After a week of living on the Las Vegas Strip, I was ready for some nice quiet living OFF the Strip. Even though I was getting complimentary nights at casino properties, I had felt trapped in an area where I couldn’t sleep well and the food was overpriced and unhealthy.
Fortunately I was still able to enjoy complimentary nights at hotels off the Strip. Over the years I have accumulated a lot of Holiday Inn, Marriott, and Hilton points, and Las Vegas is a great place to maximize their value. I started by using Holiday Inn points (20,000/night) for a 3-day stay at the Holiday Inn Express Las Vegas South (just west of Mandalay Bay). I had stayed there before and knew they had a mid-size refrigerator in the room. I immediately took a trip to the nearby Whole Foods Market at Town Square where I happily took advantage of their large organic salad bar. I also bought my favorite hotel food for my whole food, plant-based eating lifestyle: instant oats, cinnamon, miso soup mix, raw flax snacks, raw nuts & seeds, hummus, salsa, Ezekiel cereal, almond milk. and lots of fresh veggies and fruit. I also picked up some groceries to cook in the kitchen I knew I would have in my next hotel: brown rice, green beans, black beans, corn tortillas, and sweet potatoes. Holiday Inn Express has a free breakfast, but nothing healthy for me besides bananas. I didn’t mind though because I had plenty of healthy food in my room.
Next I used some Holiday Inn points for a 3-day stay at the Holiday Inn Club Vacations resort, just east of Harrah’s. I really enjoyed this property. Like the last Holiday Inn, they offer free shuttle service to casinos on the Strip, while the hotel itself was much more quiet and peaceful than resorts on the Strip. We had a big, comfortable furnished apartment to ourselves. I enjoyed the nice balcony, the full-sized washer and dryer, the push-button gas fireplace, the separate large bedroom, and especially the full-sized and fully equipped kitchen.
The Holiday Inn Club Vacations resort had a nice little market and a restaurant on-site, but I chose instead to make use of my kitchen to cook up some wonderful meals, such as sweet potato and black bean tacos! It felt good to eat wholesome, oil-free food again. I would definitely choose to stay here again.
We then moved to Marriott Springhill Suites across from the Convention Center. The hotel room was adequate. As with most mid-lower-end hotels, the free breakfast doesn’t offer me more than a GMO banana and apple. However, my suite did include a refrigerator. I ate organic oatmeal, Ezekiel cereal with almond milk, and some veggies in the room. The on-site restaurant also worked with me to create a lovely Vegan wrap, and they have a happy hour with a nice 1/2 price hummus and veggies option. Across the street from the Springhill Suites was Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, formerly the Hilton Las Vegas Casino. I enjoyed a bit of gambling on some reasonably loose slots for entertainment in the evenings.
I then moved to the nearby town of Henderson, using Hilton points to stay for free at a Garden Inn for a week. The rooms were quiet, service was great, the beds and pillows were extra comfortable, and I continued to have a refrigerator and microwave in the room. Best of all, the breakfast was awesome! As a Hilton Gold member, my husband and I receive a free cook-to-order breakfast every day. The chef, Jeff, created an outstanding oil-free veggie burrito for me. The waitstaff Luis and Marylou welcomed me everyday by knowing exactly what I wanted for breakfast: my veggie burrito, Earl Grey tea, and a glass of water with lemon. They also had a breakfast bar with fresh fruit, so I enjoyed a bowl of strawberries daily too.
On my first full day at the Garden Inn, I walked 2 blocks to a Sprouts market for some fresh produce and groceries. Sprouts is much smaller than Whole Foods, and I miss the Whole Foods giant organic salad bar. However, easy access to Sprouts ensured that I could make myself an organic salad in my room every day. I also bought a can of organic beans, which the hotel kitchen staff graciously opened for me.
On a couple of days my husband and I walked across the street to a bar call Sierra Gold. They mostly had greasy bar food there, which my husband enjoyed. 🙂 However, I explained my needs to the waitress and ended up ordering their seasonal vegetables, with no oil or butter. For $3 I received carrots and broccoli that were steamed perfectly and very tasty. I was happy with these vegetables as a snack, as I had plenty of other healthy food for my meals back in my room.
There was also a large casino called Sunset Station that was about 100 feet from our hotel. Sometimes I played penny slots there. Quite different from being on the Strip, these slot machines actually hit too. Overall, I enjoyed my 6-day stay at the Hilton Garden Inn, and I would stay there again.
I am now in my final week of my month in Vegas, and I am spending it at Sam’s Town. The Sam’s Town Firelight Buffet has several healthy options, and on most days it costs between $7-$10/person. They had plenty of fresh vegetables in their salad section, along with kidney beans and chickpeas. They also had an Asian section with a vegetable stir-fry that wasn’t too oily. My favorite part was a baked potato bar. They had both white and sweet potatoes. I loaded a sweet potato with beans, guacamole, seeds, and veggies. I would like to say that the picture shown was all I ate at the buffet, but I must admit I had another plate… okay, the equivalent of two more. I stuffed myself, then promised never to do that again. LOL. At the breakfast buffet, they had oatmeal (probably processed), bananas, raisins, and not-too-oily potatoes with several kinds of salsa and pico de gallo. I no longer have a refrigerator nor a kettle in my room, so I made some compromises by eating this food at the buffet every day. For snacks, I ate organic nuts and seeds I had previously purchased at Sprouts. I also carried organic tea bags and packets of miso soup with me on the casino floor; when cocktail service was offered, I simply requested some hot water for my tea or soup.
For 3 of my meals, I visited the resort’s Mexican food restaurant, Willy & Jose’s Cantina. Waitstaff Robyn and Roy helped me identify my options. I learned that their rice was made with chicken broth, that their refried beans and bean salsa were made with pork juice, and that I should avoid their hottest salsa because the peppers are soaked in chicken broth. I appreciate the detailed information! They offered two other delicious salsas, and I greatly enjoyed their veggie fajitas for $12.
Sam’s Town also has a steak restaurant, a deli, a food court, and a TGIF, none of which I visited this trip. The food court only had low-end, non-Vegan options, and I chose not to go to the TGIF because of this Vegan’s review. The steak restaurant offered a plate of seasonal vegetables for $6, but that seemed relatively expensive for Sam’s Town, and I had no interest being inside a steak restaurant. I saw that the deli sells a container of carrots and celery sticks, but I was never hungry enough to purchase them. Fortunately the buffet and the Mexican restaurant kept me full and happy.
I also enjoyed gambling at Sam’s Town. Again, the slots off the Strip are so much looser than at casinos on the Strip… and, well, winning often makes gambling more fun. :).
I leave Vegas tomorrow, and I have enjoyed myself and learned a lot about where to stay in the future and how to eat healthy in Vegas. Hooray! Hopefully my blog will help others find some healthy eating options too. I’d love to hear from you if you have additional ideas or experiences.