cirque du Soleil show currently on at the MGM!
But you can’t stop in Vegas without exploring some of the casinos, like New York, New York, contemplating if Vegas is only for Gamblers, or watching the sunrise from your hotel room – even though I hadn’t had a drop of alcohol – just to see the amazing view from the Vdara, across the Bellagio (and fountains) to The High Roller and beyond far into the desert.
Now it’s over to you
What is your TOP tip for visiting O’ahu or Las Vegas?
Which city in the US would you most like to explore?
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