“Where are you headed?” my cabbie asked innocently enough after picking me up at my Vegas home to take me to the airport. On my way to Costa Rica, I was in a particularly good mood, but my affable driver was confused. “Are you from there?” he asked. It was a weird response, considering Costa Rica’s reputation as a tourist destination, but he pressed on after I told him no: “Is your husband from there?” “Nope, no husband! But actually, I did move to Vegas from there.” I’ve written at length about why I ended up living in paradise during a rough period in my life – and why I moved back to Vegas for my dream job. But, as my confused cabbie at least somewhat understood, we are talking about two very different places with two very different lifestyles. And I had a thought: I have never talked about actually living in Las Vegas.
Anyone who has met me knows two things: I am a dedicated, life-long travel junkie — and I am a borderline-annoying pro-Vegas cheerleader. So imagine my excitement when I discovered a born-in-Sin-City (wait for it) travel agency! And it is one of the fastest-growing luxury travel companies in the US. The founders of Scarlett Hospitality met while attending the University of Nevada Las Vegas during their upper division courses in hotel management. Before they graduated in 2007 and 2008, this go-getter group got their feet wet working at luxury hotels on the Strip such as Caesars Palace, Mandalay Bay, and Wynn. Vegas is nothing if not over-the-top — I couldn’t think of a better education for planning luxury vacations all over the world. And this group has the passion: Founder/CEO Julius Scarlett and Director of Business Development Jessica Black actually ended up leaving their UNLV graduation early to whisk off to Europe for two weeks. These are my kind of people! Their start-up evolved into a full-service travel agency, which books and tailors trips from hotel to dining to entertainment, as well as a hospitality consulting firm that performs customer Quality Analyses for clients such as Mandarin Oriental.
I hope you enjoy getting to know Scarlett Hospitality as much as I did!
I still remember the first time I ate at Nobu. I was still at my very first job out of school, and sitting in that famous Tribeca restaurant, I thought I had made it. Chef Nobu’s food is so amazing that I guess it was only a matter of time that the brand expanded, but when I heard that it was taking over a tower at Caesars Palace, I thought it was genius. There was no way it wouldn’t quickly become one of the best hotels in Las Vegas. Earlier this year, I had the honor of sitting down with co-owner Robert De Niro for a story in Vegas magazine. Since then, I’ve been counting down the days until I got to see this project for myself. He talked about this exciting launch of the very first Nobu Hotel, which was his idea and now building locales as far away as Riyadh.
But for now, I have stayed in the only one in the world!
I know, I know… At this point you’re tired of it. “Vegas isn’t only about the Strip” seems to be my war cry, as I go zip-lining, race-car driving, or fly a jet plane … “Give us some Strip!” you might be thinking. I’ve decided I will, starting this week. But I couldn’t resist one more opportunity to show the side of Vegas no one seems to see anymore. See, no one seems to remember that my desert town was fairly recently a thriving little town in the West Wild. In fact, right out of town (I can literally see the drop-off from city to desert from my office window), there are still ranches of all kinds in Vegas. Yes, all of these photos were taken within city lines. The only thing missing: photos of horses, as that is a huge industry in my town. Alas, I don’t ride. But I think you’ll like these non-Strip Vegas shots. Enjoy!
I know I just said I was retiring from adventure activities, after I got the exhilarating chance to fly a jet plane, but this doesn’t count. This was a comfortable, relaxing little morning ride in the sun — at least that’s what people kept telling me. But to me, riding in a hot air balloon was all about conquering a decade-long fear, after a miserable ride ruined me for a life. Or so I thought… When Hendrick’s Gin offered me a little ride, and it happened to fall on my birthday, how could I say no? I was actually a little excited to kick that phobia in the rear end — even though I was expecting a rather uncomfortable few hours. I mean, just because I was willing to do something, didn’t mean I was going to like it. This was going to have to be one of the best hot air balloon trips ever if it wasn’t going to change my mind…
Over the past year, I’ve done my share to show off the adventurous side to Las Vegas, including zip-lining in the wind, off-roading Mint 400-style, hitting the gun range, race car driving around a wild racetrack, all things that got my adrenaline racing in new ways and put me out of my comfort zone. For my grand finale to this adventure series, I got talked into a tiny cockpit to fly a jet plane and do tricks I thought I couldn’t even imagine at Sky Combat Ace. All week, it was all I could think about. What have I done? Am I really doing this? Am I going to throw up? Then it was Saturday morning, and I was frantic and lost in my own neighborhood, and I realized just how nervous I was. But I found it, and suddenly I was in a flight suit and climbing into the cockpit. Before I could say, “ok, maybe not,” we were barreling down the runway for a fighter jet ride that I never thought I’d experience outside of a movie theater.