We don’t vacation a lot (or enough), mostly because we don’t have the kind of jobs and lifestyle that are flexible for such selfless endeavors. Basically, we don’t have time. One of the many sacrifices you make–or we made–when we started a family is cutting out expensive vacations (I stockpile them in my head for a day when we have the time and means). We’ve also had pretty bad luck with planning them–we’ve tried many times, but our lives keep getting in the way. Remember when we had to cancel our trip to Miami last month because Jay hurt his back? And twice now we’ve bailed on tentative trips to Mexico with friends because the timing didn’t work out with Jay’s restaurants opening.
And then there was our honeymoon… We got married right before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, so going abroad for our honeymoon was out of the question–we had to be back in Chicago to observe the high holidays with both of our families. (I had no choice in the matter.) So instead, we took a relaxing five-day trip to Laguna Beach and stayed at the beautiful Montage Resort. It was lovely and luxurious; everything a honeymoon should be, minus the exotic locale.
It was supposed to be a teaser to our “real” honeymoon, which we’d planned to take the following year, since Jay was opening his first restaurant the December after our September nuptials. We obviously couldn’t leave the country till his new place was securely off the ground, so we planned to go away the following May or June.
But three months after we got married, I surprisingly got pregnant (the same week he opened his restaurant incidentally)…so going to Bali or Tahiti, or any of the exotic places we talked about, were no longer feasible. We even considered Mexico again, but that idea was quickly squashed by my mom because she thought it was dangerous in my knocked-up state. (Yes, I still listen to everything my moms says.)
So instead we decided to go to Aruba for my “babymoon,” a pretty elaborate trip for a babymoon, but it was also a substitute honeymoon lumped together with a babymoon. All we wanted was a relaxing vacation on a beach, where we could take mini adventures and eat delicious food, and spend a lot of time in the sun. We heard the weather was pretty much perfect year-round in Aruba. All year round EXCEPT when we decided to go in May of 2009.
As our plane landed, I couldn’t help but notice an overcast sky and some water on the ground. Never a good start to what’s supposed to be a sun-soaked beach trip. Okay, I thought, so maybe they were having an unusually bad day… When we arrived at the hotel, a perfect, open-air lobby greeted us; we immediately asked the concierge if the weather was supposed to clear up. He didn’t give us the answer we were looking for, instead explaining they were having unseasonably rainy conditions that called for storms throughout the week. There was a giant storm sweeping through the Caribbean; our trip was screwed.
Soon as we got to our room, we checked weather.com: Confirmed, a huge storm was coming through the Caribbean, and it was only getting worse. This was the last big vacation we were going to be able to take before the baby arrived–or maybe ever?–there was no way in hell I was going to spend it indoors, at a resort where there was nothing to do but gamble and drink in a smoky casino (not so fun when you’re 6.5 months pregnant).
We looked for other places to go, but that storm seemed to be hitting everywhere from the Bahamas to Miami. So I started brainstorming: Where was the weather always a guarantee? Great dining options? Entertainment, shopping and spas? Then it hit me: Vegas! You can never go wrong with Vegas. It has something for everyone (which in our case means gambling and a sports book for my husband; shopping, sun and great food for me).
So within 24 hours we were back in the Aruba airport (we finagled a first-class flight back to Chicago the next morning), where we would spend the night, and then hop a flight to Vegas the following morning, for a six-day stay at my favorite hotel, the Wynn. It was the best decision we could’ve made–had we not made it immediately, it wouldn’t have been worth our money to change our plans. Turned out to be a perfect babymoon with perfect weather, and we both got to do what we wanted during our last trip as childless newlyweds.
Ever since I was 25 and my parents let me tag along on a trip to Vegas, I think I’ve gone every year. I went with just my dad once; we sat in the sun and gambled together, and then I went out at night and sneaked into our shared hotel room after-hours (he loved that). I also went with my mom once, for our friend Cheryl’s 60th birthday party at the Wynn. We bonded over their 310-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets.
Then I discovered the joys of Vegas with my best friend Jamie, and we proceeded to go every year for 10 years. We were two single girls looking to escape our mundane single lives in Chicago; it became a summer ritual for us. We made good friends on these trips; I even had a Vegas boyfriend one summer. We’ve had some great times in Sin City, she and I.
My last trip there was with Jay, Jamie and Marc, in 2010, when Jamie was nearly three months pregnant. What can I say: We’re Vegas people. You get every imaginable amenity, world-renowned accommodations and cuisine, and top-notch entertainment and nightlife. You can party like a rock star, or you can chill like a lame mom. I’ve done Vegas both ways, and both are equally awesome.
So we’re headed back to Vegas on Friday for our 2011 trip–this time with our cousins Jordy and Ally, it’ll be our first time traveling together. Preston’s staying with my parents all weekend (not gonna lie, totally sad to leave him behind). But I’m looking forward to hanging out at the Wynn/Encore pool, sipping cocktails (no bun in the oven to speak of), reading books (remember books?), and getting spa treatments (remember facials?). It’s been way too long since I’ve pampered myself and totally, guiltlessly indulged…
I wish the weather was going to be better–mid-60s/low-70s isn’t quite hot enough for me. I like that 80-degree desert heat. But considering it was snowing in Chicago yesterday, I think I’ll survive.