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Bellagio, Four Seasons, two kids, and a VIP lounge, 7/24 - 8/2

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by joehypnosis, Aug 12, 2016.

  1. joehypnosis

    joehypnosis Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2014
    Messages:
    109
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    10

    My Trip Report

    I’m still exhausted. So, we returned last week from our ninth or maybe tenth trip to Vegas, but the first one we’ve brought our daughters (6yrs and 18 months) on. We were staying nine nights, the first three at Bellagio and then moving to the Four Seasons at Mandalay Bay. My brother and his two teenage kids were going to drive over from Scottsdale to join us for two nights. I was putting them up at Luxor, which connects to Mandalay Bay.

    During previous trips my wife and I have stayed at Aladdin (as it was transitioning to PH), the Palms (this would fall in our least-liked category), and Mirage (sigh, still my favorite place), but for the past six years or so, we’ve stayed at Bellagio each time. I would love to go back to the Mirage or try some of the other places I’ve always wanted to stay at MGM or Venetian, but we have “a guy” at the Bellagio. We don’t deserve a guy, but through a friend of my mother-in-law, we have a guy. So for the past six years, he has been able to arrange rooms for us as low as $89/night. The Bellagio is beautiful and we are lucky to be able to stay there for even one night, right? And my wife really needs a room that is clean or she won’t relax. (I remember back to the bloody towels we found in our room at the Tropicana in Atlantic City.) So we are kind of trapped in this palace of luxury!

    Both of our birthdays are the last week of July, so we frequently go to Vegas that time of year. This year, both Caesar’s Palace and I are celebrating our 50th birthday! We decided to splurge a bit with our rooms this trip. And we decided to see how it would be bringing our kids. It would certainly be a different type of Vegas trip for us. My 6yo has been hearing about Vegas since she was born and could probably draw the Bellagio fountains, so my wife wanted us to stay there for a few nights so our daughter could really see it, but then we decided to try the Four Seasons because it was renowned for catering to children, it had a private entrance from Mandalay Bay, it’s own lobby, elevators, and pool. It sounded like a good idea with the kids. And it would still allow us to have a strip view room! I was really excited to be trying someplace new.

    We flew from Boston direct on Jet Blue. We brought our car seat and base and the stroller with us. My wife had purchased travel bags specifically made for the purpose of gate-checking both items. We flew at night, so the kids would sleep. It worked perfectly. The 18 month old was flying as a lap infant, so it was important that she be comfortable and sleep for most of the trip! Everyone did great. As we landed I made sure I’d brought my Vegas cold regimen of saline nose spray and eye drops (see www.vegastodayandtomorrow.com/health.htm). What a dork.

    We had been disillusioned with Presidential limo after the past few trips. After reading some other trip reports on VMB and contacting various limo companies, I decided to try Omni Limo. Bell Limo (the parent company of Presidential) would not provide the needed kids seats for their limos and required that we contract with a childcare company (huh?) that they networked with to rent the seats, and Bell or Presidential would then install them. They weren’t interested in making it easy for us, and for this trip, with our crew, we frankly needed people who were willing to help us. Earth Limo did not respond to my request for info. Omni Limo quickly responded, however, that they would provide seats at no charge to us. Done!

    So we arrived at our favorite place on earth at 11pm, and met our driver at the luggage carousel, and off we went to the Bellagio.

    In thinking about writing this report, it occurred to me it might be more useful for readers and easier for me to not write this chronologically but instead to use categories, so I’m going to try that. Here goes….


    HOTELS


    Bellagio:

    We splurged on a two bedroom, lake-view penthouse. We felt very Vegas-like when our guy emailed that we should go to the VIP lounge to check in. We’d never set foot in a VIP lounge and weren’t sure what to expect. Bellagio also has a Chairman’s Lounge, and I spent large amounts of time prior to the trip trying to figure out if the VIP lounge was the same thing or different. And what was it, anyway? Was there food? Was it just for check-in or could we access it for the whole trip? Well, we got to the Bellagio at 12:05am, and the VIP lounge was…closed at midnight, darn it.


    At any rate, we got up to our room and it was beautiful. 2 br, 4 1/2 bathrooms, sweeping view of the strip on the 29th floor. I had called as recently as two days prior to make sure a crib would be there, but it wasn’t. The bellman made a call for us and it was there in about ten minutes.
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    The next morning we went down to the VIP lounge, which was off the front lobby, and mentioned we’d arrived too late the night before. They explained that there was light snack food out breakfast, lunch, and dinner and we were welcome to visit as we liked. They had beer and wine at night, also. The VIP lounge worked great for us because it basically provided us what we normally have for breakfast—muffins, coffee, diet coke. The VIP lounge access also gave us access to the VIP elevators, which was important because we would otherwise have had to trek the kids through the casino (and smoke) to get to the regular guest elevators. This was a huge logistical perk for us! The staff at the VIP lounge also printed our show tickets and generated players cards for us during our stay. The only attitude I might have noticed was from the attendant overseeing the food and drink, who seemed, uhm, unsure about our kids. Surely he had seen kids in the VIP lounge before? Right???

    We knew the history of kids and the Bellagio, and it probably wouldn’t be your first choice of a place to stay with kids, but everyone there was great. The kids got quite a bit of attention from guests and employees alike.

    Four Seasons at Mandalay Bay:

    We arranged with Four Seasons to send an SUV for us the morning of the 27th to transport us over. I planned to rent a car for the first time in Vegas, but not until we were already at Mandalay Bay. Since we were paying for the transport SUV, we asked the driver to take us to the Welcome sign. My wife really wanted to get the whole family in a picture there. That photo (see my avatar) will likely become our Christmas card picture this year. Plus it will be fun to have for all the people who poo-poo’d the idea of bringing our kids to Vegas. Take that!


    Did I mention that the Four Seasons in Vegas is renowned for catering to children? My copy of Frommer’s Las Vegas, for instance, mentions that children will have cookies and milk waiting for them in their rooms. Other books and sites mentioned welcome amenities for kids, kids names written on bathtubs (so it was important to contact the hotel ahead of time and make sure they knew your kids ages and names, which we did), and kid-sized bathrobes. I had even read that the pool attendants would bring them popsicles. Sounds great doesn’t it? I’m sure you think so too.


    Did I mention that I really, really miss the Mirage? At any rate, the car picked us up and got us over to the FS. It has it’s own entrance off Las Vegas Blvd., and it’s own entrance and lobby, despite being physically in Mandalay Bay. The FS rooms are the top four floors of MB. We had a one bedroom, strip-view suite, another splurge for us. Check-in went smoothly, although my wife and I both noted no mention of children’s amenities. The suite was very nice. Although there were no children’s amenities or surprises for our older daughter, the FS had done an exceptional job childproofing the suite for us. Every table or flat surface had padding wrapped around it. Every outlet was plugged. The crib was set up in the bedroom and there was a very cute basket of baby products for our use.
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    We were on the 36th floor, and I think there were only two floors above us. The Mandalay Bay sign you see on top of the building from the strip was right there when I looked up out our windows. Because of the angle of MB, it was a strip view if you looked down to the left. If you just looked out the floor-to-ceiling windows, you saw mostly cement, sand, and airport more than anything else. I came to find the view somewhat desolate and depressing, compared to the bright lights and activity I could see way down to the left. Way over there.

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    The bedroom was good size and comfortable and the master bathroom had a tv within the mirror, which was fun. My older daughter slept on the queen couch pullout in the living room and it seemed very comfy. The living room was L shaped, and when you walked towards the windows it curved to the left. That other wing was pretty open with just a desk and chair. This extra space provided much needed open space for the kids to play. When my daughter first saw the desk, she ran for it, sat down, and said, “I’m Donald Trump!” So the desk and that area became prime play area during our stay. The living room had a half bath. The room was very clean.

    On the third day, I went down to the concierge to ask about the famed, but missing, children’s amenities. I had spoken to the concierge desk the week before we came out to confirm my understanding about the kid’s amenities and she had made a point to tell me she already knew the names and ages of my kids from info my wife had provided when getting the room, they were all set.

    It was like talking to a wall. When I asked about the children’s amenities, that I had read about children’s robes in the rooms, for instance, or kids names being written on the bathtub, he just said, “we can do kids robes and the bathtub writing thing.” He offered nothing else, only the two items I had specifically asked him about. I felt a bit bad for my daughter. We had told her that this hotel would have a couple surprises for her. She had been having so much fun on the trip and was so busy she probably didn’t care, but I did. Our 18mo gets an awful lot of attention, and I am very sensitive to making sure my other daughter feels special too. I told him that most of us would be out for the 7pm “Michael Jackson One” show that night, and he said they would come to the room when we were out. I got back up to the room, and about twenty minutes later, someone showed up at the door with a robe and products to do the bathtub writing. My daughter was standing right there. Good Lord. “No, I told him after 7.” The man apologized and left. My wife spoke to him in the hallway and he said he was new and didn’t know how to do the namewriting and that nobody had told him any specific time. The next morning when my daughter woke up, we told her there were a couple surprises for her in the bathroom, and she liked the robe, slippers, and name writing. It was a bit anticlimactic for me. Methinks the FS might over-promise on this whole kids thing.

    Other than that issue, the staff at the FS were very nice. I did get a rental car for the first time in Vegas, and I could have used the MB self parking, but it was a bit of a walk. With the kids, and stroller, etc., we opted for valet parking directly at the FS. That is the only parking available at the FS, but it was much easier for us. The valet staff always had good driving directions for me when asked and they were very quick. We called down ahead of time when we needed that car and its was always ready for us.

    Overall, the FS provided us the quiet, comfortable atmosphere we sought while still having a strip view! We agreed that it felt almost more like we were in an apartment than a hotel. With it’s own entrance, lobby, elevators, restaurants, and pool, it was very self-contained. I was glad to try a new hotel, but we reached a consensus that we might not like being that far south on the Strip. And when we were able to sneak out to the casino, we weren't crazy about MB’s offerings.


    MLIFE EXPERIENCE

    My wife got the MLife mastercard a week before we left for Vegas. The plan, of course, was to put all trip expenses on the card and rack up as many tier/reward points as possible. We quickly ran into problems even before we left home though. I posted another msg to VMB relating our experience with the MLife website not accepting the MLife master card when I tried to purchase “Michael Jackson One” tickets. I won’t review it here, other than to note that it was a problem for many people. I mentioned in my posting that I hoped it wouldn’t prove a problem when I went to put the Bellagio stay on the card. That would be crazy, wouldn’t it? Oops. When we checked in at Bellagio, the card was not accepted. When I pointed out to the desk person it was their own company’s card, the sole purpose of which was to acquire reward and tier points, he managed to manually enter the card info and it worked. For the most part the card worked ok after that, but randomly it was rejected.

    We wrongly assumed that because the mastercard would accumulate tier and reward points for us that we didn’t need to show our MLife players card when making purchases. This was wrong. Note that you get addt points when you also present your players card, making triple points, basically. I chalked it up to the general confusion about the program that not a single employee asked us if we had a players card when we gave them the MLife master card. It should have been an obvious question, if they had understood the program. It took someone at Circus Circus to ask me about this and bring it to our attention. No one at Bellagio or Mandalay Bay thought or knew to ask us. The lady at the Circus Circus concession stand knew all about it. Thank you! We were then able to bring any receipts we had to an MLife desk and have them retroactively apply the points, so that was good.

    In other news, we somehow managed to get Gold status during our stay, a first for us.


    VONS DELIVERY

    We arranged for Von’s to deliver food and drinks to us at Bellagio on our second day there. They were punctual. They called when they arrived and I met them down at the outside bell desk and a bellman took care of bringing the 12 or so bags up to our room. He said it was the first time he had seen Vons deliver in the 18 years he had been at Bellagio. I had read reports here on VMB of others having Von’s deliver at Bellagio, so I was surprised. At any rate, all went well. It was a life saver that we didn’t need to pack all the baby supplies and snack’s, etc. in our luggage. Oh, and they also delivered wine and beer, too. :)


    RESTAURANTS


    Paris Buffet: I still miss the old LVA coupon for this place. This is our favorite buffet in Vegas and we try to always get to it. Because we had made a reservation through Open Table (this is one of a few buffets you can do so for), we did not have to wait in the general line. Instead, we were told to go through the adjacent doors and get in the Total Rewards VIP line. Nice! The food was yummy and my daughter got a kick out of the surroundings.


    Rao’s: The last time we went to Rao’s a couple years ago it was after seeing Absinthe. We were both jet lagged and practically falling asleep. I wanted a re-do! Since Caesars and I are both celebrating our 50th bdays, we paused to take my picture with the 50th anniversary chariot photo op in the lobby and to print out a coupon for a free bday drink. The service and food at Rao’s were great. The server delivered my wife’s pasta already separated out on a small plate for our baby, which was great service. She had overheard us talking about what food the baby might eat.

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    Peppermill: For the first time ever, we rented a car in Vegas! Usually we do so much driving commuting to work, my vacation requires a vacation from driving too, but with the kids we wanted to do more excursions off-strip, so decided to rent a car this time. Getting to Peppermill, which we had always wanted to do, was easy now that we had car. My brother and his kids had arrived by then, so we took both cars. We were really looking forward to visiting this place. We wanted to get our picture at the fire pit in the lounge, and I think my wife is planning some type of Shutterfly treatment showing us next to Sharon Stone sitting in the same spot in Casino. We had a nice lunch and had a lot of fun being there. We hope to go back sans kids someday and hang out in the lounge!

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    Cracker Barrel: So Vegas’s first Cracker Barrel opened on the 25th, my wife’s bday. We were already planning to go to Silverton with the kids to show them the mermaids and stroll through Bass Pro Shop. Now that they added a Cracker Barrel it was an even better destination! We have both BPS’s and CB’s back home, but my daughter was excited to go. That morning we saw the restaurant’s opening on the Fox morning news. It was packed when we got there. We waited about 45 mins to get a seat. The food was fine, and there were about 20 managers wandering around making sure things were going well. We must have been asked by 5 different manager-types how our “experience” was. Wouldn’t you know it, we missed the Silverton mermaids last show of the afternoon. We hoped to go back later in the trip, but that was not to be. It’s now on our long list of items for the next trip (see end of this report)!


    Border Grill at MB: Another place we had wanted to visit for some time. Now that we were staying at MB and my brother was staying next door at Luxor, it was a good fit. Note if you join the e-club on their website you receive a $25 coupon, which we took advantage of. The food was really very good. Most of us got enchiladas. My niece and nephew both thought the seafood they got was excellent. We will go back again.

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    Rainforest Cafe: This moved last year from MGM to the second floor shops at corner of Harmon. The Goratorium was in this location prior. This was the only location in Vegas I got frustrated with. You need to park in the Miracle Mile parking area, but you can’t actually reach the Rainforest Cafe from the Miracle Mile shops. After asking 5 different people for directions, we ended up having to take an elevator outside on the corner of Harmon. It was scummy. Which brings up another important point for people traveling with kids—you will find that elevators have usually been placed in isolated or abandoned corners of buildings. Often in looking for elevators, we would wonder if we were even supposed to be in that area of the building. Getting on the elevator in Mandalay Bay to get up to the shops leading to Luxor, I even found a trash bin left in the elevator. Nuff said.

    Service at Rainforest was excellent, and because we somehow ended-up here for dinner on my birthday, the server brought out a birthday dessert for me. She was very attentive to our kids. Note that if you join the Landry’s club, you receive an initial $25 credit and an annual bday credit of $25, which we used. Originally I joined the club a few years ago for McCormick and Schmick’s a restaurant back in Boston, but I see they also include the Rainforest Cafe, a restaurant at the Golden Nugget, Landry’s and Mortons. Unfortunately I was so frustrated getting to the restaurant, I’m quite sure I will never, ever go back there again.

    Green Valley Ranch buffet: We have always wanted to get out to GVR since seeing it on that reality show years ago. Do you remember Michael Tata also? Now that we had kids, we also wanted to scope it out as a possible place to stay with them in the future (more on this later…) The buffet seemed fairly extensive to me and tasted ok. With a players card it was 9.95, plus we had an LVA coupon 2 for 1 that we used. I liked the variety of food offered. For some reason service was nonexistent. Not a single drink refill or plate removal while we were there. Odd….

    Mirage buffet: Yes! Finally I get to set foot in the Mirage again. Ahhhhhh. We hit the buffet before going to see the tigers and dolphins. I remember that I last took my wife to this champagne brunch for Mother’s Day about 8 years ago. Our son had recently died, and until our daughter was born we left town and headed to Vegas for each Mother’s Day. Some people don’t like Vegas, but for us it has always been a place of healing and regeneration. But that’s another story…. We had an LVA 2 for 1 coupon and tacked on the champaign option. Even our youngest daughter liked the food here! Did I mention that I miss the Mirage?


    Tacos and Tequila at Luxor: Would I be wrong to assume that a Mariachi brunch would have a mariachi band? Especially if it did last time you did the Mariachi brunch?? Well, the 30th was my brother’s bday (lots of days here!) and they were checking out of Luxor to head back to AZ. We wanted to take our daughter to the mariachi brunch so she could enjoy the band members, who it turned out when we spoke with them last time were all career school teachers in Las Vegas. Alas, despite still calling it a mariachi brunch, there is now no mariachi, not even a little. Still, the food was good and the location was right. Plus we had an ACG coupon for a free appetizer.

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    My brother is the king of odd food ordering, seemingly following no known norms of eating. He will, for instance, order his meal, and then after everyone else has ordered, he’ll order an additional second meal. He’ll certainly never go hungry at any rate. I let him order the free appetizer and he goes with the nachos. The waitress looks at the American Casino Guide coupon and says she’s “never heard of this one before” and she’ll have to check with her manager if she can accept it. The nachos arrive ten minutes later.

    I know someone reading this knows this mariachi band!!! Could you post a reply back for me with their name? Please? I remember seeing there name outside a place in NYNY I think also, a couple years ago, so they performed at more than one place. Thanks in advance!

    Citizens at MB: This was a surprise hit. We were in our FS room, exhausted. We had a busy day planned, but realized by 2:00 that the kids had kind of had it for the day. We didn’t want to just stay in the room for dinner, so I looked over the Mandalay Bay website to see what restaurants they had for an easy option, and read about Citizens. I had seen it while walking about the casino. We headed down for an early dinner, and got seated right away. Rob Zombie and Korn were performing at MB in a few hours, and it was fun seeing the crowd. Citizens was really an excellent surprise for us. The menu and food were great. The service was good. Just a really nice place to go. For a causal dining place, it didn’t look like a casual dining place. Note that it’s open 24 hrs too! Two thumbs up.


    POOLS AND CABANAS

    My 6yo loves to swim and my wife loves the pool also. The plan for the trip was to spend some time most days in the pool, and my wife wanted to spend most of her bday at the pool. With the kids, however, this would really only be possible with a cabana, which we had never rented before. We luckily had made reservations for these since we landed in the middle of a Vegas heat wave, 110 degrees for most of the first week we were there. That made the cabanas a necessity for spending any serious length of time outside.

    Bellagio:

    The Bellagio pool area is broken up into about 5 pool areas, one of which is “private” and requires a reservation. All pools are 3 1/2 ft deep. As I mentioned, for my wife’s birthday she wanted to get a cabana and spend the day by the pool. My older daughter would be perfectly happy spending every day by the pool, so this was not a problem. We had never reserved a cabana before. Note that the Bellagio recently added a cabana reservation system to their website, which was convenient. We reserved a basic cabana by the spa tower for about $350, to help ensure we would have a non-smoking area with the kids. When we arrived at 9am for the cabana, we were told those cabanas were not available. At Bellagio, and maybe another places, you are not guaranteed a cabana until you check in that morning. It is an odd way of doing business, but I guess one that allows them to cater to more important guests as they need to. The cabana they had us in was not near a pool. No way, no good. Back to the desk and they were pretty much booked up for the day. They did have one premium cabana available for an addt $100. Why is it premium, I ask? Location, it is located right in front of the pool, it has 360 degree misters which the other cabanas do not have, and was stocked a bit better. Whatever. It was my wife’s birthday, of course I took it. So for $450 we had an excellent cabana for the day. I apologize for not posting a pic of the outside of the cabana, for some reason I did't take any! But this was the view looking at the pool--

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    The section of premium cabanas, there were maybe 4, were right along the main pool, separated from the surrounding area by a very short wall and hedge, which was a nice touch. I had read here about people having problems with people just wandering over and taking their cabana chairs, so we avoided that problem completely. There was a small basket of munchies, chips, cookies, jelly beans (?) for us, and the fridge was stocked with water, and three or four types of soda. There was a flat screen tv and an overhead fan with a 360 degree mister. A small section of the cabana was sectioned off as a changing room.

    Prior to our trip I had set up with room service to have a cake delivered for my wife’s bday. Since we were going to be at the cabana all day, I asked if it would be possible to have the cake delivered to the cabana. Yes, they were happy to do so. Once we were settled in our cabana, I called my contact in room services and let her know which cabana we were in. A half hour later it arrived on a cart with servingware for four. My wife was surprised. The cake was yummy. Success! Later we ordered lunch in the cabana via an iPad that was provided for that purpose, some champagne, and a bucket of beer for moi. Our server stopped by every half hour or so, but never hustled us in any way. Safe to say, the Bellagio has the whole cabana thing down pretty well. My wife has already declared she wants the same cabana next time!

    Four Seasons:

    As you exit the back of the Four Seasons, you are entering the Mandalay Bay pool complex. Not that you’d ever know it. The area you walk into is the sectioned off Four Seasons pool area. You can exit the side gate into the Mandalay Bay pool complex if you like; Four Seasons guests have full access to the property. The FS has a pretty but fairly simple pool area. Like the Bellagio, it is 3 1/2 ft deep. It was relatively quite during our stay, I doubt if there was ever even 100 people there. We found all the pool staff helpful and polite. Again, the quiet pool area as opposed to the MB pool area was what we needed with the kids. After talking to some people from Atlanta, a woman sitting on the side of the pool told us she had overheard that we were from the Boston area and she said she was also. It turned out she owns the pet supply store in our town! How weird! What a small world……

    There are a total of 3 cabanas at the head of the pool, one double-wide cabana with a “regular” cabana on either side of it. Just to the side, there is a bar and seating area and maybe 4 addt regular cabanas. Any given day, maybe three of the cabanas were in use. The FS is new to the cabana business, this being only its second year offering them. Their rates were about $100 less than Bellagio. We reserved the big cabana, “Cabana #1,” for our last full day in Vegas for $250. This being only the second cabana experience I’d had, I couldn’t help but compare it to the Bellagio cabana. This cabana was clearly larger. A few lounge chairs outside. Couch, flat screen tv, adjustable fan and lights, fridge stalked with…nothing. Yes, nothing. Soda? No. Water maybe? No, stop asking. And no munchies, although they did provide us with a fruit platter, as did the Bellagio. There were maybe three rows of chairs between our cabana and the pool. When our daughter was swimming in the pool, we had to stand up to see her and sometimes even then we couldn’t see her.
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    Our overall take away on the FS cabana was that they charged less because they offered less. Maybe it was also part of their learning curve. Really, no water??? We ordered lunch which came from the Veranda restaurant kitchen, and again champaign and a bucket of beers to last me the day. Unfortunately, in yet another kink, when the bucket arrived, all five cans of Bud Light Lime were opened. “Uhm, Maria, I don’t mind having one opened and maybe the next one, but it’s going to take me all day to drink those and I don’t want them sitting there opened for several hours. Could you please replace maybe three of them with unopened bottles?” Sure. Ten minutes later she returns, informing me she will have to bring me my beer one by one as needed. What? There is no bottle opener in the cabana, sir. “But the Bellag—never mind. Ok, that’s fine. Thank you.” Of course, the Bellagio server had informed me that they had a bottle opener build into the side of the table in their cabana.

    I did take the baby in the stroller around the MB pool complex walking path and around the pools, as did my wife. We had only seen the MB pool complex from inside MB while passing through on previous trips, and it looked great, so we were really excited to see it. I have to admit, I found it really cluttered and not as nice as I was expecting. My wife had the same reaction. Throughout the trip we kept saying we really should take advantage of the complex and at least use the lazy river, but for some reason we never did. Maybe the whole thing just looked so hectic to me.

    CASINOS

    In other trips this would have been a major section of my report! I play blackjack and video poker, and my wife plays slots and Caribbean Stud. When we’ve taken the kids to Mohegan Sun in CT, our routine is that once the kids are asleep I’ll go down and play at night, then my wife prefers to get up around 5am and play before it gets crowded. We thought we would probably follow the same plan, knowing that some nights we would likely skip playing completely.

    I have to admit that I played only 1 of three nights at the Bellagio and probably every-other night at MB. I was just too tired. And part of it was that I’m not too excited about either casino. Despite playing many times at Bellagio, I’ve never found it a particularly fun casino. I was looking forward to exploring MB’s casino, but was severely disappointed in the blackjack game they offered. According to S. Wong’s newsletter, all games under $25 use csm’s, and there is a total of one, yes one table in the entire MB casino that pays 3:2 for blackjack. So, I was relegated to VP, which was quite decent.

    My wife got down to play slots at Bellagio a couple nights. At MB, she felt uneasy after having a number of guys, still in the casino from whatever concert happened the night before, approach her. She said one group started making cat calls as they walked by her. She went up to the nearby casino bar to get a cup of coffee, basically because she felt so uncomfortable and one guy wouldn’t go away. The bartender understood what was happening and talked with her for a while. But her heart wasn’t in it, and she didn’t want to play again after that. I felt bad about that. She had worked so hard to make this trip work, she deserved to be able to get away and play if she wanted to.


    SHOWS

    We had talked about each of us taking our older daughter to a different show. I liked the idea of doing something one-on-one with her. I chose Excalibur’s Tournament of Kings and my wife chose to take our daughter and visiting niece and nephew to see Michael Jackson One at MB.


    Tournament of Kings:

    I had read many comments about the show over the years, many dismissing it as silly or cheap, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Both my daughter and I loved it. The whole experience was easy and relaxed and fun. We walked from MB to Luxor and then jumped on the tram to Excalibur. The arena entrance is cleverly placed inside Excalibur’s Fun Dungeon (arcade). Just as well, since I was planning to bring my daughter there too at some point. Now I knew where it was. I love the themed-ness of Excalibur and wish the other casinos hadn’t de-themed as they have over the years.

    You pick your seats when you buy your tickets online. The seats are grouped into “countries,” and I had heard that Russia was a great section to sit in. It is in the middle of the arena and gave you the best view. I had also read not to sit in the first two rows, because the arena surface is dirt and the horses kick up dust that gets on your food. Both recommendations seemed correct to me. We sat in the fourth row and it was perfect. Before the show starts you order drinks from servers that come to take your orders. For dinner, everyone gets tomato soup as an appetizer, then a broiled chicken, baked potato, and some veggie. No silverware. I had heard that if you requested a vegetarian meal ahead of time, it would be pasta with marinara, so I did so for my daughter who would not eat the chicken. She received cheese ravioli, which she thought was good. I was perfectly happy drinking my beer and munching my rotisserie chicken. It tasted great. The show was about 90 minutes and included a bunch of good knights, one bad knight, staged hand-to-hand fighting, sword fights that were done quickly and convincingly, and jousting where riders were in fact knocked of their horses and weapons shattered. I loved it. My daughter got a bit scared at a couple parts with the bad guy. We would both like to go again sometime. Everyone was having fun. Go! Tickets were $75 each, once fees were applied.


    Michael Jackson One:

    We’ve been to Mystere and O, and numerous non-Cirque shows in Vegas. For some time, we thought the Michael Jackson show sounded like it would be a winner, and it was. The day before the show, there was a big Michael Jackson memorabilia event in the MB lobby. My wife and daughter went while I ran over to Luxor to pre-check-in and pay for my brother, who was arriving later that afternoon. The MB event involved the unveiling of a large MJ statue in the lobby and a number of dancers from the show performing. My daughter went up to them and got her picture taken with them. My wife told me they were all very nice. The next day I saw the event on the Fox morning news, which was cool.

    IMG_4342.jpg IMG_4338.jpg

    So while my brother and I took the baby to get some casual Italian food in the shops between MB and Luxor (was it called “Slices?”), my wife took the other three kids to the MJ show. They loved it. The music was great, the dancing was great, the theater was perfect for the show. My daughter got scared during the Thriller performance, and my wife was a little on edge when she realized Dirty Dian-a-a was going to dance on a pole in front of our daughter, but otherwise it was an A+. Tickets were about $120 each, once fees were applied.


    ACTIVITIES

    First, I have to say how fun it was to meet another VMB member. A couple weeks before our trip I had ordered VMB shirts for us. On our second full day, we were waiting for the Bellagio tram when a man came up to wait nearby. He noticed my VMB shirt and immediately introduced himself as Richard Alpert. I remembered his name from reading postings here because one of my college teachers was named Richard Alpert, as I told him. Rather than repeat the whole thing here, here’s the link to our picture, posted to Richard’s trip report!—


    http://www.vegasmessageboard.com/forums/index.php?attachments/img_3993-jpg.26022/


    Meeting Richard helped make this trip special. Most cool!


    In general, we had a million things to do with the kids in Vegas, but found we needed to limit it to maybe two things per day. That was the right pace for them. So our list of things to do next time (!) is large.


    We were finally able to do the gondola ride at the Venetian, something we’d thought about for years, but had never actually done. It was a hoot. A brief hoot at 15 minutes!


    We got over to Silverton and ate at Cracker Barrel and wandered through Bass Pro Shop, but missed the mermaids (next time!). I love playing BJ at Silverton, and not being able to play here this trip was the hardest thing for me to accept. Sigh….


    Something I didn’t think we would ever do, we went to Adventuredome at Circus Circus. It is a massive indoor amusement park, complete with rollercoasters. It was better than I thought it would be, and clean. The kids and their cousins had a blast for a few hours.


    We used an LVA 2 for 1 coupon for the Eiffel Tower experience, which we had wanted our daughter to see. We had planned to do it at night to see the lights, but such were our travels that we had to do it during the day. It was still impressive.

    IMG_5033.jpg


    My brother watched the kids one night and my wife and I were able to escape for a couple hours at least. We had been planning to go to the Foundation Room, which was basically two floors above our hotel room, but the week before we went I mentioned to my wife that I’d read comments about a lounge at Delano called Skyfall, and that some people thought it was a better view than the Foundation Room. My wife looked into it and thought it sounded good. Note that it’s recommended you get a reservation for Skyfall, which we did. We were exhausted by the time we got there at 9:00, but our server was excellent, we had a good couch/table and view of the strip, and our drinks were good. As a bonus, for some unknown reason there were some serious fireworks going off behind MGM Grand. Everyone at Skyfall watched them, but none of us knew what the occasion was. My 19yo niece was walking on the strip and the next day told us she had also watched them. Does anybody reading this know what this display was for??? It was a professional show and went on for about 20 minutes, behind MGM.

    IMG_4451.jpg


    And the biggest hit with both kids was the Dolphin habitat at the Mirage. The baby especially was thrilled with the dolphins, which was way cute to see.

    IMG_4709.jpg


    THINGS WE DIDN’T GET TO DO

    I am amazed at people who say there’s nothing for kids to do in Vegas! We had way too much to do. Here’s our list as of now, for next time: Gospel brunch at MB, Bootlegger restaurant, High Roller ferris wheel, Town Square, Ethel M chocolate factory, Mac King, Bonnie Springs, Springs Preserve, Silverton mermaids, Children’s museum, flamingo habitat at the Flamingo, Shark Reef (I can’t believe we didn’t get to this one! It’s at MB! Shows you how busy we were….), Lake Las Vegas, and look at some properties/condos.


    Well, that’s it. If you made it this far, than you so much for reading this. We love Vegas and are already making plans for our next trip. Right now we’re thinking maybe a few nights at the Mirage and then move to Vdara? Take care!

    —Joe
     
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  2. sam_marques

    sam_marques High-Roller

    Joined:
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    Really enjoyed reading your TR, after going to Vegas mostly solo every year since 2002, I finally made a family trip with hubby and my 8 year old son last July, like you, we realised there is so much to do, and we returned 4 July. We had an amazing time and even though I'm going solo in January, we've already booked next June as a family. My son loves swimming too and most mornings are spent at the pool, we've hired cabanas at Wynn and MBay which were great.

    We stayed at your beloved Mirage in a 1 bed tower suite which is perfect for a family.

    Great pics and you have a beautiful family. Thank you for sharing.
     
    Mommys Solo Trips
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  3. pleasemum

    pleasemum Low-Roller

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    Beautiful pic of you and your wife at skyfall. Great report - boy it seems like you packed a lot in but I think what you did is have a plan for each day and went with it. Sometimes when we go and have no plan we end up just gambling away, relaxing at the pool and grabbing quick bites - which is okay - but when we come back home we always say....we should have done this or should have done that!!

    Happy Birthday to all of you!! I too am celebrating a 50th this year with you and Caesars. Thanks again for sharing your family fun. Now get planning for a trip for just you and your wife!!
     
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  4. Niteshade

    Niteshade Low-Roller

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    Abilene, Texas
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    Great report and pictures.
    Sounds like you and the family
    had a great time. Thanks for sharing.
    Enjoyed following along!
     
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  5. WHU66

    WHU66 Low-Roller

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    Excellent report, thanks for all the details. Nice way to set it out as well, really enjoyed it!
     
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  6. Geogran

    Geogran OTD Tea Sipper

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    Beautiful family and great that you got to share some of it with your brother's family make it even more special.

    Thank you for a really nice report - I especially like the 'category' style which was easy to follow. You surely packed a lot of good things into your family trip - and handled the little bumps in road with ease - well done! Thanks for sharing!
    I too love the Mirage...
     
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  7. bridude98

    bridude98 Tourist

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    Regarding the random fireworks at MGM: the last time we were staying at Aria in late Jan 2016, there was a similar, random 20 minute fireworks show coming from MGM on a Saturday night. I read in the news the next day that it was during a private party for Tiesto's birthday. He's the resident DJ at MGM. So I'm guessing the ones you saw could've been as simple as any high roller having a party who wanted fireworks!
     
  8. Drewm1972

    Drewm1972 Low-Roller

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    Great report, we were there same time lol 7/24 to 8/1 Aria sky suites and mirage 2 bdrrom penthouse !!! We thought Aria was nice but not so much mirage.. Even tho I'm a smoker... The whole casino and hotel was very smoky..my two teenagers were complaining good thing you didn't bring baby...
    We are ahead out to Vegas tomorrow again.. No kids!!!
     
    Bruno Mars at Park Theaters w SkyLofts
  9. emmas

    emmas Low-Roller

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    Thanks for the report on your great trip. You really planned ahead and were able to have a fantastic time with your family. thanks for the details on Bellagio and FS, and I hope you eventually get back to Mirage someday.
     
  10. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

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    Great report, joehypnosis! It was awesome to meet you and your family. Perhaps our paths will cross again on the next trip!

    RICHARD
     
  11. momo325

    momo325 Low-Roller

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    Thanks for the great TR. love that t shirt of urs....
     
    Vegas for NYE!!!!
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  12. Kkirk777

    Kkirk777 Tourist

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    Wonderful trip report, thank you!
     
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  13. joehypnosis

    joehypnosis Low-Roller

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    Sam Marques, thank you for your comments. I just checked out your vlog too!
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
  14. joehypnosis

    joehypnosis Low-Roller

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    Pleasemum, thanks! We try to plan the major pieces and let the other stuff fill in, sort of on the fly. Happy bday to you too!
     
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  15. joehypnosis

    joehypnosis Low-Roller

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    Bri, very interesting info, thank you.
     
  16. joehypnosis

    joehypnosis Low-Roller

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    Geogran, thank you for reading the report. Glad it seemed organized to you!
     
  17. joehypnosis

    joehypnosis Low-Roller

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    Drew, thank you. We might have walked right by you! We have been looking at Aria Sky suites for our next trip, likely in the spring. Have a great trip!
     
  18. joehypnosis

    joehypnosis Low-Roller

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    Emma, thank you. Hope it had some useful info in it.
     
  19. joehypnosis

    joehypnosis Low-Roller

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    Thank you, my friend! Likewise. Hope your bride's foot/leg is recovering!!!
    Joe (and Annette)
     
  20. amk121

    amk121 Low-Roller

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    Definetly try Sky Suites, it is really worth it!