Saturday, March 6, 2010

Keeping Up With Kim Kardashian at the Sephora Venitian

Thanks to the Rio Vegas Hotel on Twitter (@RioVegas), I won a 3 day 2 night stay from their 500 Wild Weekends Twitter Giveaway. They were giving away 500 hotel stays to 500 Twitter followers. In order to win I had to put the hashtag #riovegas into as many tweets as I could.

I wanted to use the prize while there was an event like a concert or show going on. It had to be redeemed by March 31st, 2010 and I was having trouble finding something interesting to attend. All of the concerts like Mariah Carey at Caesars Palace were very expensive. The cheapest for a pair of tickets to almost any show was around $200.00.

My father and I were hoping Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. would have their fight on March 13th at the MGM grand so we could redeem the hotel stay during that weekend. Unfortunately, the plans of the match fell through.

The month of March was fast approaching and I was worried about the prize not being used. I worked so hard on Twitter to win the hotel stay. The main reason I entered the contest was to hopefully use the prize while Backstreet Boys did a concert in Las Vegas but they had no plans to tour until summertime.

I received an e-mail from Sephora (@Sephora on Twitter) in February about Kim Kardashian's perfume because I'm part of their Beauty Insider program. They usually send weekly e-mails about new products and what's happening at their store. I was already aware of Kim releasing her perfume exclusively through Sephora so I hoped she would do in store appearances at the store.

My hope came true when I read through the e-mail. It was announced that Kim was going to meet and greet fans at four different Sephora stores. The two closest locations to me on her promotion schedule were at the Century City Mall in California and the Sephora Venitian in Las Vegas, Nevada. When I saw Las Vegas as one of the places I immediately thought it would be perfect if I could use my Rio Vegas Hotel win during the time Kim makes her appearance at Sephora.

Kim's appearance at the Sephora Venitian was on Saturday February 27th. Since my prize was for 3 days and 2 nights, I wanted to book the dates February 26th, February 27th, and February 28th. I call the Rio Hotel Vegas reservation line and to my disappointment, there were no rooms available between February 27th and February 28th. I almost wanted to just forget going to Las Vegas and instead go to Kim's appearance in Century City but I felt that if I didn't use my prize as soon as possible it would go to waste.

I asked the Rio Vegas Hotel employee if I could instead book the dates February 25th, February 26th, and February 27th. She said that wasn't a problem. I thought if I could arrive earlier, I would just check out on February 27th and check into a different hotel for one night between February 27 and February 28th.

Once I had my Rio Vegas Hotel suite booked, I prepared a list of what I had to do for the road trip. I had some prepaid debit gift cards that I wanted to use so that I wouldn't touch the money in my bank account. My first priority was buying 2 Sephora gift cards to use for buying Kim's perfume with 2 $25.00 prepaid debit cards I won from Coke. A 1.7 oz bottle costs $50 plus tax so it was like I was getting the perfume almost free.

I then decided to use a $100 prepaid debit card I won from AT&T's Brain Teaser Instant Win Game on gas gift cards to use on the drive to Las Vegas. I went to Safeway and bought 1 $50 gift card to Shell and 1 $50 gift card to Chevron. I bought gift cards to 2 different gas stations just so that when I stopped for gas I had more options. I also had a $25 gift card to Arco. That brought my total for gas to $125 in gift cards.

When it came to packing my bags, I wanted to make sure to bring only 1 luggage bag that could fit my clothes, shoes, and 1 Chanel purse. Then I would also bring 1 bag with my tolietries, and 1 extra purse to use. The last time I went to Las Vegas in 2007 I ended up bringing too many bags so I wanted to pack light this time. The bag I used to put my tolietries and other road trip necessities was a tote bag I won from Glamour Magazine's Glam Alert Beach Summer Essentials Sweepstakes in 2009. It's a beautiful yellow and orange striped tote bag that is very sturdy and can carry a lot.

My laziness caught up to me because the night before I left for Las Vegas I had to scramble to find a hotel for 2/27-2/28. I looked at the Travelocity website and my top 2 choices were the America's Best Value Inn and La Quinta Inn. America's Best Value Inn was the cheapest choice but judging from the pictures I saw on their website it looked like there wasn't much parking. Plus there wasn't free wireless internet. In December 2009, I had stayed at a La Quinta Inn in Fremont and I was pleased with my experience. Free breakfast and free wireless internet are available at all La Quinta Inns so I chose that even though it was slightly more expensive than America's Best Value Inn. Plus I remembered how good the waffles were at La Quinta so that heavily influenced my decision.

Before booking a stay at La Quinta, I searched Google for possible discount codes. The first code I found was VISASAVE which when used gives a 10% discount for booking with a Visa credit card. While 10% is a good discount I kept on searching for another code. It's good I didn't use the VISASAVE code because I found the code AARONS on another website. The AARONS code is a 25% off discount! The discount brought the $89 a night rate down to $66.75. With tax included, I only paid $74.76 for the hotel stay. It definitely pays to search for codes before buying or booking anything online.

After booking with La Quinta, I made a list of places I wanted to visit in addition Kim's appearance at the Sephora Venetian while in Las Vegas. I knew I wanted to eat at the Carnival World Buffet in the Rio Vegas Hotel, visit the Coach Factory Store at 2 different outlets, eat at Chili's, get a cupcake at the Cupcakery in the Monte Carlo Hotel to see if it's better than Sprinkles, walk around the Las Vegas Strip, and visit M&M's World.

I was able to accomplish everything!

The drive to Las Vegas was about 9 hours. I left the house at around 8:00 AM and arrived around 4:40 PM I went with my dad because no one I knew expressed any interest in going with me. I would have loved it if my mom could have came along but she had to watch over my cousins. My cousins cannot be trusted without adult supervision. They sometimes forget to turn off appliances like the stove and room heater. Plus they have a history of stealing things. One of my cousins stole my parents Hennessey bottle that they just bought and my other cousin stole $100 from my mom before.

I only stopped for gas once at Lost Hills, Ca. That's when I had to go from Interstate 5 to Highway 46. When I stop on a road trip, I like to do more than one thing. I get gas, eat, and go to the bathroom. I don't like to stop too many times unless it's very necessary. I used a $5 gift card to eat at Wendy's and used a Shell gift card I had to put gas.

The drive was beautiful. It was refreshing to see the different landscapes from California to Nevada. I liked seeing the blooming almond trees along highway 46 in Wasco to the green mountains along Highway 58 near Bakersfield to the endless Mojave Desert along Interstate 15 from Barstow to Las Vegas.

Once my dad and I arrive, we checked into the hotel and unload our bags into the room. The Rio Vegas Hotel is an all suite hotel so the room was bigger than a typical hotel room. It had floor to ceiling windows that gave a grand view of Las Vegas and also the Palms Hotel and Gold Coast Casino.

I was both exhausted and hungry after being on the road for over 9 hours. My dad didn't want to lose the parking spot we had in front of the hotel so he thought it would be best if we just ate somewhere in the hotel. On my to-do list was to eat at the Carnival World Buffet at the hotel so that's where we went. They served many different types of food from Asian to American to Italian. What I liked the best was the salmon sushi, red velvet cake, and tiramisu sorbet.

After dinner, my dad and I go back to the room. While my dad was channel surfing he found the movie Hotel Rawanda starring Don Cheadle playing on My Network TV. We missed the beginning but I thought it was a very good movie. I chuckled to myself because I was watching Hotel Rawanda in a hotel. When the movie finished at 10pm, I wasn't sure if I wanted to stay in the room and rest or go out and explore Las Vegas. I thought it's not everyday I'm in Las Vegas, so my dad and I decide to go out.

My dad didn't want to drive to the strip so we took a shuttle from the Rio Hotel to Harrah's Hotel which is located in the south side of the strip. Upon entering Harrah's, I saw a Starbucks. I wanted to check my e-mail and Twitter because I couldn't get a free WI-FI signal at the Rio Vegas. Thankfully the Starbucks area had a free WI-FI signal so I was able to go online and check my accounts.

I wanted to see if I could look for the Sephora Venitian where Kim was doing her appearance. I was pleased to find that the Harrah's was very close to Sephora. Sephora was closed though so I wasn't able to go inside and ask for information on Kim's appearance. The store front had large pictures of Kim promoting her perfume. There was also a sign telling people she would be there on Saturday February 27th. Seeing that sign reassured me that the event was still happening. We walk around the strip some more before taking the shuttle back the Rio Hotel for a much needed rest.

The next day, my main priority was getting gas for my car because my tank was close to empty, eating lunch, and then going to Sephora to ask for information on what would happen for Kim's appearance on Saturday. I had read online that people who went to her appearances at Sephora in New York were not able to meet Kim because they didn't have wristbands even though they stood in line for over 2 hours. That is why I wanted to verify the rules so that I would be better prepared.

A Sephora employee told me that I could buy the perfume before the event on Saturday. That made it easier for me because then I wouldn't have to worry about the perfumes selling out. All I had to do was bring back the receipt on Saturday to get wristbands. I decided to get two perfumes, one for me and one for my dad to give to my mom as a gift. My dad felt that since he was already there he might as well get a picture with Kim and that we'd give the perfume to my mom.

Once we get the perfumes, my dad and I go to La Quinta Inn just to see where we would be staying after we check out of the Rio Hotel. Since going to the Las Vegas Premium Outlets was on my to-do list we go there next. There's a ton of stores but Coach is all I wanted to go to. I collect Coach keyfobs so I wanted to check out their selection. Upon entering the outlet I was given a 20% off any purchase coupon. I ended up buying a cherry keyfob. With the coupon the total was $25.08. I only had to pay 8 cents because I used a $25 prepaid debit card I won from Coke to buy it.
It's evening by the time we're done exploring the outlets. I had gift cards to Chili's I won from My Coke Rewards so my dad and I have dinner at Chili's. My dad and I ate half a rack of baby back ribs, fried shrimp, french fries, and broccoli. I got to drink a delicious pina colada.

When dinner is over, we head back to the hotel and take a shuttle back to the Strip. This time my dad and I took the shuttle to the Paris Casino which is closer to the north side of the Strip. The Paris Casino is in front of the Bellagio Hotel so I finally go to see the infamous fountains in action. The fountains were set to the song New York, New York. I also walked inside Caesar's Palace. I ended the night by going to Starbucks in the Harrah's Hotel and getting a coffee frappuccino. While sitting at Starbucks, Quit Playin' Games by Backstreet Boys starts to play which makes me smile. It's like the Harrah's Hotel knew a Backstreet Boys fan was present.

It was finally Saturday, the day I had been waiting for. My first priority was checking out of the Rio Hotel on time. Once that was done, my next priority was going to the Sephora at the Venitian to get my wristband and to see if a line had already formed. I've been to a lot of meet and greets and sometimes people arrive hours before the event starts. There wasn't a line when I went but the Sephora employee who gave me my wristband told me that people who have wristbands and arrive before 6 PM would be guaranteed to meet and get a picture with Kim. I was relieved that I didn't have to stand in line all day.

My dad and I then eat lunch at Panda Express because we were both craving rice. I also got to try a new entree called Honey Walnut Chicken which was so delicious. After lunch we walked around the Mirage Hotel area.

Then we left to check in at the La Quinta Inn. Check in time was 3:00 PM but we arrived around 2:30 PM. The room wasn't ready yet so we had to wait almost an hour because the hotel was behind on cleaning the room.

Once we were checked in I put on some make up and head back to the Venetian around 5:00 PM. There were 2 separate lines already formed along the side of Sephora. One line was for people with pink wristbands and one line was for people with white wristbands. I had a pink wristband so that's the line I went in. A Sephora employee announced that people with pink wristbands would go first and that the people with white wristbands would go after all the people with pink wristbands were done. I assumed that people who had the pink wristbands were the people who had came right around the time Sephora opened that day. I was happy that my wristband was pink. There were only 5 people in front of me so I was very close to the front of the line. It was also raining and sprinkling on and off so I had to stand under an umbrella most of the time.

Across the street was the Mirage Hotel so at 6:00 PM I got to see their volcanic fire display that shows every hour from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM daily. The two hour wait wasn't so bad since I had waited longer at other events in the past.

At 7:00 PM a group of Sephora employees started to escort the people in the pink wristband line inside the store. We weren't allowed to take pictures with our personal camera's because there was a professional photographer taking pictures. I didn't mind and I was actually glad I didn't have to worry about my camera somehow malfunctioning. Before I had my turn with Kim, a Sephora employee said to everyone, "Don't speak to her." I follow the rules most of the time so I was expecting to just get my picture with Kim and then get pulled away.

When it was my turn, a Sephora employee tells me to go stand on the X marked on the floor. There's a table with flowers and bottles of Kim's perfume. She's sitting on one side wearing a cute dress.

Kim says, "Hi" and I say "Hi" back.

She then asks me, "How are you?"

I say, "I'm doing good. I drove 10 hours to meet you." (I honestly didn't know what else to say to her and that was the first thing that popped into my mind.)

Her eyes widened and she said, "Really? Where are you from?"

I reply, "San Francisco, California." (I just named the largest city closest to me because I figured she wouldn't know where Milpitas is.)

That was when the photographer got our attention by saying, "Okay ladies" and then told me to move toward the table in the middle. The picture is taken and a Sephora employee motions me to exit. Before I leave, Kim sticks out her hand and we shake hands. She says, "Thank you" and then I tell her "Thank you." I thought that was nice of her to initiate a hand shake.

I was actually suprised at how friendly Kim was because a week earlier I had met Lauren Conrad from The Hills at a book signing and Lauren didn't say much to anyone. She didn't shake hands with anyone. I really liked that Kim made an effort to have a small conversation with me even though the Sephora employee had said to not speak to her.

I then wait for my picture to be printed and once I get it I am satisfied with how it came out. I thought that was one of the most organized meet and greets I have ever attended. I wished the Backstreet Boys VIP meet and greet would go that smoothly. I wanted to see how many people were still in line so I go outside and see the line is still wrapped around Sephora. It felt good to be one of the first people to go through.

(Click on the picture of me and Kim to enlarge it)

I was hungry after waiting in line so my dad and I go to the buffet in the Harrah's Hotel. I know it's bad to eat too much food but we're in Vegas so I had to indulge in the endless food. It was the first buffet I ever went to that served cotton candy for dessert. I used to LOVE cotton candy when I was younger. After we eat, we go to the Mirage Hotel because I wanted to visit the Sugar Factory. I remembered on the premiere episode of Spindustry, a show which Kim executive produces, that she and other celebrities endorse lollipops sold exclusively in the Sugar Factory. I considered buying a lollipop until I found out how much they each cost. One lollipop cost $25.00! I couldn't bring myself to buy a lollipop for that much money. I thought I could buy a lot of Sprinkles cupcakes for the price of one lollipop.

After the Mirage we walk to Caesars Palace and then back to the Venetian Hotel. The Venetian has so many designer stores like BCBG, Herve Leger, Barney's and people have the opportunity to ride in a gondula indoors. I thought if only I had a boyfriend, I would so love to ride in a gondula. I was so exhausted from walking around so I buy a frozen lemonade at the Coffee Bean. It was so good and refueled my energy.

Sunday was a bittersweet day for me. While I was happy with how my trip in Las Vegas went, it was time to go home. Before checking out of the La Quinta Inn, my dad and I take advantage of the complimentary breakfast served there. I ate waffles and drank orange juice. After we check out I wanted to drop by M&M's World before heading home. I had seen people with shopping bags to M&M's World and I remembered in 2005 when I saw Backstreet Boys in Las Vegas, I drove by M&M's World but I didn't have the chance to go inside.

M&M's World is a store with 4 floors of everything to do with M&M's. Before going to M&M's World my dad took a picture of me with the a replica of the Statue of Liberty behind me. I giggled when I saw the picture because right behind me is a truck driving by advertising hot babes.

M&M's World is located right next to the MGM Grand Hotel. They had M&M's purses, keychains, clothing, and so much more. On the 2nd floor was where all the different colors of M&M's were located. They had exclusive colors you cannot buy in regular stores. I would have loved to get every single color but 1 lb. of M&M's cost $12.99! The colors I picked were pink, purple, teal, dark green, and maroon. All the M&M's I got were peanut M&M's. I wish they had peanut butter M&M's available in the rare colors. I also bought 1 postcard and an M&M's folder so that I could put my picture with Kim inside so it would be protected from getting bent on the car ride home.

I wasn't planning on going anywhere else after M&M's world but I thought I don't know the next time I would visit Las Vegas so why not make the most of it today? Rather than going back to the car and heading home, I tell my dad I want to go to the Monte Carlo Hotel to find the Cupcakery. I wanted to find out if their cupcakes tasted better than Sprinkles. Once we were inside the Monte Carlo Hotel, we almost didn't find it. Thanks to my iPod touch and the free WI-FI in the hotel, I was able to locate the Cupcakery. There were so many beautiful cupcakes to chose from. It was so hard to pick just one. I ended up picking a cupcake called Strawberry Shortcake and my dad picked a cupcake called Coconut Bliss. The two cupcakes cost $8.11! They were $3.75 each plus tax. I used to think Sprinkles cupcakes were expensive at $3.25 but at least Sprinkles doesn't charge tax. The Cupcakery is near a food court in the casino and I thought if I don't eat lunch now, it would probably be a while until I get a chance to eat. I was craving chinese food so we eat at Manchu Wok.

After we eat lunch, on the way out of the Monte Carlo, all the TV's had on the USA vs. Canada hockey game. My dad and I catch the replay of the winning goal by Canada. Then we go to the Coca Cola store which was filled with tons of Coca Cola merchandise. Coke has been so generous to me in the past year with their contests so I felt I had to visit their store and show my appreciation to them. While looking at a Coca Cola t-shirt, I hear something familar. I realize it's the song Straight Through My Heart by Backstreet Boys! I was so excited to hear Backstreet Boys being played for the 2nd time in Las Vegas. I looked around the store and that's when I noticed there were flat screen TV's hanging up playing the music video for the song. I thought it was a sign so I bought the t-shirt I was looking at when the song played. On the 2nd floor there was a place to eat. I didn't eat but I saw almost everyone was ordering something called 15 flavors of Coke from around the world. I wanted to try all the flavors but I was still full from lunch. Maybe next time I can try it.

Once we were done in the Coca Cola store it was time to hit the road and head home. My gas tank was half full so we had to fill it up. We stop and put gas at a Chevron in Primm, Nevada. Primm is located right on the border between California and Nevada. It's also the location of the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas. Since the outlets were so close, I tell my dad I want to go to the outlet and check out the bags at Neiman Marcus Last Call and the Coach Factory Store.

At Neiman Marcus Last Call I saw Linea Pelle bags in person for the first time. I've been interested in getting a Linea Pelle bag ever since they sent me 2 bracelets for free. I love their unique designs. They had a brown colored medium Dylan tote I wanted to get but I didn't want to pay $270 for it.

Next, I wanted to see if the Coach Factory Store had different keyfobs than the other outlet I visited on Friday. Upon entering, a Coach employee hands me a 20% off any purchase coupon. The selection was the same as the other outlet and there wasn't anything exciting. I did see one letter X keyfob priced at $9.99. I went ahead and bought it because it was cheap and I thought it could stand for my x-rated brain.

By the time we hit the road it was 6:23 PM and the sun was setting. It was such a grueling drive because it was dark and foggy. Plus my dad and I were very tired. My dad drove first because he hates driving along route 152 which is close to home. For those who have never driven along 152, it's a crazy route filled with crazy curves in the mountains, going up and down at fast speeds, and two way traffic. Plus if I didn't drive the 152 part my dad would have driven 20 mph in a 55 mph zone and followed a big rig truck at the same time.

By the time it was my turn to drive it was already past midnight and I was so cranky. I did not want to drive but I knew I had to let my dad rest because he had been driving for over 5 hours. The upside to driving in the middle of the night was there weren't many cars on the road. The downside is I'm getting blinded by all the cars with their bright lights on.

Once I'm on 152, it's so dark. There's only lights from the few cars on the road and the moon. My dad told me afterward that while I was driving that part he was completely still and was so scared because I was driving so fast.

When I get to Gilroy, it was so foggy! I could barely see anything in front of me. What made it even more scary is I had to drive on a two way road while it was dark, very foggy, and I had a group of cars behind me. I just hoped and prayed that I wouldn't accidentally go off the road or crash into the approaching cars and trucks.

When I make it to highway 101 I breathe a sigh of relief. The fog is gone and I'm closer to home. The early morning commute is already beginning. It's past 4:30 AM by the time I get home. I immediately go straight to bed. Being underneath my blanket and snuggling against my pillow was so comforting. It didn't take long for me to fall asleep.

That was one of the best road trips I've ever been on. I got to visit different places and meet one of my favorite reality TV stars who turned out to be nicer than I expected. I can't wait till my next road trip and hopefully it'll be a road trip to some Backstreet Boys concerts!

Here's a list of my Eliminate Full Price Moments:

1. Rio Vegas Hotel stay valued at $200 - Free
2. Kim Kardashian Perfume valued at $85- Paid around $17 for 2 bottles
3. Dinner at Chili's valued around $44 - Free
4. 1 night stay at the La Quinta Inn - 25% off thanks to the AARONS Code
5. Gas - Free because I had a total of $125 in gas gift cards from prizes I won.
6. Coach cherry keyfob - only paid 8 cents because I had a $25 gift card AND 20% off coupon.
7. Lunch at Wendy's - $10 off total because I had two $5 gift cards.


8. Going to Las Vegas, meeting Kim Kardashian & getting a beautiful picture with her = priceless


Mandie said...

Sounds like you had an amazing time, Jocelyn!! I would have absolutely loved to go to Las Vegas and experience all of that! I've never been anywhere that interesting. Maybe one day!!


Jocelyn - said...

Aw, thank you Mandie! I did have an amazing time. It was one of my first non-Backstreet Boys related road trips in a long time. Vegas is so much fun and I do hope someday you'll get the chance to go there. My tip for you if you go in the future is try to go sometime in the middle of the week. Hotel rates are so much cheaper Monday through Thursday.

Kellie's Camera said...

I adores your blog and thank you for that detailed report of your trip and all your savings. Can't wait to read more from you. Sounds like a wonderful trip and makes me miss Vegas so much!!

Jocelyn - said...

Aw, thank you for reading my blog Kellie! I really appreciate it. It was a wonderful trip and I miss Vegas too. Hopefully we can win some sort of trip there in the future :)

Mandie said...

I've never really been on a road trip. Unless you count going to Florida and Missouri for week long vacations and camping trips. I would love to be able to go one, especially to see the Backstreet Boys because I have never seen them live!

Jocelyn - said...

A camping trip sounds like so much fun! I've never been camping myself. My mom always talks about going camping but we never do it. I do hope that you can get to see Backstreet soon. They are planning to tour the US & Canada this summer so I can't wait. They are so great live. They have so much energy and it really makes you feel so good.