Thursday, May 24, 2012

Daily Vegas News Round-Up - May 24

White Cross Gets Grocery
Downtown residents won't have far to walk or drive for milk and eggs when White Cross Market opens this summer... (More)

Strip Pool Reprive
It's not closing time yet for Southern Nevada's famed pool parties. The Strip's hotel-casinos got a reprieve from a federal regulation that could require them to close their pools while making expensive retrofits to allow access to the disabled.... (More)

Stupak's Piece of the Moon
What are the odds that chips of rock from man's first visit to the moon would end up with a flamboyant Las Vegas casino owner who once had a place with a rocket ship logo, a sign declaring "Sky's the Limit" and an eatery called the Moon Rock Cafe?... (More)

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Daily Vegas News Round-Up - May 23

Nevada not to see full recovery until 2017
With the nation’s highest unemployment rate at 11.7 percent, it will take Nevada more than five years to gain back all the jobs lost here during the recession... (More)

More Taxis for EDC
It shouldn't be hard to get a ride to the Electric Daisy Carnival next month as Las Vegas cab companies will field as many as 140 additional taxis for the busy weekend... (More)

Las Vegas' Biggest Jackpots
It's rare to leave Las Vegas with more money than you brought with you, much less go home a millionaire. But some do. The Florida man who recently walked away with $1 million from the Three Card Poker table at the Flamingo... (More)

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Daily Vegas News Round-Up - May 22

Bellagio Robbery Attempt
Another set of geniuses thought it was a good idea to try to steal $150K in $5000 chips from Bellagio on Sunday. The guy with the chips was caught but the other got away. Do these morons really think that they could steal $5000 chips then cash them in later. Total and complete paralysis from the neck up...

Whitney's Daughter Hitting the Slots
Nevada gaming regulators are looking into allegations that Bobbi Kristina Brown, 19, the daughter of the late pop superstar Whitney Houston, was gambling at the MGM Grand last weekend. Awesome! She got train-wreck written all over her!

Blue Man at Electric Daisy
The Blue Man Group is scheduled to perform at the upcoming Electric Daisy Carnival in June. They will be performing with DJ Steve Aoki on June 9. The carnival at LV Speedway runs from June 8-10.

For all of today's Las Vegas casino, finance and economic news, visit's News Wire

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Daily Vegas News Round-up - May 21

Big Memorial Day Weekend
Tourism officials are expecting a big weekend in Las Vegas for this upcoming Memorial Day. Expectations are for as much if not more traffic than last year which saw a big jump from previous years.
Penn National's Moving Up
Penn National Gaming (PENN) is now the 3rd largest gaming company in America thanks to the opening of new casinos in Ohio this year.
Northeast Casino Glut
A commentary about the impending glut of casinos in the Northeast now that everyone in their mother has gaming. Really? Do you think?

For all of today's Las Vegas casino, finance and economic news, visit's News Wire

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Daily Vegas News Round-up - May 18

After a break for 4 awesome night in the City of Sin, the Vegas News Round-Up is back!

Cosmopolitan and Wayne Newton sued
The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas was sued by a former worker who says she was told she was fired for saying "Bye Bye" instead of "Good Bye." She claims in her suit that the real reason was because she was pregnant, which sounds far more plausible. I have to believe that if a company was looking for bullshit to cover for discrimination, it would be a better excuse that saying "Bye Bye."

Also having a bad legal hair day was Mr. Vegas himself, Wayne Newton. Plans to turn is estate into a museum/tourist trap have run around with various accusations being thrown around by the Newtons and the company that bought the right to build the place. Just another day of business in Las Vegas!

Boyd's Latest Acquisition
Boyd's Gaming (BYD) announced late yesterday that it intends to purchase Peninsula Gaming, a midwest operation of casino, for $1.45B. The deal was received with mixed reaction with some seeing it as a positive going forward while others concerned about adding additional debt to an already leveraged company. Count me with the latter as I tend to believe that a company that derives a vast portion of its revenue from the Las Vegas locals & downtown markets really shouldn't be taking on more debt right now.

SLS Las Vegas Preview
On the one year anniversary of the closing of the Sahara, the people behind the proposed transformation to "SLS Las Vegas" did a dog and pony show with fancy models. The Stiffs and Georges blog at Las Vegas Advisor has a good recap of the plan as well lists the many missteps this ownership group has made.

I couldn't agree more that the amount praised heaped on SLS principal owner, Sam Nazarian is completely unwarranted. He may have had success in Beverly Hills and Miami but so far in Vegas, he has done zero except put more people out of work and turn the north Strip into more of a ghost town and his plans to create Cosmo North show that he hasn't learned anything either. Good luck dude.

For all of today's Las Vegas casino, finance and economic news, visit's News Wire

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Live Trip Report

It's time for another trip and another "live" trip report. This trip will be 4 nights, at 3 different hotels, starting with 2 nights in a Sky Suite at Mandalay Bay then over to a "Classic" room at Caesars Palace then wrapping it up with a night in the Paradise Tower at Hard Rock Hotel. Check back in over the next few days for frequent reviews and commentary. You can also "Follow Us on Twitter" for an even more real-time blow-by-blow of the trip.

10:00AM - On the road towards Vegas. Let's hope for minimal Mother's Day traffic through the Inland Empire and zero truck traffic up I-15.

4:00 PM - Pulled into the valet at Mandalay Bay at 2:45 and was up to the room in less than 15 minutes. On the 60th floor looking west towards Orleans. The room is very big but oddly, doesn't have a work desk. Not crazy about that...

7:00 PM - Went down and checked out the cabanas at the pool then played a little while in the casino. We got good drink service for once! Now it's off to the San Gennaro Festival at Rio for some good Italian eats.

9:30 PM - TRIED to go to the San Gennaro Fest but gave up after trying to park for 20 minutes. Epic failure on the parking situation at the Rio. Ended up having a quick dinner on the patio at Pink's Hot Dogs at Planet Hollywood.

12:00 AM - Back in the room after a little play in the casino. Not much luck but not a terrible run.

8:45 AM - Got an early start with some morning coffee and gambling then went and got a cabana. Prices are up 300% over last year. The same one we got last year for $275 is now $650. Its a complete joke when 75% of them will be empty all day. Ended up with a "gazebo" which is a smaller cabana.

2:00 PM - Back in the room for a little break from the sun. I was a bit disappointed originally at the location of the gazebo but its worked out well.

5:45 PM - Ended up totally enjoying the Gazebo and definitely the way to go over a cabana that was $400 more. The evening's entertainment... 2 seats on the glass for Game 1 of the ECHL Championship Series at the Orleans Arena. Go LV Wranglers!

11:00 PM - It was a great game! The Wranglers won it 2-1 and there was a nice brawl right in front of us at the end of the 2nd period. Definitely a better time than some Cirque Du Soleil show and cheaper!

8:30 AM - Started the day with another ass-whipping downstairs. Not even the illusion of giving me some play. Those are the worse kind of sessions.

12:00 PM - Checked out of Mandalay Bay, went over to Luxor for lunch at Nathan's before heading over to Caesars.

2:00 PM - Used "Text Check-In" at Caesars Palace and it couldn't have faster. I walked up to an empty bell desk, give my ID and was handed my keys. The only problem... I reserved a smoking room and was given a non-smoking one. Schlep the 1/4 mile back to the front desk for a new room in the same tower. I've already got my exercise for the day.

2:30 PM -I was supposed to be in an original room and I was put up in the newer Forum Tower. Its a decent room; a bit tired but I'm sure better than an original room. One cool thing, the TV in the bathroom is embedded in the mirror!

6:15 PM - Dropped the wife off at McCarran to head home and its time for the solo portion of the trip. Off to the Palms to put a few points on the cards to keep it active.

12:00 AM - I hate the Palms! There is something about that place that keeps my ass glued to my chair for hours no matter the results. I will say that I did receive the best drink service I EVER had there. They are notoriously bad and have been since Day 1 but it was great last night.

10:30 AM - Went down for coffee and to give Caesars some obligatory play for my comp. Nothing terrible but still without an up session for the trip.

12:00 PM - Took pictures of the Caesars Pool, which is much nicer than I remember it. Time to pack up the room and head out.

2:00 PM - Went downtown to the Gambler General Store for some poker cards then hit LVH Hotel for a property map. Saw something rather interesting... A wine vending machine! Afterwards, I swung by Capriotti's for a "Bobbie" which is turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayo on a sandwich roll. Pretty damn tasty!

2:30 PM - Checked into Hard Rock Hotel. I am in a "Corner Room" on the 14th floor of the Paradise Tower which has possibly the best view I ever had in a room in Vegas. With windows on 2 sides, I have an 180 degree view of the entire Strip, downtown and out to Boulder Station. Very nice.

6:00 PM - Did a little bit of work and caught an hour of sleep. Ready to head downstairs.

8:15 PM - Back in the room trying to decide where to use my $25 dining credit. Woo Hoo!

11:30 PM - Ended up eating at Mr. Lucky's 24/7, HRH's coffee shop. Decent BBQ burger, nothing to wrote home about and certainly not in the same league as Burger Bar. Decided to play my first 5 play video poker of the trip and ended up with my first winning session of the trip. Dealt quads twice and a couple other good hits helped!

12:30 AM - Heading over to Bally's to meet up with Mark and his wife from 360Vegas who just got into town.

5:00 AM - Had a fucking blast hanging out with Mark! 4 good hours of good Vegas bullshit, bartop VP and more Coronas than I remember!

8:00 AM - Wide awake with a NASTY headache. 2 Excedrins later, it now a headache AND nausea.

10:30 AM - Managed to get back to sleep for an hour and the Excedrin finally did its job. Thank god for late check-out!

11:30 AM - Packing up and heading out. Trip number 90 comes to an end and the planning for #91 starts during the drive home. My name is Rob and I am a Vegas degenerate!

4:15 PM - Despite not getting on I-15 until almost 12:30, I was still able to make the trip in less than 4 hours. Another awesome trip is in the bag with plenty of new material to be posted over the next few weeks! Thanks for following along with the "Live" trip report!

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Daily Vegas News Round-up - May 11

Gordon Ramsey finally hits Vegas
Celebrity Chef and First Class Asshole, Gordon Ramsey has finally made it to Las Vegas, joining every other celebrity chef. His steakhouse which opens today at Paris Las Vegas, of course named "Gordon Ramsey Steak." I'm sure it will be a success as people will surely line up to overpay just to say they ate at his restaurant and all the power to him!
Yet another loss at Cosmo
Another quarter and another, albeit smaller loss for Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. They reported at $26M loss compared to $56M last year in the first quarter and further proof that "Party Vegas" is as successful as "Family Vegas" was in the mid-90s. Cosmo is the coolest joint in town, packed with hipsters virtually every night of the week. Only problem? Those people are attending nightclubs, err Ultra Lounges, that are owned by 3rd parties and most of those people don't even know there is a casino on the first floor. It's only a matter of time before the casinos figure that despite a ton of press, these places add zero to the bottom line and may even drive away real customers that want to play in the casino. To make matters even worse, the geniuses running the place have cut back on comps to the few people who actually had been playing there. I love Cosmo but the current business plan is a failure.
Brown haze gone
The brown haze that blocked out visibility and lead to health warnings yesterday has cleared and its back to sunny Vegas skies!

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Daily Vegas News Round-Up - May 10

March Gaming Numbers, Monorail Emerges from BK, Brown Haze over the Valley and More


March gaming numbers down big despite uptick in visitors
The Nevada Gaming Commission released the numbers for March and they weren't pretty. The Las Vegas Strip was down 14.91% from last year and the state as a whole was down 10.86%. This despite visitor numbers showing continued improvement. Total visitors were up 3.7% and hotel occupancy was up 1%. The main culprits seem to be a terrible run for Baccarat, being down over 50%, and a big convention last year that only occurs every 3 years. Still, the numbers takes some of the wind of the Vegas recovery talk.

LV Monorail emerges from bankruptcy
The long struggling Las Vegas Monorail that runs from MGM Grand to the defunct Sahara, is ready to exit Chapter 11 after a judge approved their reorganization plan. Since opening in 2004, the Monorail never came close to reaching its ridership projections.

Brown haze over valley leads to warnings
A brown haze has settled over the Las Vegas Valley causing health warnings to be issued. Believed to be caused by a dust storm in Arizona, visibility is down to near zero.

For all of today's Las Vegas casino, finance and economic news, visit's News Wire

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Venetian Luxury Suite Review and Pictures

I arrived at the Venetian valet at 3PM on a Sunday and the line was about 10 minutes at the Front Desk. Once getting up there, I was told that a smoking room wasn't ready but they were being cleaned and it would "20 minutes tops." She offers me a room in the Venezia Tower. 2 elevator rides and a 1/4 mile walk every time I leave my room? No thanks. She offers a room at Palazzo. Not a bad choice normally but me, my luggage and my car are at the Venetian. She then offered to call my cell phone once the room was ready. No problem, I can wait 20 minutes. After eating a quick lunch and wandering around the lobby for 45 minutes, I go back to the front to inquire about the room and am told it still isn't ready and once again given the Venezia/Palazzo options. Apparently annoyed that I didn't like those options, she snips "Then we will call you when its ready!" Another half hour passes and I go back and unfortunately I end up with the same person. She immediately asks "Did we call?!?!" No, you did not and it's now an hour and 15 minutes to clean a room. She starts clicking and says "Oh it's ready. Are you sure you didn't miss the call?" Nope, I had my phone in my hand the whole time Tweeting about my experience! An hour and a half later, I am finally in my room - a "Luxury Suite" on the 29th floor overlooking the Venezia Tower and south Strip.

All of the standard rooms at the Venetian are mini-suites with a bedroom and seperate sunken living area, which is definitely the best part of the room. The bedroom space is a bit cramped with a king bed, 2 night stands and a armoire squeezed in but it's hardly noticeable with the large sitting area by the window. There is a big sectional couch that can easily seat 4 or 5 and a coffee table. Also a work desk and small dining table with 3 chairs centered around a TV Stand/mini-bar/safe. This is clearly where you will spend the majority of your time while in your room. The bathroom was the prototype for every other hotel bathroom built in Vegas over the past 10 years. Dual-sink vanity, seperate shower and tub, a toilet room plus enough open space that 4 of your drunken friends could sleep in it.

The amenities and details are what you would expect from a luxury hotel - DVD player in the living area, seperate make-up vanity with mirror, the snazzy assortment of bath products, comfortable mattress and it was all nice enough. Barely. The room was just on the cusp of officially hitting the "tired" state. Nothing most people would even care about, just some little things that added up. The couch was a bit saggy, the wooden furniture was a little roughed up and the bathroom fixtures were screaming old. However, by far the worst part of the room was the lack and difficulty of getting to a power outlet, especially at the desk. With the amount of devices people now travel with, they need to do something about it. Traveling solo, I have at least 4 devices to charge. How many does a family of 4 have? The new rooms at MGM, they got it right with an outlet in every lamp.

Outside of the room, The Venetian/Palazzo complex probably has the best collection of restaurants and shopping in Vegas. There are well over 30 places to eat between the two places with everything from fast food to top-notch gourmet in just about every cuisine. For the non-gourmets amongst us, I highly recommend the coffee shop - the Grand Lux Cafe. I had one of the best burgers ever on this trip but I have never been disappointed with anything on the giant menu. Run by the Cheesecake Factory people, this might be my favorite coffee shop in Vegas.

In the casino, I actually ended up playing a lot more than I planned. When you put in cash and don't lose it, it makes it hard to walk away. I gave them easily 6 or 7 hours of play and walked basically even. As for the service, I can only assume that the new standard for drink service on the Strip is outright crappy. This has been a consistant trend in every place I have placed over the past year or so from Bellagio to Riviera to Venetian. Did the Food & Beverage guy at the Palms send out a memo or something?

After getting off to a rough start at check-in, the stay at the Venetian overall, was pretty good. You can beat the size of the standard room with the seperate living area. Having a couch is such a bonus over a normal room if you plan on hanging out in it even the shortest amount of time. Aside from the huge room, the list of amenities downstairs is almost reason alone to stay there. The seemingly endless amount of restaurants, top night clubs, the Canyon Ranch Spa and huge pool deck plus a decent location make it an ideal choice for just about any Las Vegas visitor. However, if pure luxury is what you are looking for then you may be somewhat disappointed. Between the state of the room and the pure massiveness of place, it just doesn't exude that 5-star feeling. It certainly won't be mistaken for the Wynn next door, where it's ass-kissing and pretentiousness from the valet to the toilet. If that's not you want from your hotel but still want everything else a luxury hotel offers, the Venetian is a good pick. You can even get an almost identical experience in a fresher room at Palazzo and it's usually at the same price. While definitely not my favorite hotel in Las Vegas, there is a lot to like about the Venetian and I am sure I will be back in the future.

Venetian Luxury Suite Pictures

Venetian Luxury Suite Picture

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

MGM Grand Remodeled Room Review and Pictures

MGM Grand is in the midst of a long overdue renovation and the first batch of newly remodeled rooms can now be booked. Since I am actually a fan of MGM, I had to give the new digs a try. The remodel is being widely promoted with press releases and big ads on the side of the building. There is even a mock-up of a new room in the lobby which is pretty interesting. With such hype, I was eager to see the improvements they made over the original room which are well past tired.

I arrived to a near empty lobby at 4PM and was quickly helped at the Front Desk. It took a little while to hunt down a smoking room for me but they ended up coming through and in just a few minutes I was in my room on the 14th floor overlooking the valet, Hooters and the airport. The first impression of the room was that it vaguely reminded me of the rooms at Aria with a lot of brown with a decent amount of chrome thrown in. There is also one wall that is about 50% mirror and 2 large, colorful (some would say ugly) pictures on the other walls. There is an armiore/TV stand that also contains a mini-bar with a decent sized flat screen atop of it. Also built-in is a media connection panel with virtually every kind of port you could ever need. The desk is on the slightly small side but adaquate enough for working and the desk chair was the most comfortable in the room. A couple of cool features... When the motorized blinds are fully retracted, there is no visible drapes at all, just window. Also, each light fixture had a power receptacle in the base, making it easy to keep multiple devices charged - a huge bonus for any road warrior.

Being quite happy with what I saw in the bedroom, I moved on to the bathroom to see the changes in there and in a continuation a recent trend, the bathroom was left largely untouched. This is the 3rd "remodeled" room I have had in the past few months and all 3 failed to redo the bathroom. The only changes from the original MGM rooms are new faucets and showerhead and a half remodeled room is a disappointment no matter how nice the other half is.

Downstairs, renovations are taking place as well. The casino, like the old rooms, was pretty tired. It is now filled with a new look and all of the latest and greatest games, even video Greyhound Racing! I found a few machines to my liking and had a pretty good run that night and the following morning. The drink service was horrendous, however. I am still waiting for a bottle of water. The restaurant roster has been pretty stable over the past few years with something from virtually every cuisine and budget. I didn't indulge much, only having a late night pastrami sandwich at the Stage Deli. It was merely mediocre with a much better sandwich at either Canter's at TI or Carnegie at Mirage.

As disappointed as I was seeing that the bathroom was untouched, I really do like what they did with the bedroom. The space is well-thought out, nicely decorated and comfortable to hang out in. It is definitely a huge upgrade from the original room but they could have knocked it out of the park if they did the bath as well. With that said; with the great line up of restaurants, one of the best pools in town, giant casino and good location - MGM is still one of my favorite Strip casinos.

MGM Grand Remodeled Room Pictures

MGM Grand Remodeled Room Picture

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Final Musings from the Trip

Some random thoughts from the trip...

  • It started out rough with a wait of over an hour to check-in at the Venetian followed by 2 of the worst hours gambling I have ever had in my life. Amazingly, the next 12 or so hours were basically even.
  • I got killed playing at South Point and did OK at Venetian and MGM. Go figure.
  • Ran into more than one surly employee at Venetian. One of the front desk clerks seemed offended that I didn't want to take a room at Palazzo and the other snapped at me for daring ask if the cupcake stand was still open. To be fair, the vast majority were overly nice but 2 bad incidents in 8 hours does stick out in your mind.
  • The MGM Grand's room renovations are being so widely hyped that they actually have a hotel room in the lobby yet they didn't bother to refurb the bathroom, much like the recent renos at Bellagio and Flamingo. Fail.
  • One nice touch of the new MGM rooms is that there are no visible curtains once they are fully retracted.
  • I still can't get used to the all-white towers at Tropicana. They are just creepy.
  • Next month, Van Halen is coming to town. The opening act? Kool & the Gang of course! You can't make this shit up. Speaking of concerts, Lionel Richie sold out the Grand Arena on Monday night. Really? Did I suddenly wake up in 1985?
  • The electronic table game craze has officially jumped the shark. If the giant bouncing "Price is Right" dice subbing for a craps table isn't enough for you, try your luck at the video greyhound racing machine!
  • Perhaps you are more of a traditionalist? For you, there is the electronic "Big Wheel" - Bringing bad bets into the 21st century. Ugghh!
  • Lastly, the resort fee at MGM (and others) was recently raised to $25, which is almost criminal itself, but then you find out there is a $3 tax on top of it. $28 for Wi-Fi you get for free at Motel 6.

Look for complete reviews and room pics of MGM and Venetian to be posted soon along with a slew of new property maps.

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!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Somewhat Live Trip Report

Time for another trip and another somewhat Live trip report! I'm hoping to be in town by 4PM at the latest for a night at the Venetian followed a night in the renovated MGM Grand rooms. I will be posting updates here through out each day and even more frequent witty commentary can be found on Twitter @VegasCasinoInfo.


11:15 AM - Picked up the rental car at the airport for $23 a day for a full size and made the reservation yesterday. Pretty sweet deal on 24 hours notice!

2:45 PM Despite virtually every moron in So Cal being on the I-15 heading towards Vegas, I still made it in 3.5 hours which is great time. Please tell me how broken you need to be to drive 5 MPH under the speed limit in the left lane and never learn?!?!

3:00 PM - Get to the Front Desk at Venetian and was told that if I wanted my room now, I could have one in the Venezia Tower, which is an ungodly walk to everything at Venetian or a room at Palazzo which is a half mile away from where I was standing. She then said there is a maid in your room now so if you want Venetian "it will 20 minutes tops."

4:30 PM - After eating lunch then standing in the lobby for an hour and getting quite pissed off, I am finally in my room. 5,000 rooms in this joint and it takes this long to clean one? Not a jolly start to the stay at Venetian. I will say that the room is as nice as I remember and the view is fairly decent from the 29th floor.

6:00 PM - Made the mandatory "I didn't die in a fiery wreck" phone calls and washed the Mohave off of me and now its time to get the trip started! Off to South Point for some Video Poker action...

9:00 PM - Back at Venetian licking my wounds. I got my ass handed to me at South Point in one of the worst gambling sessions ever. Spin Poker = Evil!


2:00 AM - Actually had a pretty decent run downstairs. Played for 4 hours and walked away up 7 cents!

8:30 AM - After a solid 5 hours sleep, time for one of my favorite things: coffee and gambling in a nearly empty casino.

11:00 AM - It was another decent run. 2.5 hours and walked away up nicely for a change!

12:30 PM - I really need to get some food into me. I am the only person on earth who comes to Vegas and DOESN'T eat. Hopefully Grand Lux isn't still packed...

1:30 PM - The bacon cheeseburger at Grand Lux was absolutely incredible. It almost gives the one at Burger Bar a run for its money. This may be my favorite coffee shop in Vegas.

4:30 PM - Checked into one of the newly refurbed rooms at MGM Grand. They are pretty nice, somewhat similar to the ones at Aria though not quite at that level.

6:00 PM - Caught a few minutes of shut eye and got cleaned up and now its over to Hooters for a little cheap table game action.

9:00 PM - Played a little at Hooters which was extremely quiet. That place is definitely more fun on weekends, especially during the summer. Encountered not 1, not 2 but 3 crazies talking to themselves between Hooters and the Strip. Good stuff. Hit NY-NY for a property map and now back at MGM.


12:30 AM - Had a mediocre pastrami sandwich at the Stage Deli for dinner then played for a few hours on a single $20. I wish all sessions went so well! It now time to hit the sack.

8:00 AM - Hit Starbucks for some Go Juice and then one last run at the machines. Shockingly, I had a great run on my final morning which NEVER happens!

10:00 AM - Packing up and heading out. Always very sad... Such a different feeling from 48 hours ago. Fortunately I'll be back in 6 weeks!

11:30 AM - Had to run over to Venetian and check out, which blows. I hate being double booked especially on the last day. Fill up the car and hit the 15 South...

3:15PM - Pull into JOhn Wayne Airport to return the rental car. The trip took just over 3.5 hours including one ultra-short pitstop. The truck traffic wasn't all that terrible and I only had to flip off one truck for being a Massengill. A good ending to an all too short trip. Time to start planning the next one!


Thanks to those of you who followed along here and on Twitter! It has been fun to do the live trip reporting, giving the "blow by blow" of the trip. However, it does take away from the trip a little bit. It was possible to do it since I was solo but definitely would be harder if I was with the wife or friends. Perhaps I'll do something different for the next 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!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bellagio Remodeled Room Review and Pictures

For the first night of my trip, it was off to Bellagio and a stay in their newly renovated rooms in the original tower. I arrived at about 5PM on Thursday and there was a bit of a wait at the front desk and it took about a half hour before making the schlep from the lobby to the guest elevators and up to my room on the 22nd floor.

The room itself is a decent size and filled with an appropriate amount of furniture. In addition to the king bed were 2 nightstands and a bench at the foot of the bed, 2 large sitting chairs with side table, work desk and chair and the now ubiquitous combo TV hutch/chest/armiore. The bathroom, continuing a recent Vegas trend, was not included in the remodeling effort. While still quite nice, in good shape and spacious with seperate shower and large soaking tub, it's unchanged from before. The room comes with all the little touches your'd expect like robes and slipper, the bathroom goodies plus the utterly ridiculous, turn-down service.

With the remodel of the original rooms, I was expecting yet another designed with dark browns and reds, aka the "Red Rock" look, that has dominated Vegas rooms over the past 6 or 7 year but was surprised to see the rather bold use of purple in the room. It a pretty big departure from the stuffy feel of the old room design. While not particularly crazy about purple, kudos for doing something different. The mural on the wall behind the bed is also bit out of the box from most of the recent new rooms. All in all, the only real complaint about the remodeled part of the room was the fact that you can't see the TV while working at the desk. I do think that not touching the bathroom then touting a remodel is weak and a terrible trend that I have seen a lot of lately.

Downstairs, Bellagio is still Bellagio; high-end through and through and one of the reasons why I don't find myself staying there very often. If you want 5-star dining, you have come to the right place. If you want quick, confort food... there is a monorail to Monte Carlo! I will give credit to the casino where there is a good selection of affordable penny slots which actually did well for me during my few hours of play. The drink service, however, almost reached a Palms-like level of ineptitude, which is disappointing for a joint like Bellagio.

Overall, the experience at Bellagio was a mixed bag. The remodel, while certainly nice enough, is disappointing when it's only half done. The desk chair was one of the more comfortable I have ever had in a hotel but I couldn't see the TV while using it. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of low-max bet slots in the casino but then had abysmal drink service while playing them. Of course, some of this is overly-critical. If you are a once a year Vegas visitor who wants to splurge on a nice room and gourmet dining, chances are that you will be thrilled with your stay at Bellagio. However, when you fighting to be the Top-Dog in town against the Venetian and Wynn, those little misses matter.

Bellagio Remodeled Room Pictures

Bellagio Remodeled Room Picture

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

The "Almost Live" Trip Report


3:30 PM - The drive home was made in record time, 3 hours 15 minutes! It paid off to be the only male LEAVING Las Vegas today!

12:15 PM - Made the obligatory stop at South Point's Del Mar Deli which is an awesome little gem. I could easily eat there everyday. Time for the drive back to So Cal.

11:30 AM - Checked out of Harrah's then gas up and hit South Point for a quick bite to eat before leaving town.

9:00 AM - Started the day with a quick to Starbucks, a little video Keno and a shot at Megabucks.

2:00 AM - Had to go back downstairs for one last spin. It wasn't a terrible run but all in all a pretty crappy weekend of gambling...

12:15 AM - Back in the suite at Harrah's after getting a little beat up at the Venetian.


10:00 PM - After a few Corona's at the casino bar in TI, it's over to the Venetian for a little gambling.

8:30 PM - Dinner at Cantor's Deli at the TI. An expensive sandwich but pretty decent.

5:45 PM - Got a quick power nap and another cup of coffee and now ready to start the night with a trip over to the Mirage.

3:30 PM - I'm checked into Harrah's and was met with a pleasant surprise, a free upgrade to a 1 bedroom suite! Maybe they want a better review than I gave for recent stays at their sister properties, Flamingo and Rio! It been fairly recently remodeled and helps cushion the blow from leaving Bellagio!

12:30 PM - Over to The Cosmopolitan for lunch at the not-so-secret pizza joint. Its still is a pretty good slice for being 2,800 miles from New York.

12:00 PM - Checked out of Bellagio and was quite happy with the stay. Hopefully, the room at Harrah's isn't too much of a down-grade.

9:00 AM - Rolled out of the rack and got a much needed $4.27 cup of coffee at Cafe Gelato at Bellagio. Quick room comment... The "B" has the world's finest blackout shades! Not a single ray of light at all.

2:30 AM - Playing at Bellagio for over 2 hours and walked away even! Only saw the waitress once in that entire time. What is this? The Palms???


11:30 PM - Back at Bellagio after another bad run at those damn penny machines!!!

10:00 PM - Lost my shorts on penny slots and had breakfast for dinner at the Cafe at MC.

8:30 PM - Kronenbourgs at The Pub at Monte Carlo. Good beer served by a good bartender.

7:00 PM - Arrived at Bellagio at 6PM after a beautiful drive up the 15. Check-in was fast and friendly and I am now in my room on the 19th floor overlooking the pool. First impression... nicely done!

I am trying something new on this trip, the first ever Almost Live Trip Report! I will be even more "real=time" on Twitter so if you are a Vegas Trip Report Junkie then give me a follow!

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stratosphere "Select" Room Review and Pictures

The last night of the trip was at the Stratosphere in a "Select" room, which is their most recently remodeled room. As a long time veteran of the Stratosphere going all the way back to it's opening, check-in often is the worst part of the stay at the Strat. Fortunately this trip, that wasn't the case and I was immediately helped and on my way to the room on the 17th floor in minutes. The room is decorated in dark red, brown and beige and screams "Vegas" but isn't over the top. The space is a decent size and the choice of furnishings worked to fill it without feeling cramped. It was a top to bottom remodel with all new furniture including a flat-screen TV, decent lounge chair, small table and desk area. The bathroom was included in the remodel with a new granite vanity and tile flooring. Aside from the oddly mismatched, uncomfortable desk chair and the plain white generic shower/tub combo; the rooms was pretty nice, especially for what they are usually asking for them.

Downstairs there has been quite a bit of work as well. The valet is now by the front door, where it should be, and the entire casino floor has been redone. In terms of machine spacing, the casino may be the most spacious in Vegas as well as the darkest. It definitely has a different vibe than most other Strip casinos. For restaurants, there is really only 4 restaurants plus a few quick bite places. Dinner at the 50s-themed diner Roxy's (Open 24/7) was pretty good coffee shop fare and the menu is affordable. The service was fast enough that I only had to suffer through 1 song by the singing waiters! They also have a middle of the road buffet, a slightly above average Italian joint and the Top of the World restaurant in the tower. The place has an amazing rotating view of Vegas with prices to match. The food, while excellent, is a notch below the best in town.

Overall, it was quite an enjoyable stay at the Strat. The remodeled rooms are certainly a big upgrade and fairly nicely done especially for a place that isn't trying to be Bellagio. Compared to the stay at the Flamingo 2 nights earlier, the Stratosphere is the winner hands down. The major downside to the Strat has always been the location and with the closing of the Sahara, there is now nothing within walking distance. If your plan is to walk the Strip your entire stay, it not the place for you! The bottom line is... If you want a nice, moderately priced room with just about anything you could want from a Strip resort and can deal with the location issue, definitely consider the Select rooms at the Stratosphere.

Stratosphere Select Room Pictures

Stratosphere Select Room Picture

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Four Queens Review and Room Pictures

It was Day 2 of the trip and it was on to downtown and the Four Queens. Although I frequently find myself downtown during my trips, I don't often stay there and never before at the Four Queens. I don't have any great expectations of any hotel downtown except for the Golden Nugget but after the train wreck at the Flamingo the night before, it would be hard to be disappointed. I checked in at 2PM and there wasn't anyone in line at the front desk. In just a few minutes I was up in my room on the 18th floor of the South Tower, the furthest from the Fremont Street Experience. The room had been somewhat recently remodeled though a little sparse on the furnishings. In addition to the king bed and night stands was just a small TV Stand/Dresser, desk and 2 chairs. Like the "Fab" rooms at the Flamingo, the bathroom looks to have been untouched in the remodel. Overall, the room was pretty decent for a $30 hotel room. The bed was comfortable, the carpets and furniture in good condition plus a nice flat screen TV with HD programming. The main knock on the room was the hideous multi-colored decor that screamed 1990 Las Vegas. The bathroom also suffered from a similar issue. While all in perfectly good shape, the tile vanity and shower felt dated. Also, I oddly ran out of hot water towards the end of my shower which shouldnt happen in a 700 room hotel!

The rest of the place is a fairly typical downtown hotel with all that goes along with it, good and bad. The casino isn't the largest in the world but within 50 feet from 4 other ones. The Fremont Street Experience is right out the front door; great if you want to see it, not so much if you want to sleep between sundown and midnight. The collection of restaurants won't be mistaken for MGM but there is a decent coffee shop and the classic old school Vegas gourmet room, Hugo's Cellar.

The stay at the Four Queens was better than I was expecting and actually a much better experience than at the Flamingo the night before. The hotel itself was pretty decent for what it is and if you prefer to be downtown then you can't go wrong with one of these rooms. Personally, the lack of amenities like a pool rule it out as a regular stop for me but if you just want a good, solid room at a great price, the Four Queens is a great way to go.

Four Queens Room Pictures

Four Queens Room Picture

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Flamingo "Fab" Room Review and Pictures

The first night of the trip was at the Flamingo in one of the newly renovated "Fab" rooms. After about a 15 minute wait, I get to the front deak and am told that they don't have the view room I had booked and have to settle for a pool view. It's kind of hard to believe considering it's the Tuesday before Christmas but no problem, its just one night. However, this is just the first of the disappointments over the next 24 hours. I proceed to the far elevators near the buffet and find only 1 of 8 working with about 25 people waiting. After about 10 minutes, they get a second one running and finally make it up to the room on the 17th floor.

The first thing that hits you as you walk into the room is the flamingo pink scattered about the room. In a 2 queen room there was a single night stand, small TV Stand/Armiore, desk and work chair plus a funky, pink polka dotted lounge chair. The new flooring, at first glance, appears to be wood but is really just linoleum. They placed a black and pink throw rug on the floor in front of the beds but it had no backing it and slide around. It actually was a little dangerous after a few drinks! The bathroom appeared to have not been renovated at all with old ceramic tile floor and even still have the old-school tissue holder/bottle opener/razor disposal unit built into the wall. There is just a single sink and a shower/tub combo.

Even putting aside the fact that they completely ignored the outdated bathroom, this has to be the worse "remodel" I have ever seen in my life. The night stand, armiore and desk were all old and beat up (see room pics.) The 1980s headboards remain above the bed and if they weren't going to change the wallpaper, they could have at least cleaned it. Really all that remodeled was the floor, bedding and a new flat-screen TV. Outside of the room, the Flamingo experience wasn't much better. The hallways leading to the "new" rooms haven't been repaired in ages with torn and stained carpet and I think that room service tray from next door may still be there. The elevators never were fully working and the ones that were working were filthy. One had a completely busted control panel that barely stayed closed. Perhaps I have been spoiled staying at the latest and greatest Vegas has to offer but if this was my once in a lifetime trip that cost me top-dollar, I know I wouldn't be planning my return trip to Vegas anytime soon. In a town that should be all about top-notch hospitality, this was quite frankly an embarrassment. It is not confined to Flamingo either. This is my second stay at a Caesars Entertainment property in the last month and Rio was in a similar state of disrepair. This company spends big bucks constantly ripping up their casino floors to add and remove restaurants but have completely ignored basic routine maintenance. You can add every trendy tropical themed restaurant in the world but your guests are subject to a disgusting experience, they are not coming back. It's plain and simple but it wouldn't be the first time an MBA running a casino didn't see the obvious.

Flamingo Fab Room Pictures

Flamingo Fab Room Picture

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