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Long trip report from a low rolling first timer

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by JerryVO, Mar 14, 2011.

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  1. JerryVO

    JerryVO Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Messages:
    108
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    3

    My Trip Report

    My wife and I started our Vegas trip with a mini vacation in L.A. first. We left L.A. Monday morning around 10 AM. Traffic was not bad and being an east coast dweller and never being in a desert the scenery was amazing for the first 90 minutes, it turned boring then annoying with dust storms and ears popping for the next 3 hours. We started to get excited when we saw the strip in the background. As we got closer (about 5-7 miles out) we were a little disappointed in how small it was, definitely not the grandiose mega-resorts we were expecting. Then we finally got to Las Vegas Blvd. and buy were we wrong. These places were huge!!! They just looked small from a distance.

    We pulled up to the signature and were greeted by 2 valets who opened each of our doors and asked if we were checking in. I said yes and was fully expecting to be pounced on by greedy bell hops looking for a tip based on some of the things I have read here, but the valet simply asked me if I needed assistance with my luggage or if I was going to take it up myself, and not in that condescending you are a cheapo if you don’t let us help tone, it was an honest question. I asked for help and someone came right out with a cart, loaded up my suitcases, and told me they would be right up after I check in. When we entered the lobby in tower 3 we were greeted with a subtle sent of mild cinnamon, my wife was concerned because smells like that usually trigger migraines for her but it did not all trip. It was decorated modern but classy and check in was a breeze. We were given our choice of floors and were even offered to switch towers if we wanted to be closer to the MGM, but tower 3 is closest to the strip with a walk down a side street.

    We arrived in our room on the 19th floor, balcony + strip view, and it was very clean looking with standard white linens, granite counter tops, cherry cabinets, fridge, coffee maker, stove top, microwave, dishes, wine glasses, room safe, etc… this room had everything. A few minutes later our bags arrived and were unloaded. The bell hop gave us a quick overview of where things were on our floor (ice maker, soda machine, etc…) and in which tower different amenities were located. He quickly turned around to walk out of the room and I had to stop him so I could tip him. He was very happy with $5 for our 4 bags. Surprisingly this experience repeated itself during our entire stay at the signature. I had to practically chase the valets down to tip them most of the trip. I NEVER felt like someone had their hand out at the Signature.

    By the time we unpacked and got settled in we were ready for dinner. We walked across the street to NYNY and ate at Gonzalez Y Gonzalez because my wife read good things about it somewhere. It was good Mexican food but nothing spectacular. I don’t think I would go back, especially knowing what I know now about other food options. After dinner we walked back to the Signature and sat in our hot tub for a while before we crashed and went to bed. (We have a 2.5 year old and a 6 month old at home so a big part of our trip consisted of much needed sleep and we were happy to make it past our usual bed time of 10:00) .


    The next morning we woke up and were ready to go by 10:00. We went down to the MGM buffet for breakfast and were able to skip the line as guests of the hotel. The buffet had a very wide variety of breakfast foods from the usual buffet items like eggs, bacon, and sausage, and more rare items like breakfast burritos, an omelet station, and a huge pastry section. Although the selection was bigger than the typical breakfast buffet the food was only on par with other breakfast buffets. For $17 / person (discounted guest rate down from $22) I would go again if we stayed at the MGM / Signature, but I would not make a special trip there for breakfast if I was staying somewhere else.
    Then we set off to explore the strip, where we made the biggest mistake of our trip. We crossed the street and started at NYNY, walked in every casino and their respective shopping areas, walked down to Circus Circus and ½ way back to harrah’s where we caught the monorail back to the MGM because we could not take another step. We totaled just shy of 10 miles and our feet were hurting for the rest of the trip. DO NOT WALK THE ENTIRE STRIP IN A DAY FIRST TIMERS. BREAK IT UP INTO SECTIONS!!! We were pleasantly surprised on how easy it was to cross most streets as they had elevated cross walks so we spent little time fighting traffic at intersections. Unfortunately these cross walks were full of homeless asking for money, people playing various instruments, asking for money, and the people giving away ‘free’ VIP passes to clubs, asking for money. When we were not on an elevated cross walk with people asking for money and were at street level we were constantly having hooker, I mean escort, propaganda thrown in our face. I never felt unsafe with any of these people, just annoyed. We did not see many of the timeshare vultures people spoke about, there were a few, but nothing compared to the groups above.

    Along the way we played $5 each in penny and nickel slots at various casinos. My wife hit for $15-$25 at every stop and I lost my $5 each time. We had good drink service everywhere never waiting more than 5-7 minutes for a server to come by and offer us a drink, Bacardi and diet for her and Crown and coke for me.

    We also stopped at one of those tickets 4 less booths and got tickets for Price is Right later that day since my wife is a huge Price is Right fan. I don’t know if it was because we bought our tickets from tickets 4 less or not but our seats were in the second to last populated row. The show was less than mildly entertaining, the prices were way off from reality and even for a big fan we did not get $32 worth of enjoyment out of it. I would not recommend it. I also lost my wife’s cheapo sunglasses sometime during the show which she claims she gave to me to put in my pocket, but we had to go shopping later that day to replace them with a pair of Coach sunglasses. Not that Coach is that high end but the sales people were very happy someone was making a purchase. Many people looking, few buying. At the real high end places there were few people even looking. I do now know how Vegas can support so many Luis Viton and Rolex stores when they were all like ghost towns.

    On Wednesday we wanted a much needed break from walking so we drove out to the Hoover Dam. We stopped at Hash house a go go for breakfast but did not want to wait the 30-40 minutes for a table and grabbed McDonalds on the road. The drive was nothing spectacular with the exception of the lake Mead area immediately around the dam which had some great views. We took the $30 deluxe dam tour which was well worth it over the crappy $11 tour which we started on before our group broke off. There were great views and we learned the amazing history of the dam, including the fact that the dam is not actually connected to the mountains or the ground but a free floating wedge held in by water pressure (built this way to withstand earthquakes). On the way back we stopped at Lake Meade for some photos. We also hit the pawn shop fromPawn Stars on our way back into town. It was small, and the employees were rude. Chumlee was there but was inaccessible. Great to see once but I would not go back again. That night we set out and ate at Serendipity 3. Great burgers, they actually got medium rare right, but we went for the frozen hot chocolate which was out of this world. Almost like drinking frozen homemade chocolate pudding. We hit a few casinos, I lost my $5 everywhere and she hit for her $15 everywhere, we had our usual drinks with someone by within 5 minutes, and off to bed by 10:30.

    Thursday we rented a Lamborghini Gallardo convertible from https://www.website-that-spammed.us and had a blast. When we arrived to pick up the car it was out front waiting for us. The manager greeted us and took us back to his office to sign the paperwork. It really felt like he was setting us up for the big sell on the extra insurance, but he did not even offer it to us. I don’t know if they even offer it since it never came up. I received a 10 minute briefing on all of the features of the car and we were off to the red rock canyon. We took the 13 mile scenic drive and the car and the canyon were amazing. We got some great pictures.

    [​IMG]

    When we got back to our room we wanted to go out for a nice dinner since it was the 10 year anniversary of our first date so we called the concierge and easily got reservations for Craft steak at the MGM. We changed and were ready to go but had an hour to kill so we opened up a bottle of wine, used the cork screw and wine glasses provided by the signature, and had a pre-dinner drink. We arrived at 9:10 for our 9:15 reservation and were seated promptly. We received a mini tray of fresh baked rolls, which were great, and were presented with the menu and an extensive wine list. I selected the wine I thought I wanted but the sommelier asked what we were going to order and made a suggestion for something different in the same price range, he came off as informative and genuinely concerned about our dining experience, not snobbish like some sommeliers can be. I went with his suggestion and was happy I did. When he came back with the bottle it was a very formal presentation. Usually I am shown the bottle, it is opened at the table, and I am poured a tasting to approve. He presented the bottle to me, took it to a wine opening station to open it, tasted about 1 tablespoon worth to make sure it had not turned, returned to the table, then I was poured a tasting to approve.

    I ordered the grade 7 wagyu Ribeye for $105, never having wagyu beef before I was very excited, and my wife ordered the diver scallops for $35. Our sides were glazed carrots, our first choice was broccoli but they were out of it, and mushroom risotto. While waiting for our food a picture taker came by and snapped a few shots of us. Still waiting for our food she returned with the photos in a leatherette MGM frame and an 8x10 in each side. We (read my wife) wanted to buy the pictures so I shelled out the $85 requested. (Yes $85 for 2 8x10 in a crappy leatherette frame.) Our food arrived and I was impressed with how well my ribeye was trimmed., only about ½ oz of fat on the whole steak. My wife was not as impressed with her meal. The ‘diver scallops’ definitely were not, they were sea scallops and there were only 5 of them. I cook scallops on a regular basis at home so I speak with some authority when I say she received $3 worth of scallops for her $35 meal. My steak was very good but I don’t think I will ever get a wagyu steak again. It was no better, maybe not as good, as the aged prime I get at Ruth’s Chris and a hell of a lot more expensive. The sides were awesome, definitely the best part of the meal. Almost $400 later we had a meal and pictures that were satisfactory and worth about ½ what we paid all around.

    We ventured out into the casino and were stopped by a guy in a suit with a stack of wristbands offering us passes and free drinks for lades to Studio 54. We took him up on the offer for a wrist bans for drinks but he told us our room key gets us into the club for free so we did not need any passes. We gambled a bit and went off to the club. We only stayed for 15 minutes or so since clubbing is not our scene, but it was the usual meat market for young hot things and then roving groups of less than attractive people dancing with each other. A few more dollars gambling then off to our room for our last good night sleep.

    Friday we wandered around the remaining casinos on the strip we had not seen including the Stratosphere and everything south of the MGM. Walking back to the duce stop from the stratosphere was the only time in vegas we felt unsafe, although the Circus Circus area was a little iffy as well. I don’t think I will travel north of the Wynn/Encore on my next trip. We went back to the room to pack for our early Saturday departure and ventured out one last time that night. We ate at the Diablo Cantina at the Monte Carlo. It was Awsome!!! The atmosphere was great, party like without being frat boy obnoxious, and by far the best food of the trip. I will make a point to stop here EVERY time I am in Vegas in the future. After dinner we ventured out into what seemed like a whole new world. Friday night on the strip is nothing like a weeknight, loud party music everywhere and much busier, both with people and vagrants. The casinos were also much different, they were all playing top 40 and pop, not the adult contemporary from earlier in the week. There were also scantily clad women dancing on runways all around the gaming floor. It was great, especially since I managed not to get myself in trouble. Planet Hollywood also changed from middle aged dealers in long sleeve button up shirts to large breasted college girls in corsets. I can only guess other casinos followed suit. Drink service did take substantially longer but there were many more people there and the low rollers are definitely not a priority on a weekend night. Friday night overall was much livelier and I will make sure our next trip to Vegas will include a weekend stay.

    Saturday morning we left for the airport and met the biggest ripoff of the trip. The burger king in terminal b with their $9 breakfast combo, but it was early and we were hungry so what the heck… Now that we know the lay of the land and the scoop with the different casinos out next trip will be a little different and we will even try to venture down town which we just did not have time to do this trip. We can’t wait to go back.

    We were also surprised how non smoky the casinos were. The smelled like a hotel room that use to be a smoking room but not anymore, it was not overpowering and the smoke eaters did a good job. I guess I was expecting to walk into huge clouds of smoke everywhere I went and it was just not the case.

    Places we would like to stay in the future:
    The Signature again
    Bellagio
    Venitian
    Aria
    Wynn / Encore
    Ceasers
    Plazzo

    Places / Casinos we would like to revisit
    Planet Hollywood
    Treasure Island
    Mirage
    Ceasers Palace
    Monte Carlo (especially for the Diablo Cantina)
    NYNY

    Places we have no strong desire to return to:
    Mandalay Bay (nice but too far)
    Ballys (Nothing special about this place)
    Paris (expensive drinks even for vegas)
    Harrahs

    Dumps we will not return to:
    Imperial Palace (run down, smoky, no AC when we were there)
    Bills (small and dumpy)
    Casino Royale (dumpy annoying tourist trap)
    Rivera (dumpy and dated)
     
  2. LaRae

    LaRae Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2010
    Messages:
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    Twin Cities/Western Wisconsin
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    22
    Thanks for posting. Sounds like your 1st trip was a success. Guess what? You're hooked!!!
    (you already knew that, though)
     
  3. sandc4e

    sandc4e Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Excellent report, you have me wanting to explore the Signature.

    Thanks for sharing.
     
  4. VegasDiva

    VegasDiva VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Calgary , Alberta , Canada
    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    Wonderful first-timer TR

    Love that car you rented :) nice touch to the trip

    lol @ your advice about
    Code:
     DO NOT WALK THE ENTIRE STRIP IN A DAY FIRST TIMERS. BREAK IT UP INTO SECTIONS!!!
    isn't that the truth :)

    Vegas is a fun town, always lots to do /see and experience , whether its your first time or your 100th
     
  5. zerofan

    zerofan VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    Nice report. Love your honesty about walking the strip in one day.

    Try downtown next time, you can walk up and down Fremont many times before you get tired. :peace:
     
  6. AB2Vegas

    AB2Vegas Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    Great report. I love reading first time reports. Even though my first time was way to long ago - an entirely different Vegas - we too walked way too much our first day. I can only imagine how your feet felt.

    Glad you had a great time and I am sure it will be the first of many. :cheers:
     
  7. Hogman

    Hogman VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    Great report. I probably would have asked about extra insurance on a car that expensive. I don't believe that I have enough on my credit card if I totaled it.($246,000)!!!!!!
     
    First Trip 2017
  8. jpw711

    jpw711 VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    Great Report! Made your return plane reservations yet?
     
  9. jdub7

    jdub7 Tourist

    Joined:
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    Thanks for the report. Very nice job for the first one. I have previous trips where I went thru every pair of shoes I brought and got a new blister in many different areas of my feet!! Happy Anniversary! :beer:
     
  10. mardaho

    mardaho Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Great Trip Report
    You will now be obsessed with Vegas and this board :nworthy:

    Will have to give Diablo Cantina a try next week :drunk:
     
  11. Ice Tray

    Ice Tray Low-Roller

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    The Lamborghini picture is just awesome! I have to give that a try some time.
     
  12. IWannaBeInVegas

    IWannaBeInVegas VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    Great first trip report. I agree about walking the whole strip in one day. In 2005 I walked from mandalay bay to Sahara and back to excalibur on my first day and was miserable the rest of the trip. On your return visit valley of fire, if you liked red rock you will love vof.


    Sent from my EVO via Tapatalk pro.
     
    Tentative Arrival
  13. rlhendrix

    rlhendrix Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Woodstock, GA
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    Nice trip report. I have occasionally forgotten my own rule about walking the whole strip in one day. I love Diablos too, but I haven't managed to get over there on my past three trips. Planning on eating there in April.
     
  14. rdwy29

    rdwy29 Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Great report!

    We've walked by Diablo's plenty of times, but have yet to stop there. Will have to do that very soon. Thank you for sharing. Due in part to your report, I was able to talk the wife out of CraftSteak. Just saved myself hours of Pai Gow there :beer:
     
  15. AGoalStopper007

    AGoalStopper007 Tourist

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    Diablos is good eats. You didn't mention what you had there, but I must recommend the gucamole and chips appetizer. It's a good heaping size of gucamole that taste so delcious and fresh with tortilla chips. A definite must try.

    I just wish they didn't raise their prices this past year. It used to be $3 happy hour for beer and select shots, but now it's $5. Diablos used to be a place to get a good deal on a beer, now it's just a place to grab a beer. Still a cool place to hang out at, though.
     
  16. Jinx

    Jinx VIP Whale

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    Great report, definintely enjoyed all of the first time views you were having of things. Glad you enjoyed your trip. Diablos is a nice spot and the food is surprisingly pretty solid, glad you found a good meal as the others didn't seem to work out the way you wanted.

    I want to hear more about the car rental, if you don't mind me asking, what was the cost of it, how long was the rental, was it worth it, how did it feel driving it?
     
  17. BackInVegas

    BackInVegas VIP Whale

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    Good report

    From places you do not want to go to, you need to sign up for the MGM Players Card. Most of the places on your list were CET properties to avoid.

    Nice ride in the Lamborghini.
     
  18. Gatorpike

    Gatorpike Tourist

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    Great report. I laughed at the part about vegas on the weekends. The party crowd definitely arrives on the weekends, but then again so do the freaks, vagrants and bums! Also I was surprised to hear you liked Diablos. Any time I've walked in or walked by there it's smelled like an outhouse.
     
  19. AGoalStopper007

    AGoalStopper007 Tourist

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    LOL I believe that smell is from the sewer near by on the street, not from the restuaruant. But yeah definitly not a smell you want to experience when passing by food.
     
  20. loonytoony

    loonytoony VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    Thanks for posting. Just wait till you hit your first jackpot and you will be hooked even more.
     
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