I’m sure I walked into some part of Bellagio during my my first time in Las Vegas. Well, I was sure until I went in with The Poet and The Activist in October of 2017.
Every time I had visited The Poet and The Activist in Las Vegas, we had talked about going to Bellagio to see Dale Chihuly’s glass art. I didn’t really remember seeing the glass art, but I felt sure I had. I always told The Poet and The Activist I didn’t need to see it agian, and we always had many other things on our itenerary of fun, so we never went.
This visit, however, we had more free time in our schedule, so we decided to go to the casino on a weekday morning in hopes of missing the crowds. We got a later start than we’d planned, so our morning visit turned into an early afternoon excursion.
I’d also been confident all the casinos in Vegas offered free parking; Bellagio does not. Maybe Bellagio charges for parking because it has a parking garage. The Hard Rock Hotel has a garage too, and I know the Love Kids and I parked my van there overnight and for free in 2012. Maybe the Hard Rock offers free parking because it’s not on the main drag and has more room. We parked for free at Hooters too in 2012, but that was in an outdoor parking lot, not in a garage. Maybe Bellagio is just trying to be exclusive. I’m (obviously) unsure, but Bellagio wanted $7 and up for cars that parked in the garage for more than an hour.
So yes, the first sixty minutes of parking was free.
I think we can see everything in an hour, I said. The Activist was skeptical, but I was confident.
We parked, then found our way through the maze of the parking garage. We got on an elevator that took us up a couple floors, then followed a sign directing us to the casino.
The Activist found the Chihuly flowers right away. He’d walked ahead while The Poet and I hung back and took in the hustle and bustle of what seemed to me like a very high-end shopping mall. The ceilings were incredibly high and the floor was impeccably clean. I remember all the casinos on the strip being very well maintained, but this was Disney Land level spotless. There was not a streak of dirt on the floor nor a scrap of paper.
The Activist beckoned us, and we walked into a large open area near the reception desk serving the luxery hotel within the casino. I suppose we were in the lobby, although I didn’t see any luggage.
The Activist pointed up, and my gaze and The Poet’s followed his finger. Hanging from the ceiling were many, many, many colorful glass blossoms.
According to a 2013 article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the official name of the piece is Fiori di Como, and it cost $10 million. The article continues,
The sculpture consists of 2,000 hand-blown glass blossoms that weigh about 40,000 pounds. They are supported by a 10,000-pound steel armature. Every morning between 2 and 5 a.m., a team of eight to 10 engineers cleans and maintains the sculpture…
I suppose they look like flowers. I know they’re supposed to look like flowers, but I think they mostly look like colorful blobs.
I wish the flowers had been lit better. The light coming from behind them was quite subdued. Was this the choice of the artist, or was the hotel management using low lighting to keep the mood of the lobby mellow? I don’t know, but I would have liked to see the glass flowers lit by natural light. I think they would have popped had the strong Las Vegas sun shone through a skylight behind them.
When I heard there was Chihuly glass at Bellagio, I thought we were going to see an entire exhibit of different colorful pieces. There were a lot of flowers, sure, but they were simply variations on one theme. Besides, because they were on the ceiling, it was difficult for me to see much detail.
I took a few photos. They didn’t come out so great because of the dim, artificial lighting. (I love natural lighting for my photos.)
A little further into the lobby, there was a horse upon wich sat a person in an eleborate costume. I realized pretty quickly that the horse was a statue. I thought the person on the horse was eventually going to move (and even warned The Poet to expect some movement), but I guess that’s in another casino. This person did not move and turned out to be a statue too. Other people were taking photos of the spectacle, so I did as well. I failed, however, to stoop down and read the explanation of why this statue was in the lobby.
Perhaps the statue is related to exhibit showing at Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art called “Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection.” According to the Bellagio website, the exhibit runs until April 29, 2018 and
honor[s] the culture, lifestyle and art of the samurai warrior. Spanning hundreds of decades of Japanese history, more than 50 pieces of samurai armor will be on display.
After we got our fill of the Chihuly glass flowers (which took about three minutes, actually), we wandered over to the conservatory.
When we’d told a friend of The Activist and The Poet we were going to see the Chihuly glass, she said the conservatory would be done up for autumn and we’d certainly enjoy that. When we saw the conservatory, I thought What’s the point?
While the display was colorful (which I certainly liked), I wouldn’t say it was beautiful. I would say it was gawdy. I’d also say it was more Disney Land-esque than even the spotless lobby. Talking trees? Come on!
Maybe the conservatory is meant to appeal to children, an attraction helping to make Vegas a family destination. Maybe it is supposed to be gawdy, over-the-top, like so much else in the city. Personally, I looked at the display of plants and flowers and saw wasted money. How many hungry people could be fed with the money spent on that display? How many homeless people could be housed with the money spent on that display? How many books for libraries or supplies for school kids could be bought with the money spent on that display?
I’m not opposed to spending money on art and beauty available to the masses, but this gawdy disply for the elite who could make it into the building left me wondering, What’s the point?
What’s the point of giant peacocks?
What’s the point of fake trees that roll their eyes and talk?
What’s the point of larger-than-life acorns and animatronic birds swishing their tail feathers?
My friends and I wandered around the conservatory for 10 or 15 minutes. People all around us were taking photos, and there were cameras flashing in all areas of the large room. I took some photos too. It seemed like the thing to do.
When we all agreed were were ready to go, we followed the signs back to the elevators, which we took down to the level where we’d left the car. As I’d predicted, we finished our looking in less than an hour and didn’t have to pay a penny for parking. It wasn’t a terrible excursion for free, but I know someone was footing the bill for the thousands of blossoms and all the talking trees.
The Bellagio and 99 other Las Vegas attractions are on the Jen Reviews list of the 100 Best Things to Do in Las Vegas.
I took the photos in this post except the last one, which The Poet took for me.
Coincidence! I went to Vegas for the first (and last) time in my very long life last September. (A nice gentleman invited me to attend a Celine Dion concert and I figured I could scratch two items off my bucket list–the company was good.) We saw the same exhibit at the Conservatory in the Bellagio. I didn’t think so much about the starving children as I wondered why millions of people come to this place and are more than thrilled to give their money away to support the opulence: What’s going on in their minds?
That’s a great question, Muriel. What are people thinking? Maybe they image the opulence really belongs to them. Maybe they enjoy living in luxury, even if only for a limited time. I suspect most people just don’t think much about why they do what they do. If friends and family say, Go to the Bellagio, you’ll love it, they probably just go.
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