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Las Vegas Trip Report with Pic Link Dec. 2013


Dec 24th, 2013, 10:39 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
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Las Vegas Trip Report with Pic Link Dec. 2013

Las Vegas - December 15 - 19, 2013

This was our 10th trip to Las Vegas since 2001. However, our last trip was in January, 2009. It was getting to the point of "been there, done that", so waiting 5 years things have changed some. We like to go somewhere in early November/December every year and call it "Our Christmas". The last 2 years we have gone to Mexico/Caribbean. Both times we got caught up in bad weather and the inefficiency of American Airlines, so decided we would stay domestic and go with Southwest Airlines. Great decision as we had no hassles with either.

Day 1 -

Luck was with us on our first day. There were only 55 people on our flight to Las Vegas. When we arrived there was no one in baggage claim and our suitcases were first off the carousel. No line at the taxi stand and we were at Harrah's by 10am. Since we were there so early we decided to go ahead and pay the $28 to get into a room early. We did have to forfeit a king bed that I booked for 2 queens, which was fine. They added the resort fees to our bill also, so it came out to $108 all together. The resort fees is nothing but legal extortion. They should add that amount to the overall package and be done with it. Just another way to nickel and dime people to death.

We were given room 1918 in the Carnival Tower, which is right next to the check in area at the back of the hotel. The room was nice. Two queen beds, a small table with 2 chairs and a large entertainment center with TV in the middle and closets on each side. There was a locked mini bar/frig and for $25 more they would open it, and a safe on the wall. The bathroom was a very nice size. More than enough room for 2 people. The water pressure in the bath though was quite lacking and they should put down some slip guards in the tub. The view over looked the lobby area. The window actually pulled open a little bit and we could hear the music being piped into the lobby. We left the window open day and night when we were in the room. Was disappointed that the Carivnal Court bar was shut down the entire trip.

We had champagne brunch reservations at the Wynn at noon, so we settled in and then went downstairs to play some video poker. First pull and DH hits four 2's for $100. We make our way over to Wynn slowly and finally get to The Country Club for brunch. The brunch was nice. New Orleans style cuisine. The weather was sunny and gorgeous, so we opted to sit outside. The waterfall was down for maintenance. Disappointing. The food was good, but for anyone that has been to Bally's Sterling Brunch, which we have on 3 prior occasions, it didn't match up, but it was a nice change and I would not hesitate going again. If you don't get the all you can drink champagne for $25.00 p/p extra, it's a much better value. After brunch we hit the VP machines in the Wynn. I hit 4 Aces with a King For $200, and that was it for the luck with gambling this trip. Oh, we hit a few more 4 of kinds here and there but for large numbered cards and face cards that didn't pay out as much. Of all the hotels we visited this trip, the Wynn was the most beautifully decorated for Christmas.

For dinner, we opted for Ruth Chris Steakhouse at Harrah's since we had Improve tickets at Harrah's also. We don't have that chain in our area and I have eaten at one in Chicago back in the 90's and enjoyed it. Was so glad they got rid of the awful Range Steakhouse. We thought the food there was terrible. We both had a salad and then split a bone in rib eye and baked potato. The dressing on my Caesar salad was beyond horrible. I took 2 bites and was done. The steak was good, but we are used to garlic infused steaks, so it felt like it was lacking. We had creme brulee for dessert and it was wonderful. Rivaled some of the best we have ever had. Afterward, we went to the Improve. We enjoyed the show, but was disappointed it only lasted an hour. It felt like things were just getting started and it was over. I would go with a different comedy club next time.

Day 2 -

Had breakfast at Harrah's Cafe. We both had the breakfast burrito, which was quite good and so huge that we could have easily shared it between the both of us. Afterward, we took a $20 taxi to the Neon Boneyard Downtown. I booked tickets on-line for the combo ticket of the Boneyard and the Mob Museum for $30 p/p. The Neon Boneyard was quite interesting and left me nostalgic. When I was a teenager, my family took bi-yearly Vegas trips between 1980 and 1985, plus all the trips that DH and I have made in the 2000's so I remembered a lot of the old signs. I wish they had more room to display all the signs as many were stacked 3 - 4 deep. A suggestion would be to add a photo wall in the lobby depicting all the signs in their original hey-day. It would give it a better perspective. Afterward, we headed to the Mob Museum. We were very impressed with the detail of the museum. Three floors with lots of memorabilia, films, history, information and interactive displays. It would take a couple of days to actually read every bit of information posted and watch all of the films. We spent about 3 hours. Afterward, we walked to Freemont Street. Had lunch at Hennessey's Tavern. Had the prime rib sliders with horseradish sauce, Shepard's Pie and shared a banana split. All was very good. Afterward, we walked Freemont Street and popped in and out of all the casinos. No luck on any of the VP machines. Hit one 4 of a kind at the Golden Nugget. We stayed to see the show on the over head screen, but it was nothing spectacular. Had dinner at Tony Roma's. They were advertising prime rib and lobster for $16.00. I had that, which was pretty good, except they put the frozen carrots, peas and corn medley on the plate which was beyond yuck and instead of horseradish sauce it was just horseradish. DH has the ribs and enjoyed them. The cheapest meal we had the entire trip.

Day 3 - Slept in and had lunch at Harrah's Oyster bar. Ordered the cerviche and was advised that the chef didn't make it until after 2pm, but more likely after 4pm. So had the tuna shasami. The first time I ever had this anywhere that the tuna was completely raw and not seared around the edges. It was also cut in pretty big chunks instead of thinly sliced. It was served with sliced cucumbers and seaweed slaw. It was OK, but not anything I would order again. Also, had the grilled oysters, they were good, but not like what we have eaten in New Orleans. DH has the fish and chips and it was very good. Afterward, headed over to the Palazzo and Venetian. We had tickets to the Rock of Ages show for that night and needed to pick them up. We went through both hotels. The waterfall at the Palazzo was very pretty. Found the VP machines at the Venetian lacking terribly. Had dinner at Delmonicos in the Venetian. I had 2 basil martinis that weren't very good. We both had soup and salad with a shared dessert and skipped an entree. Just wasn't very hungry that night. DH had the gumbo and I had the lobster bisque with several large chunks of lobster in it. It was very good, but the food in New Orleans is just much better. Afterward, we went to the Rock of Ages show. I purchased tickets on-line at Vegas.com. Next time I will purchase off a site I can actually pick my own seats. Why do these sites think that the first few rows by the stage are considered the primo seats? I personally do not want to sit that close to the stage. Fortunately, the show was not sold out and we had a usher move us to the last row in the middle section. The show was quite good and we enjoyed it. Afterward, we headed off to the Bourbon Room for our free shots. They had a guy there dressed the part of an 80's rocker MCing. We ordered a $7.00 beer a piece, but with tax and tip turned into a $10 beer a piece. We found the whole thing lame and too expensive so we called it a night.

Day 4 - Had breakfast at the Cafe Bellaigo. I had the egg white, lobster and asparagus omelet and DH had the Mexican bowl. Both were very good. Went through the Conservatory. It was very pretty, but I still felt the Wynn was better decorated for Christmas. Headed to the Paris and did the Eiffel Tower experience. We have done this before I think in 2003, but I wanted the picture, so we did it again. Absolutely no line and went right up. I have never been afraid of heights, but the past few years I developed a fear of falling, so we went around once, took some photos, and went back down. Headed to Bally's for some VP. They still have one of the best VP selections. I hit my one and only Royal Flush to date there years ago. No luck this time. We also played some Keno. It's a good place to rest and collect some drinks. We headed back to the Paris and had dinner at the Cafe Ile St. Louis. Had the french dip with pomme frites and pot roast and a salad. All were very good. Has the creme brulee for dessert and it was definitely lacking. Too thick and not enough vanilla. We had tickets for Vegas The Show at Planet Hollywood. We walked over to pick up our tickets and then walked through the casino and the Miracle Mile shops. I was glad to see that they left the architecture of the old Aladdin Desert Passage in place. We watched the rain/thunderstorm show. I again bought tickets for Vegas The Show at Vegas.com. The VIP tickets were on sale and less expensive than the general admission tickets so I bought those. They put us on the front row. Horrid seats. We had to look up to see the show and bobble our heads back and forth to see the whole stage. When the screen came down to show video footage, it was so blurry we couldn't see a thing. The show was packed so we couldn't move seats. What we did see of the show we enjoyed though. Just would have liked it better if we had moved back several rows. Afterward, we headed back to the Paris and went to Napoleon's for their dueling pianos. Was surprised that when we arrived no one was even in there. I remember trying to get into the dueling piano shows at Harrah's and New York, New York on prior trips and not even being able to get a seat 2 hours before the show even started. Ordered 3 martinis at $16 a piece, which with tax and tip were actually $20 a piece, and not very good. Stayed for about 1 1/2 and then called it a night. It never got crowded and me in my mid 40's I was the youngest person in there. If the drinks hadn't been so expensive we probably would have stayed longer.

Day 5 - Time to head home. We got up early and walked over to the Venetian and had breakfast at the Grand Lux Cafe. I had the veggie omelet and DH has the huevos rancheros. Both were very good. Walked back to Harrah's and played a little more VP. I hit two 4 of kinds for $174 and then we headed to the airport.

Summary - We had a very nice trip. The weather was perfect. 60 and sunny. We didn't even wear a jacket at night. The price for food and especially drinks are outrageous. So glad we can get drinks when gambling. We really liked Harrah's as it's in a great location and we have stayed at the Imperial Palace n/k/a the Quad twice before because of the location. Next trip, we'll probably stay a little farther down again; New York, New York or the Luxor. However, we're headed back to Mexico in the summer. Just can beat the price and convenience with the AI resorts.

I took 325 photos. They can be found at:


Click "all" at the top of the page to just scroll down through all of them.
KVR is offline  
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Dec 25th, 2013, 02:26 PM
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Thank you for report and photos! Our count-down is 24 days.
Dayenu is offline  
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Dec 25th, 2013, 05:48 PM
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Glad you had a nice trip!
MichelleY is offline  
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Dec 26th, 2013, 03:38 PM
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KVR, thanks for writing a trip report. Your trip sounds a lot like my last Vegas trip. You had much better gambling luck but the overall experience was a mixed bag. I was disappointed in the price of everything and every little extra costs $$$.($$$to check in early?WTF) I love the pulse of vegas but it will be a while before I venture back there. I also think the resort fee is rediculous and will look to stay at a hotel that does not charge it. Green Valey Ranch is nice....
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Dec 27th, 2013, 04:20 AM
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So you are back in the Windy City now? - the place where I was born.

Thanks for the trip report and great update on things Vegas. My wife usually plays the penny slots - and we like the Wynn as they have good complimentary champagne (as Bellagio used to when Steve Wynn owned it) - and even if you lose a bit - you order a couple of glasses of gratis Champagne and you're about even - with the chance of winning - as my wife does sometimes.

I sometimes play a little Video Poker on the quarter? machines - and break about even - or lose $20 in an hour (once in a while leaving up) - and have about 3 glasses of champagne so I feel just fine.

We usually try to get a deal and stay center strip - and aside from paying a bit more and staying at Wynn or Bellagio (once you get on their lists - they "encourage" ye to return) - like to stay at the upper floors of the Flamingo - with a view of the great Bellagio fountains - and have done likewise at Planet Hollywood. One of these times will check out the newer Aria.

Also love to dine on the outdoor deck at the Paris cafe - and watch the Bellagio fountains directly across the street - while enjoying their marvelous French Onion soup. And if you want a good breakfast buffet - the one at Paris is fairly reasonably priced and has a number of tasty offerings - with fresh shrimp, etc - plus you can customize your order from the crepes station - and also - wind up with their "tres bonne" pastries/desert.

We don't go that often - but if you want to have the equivalent of two meals in one (we used to go for late brunch) - that's not a bad start to the day - especially if you are going to "pool lounge" for a while.

Will try to get over in January - if I can break my wife away. I usually can do fairly well placing a little action at the Sportsbooks/betting on NFL playoff games - about enough to pay for the trip including a primo dinner - but nothing is guaranteed as you well know.
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Jan 1st, 2014, 12:13 PM
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Thanks for the replies. We went to a New Year's Eve party last night at a local hotel where we live and paid $3.00 flat for a bottled beer. Really puts Vegas prices in perspective. One of the reasons we stopped going. Another reason why we go to Mexico AI's quite often.

I don't live in the Windy City. I live in Texas. We only play .25 VP. We can usually put in a $20 and cash out $100. If we can get enough to pay for dinners than we are doing good. We have been in January several times and bet on the NFL payoff games. I have won $200 - $400. Even though we were there on a Sunday, we didn't bet this time. We watched the Cowgirls here and there. Was so disappointed in that game and so glad I don't trust them enough to place a bet on them.

I discovered also that most of the restaurants/sports bars are now charging a $50 p/p cover fee to walk in the door to watch the game. Ridiculous! Most sports book are too small, so you have to waste all day getting there early to get a table. Too much wasted time. We prefer to sit in the Keno lounge at Harrah's has watched the game, pay $2.00 tickets and the cocktail waitresses come by pretty often. I asked the cocktail waitresses at Harrahs for champagne while we were playing and they did give it. Tasted better than what we got at the Wynn.

We have been to Mon Ami Gabi and the Paris breakfast buffet. Didn't really care for either. The food at the Café Ile St. Louis was better and less expensive.

We've done NYE on Freemont Street a few years ago. We are thinking about next trip doing that again and staying downtown.
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