Seemingly, Vegas is not the kind of town to bring your dog. Sure you walk a lot in Sin City, but it's typically on carpets well-tread by wobbly spike heels. Not very friendly space for marking territory. But a recent trip to Vegas proved you can experience all the fun the city has to offer, while still coming home to a panting, licking welcome wagon.
It was at the Vdara where my boyfriend and Dachshund/Chihuahua mix, Mimi, called home base. Vdara is the casino-less, smoke-less hotel tower at CityCenter, MGM's massive resort collection in the heart of the Strip. After a long drive from Los Angeles, we valeted the car and walked to Memorial Park, a leashed-space with beautiful views of the Strip and manicured landscaping that framed a winding walking trail. The 24-hour spot is practical — poop bag dispensers everywhere! — and oddly romantic. It's often deserted, so it's a great area for a little quiet handholding time; something not easily found in this city. We didn't realize there was a small, off-leash dog park, located just beyond Memorial Park, until informed by another guest. The only other pup there was an English bulldog that Mimi promptly sniffed before marking her territory and rolling around in everything gross she could find.
Upon check-in, Mimi got her own gift bag with an edible dog treat, a menu for more lavish pet meals that can be brought up to the room, and extra poop bags (one can never have enough). Though we brought our own, we were informed that crates were available, and even dog-sitters. All of this is part of Vdara's V-Dog program, a novel set of incentives for dog owners visiting Vegas.
As we made our way to our dog-enabled suite (part of the V-Dog set-up), we marveled at the sparkling hallway rug; no visible accidents on this hound highway. Our room had a beautiful entry area, with a sink and counter; there was more than enough room for all of Mimi's food, bowls, and crate. Of course, she couldn't wait to jump on the bed and spread her essence on the runner.
That night, we left Mimi and headed to dinner at one of my now-favorite restaurants in Vegas, Bardot Brasserie. Located at Aria, another property within CityCenter, this fine French eatery from famed chef Michael Mina is worth every penny. Decorated to precision, the restaurant transports diners to Paris; kudos to the dark lighting and ornate bar (see below). Don't miss the chickpea frites, mussels marinieres, or Parisian gnocchi. The b.f. brought a little flat iron steak back to Mimi.
The next morning, our incredible meal was still sitting like an anchor in our stomachs. We got up early, grabbed our girl, and headed to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a breathtaking piece of nature a half-hour drive from the Strip. We picked a moderate hike among the 19 available, occasionally taking Mimi's leash off when it was safe among the craggy rocks. Mimi loved being outside and sticking her snout in all the newfangled smells. After the two-hour hike, we hopped back in the car and drove in the loop that surrounds Red Rock, spotting a pack of wild burros munching brown grass peacefully. Few think of Vegas as a nature-lover's paradise, but Red Rock is truly a wonder.
Once back in the room, Mimi was exhausted, willfully climbing into her crate for a nap. That was our cue to jump in the shower and head for one last meal (the incredible Yusho, at the Monte Carlo) before the drive back to L.A. Back in town, we were very happy to not make a pit stop at the kennel. See images of Vdara and Red Rock below.