This was FFlower’s and my annual Easter trip to Mecca, although shorter than usual for me as my daughter turned 16 on April 7th. Much of this trip was fantastic, the shows, the food, the company. Significant parts were truly awful, the hotel and the gambling. All gambling is multi-line nickel VP or quarter single line VP. No wild parties and no high limit gambling here! Flights: I flew SW direct from KC both ways with great flight times $180 RT all in. Ever since Spirit opened up in KC, the flights on SW have been a real bargain. STL is an hour closer for me, but at $400 more, I will take more drive time and a shorter flight. Flights were completely full and on-time both ways. The flight attendants never left their seats on the return flight due to “turbulence” (I only felt a few little bumps) so no drinks or bathroom for 2.5 hours, which was a drag. Hotel: Here’s where it all goes south. Most of you that “know” me know I love the Flamingo, the property, the vacation smell, the staff, and especially the GO rooms with the floor-to-ceiling windows. I’ve been a staunch supporter of the property on several chat boards over the years. I’ve had some service issues there lately, as I reported in previous trip reports: check-in staff that are under the misguided impression they work at the Wynn, not having the room I requested available even tho I was Diamond, elevator issues, etc… They lured me back with VIP services and FSP and the last two trips have been better. Honestly, I never wanted to stay at another property, so I was easy to lure back. That all changed this trip and this slow learner is officially divorced from the Flamingo. Check-in at the Diamond room was fast, I was the only one there. They had my room ready at 2pm, I was so gleeful to be there I was throwing around cash tips. And it’s a damn good thing I did, I showed up time after time during my 3 days there with no id needing new keys and they remembered me. My room was great with a wonderful view from those floor-to-ceiling windows. I dumped my bags and headed to the ice machine, but my keys didn’t work when I returned to the room. WTF? So I hiked back down to the Diamond check-in and they made new keys. They scolded me for keeping keys near my phone, which never happened, the keys were in my pocket. No worry, off to fix a drink… there’s a casino waiting for me! This scenario happened over and over during the three days of my VACATION. Maintenance came twice and pronounced the issue fixed, but it never was. My keys never worked more than 3 times, sometimes twice, and sometimes only once. I talked to VIP services about changing rooms but there were no available GO rooms with my preferences available (why should I settle for less when it’s their problem?) and once I did decide to change rooms, I was going to have to move during my spa appointment and that was a no-can-do. Then the elevators broke. First the 6 elevators to the Spa Tower went down to 4, then down to 3, then to 2, and then none were working at all. For the entire Saturday afternoon, no elevators. I knew I could take the Lobby Tower elevator and walk the long hike to the Spa tower, I think a lot of people took the stairs ( I was on the 26th floor, two floors from the top, and with these knees that wasn’t an option for me). I would wait 20 minutes to pack into an elevator, stop at every floor until it reached the 26th floor, then my fckin key wouldn’t work. I’d wait at least 20 min for an elevator back down, stop on every floor, hike to VIP services, and then start all over again. I started getting new keys made every time I needed to go to my room . After the Barry Manilow concert, FFlowers and I played at the Flamingo and I went to my room around 12:30am. Even though I had gotten new keys before the concert, they didn’t work. I hiked back downstairs but, of course, VIP services weren’t open. The lines were huge, except there were only a few people in the Keys & Mail line. There was a young girl and a young man working this line. When I was at the front of the line and the young lady had finished with the couple at the counter, I began the “shuffle” to approach the desk. The young girl looked at me, raised her index finger, and said “I am not done, get back to your place in line” in the most snotty tone I’ve ever heard. I replied “Pardon me?” in my best mother’s voice, but she didn’t get the message and told me to get back to My Place in line. Well folks, this slow learner finally got it and I knew in that moment my relationship with the Flamingo was officially over. Here I was dog tired, I just wanted in my room, and this little uppity bitch was serving me attitude. I got new keys from the young man, who I could tell knew she was out of line, and trekked back to my room. The theme for the whole trip was “God I hope these keys work” every single time I walked to my room, after battling the elevator situation. If I needed to leave for dinner, or a show, or a spa appointment, I allowed 45 minutes in case an elevator never came and I had to walk the towers. I did meet with the front desk manager the following morning. We had a long discussion about how guests should be treated. I told him I stay in hotels for business every single week and even the Hampton Inns get this right. We talked about how the Flamingo is falling into a state of disrepair, and how I spend my time begging for the room I want in an inferior property. He did comp off my internet charges on my room bill, without my asking. He seemed genuinely upset about the door lock situation and offered to have me moved to a room just like mine, I told him he should have empowered his employees to “find” that room 2 days prior when I wanted to move. At that point, I was checking out early the following morning. For the first time ever, I couldn’t wait to leave the Flamingo. I packed my bags early and counted the minutes. My vacation days are far too important to entrust them to the Flamingo. I made it clear to the manager I couldn’t be bought back this time. And I can’t. It’s over. I haven’t felt like this since Albert Pujoles left the Cardinals. I feel like a jilted lover, this was more than a casual relationship. My next trip to Vegas is the week of July 4th and I looked at the website to see which CET props would comp me for that week… and the answer was They All Will. I booked one of the new premium Jubilee rooms for that week and I will see how it works for me. If it isn’t exactly what I’m looking for, I will book something else for the next trip. But it won’t be at the Flamingo. Shows: We saw some truly great ones this trip!! Frank the Man: He’s a Frank Sinatra impersonator and really does sound like Frank. We enjoyed the band and some of the songs. I don’t have an emotional connection to Frank’s songs as he was before my time, so while he was good, I wasn’t blown away. Totally on me, I’m sure. We discretely left early. Showstoppers at Wynn: See this. Just see this. FFlowers has been to Broadway shows, this farm girl sure hasn’t. But most of these were easily recognizable and WOW what a performance. The music was fantastic, the dancing was incredible, and the vocal talent was second to none. One of the best Vegas shows I’ve seen. Barry Manilow: What a great concert. His voice isn’t what it used to be, but the music! And he was surprisingly funny too. I kept my itunes account open and bought the “meaningful” songs as he sang them. We were surprised how many guys were screaming for Barry, I told FFlowers those there the guys who got lucky in the back seat while their girlfriend was listening to Barry’s songs, LoL. There was a touching moment when they showed a picture, and then a video, of his debut on Bandstand. A really young guy singing Mandy. Barry commented “That young kid had no idea what would happen to him after that night” in a wistful voice. It took me back to my high school years and I was grateful for those memories, as well as new Vegas memories. Diana Ross: I’ve always been a fan, although a lesser fan than I am of Barry. I expected a Diva, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. She connected with the audience, even asking the lighting crew to turn up the lights several times so she could “see the audience and draw energy from them”. I knew she was pretty, but I was amazed at how incredibly beautiful she is. At 71, she is gorgeous, thin, and she seemed very happy. Her family (daughter, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) were in the row across the aisle from us and there was no doubt she and her daughter were related. She asked the great grandchildren to come up on stage and dance, as well as any other children in the audience. They were so cute and were just “dancing with great grandma”, they were much too young to understand who she is. I thought she sounded even better than when she was younger! She was very relaxed and I believe it’s because she is performing for the sheer love of performing. There’s no struggle to be a star, no one to impress, just her love of singing. I’d jump at the chance to see her again. Ain’t no mountain high enough! Meals: We really hit the ball out of the park with our food choices this trip! Belligio Buffet: I used a MyVegas reward for 2 dinner buffets comped. The meal was excellent. I don’t eat crab legs, but I saw plates piled high on most tables. It’s a damn good thing the MyVegas reward includes a line pass, the regular line was VERY long. Everything was very fresh and hot. They served some excellent cheese slices and the already peeled shrimp was excellent. The roast turkey was great. I wanted to try the prime rib but I got full way too fast! Mon Ami Gabi: This is our traditional first breakfast in Vegas and it means we are REALLY in Vegas! We weren’t able to get a table on the patio, but had one just inside with a great view. I ordered my usual Eggs Bene and FFlowers ordered her usual blueberry French toast. The meal was excellent and we enjoyed talking for well over 2 hours “catching up” Border Grill Forum Shops: Also one of our traditional meals, we love the sangria! I make a mean flank steak at home and theirs is better than mine! Service was spotty, even though it was empty. I was able to keep an eye on the STL Blues game on the bar tv. I’m thrilled they opened the Forum shop location, it’s so much easier for us than trekking down to Mandalay Bay! Harrah’s Breakfast Buffet: I have been long-term friends with Buddha & his lovely bride and was fortunate our trips overlapped this time. We are all partial to this breakfast buffet, the service in the diamond area is excellent. I’ve been on a diet the last three months & have lost 30# so far…. My reward for reaching that goal was the promise of unlimited bacon!! Their bacon is as close to perfect as you can get…. Brittle crisp without being burnt. Thin, but not the pre-cooked “fake” stuff. Utopia. I like just about everything about this buffet. Buddha was kind enough to use a coupon and points to pay for our meals. I really enjoyed the company! They are die-hard White Sox fans and I’m an eternal Cardinal fan so we usually talk a lot of baseball, so between that and the kids and grandkids reports, we keep entertained for several hours. Thanks for the wonderful breakfast Buddah and Nancy! Giada’s: This was our restaurant of choice before Barry Manilow, we’ve eaten here our last 2 trips and it’s become a MUST DO on our trips. We were seated on the windows, and a significant reason we love this restaurant is the view. We were shocked when the windows suddenly opened half way through dinner, what a way to top off a wonderful meal! We prefer the small plates here….. the bacon wrapped dates are our favorite, closely followed by the gorgonzola cheese with wild pear honey and the prosciutto. We really enjoyed sharing a margarita pizza, it was our first time to try this and will definitely have it again. We shared the lobster ravioli, it was incredible. Add to that her hot rosemary bread and some of the best iced tea I’ve ever had, and it’s one heck of a meal. FFlowers enjoyed Giada’s signature drink, the Destroyer. The highlight of the night was our waiter, Kevin. What a gem! He wasn’t in sight, then if I even thought “I’m about ready for more iced tea” he materialized at my side with a fresh glass. Every time! He was knowledgeable and friendly, attentive but not overbearing. Certainly the best waiter we’ve had there, and perhaps anywhere. We will request him next time! Caesar’s breakfast buffet: Excellent quality, I like my food much hotter than they serve it. The bacon was extraordinary! The fresh squeezed OJ was some of the best I’ve ever had. Ruth Chris Steakhouse: This restaurant is a sentimental favorite of ours. We love the service here, the manager recognizes us each visit and spends time chatting with us. This time, the general manager came over to meet us and we raved over the attentive service. We both ordered the petite fillet and shrimp, the harvest salad (our favorite salad anywhere!) and shared sides of lobster mac & cheese and broccoli au gratin. The lobster mac & cheese stole the show! Neither of us could finish our steaks and shrimp. FFlowers ordered a blackberry cocktail and liked it so much she ordered a second one to go. The only go cups they had were little kids cups, so they encouraged us to just take our glasses with us with their compliments. Eating here Is like coming home, we plan to reserve a table on the window for the July 4th fireworks, if our next trip ends up being in July. Gambling: Geez what a failure. I gambled many hours over the 3 days and I think I had a winning session once. So this will be a short section! I stopped counting how many times I was dealt trip aces and couldn’t draw the fourth at 20. Most of those were on 5 play or 10 play. Ironically, I once threw away all 5 cards and drew quad aces on the middle line of triple play DDB. CET has screwed up all the games and paytables on the nickel machines I play, for example, bonus poker does not pay 2-to-1, its even money. Doesn’t sound like BP to me! I spend hours playing multi-line BP but didn’t play a single hand this trip. There were several hands on 10 play that I held a pair and drew to a quad on TWO hands. But deal 3-of-a-kind to me and I was WAY below average at improving the hand. I lost more than usual on this trip, the good thing is a went on a quarter royal binge at my local casino the week before the trip, hitting a progressive royal for $1600 plus 2 more regular pay quarter royals. This completely funded the trip with extra stashed at home. Most of the time I got very little play for my $$ to the point it was completely ridiculous. Next time. Other stuff: I made a massage appointment with my favorite therapist of all time 3 weeks in advance. Her name is Erlinda and she works at the Flamingo spa. She’s the best because she does what you want, not what she wants. I like a really light touch, so I always tell this to the therapist before we began. They always say “Of course” and then go ahead and do what they want. Fflowers followed my advice to book an appointment and declared her the best ever. The Flamingo spa is no qua, but it’s a nice spa and not crowded, which is important to me. During the hour before my massage, I was the only person in the spa. My next trip will be longer so I’m contemplating booking 2 massages with Erlinda! I’m regretful I didn’t make it to Qua spa with Fflowers or to the Caesar’s pool, or any pool for that matter. A short trip of only 3 full days is way too short for me, my summer trip will be much longer and I swear I will add pool/spa time every day next time! I really enjoyed popping in my ear buds and power walking the strip early mornings. However, when I worked out for an hour, then ended up walking the rest of the day and night (not to mention the frequent trips from room to VIP services for new keys), my knee was sore at night. The amount of walking in Vegas is so much greater than a normal day at home; I will shorten my workout walks next trip. We had a couple crazy cab drivers, one so aggressive Fflowers told him even a NYC cab driver wouldn’t do THAT! I was confident we were going to crash! We took the monorail (MyVegas reward) to the Barry Manilow concert at the MGM, this was perfect as the monorail exit is located beside the entrance to the Grand Garden arena. We walked onto the platform and straight onto a train both times, I love the monorail but there’s only a handful of times that it’s more convenient than walking or taking a cab/shuttle. Fflowers was entranced by the new Zuma slot machines and she knocked down several jackpots. It’s a cute game with lots of action. They are addictive and difficult to leave. Hmmmm… Diana Ross or Zuma? I truly enjoyed my time with FFlowers, she is an incredibly generous and fun companion, she lights up any room. She was in LV for 5 days before I even arrived so I’m sure she will have a report of her own. I’ve already thought of several topics we didn’t discuss during the trip…. Next Time! Thanks for reading and best of luck!