I just returned from my annual Christmas-NYE trip to Las Vegas with my friend, FFlowers. What a fantastic trip we had! Since it was a long, 6-night adventure, and I didn’t keep notes, I will use a category format for this trip report. No high rolling or drunken adventures here, however we covered enough ground that I thought others may find a tidbit of helpful information….. so here we go….! Logistics: I flew from STL on Christmas night on the direct SW flight to LV, arriving on time at 8:35pm. The flight was completely full, not one single seat unoccupied. I had purchased the early bird boarding and rec’d A31. While in line, I noticed 3 youngsters in line behind me, with mom standing off to the side. After making chit chat with them about Santa, etc.. I asked if they were going to LV on vacation. The mom explained they were flying alone to meet their dad, who lives in LV, and would be spending 3 weeks there. She then said she was nervous because the oldest daughter had just turned 12, therefore Mom wasn’t allowed to go on the plane with them and make sure they were seated & settled. I told her “I’ve got them” and I would also stay with them upon arrival and make sure the connection with Dad was made. She seemed relieved, I would be, and I told them a couple of stories about my 3 kids and flights we have taken. Once on the plane, I grabbed an aisle seat in row 4 and pointed to the empty row 5 for the 3 children. I told them my name was Diane and to let me know if they needed anything. Those kids were so polite, not like so many on the flights nowadays. After an hour or so, I turned around to peek at them and they were piled up on each other like little puppies, asleep. They woke before we arrived and we all watched us fly straight down the Vegas strip to land. When we left the plane, their dad wasn’t there. I wish he could see a video of how their faces fell when they realized he wasn’t at the gate. I told them I would hang out with them while they called him. After a few minutes, they saw him and a girlfriend/wife walking up the hallway. The girlfriend/wife said “Hey, you guys were 5 minutes early!” which was total BS, they were late. I said goodbye to the kids and began my usual mad dash to baggage claim. I don’t mean to jump up on a soapbox here, but if those were my kids, I’d make sure I was at least a half hour early to ensure they didn’t have a minute of worry. Perhaps it was a glimpse of why mom and dad are divorced. On the return trip home, I had a direct SW flight leaving LV on NYE at 8:30am, I like to leave town before the craziness begins in earnest. The return flight was also completely full, took off 20 minutes late and landed 5 minutes late. I enjoyed the free tv on both flights, watching on my iphone, nothing like Law and Order to pass the time! Hotel: I love the Flamingo. There, I’ve admitted it, I just do. It’s home…. And it was good to be home! I was comped for 5 nights in a GO room, which ended up being upgraded upon arrival (without asking) to a full Bellagio fountain view. Very nice. There were no GO rooms, comped or otherwise for my last night, so I decided to book the Mirage using MyVegas LP’s. My GO room had a spectacular view of the fountains, close to the elevator, close to the ice machine, and the room air conditioner would get as cold as the north pole… perfect room for me! Perfectly clean as usual. Also, although the hallway carpets seemed to freak out many on the chat boards but didn’t bother me, they had installed brand new hallway carpet, at least on the 26th floor. I loved the carpet design and it was still oh-so springy. Not to mention CLEAN. I booked the Mirage, using bonus dates for fewer LP’s, for both the 29th and the 30th but would only use the room on the 30th. By checking in on the 29th, this allowed me to move to the Mirage at my leisure on the 30th. I waited 20 minutes in the checkout line (no status at MLife!) and was given a nice room on the 20th floor with a strip view. I didn’t make any special requests. The MyVegas rules have changed and they are supposed to charge a $28/day resort fee, and I understood that, however the check in gal did not mention anything about it. When I checked out, there were no charges on my bill at all. I knew from the MyVegas site that it’s about 50-50 if you will get charged or not. I lucked out and wasn’t charged…. Yippee! The Mirage room looked exactly like the website, was ultra clean and very modern. The bed was very soft and extremely comfortable. I really enjoyed the ihome next to the bed. I will stay there again. Downside of my stay at the Mirage…. My neighbors. I went to my room about 11pm as I needed to get up at 5:30am to catch my flight home. The room next to me was full (and I mean FULL, at least 30 in the room/hallway) of Asians and they were all screaming at the top of their lungs, spilling out into the hall, running in the hall, etc… I called security and waited 45 minutes for them to arrive. Security told them to quiet down and stay out of the hallway, of course they didn’t. So I trekked the mile across the resort to the front desk at mid-night and requested a room change. They had another available, same floor, different wing, so I packed up my remaining items and moved. Because others are inconsiderate. After a long trip, sleeping just 4 hours wasn’t enough. Any other night during the trip, it wouldn’t have mattered. Several were in the hallway when I was leaving the room with my bag and it did make me feel a little better telling them that they should be ashamed of themselves, in so many choice words. Gambling: Not a winning trip, not a going broke trip either. The biggest win for me was making Diamond for next year! I was going to need a 1000 point day to get the 1000 bonus tier points, and that’s a big day for me. One day in the middle of the trip, I’d been doing well all day and was at 700 points beginning the evening so I decided to go for it. FFlowers played penny machines on my card and I played triple play quarter VP and knocked out the 1000 points. Diamond used to be easy for me as there was a Harrah’s ST Louis, now it’s tough only playing CET properties during my Vegas trips. FFlowers and I had discussed this several times during the trip and we agreed I shouldn’t chase it, but if I was close and doing well that day, I’d go for it. Fortunately that happened, as I really enjoy the perks. I play primarily nickel and dime triple and 5-day DDB and BP. I do play some quarter single line and triple play bonus poker, and played some Double Super Times Pay nickel and dimes this trip, which paid off well. I dabble in penny slots if I’m tired and don’t want to think, I was a winner on the penny slots this trip, go figure. I only played them a few times, perhaps I should have played them more.. haha. I had $75 in FSP and that kept me entertained the entire first night. I had the following cool hands during the trip: • DEALT four 9’s on 5-play DDB nickels • Caught four Aces more times than I could count on nickels, dimes, and quarter BP and also on nickel DDB. Didn’t catch ANYTHING with a kicker the entire 5 days of gambling. Tsk Tsk. • Playing penny colossal reel slots (the one with the dragons), I hit all 5 dragons on the colossal reel playing a whopping 50 cents/spin, which paid $95. • On Deuces Wild Double Super Times Pay dimes, I hit the 4 deuces with a 4x multiplier for $400! I was dealt 2 deuces and drew 2 more on the 5th line. • I was DEALT four Jacks on triple play quarter BP • On triple play Double Super Times Pay Deuces Wild dimes, I was DEALT a straight flush (with only one deuce) with a 5x multiplier • On triple play Double Super Times Pay Deuces Wild dimes, I was dealt 4-to-the royal in hearts with a 2x multiplier. I did hit a wild royal, winning $20 instead of $800 for a “real” royal. Bummer. • On dime triple play BP, I was DEALT four 3’s. There was a kicker in the deal as well, I tried not to notice. Too painful. • Playing 5-play Dime BP, I was dealt 3 aces. I pulled the 4th ace (spades) on both line 1 and line 3! Maybe 10 hands later, I was dealt the same 3 aces again (what the hell is with the ace of spades?) and pulled the 4th ace twice on the SAME two hands. Crazy! The game was still playing well, so I changed to quarters (5-play quarters is WAY out of my comfort zone). I hit several more four of a kinds including hitting the aces twice more holding two each time. That was cool on quarters! The machine then died and I cashed out for over $400 on a $20 original investment. • My last night, I decided to slip a $20 into a colossal reel penny machine at the Mirage on the way back to my room. I hit a bonus and hit all five of the blue guys for a $110 payout. I had a few other nice hits before that, so I cashed out $140 and headed to my room to sleep… or so I thought. I didn’t keep my money separate, but came home about $600 lighter in the wallet. Considering all the meals, shows, taxi’s, etc… it was an inexpensive trip! Shows: We really hit the jackpot with shows this trip! Jerry Seinfeld – Fflowers scored seats right down front from a CET contact for Dec 26th. Jerry was just plain awesome, my face hurt from laughing! The opening act was really funny as well. I enjoy the everyday situations-turned-funny comedy, many were brilliant. Well worth the time and a great first night in Vegas! MJ One at Mandalay Bay – Wow. Best. Show. Ever. And I’ve seen a lot of them. If you even kinda like MJ music, it really is worth the ticket price. Fflowers treated this show for several reasons and I’m thankful she did. The theater is built solely for this show and the visuals are incredible. The performers are unbelievable, there is so much going on, the time flew. I want to see this one again from the first balcony so everything is happening in front of me. I cried during Man in the Mirror and I was beyond thrilled with their performance of Thriller. Thriller-culties are very sensitive to the Thriller dance, it must be done ‘just so’. They couldn’t have performed it better, what fun. Neon Museum “Boneyard” – Fflowers had purchased tickets ‘on a deal’ for this tour, we’ve both wanted to do this for years and it just hasn’t happened. We were running a little late so we jumped in a cab to this exhibit about a half-mile past downtown. It was a near-religious experience seeing all the old Neon signs, some we remembered which reminded us of special memories, some that were before our time. The tour guide was excellent, the tour was sold out. We took the 3pm tour on a beautiful 65 deg sunny day, I was in a tshirt and my Birkenstocks! Don’t miss this tour, it’s worth the time if you’re a Vegas junkie. An interesting note…. Since it was beginning to get dark when we were done, and we had reservations for the Flame, we had the museum call a cab for us. A Chrysler 300 cab pulled up outside and the driver was jamming “Baby you a song, you make me want to roll my windows down and cruise….” And singing at the top of his lungs. I laughed and grabbed Fflowers from inside, saying you’ve just gotta see this! We hopped in the cab, he restarted the song, and we ALL sang at the top of our lungs during the ride to the Flame! What an awesome ride! I did get his business card a fully intend on calling him when I need a cab on my next trip! Dancin’ Queen – We used Fflower’s Diamond tickets for this show at PHO, it is relatively new and is a tribute to Disco. My husband was appalled when I told him on the phone, LOL. The show is a solid B show, very enjoyable if you like Disco. We had seats down front, but the back of the showroom was empty, so we decided to sit alone in the back row and dance, if the mood struck us… which it did. They performed a few Abba songs, many from Saturday Night Fever, plus other disco classics. The dancing and costumes were excellent. We had a lot of fun and I recommend this show, if you like disco. There were a couple of teenage boys sitting in the row in front of us who had obviously been drug there by their parents. They were clearly not having fun and spent most of the time on their ipods. I was intrigued by this since the dancers were nearly topless and thongs abounded. Hmmmm…. Million Dollar Quartet – We used my diamond show tickets for this, what a great show. I enjoyed it, the music and story line was terrific. The story line was a little “dark” for Vegas, sad and thought provoking. Nonetheless, it is well deserving of the high ratings and I was glad we saw it. Spa: I purchased a TravelZoo deal for FFlowers and I, we each were able to choose $200 worth of treatments at the Paris Spa. I chose an 80 minute Swedish massage; she chose a facial and some add-on services. My massage was excellent, the gal provided the massage I wanted instead of what she wanted to do, which isn’t always the case. Certainly one of my top 5 massages. The Paris Spa is surprisingly basic for an “upscale” resort, but had everything I needed. We had a few minor issues with the front desk service, but it all worked out in the end. I would absolutely not return at full price as the prices are similar to Qua, but for the deal we had, it was certainly worth it. And it gave us the chance at a spa morning, away from the machines. Meals: Mon Ami Gabi – This is our traditional first breakfast, FFlowers is in love with the blueberry French Toast, and I with the Eggs Benedict. I had some Delta miles that were expiring and one option was to purchase a $50 Lettuce Entertain You gift card. I was able to convert miles I would otherwise lose into a gift card that was valuable to us, I’d call that a win. I also ordered the baguette and we came within $.46 of using the entire $50 card. The service was outstanding, our waitress fabulous. It’s always fun to sit on the patio and watch the fountain shows, we were there several hours enjoying the warm sunshine and excellent meal. Caesars Buffet: Fflowers wanted to try the new buffet prior to our Jerry Seinfeld show. I was interested in trying it due to the rave reviews, but I rarely get enough value from dinner buffets as I’m not a seafood, sushi, etc.. fan. She insisted and charged the (outrageous) price of $116 for two to her room. The buffet was very crowded, especially with Asians, and the lines for food were long. The food I did eat was fantastic. For the price, I would prefer a sit-down meal in a nice restaurant. I’m a fan of hot food, the choices I made were not very hot and, after standing in the long lines, it was cold by the time I reached the table. Thank goodness for the diamond line with only a few people ahead of us, the regular line was crazy long. The buffet had signs posted that, due to the holiday, we should keep our buffet “experience” to 2 hours max. I had no desire to stay longer, it was just so crowded. Aria Brunch Buffet: I cashed in some MyVegas points so we could try this brunch buffet, we were especially interested since neither of us had been to Aria. After our spa morning at Paris, we walked to Aria, I was surprised at how far it is off the strip. Then walking through the shops and casino, then up to the second level, makes the buffet quite a hike! Beautiful casino, I’ve read reviews saying others thought it was dark, I thought it was swell! There wasn’t a wait at the Mlife desk and the desk clerk put the two brunch buffets on my Mlife card. The line wasn’t horribly long, we waited maybe 15 minutes. There were many empty tables but we waited quite some time to be seated. The total price (had we been paying) was $72 for the 2 brunch buffets, nice comp from MyVegas. I thought a buffet of this price level should staff better, waiting for seating when there are plenty of empty tables is crazy. I suppose I should be ashamed as I only ate breakfast. I’m a true lover of Bacon, eggs, biscuits & gravy, eggs bene, and more bacon. Aria had a limited amount of bacon, eggs, and biscuits & gravy on the brunch buffet and it was good. Clearly, I’d never pay the price for this buffet as I eat $10 worth of breakfast food. FFlowers ate more lunch food than breakfast and said it was good. I did like the buffet room, very open and certainly less congested than Caesars. We had to wait quite awhile for our drinks, I always sit at the table and wait for our order to be taken prior to getting food. When you only eat a plate or two of food, I want my drink waiting for me! Border Grill: Fflowers had been waxing poetic about the food at Border Grill for over a year, since MJ One was at Mandalay Bay, she insisted on treating dinner there. We sat on the patio, it was a beautiful evening, and our waitress was so cool. We ordered the pre-fixe menu which started with plantain empanadas and sweet corn tamales as appetizers, both were excellent. I chose the Grilled Skirt Steak as my entrée and FFlowers chose the Chicken Poblano enchiladas. I was torn about ordering the skirt steak, I make a MEAN grilled skirt or flank steak myself and was afraid I wouldn’t like theirs as well. Ha, no worries there! The steak had a deep char (which I love) on the outside and, ordered medium, was perfectly cooked. It was sliced into strips and I easily cut mine with my fork! It was so delicious! FFlowers said her entrée was also good, but I think she liked mine better! We had glasses of sangria that tasted of pear, wonderful. For dessert, I ordered the Mexican Chocolate Cream Pie, which was excellent. FFlowers ordered the pineapple upside down cake and was disappointed as her mother’s version is much better. She used a Restaurant.com voucher towards the bill and we rolled out of there to MJ ONE. Flamingo Breakfast Buffet: I ate breakfast here solo both Saturday and Sunday late morning, I love the diamond seating on the window wall so I can watch the ducks and Flamingos. The standard breakfast items here are very good… scrambled eggs, eggs bene, biscuits and gravy, and bacon-bacon-bacon. The Flamingo bacon is always very crisp, I adore their bacon. Cost was $18.99 for the brunch, I used points to pay, and probably ate enough bacon alone to justify the cost. The Flame: This is one of our favorite restaurants! We thought eating here after the Neon Museum tour was a grad idea, and so it was. We enjoy the dark, old school atmosphere and the excellent service. Linda was our waitress (she’s our fave) and she never fails to spoil us. I started with a delicious French onion soup and Fflowers started with the garbage salad. The salad looked awesome, next time for me for sure. I ordered the prime rib, which was good, and she ordered…. Well… I can’t remember! Whoops! We ordered a baked potato and their cream corn (which must be made in heaven) as sides to share. My dessert was crème brulee and Fflowers ordered… dang… can’t remember! She must not have shared… LOL. After dinner, Fflowers was paying with a combination of coupons and comps, I left to use the ladies room. Afterwards, I sat at a penny machine to listen to the Elvis performer in the El Cortez lounge. I wasn’t playing, just listening, and his performance was very good. I noticed a gentleman walk around the corner and was SHOCKED to see Don, a guy I played VP with at my local casino in Missouri many, many times! He had always told my friends and I that he was moving to Vegas when he retired, and one day he just left and I hadn’t seen him for 3 years. And now… there he was! He approached me and said “You may not remember…” and I jumped up and hugged him. What a coincidence! I hadn’t been sitting there for more than a minute, and also, if I was playing my back would have been turned to him. We caught up for awhile then went our separate ways. What a cool coincidence. Sugar Factory at Paris: I had a Groupon for $50 at the Sugar Factory at Paris. We both ordered their signature burger, fully loaded, with fries and it was very good. Honestly, we had been eating so many huge, multi-course meals, if was great to have a burger and fries! Very good quality food. The service was awful, however. We waited for 20 minutes to be seated on the patio, even though there were many tables on the patio empty. It took forever for our waitress to acknowledge us and take drink orders. It must have taken at least 40 minutes to get our burgers. The restaurant itself was half empty. We wanted to split a dessert, but our waitress told us it would take at least 30 minutes to get any dessert, the kitchen was so far behind, so we passed. We really enjoyed sitting on the patio in front of the Bellagio fountains, lord knows we saw our share of fountain shows during that marathon of a meal. I would really like to return, if I have another Groupon, as the food was excellent, but will need to make sure I have plenty of time. If the service is that awful a second time, I won’t return again regardless. Harrah’s breakfast buffet: Ah…. My all time favorite. Very good quality, every time, and excellent service. I had a Groupon for two with unlimited drinks, which we limited to one mimosa each. Bacon, eggs, biscuits & gravy, and eggs bene were all excellent. We hit this breakfast buffet every trip and discussed doing it twice the next trip. Very solid, and a great deal with the Groupon! Observations: • The weather was perfect; mid-60’s each day with bright sunshine and no wind. • There was construction on the old Bill’s right outside my window, but I couldn’t hear any noise from the 26th floor. • A strip view from a regular window is a real waste of an opportunity. After the floor-to-ceiling windows in the Flamingo Go room, the strip view from the Mirage was meh… • All the cartoon characters and such on the strip drive me crazy. I’m all for free enterprise, but adding a distraction to an already extremely crowded walkway is a pain in the a$$. Of course, they aren’t there when the strip isn’t busy. • If someone is taking a picture, it’s NOT ok to step in front of them and take your own. • In the US, we remove the shrimp shell BEFORE we shove it in our mouth. That way we don’t have to spit it out all over ourselves, the table, the floor… Especially when we have lots of other tables at close quarters who don’t want to watch you eat like an animal. • The drink service at the Flamingo VP area was outstanding, every single time. I usually had a huge cup of water with me, yet the waitresses still stopped and asked if they could get a drink for me. • We had planned to take in the midnight showing of Rocky Horror at Bally’s (I’m a cultie of many years) but we pooped out. That was the day we did the Neon museum tour, dinner at the Flame, downtown stuff… and it just didn’t happen. • I had purchased a Groupon for Buzio’s Seafood at the Rio but we didn’t get a chance to use it. I won’t lose the purchase amount, and we’d like to try it our next trip as the reviews are so good. • Some of the young girls I saw couldn’t possibly have mirrors in their rooms. • The Flamingo updated all their VP machines to brand new ones with the non-glare screens. Nice! It looked as if Harrah’s and several of the other CET props had done this as well. Next trip is probably Easter weekend!