15 – 24 March Las Vegas and Honolulu Education Trip hosted by Brand USA and Hawaiian Airlines
55 Agents from across Australia and New Zealand are divided between 5 itineraries across the USA and have the experience of a life time.
Day 1: Flight from Brisbane to Honolulu with Hawaiian Airlines aboard their new A330 Aircraft.
Fantastic meals, inflight entertainment and service. The flight duration from Brisbane to Honolulu is approximately 9 hours, upon arrival into Honolulu we cleared USA Customs and transferred to the Domestic Terminal for our connecting flight to Las Vegas, the flight duration from Honolulu to Las Vegas is approximately 6 hours. Please keep in mind one meal service is included on this domestic journey, however inflight entertainment is an additional cost, approximately $7 – $10.00. I must mention again, having cleared USA customs in Honolulu made our arrival into Las Vegas very easy, collect your bags and exit the airport. I have never arrived to an airport and the first vision is of a pokie (slot) machine welcome to Las Vegas.
Day 2: The spirit of Italy is well and truly alive at the Venetian Resort (accommodation for 3 nights), complete with frescos, plenty of pasta, canals, gondolas and strolling performers. This property is outstanding, the lead in room category is a suite and is by far one of the best rooms I have ever stayed in, extremely luxurious. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Wolfgang Puck’s Restaurant, sitting in his restaurant observing my surroundings was a an amazing experience. We topped off our afternoon with a ride on the High Roller at Linq Las Vegas, this is a fantastic way to enjoy a great view of the strip.
From the High Roller we travelled to the Wynn and Encore properties for a site inspection, both properties were amazing, especially the Wynn. They treated us to a wonderful buffet dinner, one of the best buffet’s I have encountered.
I am beginning to learn Las Vegas wants to impress you, it wants you to have a great time, eat well, be entertained, stay in our luxury accommodation and feel like you are worth a million dollars. Then hey big spender, come put some cash into our casinos! The experience is worth it, you receive so much value on everything you spend, why not try your luck in the casinos, after all you are in Las Vegas, it is almost a manipulation, but I like it….
To top off our evening we travel back to Treasure Island and enjoy our first Las Vegas show – Mystere by Cirque Du Soleil, what a treat the show was sensational!
Day 3: This morning we visit The Cosmopolitan Hotel, this property is chic and is one of the few properties on the strip which makes more money from its cuisine then its casino. After experiencing their breakfast buffet I can understand this. The Cosmopolitan would suit the younger clientele who likes the nightclub scene, it has a party atmosphere. We followed up this site inspection with The Hard Rock Café, the property is not on the strip it is slightly out of town. If you enjoy your Rock history and memorabilia you will enjoy a visit, but I would not recommend staying here. There are so many nicer properties to choose from.
The busy day continues with a visit to the ‘Mob Museum’, The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law enforcement opened in 2012 and presents a bold and authentic view of organised crime’s impact on Las Vegas. Cost $23.00, well worth it, my only complaint was not having enough time here!
As our day turns into night, we continue on the site inspection trail to the Westgate Las Vegas. The Westgate is one of the original properties in Vegas and highly celebrates its relationship with Elvis. The King performed 837 consecutive sold out shows here, breaking all of Las Vegas attendance records. The property is nice, it is not located on the strip, for those clients who wish to experience Vegas without being right in the heart. The property does have access to the Mirage via Tram which will take you closer to the strip.
Tonight we are in for a treat with a hosted dinner at Benihana. If you are unfamiliar with Benihana it is the first name in exhibition-style Japanese cuisine. Master Chefs demonstrate their skills nightly on hibachi tables. This meal was definitely a high light for the entire group. The night is still young and on conclusion of our meal we travel to the Maverick Helicopter Base for a flight over the strip. Maverick Helicopters have 65 pilots on their team, this particular night they had 5 helicopters in flight, who travel in convoy with one another. It is a real sight to see them taking off, as they cannot simple take off from a helicopter pad, they must hover out to the run way then elevate into the night sky. I would recommend this experience to everyone visiting Vegas, Maverick Helicopters also offer tours to the Grand Canyon at competitive prices. We topped off our night with a walk on the strip, taking in the fountain at Bellagio. Can this place get any more exciting?
Day 4: This morning we are collected by limousines and taken to the ‘Graceland Wedding Chapel’ For over 50 years the Graceland Chapel has been the most prominent chapels for weddings in Vegas. Today we are treated to the full experience, as Elvis marries off two people in our group. Bellies of laughter as he states vows of ‘I will never step on your blue suede shoes and I will never house a suspicious mind’ the jokes continue and good times roll on. And that is what Vegas is about, not taking yourself too seriously and having a good time.
Before we depart Las Vegas we enjoy a site inspection of Treasure Island and lunch before taking the coach to the Valley of Fire.
Nevada Tourism now join us and provide an informative commentary of our surroundings and teach us that Las Vegas has so many natural wonders on its door steps. The Valley of Fire was a highlight, a lot of Red Rock and canyons to explore. We travel to Boulder City via Lake Mead and enjoy a nights accommodation at the Historical Hotel. This hotel was iconic in the construction of Hoover Dam, where many politicians stayed at the completion of the dam in its celebration ceremonies.
Day 5: A day out of the casino’s and out of the coach as we learn about Hoover Dam as we travel down the Colorado River aboard a Raft. The history of the dam and its construction is really interesting; the construction took place during The Great Depression and provided people employment in a time when there was none, and Boulder City was created to house the families. This dam was a god sent to a lot of people and it operates at a profit, selling electricity to California and supplying water to the surrounding dams. It was, and is a very successful project and they will be forever proud of this achievement. The cruise concludes in the state of Arizona where we board our coach and travel to Pahrump. Pahrump is home to the Spring Mountain Sports Centre, offering a serious of action sports, including: Hot Laps, Go Kart Racing and their newest attraction Jet packing.
I did have a go at this sport and it is a lot of fun, I would recommend it to everyone. Tonight we enjoy a wine tasting at Sanders Family winery followed by a three course dinner at the other winery in town. The mood shifts and the highlight now is being a part of everyday America, with normal families, driving by their lovely homes and schools and eating in their favourite fine dining restaurants. A more wholesome experience then Vegas, whilst only being 2 hours from the bright lights. Definitely a wonderful evening filled with delicious food, a great selection of wines and great company.
Day 6: From Pahrump to Death Valley, this place is like another planet. It once was all under water so you are essentially experiencing the ocean floor. It was a very different experience, we did enjoy a beautiful lunch at the Furnace Creek Ranch, where you can stay a night if you are exploring this area. They offer a convenience store, restaurant, museum, horse and cart rides, plus guided tours out to Death Valley. We then continue our travels back to Vegas for our last night at the Fiesta Henderson. This property is on the outskirts of Vegas, convenient to the airport for our early morning departure. Tonight we are treated to a small travel expo of local Las Vegas business we may not be aware of. This was a wonderful opportunity to make new connections, of which I have made with a Wedding organiser! If you plan on tying the knot in Vegas, you must let me know! Our dinner tonight was shared with our travel presenters, we enjoyed their stories of big name Las Vegas entertainers and the fans who stalk them, Brittany Spears famous lip sinking and it goes on… It honestly makes for great dinner conversation. We top off our evening with a trip back into Vegas to watch the Broad Way Production of ‘Show Stoppers’, this performance is dedicated to the Show Stopping Tunes made famous through Broadway over the years. Perhaps it is my age group, but I didn’t know many of the songs. Better suited for a more mature audience, still fantastic performers and costumes.
Day 7: Today we fly to Honolulu and check in at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, this property is very popular amongst the Australian/New Zealand market and with good reason. Great pools, private beachfront location, the rooms are immaculate and friendly staff. I feel very much at home in Honolulu, it is a very safe destination. We are met with our fellow travellers and enjoy a Waikiki sunset, with live entertainment, Mai Thais and fresh seafood.
Day 8: This morning our day is at leisure and I enjoy a hike to Diamond Head followed by a trip out to the Discount Factory Outlets. Honolulu is great for shopping, especially the big brands names. Tonight is our final dinner, hosted by the Modern Honolulu (another fantastic Hawaiian property), we enjoy great food and entertainment and say good bye to our new friends.
Day 9: A quick swim in Waikiki Beach before the hotel room is vacated and the transfer coach is boarded. Another fantastic flight with Hawaiian Airlines is experienced and a warm welcome home by the family at the Brisbane International.
As you can see, this trip was action packed. The idea behind the trip is: choose Hawaiian Airlines as your gateway into the USA, they offer competitive airfares and Honolulu or one of the neighbouring Islands can be used as a stopover option. They also offer ‘Comfort Class’ if you like more space when you are flying, but cannot afford Business Class, simply book the cheapest Economy ticket with Hawaiian Airlines and upgrade your seat for $100.00 USD Each way. Clear USA Customs in Honolulu between your connecting flights, making your arrival into the Mainland States even easier. Brand USA really showed off the USA as a destination, over the last two years Australia and New Zealand have increased tourism numbers to the USA by 30%. If you are yet to visit the USA, put it on your bucket list, there is something for everyone there.