Monday, December 19, 2011

Riviera Remodeled Standard Room Review with Pics!

Day 2 of the trip was planned literally minutes before I got in the car for the drive to Vegas. Being a Saturday during NFR, only place half decent place in town under a $100 was the Riviera. As an added bonus, it also happened to be the last of major Strip hotels that I have yet to stay. I checked in around 1PM, which was fast with no wait and I was up to my room in the Monte Carlo Tower in just a few minutes. I was on the 12th floor, looking north towards Encore and Wynn in a recently remodeled room. All new furniture included a table a two chairs by the window, 2 small dressers plus a vanity area. The bathroom has also been redone with stone through-out but is a typical old-school Vegas bathroom with a single sink and tissue dispenser embedded in the counter. There was also a safe, mini-fridge, iron/board and blow dryer in the bathroom.

Everything in the room was still in good shape with no major damage or stains and the new decor was certainly nice enough but the furniture was all on the small side. The room was slightly larger than a normal room and as a result, the somewhat sparse furnishings left an empty feeling. The under-sized 32" TV didn't help the matter combined with the underwhelming table and chairs and 2 dinky dressers. The bed was also new, firm and comfortable. The only real issue with the bathroom was the showerhead placed for a midget. I'm hardly the tallest guy in the world and it barely worked; if you are over 6 foot, you would be completely screwed!

Downstairs, a decent amount of money has been spent renovating the casino floor and they have done a nice job. I always remember the casino as being a bit depressing but the make over has definitely cleaned that up. They have a new sports book and added restaurants along with new tables and machines. The ABC Store in the lobby is nice plus with very affordable room supplies.

All in all, my stay at the Riv was pretty good. The remodeled rooms, while certainly can't compare with the Aria or Cosmo, are nice enough for an older hotel and the public areas are much improved from the past. It still has a pretty weak collection of restaurants and the pool area leaves something to be desired but the biggest downside is probably the location. Being on the north end of the Strip, the only thing in the immediate vicinity is Circus Circus with a sizeable walks to its other closest neighbors, Las Vegas Hilton and Wynn/Encore. If you want a just a decent room at a decent price and have a means of transportation, the renovations have made the Riviera a more appealing option than ever. However, if you want to be in the middle of the action, plan on seeing Vegas on foot or want to party at the pool then you will definitely want to look elsewhere.

Riviera Remodeled Room Pictures

Visit for the complete guide to Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. Property maps of every major casino, 100s of pictures and a ton of other info all without annoying ads!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

VegasCasinoInfo becomes LondonCasinoInfo!

My apologies for a lack of news and updates over the past week because for a short while, VegasCasinoInfo became LondonCasinoInfo after a whirlwind 5 day trip to Europe which also included a day trip to Munich (without a visit to Oktobefest, damnit!)

Central London actually has quite a few very small casinos scattered about, most not much bigger than a store front. I only had time to check out one throughly, the Palm Beach casino at the Mayfair Hotel, which I was told was one of the more "exclusive" clubs in town. For starters, you have "join" the casino which includes scanning your passport and taking your picture. You are given a card which holds your money when you cash out of a machine. There were about a grand total of 20 slot machines, most from a company I never heard of and the rest ones I would never play in Vegas. I burned through my 10 pounds of free slot play pretty quickly at .50 a pull, which was your only option, no line or credits per line choices. There was also about 15 or so video roulette machine as well. For table games, there were about 20 tables in the place. mostly single zero roulette but a couple of 3-card poker tables and a few Blackjack table offering something called "21+3." Those were constantly busy even with a 25 pound minimum bet so I didn't see what it was all about. Roulette was 2 and 5 pound minimum and after a little wait to get on the smaller limit table I actually had a decent run for a while, playing for almost 2 hours and walking away with my 40 pound buy-in. They were building a new Baccarat room and also had a small poker room with 3 or 4 tables.

The vibe was definitely much different than anything in Vegas. The dealers were mostly female, wearing full length black dresses and a "Smart dress code" was enforced so there wasn't any flip-flops and tank tops walking around. The crowd also seemed rather deep-pocketed. I was betting 8 or 10 pounds a spin but was still the low-budget guy at the table with others regularly throwing around 40 or 50 pounds or more at a time. The other major difference from Vegas is the complete indoor smoking ban in London which also applies to the casinos. This was a little surprising to me because it seem the entire city smokes and there was always 10 or 15 people choking down Marlboros just out the front door of the casino or any other place where people gathered for that matter.

It was definitely interesting to see how things are done in other places. I had a good time during my short visit but if this casino was amongst the best London has to offer, I don't think Vegas or Macau are too worried! For a guy who loves to gamble, it's nice to have somewhere to go for a little action but with all there is to see and do in London, I certainly wouldn't put their casinos at the top of the list of "must sees" on your trip.

Visit for the complete guide to Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. Property maps of every major casino, 100s of pictures and a ton of other info all without annoying ads!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Las Vegas Room Offers and Promo Codes

In the on-going effort to constantly offer new, useful Las Vegas information, is happy to announce a new feature to the site - the Las Vegas Hotel Room Offer Page.

Each day, I get quite a few email offers in my inbox from various casinos around town, most of them just from signing up on their mailing list (Click Here for links to all of the casino's signup pages.) I normally can't use many of them due to my painful process of planning where to stay so I figured I would share them with other and hopefully save people a few bucks. I have been posting them on Twitter for some time but wanted to get them to the much larger audience of the website. I also will be posting the offers that I receive as an affliate of MGM Resorts which are usually short-term offers but come fairly regularly. I hope you enjoy this new feature!

Las Vegas Hotel Room Offer Page

Visit for the complete guide to Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. Property maps of every major casino, 100s of pictures and a ton of other info all without annoying ads!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Plaza Grand Re-Opening Review with Casino Pictures

The first 2 nights at the Plaza's re-opening was quite the interesting experience. I had found out about the "soft opening" date on short notice since the announced date was September 1 so I put together the trip in just a few days. Apparently I wasn't the only one surprised by the opening, the hotel wasn't quite ready yet either...

I arrived at the completely unfinished valet area near the bus terminal, which is the opposite side of the place from the lobby. It was about 6PM with an almost empty lobby but still had to wait a few minutes due to chaos behind the counter. Once I finally made it to the desk, the clerk struggled to find me a single king smoking like I had requested so I offered to take a double if that would help but still was asked if I could wait a few minutes in the lobby for her to check on the room. While I was waiting, an irate customer started yelling at a manager about problems with her first and second rooms. I have now done 4 grand opening in the past 2 years and the one thing I have learned is that if you want perfection, stay away from a new hotel! I soon returned and was given a double on the 7th floor of the South Tower, which is back over by the valet entrance! She told me that the South Tower was the only one open and I later found out there were only 75 rooms open in it. On the way to the elevators, I surveyed the casino which was about 2/3 finished and they made good progress on the rest during my stay. Getting into the elevators, I noticed what would become a theme of the stay... They remodeled about 90% of the place but the remaining 10% seems odd!. The 3 of the 4 elevator walls, the floor and ceiling were brand-spankin' new but the front wall was untouched, covered in scratches with cracked floor buttons. Same situation in the room hallway; it was almost completely redone but old wooded doors remain.

Inside the room, just about everything has been remodeled. The carpets and furniture are all new as is the bathroom with new tile and fixtures through-out. There is also a decent sized flat-screen TV with abundant HD programming. The room is done is dark brown and beige and is a nice if not minimalistic design. It is most certainly an major upgrade from the old room! One major downside is that the bathroom suffers from the "Gaughan Design" where the bathroom is at the far end of the room and doubles as the closet which leads to a very cramped space. It only has a single sink vanity and you could barely close the door when using the toilet. The other major complaint is that there isn't an outlet ANYWHERE near the work desk! I ended up pulling a power strip from elsewhere in the room and strung it across the floor. Definitely not a work-friendly design. The room also was participating in the "soft opening" as there were no linens on the bed except for a sheet and it didn't have simple amenities like soap or a pen. I assume this will be fixed before September 1st.

The rest of the place is definitely a work in progress. I don't know how much will be ready to go by big Grand Opening but it won't be the entire hotel for sure. The only restaurant open was the coffee bar. Hash House A Go Go looked nearly done and they said it would open next week. The food court only has a SUbway which was nearly open and a McDonald's that didn't look like it would make it by the 1st. Oscar's Steakhouse in the dome over the entrance is completely torn up and looks months away from opening. The main bar was open but the "Swinger's Club" lounge looked like it needed a lot of work but had a whole crew busy on it so it might make it for the opening. The sports book bar also looked very close to done. In the casino, the entire table game pit was open as was about 2/3 of the slot area. The sports book still was under construction and probably wouldn't be done on time. The pool area and tennis courts were a total mess and I wouldn't expect to see those done before next summer.

Of all the openings I have attended, this was definitely the roughest of the bunch. It just didn't seem like they were ready to open the doors and still might not be come September 1st. They obviously knew it as they made zero efforts to attract any crowd inside at all. If you looked at the place from Fremont Street, you would have never known it was even open. Pre-opening issues aside, the work that has been completed while not over the top is pretty nice, especially considering what the Plaza once was. The remodeled rooms are a huge upgrade but still can be had at affordable prices and the casino is now a place you actually might want to linger. The Plaza will never be confused with Aria or Cosmo but definitely becomes one of the top choices downtown overnight. I look forward to a return visit in a few months to see what the finished product is like and how much of that "unremodeled 10%" still remains.

Plaza Casino and Lobby Pictures

Visit for the complete guide to Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. Property maps of every major casino, 100s of pictures and a ton of other info all in one place!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First Look at the Grand Re-Opening of the Plaza Hotel

I wanted to get the rooms pics posted so I won't go into great detail right now but here is a quick summary of what I have seen thus far...

  • Its a VERY soft opening with virtually zero restaurants operating with the sole exceptions being the coffee bar and Subway. Everything else comes next week.
  • A large part of the casino are still under construction as are a few bars.
  • The room remodel seems pretty nice for the most part with a few small issues that I will point out in my full review. Cosmo spoiled me last year!
  • There was zero full-pay video poker in any of the 8 or 10 machines I checked at the .25 and dollar levels.

Its definitely not the opening of City Center by any stretch of the imagination but it's still pretty cool staying at any place on the first night. Look for public area pictures and the full room review soon!

South Tower Room Pictures

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sunset Station Review with Suite and Pool Pictures

After waiting to the last minute to book this trip, it was surprisingly difficult to get rooms near the Strip for my last 2 nights. The first night, I got lucky at Hard Rock and ended up with a comped room. For the second night, I decided to book online at Sunset Station. I have never stayed out there before so seemed like a good time to cross it off the list. Station Casinos now offers an interesting feature when booking a room, you can offer to take an upgrade at a discounted price at the time of the booking if it's available at check-in. It was $20 for a junior suite, normally $50 more than a regular room or a full suite for $50, which is $200 more. It's almost like doing the front desk "$20 trick" upfront! Since the room was comped, I said "What the hell!" and offered to take either one. When I arrived at Sunset, I had totally forgotten about this until I was about to walk up to the desk. We start the process and he mentions that my room is comped. He then says that he can upgrade me to a suite for free. I ask if its a Junior Suite and say no, a full suite. Nice! It's a cool feature but its even better for free.

The suite was on the 4th floor at the end of the hallway and is gigantic. Considerably larger than the 1BR suite at South Point that we have become used to. As you enter the room, there is a large, marble-covered bar which leads to the dining area. Next to that is the a seating area with 2 couches, a large coffee table fronted by a big flat-screen TV. There is a half bath off the seating area as well. The master bath was also enormous with dual sinks seperated by a makeup area, a large jacuzzi tub and stand alone shower stall. The bedroom, which was small compared to the rest of the room, was the least impressive part of the suite but did have a very comfortable bed. While the suite clearly was a bit on the older side, everything was in very good shape and nicely decorated if not a bit tacky for my tastes. I ended up hanging out quite a bit in the room and really enjoyed it. The seating area made a great place to do a little computer work while watching the big TV.

Downstairs, Sunset Station is the quintessential Station property with the standard line-up of restaurants; Italian, Mexican, Steak, Buffet and Food Court and locals amenities like movie theater and bowling alley. One of the few differences from other Station places is a Hooters restaurant. The pool area is one of the larger ones for a locals casino with plenty of space to layout with not a lot of company. One of the changes for the better around town recently was the decision to dump the Coco's Restaurants and go back to in-house coffee shops at the Station hotels. I applaude this decision and had a great late-night breakfast at the Grand Cafe. I also enjoyed a quick bit at the bowling alley snack, which was very tasty. Im not a bowler but love their snack bars! As for the casino... Ugghh! I had the worse run of the trip at Sunset and had one of the worst sessions ever. I literally walked away from the machine at one point shaking my head, wondering how I could have lost so much so fast. Fortunately, I had done fairly well up to that point so that cushioned the blow a little. When multi-play video poker goes bad, it goes BAD! Aside from the distaste from getting my ass handed to me, Sunset Station is actually a pretty nice place to play. The drink service definitely could have been better though.

By far, the largest issue I had with Sunset Station happened at 6:15AM when I was awakened by a guy with gas-powered grass blower directly under my window. I dealt with it for a few minutes before going downstairs and absolutely exploding on this poor landscaper. I followed it up with a trip to the front desk where the clerk said that she couldnt really do anything about it. Really? The vendor YOU ARE PAYING is waking your guests at 6AM. I think you can have a little chat with them! Aside from the horrible wake up call, I enjoyed the stay at Sunset for the most part. The free upgrade was very nice and the room was great. The casino and hotel has just about anything you would expect from a Strip hotel except for the Strip. I wouldn't hesitate to stay there again for a night but anything longer than that would probably be a bit of a bore. If you need to stay in Henderson, you won't be disappointed but you certainly also aren't going to get the "Vegas Feel" like you would out on the Strip.

Room Pictures
Pool Pictures

Visit for the complete guide to Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. Property maps of every major casino, 100s of pictures and a ton of other info all in one place!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The week in Vegas News - August 8

Highlights of the top news stories of the week...

This week, Hooters Hotel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy under a pile of debt. The filing wasn't unexpected and in fact, surprising that it took this long. This place is the poster child for the bad investments that companies made in the glory days a few years back. The debt load is over $175 million but even in its best years, it wasn't making more than $10-12M a year profit. What competent lender would lend almost 20 years of profit to someone? The people behind these loans deserve to lose their shorts for violating the most basic rules of lending and common sense for that matter.

In a follow-up to last week's story about "disorder" on and around the pedestrian bridges, Clark County commisioners are to set up a panel to look at ways of curbing the proliferation of street performers and vendors that have sprung up on the Strip. While that's nice that they are discussing the problem, how about simply putting more cops and hotel security out there now? Seems pretty easy and can be done without some panel of bureaucrats taking months to do anything.

Caesars Entertainment, formerly Harrah's, has received the green light to start construction on "Project Linq." The $500 million project will create a shopping, dining and entertainment plaza between the Flamingo and O'Shea's. The highlight will be a 550 foot tall "Observation Wheel" with 28 cabins each holding 40 people. Also as part of the project, a desperately needed facelift to the facades of the Imperial Palace and O'Shea's. Kudos to Caesars for taking the plunge on the first major construction project in years on the Strip.

Lastly, there were a few interesting articles about Vegas weather and its water supply. Early in the week, the LV Sun ran a piece about the Southern Nevada Water Authority's never-ending quest for more water. This was ironically followed later in the week with a story about the near-record amount of run-off coming down the Colorado from the Rockies causing a 20 foot rise in Lake Mead from the record lows last year. Finally, while much of the nation has been baking under a massive heatwave, Las Vegas has actually been experiencing a "cool" summer.

Visit's News Wire for all of the latest Vegas news.

Visit for the complete guide to Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. Property maps of every major casino, 100s of pictures and a ton of other info all in one place!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Monte Carlo Review and Room Pictures

The first night of my recent trip was in a standard room at the Monte Carlo. I have stayed there a couple of times a few years ago and enjoyed it and have spent a decent amount of time there recently while staying at Aria and Bellagio. They have updated the room slightly since my last stay so it was time for a return trip to see how things have changed in the past year and or two.

I arrived on a Sunday around 2PM and the lobby was absolutely packed. It took well over a half hour to get checked in. There are individual lines for each desk clerk but with the amount of people waiting, the system quickly fell apart. They definitely need to improve their queue process when there are large crowds. After finally making it to the Front Desk, I was given a 2 queen bed room on the 14th floor overlooking the back of New York-New York. Not the most spectacular view but I have had worse in Vegas. The room is pretty standard with a desk, 2 chairs, a nightstand and an armiore/TV stand. The room itself is largely unchanged from my last stay in December 2009. The only real difference is the TV and armoire have been replaced with a flat-screen TV and smaller armoire and new linens are on the beds. The bathroom is also unchanged with a single sink and combo tub/shower. The fact that the room is virtually unchange really showed in the room I had. The chairs and desk were pretty beat up. The walls had many scuff marks on them including a huge one right between the 2 beds. The carpet is getting a little tired as was the hallway leading to the room. The bathroom is also unchanged with a single sink and a combo tub/shower. The biggest complaint, however, was the horrible TV service provided on those new flat-screens. Not only isn't it in HD, it was barely even watchable through all the fuzz. I know they don't want you in your room but not even being able to catch the local news is pretty weak. With all that said, the room wasn't really terrible - pretty much inline with most other older, mid-priced joints in town. I guess I have just been spoiled staying at all the newer places on the Strip!

As for the rest of the resort, they are billing themselves as "Affordable Luxury." I guess it sounded better than "Slightly above average!" There is a good collection of decent but not over-the-top expensive restaurants including longtime Vegas favorite, Andre's and The Pub microbrewery plus a large food court for quick eats. The pool area is a step above most but not quite top 5, sort of like a "mini" Mandalay Bay with a lazy river and wave pool but on a smaller scale. The casino is about what you would expect on the Strip with limits much more affordable than its neighbor, Aria. I did play a little machine play and did OK, milking the drink service which was definitely hit or miss depending on location.

All things considered, the stay at Monte Carlo was perfectly average for an average Strip hotel. The room, while a little disappointing to me, was on par with what I have gotten at similar places like Luxor, Flamingo and Bally's on recent stays. The older mid-range places are starting to show their age and the economy has caused them to defer maintenance longer than they normally would have in better times. Like I said, I have become a little spoiled lately staying at Cosmo, City Center and Bellagio so when I stay in an older room, I definitely notice it. None of the issues I had were deal-breakers but if the cut-backs on everyday maintenance continue for much longer, it's eventually going to take it's toll.

Room Pictures

Monte Carlo Room Picture

Visit for the complete guide to Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. Property maps of every major casino, 100s of pictures and a ton of other info all in one place!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Week in Vegas News - August 1

On Monday, the LV Business Press reported on the topping-off of the Harmon Corner shopping complex next to Planet Hollywood. The 110,000 Sq.Ft, 3-story enclosed shopping center will be anchored by a Walgreens drug store and will have 16 other shops. Started in February, it is expected to be completed before Christmas. It's good to see construction continuing on the Strip and the place looks to actually have places regular people shop like Walgreens and a Panda Express fast food joint. It's in a good location as well, at the foot of the pedestrian bridge from Cosmopolitan and City Center. This one looks like it might have what it takes to avoid being another skeleton on the Strip.

Speaking of the Strip bridges, the county is FINALLY looking into ways to "curb the disorder" on and near them that has sprung up in recent months. The Strip has always been plagued by "porn slappers" handing out cards but lately it has exploded into people peddling bottled water and trinkets and others dressed as Disney characters hawking pictures to tourists. There also seems to be a lot more  questionable people loitering about, particularly at night.

It's about time the county and hopefully the casinos start to address this problem. If a guy in his 30s who grew up in New York feels a bit worried about his safety, how does a couple in their 60s from the Mid-West feel? In all my years of going to Las Vegas, I never questioned my safety but in the last few trips it has happened more than once on those bridges at night. There is often a casino at the end of the bridge so its incumbent on them to make sure they are safe. If my livelihood was affected by what happened out there, I would put extra security on even if for nothing but appearences. Show a little force and the problem will solve itself.

In the week's financial news, Las Vegas Sands (owners of the Venetian and Palazzo) absolutely crushed it with revenues up 48% over last year, almost entirely on growth outside of Las Vegas and the US. Meanwhile, Boyd Gaming (The Coasts, Orleans, Sam's Town and 3 downtown casinos) who is heavily dependent on Las Vegas, had essentially flat revenues with the LV Locals segment down slightly over last year.

Lastly, a couple of "only in Vegas" stories... Ever wondered what it takes to do the laundry at the MGM Grand each day? Not many places have to wash the sheets and towels of 6,000 rooms! The scale of things in Vegas and the MGM in particular is simply incredible.

The LVRJ also ran an interesting piece on how everyone is using creative marketing to keep business alive during the Great Recession and Las Vegas' 32 Nudie Bars are no exception. Free drinks, buffets and half price lap dances are all the rage these days to get people through the door. Good stuff!

Visit's News Wire for all of the latest Vegas news.

Visit for the complete guide to Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. Property maps of every major casino, 100s of pictures and a ton of other info all in one place!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hard Rock Hotel HRH Tower Review

Despite being to Vegas over 80 times through out the years, I never once stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel. With their recent expansion, it was finally time to end my Hard Rock virginity. I arrived around 2PM and there was no one waiting at the HRH Tower check-in desk. I hand the clerk my license and credit card and he starts typing away. After about 30 seconds, he tells me that he doesn't see a reservation for me. I told him that I made the reservation through their website online but it just dawned on me that I never saw an confirmation email. He says that not to worry, that there were rooms available but at what cost. I told him I was quoted $120 and he winced! He says that since I am a "Rockstar Club" member he will call them and see if they can help me. After about 5 minutes on the phone with them, he tells me that he has good news and they were going to comp the room based on past play! Very nice... I was ready to pay $120 and I ended up with a room for free! Kudos to the Hard Rock. A very nice way to start my first stay ever at the Hard Rock. Here is a lesson that I will apparently never learn, ALWAYS confirm your reservations!!!

After getting through the reservation fiasco, I was in my room in a matter of minutes and what a room it was. The standard room in the HRH Tower is a mini-suite with the sitting area seperated from the bedroom room by the entertainment center with a large flat-screen TV on each side of it. As you enter, there is a wet bar along the hallway which leads the sitting area. The couch was a large sectional that was quite comfortable and made for a great place to hangout. The TVs are at least 42" and unlike the night before at the Monte Carlo, they actually have HD programming! The room doesn't have all the wiz-bang technology found at places like Aria or Cosmopolitan but does have a DVD player and cool music system that is controlled by a touch screen embedded in the wall near the desk, which is a nice little feature. You can attach your I-Pod or pick from a pre-selected list of music. The bed was large, comfortable and gave a great night sleep and the bedroom also has the same size TV. The bathroom is huge with dual vanity, big, deep tub and a separate shower stall. It is nicely done, covered with stone through-out. The one feature that definitely stands out is the wall separating the bath from the bedroom, it's nothing more than a sheet of glass! There is a curtain that you can close but it's from the outside so you better really like the other people in the room if you plan to shower!

Outside of the room, I really like the new and improved Hard Rock Hotel. Before the expansion, I pretty much despised the thought of even going to the place. It was always absolutely packed, often with 20-something assholes, which bothered me even in my 20s! The casino was just too small for the crowds they would pack in there. With the addition of the HRH Tower, the casino has at least doubled in size. The same type of crowd still hangs out there but at least you now have room to get away from them. I also like the atmosphere in the casino now that its more spread out. As you would expect, the music is better than most other places; mostly 80s and 90 rock and metal; the drink service was good at all times and there is just a cool, classic feel to the dark decor of the casino. The downside is that they recently pulled out most of their better video poker machines which makes putting through big time play much harder to do.

Also with the expansion, they have added a handful of new restaurants but my only meal was at the coffee shop, Mr. Lucky's 24/7. This is becoming one of my favorite coffee shops in Vegas. You aren't going to find many bargains but the room is nice, the service is good and the food has always been great. This time was no exception. I had just a burger but it was delivered in less than 10 minutes and was great. Its not quite as good as the Burger Bar at Mandalay Place but definitely excellent for a coffee shop. I have been dying to try "Johnny Smalls," an entire restaurant dedicated to appetizers and small plates but it's not the type of thing to do alone. That is on the list for the next trip.

By far, the most famous part of the Hard Rock has to be the pool area. Everyone knows about the "Rehab" party on Sundays so much so that there is even a reality show about it. I was quite eager to finally check it out after all these years and it didn't disappoint. The area is enormous with at least 4 different pools including the now ubiquitous topless pool interconnected by nicely wooded trails. There are also several hot tubs scattered about, even a few cabanas with private ones. It probably has one of the biggest outdoor gambling spaces in town with 2 different swim up blackjack areas and a good sized casino space. There were quite a few cool features like many shallow sunbathing areas and the glass pool on the second floor Sky Bar with holes in it looking down to the bar below. The entire area is just very well done. It might just be the prettiest pool in Vegas. One thing that was striking, however, was that the place seemed way too large for a hotel of Hard Rock's size. It was noon-time on a Tuesday in July and 75% of the place was completely closed, leaving just one pool open and even that one was hardly crowded. Even if the Rehab party really does pack em' in, it all seems like serious overkill for the other 6 days a week. With that said, the Hard Rock pool definitely is top 3 in Vegas, on par with Mandalay Bay and MGM.

It was a great night at Hard Rock overall from getting the unexpected comp room to having some decent play in the casino. I ended up not even leaving during the entire stay! I'm looking forward to staying there again soon with the wife for a few nights to really get a chance to enjoy the place. One night alone just didn't do it justice.

Room Pictures
Pool Pictures

Visit for the complete guide to Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. Property maps of every major casino, 100s of pictures and a ton of other info all in one place!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Weekly Vegas News Roundup

There was quite a bit of news coming from the Strip this week...

What a terrible week for the folks over at City Center. It started out with news that Eva Longoria's nightclub in the Crystals Mall closed after filing bankruptcy. That news was immediately followed by a report that the unfinished Harmon Hotel tower was unsafe and could collapse in the event of an earthquake. The company was given until August 15 by Clark County to come up with a plan to fix it or tear it down. To wrap up a banner 5 days, it was reported on Thursday that an outbreak of Legionnaire's disease occurred at Aria, infecting 6 patrons between late June and early July.

The nightclub closing is not a big deal, those places come and go regularly and the rent for that joint had to be through the roof. I don't know how any of those places survive in that mall. The on-going saga of the Harmon, however, just blows my mind. A half of billion dollar mistake caused by incompetence and gross mismanagement from MGM to the contractors to the county building inspectors. How does so many different groups, with such extensive experience building large structures, screw up so monumentally? I hope someone's head got lopped off for this epic failure. The Legionnaire's disease outbreak is unfortunate but at least it doesn't appear to be all that serious with everyone fully recovering but it's the kind of news Las Vegas doesn't need right now. MGM is really trying hard to get out in front of it, putting up a "facts" page to put their spin on it and even buying up a good chunk of the Vegas Google ads to advertise it. I don't think it would stop me from staying there but I'm glad I don't have a reservation right now!

In other Vegas news this week, one of the men who built the modern Las Vegas, Terry Lanni, passed away this week at the age of 68. He was the longtime head of MGM and oversaw the company's growth from 1 casino to more than 15 including the purchases of Mirage from Steve Wynn in 2000 and Mandalay Resorts in 2005. I am not at all a fan of the massive consolidation of casinos into just a few hands, something Mr. Lanni played a huge role in, but you have to admire someone who built something so large and in the process made Vegas the town it is today. His actions may have came with a price but at the end of the day, I don't believe that the Strip would be what it is without the vision of guys like Terry Lanni. R.I.P.

Lastly, there were a couple of nice fluff pieces that were interesting reads. A story in the LV Sun about some of the projects that never happened and another in the R-J about the few places still running coin operated video poker and slot machines.

Visit for the complete guide to Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. Property maps of every major casino, 100s of pictures and a ton of other info all without annoying ads!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Another Trip in the Books

Just back from 3 excellent nights in the City of Sin with stays at Monte Carlo, the new HRH Tower at Hard Rock and finished up in a suite at Sunset Station. It was my first stay, believe it or not, at both Hard Rock and Sunset. Its been a long time since I was able to add 2 new hotels to my list in the same trip. A couple of thoughts and observation from the trip...

  • Happy Hours are all the rage. Every place in town seems to have one now and it's not limited to restaurants and bars, they even have one at the lingerie shop at the Flamingo!
  • Speaking of the Flamingo, they are finally doing something with the long, useless hallway that extends from the casino to Margaritaville and turning it into the Margaritaville Casino. I swear the Flamingo has to be the most frequently changed hotel in Vegas!
  • It was a banner trip for property maps. 15 new maps to go with the 10 from the last trip that I still need to post will make for some busy days on the scanner ahead. I will start getting them posted this weekend. Look for the "first class" Harrah's map. It is a classic! Photocopied with hand-written changes... Nobody knows how to squeeze an extra penny like the folks at Harrah's, err, Caesars Entertainment!

In addition to the slew of maps, look for reviews plus room and pool pictures from all 3 hotels over the next few weeks.

Visit for the complete guide to Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. Property maps of every major casino, 100s of pictures and a ton of other info all without annoying ads!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Treasure Island Strip View Room Review

The last night of my stay was in a Strip view room for at Treasure Island. I received a "One Day Sale" email and it indeed had some decent rates. $39 for a regular or $59 for Strip view. Those email signups really pay off sometimes! I haven't stayed at TI since my second trip to Vegas when I was still dirt poor and only had a bed to sleep in because the guy who rented the room didnt come back all weekend! I am no longer broke so I sprung for the extra $20 for the view and ended up on the top floor with awesome view of the Mirage volcano and center Strip.

I arrived around 1:00PM and checked in almost immediately with only about a 30 second wait in line at the Front Desk. The elevators are little bit of a haul from the front desk but closer to just about everything else. The room was a fairly standard newer Vegas room. In a twin queen room there is a combo armoire, desk TV Stand plus another chair and small table. It had been somewhat recently remodeled and everything still looked pretty good, there were no major carpet stains and all of the furniture was in good shape. The bed was the exception as it was pretty saggy. The bathroom has a combo tub/shower and a single vanity. It was also remodeled with stone tile and counter top, although curiously, it looks like they failed slap a coat of paint on the front of the vanity. It looked beat to hell!

Treasure Island itself is probably the smallest of the major Strip casinos in terms of area with everything pretty close by. There is a handful of restaurants including all the Vegas standards; steakhouse, coffee shop, Italian, buffet. There also a Gilley's BBQ, complete with mechanical bull! I only ate at the pizza place and it served up an halfway decent slice at 11:00PM. The location is pretty good as well being across the street from Venetian and Palazzo with a monorail over to Mirage next door. The pool is certainly not in the Top 10 in town but serves it purpose if all you need is sun and water. No review of TI would be complete without a mention of the slutty pirate show, Sirens of TI. Well here it is... I haven't seen it, I have zero desire to see it and I will go out of my way to avoid it. Standing in a packed crowd of people who have been in the Vegas heat all day along with a few pickpockets just to see scantily-clad dancing pirates does not appeal to me.

All in all, my stay at Treasure Island was fairly positive, especially for the price. It has everything you could ask for in a mid-priced Strip hotel in a good location. Like its neighbors, you aren't going to find any good plays at the tables or machines but thats to be expected. Otherwise, TI is a good option for most people especially Vegas virgins and partiers.

Room Pictures
Pool Pictures

Visit for the complete guide to Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. Property maps of every major casino, 100s of pictures and a ton of other info all without annoying ads!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The New and Improved!

After almost 6 solid months of work, the completely remodeled is finally here! This launch marks a major new period for the site, bringing it to a whole new level on par with any other Vegas site on the Internet. The most obvious change is the entirely new interface including a super-sweet new logo inspired by the "other" famous Vegas sign. In addition to the new look and feel, there are a number of other changes as well. has existed in one form or another since 1997 largely without any advertising aside from Google ads, it became time to finally add banner advertising to the site. After long thought about how do to it right, I have decided to team up with MGM Resorts, who own 11 hotels on the Strip, to bring their latest room offers directly from the source instead of some unknown 3rd party room reservation service. I have always advocated booking rooms direct due to better cancellation policies and serving MGM's ads made it possible to reinforce that thought.

Quite a few other things have been added or updated as well...

  • There is now a Las Vegas Newswire on the left side which provides links to the latest Vegas news stories from a variety of sources and is updated throughout each day. Get you Vegas news fix all from one place!
  • All of the hotel room and pool slideshows have been redesigned for easier navigation and a better experience.
  • A complete update of hotel amenities and restaurants was completed.
  • A new weekly newsletter with the latest site news and reviews, a recap the week in Las Vegas plus latest unpublished room offers and other exclusive deals.
  • Ramped up the social media presence so you can now follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Blogger.

It has been a privilege to run this site over the past 13+ years and I look forward to this new, exciting era for A huge thanks to the many frequent guests over the years and welcome to all new visitors who hopefully become frequent guests. Although much has changed, one thing that has not is the reason for why this site exists, one guy's love for Las Vegas. I read and reply to every comment so if you have any thoughts about the site or otherwise, that are even vaguely Vegas related, please feel free to contact me or comment below. As always, thanks for visiting!

Visit for the complete guide to Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. Property maps of every major casino, 100s of pictures and a ton of other info all without annoying ads!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cabana at Mandalay Beach!

With having to do a lot of work travel lately, I was seriously in need for a long overdue trip to Vegas. This one was 4 nights; 2 at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, 1 at Boulder Station and the last at Treasure Island. I choose THEhotel because I usually have some sort of offer, the rooms are nice and what better place for some pool time? Boulder Station was on the list because it's been almost 10 years since I last stayed there and the rooms have finally been remodeled. It's been even longer since my last stay at TI, going all the way back to 1995!

The highlight definitely was getting a cabana at Mandalay Bay. We aren't usually cabana people but we decided to splurge on this trip and there is no better pool in Vegas. Having a "home" made staying out there all day easy, it was great to be able to retreat to the shade for refuge from the Vegas sun. It had all the amenities you would expect from a nice cabana including the stocked fridge, TV, safe and comfy furniture. The service was also incredible with a dedicated waitress plus a host that would handle anything else you need from inside the hotel from getting Starbucks to placing bets at the Sports Book! This is where they earn the prices they are charging for these things. Sadly, we are low-maintenance people and didn't even use our host all day. It was a definitely nice experience and felt great to be the "beach king" for the day but it was expensive especially when it was just the two of us. The best way to do the cabana thing is if you are with a group of people. You get all the benefits of the cabana while splitting the cost between 5 or 6 people making it a much more cost-effective way to go.

Mandalay Bay Cabana

Reviews with room and pool pics for Boulder Station and TI along with a new batch property maps will be posted in the coming days and weeks. I am also feverishly working on a new version of the site that will be rolled out soon with a new look and features. It will be a busy couple of weeks at!

Visit for the complete guide to Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. Property maps of every major casino, 100s of pictures and a ton of other info all without annoying ads!