Monday, June 28, 2010

2010 Pasadena Chalk Festival @ Paseo Colorado

Paseo Colorado 2010 Pasadena Chalk Festival
(Event took place June 19-20, 2010)

Sometimes we stumble onto an event, and the previous weekend was no exception. Our plan was to go to the Glendale Galleria to shop around. We did, and had mini chocolate cupcakes for free at Nordstroms and had a late lunch of a meatball sub at Subway. I spent the rest of the visit listening to the dusty (on the inside) and tattered (no serial # and side logo plucked off :[ ), but a very nice sounding Steinway & Sons Model B Piano at Nordstroms. The highlight of the visit, as always as it seems these days when I visit any mall and happen to drop by Nordstroms.

Thankfully only because there was a pianist! Nordstroms always used to have someone tickling the ivories (AKA playing the piano) everyday on a Steinway at Arcadia, Glendale, and Costa Mesa, but now it seems to be getting rarer and rarer. So it's off to listen to the music rather than shop. Nor does the music get pumped off the speakers anymore. Too bad, because the music played by any person Nordstroms employs plays famous tunes- and some of them play pieces memorized and you can even request them to play something! Seniors and kids particularly enjoy the music- as well as the Steinway itself.

Clif Kid Kids Chalkland

Anyway, we went back towards Pasadena so we could visit Paseo Colorado for some more shopping. What we did not know was that there was an event going on. Passing by Colorado Boulevard to enter the parking garage, there was a frenzy of activity, and tons of sunshades. Going up the escalator, our thoughts were confirmed: a chalk festival was taking place.

After our parking ticket was stamped at Macy's, we shopped and headed off to admire at the art people were making.

Person Drawing View

Each artist/group had their own section taped off for them to draw on, and the topics they drew about were very different. Some were about nature, while some were about people. In this picture, you see an artist taking a break. How relaxing.

Rose

Since I had some accidental problems with my settings as I wasn't careful enough I had to leave and return to some drawings that I had took pictures of. So, the next blog-worthy picture was this rose, which is actually a ship if you look closer. And you also see the printed drawing compared to the chalk drawing. Very nice, no? It won best Original Design and was by Brad Street who called it "Rose Afloat."

Person Drawing

Then I went back to the drawing that I took a picture of before. It's probably not totally finished yet, but it already looked like a beautiful piece of art. Others agreed, as they came in with their cameras- cellphones, P&S, DSLRS, and big DSLRs with an external flash to take a picture.

Skull Hot Air Balloon

Something nearby was a hot air balloon drawn as a skull. How creative! The skateboard makes it even more interesting.

Bear Flying out of Fire Building

OH NO! The teddy bear is falling from the building catching on fire! And the artist is busy making the smoke look even more fantastic? What will we do? Just kidding. :) Obviously, a very humorous drawing. Christopher Ocampo, who made this drawing and called it "I Hate My Job", won the award for being Most Humorous.

Beetle Chalk Drawing

Something less dramatic is this happy scene of a Volkswagen like Beetle car which seems to be enjoying the sunny afternoon.

Jetblue Celebrating 10 Years Chalk Drawing (stitched)

One of the bigger drawings was one by JetBlue, who was promoting their 10th anniversary. As you may or may not know, I like Jetblue. (Jetblue BOS- LGB, Jetblue LGB- BOS) And the past weekend they had a raffle for two roundtrip tickets. As for the winners, I do not know who won. But I do know this drawing took plenty of effort by a group of guys who spent hours to perfect the drawing! And the fact I took 16 pictures of it and stitched them into this. Thank you, Photomerge in CS4. (YAY)

Good Belly Plus Mango

I headed off to Loehmanns to check out if there was anything interesting discounts available, and on the street there were several people handing out samples of Good Belly Plus Probiotic Fruit Drink in mango flavor. This was interesting, as it had quite a number of vitamins, juice concentrates, plus things like oat flour in it. Together there was a combination of fruit and oat flavor, with the mango standing out. Pretty interesting. Just like that smile you see on top of the container.

The funny thing was at check out. Someone had a 20% off coupon, and people wondered where she got it. What did she do? She gave the coupon to them. Hmm...and came back with another coupon. Then the chain started to spread. People went to get the coupon for others and in the end probably 10 people had the coupon. Where were the coupons? They were unguarded on the floor at an unmanned register. Obviously the manager noticed later on but it was already too late to make them unvalid. The coupons just went closer to her, where people could not take them away.

Ice Cream and Dog

Walking back out after having enjoyed the air conditioning inside, there was a cute picture of kids eating ice cream and a dog to look at. This drawing was not complete at the time, so I went to take a closer look. Looking at the Chalk Festival website, this actually won an award. Shuji Nishimura's "We Love Ice Cream" won Best of Silent Auction and Best Technique. The final drawing is SO IMPRESSIVE!

Ice Cream and Dog 1

Aren't these kids just so cute? The boy to the right looks like someone I would know. And this photo was saved thanks again to Photoshop (since it was in Manual mode accidentally).

Ice Cream and Dog 2

To compensate I took another picture but this time from another side. Again, very cute kids.

Girls Chalk Drawing

Nearby was a nice drawing of ladies dressed in a very prim and proper style of the old days.

Fancy Cat

Plus there was a beautiful cat too. Doesn't it seem to stand out from all the other elements in the drawing? The complete drawing, by Brittany Lee, called "The Burden of the Responsible Man" won Best of Festival - Second Place, and People's Choice Award.

UP! Drawing

Nearby was another drawing, definitely resembling the characters from Up!: Russell and Carl.

Sun rays

As well as a simple picture of a sun with many colors of light nearby.

Kids on the Porch

To end the post, here is a drawing that my companion liked of kids playing on instruments on the porch of their home. These kids look very familiar but I don't remember if it came from some movie or book...

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the many drawings that the artists were busily working on all afternoon. I wonder how Paseo Colorado looks now. They should just make these drawings permanent! And obviously, these are just a few drawings. There were much more drawings, as well as an entertainment stage and cars too. And evidently, this event won a Guinness World Record for the Largest Display of Chalk Pavement Art!

See more information at the 2010 Pasadena Chalk Festival Website.


Paseo Colorado
280 East Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91101
Tel: (626) 795-9100

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Festival and Events Index

Here are all the posts on Eat. Travel. Eat! about various festivals and events:

2012:
UC Irvine Undergraduate Research Symposium

2010:
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books 2010 @  University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Pasadena 2010 Chalk Festival @ Paseo Colorado, Pasadena

2009:

Bellagio Review 2010: Tower Deluxe Queen Room on the 35th Floor

Bellagio Exterior

Hi and welcome back to the second part of the Bellagio rooms review. If you haven't read part 1 which is about the Penthouse Suite and would like to do so, please click HERE. As for now, we are moving on...

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Overall View Tower Deluxe Room

My first overall view of this room was from the Penthouse Suite as I went through the connecting doors, but for most of you people you would probably just come in through the main door. After passing a wide walkway and the bathroom door, this is what you would see above.

First question when I saw the room: two queen beds? Previously, I had looked on Tripadvisor and we all agreed- Tower Deluxe rooms only come with a king bed. However, looking at the Bellagio website, they have connector rooms for Penthouse Suites, and those connector rooms are Tower Deluxe guest rooms- with 2 queen beds. So, if you look at the floorplans, we had the one bedroom penthouse + queen connector. And know you know that you can provide real evidence to say that yes, there is a queen option for a Tower Deluxe room.

Beds Tower Deluxe

This was actually the first photo I took of the room, but more focused on the beds. As you can see by the photo, there is also yet another iHome, writing pad, and telephone in the room like the Penthouse Suite. The cabinet houses phone-books, guides to the hotel, magazines, and the Bible like most hotels do.

Tower Deluxe Room Drawing 1

Tower Deluxe Room Drawing 2

Like the Penthouse Suite, the Tower Deluxe also has its own limited edition art, but by a different artist whose signature is:

Tower Deluxe Room Drawings Author

To the other side of the room, there are three things: the air conditioner adjuster, a small work table with a welcome letter to the Bellagio (just like the Penthouse Suite and not specially addressed to us unlike at the Pelican Hill), and lastly the main TV console:

TV Cabinet Tower Deluxe Room
(Distortion alert! Of course, this cabinet is a rectangular prism.)

The TV console is really the heart of the room. Of course, you know me. We all didn't like this dark wood console because we do not like dark items, as seen in my want for a bright room (And to those high school students: I am not being racist.). However, things are the way they are, and it was this piece of furniture where I found that the furniture is made by Cheng Meng in Singapore. Want to see for yourself? Open up the cabinets and find the sticker!

Like the Penthouse Suite, there was the same flat screen TV which had multiple TVB channels and Chinese channels. Good for those who watch it like me! We were thus able to stay updated on our favorite TVB shows and wake up to the familiar tones of Pleasure and Leisure, a morning talk show with cooking segments and talks about Hong Kong life.

Lint Remover, Shoe Brush, and Sewing Kit for Tower Deluxe Room

Below the TV were just storage cabinets, large enough to fit my backpack (OK, not a good example since my 2000 cubic inch backpack only had my laptop. Talk about a light load!).

Left Corner: Amoire of Tower Deluxe

In the large left cabinet, there was the minibar and glasses (again, no photo of the minibar), as well as the safe. As you see in the photo, it was very thin but very tall, and was large enough to fit a 17 inch laptop (not mine, as you probably know by THIS photo, a time warp back to 2006).

Right Corner: Amoire of Tower Deluxe

In the right cabinet there were the fluffy, soft, fur like robes, a iron, hangars, and the ironing board. As well as the two pairs of....

Bellagio Slippers

...slippers that were comfy and soft but had a furniture chemical smell to them as we found out after we put them in the washing machine at home. Something makes me wonder that the smell could have come from the wood, but in that case the slippers should have had no scent after being washed!

Tower Suite Bathroom Right

Moving on, here is part of the Tower Deluxe bathroom. It was definitely spacious unlike the Mirage, and had plenty to see. Like the Palazzo, it had a TV with a remote, a regular large tub, and plenty of toiletries.

Tub Toiletries Tower Deluxe Room

And like the Penthouse, they had the same toiletries available. As you can see here, there are the same bath salts, bath gel, luffa, and soap as in the ladies' bathroom.

Tower Deluxe Bathroom Left

To the left of the bathroom there is the toilet, sink, and the shower which I'll show you later. You also see me in my Tripadvisor hat, jacket, and my camera. :) Go away, mirror!

DSC_2508-1

Like the bathrooms in the penthouse suite, the amenities were the same: shower cap, shave gel, shaving kit, toothbrush (+1), hairspray, lotion, mouthwash, the like. Unless you like your own stuff from home better, there really isn't a need to bring stuff! Although my companions did say these toiletries were not as good as some of the other hotels we have stayed at.

Full Set of Toiletries Tower Deluxe Room

As stated in the Penthouse Suite post, there were some fluctuations with housekeeping. On the second day after the second housekeeping came by to make the beds for nighttime, the tray looked like this.

Shower Tower Deluxe

What's missing from the entire picture? The shower of course. Unlike the Penthouse Suite this doesn't have a bench but is still made out of marble. Standard shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner are included just like in the Penthouse Suite.

Nighttime Tower Deluxe Room

The room does change a bit at night, as you can see. This is the room with most of the lights turned on. I'd say OK bright, but most hotels are only this bright, unlike Palazzo which is bright like a home should be.

Bellagio Fine Belgian Chocolates

The other plus you get are some chocolates! "Fine Belgian Chocolates." Made in Canada too. You also get these same chocolates in the Penthouse Suite. I just put the photos in this post only.

Bellagio Night Time Chocolates Detail

And inside are simply four squares of chocolate wrapped in the signature "B" of Bellagio. The rest of the box is a plastic tray which props up the four squares of chocolate. You only get this after turn-down service, and that depends on when they come! We didn't have any chocolate the first night since I was sick and no one came still even at 7PM. However, on the second night they came at an early 5PM and we got to see how they cleaned up our rooms.


Conclusion


Overall I would say this room was pretty good in terms of the features itself. It was a perfect guest room size, if a bit small since the chairs at the windows were blocking the way to the window and the air vent that you can open up at the window. The iHome and the TV were all very nice and so was the bathroom. Everything was designed nicely and cared for nicely. The only two negatives? 1. The beds, as they were lumpy and the foam was already lumpy and not supportive anymore. 2. The price. Why should I pay 199 for this room (219 is the standard rate) when I can get a room at the Palazzo which is definitely nicer and larger for the same price (rarely) or less (almost all the time)?

So, final conclusion: this room is great as a room connector. But, if you are only staying in a Tower Deluxe room and that is it, I would rather you spend your money at the Palazzo or Encore or upgrade to a suite at the Bellagio with Executive lounge access. Otherwise, spending this much when for just a bit more you can get a much improved experience simply isn't worth it. Save the money and spend it for a room upgrade, or a meal at a nice restaurant like Aureole!


Bellagio Las Vegas
3600 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Tel: (702) 693-7111


This trip series posts are listed in order below:
Driving Scenes: CA-Las Vegas, Spring 2010
VIP Lounge at Bellagio Las Vegas and Check In
Bellagio Review 2010: Penthouse Suite on the 35th Floor
Bellagio Review 2010: Tower Deluxe Queen Room on the 35th Floor (Room Connector)
Walkaround: Bellagio, CityCenter (Aria, Jean Philippe Patisserie)- Las Vegas
Noodles (Bellagio)- Las Vegas
Fountains of Bellagio- Las Vegas
Pho Vietnam & Capital Seafood- Las Vegas
Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (Spring)/ Check In Area- Las Vegas
Aureole- Las Vegas (Mandalay Bay)
The Buffet (Bellagio)- Las Vegas
Las Vegas Spring 2010 Trip Day 3: Caesars Palace Forum Shops and Driving Scenes: Las Vegas to LA

P.S. This post is written on Father's Day for 2010. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bellagio Review 2010: Penthouse Suite on the 35th Floor

Bellagio Exterior

Welcome to my Penthouse Suite review of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, NV. This part will discuss everything about the room and the next portion which will be online soon will talk about the Tower Deluxe room that we received as a connecting room.

Want to read more about our trip? Well, you can go to the index (link HERE) and see all the posts that are about this trip. And now, to the review.
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If you haven't read the VIP Lounge and the Check In parts of the review yet, it is a helpful transition to come towards this post. Plus you learn more information.

For us, we stayed at a Penthouse Suite about five years ago here at the Bellagio. Back then, everything was quite nice. There was a Italian feel to the rooms and it certainly was worth its price: it was beautiful and full of features. After the renovations, things appeared to become even better according to Tripadvisor photos and Bellagio's own website. Since it was the cheapest option compared to Wynn and other hotels for a similar suite, we decided to book the Bellagio.

After we booked the room though, I looked more at Tripadvisor photos and they looked UGLY. Might have been the overdose of flash usage but the suite did not look as good as it was! It really did not matter though, as it was too late to change anything and the rest of my group had trust in the suite. After snacking a bit on some foods and taking plenty of bottles of water, we left the VIP lounge area to go to our room. The truth...what will it be?

Now, we went up using the VIP elevators. However, there is another way to go to the rooms: the main elevator lobbies.

Casino
Casino Near Buffet

To get to the main elevator lobbies, you would have to walk inwards to the casino for several minutes. This equates to walking from the side of the main tower to the middle of the main tower, as the parking entrance and the regular entrance are to the left of the hotel, closer to the Spa Tower.

Main Elevator Halls
(sorry for the tilt)

And then you would walk into a hallway similar to this one to get to your room. As with most Las Vegas hotels, there are different elevators for different levels. This one is for floors 29-36.

VIP Buttons

Inside the elevator, the buttons were large and required a key in order to work, unless if we were going back down to the casino in which it does not require a key. This photo was taken in the VIP elevators, if it makes any difference. (I think there is none)

Elevator Hall VIP

Upstairs, there are also two different elevator lobbies, one for VIP and one in the middle. Here's the VIP one.

Intersection of Hallway

Seeing the intersection with the round table made us happy as it was a signal that we were halfway there to our room from the VIP elevators! Our room was actually at the end of the hallway, as we found out later. Could that mean a better view?

Hallway

Walking down and glancing at the room numbers and direction we were going at, I noticed our room number would bring us a view with the fountains. Score! However, we also noticed that the hallways were darker compared to last time. Dim lighting and darker colored wallpaper. Why would the designers want this when the rooms inside are brightly colored?

First Photo Penthouse Suite Living and Dining Room Areas

After finding the right card to open the Penthouse Suite and not the Tower Deluxe Room we also booked next door, the doors opened. This was my first glance into the room after I went to a corner so that I could get full view of the main living/dining area. Overall, pretty nice! Nicely lit and a great design that was not too dark nor too bright.

TV Penthouse Suite
(TV nearby the sofa)

But right away I found out this was a smoking room (see the ashtrays). That was because we forgot to specify what type of room we wanted over the phone. Luckily however, there was no stench of smoke to be found anywhere. Maybe it is because I got used to the casino smell? Anyway, the only plus of a smoking room, especially for a suite, is that we had lots of matchbooks to take home. Nice for a souvenir or lighting birthday candles or lighting a stove when there is no electricity.

Imitation Succulents

At first I was thinking Bellagio copied Pelican Hill with their succulents, but no! These were imitation. Or in other words, not the real thing.

Crop Other Direction Penthouse Suite
Dining Room Penthouse Suite

As for the dining area, there was a round table fit for at least four, and then a long rectangular table which was perfect for electronics and work. That's mainly because the plugs were on the table! But if you need more plugs, there are plenty on the walls too.

Powder Room Penthouse Suite

In addition, a powder room was located off the entrance. Here you have a bar of soap, a sink, another book of matches, napkins, towels, and the toilet hidden in the back. Probably a telephone too.

Minibar Penthouse Suite

On the other side would be the bar, which is great for the room size. There's plenty of things on the other side, like:

Minibar Penthouse Suite Other Side

A sink, a mini bar fridge, a personal fridge, glasses, and the minibar stock of items. Sorry, no minibar photo like I did with the Mirage last time! Besides= sick person taking photos= painful!

Chihuly Glass in Penthouse Suite
Chihuly Glass

Penthouse Suite Paintings
Paintings, which are by:

Penthouse Suite Paintings Author

Before I talk about the bedroom here are some art pictures, all found in the living area. I took these later in the evening, but it works for better continuity. Do you like the art? I do. Definitely very nice, and all of these are limited editions (photos are out of 200, if I remember).

Master Bedroom Penthouse Suite

Grand or not? Here's the master bedroom. It never ended up having a special cover, it was just a simple white- unlike the Tower Deluxe. It is a nicely sized bedroom (approximately Pelican Hill size for their master bedroom in the villa, but smaller), then splitting up into two bathrooms. The bed was cushy and soft. However, we all ended up with backaches the next day! That's because the beds have been weakened by lots of use. Too old! Need new beds.

TV and View Penthouse Suite

In addition there are lamps, an iHome, writing pad with pen (not as good as my favorite LV hotel pens: Palazzo/Wynn), and plenty of seating and cabinets in the bedroom.

Men's Bathroom Penthouse Suite

The other end of the bedrooms houses the bathrooms. There are two sides, a men side and a ladies side. Above you see part of the mes bathroom. In comparison to the ladies bathroom it is slightly smaller. The main difference between these two bathrooms is that the the men bathroom has a shower, but the ladies bathroom has a jacuzzi tub.

Toiletries Part 1 Mens Bathroom Penthouse Suite

Here are the toiletries in detail. I was surprised that Bellagio changed the design of their toiletries from a modern oval shape to this, but actually what has really changed is just the bottle. The scents of the toiletries are still the same as before and have a mix of scents from orange (shower gel) to other ranges of flavors. Unlike before, these are branded by Olive Rich and are also available in the shops downstairs like at the Mirage with their Aqua Lime toiletries by Gilchrist and Soames.

Mens Closet Penthouse Suite

Unlike your typical hotel room where the closet is in the bedroom, Bellagio puts their closets in the Penthouse Suite in side each bathroom. One bathroom houses the safe for the room too- just a normal safe, nothing as special as Palazzo.

Men's Toilet and Shower Penthouse Suite

To the right is the shower which even has a bench, and the toilet with phone.

Shower Toiletries

Like expected, there are the standard shampoo, conditioner, and bath gel in the shower as seen in almost every AAA 5 Diamond rated hotel. Again, all made by Olive Rich.

Men's Toilet Penthouse Suite

Here's a detailed view, if you needed one, of the men's toilet. Unlike Palazzo, this one is at least bright and not dim like crazy!

Make Up Area Ladie's Bathroom Penthouse Suite

Moving on to the ladies bathroom, the first main difference is at the entrance. There is a small makeup area with plenty of make up necessities.

Jacuzzi Tub Ladies Bathroom Penthouse Suite

The second difference is that there is a jacuzzi tub with multiple jets! With bath salts, soap, shower gel, and a luffa.

Bidet and Toilet Ladie's Bathroom Penthouse Suite

And the last difference is that the toilet also has a bidet. Fancy, yes!


Conclusion

Bellagio-View-Panoramic-1
(badly made panoramic)

So what did we think about the Bellagio's penthouse suite? Overall, it was nice for our discounted AAA rate of 359 dollars but there were a few flaws. The main positive was the space and the features of the rooms, including the fact that everything was maintained well (except for the bed) and new. (Furniture is made by Cheng Meng) I liked the room design and the extra pluses of the VIP lounge and the line passes. Those were excellent additions! Besides, buying water and not having snacks anytime is an extra burden while vacationing.

Overall View Penthouse Suite/ Tower Deluxe Room

As for negatives, there was the fact that the floors were dirty, as seen in our slippers- they were dark grey on the bottom, not white like they used to be. That means they were lazy on housekeeping. Housekeeping itself had a few problems. They did not give all the toiletries as supposed to, which we saw through the lady who came into our suite who added toiletries even though the housekeeper in the morning added toiletries already. In addition, when we brought the slippers home, they smelled like chemicals even after we had washed them. This means there is a BIG problem with their slippers and their air! And lastly, the bad beds and dark hallways.

In addition, this room showed us how big of a difference there could be between hotels that are part of the Leading Hotels of the World. This room was definitely not on par compared to Pelican Hill, but yet both of them were part of this group. Makes me wonder why Wynn isn't part of this group when we never experienced these problems that the Bellagio had this time around.

View: Southwest and Paris

So, will we ever stay at the Bellagio again? Maybe, but not until they renovate again and state they have new beds! The Penthouse was a pretty good deal in this case, but our Tower Suite room which is up on the next post? Not so.