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Las Vegas 101 trip for non-gamblers

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by WGS, Feb 8, 2004.

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  1. WGS

    WGS Tourist

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2004
    Messages:
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    My Trip Report

    After reading Mike in SF’s exciting trip report, and poor Billy's devastating trip, this will be bedtime reading for some. Man, these are big acts to follow. I’ve categorized if anyone wants to skip a section.

    Background: We are a couple in our late 40s, early 50s who love finding last-minute deals and just enjoy getting away alone from time to time now that the children are older. Doesn’t matter where we go, we always have a blast together and regardless how many people are around us, we are always in our own little world. We were making our second trip to Vegas, our first being Jan/Feb 2003. This year I found a too-good-to-be-true deal via email from Flamingo: free Jimmy Buffett tickets with a 3 night stay January 22-25 @$60 night. Didn’t take much convincing.

    Flight: Delta, essentially free tickets ($28 each) as we were bumped from a flight last fall. On time, smooth and an uneventful flight. Arrived 5 minutes early.

    Arrival at airport: While hubby waited at carousel for luggage, I checked into hotel at their desk. Great brainchild of hotel management…only had 4 or 5 people ahead of me and as many clerks. At the hotel, the check-in lines were a nightmare. The sweet young clerk asked for ID and noticed it was my birthday. We were given an upgraded room without even asking. Vouchers were given for room key and Jimmy Buffett tickets. I gave her $5 tip as that is all I had in my wallet (we travel light…lol) and rest was in travelers checks. Had I had more, I would have given her more. Hubby had the cash on him but he was nowhere in sight.

    Flamingo: Let the chaos begin!!! It took nearly 2 hrs to get to our room. I can’t believe the Flamingo was so unorganized. Haven't they ever had a large crowd before? There was a line to turn room key vouchers into room keys, another line to pick up Connection Cards (pick up? I signed up online 3 weeks earlier and they weren’t processed yet, so had to start from scratch). Hubby is in another line waiting to pick up the Buffett tickets while I was running in the other lines as you couldn’t get those tickets without room key and Connection cards. Poor, poor event management. Only 2 clerks running the Buffett ticket line. One hour and 45 minutes later, it’s our turn and the 2 lines/clerks suddenly become 4 lines/4 clerks. Oh well, we were the first in line for them.

    From there it was all uphill. Our room was an upgrade indeed…26th floor with a view of Ballys, Paris and Bellagio. Couldn’t ask for a better basic room. Room was immaculate and although a smoking room, I don’t think a non-smoker would refuse it. No telltale sign of smoke.

    ACTIVITIES

    Jimmy Buffett concert at Flamingo: The concert was scheduled for 5 pm. The doors opened at 2 but the lines were already forming when we arrived at hotel around 11:30am. He started promptly at 5pm (hey, It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere, right???). The pool had been drained, filled with sand and it was one big beach party. Jimmy and his Coral Reefer band put on a great concert, all standing room, no seats or bleachers. We were about 20 people deep from stage. I made friends with a very young fireman from Dayton who had flown in just for the concert and returning to Ohio later that night (now that’s a true Parrothead if ever I’ve come across one.) Hubby was with 4 airline pilots who were making their 18th Buffett concert together. Ohhhhhhh, the stories we could tell, but what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right?

    Fab Four show at Hilton: I’ve raved about this show in a thread or two since we’ve returned. Only regret is having dragged my feet going. I’m not into impersonators, much less of my dear, dear Beatles. This show is as authentic as it comes, and this is coming from the original Beatle fan herself. Perhaps it’s best we went our last night or I would have begged husband to take me back the next night and get closer seats.

    Visiting Hotels and Casinos We visited most---but not all---of the hotels/casinos on the Strip a year ago in a marathon 11 hr walk. We remember how we felt the next day, so we thought we’d divide it up this time. Day 1, there was nothing we could do as we were caught up in the hoopla of the Buffett concert (remember, there were long lines for everything). On day 2, we visited the grounds of Flamingo then onto Aladdin, Bellagio, Caesars, Mirage, Treasure Island and Venetian. (B, C and M were repeat visits but they were so impressive, I wanted to see them again). We also took a gondola ride at Venetian. I know, I know, cheesy, but this was my actual birthday and it's all I asked for. We witnessed 2 couples become engaged (one inside, one outside) and that was sweet in itself. Day 3 we walked to Hard Rock as our son wanted us to pick up something in the gift shop. The info desk at Flamingo gave us the weirdest way to get there on foot. When we headed back to Flamingo, we went a different way and picked up a bus at corner of Paradise and Flamingo Roads. Here we bought a bus pass and went to Rio. From there we walked over and visited Palms. Took the bus back to Flamingo, regrouped, then on the bus again to hotels further up on the strip. We got off too early (at another passenger’s suggestion) and hiked a bit to Riviera and Sahara. Riviera casino was alive and jumping considering it was mid afternoon. They were sponsoring a 'Price is Right' type of game. It was fun just watching the ‘contestants’ run from one slot machine to another. As we were walking out, we heard a 25¢ slot machine by the door do its ding-ding-ding thing. The young Hispanic girl at the machine had no idea what was going on. If anything, she looked frightened as if she had done something wrong and the slot police would be approaching her. She stopped us, spoke to us in Spanish. We finally figured out she wanted to know what was happening to her machine. There were bells ringing, whistles whistling and lights were flashing, you get the picture. We told her she WON! MOOLA! It appeared she had won $250. I leaned over to check how many quarters she had put in…only 1. She pointed to the coin tray, indicating it was empty. So I pushed the cash out button for her. She had a grin on her face as wide as the Strip itself. As much as we wished it had been us, just seeing this young lady’s face when she realized she was a winner was joy in itself.

    Ok, we left Riviera and headed to Sahara. It was at this point that we decided to see the Fab Four. The Hilton was also within walking distance and timing was right. The Hilton is beautiful and we hung around casino, had a few drinks and took part in their nightly Drop and Win promotion (a Plinko type of game) until the show began. After the show, we walked back to Sahara and grabbed a bus to Fremont Street. This is our second time to Fremont Street and loved it as much as the first time. The upgrade of the canopy isn’t quite done, but enjoyable nonetheless. At midnight we grabbed a bus back to the Strip. At this point, we realize we hadn’t eaten since noon and decide to get off at Peppermill for a bite. We discovered this place a year ago and looks like it has/will become a ritual. About 1:30 am we take bus back to Flamingo. Once again we try to get into Margaritaville for just a drink but it was still packed. We go to the Gift Shop instead, then to our room. It’s now after 2am Vegas time and I’m listening to the Weather Channel only to hear about the ice storm back home. Hmmmmm. Hubby encourages me to go back down to casino one last time, which I did. Return to room couple hours later only to hear weather isn’t getting any better and I know that 3 of our kids are out of town for the weekend and would be traveling back home that day. Not much sleep that night.

    Gambling: You’ve heard of people who buy Playboy for the articles and not the pictures, right? Well along those lines, we go to Vegas to see Vegas and not gamble. With 3 children still in college, a 4th who just graduated and about to get married, we don’t have much money to gamble. And that’s ok with us. BUT, if any $ was to be won, it was going straight to the wedding fund. We are conservative…I like the 5¢ and 25¢ slot, but I bet maximum while hubby looks for the $5 and $10 bj tables. After hubby went to bed the first night, I went down to casino and with only $7.50 in a Flamingo slot, I hit for $150. I took my voucher, my purse, my camera and walked out the front door to take some nighttime pictures of the Strip. I didn’t touch another slot until 3rd day when we reached the Riviera and Sahara. Mostly played the 5¢ slots here and with my winnings turned them into quarters and played until I was out. Obviously, not a serious gambler but gamble long enough to see how far my $ will go if I don’t hit big. My best run was at the Flamingo the last night. After we returned from our whirlwind day, hubby gave me $20 to go downstairs and play one last time. That $20 lasted me over 2 hrs. Hubby only played bj once, on our 2nd night, and that was at Bally’s. Why Bally’s, I have no idea any more than why he allowed himself $40. His $40 lasted him almost 3 hrs at a $5 table. Of interest, the few times I played the slots, I was offered drinks, while he was never offered the first drink at the bj table. No big deal, just an observation. Overall, we were $100 ahead and happy with that. So much for our gambling streak. and yes, we have put it in the wedding fund already.

    Food: Before leaving, I had a day-by-day tentative itinerary of places to visit and places we’d eat along the way. We do this when we go to the Caribbean and have always stuck to the list, rarely--if ever—swaying away from it. Well, the list was shot the first night. We never did get into Margaritaville, always packed. Oh, we’d get in and try to walk around and see things but it was impossible. First night we ate at Le Café Île St. Louis at Paris. We ate there last year, too, and really like it. Prices reasonable. Hubby had a heavy cut prime rib for $18 while I had the daily special of a smaller cut of prime rib with crab legs for $13.95. Considering Paris buffet is $25.95 which we set out to do but changed our minds, I think we got the better end of the deal. Second night, again we couldn’t get into Margaritaville so we tried Flamingo’s buffet. All the prime rib, crab legs (smaller than Paris café, though) and shrimp you can eat plus everything else you’d expect. Food was fresh and plentiful. No room for dessert as they cut their pieces way too big. I have a major sweet tooth and was going to get their cheesecake but my goodness! A single piece could be cut into thirds and still have a decent size piece. I knew I would not finish it and didn’t want to waste, so I passed. Our third evening, as mentioned above, we ate at Peppermill. Great food, lots of it and super prices. We also had breakfast 2 mornings at Lindy’s in the Flamingo. Again, reasonable prices, lots of food and fast service. We only ate lunch one day and that was at Toscano’s Deli in Rio. In true Vegas style, big sandwiches with too many fries. No complaints on food. We also picked up coffee here and there along the way. For some reason, Vegas doesn’t believe in coffeepots which is possibly the only consistent negative we have about Vegas in 2 trips.

    Return flight(s) This is a chapter in itself. When we arrived in LV, we noticed the security lines were obscenely long for departure. We told ourselves we’d leave hotel 3 hrs early on day of departure and that’s exactly what we did. Immediately as we checked in at the Delta desk, we were told all morning and afternoon flights into our hometown were cancelled due to ice. Our waiting line at security was about 45 mins long and we were at gate with an hour to spare, just the way we planned it. Once we boarded plane, we weren’t leaving the gate and we were getting antsy. About a ½ hr after scheduled departure time, the 'considerate' pilot comes on and announces the security line is now 2 ½ hrs long and he’d wait a bit longer for more passengers to board. We took off an hour late which put us in Salt Lake with 10 minutes to spare before our connecting flight. We got to appropriate gate just as our section was boarding. Phew! Now Salt Lake was getting some snow and we had to wait to get de-iced. We were on the runway an hour waiting for our turn to de-ice. Arrived in Cincinnati with 25 minutes to spare but there is definitely some snow here. Delta desk tells us departure time still on schedule (yea, right) and our home airport is definitely open. We boarded ½ hr late and like in Salt Lake, had to wait in line to be de-iced. We left Cincinnati 1 ½ hr late, putting us at our home airport at 2am. Guess what? No luggage. We were told not to call until 10am later that morning. And we called every 4 hrs after that. We finally got our luggage 48 hours later. It would have gone into Wednesday had hubby not gone to pick it up himself.

    Epilogue: We had a ball. Las Vegas is too much fun!!! Though Flamingo is not one of the newest, classiest mega-hotels, it certainly has its merits. Location, location, location being possibly its best asset. Given another deal like we had, we'd return in a heartbeat. Plus you don't have to be into gambling to enjoy the city and everything it has to offer. I don’t know when we’ll return, but I do know they’ll be seeing us again.

    [ February 08, 2004, 08:38 PM: Message edited by: WGS ]
     
  2. Buckeye Bob

    Buckeye Bob Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    WGS,

    Sounds like you had a great trip. You prove what I tell to my skeptical friends all the time. You don't have to be a gambler in Vegas to have an awesome time!!

    Very jealous that you went to the Buffett concert. Sounds like a great venue to see him.

    Buckeye Bob
     
  3. Heathcat

    Heathcat Tourist

    Joined:
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    Thank you for the trip report! I really enjoyed reading about your adventures- I didn't even notice you weren't really gambling until you mentioned it!Sounds like you had a great time.
     
  4. WGS

    WGS Tourist

    Joined:
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    We did, we really had a great time.

    For Buckeye Bob: Being from Ohio (I assume), you'll appreciate my next comments. For years we've tried to get Buffett tickets either in Cincinnati or Nashville. We can NEVER get them. We've tried by phone, we've tried online, we've been in line at Kroger's and never been successful. We've gotten thru in as little as 4 minutes or as long as 9 minutes and he always sells out. So being able to see him in Vegas was unbelievable! We thought it was a hoot that the guy next to me had come all the way from Dayton just for a matter of hours.
     
  5. Buckeye Bob

    Buckeye Bob Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    27
    WGS,

    Actually, I grew up in Ohio and went to OSU (hence the Buckeye Bob name!). However, I currently live in Chicago. We have the same problem here on Buffett. I had the role of trying to buy 18 lawn tickets for a Saturday show last year and got completely shut out. However, we found a broker (in Louisville!) that had a surplus and was able to fill our order. It's always a challenge to get tickets and always worth the effort.

    Bob
     
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