A little bit of everything in this trip report. Gambling, drinking, spas, football, and restaurants. Just for advisement, my reports tend to be long, and while I try to put down the correct grammar for a trip report, I refuse to go back and spell check or grammar check it. I hope you enjoy, as I try to identify as much detail as possible, add some humor, and give some insight into things that aren't always commented on. I've been taking a solo trip in the fall for the past 2 years, this year my brother decided to postpone his regular spring trip and come out the same time I was there. He headed out on Thursday and was leaving on Tuesday, my trip was Saturday through Wednesday, we overlapped to spend some time together and also had some solo days to do our own thing. My flight out on Continental was fine, exit row and sat next a nice couple who I actually had some conversation with, they looked to be retirement age and had been to Vegas a number of times, I usualy don't talk a lot to others on plane, but it made the time pass nicely for some brief spurts. Off the plane and decide to take the shuttle, on my regular solo trips, I try to take it easy the first day in order to get off to a nice start. With my brother having been there since Thursday, I was more eager to get there and should have taken the cab, as luck would have it this was the first time I wasn't the first or second stop, but wound up being about #6 or so. I usually take the shuttle because for just me it saves me a couple bucks and I get a nice drive down the strip, it does amaze me though when people travelling in two's take it. (especially to something like the hardrock) perhaps they had it as part of a package, because in my mind there's no purpose in taking it if your with someone else. So get to the Flamingo and go to Platinum check-in (yeah) first time getting to use this option, standing in line, and I notice off in a corner that just came in is Vince Neil of Motley Crue fame. I only recognized him as I came across a link looking for things to do and his tattoo parlor was one year old and he was going to be giving a concert. So I'm standing there as his agent/handler/flamingo exec gets a counter person to get him his key and I figure I have to say something but don't want to look like a tool. So I ask him what time the show was tonight (since the website didn't have the info). He paused a second or two and said ten, and I moved on. So I figure cool I didn't make myself look like a dork and didn't cause unwanted attention to a celebrity looking to be a bit incognito. So I get up to the counter and here others being told room won't be ready until 5 or 6, It's about 11:30am and I'm thinking damn, that sucks, as I'm pretty low on the totem pole, but checkin clerk says here's your key, your all set, floor X. Maybe it was because I had a plain old standard room, well early checkin works for me and Im off to my room and call my brother. I was going to hit the spa and relax for an hour or so, while he watched the buckeyes, but I know I'll be hungry too and I'm ready to head over and meet up. To give some background, I've been to Vegas with my brother before, but it was with a group of people, and Ive always been a bit disappointed as large groups of people that don't necessarily have similar budgets/interests can be a painful time in vegas and I know it's affected my outlook and demeanor on those trips and I'm sure it has to him as well, so I was looking forward to just hanging out with him doing a lot of things we both wanted to do as we have similar interests. So I unpack and watch the beginning of the buckeyes squash, and head on the monorail down to the Hilton, a nice sidenote, first shuffle song on IPOD is Dr. Feelgood, good vibe. So I meet my brother at the sportsbook at the Hilton, nice book if you've never been there, and we get to pretty much confirm the Bucks are going to lose, only reason I care is I had brother lay down a $22 bet for me on the game, oh well, 1-2 on pre-arrival bets. We then decide to head to Quarks and use up the buy one entree get a free mini warp core, we both opt for the borg sphere, I got the parmesean pasta with chicken and for the life of me I can't remember what the bro got, we ordered the flat bread foccacia and got some blue shot as well (don't remember the name of that either, but all martinis on their list can be made as shooters). During dinner the female klingon comes over and my borther was a bit enthralled with her watching her before she came by, she had some fun with us as my brother mentioned she scared him, I told him he's set Klingon/Human relations back a bit with that comment, but she assured me that humans do in fact need Klingons to protect them. We both were stuffed from the meal and passed on dessert, although we really wanted to try. I settled for a bailey's and coffee to go. We played a bit at the Hilton, playing some Star Wars slots in the nerd casino, oops I mean spacequest, I swear I saw three comic book guy impersonators from the Simpsons, the star wars slot was fun, although I didn't have much luck, we decided to head back to the strip as my brother was tired of the Hilton and the time change and fact of being inside for so long was screwing with my internal clock. I headed back to the Flamingo and made my football bets. We then headed off to the IP, as my brother is a big rapid roulette fan and became a fan of the Dealertainer pits. I can't blame him as the Gwen Stefani impersonator was running the roulette wheel and was very easy on the eyes and a lot of fun, we played a while before switching over to 6/5 bj, as we were bored and Gwen moved there, I colored up a nice $70 or $80 win there, but had probably lost that much at rr already. We played a little craps and couldn't get a thing going, so as it was getting later, we headed to the Karaoke bar and decided to just drink and hang out for the rest of the night. We pretty much did that I sang a couple songs and there was a fun group next to us, with about 4-5 people that were leaving tomorrow, the ladies were there early, joined later by their husbands/friends, the one husband had my brother rolling on the floor, as he was drunker then hell and kept telling us he had been married for 16 years, but only in the last 2 years did his wife learn to give proper .......... (I'll let your imagination fill in the blanks) see this gentlemen was feeling a bit confused as he kept saying it wasn't until a gay man started working with his wife that she was able to figure out the proper procedure. It was all in good fun and he must have repeated it 20 times that night, in addition, he kept having shots sent to our table so he could drink and his wife wouldn't see. The other fun part was a couple ladies dancing together in the area as the husband was cheering them on, his wife called me over and asked if two girls dancing together was a good thing, or if my wife was there, what would I say, I replied that it certainly wasn't a bad thing and hell yeah it was good!! At this point the time change, alchohol, and flying are getting to me and I tell my brother I'll see him in the morning, I left about 12:30, I find out later brother left about 3:30 with many more shots and fun to be had. So I wake up about 4:30 and at least don't feel drunk, I actually fell back asleep until 6:30, usually in Vegas that's almost impossible for me to do, once I'm up I'm typically up, but it works out well as I have a massage scheduled at 8am. So I head down to the Flamingo spa, for those that have never been to a Vegas spa, I'd have to tell you to give it a try, for me it's usually away to hydrate (free bottled water/juice), relax, steam room, saunas, and whirlpools. For me the steam room gives me a great way to take care of the excessive smoking and drinking in vegas, as it tends to sweat out a lot of the toxins in addition the cold plunge whirlpool is a great way to wake up. So get my deep tissue massage after relaxing for about an hour and head off to the IP to watch the football games. We were going to watch at the Hilton theater, but they had a previous private event booked for it, so my brother grabbed seats at the IP theater, Browns and Steelers were all set to be on the far left big screen and we had a booth right in front. Let me say the referree waitresses were looking very nice as well. So 2 minutes before the game they change the layout of the screens, and the Steelers Browns are moved to a smaller screen, now mind you they have a schedule on the door so you can pick a spot to watch what they want, their only excuse is someone asked for the change, ok, well, brother goes out to have a smoke and sees it's playing in the karaoke lounge on a big screen with sound, and we can smoke there, score. So we head out there, where there are already a number of browns and steelers fans there, along with about 5 other games on big screens, by the end of the browns game, there were browns and steelers jerseys everywhere. I won't bother with the details, we drank a lot, ate some (brats from the theater for the football party were very good) and enjoyed ourselves, even though our team lost. They did cover though, which is all that matters in Vegas in my opinion. I lost two bigger bets, for some odd reason I had the Titans -4 and Minnesota +6. The Titans must have been a drink induced bet, as they haven't had much offense lately, I think I was trying to make up for the fact that the week before I would have bet huge on NO vs JAX, (just a hunch on that one) and then the Vikings, I figured would at least show up and they didn't. To give you some background on my bets, I make a variety of parlay teaser bets for fun, and then pick 5-6 games I like and bet in units of 20. For the Browns I just wanted action on it, so it was just 1 unit for that game. 2 units for each of the Titans and Vikings, and then for the afternoon games I had the majority of what I really liked 3 units for the Bears at -3, 2 units for the Cowboys at -1, and 2 units for the Colts at -3. So I went 6-6 on the units bet, which wasn't bad as I recouped some of the investment, since I bet them all at once on Saturday, so not having that cash in the wallet makes it feel a little light, didn't come close on any parlays this year, So once done after the Browns game we headed down to Bally's where my brother was moving and get him checked in, we have a couple rum and cokes in the room and then head to Le Burger something or other, I call it Le Burger, it's Harrahs' answer to Burger Bar with a sports focus. I'm not a fan of the waitress outfits here, striped tops with white shorts, white knee socks, and berets, I get it's french it's just not that attractive an outfit in my opinion, I settle on a standard american burger, with bacon, mushrooms, and cheddar and waffle fries. Fries were way over salted, I think the issue here is the seasoning salt they use must have a ton of sodium in it, I don't mind salty fries but this was pretty high. Burger was awesome, medium rare, with good toppings, in addition, no bun breakage, and it didn't get sopping wet. It was a good meal, had a 20% off coupon I got at check-in from the Flamingo and had some specialty drink they had there too. Brother had the same and total bill pre-coupon was like $33. We left 40 and headed out to get a quick nap in. My neck was killing me from the deep tissue massage in addition, my hydration sucked this trip, for those that don't know when getting a deep tissue massage hydration is key as it winds up moving a lot of toxins out of the muscles into the system and you'll feel like utter crap without a lot of water. Usually when getting a massage, I'd have been taking it easy the first couple days, so by going hard and drinking having fun, I was paying for it bad. Before heading off to rest, we played some of my favorite game WSOP video poker at Paris, I had raved to my brother about this game for awhile and he had played a little at the Hilton, he wasn't getting a ton of the bonus rounds, but right before we were about to finish, he made it through and won the $800 payout, Yay, nice payout for a .25 machine, even though the bonus makes it play like a .50 machine, but anyway a good win for him, as he had been on a bit of a dry spell, he threw a hundred my way, claiming that it was for helping him pick the right hands through the bonus. He did fine on his own, but I appreciate the cash as I had been on a bit of a dry run myself. Walking back to Flamingo, the ICE promoters/cast members were rollerblading down the strip with large flags passing out magnets for the ICE show at Riviera, I have to say in my opinion ice skaters are in my opinion some of the sexiest build types for women there are and I'm pretty sure these were cast members and tall too. Very nice visual. One note the escalators were down going down to Bill's so they had to walk the stairs, good dexterity there, in walking down those stairs holding large flags and navigating the stairs with roller blades. We then head off to our hotels and chill out and decide to meet again at Bally's at about 7:30. Get a nice power nap in but my neck is still killing me, I've been having some back and neck issues so a deep tissue massage usually helps a ton. My masseuse was one I had back in June and I swore I didn't want another massage from her as it was one of the worst massages I ever had. I decided not to mention it when I booked my morning session and wound up with the same masseuse, fortunately for me though I must have caught her on a bad day in June, since this mornings, seemed to work out every knot I had, but made for a very sore neck, which was giving me a headache. I also had to do a half day of work Monday morning on eastern time, so I knew I had to keep the drinking under control. Another random IPOD tidbit, my IPOD is my favorite part of my vegas vacation, there is nothing more fun then listening to my own tunes with all the time in the world walking the strip or playing vp or slots, had a fun ironic moment going back to Bally's. Proud to be an American playing and American Idiot coming on my IPOD. Love the contrast and Proud to be an American is a favorite of mine as well. Not trying to be political here, just made me have a moment of sadness as in my opinion regardless of the party running things, I just don't have a lot of faith right now in what's going on in the country in a lot of areas. Oh well back to drinking, gawking, and gambling. My brother wanted to see the changes at Planet Hollywood, so we headed over, we did a quick walkthrough and got the new Alist cards and went to play at the Heart bar. (No go-go dancers at around 8 ) but we were given great service by the bartenders and the vp machines feel nice and clean, new machines with raised tops, bonus poker was 7/5, which isn't great but works for me at a bar considering the alternatives. So I decided to play some $1 vp and my brother quickly moved from .25 to $1, he's a relative vp newbie and just getting familiar with playing strategy and getting comfortable for playing $1. So half hour in he got his first vp 4oak. A nice $125 pay, another 30 minutes went by and he hit 4 aces for a 4 hundred dollar play. Yay bro. I was getting a real solid amount of play on my 100, going up and down getting all the way down to the felt and then working it back up to $100. At around $80 I hit 4 4's a nice $200 pay and we decided to move on. My brother loves carnival games, he likes to play them when he's up and try for a nice hand payout to walk away from, vp and the wsop vp game do this for me, a little less risk and more play with a nice payout for a good hit. So he says he wants to play a texas hold'em game they have, I'm up a bit for the evening, so I decide to give it a shot, a quick $100 and a rebuy for a $100 went pretty quick. Last hand I even had pocket q's that got cracked by a low level straight, so it just wasn't my game for the night. Dealer was a bit surly when we sat down, as it was an empty table, she warmed up a bit on a tip or two we through in, not much chance to do more as we were beat up pretty bad. I made it out of there for like a $160 loss, brother loss about $120 or so. Needless to say I won't be returning to that game for awhile. One other note, Sunday night football was on the big screens, which are nice as they are viewable from pretty much all of the casino floor. Colts had finally mounted a come back and I thought for sure with 3 minutes left that a td was likely with the colts driving which would have covered and made me a nice $80. Unfortunately it wasn't to be as soon as the colts decided to kick the fg I walked away, of course they missed that too it appears so bad news for colts fans that week. I was hoping for a repeat of my April trip where I was walking around watching the NCAA Natl championship game which OSU got beat in, however for that game M.Conley hit a 3 as time went out whcih gave me his over on points and covered for me a very good win, just wasn't to be this trip though. I decided I was done with sports betting at this point. I had my fill for awhile. So we decided to walk the strip a bit, moving toward center strip as we thought we'd give craps a try. We both can't take Casino Royale anymore but for most of the trip IP had $5 tables. CR is usually just too crowded and I'm not a huge fan of the crowd or dealers. We didn't walk in once and this marks like the 5th trip I had no desire to even go near there. Once they got rid of Spanish 21 I had no reason to go back, it was the last mid strip property that had it, and I liked playing that there. Anyway, we did walk through Osheas and see if they had any $5 table, they had a $15 table going. Now I'm all for a business getting what they can for a table, but seriously $15 craps at Oshea's are you kidding me, the place smells like piss and vomit. I can go just about anywhere for a $10 table if I really want to play craps, but hey it is what it is. Osheas smell gets worse and worse, I like that Harrahs tends to make drinking pretty cheap as a revenue generator, but between Flamingo and Osheas they really need to shut down parts of the casino floors, steam clean and lay knew carpet and upholstery and new bars, the places just feel dirty. I love the remodel on many of the Flamingo rooms, it's high time they do the same with the casino floor though. Ok, enough of that rant for now. So off to the IP and we find a little room at the $5 table, unfortunately I was next to stick, which I hate, I prefer the end, preferably the hook, and the table runs pretty cold, pretty quickly I'm out a 100 or so. Table games for the most part just didn't give me much play and besides my one 6/5 episode were all losing sessions. I backed off from the table and watched my brother for a bit, it was around 10:30 or so and my neck and head were really starting to bug me, I told my brother I was heading back to the Flamingo and I'd catch up with him tomorrow. I headed back to the Flamingo and tried playing my favorite megabucks machine through with a 100 but it wouldn't accept my bill, the other one there was being played and I don't like the payouts on it anyway. So I found some random $2 slot and played that for a bit, a quick 80 through and I was done for the night. Off to the room and up at 5am for work. Quick work session, and at least my neck is feeling better (One nice thing about a half day working east coast time in Vegas is I'm done by 9am). and time to check out of the Flamingo. I call brother and he is still at Bally's, I make plans to meet him at his room in order to drop my bags in case I can't check in to Paris, quick monorail ride over I drop the bags. Brother needs to make a few calls so I agree to meet him at the WSOP machines at Paris, I check to see if I can check in and luckily had no problem, they give me a renovated room with a little view (Planet Hollywood, and the smallest view of Bellagio). Room was nice though, new decor, large flat screen tv and ipod dock. separate shower and tub. Although the tub is too small in my opinion, after the planet hollywood rooms, every tub seems small though. So down to play WSOP and from what I remember I'm up and down for the most part, possibly dropping a hundred or so. A couple of bailey's and coffee though make the time pass nicely though. Brother shows up and we decide to walk the strip, I need to head to the great gift wrap at Harrahs and our ultimate plan is to head to Wynn to collect two free buffets my brother earned prior to my arrival on new sign up. We make it to the daiquiri bar at the Rockhouse at IP and I decide to splurge for one for each of us with extra shots, its my brother's last day, so in my opinion whatever he wants to do today I'm good with. Fully loaded on drinks now, he heads in for some more RR at IP and I'm off to the gift wrap. I've never been to one of these before but knew I had about 6k in points, and wanted a cookie press they had on the website, hey it's free and something I can use and don't have. (Baking is a hobby of mine) so if you've never been to one of these wow. 2nd floor convention area I'm lead in and directed to get my point balance printed out in a line. I go to the line and they give me a sheet from my card, and it says 53k in points (I'm thinking wow I messed up on my check on the internet and trying to figure out how the heck this happened). Well anyway I go into the convention room, they basically have any kind of appliance, trip, xbox, car, etc you can think of that you can buy with points. If I was bored I'd have wandered around just to look for fun, as it was I found the item I wanted and picked up the business card associated with it. At this point I knew the 53k had to be a mistake and checking the TR# on my sheet sure enough it was. So I go to the checkout line and they confirm my shipping information, as they ship you the item free as well. Side note, had four different employees tell me how good the drink look and kiddingly asked me to go get them one, 1 even recognized the flavor by the color. The gift wrap thing was pretty darn cool and a nice touch for those that earn a lot of points, that makes the cookie press and a nice set of martini glasses as free gifts I got from Harrahs this year, positive value in my opinion as I use them. Back to IP and I join brother for rapid roulette, drinking a shot or two of vodka being delivered by a cute Cuban waitress and doing some harmless flirting with our dealers. Gwen and Dolly Parton. My buy in for roulette goes quick, I'm getting bored with the game and betting heavier as I want a win, so we head off to get some more daiquris and then I move to craps a bit later and get belted on the table, two separate sessions, table games are just not my thing today (or this trip for that matter). Brother plays some 4 card poker, which he loves and I won't touch anymore, as I stand behind him, usually he growls as he determines it's bad luck, today I'm not allowed to move from my spot as he keeps hitting straights and flushes I even added an in place jig before he picked up the cards. He plays for awhile and I tell him we need to go eat as I'm starving, since it's been a good 24 hours since I ate at Le Burger yesterday, not too mention I've got a pretty good empty stomach buzz on, the kind that can always go south if your not careful. We cab down to the Wynn and he waits in line for his passes. As we got out of cab, cab attendant calls us back as their is a phone in the cab, took two minutes but we realize it isn't either of ours and yell for the cabbie and let him know, must have been previous ride. Wynn buffett was nice, I think the price was around $26 and without it free I'm not sure I'd pay it except on a rare occassion, my brother and I in a different life would be cooks and bakers if we could so we had fun rating entrees. From those I remember that received high marks were the corn breads, orange chicken, and prime rib. I returned twice for the prime rib, which for me is darn good as I'm not a huge meat eater. We both thought the desserts basically sucked, I wound up with some gelatto/ice cream and something I put on top of it, that was pretty boring, the small sizes are nice as it gives you a chance to try multiple things. The bread pudding though just didn't do it for me and either did the carrot cake and some of the other things. We headed back to our respective rooms and I moved my bags to Paris and got unpacked. We were going to take a couple hours to rest up and then hit the night out again, I decided to skip the nap this time and played some at Paris, caught up with brother a couple hours later and he decided he'd rather stay close to Bally's for the night since he was leaving the next day. We played some more WSOP and did ok, we moved to $10 craps and dumped real quick, my pattern on tables continues, he decided he wanted to play some 3 card poker and I decided to watch, he played a while and then played some rapid roulette, at this point my bankroll has taken a good beating for the trip and I still had a day to a day and a half to play do what I want, so I really didn't want to play much more then things I wanted to play and enjoyed watching for a while. My brother finished playing the table games and we decided to give WSOP vp one more shot, a lounge band was playing 80's tunes and they weren't bad, he kept hitting the bonus but kept getting bounced as well 1 or 2 levels in, I hit less bonuses but hit the top prize of $800 after about a half hour of play. (Yay!) gave brother a $100 to return the favor and we decide to walk the strip to head back to bally's through the escalators, as brother wants to get a little more of the strip taste before heading home in the morning. We walked out and watch the fountain show playing and then stood back and waited for the people movers as some rather scary looking ladies of the night were just getting on the mover, so we just held back and waited a bit for them to pass. We headed into Bally's and went to the Tequila Bar, margarita for brother and mojito for me. I had the taquitos (first time all trip eating twice in one day ) and brother had tostados, he gave me one, and I have to say they were awesome, I'll be returning there when I can. So we played slots for a bit and talked about our little ones for a bit and getting home. We bid goodbye and I headed back to my room. Let me just take a second to say how much fun it was to spend a couple days with my brother, it's amazing we live 5 miles or so away from each other and it's amazing how much time gets filled up with everything else. I had a great time with him and hope we can do it fairly regularly in the coming years. Although as we both agreed later, we may need to take it a bit easier on the drinking/gambling. We kept to a pretty good pace (breakneck, non stop gambling and drinking) throughout and when we weren't eating we were gambling the entire time, nothing wrong with it but in the future I've since advised him that we should try to do a bit more in order to relax a bit. I kind of look at this as our learning experience trip in that we found we can have a great time, but also that we are getting a bit older and we pushed ourselves to the limit. For my brother it had been a year and a half since he was in Vegas so he had some gambling to get out of the system, many of my trips don't focus so heavily on gambling so it was a nice change of pace. It didn't help that I had the half day of work Monday, that really kind of screwed things up as it sort of hung over my head saturday and sunday, plus it didn't help since I couldn't really adjust to pacific time, lessons learned though and we'll make changes for the next trip. (recent update, his wife maybe heading to college next year, which would mean solo trip for him, rather than with wife. Plans are in motion So it's Tuesday and I've been in bed almost every night before midnight, which pretty much means my internal clock wakes me at 5am again. Monday night I was really starting to feel exhausted, the non stop pace, and alchohol caught up to me quick and I needed a good nights sleep to get in the right mindset of careful gambling and some relaxation. So shower, pack the backpack as I want to do some serious strip walking today and a possible spa stop, and I'm out of the room by 6 or 6:30 after a quick call with the wife. I decide to head to PH, as I want some starbucks and I want to play some 8/5 $1 vp, I usually play it in their high limit lounge there but it's under construction so the high limit area has been moved out to a temporary spot on the floor, I find one of my favorite machines and settle in, quick $100 down and the 2nd is going in the same direction, but I hit a good run and get back to even. Well not the best start to the day, but not bad, I'm in the mood to walk, so back to Bally's where I decide to take the monorail down to Harrahs. I'm thinking I want to try Bouchon, it's on my list of things to do, but I just never feel like going down to the Venetian. So I play at Harrahs on a price is right game for awhile, it's nice to play some of the slots when the bankroll isn't in peril, very relaxing and I hit a couple bonuses that kept my money around for awhile, sure enough though it then quickly disappeared. (I blame my ipod as the battery went out, doh, I forgot to charge the darn thing). So down a hundred I find a megabucks $1 machine I want to play, and quickly hit a $150 win which puts me up $50 for the day, now's as good a time as any to walk down to Bouchon. I wander around for what seems like forever and finally find the place, it's not on the maps at the front, but on some signage and on the second floor. I get seated after about 10 minutes. It's funny this was my bum day, I typically dress pretty nice in Vegas, dressier shirts and pants, that I'm most comfortable in. Today I'm in cargo shorts, shirt, and a jean jacket, with my backpack, I felt like I was backpacking through europe and it made me uncomfortable waiting for the table and for my food, oh well it passed quickly. So I get seated and decide to order an espresso martini, I was going to wait to drink today, but what the heck, it was good, and then I got a ham and egg dish on brioche with a mornay sauce and pomme frites (fries). I wanted to try the special and had about 3 or 4 things that I would have liked to try but decided on something that had a little bit of everything to let me experience as much as possible in this one visit. Let me just say it was awesome. Breakfast, martini, and tip was about $40 and I can honestly say it was worth it in my opinion, I will return. Wow, first time all trip I've eaten before noon, what to do now, well I decide to walk to Caesar's. I was told by a friend that I must try the Qua Spa. I had seen the brochures and decided to pay a visit. Navigate the maze of the entrance to Caesars, took the old walkways in that end up by Mesa Grill, kinda spooky as I was the only one on it or in sight at 9am or so and it was pretty dark through the hallway. So I find Qua Spa and they advise it's $45 for just the spa, definitely a bit higher then most Vegas spas, I'm used to a $20 -$25 fee. I inquire on whether they have any massage appointments open and they say they do in about an hour and a half, so I decide to get one, $140 for a 50 minute swedish massage, + $20 for tip, so $160. It's more than some other properties but definitely comparable to the high end spots, Venetian, Wynn, Bellagio. So I'm shown around the spa, mineral water whirlpools with waterfalls, chlorine whirlpool, two steam rooms, dry sauna, relaxation room (with juice, coffee, tea, water, fruit, and tvs) and artic room. I'm still a bit miffed, the artic room was closed, for those that don't know the artic room has snow falling and is chilled, the seats and floor are heated, without experiencing it I would compare it to the cold plunge whirlpool, revitalizing with cold. I get my robe and water and I hit the steam room and showers, the showers are very nice, large rain drop showerhead above you and four individual wall sprayers, large stalls and very nice still since the place has only been open a year. I then decide to give the mineral water whirlpools a try, thank god I did, they have a robe sauna that warms your robe while you relax and the roman bath (mineral water whirlpools) were one of the most relaxing experience/room I've ever been in. The waterfalls provide a tranquility that I didn't think I could find especially in vegas, I rotated betwen the hot bath and the cold plunge and then relaxed on the heated contour benches. I could have layed there for hours, the only thing that was bothering me is I had to walk all the way back to the counter to check the time for my massage appt. and this was my last full day and there was a lot I wanted to do. So I relaxed a while and then went to the massage. They take you to another waiting area before your massage the lancome room, where the room is heated (mildly) as our the benches, very relaxing, I wish the room was open for regular sitting. Very good standard swedish massage, my masseuse Alexandria was very skilled and for their "basic" massage there was assorted aroma therapy and some nice touches such as warm towels across the back, and around the feet that I hadn't experienced at the 'lower' end spas (aladdin, ballys, flamingo, ip, etc). After the 50 minutes was up, my woozy self, made it back to the steam room at the suggestion of my masseuse, to help continue to loosen up the muscles, but I couldnt stay away from the mineral water pools for long, I stayed another hour or so there, and then changed into my packed clothes, some dressier clothes and pants. I can tell you life felt good at this point. Qua Spa isn't just a must do, it's a multi day must do on every trip until the place closes or something better (hard to believe it would be possible) opens in the area. My whole next trip might be planned around my Qua Spa time So out of Caesars and I decide heck, I brought the darn refillable daiquiri cup why not get another. So I did, and then to cash out my comp dollars at the IP. I have $35 over the two days of play there, not bad for me especially since I haven't won anything there this trip. I pick up a jogging style suit with vegas and fake sequins on it for my little girl (very vegas and elvis like, but not too gaudy, white with pink letters) and a stuffed pug, to go along with our real one. Pack up and head back to Paris. I wanted to cash out as IP's changing over to TR. While they say it will be a straight dollar for dollar transfer, I figured it wouldn't hurt to cash out instead of hoping Harrahs got it right. I'll be interested in seeing how many tier points transfer over though on the conversion and I'll be glad that my play will register on the TR going forward. Back to Paris and drop stuff up in the room. I remember I haven't signed up for Winterfest yet, so I head down and sign up, Winterfest this week at Paris at least is a poker tourney, so I get an entree for 4pm, it's about 2:30 now and I got a stuffed polar bear as a winterfest gift, it's a star registry bear where you get a code to name a star. ( the star registry is a bit of a crock, as it's like taking a road map and collecting money for people to name their own street, since it would be in the sellers database they would recognize the name, but that doesn't mean anyone else does) but it didn't cost anything so I'll leave it at that. So off to WSOP vp, playing a bit and getting a ton of bonuses but no big wins, I'm thinking I want to move to the machine to my right, I decide against it as I haven't done it before and why start now. So of course a woman sits down and two hands in gets the bonus. I'm peeking out of the corner of my eye and notice that she throws away the first three hands (the most you can throw away) with the first being pair of aces, so she definitely does not know what she's doing, well I couldn't have been more wrong, as she continues to throw away hands on every deal (remember this is for the bonus) and continues to win, all the way up to the $800 prize, she looks at me and says I'm not really sure what happened. I said you just won $800, she called me a liar, I said sure np, you'll see when you cash out, so she cashed out and screamed and ran around for a bit. Nice win for her, but a bit of a grr for me. I've never been next to a stranger that won something, typically I don't play near people, which could be part of the reason, but oh well, nice story. So off to the poker game, god I hate playing poker in Vegas, sit n go style games, 1200 in chips, with blinds starting at 50-100 and moving every 10 minutes (double) not long to make a play. Top 2 from each table come back at 7pm to play in the finals and the top 2 split $50 or so for winning the table. It's free so a nice diversion, I love playing poker, but in Vegas, I don't have any patience to play, I get way to antsy sitting at the table and just don't want to be there. I'm typically a pretty patient person, and my poker style is the same, but it just seems to me time is drifting away when at the poker table though. It's just not for me on a 4 day trip. So I fold the first 5-6 hands after playing the first, laying down top pair on a jumble on the board, but a family pot, with a very large bet, made me play it safe. I wound up busting out on a pocket pair of 8's where I got all in on a good flop for me, but the AQ decided to play and hit his A on the turn. So a quick exit for me. The only thing is I wish I would have registered Monday, as they gave me a free entry on Wednesday too at 10am, but it would do me no good as even if I won, I couldn't stick for the final table. So I blow through about 2-3 hundred on a $1 bonus poker machine and head back to the room to grab my recharged ipod. I decide to play a bit of WSOP vp, in order to get a baileys and coffee for the walk up toward the south end of the strip. I luck out and hit for about $450, which gives me a nice cushion for some play at MGM. So I make the crowded walk up toward Diablos. I swear I use to like this walk, but the gawkers, slow walkers and everyone hawking crap on the mini mall strip drive me nuts anymore. So with some deep breaths and my ipod tunes blaring I make it to my destination, Diablos. I have to say it's about what I expected, in terms of looks, I like the gaudiness Vegas needs to keep a bit of gaudiness in my opinion, although it doesn't fit with the Monte Carlo at all, would be perfect right next door with the neon at NYNY, and at least its on the NYNY side. So bar downstairs is full so I head upstairs, against a fellow board members advisement against. But the upstairs was nice, a little more relaxed and got a quick table with a cute waitress, I ordered their twisted sister (basically a cable car) but nice rum (Montecristo I think) pretty smooth. I have two of them and tortilla soup, which was very good in my opinino and I try their signature quesadillas, which is steak and pork club quesadilla, it was pretty good, not great but I'd order it again, unfortunately it was too much for me, as I made it through about 2 1/2 pieces of it and realized I was stuffed, from drinking, the soup, and my portion so far. I would have loved to finish it and later on when I'm hungry I know I'll be thinking if only I had a fridge and a microwave for it, as it woudl taste good right now, but that's the alchohol talking though . Anyway a nice experience and about $50 for the meal, drinks and tips. So then off to MGM, I have a date with the Lion's share slot and plan to play some BJ as well. I decide to play some Top Gun slot that I've heard so much about, my brother raved on it and said the bonuses were very cool, well I threw in a $100 and I swear I didn't hit crud until my last spin, hit the bonus, and won a small amount and quickly flamed out, darn cheesy 80's movie slot. So off to the Lions's share machine, for those that don't know this is a 2 million progressive, $1 machine that still pays in coins, I played for awhile, deciding if I doubled my $100 buy in I'd walk, well I got close a couple times, 180 being the highest but couldn't hit the 200 mark, so I cashed out at 100 on the dot, a bit of a mistake as it pays in coins then, 101 would have been a hand pay as the change clerk walking by pointed out. Not too much of an issue as they had cups by the machine though and even though it got slow at the end, it paid out without jamming, or running out of coins. I wandered a bit then and decided I'd try to play some $10 bj. MGM has some great rules, S17 for a $10 table, 6 deck shoe, no continuous shuffler (no edge on the CSM but I hate them) so I play with 2 others and quickly the table fills up. My luck here sucked, as I couldn't get anything, my one blackjack of course pushed due to a dealer bj as well. Lady next to me got on a serious roll and at least tripled up her $100 buy in. Nice, but too bad it wasn't me . While I love the rules at MGM, I've never had a fun table, the tables always make me feel a bit claustrophic there. I don't know if its the fact that the tables seem to play like I'm in a morgue or its the fact that there are so many full tables in the area that I feel a bit overwhelmed, today was no exception though, as I went up and down a bit on the $100 started going down and got bored, so laid out my last 50 for a bet and got a 15 against the dealer 10. A 4 for a hit and the dealer flipped their face card for my last table game of the trip. Absolutely brutal on table games this trip, I would have played some mini bac if I had more time, but just didn't get to it with my brother and by the time I had some time for myself, I just didn't feel like it, next time though. So MGM has been a bit of a disaster, $200 down in short order in addition to that I'm frigging tired, going since 5am vegas time and it's about 10pm, and after the last couple days I'm just completely worn out. I was going to hit rouge for some VP, but I just didn't feel like it, in addition, many of the lounges are roped off for private HP parties, so I grab a monorail ticket and head back to Bally's. I walk through and decide to do a little more gambling, head to bed and jump on the standby flight at 7am rather then wait around to 3pm. I have to work on Thursday, so getting in near midnight isn't the best idea for me and from working Monday, I know I'm going to be busy. So I'll cut my losses and jump on the early flight. Unfortunately I went on a bit of a tilt though. I make my way to the WSOP machine and decide to take a chance since I'm up and play $1 rather than quarters. On this machine, it's 5 coin for the bonus, with 5 coin for regular vp, so I was playing 10 a hand, the bonus eats a lot of wins, so I was in short order down about $250 and feeling like crap. So I throw in another hundred and almost bust out again, but wind up getting two 4oak, to bring me back up to 350 (1 was a 4oak 4 for 200) too bad I didn't get an ace in the holdem hand which would have given triple. I hit one bonus as well, but couldn't get anything going, busting out at the 25 and 50 level, top payout at $1 would have been a nice $3250 win, it wasn't to be though. So I got back up to my buy in of when I sat down. And decided to take it easy and move back to .25. Hoping for one more bonue of $800 and a nice end to the trip. (I've hit it 4 times in my last 5 trips to vegas, but never more then once a trip) it wasn't to be this time though, as the 100 went away and I headed up to the room to sleep. Slept for about 5 hours, got up and called Continental. I knew they had 7am seats from there website, but Continental has a new policy (well at least I think it's new) day of flight, you can call 3 hours ahead of a flight and guarantee a standby seat for $25. Since I would be checking out of the hotel and would have come back to the strip if I failed to get on standby the $25 was a good investment for me. Called and had no problem changing the reservation, and took a cab to the airport. I must admit at the airport I was feeling a bit dejected, I had some wins, but didn't capitalize on it like I have been able to do on other trips, in addition, I didn't quite get to rest as much as I wanted to, so was definitely feeling worn out. Since I sort of view these trips as a chance to recharge I was a bit disappointed that I didn't take more advantage of it. However I did have a great time with my brother and it was certainly worth the bit of exhaustion I experienced . Highs of the trip: 1.Hanging with my brother, a great time and a great chance to touch base again. 2. Paris hotel, very nice and staff was very pleasant. Free stay for Winterfest didn't hurt either. 3.Qua Spa if you've read above there should be no doubt on my opinion on it. 4. Bouchon: one word wow 5. IP gambling, even though I got beat up there, I still enjoy almost all the dealers and the gaming area 6. All the places I ate this strip were very good, Quarks, Le Burger, Wynn Buffett, Diablos, Bouchon I'd return to all of them. Lows of the trip 1. Working the half day, never again in the middle of a trip, if I have to go for work it's not a big deal, but if it's a half day I have to use to save vacation, I'm going to have to do it at the beginning of a trip. 2. Osheas and Flamingo common areas: It's time for a remodel 3. Table games - would have liked to at least get some longer sessions Well 30 minutes at the airport and I already began thinking of the next trip. Hopefully something for work will come up for the spring, if not next fall isn't that far away is it? Thanks for hanging in there on the novel and feel free to post any questions.