Q. My husband is going to a conference in Las Vegas, and our 3-year-old boy and I want to join him. He is supposed to stay at the Mandalay Bay hotel. Could you recommend a more family-oriented hotel and also activities to do with a young child?
I was going to recommend the obvious – look for a hotel without a casino attached – but are you sure you want to ditch Mandalay Bay? With three swimming pools, a lazy river, a wave pool with a sandy beach and a giant, shark-filled aquarium, the place qualifies as a family attraction in itself. Just steer clear of the European sunbathing pool.
Make no mistake; the hotel (www.mandalaybay .com) is adult-oriented, said Jennifer Whitehair, senior manager of content for the Web site Vegas.com (www. vegas.com). But “there are lots of areas where you can bring your kids.”
If you'd like to avoid a casino environment altogether, Whitehair likes the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas (www.fourseasons.com/lasvegas) next door. Alicia Malone of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (www.lvcva.com) recommends the casino-free Loews Lake Las Vegas (www.loewshotels.com/ lakelasvegas) and Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas (www.ritzcarlton.com), both about a half-hour from the Strip; the Platinum (www.theplatinumhotel .com; non-gaming – and nonsmoking); and the Trump (www.trumplasve gashotel.com).
Many of those have activities for children, Malone said.
Kid-friendly attractions in town include M&M's World, the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage, and the roller coaster at New York-New York; Vegas.com has a good list. There are even shows for kids. Whitehair especially likes Popovich Comedy Pet Theater (www.comedypet. com) and Mac King Comedy Magic (www.macking show.com).
German Passion Play
Q. The Oberammergau Passion Play is coming in 2010. What's the best way to see the play, in terms of accommodations or packages?
Oberammergau has much more to offer than the Passion Play, but the fact is, most people think of the tiny Bavarian village in terms of its once-in-a-decade religious spectacle.
The re-enactment of the crucifixion of Christ began nearly 400 years ago, when the town's war-torn, plague-ridden residents pledged to perform the play every 10 years if they survived. The 41st edition runs May 15-Oct. 3, 2010. You can buy packages online from the Office of the Passion Play 2010 (www.passionsspiele2010. de).
One-nighters range from $316 per person for a room in a private house to $912 per person (yes, you read that right) for a hotel room, and they include theater tickets, admission to the town museum and three meals.