Tag Archives: las vegas

Sin City

A Look at How Casinos Have Changed

With my upcoming one year expat anniversary, I thought it only fitting to have some “Vegas” on my blog. It is From Casinos to Castles, after all. 

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Everyone knows that Vegas is a place of gambling, partying, and doing things we’d rather not admit to after the fact. It didn’t earn the nickname “sin city” for nothing, and it is certainly one of the best locations for nightlife in the world. However, Vegas has grown a lot over the years and offers much more than borderline illegal fun.

Only a few decades ago, the Vegas Strip attempted to expand its appeal by offering family-friendly attractions for all ages. This was not an initial success with resorts such as the original early ’90s MGM Grand’s Grand Adventures Amusement Park or Treasure Island. However, in 1998 when the Bellagio opened up, it arrived with a focus on luxury and high-end resort status.

While the Bellagio is a casino by every sense of the word, it is also host to one of the world’s finest hotels and offers dozens of top-class restaurants and shopping attractions. It is also home to the famous dancing water fountains and has many other amenities including a fine art gallery, botanical gardens, and live concerts or sports matches.

The Bellagio really set the stage for the Vegas Strip. Less than two decades later, casinos doubling as vacation resorts have become the standard. Not only is this giving Vegas a new image as a destination for high society and glamour, rather than debauchery and greed, but other cities have begun to mimic the Vegas theme, constructing their own casino resorts. The word “casino” itself is evolving from mere gambling games to include fine dining and resort hotels.

Of course, casinos are still gambling destinations. This image itself is improving, however, and many are home to high-end poker tournaments. Poker has rapidly grown in popularity and become a mainstream sport, and casinos such as Atlantic City’s Borgata are home to tournaments worth millions of dollars each year.

The Borgata, specifically, is known for being one of the best tournament destinations, with Matthew Pitt explaining it has “a reputation for running world-class tournaments and providing unparalleled service to its players.” In recent years, casino gambling has moved from what you see in mobster movies toward mainstream sports, and casinos are more like arenas or stadiums now.

Take the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, for example. While the casino ranks among the top in the world, the building itself was crafted to impress, and it is the most expensive building in the world at over $6 billion. If you’re ever thinking about seeing Singapore, this is something you can’t miss—whether you enjoy gambling or not.

While casinos gaining a reputation for being world-class is a great thing for them, it is good news for travel enthusiasts as well. Casino resorts spare no expense in making their hotels some of the best destinations to visit in the world and sights like the Bellagio fountains or the Marina Bay Sands Casino are some of the world’s must-sees.

*This piece was written by Stephanie Nichols.

Oh 2013, You Hurt So Good

Every New Year’s Eve, I find myself thinking, wow, I can’t believe another year has come and gone. I used to believe in New Year’s Resolutions when I was a kid, but as I got older, I felt they were too predictable and only set you up for failure with unrealistic expectations.

Although it’s the end of 2013, I have been reflecting not just about this past year, but about the past couple of years. Every one has brought huge life changes. Take a little look for yourself….

2011

My love finally has his visa and comes "home" to the US. We are finally together after a year apart.

My love finally has his visa and comes “home” to the US. We are finally together after a year apart.

We get married that next week and spend a couple of nights in this isolated, romantic cabin.

We get married that next week and spend a couple of nights in this isolated, romantic cabin.

Several weeks later, we found out what happens when you spend a couple of nights alone in an isolated, romantic cabin.

Several weeks later, we found out what happens when you spend a couple of nights alone in an isolated, romantic cabin.

2012

9 months later, I had one more handsome boy in my home to love.

9 months later, I had one more handsome boy in my home to love.

2013

One year later, that handsome boy turned 1.

One year later, that handsome boy turned 1.

For almost the whole month of May, we were in Las Vegas where we said goodbye to family, friends and the US.

For almost the whole month of May, we were in Las Vegas where we said goodbye to family, friends and the US.

On May 22, 2013, we made this our new home, here in Germany.

On May 22, 2013, we made this our new home, here in Germany.

In case you forgot what we did to get here, you can read about our huge leap of faith here.

2013 has been full of huge ups, huge downs and everything in between. We started our life completely over, from scratch. We had almost nothing when we got here except for one another and M’s family. Starting your life over requires a lot of work and sacrifice. We both know it will be worth it in the end and I couldn’t have done it without my amazing husband.

These past years have given us so much. We have received amazing blessings with almost mind-blowing life changes. For 2014, I am even more hopeful. I am optimistic of what this next year has in store for this little family of mine. But….if I could ask for one thing, one wish it would be this….calm.

Dear 2014, please bring this family the sense of calm and peace that goes hand in hand with growth and stability. We are ready to be settled. We are hopeful to continue simply moving forward. 

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Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Frohes neues Jahr!
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Overwhelmed in Sin City

From the bottom of my heart, I must sincerely ask all of you to please…….

ImageAs you may know, I’m currently in Las Vegas spending time with family before the three of us take our leap of faith across the little pond known as the Atlantic Ocean. I will do my best to post a quick note or photo but I’m afraid traveling with a soon-to-be one year old is a bit more difficult than we anticipated and that, combined with sight-seeing and catching up, has regrettably pushed my blog writing to the side. So please don’t give up on me and I promise more to follow as you join me on this journey of selling everything we own to follow our dreams!