From the amazing Mariah Carey concert I covered to the Seven Stars Cookbook giveaway I promoted, you may have noticed a little hint-hinting for you to check out Caesar's Entertainment and their Total Rewards Program over the past few months. Well, it's been an absolute pleasure working with them, and I hope you learned a thing or two about how to optimize your next Atlantic City or Las Vegas vacation. As a final word, I'd like to leave you with a few words from the famous magicians Penn and Teller.
May the chips fall ever in your favor and may you register for Total Rewards!
This post is a recap of the Total Rewards by Caesar's Entertainment concert I attended in NYC on 3/1/12. For information on Total Rewards or to play the Total Rewards game please visit this website. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a code for extra game play entries.
It's nights like last night when I truly feel cool. As we stood in the VIP line outside Gotham Hall, I had flashbacks to my epic experience in Vegas for New Years 2011. Making our way into the gorgeous space (they don't make banks like they used to!), we were ushered upstairs to the plush VIP room where we were instantly handed Ciroc Lemonades and started scoping the scene. We had spotted NY Knicks player Tyson Chandler on the red carpet outside (at 7 feet tall, he's hard to miss) and he looked comfy with his wife in a reserved section. A few minutes later, Katharine McPhee, star of the new show Smash, walked by in a gorgeous emerald dress. I wanted to ask for a picture without being super awkward, but after that first glimpse I didn't see her for the rest of the night. The rest of the VIP crowd was a combination of high rollers, big dudes that looked like they could play football/basketball (I'm terrible at recognizing sports stars) and models (at least that's what they looked like).
|View from the VIP lounge|
|Check out that VIP wristband!|
|Reserved Table for the High Rollers|
|Tyson Chandler (sorry it's so dark!)|
|Jimmy Kimmel welcoming everyone|
|Lots of spotlights|
|Celine Dion in Las Vegas|
|Cat Deeley in LA|
Diddy performs "I Need A Girl"
Diddy performs "All I Do Is Win"
Diddy performs "Mo Money, Mo Problems"
Diddy performs "Coming Home"
In the interim before Mariah came on, they streamed performances of Sarah Bareillis from Chicago, Gavin DeGraw (swoon!) from New Orleans and Lil Wayne from Los Angeles. I could not make out one word that came out of Lil' Wayne's mouth but that guy definitely has a way with the stage (and with making it look like he doesn't have any of his original teeth).
I'll take this time to describe more of what the VIP lounge was like since I have neglected to do so thus far. At this point, Mr. Chandler and Ms. McPhee had packed up and left so those remaining upstairs had a little more space to spread out and enjoy the experience. The food passed around was all delicious. My favorite was the little lobster mac n' cheese bites, although the crabcakes, plantain empanadas and olive polenta cakes were great as well. They were all teeny tiny, which was nice because I couldn't make a mess if I tried and I didn't get too full trying everything. They also had mini Italian meatballs and sliders, though I didn't get any. For drinks, I already mentioned that Ciroc was the alcohol sponsor, but I didn't mention the delicious raspberry martini I had complete with a gigantic real raspberry in a fancy martini glass. Yum! Unfortunately I didn't get any food pics, but I trust you can use your imagination.
Then came the moment we were all waiting for. To complete the 1990's nostalgia concert, Mariah Carey took the stage and fulfilled the majority of the room's pre-teenage dreams. She looked stunning in a floor-length mermaid black gown and her signature flowing locks. As her first performance after giving birth to twins last April, Mariah said she didn't know what the "big deal" was. Haha, oh Mariah. Her eight-song set, included “It’s Like That,” “Shake It Off,” “Touch My Body,” “Obsessed,” “Always Be My Baby,” “We Belong Together” and “Hero,” with a quick make-up touch up mid-performance (still not sure what that was about).
|Mariah getting touched up|
|Fluff the hair, fix the shoes|
Mariah performs "Touch My Body"
Mariah performs "Always Be My Baby"
I'll definitely applaud the event organizers for putting on a fantastic show. It wasn't oversold or too crowded. The drinks kept coming, and the performances were top notch. Heck, I even got a gift bag with sparkly earrings for me and a reusable coffee mug for the boyfriend. And I can't forget to mention the desserts! They all seemed to come at once -- mini chocolate cupcakes, lemon/raspberry tarts and cheesecake lollipops, oh the cheesecake lollipops! If this event is any teller as to how awesome Total Rewards is, I'm definitely going to have to join.
|Me with the gift bag|
|Raspberry Lemon Tarts|
|VIP gift bag at home|
If you've made it this far, I applaud you! Because you stuck around this long, you get a special awesome code for extra entries into the Total Rewards online game. Use code DFNJWG here and you have a shot at winning more than 900,000 amazing prizes. Looking at the list of winners already, I see someone won a trip for 2 to Vegas. Who knows? It could be you!
So what do you guys think? Were you at the concert? Did you watch the livestream online? Who was your favorite performer? What do you think of my gift bag? Are you going to sign up for Total Rewards and play the game? Be sure to comment with anything you win below!
I am honored to be an influencer for the Total Rewards brand. Material and/or financial incentives may be received as a result of my involvement.
While this event didn’t happen anywhere in or near New York, and while I know this blog is normally about all things awesome in New York, the following event was probably the most awesome experience I’ve ever had and will most likely ever have (although you never know). Therefore, I’m declaring it worthy of (lots of) space in this blog, of course, lots and lots of pictures.
It all started with Twitter. I enter a lot of Twitter contests, and honestly once I retweet or click a link and enter my name and email, I don’t really remember the contest. So when I received a text (I get my direct messages sent to me via text) saying “Hey there! You're the lucky winner of the tix to the NYE Jay-Z/Coldplay show at The Cosmopolitan in Vegas! Please DM us to accept prize.” I was not really sure what to think. Vegas? Like Las Vegas, Nevada Vegas? Jay-Z/Coldplay like the multi-platinum superstars Jay-Z/Coldplay? This can’t be real. But then it started to set in and I remembered entering this contest hosted by Travelocity, thinking there was a one in a million chance of winning. I believe I started jumping up and down in the middle of a Levi’s store at that point.
When I got home and started Google-ing, I discovered that this was quite possibly one of the coolest things I could ever have won. Not only would I get to bring a guest to stay for three nights over New Year’s Eve (and grand opening) weekend at the brand spanking new Cosmopolitan Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, but we would get a gala dinner at the restaurant of our choice, invites to the preview party at the Marquee nightclub (featuring Florence + The Machine), invites to an invitation-only NYE party featuring a concert by Jay-Z and Coldplay, brunch on New Year’s Day and then a New Year’s Day BBQ and pool party featuring gospel singer Mavis Staples. Holy. Cow. Baloney.
Of course I was going.
My boyfriend Mike and I arrived in Las Vegas to find colder weather than we left behind in NYC (go figure), but we were warmed up right away upon entering the lobby of the hotel and being welcomed with a glass of Champagne at the check-in desk. After determining that our room wasn’t quite ready for us, we were upgraded to a one-bedroom suite with a terrace on the 30th floor. Here are some pictures of the amazing room (which was probably bigger than my entire 2-bedroom apartment).
|From the living room|
|From the bedroom|
|The entire room from the terrace|
|The shower room with a gigantic tub|
|Loved the sink area. I could get used to that.|
|The fully stocked, most premium mini-fridge I've ever seen|
|Chilling on the terrace|
|Nighttime view from the terrace|
|The wristband made from old guitar strings we wore to get in to VIP events|
|All of our NYE collateral including holographic tickets to the concert|
The décor of the entire hotel is amazing. I think Mike commented at one point that they must have hired the most amazing architects and designers they could find to make this place come together. From the electronic and mood-changing “wallpaper” in the lobby, to the three-story Chandelier Bar, to the whimsical and innovative light fixtures everywhere, it really is a sight to be seen. In walking around the hotel, you could spot the tourists who were just passing through to take it all in.
After getting settled in the room, admiring the view and calling everyone we knew to tell them about all the amazing things that had happened so far, we ventured out for a walk and to grab some dinner at the Planet Hollywood shops across the street. Riding the elevator back up, four rather large men in suits enter and then I see a tall, sort of shaggy and vaguely familiar guy walk to the back and stand next to Mike. I look at him and I look at Mike and then I realized “oh my God, that’s John Mayer!” So that was pretty awesome.
We changed into nicer clothes and rode the elevator back downstairs for the Marquee preview party. I’m not much of a club kind of girl, so I’d only heard of those places where scantily-clad girls dance in cages and on the bars. Well this was one of those places, yet it still retained class if you could imagine. We were treated to a beer, Champagne and well-drink open bar and after grabbing our drinks, we walked around the club and just tried to absorb it all. British sensation Florence + The Machine began their set at about midnight and played an energetic and fun hour-long set. Through a coworker I had heard of them before, but after seeing a live performance, I’m hooked. YouTube them now – you won’t be sorry.
|A sign in Marquee. Nope, we definitely weren't.|
|Florence + The Machine|
|Florence + The Machine|
The next day Mike’s friend Kasra drove in from California with his girlfriend Nina and we all went to In-N-Out for lunch. I cannot tell you how happy this made me. A California girl has to have her In-N-Out.
After wandering around the property some more and trying my hand at penny-slots, we figured a nap in our oh-so-comfortable-with-super-soft-sheets bed was in order. We had reservations at the NYC-transplant Blue Ribbon Sushi at 7:30 and we were both very excited for whatever a gala dinner was. We were seated in the back, semi-romantic section of the restaurant, handed warm towels to wash our hands with and an extravagant menu. Take a look and tell me if you think it looks like you would have choices to make.
We decided on what we would choose and were then informed that there were no choices to be made, as we would be receiving everything. Jaws drop.
First they brought out a little appetizer of King Crab and Champagne Dashi (complete with edible gold flakes on top!), and while it was interesting, it wasn’t my favorite. Next, we were served bowls of Wild Mushroom Miso Soup in which we were each able to mix in as much miso paste as to our liking, and a sharable salad of seasonal lettuce, Asian pears, cranberries and poppy seed dressing. After that, a giant platter of super-fresh and delicious sushi and sashimi was put on our table and we were in heaven as sushi has always been our favorite date food.
|Us with our sushi|
Next came the main courses (as if we hadn’t already been served enough food for a substantial meal). Three to be exact. And they were full-sized. Awesome doesn’t even begin to sum them all up however. First there was a Miso Lobster – a full Maine Lobster with the meat already out of the shell, stuffed back in and mixed with miso butter to a perfect flaky consitency that melted in your mouth. We made pretty good work of that dish. There was also the Fried Chicken “Blue Ribbon Style” that had an excellent crisp, tangy outside and juicy inside served with wasabi honey. Last, there was a rather large bowl of Oxtail Fried Rice complete with bone marrow, daikon and scallion. Stuffed as we were, we took home most of the chicken and fried rice but we were totally satiated.
|Mike with the main courses|
But wait, there’s more! Dessert was pretty much the gold flake of the entire meal – an ooey gooey God-send of Ginger Bread Pudding with creamy ginger ice cream and caramel sauce. After deciding that it was safe to walk and not topple over, we decided to take a digesting break in the room before heading to the concert.
|All dolled up|
|Chelsea ballroom complete with sparkly dance floor and disco ball display|
|"and it was all yellow..."|
|The crowd with the VIP/Celebrity section in the back|
|Jay-Z and Coldplay|
At one point, Jay-Z was singing a song that features Kanye West and when that part of the song came, boom!, there was Kanye West in the flesh! I think it took people a while to recognize him as he was in a jean jacket, bandana and sunglasses amongst a room full of dudes in penguin suits and women in ball gowns. This was the first big surprise of the night.
|Kanye West appears as a surprise guest performer|
|Jay-Z with John Mayer in the background|
|Beyonce singing "Young Forever"|
|Beyonce and Chris Martin performing "Halo"|
Jay-Z sang a few more songs and really got the crowd going for "Empire State of Mind." How cool would it have been if Alicia Keys popped out from behind the curtain? Alas, she was elsewhere and they used a recorded vocal track, but there's something about that song that just makes me feel amazing.
I alluded to the fact that this was a star-studded event, and while we saw Mark Wahlberg, James Marsden, Aziz Ansari, Gayle King and Gail Simmons, we found out after that this event with its guest list could have easily been mistaken for a Golden Globes after-party. According to a couple of different websites, here's who I found out were there: Timothy Olyphant, Cheryl Hines, BJ Novak, Forest Whittaker, Pauly Shore, Shiri Appleby, Aaron Paul, Wilmer Valderrama, Cameron Diaz, Alex Rodriguez, Gwenyth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez, Mark Antony, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jessica Szohr, Rashida Jones, Taraji P. Henson, Olivia Munn, Haylie Duff, Channing Tatum, Jared Followill, Whitney Port, Jeremy Piven, Bonnie Somerville, Christina Milian, Mark Salling, Emmy Rossum, Kristin Davis, Giada De Laurentiis, Lance Bass, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Mel B, Kirsten Dunst, Brandy, Armie Hammer, Teri Polo, Garrett Hedlund, Ellen Pompeo, and Blake Lively. Phew!
Here are a couple of blurry celeb pictures I managed to snag:
|Gail Simmons from Top Chef|
|Oprah's best friend Gayle King|
|Dessert table at the NYE party|
|So pumped up after the crazy party|
|Nina and I chilling in the Chandelier Bar post-NYE concert|
The next morning we somehow managed to wake up with enough time to make it to brunch at the Wicked Spoon. And boy am I glad we didn't miss this. You want to talk about epic? This was the most epic brunch ever. Not only was it the most innovative buffet I've ever seen, but all of the food choices were fresh, constantly replenished and often served to you by a worker from behind the counter. I ate the most amazing truffled potatoes ever and was super bowled over by the Eggs Benedict, fresh berries and butternut squash ravioli. They had a giant dessert station as well complete with a full gelato bar. Everything was so pretty and we found a resurgence of the gold flakes on numerous desserts.
I'm pretty sure this was the coolest pool area I've ever seen. With all sorts of plush seating arrangements, brightly colored blue and yellow decorations, in-pool chaise lounges, views up and down the Strip, a fully stocked bar, cozy cabanas (with plasma TVs), pool tables and TVs, this was again the place to be. We were all still stuffed from breakfast, so we didn't get to enjoy the full BBQ going on, but we did help ourselves to Veuve Clicquot, Mighty Leaf teas, creamy hot chocolate and some Bailey's and coffee to warm up with. They were also passing out warm blankets and had the heaters cranked on high.
|My first plateful at The Wicket Spoon Buffet|
|My dessert plate at The Wicked Spoon Buffet|
While recovering from yet another food coma, we decided to chill out on the balcony. Even though the weather in Vegas was colder than it was in NYC the entire time we were there (read: 30s), the sun had this way of streaming onto our terrace so that you really were fine in a t-shirt. We saw them setting up for the afternoon pool party and BBQ down below, and after listening to Gospel singer Mavis Staples perform, we decided to go down and check it out.
|View of the pool area from our terrace|
|Mike and I hanging by one of the pools|
|Chair in the bushes!|
|Pool area with the marquee|
|Some gifts from the hotel|
|Sunrise from the terrace as we left for the airport|