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10 day November trip

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Sumo Vince, Dec 3, 2013.

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  1. Sumo Vince

    Sumo Vince Tourist

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    My Trip Report

    I'm a long time reader of trip reports so it's about time I submit my first effort! So here it goes …

    Background

    We went on a 10 day Vegas vacation at the end of November. “We” are my wife and I. We are both in our forties and live in The Netherlands. We have been going to LV on a regular basis since 2003, when we got married there.
    Before my marital status I visited LV numerous times, the first time being in the eighties. My first stay was actually in the long gone Hacienda!

    Anyway it goes without saying we love LV. It's a perfect getaway from reality. Let our hair down and have fun. Staying at nice hotels, having gorgeous meals and spending our “cheap” dollars on shopping sprees. We tend to take empty suitcases and are relieved we don't get stopped by airport security when we get back in Amsterdam. I will break down our trip in categories as some days went noteless.

    Getting there and getting around

    We flew with British Airways. As there are no direct flights from Holland we like the London route. First a 45 minute flight followed by a long 10 hours final stint. The alternative is flying to a USA hub like Minneapolis or Chicago. That means a 7-8 hour flight followed by another 4 hours. Given that flight prices are very similar the UK route is most convenient for us. On top of that the departure times of BA are much more favourable as well. Esspecially the 8.30 pm departure from McCarran basically adds one extra day of Vegassy goodness.

    So after being 22 hours en route since leaving home we arrived at McCarran just one hour late. Oh well. We hopped on the courtesy bus to the rental property. We like the comfort of a rental car as it makes us very flexible during our 10 day stay. This trip we opted for Dollar rent a car.

    Oh my, we stood in line for 45 minutes with a few other fatigued fellow travellers watching the Dollar staff being outright silly. One member was taking 35 minutes to rent out a pre ordered car. She was going through the motions like a mother sending her daughter to her first prom night. Hello! We spent 22 hours travellling and would like our car pronto. The staff members even walk in slow motion. Sorry about the rant but this really pisses me off every time I rent a car at McCarran. Anyway after spending a record breaking 2 minutes and 15 seconds ourselves at the desk we were on our way in a very slick driving Ford Fusion. First stop M Resort.

    Where we laid our heads to rest

    Stayed at M resort for the first two nights. When staying for a week or more we consider a quiet off strip property a perfect way to acclamatise. Work off the jet lag (we have a 9 hour time difference to overcome) so to say. Our stay at M resort was complementary. Some years ago I wrote to one the M resort hosts out of the blue to see if anything can be “done”. Since that time I get two nights comped whenever I ask.

    Does that make us high rollers? No, my wife is a 40 cents a pop slot player and I wager a buck a go on the slots. A few table games and sports bets make up the gaming spectrum. We must be likeable or something. Anyhow we are always grateful of the M resort hospitality. Its a great hotel with very nice rooms and dito casino.

    The resort has a locals feel to it with a tendency to the more higher echalon of Vegas locals if you catch my drift. We rate M resort highly on all accounts including very friendly staff and rooms that are similar to the standard of Mandalay Bay or Mirage. For half the price … if you were paying. One more note to round this off. The hike to M resort is not all the bothersome to be honest. It takes about 12 minutes from the south end of the Strip.

    Next stop was Four Seasons at the Mandalay Bay complex. We chose this hotel due to some free nights I accumulated through business trips in the past. The Four Seasons is exactly what you expect it to be. Its a quiet part of the MB complex with a seperate entrance.

    The rooms are very nice, comparable to Wynncore and such. As FS consists of the top 4 floors of the MB hotel you always have a room with a view. The beds get a special mention: they were heavenly comfortable. Overall staff was pleasant although we did once or twice feel a bit out of touch with the regular Four Season visitors. It's all a bit blaisse and snobby.

    We felt a bit uncomfortable when we declined spending 40 bucks a piece on the breakfast buffet and opting for a a la carte overpriced breakfast. The waiter had this look we have seen before … “These Europeans probably don't know the US tipping etiquette”. Breakfast was fine. So was the tip! Nothing more to note really. It's luxurious but a bit bland. And if you ain't rich you are going to feel a bit of a outcast. The MB casino is however very easily reached by elevator and backdoor. This helps.

    Our next three nights were at Encore. Again a freebie! For some years we receive free nights promotions from Stevie W. This time we were on a 3 night complementary stay with 225 dollars in free play on top. Not bad for a pair of low medium rollers from Europe.

    We like staying at Wynncore. The hotel is great and you have two casino's to choose from without touching outside air. We chose Encore this time – the comp gives you a free choice between the two adjecent properties. Our room was on the 20th floor with a nice strip view towards Treasure Island, Palazzo and the Fashion Show mall.

    We had a great time and fully enjoyed the well equiped room. We laughed at the piece of paper that indicated that a charge of 50 dollars would be made if we put anything in the minibar that wasn't authorised by Steve Wynn. A bit sad in our opinion. Also don't think about bringing a stroller inside. It's forbidden by the casino Mogul. Again a bit sad to exclude people simply because they have a kid that can't walk by itself. Don't get me wrong, I – like many of you – strongly believe kids do not belong in LV. Anyway great stay and great win (see gambling section)!

    For our final two nights we moved to Aria courtesy of Myvegas. Why on earth we were able to snatch two nights during Thanksgiving is still unknown. We were very happy nevertheless. Checking in was a breeze. Walking to our room we needed a strong breeze. We were right at the last room on the 22nd floor. Almost adjoining the most southern Cosmo wraparound suite. Not unexpected really for a Myvegas freebie. So no complaints there.

    Rooms at Aria are very nice indeed. Problem is nothing stands out anymore after M Resort, FS and Encore. Spoiled little brats. As it was the start of Thanksgiving weekend it was very busy. But not annoyingly busy.

    All our rooms get big thumbs up!

    Things we had to eat

    We obviously ate our hearts out every day but I'm only going to mention the highlights here. First of all I want to mention Yonaka. This modern Japanese restaurant 7 minutes from the Strip on W Flamingo is a fantastic place. Its open till late and is apparantly a late night hideout for casino staff. The food is heavenly.

    We went for the 70 dollar Omakase which was easily split between the two of us. It consisted of 3 cold and 3 hot dishes. The cold ones were out of this world. They were all sashimi dishes whereby the superfresh fish (Salmon, Tuna and white fish) was combined with inventive complementary goodies like fish roe, grapefruit, Jalepeno, fish sauce, watermelon. Wow I could eat this all day. The hot dishes were special ribs, Wagyu beef and scallops on a do it yourself hot stone. Yes the stone is very hot thank you very much! I want to go back. Pronto.

    We also went to Lotus of Siam. An oldtime Vegas favourite. They don't take reservations anymore so beware of a bit of a wait. They do have a bar with reasonable prices. So no problems to wait for an hour or so. You get to study the extensive menu as well whilst you are waiting. Also if you like Riesling wine this place is for you. Never saw so much German white in my life. The food is Thai and very good. A great mix of different dishes. Not just the curries you usually find at Thai restaurants. Busy place though. Its a 5-10 minute drive from the North end of the Strip located at a mall on E Sahara.

    For a quick bite – lunch perhaps. We thoroughly recommend a few tacos at Tacos el Gordo at the North end of the Strip near the Ross Dress for Less! location. Hey a stones throw away from Encore, how convenient. What a great taco place this is. They only speak Spanish: Score! You can have steak or spicy pork but they also have tongue or brain tacos. Its not a fancy place, more like a fast food restaurant. But the food and service is fantastic. At great prices too. A taco will set you back a mere 2 bucks.

    For breakfast we usually did the buffet at the hotels we stayed in. All we very good. Problem is you tend to eat way too much and have eggs and crispy bacon every day. Oh well.

    One final note for this section. On Thanksgiving my wife had this great idea to do a buffet. Ok as we were at Aria I proposed either Bacchanal at Ceasars or Wicked Spoon at Cosmo. We decided to hike it to Ceasars first. If the line was too long we would hike back the same way and try Wicked Spoon. I had the brainwave to make it an early buffet as the lines would get longer as the evening wore on.

    So are you sitting down? I kid you not. The waiting time at Bachanal was 6 (six!) hours. Wicked Spoon was in lesser demand. Only a mere 3 (three!) hours. So who were occopuying these concertina lines. Hordes and hordes of our friends from Asia. Apparantly they don't mind waiting that long for a buffet. Whole families were joining the queue. Funny thing was that all the regular restaurants we had a look at on the way to some Thanksgiving food had no lines at all.

    Things we did

    Apart from lie ins, afternoon siestas, gambling, eating and walking 6 miles a day we also did extensive shopping, went to a show, visited the sauna and made a day trip to Valley of Fire.

    It was sunny and 19 degrees (60 something in F) when we set off on the I-15 towards Salt Lake City. Valley of Fire is mindblowing beautiful. Very much a recommondation if you want to spend a half a day away from the hustle and bustle of LV. We spend a few hours touring the park and made our way back through the Lake Mead NP. Also a great drive and something we would recommend. As it was outside the summer months we hardly saw any other cars or tourists like ourselves for that matter. Great!

    The show we went to see was Michael Jacksons One at Mandelay Bay. A Cirque du Soleil production. Wow what a show. It helps if you like MJ's music but if you don't its fantastic. Its a good mix between music, acrobatic ventures, lighting and holographic images. Do go and see it.

    Halfway through the trip we want to the Imperial Healh Spa at E Sahara, Great steal through Groupon(20 bucks for the two of us). It was a bit funny though. In Holland all saunas are mixed and all are nude. This one had seperate areas for both women and men. All the men – obviously I can only comment for this section – were running around with towels around their waist at every opportunity. Oh well every continent has its own values.

    For us Europeans shopping in Las Vegas is a must do. The euro is still strong vs the dollar so its very cheap for us. We saw every mall possible between Fremont Street and St Rose Parkway. Our empty suitcases filled quickly. Happy campers us two. Our kids were over the moon as well when we got back.

    Gambling

    Like I said we are not high rollers but do like to spend half a day in a casino with no sweat. The wife plays slots for the minimum stake. And she is very happy doing so. The beverages do help ofcourse. Her biggest win was at Aria when she was waiting for me getting back from check in. 300 bucks. That got her going for the next two days without hitting the good old ATM.

    I also like playing the slots albeit at a higher stake. I was fortunate to hit a double handpay at the double whammy Tarzan slots at Encore. That saved me the rest of the trip going to the ATM. Don't worry I did spend it all! I also landed all my sport bets. Mainly NFL. Don't ask me why but this sport I somehow dig. I usually also play the ponies. Didn't get round it this time.

    Concluding thoughts

    A truly great time in our beloved Vegas. We like the way downtown is getting its act together. We liked our rooms very much. Even if they are not comped the hotel rooms at Vegas are a steal with all the luxuries etc. Just don't think too much about resort fees. Because yes they stink. With a rental car you tend to get about much more. We like that. And you make it an easy decision to do things like Valley of Fire. Also all that shopping fits nicely in the big boot.

    We like changing hotels often. A change of scenery. Both inside and outside (we scatter the Strip as we go along). But I can understand that most people want to stay put a bit more.

    10 days is also over the average. But again we like this. It means we don't have to cramp everything into 4 or 5 days. You do need to be able to set yourself strict bankroll rules when you go this long. It's easy to blow it all in the first few days and bite on wood the rest of the way (Dutch expression you probably understand).

    The number of people from Asia are really on the up. They were everywhere. Perhaps they were in some sort of Asian holiday week or so.

    Taking photographs inside the casino's is nowadays much more easier than before we noticed. I remember that before security would go beserk if you made a few pictures that might have half of a slot machine in its focus. This trip no issues at all.

    Going in November has its advantages. Walking up and down the Strip or downtown is actually very nice. I hate the extreme heat at summertime. Its definately less demanding that is for sure. Not having pool weather is something we missed though. The pools in Vegas are nice and again a welcome diversity from the hustle and bustle. God I'm getting old I think!

    Anyway I hope you enjoyed the report. I do enjoy yours thoroughly.

    All the best,

    Sumo Vince

    ps If you want to rev up your anticipation to a next trip even more. Listen to the Fivehundybymidnight podcast. Tim and Michelle rule!
     
  2. icemama

    icemama Tourist

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    A long and fun trip. Truly enjoy your European take on U.S. culture. We are rather prudish, don't you think?
     
  3. tcocona

    tcocona Low-Roller

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    trip report

    Excellent trip report with some sharp observations.If I was to meet some Europeans On a trip it would be a pleasure to meet you. Have a great 2014
     
  4. Cookielover

    Cookielover Newbie

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    Really enjoyed your report. Sounds like you had a great time and stayed at some wonderful hotels. I like your report on the Valley of Fire, too. How much was Thanksgiving dinner at the Bacchanal at Caesars? 6 hours to wait in line? I don't think--no, make that I KNOW I wouldn't be willing to wait like that. What a waste of gambling time to be in line! I'm sure the food was awesome for those who waited, though. Thanks for the report.
     
  5. lvmb

    lvmb Low-Roller

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    Thanks for a great report, you have a very nice writing style.

    It sounds like you had a fantastic time and managed to do a lot of interesting things.
     
  6. Sumo Vince

    Sumo Vince Tourist

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    thank you for all the nice comments. It was fun writing it all up.

    I don't know what the price of the Bachanal was at TG. Probably around the 60 dollar mark.
     
  7. TomTWI

    TomTWI High-Roller

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    I enjoyed your trip report greatly.

    Next trip if you can sign up for Dollar Express. You can pick up your car without talking to anyone. Just go directly downstairs look for your name on the sign with location of car. Put bags in trunk (boot?) get in drive off. Not sure if there is an issue with being from outside the US but if you can, this is the only way to go. No lines no frustrations.

    TomTWI
     
  8. Dude beer

    Dude beer Tourist

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    6 hours for the buffet?! You might as well cook your own turkey at that point. Also, is English your first language? If not, your writing is perfect.
     
  9. hammie

    hammie VIP Whale

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    I went to a clothing optional beach in Juan-Les-Pins back in the late 1980's, there were singles, families, all age ranges in their altogether. It was no big deal over there and kind of liberating.

    At any rate, a nice trip report, +1 for your writing, your English is great. Agreed, $40 for a breakfast buffet vs. ordering off the menu is a no brainier. Unfortunately, your snotty waiter actually had to serve you instead of serving yourself.
     
  10. Joe

    Joe VIP Whale

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    I also enjoyed the report:thumbsup:

    TomT I agree with your recommendation of Dollar Express, but have they changed the procedure? You could always skip the line upstairs and head downstairs, but then you still had to check-in at the little booth down there. It's different now?

    The casino provides the limo, so it has been a while since I rented a car from Dollar and I like my adult beverages.:drunk:
     
    Christmas
    My wife's birthday
  11. sam_marques

    sam_marques High-Roller

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    Really enjoyed your TR, great writing style and interesting observations, I agree with you LOVE fivehundybymidnight!!!
     
    Mommys Solo Trips
  12. sybgal

    sybgal VIP Whale

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    Fantastic report Vince!! Thoroughly enjoyed! Sounds like you both had a great time and made the most of 10 days.....
     
  13. R8erhed

    R8erhed Tourist

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    Nice report enjoyed reading. Love to figure out how all that comping is working for you with relatively low stake action....Maybe your just lucky and should play more?
    Have to admit I'm more interested in your life in Netherlands. I never got it clear if you are American or Dutch...I would assume Dutch but you mention living in LV before?? What are some of your cultural issues?
     
  14. Sumo Vince

    Sumo Vince Tourist

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    Thanks again folks! I will take the dollar express into consideration for sure.

    @R8erhed: I am 100% Dutch and have never lived in LV. Sorry to give you that impression. I did get married in LV in 2003 though. Asked my wife marry me in Canyon the Chelly a few days before we tied the knot.

    With comps you just need to be bold. whatever you played just call the folks at the reward desk or any host and ask if something can be done. Always and I mean Always charge any meals or other expenses to your room. You never know!

    To round off with some cultural differences. In Europe we tend to say hello, good morning etc when we enter or leave a space like an elevator. Americans never say a word! When you enter a shop in the US staff will only recognize you when you enter a shop. The welcoming greetings are mostly so over the top we usually believe its not "meant". If you catch my drift. If you don't buy anything you don't exist anymore. In Europe shop staff will say goodbye whether you buy something or not. The US does not make you very welcome when entering the us at the airport. We feel a bit like asylum seekers sometimes. Nowadays you even have to pay a fee to get the green light to even enter the US. The cross examination with the border patrol person is a bit over the top in my opnion. Like it matters what job I have, for how long and what my job specifically beholds. I I believe we treat foreign people at our airports with a little more dignity even though we do the thorough checks as well. Because I can understand that these days we all need to be careful.

    Now don't get me wrong these are just things that stand out with me. It doesnt make me think bad about the US people. I love coming to the US and will do so in many years to come. We alle have our indifferences. For instance us Dutch seem to know everything better than others ...
     
  15. R8erhed

    R8erhed Tourist

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    Yeah, America is a victim of it's own size and success. We've gotten so big and commercial that it's all just a sea of people now. No small towns, no mom and pops, nobody 'knows your name' anymore.
    I spent a fair amount of time in you country back in the Guilder days and loved it...that euro really screwed the whole continent up.
    And don't feel too slighted by those power tripping customs pricks, we get mostly the same treatment when coming home.
     
  16. keno60

    keno60 VIP Whale

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    Excellent report. Some great information! I always say hello, and usually crack a joke in the elevators. But I stay at cheaper places.
     
  17. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

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    Great report. There can be noticeable differences in how you are treated in various places. I grew up very poor so I often feel like I am shopping in places I don't belong in. And I have left stores nearly in tears because I feel like I have been treated that way. Other shops you walk into and they are so honesty friendly and ask you where you are from, what is your favorite thing to do in town and get a laugh with me when I say I can't afford something. I remember the Coach gal telling me 'that's my favorite purse too, but do you think I can afford it on what they pay me?' lol. She let helped me take pics of the $1450 purse & send them to my daughter for laughs. It's a total contrast from one retail venue to another.

    I have a tendency to maybe not say something to another person in an elevator (don't know if they speak English), but I always try to smile & look them in the eye.
     
  18. blackjacknut

    blackjacknut VIP Whale

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    Great TR, thanks for posting.
     
  19. TomTWI

    TomTWI High-Roller

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    Joe,

    The last time I rented (over a year ago) they had changed it. I liked the old system with a booth guy because I could sometimes get an upgrade with a tip.

    TomTWI
     
  20. RedRiverRose

    RedRiverRose Low-Roller

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    Excellent report. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
     
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