No high limits or drunken escapades folks...! Once again, my buddy Fflowers and I met in Vegas for Easter. My trip is for 5 nights and hers for over a week! We are a perfect fit in Vegas, we both share a deep love for all things Vegas, we hang out together for some gambling, shows, great dinners… but each do our own thing for portions of the day. We spend hours catching up on the 4 months that passed between trips, girl time! But could I do this trip like Westie? When I read his reports, I am envious of his casual trips, naps in the room or reading. I often feel like I rush through the days, gambling too many hours, and planning too much. Perhaps it was reading his TR while enroute to Vegas, I was going to slow down this trip and thoroughly enjoy! As a business traveler every week of the year, it’s nirvana for me to return to the Flamingo, my home away from home, where everything is familiar. It’s the one place where I’m not an employee, a wife or mother, let the fun begin! Travel: I live in Hannibal Mo and can drive 1.75 hours to the STL airport or 3 hours to the KC airport. I prefer STL but the airfare cost was prohibitive this trip. I flew non-stop on SW for $116 all in… at that price, I will save my points, and arrived in LV at 3:30pm on Thursday April 17th. The airports were completely packed. Fortunately, due to my business travel, my company paid for TSA Pre-Check for me. For the benefits, I would totally pay for this myself. It is $85 for 5 years; I’ve flown 4 times with it so far and have yet spent 1 minute or less passing completely through security. Plus I fly on business at least once per month. The security line was awful in KC, yet not a single person in the Pre-Check line… score! My flight was oversold and they were offering $300 travel vouchers plus a refund of your flight price for 2 people to take a later flight. The flight they offered was a connector through Phoenix and arrived at 11pm… no thanks. While I would love to have the travel credit, since I work & travel and vacation time is precious to me, my priorities are different. And sitting in the KC airport for an additional 6 hours is not a priority. My checked bag arrived lightening fast and I was shocked to see the cab line was virtually empty. My fare to the Flamingo was $19 plus tip. The Flamingo reimburses your cab fare in FSP, so I asked for a receipt. The coconut smell of the Flamingo made me weak in the knees with glee. I purchased a shuttle ticket from Executive shuttle for my trip back to the airport. They have a shuttle that picks up only at Flamingo and goes straight to the airport; I’ve done this before as it’s only $7. I allowed an extra half hour since Frontier is in Terminal 3 and I’ve not flown out of that terminal before. I stood in the shuttle pickup area for 35 minutes (Executive says they pick up every 15 minutes at the Flamingo) and the shuttle never came. The guy who hails the cabs told me he was surprised they hadn’t come back. I waited until the last minute and finally took a cab. It’s a good thing I did because by the time I checked my bag and arrived at the gate, the gate area was empty – the plane was already loaded. I am totally pissed at Executive shuttle and I will be giving them my uncensored feedback via phone today. My flight home was on Frontier LAS-Denver-KC. I bought this in January during a short sale and the price, all-in, was $72! It didn’t feel like such a bargain on the travel day, it added several extra hours to my normal non-stop travel time, but it felt good when I booked it! Both flights left early and arrived early, so no complaints. Hotel: I was booked in a comped GO room for 5 nights and there were only a few people in the diamond check-in room. The regular check-in lines were unbelievably long. Diamond is a lot like TSA Pre-Check! The guy checking me in looked at my res and said they were out of GO rooms. WTF? While waiting my turn, I had listened to the couple beside me checking in, noticed they got a GO room king bed, he was Platinum and she was Gold. I’ve had this issue before at the Flamingo, the Diamond services call me several days in advance to check my requests, and then none of them are available at check in at 4pm. He didn’t know who he was dealing with. I (nicely) explained that Diamond Services had called to confirm my requests. I pointed out the couple who just left were given the exact room I had requested, yet they were Platinum and Gold. I (nicely) told him to tell some other amateur there were no GO rooms available, I wasn’t buying it. He scurried away to check with a host then came back saying he had “hooked me up” in one with 2 queen beds and I could move the following day if I wished. The way he was waxing poetic about what he had done “for me” was clearly trying to get a tip. Tough to be you dude, you would have gotten a nice one if you hadn’t jacked me around for 10 minutes of my vacation. I grumbled to myself as I hauled my bags to the room. The queen beds are usually not as soft as the king, not as much a “vacation” room. I was pissed I couldn’t unpack and would have to move the next day. When I walked into my room, I could see the FULL Bellagio fountains and entire south from my floor-to-ceiling windows… I started to soften. The beds were really soft, nice. I cranked down the air (I am always hot) and the room immediately got ice cold, that’s so rare in hotel rooms. I fired up the internet and it was rippin’ fast. Guess who IS NOT moving? LOL. Great room, absolutely quiet neighbors, great housekeeping, and I sure enjoyed that view. Gambling: I’ll hit this section first since that’s what everyone always wants to read! Well, you might want to skip this if you’re looking for big action. I had $40 in FSP and turned that into nothing on nickel and dime multi-hand VP. The highlight of the first night was the STL Blues were playing the Blackhawks in Game one of the playoffs, but it wasn’t on a channel I could get in my room. I found it at a bar late in the 3rd period and played quarter single line BP while I watched STL tie it up with a minute left. I then sat through the 3 OT’s, although all I wanted was to go to my room! Fortunately, I hit several 4oak’s while watching and I actually cashed out ahead. I played a number of hours on Good Friday, but it sure the hell wasn’t a Good Friday. Playing multi-line BP and DDB, I hit a number of quads but couldn’t string anything together for a win. Fortunately, I spent a lot of time with FFlowers and MyVegas was having the Easter promo, so I played a lot in my room. I know it seems silly to most, but since I’m a mom of 3 and have a high stress, high commitment job, hanging out in my room watching the B fountains, playing MyVegas, and watching sports is a ton of fun! Saturday was blessedly busy with meals and shows with FFlowers, and the Blues played in Game 2 during the afternoon. I spent at least an hour walking the strip on an absolutely beautiful morning and checking out the new Linq. I played the MyVegas promo, watched the Blues win again in OT while texting my hockey-rabid family, and stared at my awesome view thinking it really doesn’t get much better. I only gambled 2 hours on Saturday and did manage to break even. I was dealt quad 3’s on dime BP, highlight of the day. Easter Sunday I played an hour in the morning and lost $20. I played 2 hours in the afternoon and won $20. Fflowers and I bailed out of the Jubilee show early, so I played for a couple of hours. I was about even and switched to 5 play nickel BP and was dealt 4-to-the-royal the very first hand – needing the ace of spades. I am 0 for 8 on pulling the last ace for a 4oak, so how the hell can I pull it for a royal? For the first time in my life, I closed my eyes and hit the button. And heard credits ringing up FAST! I hit the Royal on hand #4!! After hours of not hitting any premium quads (I only hit aces twice the whole trip) and never hitting anything with the kicker, I managed a royal. I played another hour or so until my credits started trending downward and I retired to my room. My usual DDB and BP machines didn’t pay well this trip; I never had a cash out ticket greater than $40. Ironically, the games that did pay well for me were Ultimate X and Double STP. I only rarely play the gimmick games, but won on them more often than the regular games. The Flamingo has Ultimate X BP and the 2 pair paying double was really valuable with the multipliers. I was fortunate my last 2 days were either break even or winners, so I recouped some of my losses. FFlowers and I did play penny machines together; we like the colossal reel games and have fun cheering each other on during bonus rounds. For me, that is gambling for the pure entertainment value as I bet the minimum of 50 cents, but I did have some nice cash outs on those games. So, I gambled A LOT less this trip and… it felt good. I lost, but not much, and found I really enjoyed not chasing tier credits. It will be impossible for me to renew Diamond for next year; it was hard last year since they sold Harrah’s STL. I was Platinum and played lower levels when I started staying at the Flamingo and was still comped Go rooms, so it should be ok. If not, I’ll so something different. Shows: Fflowers and I are fans of shows and always see several. Our show choices weren’t the best this trip, fun, but not the best we’ve seen. We saw Matt Goss on Saturday night and, while he has a great voice and we loved the vibe, there was a lot of talking during the show and it became boring. I was really tired and Fflowers hadn’t slept in like 3 days (LOL) so I’m sure that contributed to our ho-hum review. We ducked out early and I felt like I was on recess. We used my free diamond tickets to see the new re-vamped Jubilee show. I genuinely love the showgirls and hope they never leave the strip, classic Vegas. The costumes were incredible. And if you have a body like that, you are OBLIGATED to dance topless. I wasn’t a fan of the new parts of the show; many were really “dark” with demons and lost souls. We had great booth seats right up front, we shared the booth with 3 older men who were ENTHRALLED with the boobies dancers. I heard “Look at that one!” or “Look at those!” several times… LOL. The show just became too “dark” and we snuck out early. Meals: We always have fabulous meals, but we really hit some homeruns this trip! Our first morning, our tradition is to eat at MAG… her – Blueberry French toast Me – Eggs Bene. We always eat on the patio but were running late this trip so we ate inside. It’s better on the patio, but we were both famished and the food was excellent as always. FFlowers charged the bill to her room to be comped off. This is the meal that means we REALLY ARE IN VEGAS and it’s all ahead of us! Saturday morning we ate at the Mirage brunch buffet, courtesy of MyVegas. Having the reward put on my player’s card was easy and there was virtually no line at the buffet at 9:30am… the service at this buffet is wonderful, we were very impressed! Full price is $75 for two, although there is an open bar, but that’s still pretty high. Free with MyVegas is much better. Farm girl alert!! My breakfast foods of choice are bacon, bacon, eggs, biscuits and gravy, eggs bene, and more bacon! They did have shrimp, crab, prime rib, etc.. but I’m all about breakfast. They had no biscuits and gravy, but their eggs bene were perfect, and that’s no small feat on a buffet. The bacon was good and crisp. Their French toast was also excellent for a buffet. We ate like horses and really enjoyed it. Ruth Chris Steakhouse at Harrah’s: We used my $100 diamond renewal voucher here; we had used mine here last year and loved the food and the tables on the window overlooking the strip. Couldn’t wait to go back! The service was truly exceptional, they are genuinely happy you’re there. We both had the harvest salad, one of the best salads I’ve ever had. I ordered the filet and shrimp and Fflowers ordered the scallops. Hers came with Ginger sauce, which I ended up pouring on my steak and shrimp as well… I could drink ginger sauce! Our side of au gratin potatoes was excellent, although too large since we ate 2 baskets of bread! We will be returning in August for Fflowers “milestone” birthday and she decided this was where she should celebrate her birthday dinner. The manager came over to ask about our meals and Fflowers told her she wanted to have her birthday dinner in August at Ruth Chris. The manager gave her a business card and asked if she would like to make the arrangements right then…. Yes! It was fun because we were able to walk around with the manager and choose exactly the perfect table for the group! The $100 voucher covered almost all the meal; I picked up the balance and tip. As I type this, I’m ready to return! Harrah’s Breakfast buffet: This is also a tradition for us, we love this breakfast buffet. The price was good as we used a 25% off coupon and FFlowers paid with points. This time, the service wasn’t as great – the waitress had some passive aggressive issues. Even though I had waited patiently at the table for her to take our drink orders, she returned with no milk. I love milk with my breakfast food, so it’s the main drink I want while eating. Evidently, she had to go “far away” to get the milk. I was completely through my first plate when she finally brought my milk, which is ridiculous because I don’t eat much more than one plate. The food was excellent and the mimosas were good. The eggs bene were woefully overcooked, which is not usual. Rao’s We chose Rao’s as a new-to-us restaurant prior to Jubilee, using FFlower’s diamond $100 voucher. She has been to the original Rao’s in NYC and was anxious to compare. I ordered a Caesar salad, which was WAY too large for one person unless it was an entrée. She ordered the sweet corn soup, which was excellent. We both ordered the ravioli purses in browned butter sauce and they were wonderful. We also ordered their signature meatballs as a side, there were two and each were the size of a baseball. Very very good. The service wasn’t as good as expected at Rao’s, especially after eating at Ruth Chris the night prior. The hostess we approached when we arrived was very cold. It felt like one of “those” places that are a little snooty. We asked our waitress a lot of questions about the various dishes and, while her answers seemed ok at the time, but geez, we ordered WAY too much food and she should have suggested we share some of the dishes. Fflowers took some of my salad and there was still more than half left on the plate. We give the food a B+ and service a C-. Flamingo Breakfast Buffet: I went alone and used a $5 off coupon and paid the balance with points. This was my favorite breakfast buffet of the trip! I truely enjoy the diamond seating along the atrium windows and love watching the flamingos and other wildlife as I eat. The bacon was the BESt i've ever had, so crisp and literally melted in my mouth. Best sasuage gravy ever. Service was excellent as well. I'm so glad they improved this breakfast buffet over the past years and I look forward to it each trip. Other “Stuff”: The Flamingo Spa – I thoroughly enjoy this spa and had one of the best, if not THE best, massage of my life this trip. So much that I asked for one of the therapist’s cards in anticipation on an encore in August. The lady who gets your robe and runs the spa is soooo nice, she calls me Miss Diane and always remembers me. I like to soak in the hot tub prior to my massage and she always runs to turn it on. I don’t have to check the time as she comes to tell me 5 minutes before my treatment time. She runs a tight ship, and it’s always so nice to be warmly welcomed. The 20% diamond discount on services is appreciated, my 50 minute massage was $88 and it was the best money I’ve spent this year. My shoulders and neck were hurting from dragging my heavy travel purse everywhere, and when I left nothing hurt, I was a noodle. I might have cried a little when she massaged my feet… LOL. Losing my Travel Cup – I bring a 32oz insulated cup with me; I am a constant drinker, water and soda so not as cool as it sounds! I’m a huge fan of ice, so cups that aren’t insulated don’t suit me well. I accidently left my travel cup at the Mirage Buffet and was devastated when I noticed an hour later. I looked in the Flamingo gift shop and they had the coolest, blingy insulated cup with a screw on lid. It’s sparkly Flamingo pink and I’m completely in love with it. It will be my every-Vegas-trip cup!! It’s the little things….. FSP and coupons- Fflowers was entered in the huge $$ drawings at various CET properties and the drawing on Good Friday was at the Rio at 9pm. I shuttled over with her to support, she had to swipe 2 hours prior to the drawing to enter. While she played during those 2 hours, I walked to the GC and grabbed the shuttle to the Orleans. I had the ACG play $10 get $10 fsp coupon and also an online $10 fsp offer. I played those through and came out $25 ahead and quickly went to catch the shuttle to the strip and back to the GC. I left quickly because it was Rockabilly weekend at the Orleans. I inadvertently stayed there during Rockabilly weekend a few years ago, so I am probably more sensitized to them than most. While I am a big supporter of folks doing their own thing and am more liberal than most, the Rockabilly thing drives me crazy. I don’t like the screaming, shrill laughing, and the acting. To each their own, but I was thrilled to leave! So…. When I walked out to the shuttle pickup, I’ve never seen the line so long. It would easily take 4 shuttle busses to load everyone, and those shuttles only come around every half hour or so. Plus I would have to ride over to the strip then back to the GC and walk over to the Rio in the dark. So… I made the executive decision to grab a cab and in 5 min I was at the Rio. Let’s see… $10 cab fare or 2 hours of my vacation time? It was a slam dunk. Our coupon books from Bally’s and Flamingo had a $10 fsp coupon for the Rio and the Quad. I used the Rio coupon for play money in a penny machine while waiting for the drawing, so I didn’t come out ahead but didn’t spend my own. We both redeemed ours at the Quad during the walk back from the Mirage buffet and played penny machines together. Neither of us won, but its fun playing those together. Paris Pool- The weather was absolutely perfect during my trip and I was anxious for some pool time. The Flamingo pool has turned into a party pool and it’s impossible to find a lounger unless you arrive ultra early. Since I was looking for quiet pool time to read my book, I decided to use the pool at Paris. I had read that guests from other CET props can use the Paris pool by showing a room key, but I can’t confirm that since there wasn’t anyone checking keys when I arrived. There were tons of loungers available and I chose a secluded corner near the cabanas. I was in the shade for an hour, and then only lasted 30 minutes once I was in the sun as I was burning even with 30spf sunscreen! Summary: This was a very different trip for me, not gambling 8 hours a day. I enjoyed the relaxing trip with enough activities to keep me entertained but not over committed. It’s exactly what I needed right now. Will my next trip in August be the same? Who knows? That’s the best thing about Vegas; it has something for everyone and can accommodate whatever you choose to do! It wasn’t nearly as difficult for me to leave, since I have a return trip booked in a few months!