I'm late writing and posting this, please forgive me Background I’d like to say that I had a grand need to return to Las Vegas after my February, 2015 trip, but I really didn’t. However, my lovely wife talked her employer into letting her attend a mid-August conference in Vegas, so she wonderfully suggested that I go a few days early and do my whole Vegas thing, meet up with her for 1 night, and then head back home allowing her to attend the conference and commiserate with her friends and co-workers. Not being one to turn down such a wonderful suggestion, I immediately proceeded to… Planning Hotel and flight prices were more expensive than what I was expecting for the 1st week in August. As it turns out, there were several larger conferences in town that week which drove up Strip hotel prices. Not to worry though, as I took advantage of a comped night @ Bally’s, and 4 comped/discounted nights @ Hard Rock. Night 6 was with my wife @ Venetian. Trip Arrived @ LAS at around noon on Tuesday. Met the Bell VIP shuttle and arrived @ Bally’s a short time later. It was still pretty early and wasn’t sure about being able to get my room before 3pm. I did the online check in while standing in Bally’s lobby, and was promptly rewarded with a “your room is ready e-mail”. Kudos to Caesars for an easy to use and responsive (for me anyways) system. Got my booked Jubilee tower room, on the 4th floor overlooking the Grand Bazaar shops, Cromwell, with a view of Caesars in the distance. The room was exactly as anticipated; up to date design and very clean. Unpacked and then walked through Paris to the ABC shops @ Planet Hollywood to buy some water, and then to Cosmo to cash in my winning NHL Championship sports book ticket (Go Hawks!). Took my $110 down to the 1st Floor Chandlier bar for some early afternoon video poker, with a goal of killing some time before dinner started @ Bacchanal, and some free drinks. Got and drank 2 cosmopolitans, putting me in an excellent mood for dinner. I staggered over to and through Caesars and hit Bacchanal for dinner at around 4pm. The last time (3 years ago) I ate there I wasn’t completely impressed, this time I was wowed. Being fairly buzzed probably made everything “better”, but I was really impressed by my 2015 Bacchanal experience. Highlights were the chicken wings in a waffle cone, fresh made tortas, charcuterie, and the kickass dessert selection. Walked back to Bally’s, relaxed for a while, and then headed back down to Paris and Bally’s for some early evening VP and slots. Overall nothing to cheer about here, finishing the night down $390. Wednesday morning dawned early as usual. There was some noise in the room during the night from various sources, but nothing bad enough to really complain about. I went to P-Ho for an early morning Earl of Sandwich breakfast experience, then back to the room to relax for an hour. Checked out and Bally’s at around 10:30 and took everything to the Hertz counter @ Cosmo. I had a free rental day courtesy of work, and the nice Hertz lady set me up with a Mustang GT for the day. I drove down to Green Valley Ranch for late morning coffee, gambling, and generally exploring the complex. Overall GVR is a pretty impressive casino, and it looks like they’ve got some good food options as well. It’s a little farther from the strip than I expected, but not bad if you’ve got a car. After finishing at GVR I had lunch at the Henderson location of Bachi Burger. Overall Bachi was everything I hoped for and more, I highly recommend it. After lunch I got back into the Mustang and drove up to Summerlin to check out Suncoast. I’ve been to other Summerlin destinations (Red Rock, JW) and was eager to compare them to Suncoast. Overall I was a bit disappointed by Suncoast, the casino seemed a little too “crowded”, but the location is pretty good regardless. Finally drove back through the city to Hard Rock, pulling into the Paradise Tower garage right at 3pm. Walked down to check-in, only to be told that my room wasn’t ready. This started a seemingly never ending cycle of checking with the front desk, being told “soon”, and back again. I didn’t mind too much during the 1st 2 hours of the delay, but started to mind after around 430pm, as I had dinner plans at 530pm with coworkers. Finally had the front desk people switch me to another room at 5pm. The standard Paradise Tower room I had was pretty nice. Good size, comfortable bed, nice bathroom, and everything in good shape and cleanliness + a nice view of the strip. Drove back to Cosmo and dropped the car off @ Hertz and waited outside of STK for 20 minutes only to find our dinner got cancelled at the last minute. While I unfortunately lost the opportunity for a free dinner @ STK, I had (instead) a few excellent slices from Secret Pizza, so overall no big deal. I cabbed back to Hard Rock and caught the second set of IDK playing at Culinary Dropout, played VP a bit, and finished the day down another $100. After running around town on Wednesday, I chose Thursday to stay @ Hard Rock, experience the pool, gamble, and enjoy dinner + music at Culinary Dropout. Up again early at 10am, had breakfast @ Mr. Lucky’s, and then hit the Pool right at around 1130. I spent a few hours at the Nirvana pool, strategically situated to avoid the worst of the mid-morning sun. I went back to the room at around noon, relaxed in the room for a few hours, and then hit the casino. Bounced from machine to machine, playing video poker and a few slots. Lost a few $hundred, then went back to the pool to relax until dinner. The “big” event of the night was dinner and music at Culinary Dropout. Walked in at 6:45pm, got a great table, and enjoyed dinner + JV Allstars. Food was good: some charcuterie and cheese, the jamblaya, and ice cream for desert + beer(s). The music was great, I highly recommend seeing them. After dinner and music I hit the video poker bar after dinner for an hour, again doing nothing special, finally ending up down $300 on the day. Friday dawned, with a few rain sprinkles overnight, and lower temperatures forecasted for the day. Managed to sleep later, but got up in time to get coffee and donuts, and then arrive at the pool right at the opening. Got a great chair at the Nirvana pool, ordered a full bucket of drinks, and enjoyed the whole scene until around 2pm-ish. Overall I loved my Hard Rock pool experience; drink prices were reasonable, plenty of good seating around the Nirvana pool, good music, and excellent service. I’m seriously considering coming back next year in the summer to experience it again. After finishing up at the pool I got cleaned up and then cabbed to Paris, and caught the SDX downtown. I hadn’t mostly drunk my lunch, so 1st stop downtown was Pizza Rock for happy hour beers, meatballs, and pizza. If you haven’t gone to Pizza Rock, I highly recommend it. They’ve awesome beer choices, excellent food, great atmosphere and service. Finished at Pizza Rock at 6-ish, and commenced a craps tour of downtown. Played for about an hour at Downtown Grand. This was the week before they moved the table games to the side, so the craps tables were still centrally located. Fun crowd at DTG, and the casino overall seemed pretty busy for early Friday night. Headed next to the D. One of the tables was still $5 minimum, so I played there for another hour. The D was hopping, and I had a great time despite losing about $100. Also played VP for a few minutes while getting a drink from the Longbar. Went down to Golden Gate lost another $100 at Free Bet Blackjack, but won most of it back at the Hangover slot. After Golden Gate I walked back towards Fremont East, enjoying the growing First Friday crowd. This was probably around 8-ish and it was getting pretty busy. Wandered through Four Queens and the Nugget, and ended up back at Longbar for one more brief VP session and some drinks. Finished up and got the bus back to the Strip, and then cabbed back from Planet Hollywood to Hard rock at around 11. I managed to sleep in again on Saturday, did coffee and a breakfast sandwich, and hung around until around noon. Then I cabbed to MGM Signature, and walked through the Signature and MGM on my way to Tom’s Urban @ NYNY for lunch. There was a big financial advisors conference in town, which explained why those south Strip MGM properties were so expensive that weekend. Lunch at Tom’s Urban was great. Started with the chili mac and cheese, and then the lobster roll + beers. I sat in the outside portion of their bar on the Strip, underneath their impressive water misting system. If you haven’t been to Tom’s Urban, I highly recommend it, for the food, drinks, and Strip-side patio+bar. Bounced around NYNY for a few minutes after lunch, then walked over to Monte Carlo. Got coffee at Sambalatte, and then headed to the Aria sportsbook to make a few baseball bets and watch baseball for a few hours. I really like the Aria sportsbook, it’s a great place to hang out and relax for a few hours. The big event of the night was the Local Brews Local Grooves festival at House of Blues. $75 bought you entry and unlimited tastings from something like 20 local breweries, scattered throughout the whole HOB complex. They had bands playing each of the 3 stage areas + another band playing for a few hours in part of the Foundation Room at the top of Mandalay. I hedged back and forth over the course of the week about going, but I had an outstanding time. The beer and food was great, and the bands were awesome. I’d never been to the Foundation Room, so that was an extra bonus. The headliner of the night was Empire Records; if you haven’t seen them, they play 3-4 shows/week, and they’re on my Vegas must do list. The other musical revelation (for me) of the night was Franks and Deans = “Rat Pack Rock N’ Roll”. Cabbed back to Hard Rock, and then went back to the Luxe Bar for one more video poker session. Played $1 JoB, and finally finished with a $200 winning session for the night. I spent Sunday afternoon checking out of Hard Rock, cabbing to Venetian to drop off my bags, and then bouncing between TI, Mirage, and Casino Royale. I met up with my darling wife after she arrived, and had an early dinner with her and friends at Border Grill in the Forum Shops. No gambling this night, in bed early and got an early flight home the next day. Good Choices Hard Rock – loved staying here, the pool, and the casino even with ½ of it under construction. Excellent location, only a $5-7 cab ride to just about anywhere on the strip. Culinary Dropout – great place for food and music on the weekends JV Allstars – fun time, go see them either downtown, or at Twin Peaks on weekends Local Brews and Grooves – Super fun way to spend a Saturday night, I hope they do a few more of these next year Empire Records – 90’s cover band. On my Vegas must see list. Franks and Deans – Can’t wait to see them again. Loud and fun. The Foundation Room – Crossed off the Vegas bucket list Tom’s Urban – Restaurant entry on my Vegas must do list. Pizza Rock – Downtown -- Ditto Green Valley Ranch – Great casino, looking back to going back here for a longer VP session my next trip Venetian Hotel – Very nice as always Caesars Buffet – Really enjoyed it this time. Now at the top of my Vegas buffet list. Downtown Grand – Fun casino, might stay here for a night next year. Cosmopolitan – Didn’t spend a ton of time here, but I still love it. Sambalatte – best coffee on the Strip IMHO. Bachi Burger – There are a few in the area, try and visit one. Sweet potato fries are the best. Meh Choices Bally’s – Didn’t have a bad experience, but wasn’t wowed either. Can’t beat the location though. Suncoast –Was expecting more from the casino.