Hello VMBers, I spent last week in Viva with my Mom and wanted to give a quick snapshot of the great time we had. This won’t be so much a trip report, more like a review – giving highs and lows on travel, food and other items. FLIGHTS Southwest, of course. Roundtrip, we had A boarding positions thanks to EBCI. I tried aisle seating, but will go back to my window seat next trip. Too much activity going on up and down the aisle. I’d rather lean my head against the window and zonk out. GROUND TRANSPORTATION Dollar - I cannot stress enough the ease of their car rental process when you are a Dollar member. I love getting off the shuttle and into my car within 10 minutes. HOTEL We both stayed at Luxor this time. My reservation was free thanks to MyVegas and I paid for my Mom’s room, $38 a night. I stayed at Luxor once before in 2004. I was hyped to stay in the pyramid back then. This time was my second and last time at Luxor. I am glad to report during the time we were there, they are doing some room renovations: painting, wallpapering and carpeting, which is a good thing. Our rooms were on the 25th floor and I believe those rooms are considered remodeled. Luxor rooms, hallways and common areas are in much need of renovations. Nuff said. The Luxor, as a whole, has an off-vibe to me. During the time I played on the casino floor, it just seemed a cross between “hot-spot wanna-be” and “family getaway”. Back in 2004 the Egyptian theme was in full swing and you “got it”. Now, it feels in limbo. I was sent a survey via email yesterday and I wrote about the staff being professional, efficient and pleasant. I also let them know they need more visual security about the property, specifically the elevator areas. Back by the 1B elevator area is so desolate and creepy. It is a maze of walls shutting you off, so much so that you get a creepy feeling if you are waiting for the elevator at night alone. Several ladies (and guys) talked about it throughout my stay. In the survey, I suggested they put the security guard back at the elevator area. I mentioned there is a increase of single females that visit Vegas and would like to feel secure going to their rooms at night. I also mentioned more diverse dining choices would be a great asset to Luxor. I love their valet service and attendants – nice bunch and included that in the survey as well. A lot of people were hocked off at the fact they shut down the monorail Monday through Friday for “maintenance”. And I guess this affected Mandalay Bay and Excalibur. Bottom line? I will not stay at the Luxor again. I’m a Boyd gal, but since I’ve been playing MyVegas, I will stay at MGM properties (free rooms) as long as the game is up and running. For June, I am booked at Mandalay Bay, compliments of MV. FOOD There were some places I wanted Mom to dine at that we missed out on the last time I brought her out. We did mostly good with our choices: Pyramid Café – just off the plane, hungry, right at the hotel, why not? Bad choice. I love hotel coffee shops, but this one fell short. I had the red velvet pancakes with a side of crispy bacon. The pancakes were like flattened cornbread patties colored red. And they dumped what had to be a cup of chocolate chips on top and a dollop of cream cheese frosting. In the words of Jeffrey Zakarian, it was “cloyingly sweet”. I ate one and the bacon and drank 4 glasses of water. Mom’s breakfast was okay, nothing special. Our waiter was such a chatter. He told us and all his other tables about his story of cheating death 4 times. I like attention to my table, just not so clingy. We got out as soon as we could. Rhythm Kitchen – my second time, Mom’s first. Loved it (again!). I got the same dish – Crescent City Pasta. First, the room is conducive to a great meal with friends or family. The night we went, they were offering AYCE Catfish, which my Mom chose. She didn’t even get to a second round. The food is dynamite and the service is topnotch. Mr. Mama’s – had breakfast here. Seems to be in a contractor part of the valley. Lots of carpeting, remodeling, tiling places around. We both got the steak and eggs. Steak was a regular strip, tender, but tasteless. Typical diner food, but the potatoes and eggs were oily. One of the guys greeting patrons told us the story of how Mr. Mama’s is popular by word of mouth. At the end of the breakfast, they brought over complimentary cinnamon buns. Pillsbury, no doubt. But the effort was nice. Nora’s – aaaah, Nora’s! My third time, Mom’s first. I had the Veal Scaloppini, Mom had the Chicken Marsala. We started with the always-delicious Nora’s salad to share. The entrees come with a side of basic spaghetti. Friendly staff and warm room rounded out an excellent dining experience. Gritz Café – this came on the recommendation of my sister. It is a (very!) small place with maybe 12 tables. It is billed as southern breakfast and IT IS GOOD. I had the Mix & Match (2 wings, 2 pieces of catfish, southern potatoes, eggs and toast). Mom had The Tennessee with grits and eggs. Everything was served on or in styrofoam. Probably because they do not have room for a commercial dishwasher. But I gotta tell you, I would have eaten that breakfast off a shoebox lid. Border Grill – if you go, do yourself a favor and get the Ultimate Border Grill Experience. I’m not much for restaurants with a famous chef’s name on the front. But I must say I have been fans of the (former) Two Hot Tamales from their days on the Food Network – when the FN was really the FN and not a bunch of hooligan “chefs” playing grocery games or making dishes from cans. Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger has put together a menu that is truly a Mexican delight. It’s good food and lots of it. You just gotta go. Lotus of Siam – my third, Mom’s second visit. I had PanAsian on tap for our Thai fix, but Mom insisted on going back to LOS. Had the spicy chicken wings to start and my entrée was the Pork Larb. Love the Larb! Mom had the spicy catfish in basil. All dishes were superb, as usual. BackStage Deli – for a quick bite on the Luxor casino floor, this hit the spot. I had the BLT club with fries, Mom had the Chicago hot dog. Nothing special, but we were just too lazy to go out to eat. No complaints and the people watching was great! SHOWS Legends In Concert (Flamingo) – my second, Mom’s first. This time the legends included Marilyn Monroe, Tina Turner, Elvis, Shania Twain and Michael Jackson. It was a good show and a great way to spend an afternoon. But those LIC dancers leave MUCH to be desired. Not much has improved from the last time I watched them dance. 50 Greatest Photos by National Geographic (Venetian) – I was excited to see this exhibit because I missed it the last time I was in town. Fortunate for me, they extended it. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the beautiful and wonderful photos from NG. Few have a video narrative and it is all “on your own time”. Some were disturbing, some awe-inspiring, but all were just great to see. We spent almost two hours there. Michael Jackson One (Mandalay Bay) – it has taken me a few days to describe this show. And I came up with this: if you can put all the sensory overload of Vegas in one theater, it would be here. Mystere was (and always will be) my first Cirque love many years ago. Not knowing what to expect, I was BLOWN away. Then I saw Ka a few years ago, I was BLOWWWNN away further. Michael Jackson One? I was BBBBBLLLLLOOOOOWWWWWNNNNN away so much so, at one point, I was in tears. I cannot and will not divulge anything about this show. If you are a music lover, a MJ music lover and a Cirque fan, you gotta see it. And I was hesitant due to the ticket price, but it is worth EVERY dime. I was going to take Mom to see Myster (she’s seen Ka too), but she wanted to see MJ1. So glad we did. I still shake my head when I think of certain things that went on during the production. Streetmosphere – at Venetian was a nice way to rest, have a gelato and see a free show. Not a long show, but entertaining and fun for the small children. GAMING (SLOTS) So, I found and played all the new slots since my last visit in July. Some fun, some meh. Avatar – I enjoyed the graphics on this one. Bonus rounds came up quite often. Back To The Future – I really loved this game. The bonus round with the fuel logs was fun. Won a small jackpot on it. Ferris Bueller – BORING. Well, I guess because after an hour of playing on two separate days, I never hit the bonus round so that made it boring to me. Heh! Flashdance – it’s a nice game and I won a nice amount on it. The wet wilds on this machine are a nice touch. And the video clips are great to see again. Iron Man – didn’t get the gist of this one so I cashed out after the $20 I put in was lost. Michael Jackson (Wanna Be Startin’ Something) – this machine is pretty much like the other MJ machine. Great music, of course! Walking Dead – I guess I have to be into the show to be into this machine. Following are slots that I did not find or may not be out just yet: Archie Beetlejuice Bridesmaids David Copperfield Jurassic Park Titanic Well, thanks for reading! Next trip: June 2014 – The “I’m 50” Birthday trip!