Thursday, June 24, 2010

When a Vacation Exceeds Your Expectations

Jen AlLee

Okay, I know we're supposed to be sharing about vacations gone wrong, but I have a confession to make: I can't recall ever going on a truly bad vacation. Maybe it's because I don't get away very often. In any case, since I didn't have a horror story to contribute, I thought I'd share the most opulent, over-the-top vacation I ever accidentally fell into.

Back in 2002, my husband, Marcus, entered an online contest for a three night stay at a luxury suite at the Las Vegas Hilton. He entered me, too, but neglected to tell me about it. So when I got a call from a woman saying I'd won, I thought she was a telemarketer and almost hung up on her. After lots of confusion on my part, the patient woman finally convinced me that I had indeed won the grand prize.

We expected to be staying in something on par with Embassy Suites, so we brought along Billy's godparents, Chuck and Leigh. Our first clue that we were wrong was when we were directed to the VIP elevator. The golden-doored, velvet-roped, VIP elevator, which only goes to one place: all the way up to the Verona Sky Villa. When Elvis played at the Hilton, I imagine this was the suite he stayed in. At 15,888 square feet, it's bigger than most people's homes. Now it's reserved for whales (the term for super-high rollers), those with enough money to pay for their stay ($15,000 a night), or simple contest winners like us.

Come on, take the tour with me...

This is the first thing you saw when you opened the front door.
We called it The Stallion Room, but it's really the grand foyer.
You're only seeing half of it here. There's another horse and another set of stairs on
the other side. Papa Chuck is the dude behind the horse.

This is part of the living area. Marcus is sitting in front of a
fireplace that could double as a spare bedroom. When we
were walking through the villa for the first time, 
Leigh and I couldn't stop laughing.
Every time we turned a corner there was another room,
or a statue, or workout equipment, or a telescope...

Here's Marcus and a then ten-year-old Billy sitting by one of the
many indoor spas. Everything you see outside the window
is part of the same suite. The whole thing circles around a cool
outdoor sitting area and pool.

Billy enjoyed playing bartender. He made us some
lovely glasses of Sprite, Dr. Pepper, and Coke
garnished with lemon twists, cherries, and little toothpicks.

Billy and Grandma Leigh tinkle the ivories
on the grand piano.

One of the many murals. They were everywhere... on the
walls, the ceilings... You name it, it had a mural on it.

Last but not least, this was our bedroom.
There were three bedrooms in the place, and all
were just as fancy as this one.

We had three days of fun in the kind of excessive gaudiness that we'll never experience again. One of the funniest things was watching Billy play with his green plastic army men on the inlaid marble floor. At one point, Leigh said something about how fancy it all was, and Billy replied, "But it's not very homey. Heaven is going to be much better." That's a paraphrase, but it's true to the spirit of his remark. And he was right. It was a cool thing to visit, but I wouldn't want to live that way. Still, what a blessing that God gave us a little taste of the "high life"!


  1. Billy had quite the insight that day!

    I know that when I've stayed at a really nice house rental or hotel (none like this) I find myself laughing at the situation. It's like being in a movie.

    Sounds like a blast, though and I'm so glad you shared this experience with us, Jen. Great photos. Roughing it in another sort of way!

  2. Sounds like a sort of out of body experience. So fun and yet so totally removed from real life that it seems a little like a dream even while you're in the middle of it.

    And may I say that Billy is a gem. I can't wait to meet him someday.

  3. My, my, my. That's my kind of roughing it. Although I think I'd be afraid to break something.

    The closest I've come to that was a huge fancy hi-rise apartment along the Nile in Egypt for a week. But we shared it with 3 families, and anywhere plumbing was involved, all sense of opulence fled the room.

  4. Oh. My. Word. This is fabulous, Jen. I can't imagine! I bet I wouldn't have left the room much. What a treat!

    And Billy's gem is a keeper. What a fabulous memory...and perhaps even a setting for a story? Hmm.

  5. Good morning, ladies. Yes, as Lisa said, it was a sort of out-of-body experience. Which is why Leigh and I spent a good twenty minutes doing nothing but laughing. And some of the stuff was so fancy, we never figured it out. Like the showers. There were so many nozzles and knobs, I never got more than a luke-warm drizzle.

    As for Billy, oh yeah, he's a keeper! For a while, his career goal was to be a pastor. Now, he's changed that to video game programmer. But he still loves Jesus, and he's not embarassed to be seen in public with his mom. He's a pretty cool dude :+}

  6. Jen, I keep looking at that 15,888 sq ft and thinking you have one too many numbers. And still it would be bigger than any house I've ever lived in.

    I noticed the murals and wall coverings before you mentioned it. I put a 'garden scene' mural in our bedroom when we lived in Alberta. I loved walking into that room. So peaceful.

    I don't think I'd be able to get comfy in this place, though. The whole time, my mind would be saying, 'don't get used to it... It's only temporary.'

    But I sure appreciate you showing it to us. It'd make a great setting!

    Oh, alright, I admit it... I'd love to stay there for a weekend. It's the stuff dreams are made of, eh?


  7. Oh my!! Talk about a vacation in style! Thanks for sharing the pictures to truly get the right perspective of the 'suite.' Love your son's words about it not being very homey and that heaven would be much better. He's right! God bless!

  8. Anita, I know that number is hard to believe, but it's right. All five digits of it!

    Glad to see you, Maria! Isn't it something to think that one day, we'll be in a place with streets of gold, but it will be warm, homey, and full of love? God is good :+}


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