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MGM/Orleans - June & live

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Don, Jun 9, 2010.

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  1. Don

    Don Tourist

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    My Trip Report

    Eek - this dude's only a low- low- low-roller gambler, and doesn't drink. So if you need a Hurricane Mikey fix, I can't help. This'll be more about the hotels, the food and the feel of the town.
    Delta out of Hartford on Tuesday was a bumpy ride, but OK. Connecting flight at MSP, not so much: Hour-long delay for a mechanical, then another 15 minutes taxiing because the control tower had just switched around the takeoff/landing pattern.
    MGM registration desk at McCarran was closed ... sigh, thought the $20 trick would be interesting to try there. Executive Shuttle was cheap and fast, though, and very late afternoon check-in line at the MGM was minimal. Got the 25th floor, McCarran view, for the $55 a night package (2 spa admissions, 2 lazy river tubes, some other goodies) that I found here a couple of months ago. Thanks as always, T2V.
    Can't understand the squawks I've read about the MGM. The hallways are immaculate, carpet and walls looks fresh, faux brass in the elevators is polished, the lobby is sharp. Damn pleasant room for a standard - large, attractive bathroom, fantastically comfortable king bed, well-done desk area. A coffeemaker would be nice, but this is Vegas. The sofa along the huge (and CLEAN windows) is a great place for nighttime plane watching and soaking in the lights of the city. (Personally, I love the green glow of the MGM ... there are curtains to block it if you like, but who'd want to?) It was 90 before 11 a.m. today, so the kick-ass A/C in the room (and hallways) is appreciated.
    Spice Market last night: Agreed, it's lost a step from 4 years ago (the last time we were here). Still awfully good, but not great. The Asian/Chinese section was really sad-looking takeout-style food, and was widely ignored. Mexican was only a notch or two better. The Moroccan stuff was still exceptional - ground lamb on a half-tomato was exquisite & seared on the edges just perfectly. The chicken and lamb kebobs were splendid. But c'mon, is any form of "curry chicken" really a Middle Eastern dish? (This stuff surely wasn't). Seafood was mostly crab legs (meh) and shrimp (allergic), with salmon drowning in too-pungent soy sauce. Oddly, the American station - one I used to skip years ago - was first-rate: Fresh ham, a nicely spiced beef and a decent mushroom ragout. Desserts were as good as remembered, with the creme brulee being a big hit (OK, it's not Montreal-quality ... but WHERE else do you get unlimited creme brulee? I swear some day I'm going back and having NOTHING but the best of the Moroccan offerings & a half-dozen creme brulees). Service was pleasant and fairly prompt even though the place was full. The obnoxious music and big-screen TVs are definitely a step down from the old days.
    Dinner was also a reminder about the joy of Vegas people watching. Floods of folks of every possible style and type on the street, all pretty much having a good time. Well, alright, four ultra-mega-ginormous people at the buffet were not joyous to watch, nor was the short, 200-pounder with the physics-defying bod .... truly, "sagging" doesn't describe it. We're talking the opposite of a compass; they were pointing due south. Garish, tight purple top ... and no bra. As Groundskeeper Willie would say, "back in the loch with you, Nessie."
    Early walk this morning to the north Strip. Observations: Sound pollution has taken over Vegas since '06. Every inch of the Strip was another pulsating drumbeat or bass line, way over-amped ... and played for nobody. At 7 a.m., it was deserted. The South Strip just seems ... too much. New construction almost obscures the older landmarks like New York New York and the Bellagio.
    Got as far north as the Sahara. Didn't look good. Ghost-town casino at 8 a.m., with one old woman slumped & asleep in front of a slot. Took a ride up to 24 in the Tangiers tower just to see if the upper floors looked at all fresh. (I've thought of trying their upper-tier rooms, which are supposedly fully remodeled). Ugh. Carpet worn to a well-beaten Holiday Inn level, and the corridor was damn warm, even at that hour. NASCAR didn't appeal for breakfast.
    Kady's at the Riv was really surprisingly good, though. The hostess agreed to seat us on the patio (only one person was out there), and it's a great little spot for shade & breeze & fresh air. (Damn, I sound old here, but it was also so blessedly quiet. No jolting music or blaring announcements or needlessly screeching TV. When the pool opened, though, the piped-in music began. Time to go).
    Monorail back to the MGM was empty. Bought the 3-day pass because I'll be shuttling a lot in the next few days.
    Sights from the first 18 hours: Three guys (unrelated, as far as I can tell) walking with wooden crosses along the Strip, one guy preaching Scripture to pornslappers, one drunk & nasty-ass chick on the sidewalk near the Riv at 7:30 a.m. absolutely SHRIEKING into her cell "I done looked for that bitch in every casino in town!!!" Super-friendly staffer outside the LV Hilton showed us the 'secret' entrance to the monorail station (reach in the grate of the monorail exit doorway out by the limo parking, turn the handle & just go in. You're still outside the fare collection area, of course, but it spares you having to tour the hotel to reach the station).
    Fun news of the day: Dave Attell AND Insane Clown Posse are in town this week.
     
  2. raraavis

    raraavis VIP Whale

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    thanks for the mgm review! we booked the same exact package and will be there in a couple weeks. you mentioned the $20 trick for the airport, but did you get a chance to use it for the regular hotel check-in? we have a basic grand tower room reserved, which is fine. but we would love to have a fridge, so we're thinking of trying the $20 trick (though i am pretty horrible at doing that kind of stuff). glad to hear the ac works well. i haven't been to vegas in june since 2005. i don't remember feeling hot (since there's no humidity there), but ac is always welcome. oh and how was the pool? really crowded? i'm really looking forward to the lazy river.

    i agree that the strip is becoming "too much". vegas will always have a place in my heart since i have been going for over a decade (since before i was 18), but i am dreading the porn slappers and the crowded streets. i mean, i lived in nyc for 3 years, so i am used to crowds. but there is something different about the crowds in vegas than the crowds in nyc. anyway, thanks for the post!:wave:
     
  3. Rick1323

    Rick1323 Low-Roller

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    I have to try Spice Market now.....you won me over....
     
  4. Don

    Don Tourist

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    Raravis - There were 6 or 8 clerks at check-in. I tried for one on the far end, but was steered to a woman whose counter was right alongside a supervisor training another agent. My agent just pulled the $20 from between the license and credit card, put it in plain view alongside her computer, then did the reservation. Gave us 25th floor, king and non-smoking, but no Strip view. (3 of 4 made me happy).

    Details on the pool in the next installment. Upshot: You should love it. Terrific pool and lazy river.



     
  5. Don

    Don Tourist

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    Days 2-3

    Wednesday was 'fun day' before the conference. MGM can't be faulted on its pool complex - not quite Disney quality, but damn close. The lazy river is brilliantly designed; it doesn't eat all that much real estate, but delivers an awful lot of fun and twists. Tip: It's nearly empty between 10 a.m. and noon. Around 3:30, look for a LOT of tattooed, shaved-head guys with mirror-lens shades accompanied by 'enhanced' women with way too much ink, all standing about in clusters. Usually good natured, but forget free-moving tube rides.
    The pools are terrific. The Director's Pool has some shade and is at least a few volume notches lower than the others. The whole complex is immaculate.
    Spent some time walking the Strip:
    -- O'Shea's is still fun, and their poker room T-shirts are a 'must' holiday gift for anyone who is Irish
    -- Aria is plenty impressive, but really ... is there any more 'soul' or 'feel' than a modern bank office building in Philly or Dallas?
    -- As the weekend nears, the pornslappers are more plentiful (along with sidewalk 'pose with your favorite character' performers. The occasionally Jesus preacher was out, but utterly outnumbered by crazy-deep crowds on the Paris side of the Strip. Someone tell me WHY people would bring 10-year-olds and push strollers through all of this?)

    Mon Ami Gabi: Outrageously good steak, delicate fries. Friendly service, but slow. A wedding party and at least a couple of grad parties, so it was jumping. But this is one of the spots where the "louder is better" culture just doesn't belong ... give me thumping bass lines at clubs or even at the 'young' casinos (Planet Ho, Mandy, or maybe MGM). But the designers spent a ton making Paris an upper-tier, refined/snooty European oasis ... then some knucklehead managers brought in TV screens and hideously over-amped club music. Dumb.
     
  6. Don

    Don Tourist

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    Days 2-3, part 2

    Speaking of dumb, WHY didn't I read T2V more thoroughly last week? Spent a day and a half pumping my pittance of gambling money into the vid roulette at MGM ... hmm, seems to be doing nothing for my Players Club points balance? Maybe the answer is to spend more! Hmmm ... not working. (A particularly nasty string of odds & reds did serious damage. I believe that if God exists, he's an even and black player ... Vegas is agnostic on the topic, evidently).
    THEN I see the "no points for video roulette at MGM" thread here. Oh well, back to Texas Tea with me.
    Grandpa Simpson observation 1: Lobstermania sucks.
    Grandpa Simpson observation 2: WHY do young people get such a Pavlovian reaction to velvet ropes, cover charges and guys in black jackets? I've seen it at clubs at Times Square in the past year, and all along the Strip now. Pissing away Vegas times waiting to pay ... d'oh.
    Grandpa Simpson observation 3: Give me a billion $, and I'd try to take one of the struggling mid-tier properties and make it stand out. Bag every one of the big-screen TVS and 80 percent of the over-blaring music (note to Planet Ho: you've blown a woofer on one of the speakers facing the Strip and it sounds like shyte). Invest in a better-quality sound system (finer audio, not just louder). Enforce some minimal dress code. Pay the staff an extra $2 an hour, but demand genuine customer service attitudes. Replace the Subways and Mickey Ds and bring in something unsual for the food court -- Inn n Out? Sonic? Hell, Arby's would be an upgrade). It might be doomed, but it might get enough buzz as a modern yet simultaneously old-school operation to draw more people.
    Downside of the trip so far: 1:30 a.m. fire alarm. Floor 25 is the wrong place to be. Fortunately, nothing more than what the recorded announcement called "a minor incident."
    Upside of the trip: 99-degree afternoon spent poolside.
    "Meh" of the trip so far: The spa at MGM (Luxor beats it all to hell), 'Wichcraft and the coffee shop at Harrah's (surprisingly decent sandwiches at Harrah's, excellent ones at 'Wichcraft .... but service that was slower than glacial at both places).
     
  7. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

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    Interesting...Video Rulette @ Bellagio still earned points in February.
     
  8. JaviSRK

    JaviSRK Low-Roller

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    Which version of Video Roulette?

    [​IMG]

    This one?
     
  9. raraavis

    raraavis VIP Whale

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    thanks for the info!! we plan on going to mon ami gabi too, but i swear i am not stalking you :D
     
  10. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

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    I believe it looked similar to that one. They have a bank of four of them at Bellagio near a bar.
     
  11. thebucket

    thebucket VIP Whale

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    Thank you! These little tidbits of inside Vegas knowledge are one of the greatest benefits of reading these boards, and the LVH monorail entrance tip is a great one!

    ICP was in town? Very cool.

    :nworthy:
     
  12. Don

    Don Tourist

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    That's the very one. There's an island of six not far from the fountain at the main tower elevator banks ... pretty much walk directly from there to the casino and they're in front of you. Actually a fun game, but zero points. There are a couple at the Orleans; will find out this weekend whether Coast gives credit for them.
     
  13. Don

    Don Tourist

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    Leaving MGM & on to Orleans

    thebucket - yes, ICP was booked at House of Blues. Unfortunately, work has kept me going 24/7 and I had to skip that & Dave Attell. Oh well.

    MGM checkout was completely painless. My wife checked bags with the bellman, stayed poolside for the day & we left around 5.

    Note to anyone on the $55 summer rate - do check your bill. They deducted the $25 spa passes automatically, but left on the $6 poolside drink. Not a big deal, but it could add up. Front desk deleted the charge quickly & with no hassle.

    Cab to the Orleans was the usual money drain. I'm getting to like that monorail more every day ... the 3-day pass hurts once, but after that you've got access to the whole Strip. Moving to Orleans has saved me a bunch off what MGM wanted for weekend rates, but the cabs will eat a chunk of the savings. (Had to be to Paris for 8 a.m. - the first van from Orleans to Bill's doesn't leave til later. So that's taxi fare #2).

    So ... if the Orleans is charging a $5 resort fee for silly stuff (and it IS silly stuff), why not bounce that up to $7.50 and use the extra $2.50 to pay for another van & 2 drivers? Over the course of a year, I've got to figure that would be at least a break-even for them, even with insurance & other hidden costs. And it would have to make the Orleans more marketable to conventioneers, no?

    Orleans check-in ... late Friday afternoon, I anticipated a horror story. No such thing. Maybe a line of five at most. Got a king non-smoking on 18 ... again, no Strip view, but again, I'm content.

    It's remarkable how the Orleans keeps up the small points - the seams in the wallpaper, the edges of the hallway carpets, the New Orleans-style hallway lamps, etc. That's the stuff that usually goes first (see: Sahara). I can't believe the Orleans has a massively higher profit margin than the more expensive Strip hotels; given the 'bargain' rate rep of this property, it's amazing that the staff keeps it up so well. Is management enlightened enough to put an extra half-percentage point into the maintenance budget? Whatever the answer, two thumbs-up on this.

    The Prime Rib Loft was exactly what we needed after two nights of OD'ing on random Strip noise. Quiet, peaceful, slightly refined, extremely affordable ... very much an "old school" restaurant without the stupid 24/7 sports widescreens or speakers pumping out club music. Kitty, the hostess, struck us as the classic Southern hospitality-style of employee that's so rare now. What a gem.
    The prime rib was excellent. Salad was iceberg, the butter was bland, I could quibble about one or two other small items ... but overall, this place was excellent. For the price, I've got absolutely zero complaints. Enthusiastic recommendation, especially to anyone who needs to revive from sensory overload.

    The nasty little ol' oil tycoon fleeced me again at Texas Tea. I NEVER learn, obviously. Invariably, it's when I drop back a bet that he pays off in bonuses or 'oil exploration' extras ... and when I'm hitting 'max bet,' he's icy cold. Down $40 there last night, and other $20 on My Rich Uncle. Time to try Orleans' vid roulette & see if Coast is any more generous with comp points than MGM was.
     
  14. Don

    Don Tourist

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    Saturday .... chilly???

    Spent two back-to-back days indoors at conventionland ... sunny & '90s days. After 11 a.m., today was to be party day, 'cept for:
    - ferocious head cold (one Fatburger & all the meds at Walgreen's on the Strip haven't improved it)
    - chilly, overcast afternoon. with very light moment of drizzle. unbelievable. the guard at the Orleans pool was wearing a jacket.

    Random observations:
    - The Orleans rocks. Great value, great staff. Dinner buffet ... not.
    They cut the price, and it shows. I remember it as "fair" a few years back, but tonight was pretty grim. Carving meats were low-grade, Mongolian grill was poor, crawfish are unavailable til late June (but it didn't look like anything new was brought in to replace them). Wish they'd jack the price back to $16 or $17 and spend the extra on upgrading the offerings.

    - The time share & club hawkers near East Harmon were pretty entertaining. One asked a half-dozen tattooed 20-somethings "Club tonight?" They blew past him, and he added "What kind of club you guys going to tonight?" Still no answer. He finishes: "Gay club?"
    A time share dude was going after one couple pretty hard on the sidewalk: "Come on, I'll give you $300 if you come see my timeshare." The guy in the couple shakes his head. "Four hundred if you come see my timeshare." Another shake of the head. "OK, you give me $500 and I'll go look at your timeshare."

    - Best slots that I've never played before today: Luigi's Pizzeria and "Cops and Donuts." (The casino was noisy, but I'm pretty sure that when I hit a bonus on Cops and Donuts, the cop who pulls out a ticket book said something like "You were going the minimum, weren't you?")

    - I hate the expense of Vegas cabs, but they can be more entertaining than taxis anywhere else. Orleans to Paris this morning, had a British driver who was talking up the World Cup big (sorry, soccer is irrelevant to me). He's also on a cell call to another driver who'd just had a minor fender-bender (mangled the license plate) a little while earlier ... reassuring her that since the company let her keep driving afterward, then she wouldn't be suspended. "But they'll make you pay for the damage, repainting, whatever ... they'll take a little out of your check each time. You're driving in city traffic 12 hours a day and all you have is one bent license plate after a year, you're doing good."
    He reported that his company keeps cabs on the road into the low 300,000-miles area.
     
  15. peanutmnm

    peanutmnm Scotchy

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    Enjoying your live updates Don. Totally agree on the Prime Rib Loft. What a value and decent to boot.
     
  16. sailor53

    sailor53 Tourist

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    Orleans is our favorite place to stay. Agree with all your comments especially Prime Rib Loft. The buffet is dissapointing. I recommend the Courtyard Cafe and Don Miguel's - very reasonable prices and good quality grub. Enjoying your report.
     
  17. Don

    Don Tourist

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    Sailor53 - thanks for the heads-up about the Courtyard Cafe. Very decent burger.

    ~~~

    One definition of misery: Chills, clammy skin, crushing sinus headache with ready-to-explode facial pressure & non-stop running nose ... all during a Saturday night meant for enjoying the Strip or downtown. Spent it cough, snorting and morosely channel surfing in the room. Ugh.

    Life looked better on the last day, and here's the quick rundown:

    Walked through the Trop for the first time ever. I know you can't judge a place whlie it's undergoing renovations, but man - this is REALLY in the middle of renovations. Part of the main entry sign is missing, sections of facing are stripped away (sort of like a half-finished house with the Tyvek still showing), the whole section toward the Island Tower is largely deserted. One of the two fire doors to the tower elevators was closed, NOBODY was anywhere around, and I was figuring the whole section was out of service until one elevator came down and let two people off. I rode it up (nice view, glass elevator) to 17 ... ugh. Hallway was hot and stuffy, carpet was dismal, the area around the vending machine looked like a beat-up HoJos. Rode an inside elevator down and it, too, was gruesome: All beat to hell, with horrid green carpet around the bottom half of the walls. Kiosks on the ground floor level were unused, a large bar area was empty, some sections of floor were plain concrete. Outside, there are several empty display windows facing the driveway - one had a massive dead roach inside.
    On the other hand, the entry to the casino was downright unique: Bright white tile floors, white walls and ceiling - way brighter then any casino I've seen. The pool area looked first-rate (though closed at 7:50 p.m.).
     
  18. Don

    Don Tourist

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    Best of the rest:

    Stayed poolside at the Orleans late Sunday and all day Monday. The canal-like hot tub is a terrific idea.

    4:45 van to Bill's was full, so the last guy in line got left behind. I hauled the luggage to Paris around 5:15 & the Le Village line was already out of control (at least by my standards). Monorailed to MGM & the crazy Texas oilman cut me a whompin' $6.80 bonus check on my 2 cent, 9 line bet. Seemed like a good note to end the gambling on, since before that MGM & The Orleans & Paris & Bally's had profited way too much from my visit. Also, the $7 helped pay down the $28 bill for the MGM Grand Buffet.

    Some upsides about this buffet: Absolutely no line at 6:15 p.m. (It built a bit by 7, but never got crazy). Also, the room is a lot more elegant and calm than the Planet Ho-ed version of Spice Market, and (sorry, but this one is a sad truth) the crowd was a lot healthier-looking than the Orleans buffet bunch.

    Downsides: Spotty service (the drinks server was great when she was around, but ... ) and spotty execution of the menu. About a third of the stations (and maybe a third of the tables) were closed.
    Papadam with an exquisite mint sauce (better than at most Indian restaurants I've visited), first-rate prime rib. Mahi mahi was lost in the sauce, though, and the Argentinian barbecue amounted to burnt corn on the cob, tough ribs and some "I'm not gonna try that" sausage. Mushroom ragout was splendid, and a ginger potatoes with peas dish was truly inspired. The tacos and pizza looked like dorm fare. A key lime tart was delicate and perfect; the soft serve was Hometown Buffet. Oh well, there were enough excellent offerings to make this a winner, though it's pricy for what it delivers.

    Will be back in October & am resolved to stay healthy the whole time.
    And now ... drum roll ... your bonus payout for reading all my ramblings. (Well, it's a bonus for those of you who don't already know this one ... to all others, I owe ya one).
    Orleans wanted $2 or $3 to print boarding passes, and MGM was gonna try a $6.50 shakedown. I figured to hell with 'em. As usual, the airline counters at McCarran were backed up, though, and most of the airline computer kiosks were in use. But between the United and Southwest doors, I saw two computer terminals with "choose your own airline" screens. First time I've seen 'em in anywhere, and I nearly ignored them because they're up against the glass wall - not where people look for anything important.
    So - I hit "United" on the touchscreen, run my credit card through and it kicks up my itinerary, offers the chance to move seat assignments (or pay for upgrades) and then prints out the passes. I saw at least a half-dozen other airlines listed on the first screen (all domestic, I believe), so if any airline is over-jammed at its counter and its own self-check-in kiosks, this would be a terrific fallback. Fast, easy, and NOBODY was near 'em. Up outside the security line at D concourse, there was a bank of six more.
     
  19. rayrat

    rayrat Low-Roller

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    For future reference, you can print out your boarding pass at the Orleans for FREE at the business center if you are a guest of the hotel. 10 minutes of business center use is included in the resort fee.

    Great reporting and thanks!
     
  20. JaviSRK

    JaviSRK Low-Roller

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    boo. I remember PH allowed points to be earned - this was back in December. I'll know more in about 10 days.
     
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