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May 2010 TR: Carriage House, Rio, and Planet Hollywood

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by JTPiano23, May 7, 2010.

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  1. JTPiano23

    JTPiano23 Tourist

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2009
    Messages:
    37
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    6

    My Trip Report

    Hello all,

    Long time listener; first time caller. I've followed the TRs on this site for quite some time, so I thought it was about time for me to pony up and post my own.

    Some background: I've had four prior trips to the strip in the last four years. Starting in 2007, I have spent a long weekend each November in Vegas with my dad and little brother. We went to celebrate my brother's 21st birthday a few years ago and decided it to make it an annual pilgrimage. We stayed at the Orleans (which we love) the first two years and upgraded to the Paris because of the cheap room rates last year. We usually spend the entire time playing blackjack and poker, eating horrible food, and taking in the sights on Fremont Street. I'm a bigger fan of shows and good food than they are, so I always spring for a nice dinner and sneak out to a show without them. I spend most of my time at $10 blackjack tables, $5 craps tables, quarter VP machines, and the most addictive of the penny slots from time to time.

    My wife (CD) and I visited Vegas during spring break while I was in law school four years ago. We spent four days at the Flamingo. CD is not a big gambler, but we had a lot of fun playing $5 blackjack or penny slots. We also took advantage of the shows (Mystere and Spamalot), ate some great food, and she put a dent in the budget at a few shops.

    This trip will be a little different. We won a week's stay at the Carriage House, a small hotel / timeshare unit just east of the strip (a block south of the Miracle Mile shops behind the Planet Hollywood), at a charity auction. We don't know much about the place, so I took advantage of two offers from Harrahs just in case. We'll be at the Carriage house on Saturday and Sunday nights, we have two comped nights at the Rio on Monday and Tuesday, and we have two comped nights at the Planet Hollywood on Wednesday and Thursday. We'll head back to the Carriage House for the final night. We're really just hopping around to take advantage of nicer pools! (I've been twice as busy as I'd like at work over the last few months, so I'm really looking forward to some R&R. That's not usually my mindset when I head to Vegas.)

    As far as plans, I bought tickets to Ka (the last of the Cirque shows on my list) and O (which I've seen, but my wife has not). We have reservations at Fleur de Lys, Aureole, and Shaghai Lilly at Mandalay Bay (with the help of some amazing Restaurant.com certificates). We also rented a car and will be making trips to Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire, and Mount Charleston for some hiking expeditions. This will be new to both of us, and we're really looking forward to it.

    We head out from St. Louis tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. and should be in Vegas before noon. Can't wait! I'll try to update once a day or so. The trip might not have the highs and lows of a BeeeJay epic - much less the hookers and blow - but we'll do our best to make it interesting.

    Your faithful tour guide,
    - JT
     
  2. Thor

    Thor Beer Drinker

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    have a great trip!!! enjoy yourself!!! :beer::beer::beer:
     
  3. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

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    Went to Carriage House website - it looks like a beautiful facility! I have a feeling it will exceed your expectations.
     
  4. richardinbc

    richardinbc Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Mission B.C.
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    Carrage House should be very good

    Hi Jt.

    It's been many years since I stayed at the Carrage House but I think you will find a very nice place. At that time they had a resturant on the top floor that was very good and had a nice view, but I am sure that the view is gone.

    I stayed on a promotion and felt that they did not give us a very good room. We peeked in on a couple rooms that where being cleaned and thought that they where more upgraded that ours.

    I will always remember the fight (screaming) between a cabbie and his fare as we here leaving.

    Have a good trip.
     
  5. prozac

    prozac Tourist

    Joined:
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    Location:
    hawaii
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    .. awesome JT

    you folks will very much like the mandalay bay restaurants with Fleur de Lys being the top stack spot.. Shaghai is good too .. if you get a chance, also hit up the sushi place in the center court area

    the cirque shows really rock --> have the best time


    ..
     
  6. JTPiano23

    JTPiano23 Tourist

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2009
    Messages:
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    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    6
    DAY ONE: Saturday, May 8

    We were out of bed in St. Louis around 5:00 a.m. for the flight to Las Vegas with a connection in Chicago. Overall, a very uneventful flight. We got in to Vegas right on time at 11:45, then proceeded to spend almost an hour getting our rental car. Not the best way to start the trip, but we got a hell of a deal on the car, so I can't complain.

    By that time, we were starving. CD had never been to In 'n Out Burger, so that was our first stop. The burgers and fries (animal style, of course) were as good as I remembered. We made a quick trip to Target to stock up on water, juice, breakfast bars, lunches for our hiking trips, and drinks for the room.

    We got to the Carriage House around 2:30. We had a short wait for the room and relaxed in the "living room" near the front desk. We got into the room around 3:00 p.m. The room is really nice. It's slightly bigger than a "regular" hotel room and has a pretty small bathroom. The room itself has a big closet, a nice TV, a big couch, and a comfortable bed. Plus, there is a small kitchenette with a decent size refrigerator, plus plenty of cabinet space. Since we'll be making our lunches on the days that we're hiking, it was good to have the space to put everything away. It seems to have a much older clientele, but it's quiet and out-of-the-way. This will be a nice "home base" for the trip. I was ready to go, but CD wanted to relax a bit. We hit the bed, turned on "300," and I promptly fell asleep. Go figure. We were out the door around 5:00.

    First stop was City Center. Holy crap. I've been watching it being built over the last few years, but it's still much more imposing than I thought it would be. Crystals was beautiful. We (of course) couldn't afford anything, but the entire place was like a huge work of art. I love the big restaurant in the wooden "nest" in the middle. So cool.

    We walked through Aria and, I must say, I loved the casino. I agree that it's a little darker than I expected, but I thought it was beautiful. CD is fascinated with design and textures. She loved the lights. Does anyone know if those are actual grape vines hanging from the lights? We played a few machines in order to enjoy a free drink, then took the tram over to Bellagio.

    Bellagio is my favorite casino. Some beautiful casinos have been built over the last few years, but I think Bellagio still holds the top spot. We put some money through some machines. CD got spanked, but I won a few dozen bucks on a penguin machine when she went to the bathroom. We played our $5 in profits on one of the Monopoly community event machines. Whoops - it was a nickel instead of a penny machine! We spun twice, then went to cash out. A fraction of a second before the 30 second timer expired, we hit an event for over $20. A nice little surprise!

    Next up was Bally's. We spent about 3 hours on a 100-play penny VP machine there four years ago, so we decided to give it another shot. We ended up down $10, but got a few drinks out of it.

    We headed over to Ellis Island around 9:30. Forget Bellagio; this may be our new favorite place. Our cheap steaks became a little more expensive when the blackjack dealer at the $5 table showed us how the game was played. I decided to put $5 in another 100-play machine. I spun once (1 cent per line) and was dealt three deuces. What do you know - we were playing deuces wild (which I never played). Ended up winning around $15 and then hit the road because the guy next to us was none too pleased. The steak dinners were really great, if not a little overcooked. I really liked the golden ale, and CD like the hefeweizen. I'd recommend the mashed potatoes... really good! We left EI around 11:30 and walked back to the hotel through Bally's / Paris / Planet Hollywood. We were exhausted and hit the sack around midnight.

    CD is taking pictures on her camera, but we haven't uploaded them. I've taken a few on my phone and have uploaded them to a Facebook album. I don't know if you can view these, but it's worth a shot. Follow along at home here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/album.php?aid=2747615&id=1918918&ref=mf

    Stay tuned for day two...
     
  7. JTPiano23

    JTPiano23 Tourist

    Joined:
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    Day Two: Sunday, May 9

    CD and I are still on central time, so we were up and out of bed by 8:00 a.m. or so. We went downstairs to the (surprisingly small) gym and worked out. We bummed around the room in the morning, then left for an 11:15 a.m. service at University United Methodist Church, located just east of UNLV. It was a beautiful service. If anyone is ever looking for a church service when visiting LV, I'd recommend it.

    We got back to the room around noon, changed, and headed downtown. CD has never seen Fremont Street, so it was on the top of our list. Our first stop was Main Street Station and dinner at the 777 brewery / restaurant. We're both big beer fans, so CD was happy to try their microbrews. A good, reasonably-priced lunch. We spent some time hunting down all the antiques around MSS before hitting Fremont.

    We went to the Golden Nugget to see the shark tank. I was surprised that they would only allow hotel guests in the pool area. I thought it had to be public since they had blackjack tables. Oh well. We also walked by a theatre where they were filming a poker show for GSN. I passed Howard Lederer on the way to the bathroom! I was excited, but CD thought I was a dork.

    We spent most of the afternoon hopping from casino to casino. We played some machines at Binion's and Fremont, then walked down to see El Cortez. We peeked in, agreed that it was "classic Vegas," then promptly left. Kind of funny. On the way back, a guy in a Batman polo shirt started talking to us at a crosswalk. He said that he moved to Las Vegas 30 years and "voted for the moon president... Clinton." Awesome.

    We sat down at a $5 blackjack tables at Binion's and, like last night, got spanked. We each lost the first six hands. We treaded water for about 30 minutes, but cashed out down $75. We were just about even on the machines. Overall, down less than $200 for two full days of gambling (and that includes tips, drinks, some food, etc.).

    On the way out, we stopped by Mermaid's for fried Oreos. We also put $5 into a nickel slot machine, then decided to cash out. Sure enough... 100 nickels. Surprise! CD also had two glasses of wine at Mermaids, which amused me to no end. We stopped by the California on the way back to our car. We sat down at a Fireball machine near the buffet. It was pretty quiet in the casino, and we were surrounded by old Hawaiian people. The only thing you could hear was us occasionally screaming "FIREBALL!"

    We drove back to the hotel and changed up for date night. We made the long trek to Mandalay Bay for dinner at Shanghai Lilly. I had never seen the MB before, and I was very impressed. The restaurant was beautiful. I had sweet and sour pork, CD had prawns in a curry sauce, and we split an order of vegetable fried rice. We also had pork wontons for an app. The appetizer was amazing, specifically the chili sauce. We agreed that our entrees were good, but not great. We got a $50 restaurant.com gift certificate for $2 (or thereabouts), so dinner was only $60 and change (which included $25 in drinks). Not a bad deal, but we probably wouldn't go back and pay full price.

    We then wandered over to the Bellagio. I couldn't believe how long it took to find the tram in the Monte Carlo. Yeesh. We made our way to the "O" Theatre for the 10:00 p.m. show. It was my second time and CD's first. I'm still amazed by that show. I know some people think it's too slow or artsy-fartsy, but I really liked the artsy-fartsy stuff. Just an amazing experience.

    We walked back to the Carriage House just after midnight, with a short stop to see the Bellagio fountains dancing to the national anthem. All in all, a great day.

    Stay tuned for day three and a trip to Mount Charleston...
     
  8. JTPiano23

    JTPiano23 Tourist

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Day 3: Monday, May 10

    We must be adjusting to the time zone, because we were both able to sleep in. Out of bed shortly before 10:00 a.m. and out the door before 11:00 a.m. On the agenda today was Mount Charleston. We stopped for a bite to eat on the way out of town, then drove the 50 minutes or so to the mountain.

    The drive west of the city was beautiful. Neither CD nor I have ever really driven through the desert before. I'm sure the sights get old for people who are from the area, but it was amazing to see it for the first time. As we got closer to Mount Charleston, we passed a small road with a sign that said "Elvis is Alive Boulevard" and led to a small house in the middle of nowhere. Awesome.

    The road to Mount Charleston takes you through the dessert, then up the side of the mountain. We ascended from an elevation of around 2,000 feet to just over 8,000 feet in about twenty minutes. Luckily, our rental car hung in there. She's small, but she's tough.

    We stopped by the park office to learn about the different trails. First stop was Mary Jane Falls. The trail was listed as "Very Difficult," but it was only 1.2 miles long (each way). It was, in fact, pretty difficult. The first half was a gradual incline on loose rocks. The second half involved switchbacks up a very steep incline. There were never any huge drop-offs (for which I was thankful), but we made our way up in a hurry. Finally, we reached the falls. Absolutely beautiful. There were about five separate falls. The water came down the side of a cliff, then hit the top of a snow pile. Some of the piles must have been about 10 feet high. The view away from the falls was of a snow-covered cliff maybe a mile away. We were both surprised at the beautiful, snowy sights less than an hour away from the strip. It's a shame more people don't make the trek out. I'd definitely recommend this trial (as long as you can hike up a pretty good incline for an hour or so).

    We also hiked the North Loop trail. We made it about an hour up the trail, and I do mean "up." Yeesh. We had a small lunch on some rocks, then headed back down. We probably hiked about two hours on this trail. There was a lot of snow, which made it a slow trek. We also stopped at a scenic overlook (with 90-mile visibility) before heading back.

    If anyone was in the Vegas area on Monday, you know how strong the wind was. It was whipping our little car all around the road. It got kind of scary at times... we're not used to that much wind in the Midwest. It settled down when we got out of the desert and back into town.

    We made it back to the Carriage house and CD napped for an hour while I got some stuff done for work. Around 8:00, we headed over to the Rio, where we had two nights comped. We were on a suite on the 19th floor of the Masquerade tower, overlooking the pool. The suite was roomy, but it was surprisingly dirty. The carpet hadn't been vacuumed, there were holes in the upholstery on the couch, and it looked as if some of the towels in the bathroom hadn't been washed. Although we asked for a non-smoking room, it reeked of smoke. I'm not picky, but this was really unacceptable. By far the worst room I've seen in Vegas. You can tell Harrah's isn't putting any time or effort into this property.

    We used a 2-for-1 coupon at the Carnival World buffet. The line was shockingly long for 9:00 p.m. Everyone was trying to get the 24-hour "buffet of buffets" late at night so they could get an extra dinner in on Tuesday, I guess. Anyway, the food was all good. Chelsey enjoyed a ton of crab legs (her favorite) and I ate my weight in shrimp. Kind of disappointed in the dessert selection, though.

    We decided to walk across the street to go see Iron Man 2 at the Palms. Loved the movie, but the Palms casino was absolutely dead. We got back to the Rio around midnight and decided to put $20 in a machine. We immediately doubled up and decided to hit the sack around 1:00 a.m. We were both sore from a long day of hiking.

    Coming up... DAY FOUR!
     
  9. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

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    Anxiously awaiting!
     
  10. JTPiano23

    JTPiano23 Tourist

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Day 4: Tuesday, May 11

    I was up early at the Rio and headed down to the casino while CD slept in. Hit a hot single-deck table and was up about $100, but gave some of it back. Cashed out an hour later with an $80 profit.

    Headed back to the room and CD was up. We decided that the Carriage House, although smaller, was much nicer, so we opted to cancel our second night at the Rio. I let the check-in lady know that we were cancelling her second night, and she didn't seem surprised at all. Didn't even ask why. Oh well.

    We headed over to the Orleans for the breakfast buffet. It turns out CD slept in a bit longer than we realized, so it became a lunch buffet. Used a buy-1-get-1 coupon, so we both ate for eight bucks. The buffet isn't the best, but it's pretty solid for the price. We left satisfied. We also played through $10 in free play that we had. I always return to a penny machine ("Stinkin' Rich") that my dad won $1,000 on a few years ago. We didn't have that much luck.

    We got back to the Carriage House just after noon. I had to spend 45 minutes or catching up on work. We had planned to head to Valley of Fire State Park, but we realized it was about an hour away. We had hoped to spend a full day there, but we had dinner reservations at 7:30. Instead, CD went to run and I relaxed in the room. We decided to visit the north strip properties (since CD had not seen the Palazzo or Wynn) before dinner. First stop was Bill's. I had a hot machine there last year, and - sure enough - it was still hot. Hit for a $90 profit on one of the first spins on a Monopoly machine. We gave about $25 back to Bill at a $5 blackjack table while listening to Big ("But Not Quite As Big As He Used To Be") Elvis.

    We visited the courtyard at the Flamingo (where we stayed our first trip) and then walked through the millions of porn slappers on that area of the strip. We walked through the shops at the Venetian, won a few bucks on a machine at the Palazzo, and made a paltry $5 profit on our freeplay at the Encore. We both love the Wynn, but think the Encore is just TOO red. It doesn't do it for me. We headed back on the west side of the strip: TI, Mirage, Caesar's, Bellagio. We were back in the room by 6:00 to get ready for dinner at 7:30.

    Dinner was at Fleur de Lys at Mandalay Bay. Best. Meal. Ever. The restaurant is beautiful, especially the fresh flowers on the stone wall when you walk in. CD had a Fleurtini before dinner which was quite good. I started with the veal and yukon gold potato ravioli with sunchokes and peas, and ordered the free range chicken with mushrooms, shallot confit, crispy cabbage, and truffles. Each was outstanding. CD started with the truffled onion soup, which we both agreed was the best thing that we had. She ordered the chorizo-wrapped sea bass with barley risotto, which was outstanding. For dessert, we split a Nutella creme brulee with blood-orange sherbet. Whoa. With the $50 restaurant.com gift certificate, the price wasn't that bad (or, at least, not as bad as we thought it might be). This place comes with our highest recommendation. Outstanding.

    After dinner, we went back to the room, changed, and drove to Fremont Street so CD could experience the "Experience." And what an experience it was. We listened to the outdoor bands for awhile, then won some at a slot machine at the Golden Nugget. We ended up playing Robin Hood: stealing from the rich at the Golden Nugget and giving to the poor at Fitz's. I don't know what it is about blackjack tables this trip, but CD and I have gotten spanked every time we sit down. Three of the worst sessions that I can remember. We can't even tread water... just lose 4 out of every 5 hands. Lots of doubling down to 13s and 14s, which is always a laugh riot. Oh well. We're four days in, and have lost less than $150. Could be (much worse).

    We were back in the room by 1:00 and asleep by 1:05. Coming up... DAY FIVE, featuring a trip to the Valley of Fire State Park.
     
  11. squeak

    squeak Tourist

    Joined:
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    Carriage House

    We've stayed there a number of times and have always been quite satisfied. Due to snoring, we wanted a suite so I could sleep on the pull-out bed/couch. And a suite in a strip hotel was too expensive.

    Of course it doesn't have all of the amenities of a strip hotel/resort, but here's what we liked about it:

    Very Quiet
    Coin Laundry (20 feet down the hall in our case)
    Free Internet
    Ten cup coffee maker
    Full Kitchen
    Seven minute walk to side entrance of Miracle Mile
    Not even a hint of purchasing a unit.
    Friendly staff
     
  12. JTPiano23

    JTPiano23 Tourist

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    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
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    Day 5: Wednesday, May 12

    We woke up at the Carriage House and immediately hit the road for Valley of Fire State Park. We stopped by the Gold Coast on the way out of town to take advantage of a 2-for-1 breakfast buffet, but apparently the buffet closes between 10 and 11. Oh well. We're both faithful devotees of Denny's, so we stopped for Grand Slams on our way out of town.

    The drive to VoF took about an hour. Along the way, we saw some beautiful desert landscapes. Once we turned off I-15, we immediately started driving uphill into the mountains. The views were beautiful, but not that different than what we'd seen from the interstate. After about 20 minutes, we entered the park. We were blown away by the views of the deep red rock formations.

    We drove around the park and hit most of the major sites. We climbed on a few of the rocks next to the "Beehives." We stopped to see the petroglyphs (circa 2,000 B.C.) near Arch Rock. We did the 1.25 mile hike on the White Dome Trial (my personal favorite). We drove out to see the Fire Canyon (or something like that)... an interesting view in which the mountains are red on the bottom half and grey on the top. We also did two additional short hikes to see Mouse's Trap and Elephant Rock.

    One of the more interesting experiences was getting rained on in the desert. The rain had a smell to it unlike anything that we'd experienced. It smelled really... clean, I guess. It continued to rain as we drove home.

    On our way back into town, we stopped by Ellis Island to pick up a Metro Pizza (the "Gotham," I think). I had read about the pizza on the board before, and it didn't disappoint. We also played through our $10 each in free play that we got for signing up for a player's card. Ended up $25 ahead.

    We got back to the room, ate our pizza, and cleaned up for the evening. First stop was Planet Hollywood, where we had two comped nights. I tried the "twenty dollar trick" and upgraded to a resort room on the 12th floor with a fountain view. The room overlooked the pool area. It was a very nice (and large) room. We were in a "Blue Chips" themed room, with the real costumes worn by Nick Nolte and Shaq in the movie.

    We left around 8:30 to walk down to the MGM Grand to see Ka... part two of our Cirque three-peat. (We used a win from earlier in the week to buy tickets to Love on Friday.) While waiting to enter the theatre, we tried a Deal or No Deal machine and hit the bonus twice for about $30.

    We both enjoyed Ka, but agreed that it was not nearly as good as O or Mystere. The stage was absolutely amazing, but it didn't have as many of those "oooooh!" moments that I love in Cirque shows. Still a very good show... maybe my expectations were just too high.

    After the show, I peered into Joel Robuchon and The Mansion, both of which were pretty empty at 11:30 p.m. The rest of the casino was jumping. CD thought we were due on an Invaders from Planet Moolah machine, and sure enough we hit for $30. She picked out a Fireball machine, and we won $65 on our first pull. After we put $20 through a dud machine, we decided to cut our losses and head home.

    Overall, we are down about $50 for the trip. Not bad for five days of gambling. We enjoyed the view for a bit, then hit the sack a little after 1.

    Coming up... DAY SIX!?!?
     
  13. Marky147

    Marky147 High-Roller

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    Great report so far, sounds like you are having the best time. Look forward to the next instalment :)


    How have you found Planet Hollywood thus far? I'm staying there for the last week of my trip next month for the first time.

    Sorry to hijack, good luck for the rest of your trip sir :thumbsup:
     
    Double digits!
  14. tnsteve

    tnsteve Tourist

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    I enjoyed reading your report so far, but am curious how you snagged free nights at two casinos with the level of play you are reporting.
     
  15. JTPiano23

    JTPiano23 Tourist

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    To answer your questions:

    (1) The Carriage House is great. It's quiet, a little bit off the strip, and cheap. No need to pay $13.99 for internet access. It's great having a sizeable refrigerator for leftovers and water. The room is a little dated, but it's clean and big enough for us. (Nice new flat-screen HDTV, too.) The biggest down-side is the size of the pool and work-out room. Both are tiny.

    (2) We love Planet Hollywood. We were comped in a regular room, but slipped the guy at check-in $20 and asked for a fountain view room. He upgraded us to a "Resort" room overlooking the pool with a great view of the fountain. If you like the look and feel of the casino, you'll enjoy the rooms. CD and I are split on the pool area... she likes it, but I don't know if it's the best. I guess all I have to compare it to is the Flamingo and the Paris... I'd put it somewhere in between. CD says that if laying out is what you're looking for, it's just fine.

    (3) As far as comps, I usually play at a higher level than we're playing on this trip. We're definitely low-rolling it because (a) there are two of us splitting the gambling budget, and (b) we're here for a full week instead of a long weekend. That said, there must have been a fluke because I got an offer from Harrah's AND an offer from Planet Hollywood before it got eaten up by Harrah's. I booked both offers right before the "transition" from PH's A-list club to Total Rewards. That was just lucky on my part. Also, I checked my win-loss report for 2009. I think there was a typo. Last year, I played at Bally's once... betting $10/hand at blackjack. I doubled up in about 20 minutes and cashed out up $100. On my win-loss statement, it says that I won $1,100. They must have assumed that I was betting $100/hand. So... I don't expect the comps to last. However, I've noticed that I'm getting offers from other casinos that we barely played at in our last few visits... I guess that's just a sign of the bad economy.
     
  16. JTPiano23

    JTPiano23 Tourist

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    Day 6: Thursday, May 13

    I woke up at the Planet Hollywood and headed down to the casino for the 10:00 a.m. poker tournament. I ended up in 12th place out of 27. By the first break, I went from 3,000 chips to around 7,000. Throughout the tournament, we had a hyper-aggressive player at the table who raised nearly every hand. I won a few pots off of him and he showed mediocre hands. I waited and finally had my moment during the fifth round. There were a few callers and Mr. Aggressive raised to 2,000. I saw pocket kings and pushed all in. Of course, he called. With A-J off-suit. Crazy. Sure enough, the ace came on the flop and I went home with my tail between my legs. Meh. I guess I got my money in good... you can't ask for much more.

    After the tournament, CD and I headed down to Pink's Hot Dogs for lunch. We were both impressed, and they weren't nearly as expensive as I thought they might be. After lunch, we headed to the PH pool for a few hours. I left a bit early and hit the casino, but had no luck. Played 10 hands of Let 'Em Ride without a win, and donated some money to a few machines.

    After CD left the pool, we got cleaned up and started our walk down the strip to Mandalay Bay. Along the way, we stopped and played a bit at NYNY and the Luxor (which CD had never seen). We ended up winning a little bit.

    We reached Mandalay Bay at 6:00 and went to the shark reef, which CD wanted to see. It was a really neat exhibit. A bit expensive ($17 a pop, I think), but that wasn't terribly. CD loved petting the sting rays... it sounds like she's 7.

    We had reservations at Charlie Palmer's Aureole at 7:30 (thanks, again, to a restaurant.com gift certificate). It was an amazing meal. CD had the chef's parallel tasting menu, which was four courses, each with two small dishes served side-by-side. She loved a dungeness crab, tuna, and avocado dish. I had the season prix fixe menu. My entree was a hanger steak with bacon creamed corn and potatoes. The desserts stole the show. CD had a trio of lemon and blueberry desserts, and I had a bananas foster dessert. Both were absolutely wonderful.

    If you haven't seen Aureole, it's worth poking you head in. There is a four-story wine tower with "wine angels" that are hoisted up to grab bottles. Really cool.

    Of the restaurants that we ate at, we both agreed that Fleur de Lys was the best. We liked the food, the service, and the look of the restaurant. Aureole's desserts stole the show, though.

    After dinner, we headed back up the strip and played a little bit along the way. We hit a $50 jackpot on a Zeus II machine at Mandalay Bay and played through our winnings at the Tropicana and MGM Grand. We got back to Planet Hollywood a little before 1:00 a.m. and hit the sack.

    Day 7 is coming up...
     
  17. JTPiano23

    JTPiano23 Tourist

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2009
    Messages:
    37
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    6
    Day 7: Friday, May 14th

    THE FINAL DAY!

    We woke up at 9:00 a.m. at Planet Hollywood and checked out. We hoofed it back to home base at the Carriage House and planned our final day of hiking at Red Rock Canyon.

    We were out the door by 10:00 a.m. and stopped for breakfast at Hash House a Go Go on West Sahara. I had the fried chicken benedict (as seen on Man vs. Food). It was fantastic, although it was about twice as much food as I could eat. CD had a sausage waffle, which was also really good.

    We got to Red Rock Canyon just before noon. We checked out the visitor's center (which was really nice), met Mojave Max the desert tortoise, and hit the scenic drive. We checked out a few of the scenic overlooks, then hiked to the top of Keystone Thrust. I would recommend the hike: it was pretty steep, but not nearly as difficult as Mary Janes Falls on Mount Charleston.

    Overall, we enjoyed Red Rock, but thought it was very similar to Valley of Fire. We both preferred Valley of Fire to Red Rock Canyon. Mount Charleston was our favorite, but it was a different experience altogether (snowy mountains vs. desert). Either way, we would both recommend that visitors to Las Vegas spring for a rental car and check out some of the nearby national or state parks. Absolutely beautiful.

    We got back to the Carriage House around 3:00 and took it easy until 5:00. We hit the road and stopped for some Blackjack Switch at Bill's and video poker at the Flamingo. No luck at either. We picked up some Ethel M chocolates for a friend, then walked over to the Mirage.

    We had dinner at the Cravings Buffet at the Mirage (with a buy-one-get-one coupon) and enjoyed it. The crab legs and shrimp weren't nearly as good as the Rio, but we both liked the salad station (where workers will make your salad to order). We killed some time on slots and saw the 9:00 volcano eruption before heading to LOVE at 9:30.

    I had seen LOVE before and enjoyed it, but it was CD's first time. She is a huge Beatles fan. She loved the show, as did I. It was a great way to finish up the trip.

    After the show, we hiked back to the Carriage House through the Forum Shops, Caesars, and Bellagio. We said goodbye to the strip and got back to the hotel around 1:00 to pack up for our flight home tomorrow morning.

    Hope you enjoyed reading about our trip. I know there wasn't anything exciting, but we really enjoyed the shows, the meals, the hiking, and some really fun gambling sessions. We hope you enjoyed following along at home, too. I'll post a wrap-up after we get home and unpacked.
     
  18. Blonde_4_ever

    Blonde_4_ever "The Welfare Queen of Windsor"

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    1,809
    Location:
    Ontario
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    35
    If this is your first trip report you have done one heck of a job.:nworthy:
    Lots of interesting details.
    All those restaurants at MB sound great.

    I was surprised to hear that the Golden Nugget is restricting access to their pool area now. They didn't used to. I have walked in there many nights with a drink in hand and just sat in their comfy chairs and stared at the shark tank.
     
  19. gotavegasjones

    gotavegasjones VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2004
    Messages:
    2,824
    Location:
    South Texas
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    22
    A very fine trip report. Thanks for keeping us updated. Enjoyed reading about the hikes at VoF and Red Rock. Hope to have some time at Mt. Charleston and VoF in a few weeks.

    later, GVJ
     
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