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Family Thanksgiving in Vegas - Cosmo/DT Grand 11/26-30

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by M_ILIS, Dec 2, 2013.

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  1. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    My Trip Report

    Prelude:
    Typically me, my wife and our son and daughter travel to Phoenix to see my dad or he comes to Southern California to visit us at Thanksgiving, but a mid-September unexpected bonus at work inspired an idea to meet in Vegas this year instead. I eventually convinced my dad it was a good idea (seriously) and then we got started planning the trip.

    Originally we planned to arrive late Wednesday, stay one night free at Luxor on a MyVegas comp and then move on to our "real" hotel for the next two nights. We had already booked and paid for Thursday and Friday nights at Downtown Grand when in late October my wife and I each received an email offer for two free weeknights at Cosmo, so we switched things up and decided to go a day earlier. The plan was to drive to Vegas Tuesday night after I got off work, spend two nights at Cosmo, and then meet up with my dad on Thursday for two nights at Downtown Grand. Before the trip we realized we'd be staying in the two newest properties in Las Vegas (as far as I know), which was pretty cool. Here's how it all went down…
     
  2. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Day One: Tuesday, 11/26.

    We left home a bit past 4:30, but bad traffic snarled our drive and we didn't arrive at Cosmo until around 9:45. We valeted the car, had a bellman pile all our luggage onto a cart and headed into our oasis. Thankfully the check-in desk was wide open. The desk clerk offered us a few upgrade options, including a two-bedroom suite she said typically goes for $1,000/nt. for $200 a night or a terrace room for $30 a night. I was most concerned about a fountain view, however, and she said a fountain view terrace would be $60 additional per night. I then asked if there were any City Rooms available with a fountain view, and she was able to secure that for us with no upgrade fee. A few signatures later, we were on our way to room 2651 in the West Tower.

    Balcony or no balcony, I loved this room. I especially loved the view, which has to be the best view in all of Vegas. Here's what we saw outside our window:

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    Once we got settled in, we decided to venture out for some dinner. We'd always heard great things but had never been to Secret Pizza, so we headed there. First we discovered these "Art-O-Mat" machines all throughout the hotel. Although we kept meaning to buy one, we never did. Still, pretty cool and indicative of the whole vibe at Cosmo.

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    We located Secret Pizza and there was no line, so that was a bonus. We ordered a plain cheese slice for our five-year-old girl, a pepperoni and mushroom for our 15-year-old boy, and my wife and I each got a slice that had pepperoni, peperoncini and ricotta cheese. We also bought a two-liter of Coke to split. The bill came to around $30.

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    Holy crap was this delicious! I've had my share of good pizzas, but this was among the best. A perfectly crisp bottom crust that gave way to a soft, chewy interior and an incredibly flavorful combination of toppings. We were all in heaven.

    After dinner we walked around and checked out the ice rink, where we knew we wanted to go the next day. It's at the Boulevard Pool and has an awesome location perched above the Strip.

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    It had been a long day of working and fighting traffic, so we made it an early night, at least in Vegas terms. My son and I walked over to Walgreen's for some needed supplies and then we all went to bed around 1:00 am.
     
  3. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Day Two: Wednesday 11/27.

    My day started much earlier than the rest of my family because I was playing golf at Painted Desert at 7:42 Wednesday morning. I got up around 6:00 and left Cosmo around 6:45, arriving at the course at maybe 7:10. Instead of making me wait for my tee time, the starter put me out in the first group, which was great. I joined two Vegas locals and we were done by 11:00.

    Overall, I found the course pretty boring. It had a few scenic holes here and there and a couple good risk/reward holes, but for the most part it's pretty average. Fortunately, I had a Groupon rate that I only paid $25 for, so that was a great bargain.

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    Easily the highlight of this course was found at the second tee box:

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    A hole named "Kitten's Korner" that has a super friendly cat that hangs out on the tee box! How cool is that!?

    I picked up a couple bottles of wine at a Fresh & Easy across the street from the course and headed back to Cosmo. I took a shower and then we all ventured out to get some lunch. We took a look at the menu at Holstein's, but I didn't feel like spending $20/pp for lunch today, so we decided to return to Tacos El Gordo. For about $30, we got all this:

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    We had a bunch of beef shoulder tacos, but we also got a spicy pork taco, a quesadilla and the $5 (small) carne asada fries. My favorite were the beef shoulder tacos, but it was all great.

    After lunch my son wanted to visit MGM to take a look at Hakkasan (he loves EDM and is an aspiring DJ) and then we went over to Mandalay Bay to see if Light sold any DJ merchandise like MGM does. An employee at a podium out in front of the club said they did, but only when the club is open, not in the gift shop like at MGM. Oh well, I hadn't been over to MB for a while, so it was nice to see that it still feels very nice inside. Also, my daughter really enjoyed the aquarium over in the lobby.

    We returned to Cosmo and my wife went to do the first gambling of our trip while the kids and I rested in the room. My wife played for about 90 minutes on $20 in a Sex & the City machine and basically broke even. For dinner, we had 7:00 reservations at the Steakhouse at Excalibur (due to a $50 MyVegas comp), so we headed over there next.

    It was fitting Jim Gaffigan was performing at the Mirage over the weekend, because the whole trip we kept talking about his bit about how vacations are just an excuse to eat out three times a day. "That's all a vacation is, is us eating in a place we've never been."

    Anyway, the Steakhouse was surprisingly good. For a starter, we split a platter of oysters on the half shell, which sort of lacked flavor and were a bit disappointing. I got the $37 prix fixe dinner, which included a salad, a 10 oz. New York steak and dessert. I also added a baked potato. My wife got the "gourmet burger," which is served with a crab cole slaw and barbecued shrimp. My son got a seared ahi entree while our daughter got a grilled cheese sandwich off the kid's menu. I failed to take any pictures of the food but we all enjoyed the meal. In fact, my New York steak was considerably better than the one I had at Luxor on the trip my wife and I took in August.

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    After dinner we drove back to Cosmo for some ice skating. Wednesday night is "Industry Night" with a DJ spinning rinkside. We had planned to do this no matter what, but a Groupon offer a few days before our trip saved us some money. Instead of being around $80 for the four of us, it was $39. We also spent $10 more to rent our daughter a "skating aid," which was a little orange plastic sea lion that she could either sit on or hold onto and skate. We all had a lot of fun, at least until my son took a nasty spill and could barely move his leg at all. I feared he had a hip pointer, but I think he may have just sprained a groin muscle or something. He sat out the rest of the time we were there and didn't fully recover until a couple days later.

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    If you're gonna be in Vegas over the holidays and you enjoy ice skating, I highly recommend this. It's such a cool location, it's a lot of fun.

    www.youtube.com/embed/Az5J0DwAEtI

    After we assisted our son back to the room and I fetched a few more supplies from Walgreen's across the Boulevard, I did my first gambling of the trip. I bounced around playing DDB only one quarter at a time and did pretty well.

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    I had started with the $19 TITO my wife had from earlier, and had it up to almost $60 at one point, but failed to hit anything else and returned to the room around 2:30 am with about $30 in cash.
     
  4. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Day Three: Thanksgiving, Thursday, 11/28.

    We checked out of our room at The Cosmopolitan at the 11:00 am check-out time and headed downtown to meet my dad at Downtown Grand. We had a full agenda for the day so we wanted to get checked in and on our way quickly, but things didn't quite work out. We got checked in fine but one of the two rooms we were given (742 and 741) smelled terribly. We called down and they sent a bellman up with new keys to 737 instead, which was fine and actually had a more interesting view. He then went back downstairs to fetch our luggage and the whole process delayed us a bit.

    We left Downtown Grand en route for Valley of Fire around 12:30 and we arrived about an hour later. We paid the $10 park entrance fee and stopped at Beehive, one of the first available spots to explore this amazing place. All in all, we probably spent about two hours in the park and hit about five or six different spots in that time. We all really enjoyed it, although my son's injury from the night before prevented him from exploring it as much as he would have liked.

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    One of the reasons for our ambitious pace earlier was in hopes of returning to Fremont Street in time for the 4:00 Laughternoon show at The D. Once we were out at Valley of Fire, however, that plan seemed unlikely and I just decided we'd go a different day. We made it back to Downtown Grand around 4:30 and mostly just relaxed and did some drinking in our rooms.

    At 6:15, we had dinner reservations at Triple George Grill. They were serving a special turkey dinner for $28, a prime rib dinner for $38 and their entire regular menu. My dad and I opted for the traditional turkey dinner, my son went for the prime rib and my wife got an oysters on the half shell and veal scallopini. My daughter got a big tureen of mac and cheese. Aside from an initial service issue where our waiter didn't come to our table for about 10 minutes, everything was outstanding here. We all really enjoyed both the experience and the food. Our waiter was great and the busboy kept all of our water and iced tea glasses topped off all night.

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    With a few glasses of wine and a few desserts, the bill came to $170 or so. We had considered several other places (Second Street Grill, Top of Binion's Steakhouse, Hugo's Cellar, etc), but for the price and the experience, I'm very glad we chose Triple George. I would happily return again next time I'm in town.

    My dad had never seen Fremont Street since the canopy was built, so after dinner we strolled over there to walk off our big meals. We took in all the sights and sounds and interacted with some street vendors/characters.

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    The Viva Vision show we caught was Bon Jovi, who I hate. We then headed back over to DTG, where everyone turned in for the night except for me. I went downstairs and got my Downtown Grand "MyPoints" card and redeemed my $3 in free play, but then headed over to Four Queens for some DDB. I didn't play much and lost $25 quickly before heading back "home" for the night.

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  5. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Day Four: Friday, 11/29.

    At some point late Thursday my son began walking normally again, which was a relief because early Friday morning he and I and my dad were all playing golf at Aliante Golf Club. We had an 8:44 tee time so we left DTG a little before 8:00 and arrived in about 25 minutes. I got sort of a cool picture of DTG's sign atop the porte cochere while waiting for the valet:

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    Aliante was a decent course but like Painted Desert two days earlier, pretty boring from a design perspective.

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    Fortunately, we only paid $20 for all three of us because I had won a voucher for a free twosome in a golf tournament earlier this year. To Aliante's credit, they are very "junior friendly" and allow kids to play for only $20 before noon and free after noon. We all had a great time, though.

    Upon returning to DTG, my wife and daughter had tried to check out the pool area but were told it's not going to open until Spring 2014. We could see it from our room, though, and it looks very cool:

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    Next we hit up Pizza Rock for lunch. The DTG "Grand Experience" coupon book included a 15% off coupon, but the hostess told us if we checked in on Facebook on someone's phone, we could get 20% off our check, so we took them up on that offer. We ordered a variety of stuff to split, including the World Pizza Cup-winning Margherita pizza, which are limited to 73 pies made per day. The crust on it was paper thin with spots of char all over it. I wasn't really much of a fan of it.

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    I much preferred the heartier "Downtown" pizza, which was drenched in toppings and packed full of flavor:

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    Our son had a really great plate of lasagna. He also got a kick out of the DJ booth, which is inside the giant truck cab within the restaurant:

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    With soft drinks and an order of the wood fired asparagus, the bill came to about $65. I think next time we would skip the $16 Margherita pie and get better value from our visit or even just get slices at the take-out window on the sidewalk. We were told you cannot order slices when seated in the restaurant.

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    Our busy day continued with a quick trip back to the hotel and then a brisk walk over to The D just in time for Laughternoon. I had purchased two vouchers – each of which granted us two free tickets – on eBay for a total of about $19, so this was a great bargain. My dad chose to forego the show and take a nap, but my wife and kids and I really enjoyed it. Adam London did some impressive tricks and is pretty funny, and anything that can make my daughter laugh that hard is definitely worth the time and effort. She was excited to get to meet him afterward, too:

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    On the way back to our room, we used the Buy One-Get One Free coupon for Ninth Island Shave Ice within DTG.

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    Laughternoon was just our first show of the day, however, as we also had tickets to Veronic Voices at Bally's at 7:00. I had chosen this show solely on the fact that tickets could be had free with that promo code (VPAPER) and I wasn't quite sure how much I would enjoy it. The parking lot and will call line at Bally's were a bit of a clusterfuck and we barely got in our seats in time for the show, but we made it, and that's all that counts.

    Then the show started and we were all really enjoying it. Veronic is very talented and her impressions were impressive about 90% of the time. I really enjoyed the '80s segment and thought the "Queen of Pop" segment was pretty cool, too. Then something totally unexpected happened. About 45 minutes into the show, an usher walked up to me and asked me if I was with my daughter, who was sitting two seats away (with my wife in between us). I feared he was going to tell us she was too young to be at the show or something, but then he asked how many were in our party and if we'd like to sit closer to the stage. We said yes and he marched us down to a table no more than 15 feet from the front of the stage! It was amazing and only added to our enjoyment of the show.

    Veronic closed the show with perhaps her best effort all night, singing Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing." Then, during a well-deserved standing ovation, I was holding my daughter up and Veronic looked right at her and started waving like crazy and making a "heart" sign with her hands, bringing the biggest smile I've ever seen to my daughter's face. It was really incredible and we all left the theater raving about what a great experience the whole night turned out to be.

    We then hit the Peppermill for dinner. Surprisingly, there was only a short wait for a table on a Friday night at around 10:00. My wife had never been here and I've been raving about that salad since my trip a few weeks ago, so she wanted to try it and I was happy to return. I had the Peppermill Burger again with a bleu cheese salad. My wife split a BLT with our daughter and also got the salad. My son got a French Dip and my dad got a chicken quesadilla. It was fun and pretty good food. A guy came around and asked if he could take our picture for a free postcard. We said yes, knowing there must be some catch, and then he came back and gave us the postcard but tried to upsell us to buying a larger print for $10. We passed but tipped him a buck and kept the postcard. The bill for everyone including a glass of wine and a couple beers came to around $85.

    We returned to the hotel and my dad admitted he couldn't keep up with us, so he turned in for the night. I encouraged my wife to go gamble, but she opted for getting in her jammies and hanging out in the room with the kids. So I went downstairs and played DDB at Downtown Grand for the next four hours, losing $100 in the process.

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    Drink service was awesome and the whole environment is very comfortable in Downtown Grand's casino. I know 8/5 DDB can be beat by a few minute walk in any direction, but I enjoyed my time and could hardly believe it was 4:30 am when I finally stood up and headed back to the room.
     
  6. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Day Five: Saturday, 11/30.

    Our last day of our trip began with sleeping in until around 9:00 and then packing up and getting ready to leave by 11:00 am check-out time. My dad was ready to return home, so we said our goodbyes but that didn't mean our trip was over. We still wanted to make the most of our time in Vegas, and I'd say we did so.

    First we drove over to the brand new Downtown Container Park and parked on the street at $1/hr. to check it out. Before we even reached the front gate, however, we stumbled upon something called The Learning Village, which was hosting a kid-built space ship from San Francisco along with some other cool arts and craft projects. Our kids checked out the space ship for a while and then the guy who was working it directed us over to a picnic table where we could make mosaics for free. My daughter and I each made one and talked to the friendly women who were working there. They seemed to be some sort of San Francisco-based volunteers who are stationed in Vegas for a month. If you have kids, it's definitely worth some time to go check this out.

    Next door the Container Park was another hit for the kids. I barely checked out the stores but the playground and giant slide were popular with both of my kids.

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    This girl from a candy store was handing out free lollipops to kids:

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    We returned to our car a few minutes shy of an hour after we left it and headed off to get some lunch. I had heard good things about Rollin' Smoke Barbeque and asked my phone to navigate us there. Upon arriving, it's definitely off the beaten path and perhaps a bit scary looking, at least for my son. But we persevered and I knew we were in the right spot the moment we entered and breathed in the sensuous aroma of smoked meats.

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    It's sort of an odd format, in that you grab a menu, find a table, and then go up to a booth and order. I decided on the brisket sandwich, my wife and daughter each got the trio of sliders with brisket, and my son got the Outlaw Burger, which had all sorts of extra stuff on it other than just a burger patty and bun. We "combo'd" each meal for $3 and got sides of mac and cheese, a jalapeno cole slaw and some waffle fries. I also checked in on Yelp, which got us a few free desserts. The total came to $48 and it was well worth it.

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    I'm not a huge BBQ aficionado, but this was by far the best brisket sandwich I've ever had. I think we all loved our meals, although my son said he would order something different next time. Yes, this is definitely a "return" spot next time we're in town.

    If anyone read my trip report from a few weeks ago, you might recall how impressed I was with Zuma Zuma, the Kenyan acrobat troupe at Circus Circus. So next I took the family over there to play some Midway games and hopefully catch a performance by Zuma Zuma. Hot tip: Don't go to Circus Circus on Saturday of a holiday weekend. It was an absolute madhouse in there, but we still managed to have fun once we finally found a parking spot and jammed our way through the crowds to reach the upper level. My son did very well on a lot of the games and sweetly gave all his winnings to his sister.

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    Zuma Zuma wasn't scheduled to perform until 4:00, but we did catch another incredible act. Elaine Chen is a "foot juggler extraordinaire from China" who lays on her back and uses her feet to juggle a huge vase and then later a big table with four sharp legs sticking out. It was mind blowing to fathom how anyone would ever learn to do that and then be able to do it with such precision. When Elaine's act ended, it was about 3:35 and we could have stayed for Zuma Zuma, but it was so hot and packed in there we were ready to hit the road.

    Not wanting our vacation to come to an end, I checked the Hotel Tonight app on my phone and we could have stayed at LVH for only $28, but ultimately we decided traffic would be even worse going home Sunday, so we forged ahead and made our way home.

    Overall it was a great trip and we got almost everything we planned to do into our schedule. We didn't make it back to Lappert's for ice cream and we didn't get to experience any of The Venetian's Winter in Venice, but there's always next time!

    Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to ask any questions.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  7. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Random Photos

    A few more random photos that didn't fit in anywhere:

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    Cool pattern on the wall at Cosmo:
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  8. sybgal

    sybgal VIP Whale

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    Enjoyed your report, thanks for posting! Especially - the great pics!!
     
  9. Suekel

    Suekel VIP Whale

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    Great TR, thanks for taking the time to share it. Loved the pictures!

    I'm jealous you were able to take advantage of that great Cosmo offer - we received it to but the dates just didn't work out.
     
    Vegas Just Because...
  10. Wezvidz

    Wezvidz High-Roller

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    Love the pics! Hate the 1 coin VP! You're killing me hitting all these premiums for like $4 payouts.
     
  11. vegasqc

    vegasqc VIP Whale

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    Good report we dont get to many from people traveling with kids so i enjoyed the different pace and all the pics
     
  12. babzzzzzs

    babzzzzzs Tourist

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    I'm with Wezvidz, always max bet. Look at all of the money you could have won.:evillaugh
     
  13. TIMSPEED

    TIMSPEED !địt mẹ!

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    Just imagine he was playing nickles and you'll be fine, lol...now, if he would have hit a Royal, then yeah...but everything else...gravy...not everyone wishes to play $1.25 per hand (Hell, a lot of the time, I'll play a nickle machine myself)
     
    Palace Tower Suite!
  14. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Regarding max bet, it only affects anything if I hit a royal, right? Otherwise, betting $1.25 per hand would have only quintupled my overall losses. (At least the way I see it.)
     
  15. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    I wanted to add a few notes about Downtown Grand. Overall, we really loved it, but they are understandably still finding their legs with a few issues.

    Here’s a mix of pros, cons and random observations:

    • The standard rooms are very nice. I had heard they were very small but I thought they were fine.

    • The casino is not at all smoky compared to many Fremont Street casinos.

    • The free play for signing up for a MyPoints card (I got $3) is not valid on video poker or any progressive slots.

    • Every employee we encountered was wonderful – very friendly, welcoming, helpful.

    • The valet service is pretty quick and you can text ahead to have your car ready. They even text you automated updates telling you how many minutes you can expect before your car arrives. (Except once I got a text reply that due to high volume, texting for my car was unavailable at the moment. Yet when I got down to the valet, my car had indeed been pulled up.)

    • We were not given our “Grand Experience” coupon books upon check-in. I had to go back and request them.

    • Room 742 had an odd smell to it. They politely accommodated our request for another room and even sent someone up with new keys so we didn’t have to return to the front desk.

    • One of our two rooms had plastic cups in it, the other had no cups or drinkware whatsoever.

    • One of our two rooms didn’t get made up on Friday. I called housekeeping and they had someone come clean it while we were at dinner.

    • The rooms have earplugs in case Fremont Street/Hogs & Heifers/etc. make it too loud to sleep. It was fairly loud in our room but I had no problem falling asleep.

    • In a two queen bed room, the cabinet in the front center of the room obscures part of the TV screen from one of the beds.

    • Neither of our rooms got new water bottles (which are supposed to be included in the Grand Experience Fee) on the second day of our stay.

    • The elevators in the Grand Tower need a lot of work. It seemed that only two of the four were in regular usage and one of those two had serious issues with the door closing on people, and it didn’t reopen how an elevator door should when pushed against. Also, when we pressed the button to call the elevator, the buttons across the hall light up opposite of the button we pressed. If we pressed the up button, the down button lit up on the other wall. Also, when the elevators arrived, sometimes the wrong light (up/down) would light up, causing confusion as to which direction the elevator was headed. I informed the front desk clerk of these issues when checking out and she said they are aware and working on it.

    • The shower does not have a door that can be closed. It has a glass half wall instead with an open spot to enter/exit the shower. I’m not a fan of those showers because the air doesn’t warm up until the entire bathroom has warmed up.

    • For now, you have to cross over the 3rd Street catwalk on the third floor and exit out of the lobby building rather than going directly to street level from the Grand Tower. I imagine once the Commissary (food court) is complete, you’ll be able to go straight down to level one.

    • My wife and daughter had some tasty chicken fingers at The Spread deli and on another day my dad enjoyed a croissant sandwich from there.

    • There's no mention of the free coffee in the Grand Experience coupon book, but apparently it was at Art Bar. My wife tried to get it one morning around 11:00 and was told it was already done for the day.

    The good news is that none of these "cons" are deal-breakers and I would gladly stay there again sometime.
     
  16. sco5123

    sco5123 VIP Whale

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    Loved the report- quite entertaining. adorable kids. Great variety of restaurants and activities.
     
  17. icemama

    icemama Tourist

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    32
    Fabulous trip report! Your kids are real troopers.
     
  18. oldcrabtom

    oldcrabtom Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2009
    Messages:
    274
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    15
    Great report, thanks for posting......:nworthy:
     
  19. Electroguy563

    Electroguy563 Over-Fried Gambler

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    Messages:
    3,593
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    15
    Enjoyed your trip report. This shows that families can go to Vegas and enjoy the city for it has lots of things to do, for both kids and adults.

    And you did your trip responsibly in reference to your children yet still had time to do some "adult" fun.

    I'm glad all of you enjoyed your trip. :beer::thumbsup:
     
    Going to Hawaii's 9th Island!!
    Going to Hawaii's 9th island!!
  20. Blonde_4_ever

    Blonde_4_ever "The Welfare Queen of Windsor"

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    1,806
    Location:
    Ontario
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    35
    Your kids are just gorgeous....but of course you know that! LOL

    Loved all your pictures.
    It really does sound like the Grand has lots of bugs to work out!
     
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