November 1st Trip Report 11/1/02 Some of my friends wonder how I can still get excited about going to Las Vegasâ€¦ After all, I usually go between 10 and 12 times per yearâ€¦ Living in Southern California, itâ€™s close enough to drive and still cheap to fly so I have a lot of options. This trip was planned months in advance, to celebrate a friendâ€™s birthday. It would also be the first trip in several months for me and the first time flying since America West reinstated direct service from Santa Barbara, CA. Our flight was at 3:15pm from Santa Barbara Municipal Airportâ€¦ The group assembled at the America West terminal as we waited for our flightâ€¦ Altogether we had 9 people in our crew, ages 23-40â€¦ Our hour wait breezed along fairly quickly and soon we were boarding the Canadair Regional Jet that would take us to Las Vegas. America West operates quite a few of these jets in their fleet now. They seat about 60 people but can fly at over 500mph. What this translates to is flight time of just under an hour. The flight was uneventful and we landed at McCarran 5 minutes ahead of time. The captain apparently felt a need to test the brakes as we landed and we all got a nice sampling of the seat in front of us right after touchdownâ€¦ I guess he came in a little too fastâ€¦ Anyway, we were in the terminal in no time. I had decided that we needed to do this trip right, so I had pre-arranged to have a limo pick us up and take us to the Mirage. We met the driver in baggage claim and headed outside to wait for our limo. It took about 10 minutes for the actual car to show up, as it was stuck in traffic. I guess the guy that met us was the airport coordinator for LVLâ€¦ Whateverâ€¦ In no time at all we all piled into the limo and we were on our wayâ€¦ We had 5 people in our group staying at Treasure Island, so we dropped them off first. After they jumped out we made our final stop at the Mirage and headed for check in. I had reserved a Tower Suite, which is a room on the top set of floors with private elevator access. They are quite large and include a lot of great services that they call â€œRoyal Serviceâ€. Anyway, I had decided to splurge and I was excited. Since I hadnâ€™t told anyone, they were surprised as I headed to the VIP area. Upon check in, I was told that they were overbooked and had no Tower Suites left. This bumped us up to a Penthouse Suiteâ€¦ The Penthouse Suites are on higher floors and just about the same square footage as the Tower Suites, except all the furnishings are much nicer (leather everywhere). Ours was on floor â€˜Dâ€™, which is the second from the top. I posted some pictures in my â€˜Construction Reconâ€™ post in the Construction Board. Anyway, we unpacked our stuff and started to prepare for a night out. I hung up my clothes in the closet (as big as my kitchen at home!) and sorted out something to wearâ€¦ I can get dressed to go out in about 1/100 of the time it takes my girlfriend to get ready, so I had some time to kill checking out the suiteâ€¦ My favorite features are definitely the switch operated window curtains and great stereo system. If it sounds like Iâ€™m gloatingâ€¦ I am! I loved the suite and I wanted to move in. Where does Nevada state law stand on a hotel guest that simply refuses to check out? Iâ€™m sure the Mirage and my American Express card would have gotten along nicely for a whileâ€¦ Oh wellâ€¦ Finally ready to go out, we headed downstairs to the Baccarat Bar for a few drinks while we figured out what we were going to do. As it turned out, my girlfriend also had some friends in town. She was planning on going out to do some dancing with themâ€¦ Iâ€™m not much of a dancerâ€¦ At allâ€¦ I like to hit the tables and leave the lets-pay-a-lot-for-drinks-in-a-small-sweaty-room-full-of-people-from-LA thing to others. We decided right off the bat we needed some food, so we headed to the best 24 hour restaurant within a 500 foot distance, the Caribe CafÃ©. For the life of me, I canâ€™t remember what I had, but it was as tasty as always. From there, my girlfriend headed off for dance party USA and I was determined to place some wagersâ€¦ At this point we had a group of about 5 and we were looking for some action. To appease everyone in the group the mandate was to find a casino with $5 minimums on the tablesâ€¦ On a Friday night on the center Strip, this is not an easy taskâ€¦ Where did we end up? Imperial Palace. Yeah, I know. Itâ€™s not one of my favorite places either. I am happy to report that we killed them at the craps table, with a massive streak of luck that ran for over an hour. Fired up from our win, we resolved to conquer our neighbors at Harrahâ€™sâ€¦ This didnâ€™t work out as well as it did at the IP, but the profits were flowing right inâ€¦ My girlfriend and her friends met us at Harrahâ€™sâ€¦ To be honest, this is where things get a little hazy as far as details, as the constant stream of greyhounds had started to take its toll on my memory. Since I had built a steady profit and I was fading fast, I decided to call it a nightâ€¦ Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzâ€¦ 11/2/02 Woke up and headed to the Caribe CafÃ© for some breakfast. This was turning into a habit! A great breakfast and I didnâ€™t even have to battle a hangover. Ah, life is sweet. We had a lot of divergent plans for the dayâ€¦ My buddy with the birthday was betting on about a dozen games in the sports book. My girlfriend was heading off to Canyon Ranch at the Venetian for a massage and I needed to take pictures of the Le Reve site for my Web siteâ€¦ I headed out to take a bunch of shots and wandered around for about 2 hours just checking things outâ€¦ Since I hadnâ€™t been to Vegas since early August, I had to make sure everything was still there J! As a birthday gift to my friend, he, another friend and I were going to get late afternoon massages at Canyon Ranch. I had never had a professional massage before and let me tell you, it was fantastic. First off, a little about the facilityâ€¦ Located on the 3rd floor near the pool area, Canyon Ranch is a fantastic place. The spa area contained a steam room, a sauna, whirlpools and showers. We decided to sit in the sauna for a few minutes before going in for the massageâ€¦ The massage itself was 50 minutes, except it felt like about 10 minutes had gone byâ€¦ I was worried I would get bored in there but the time flew byâ€¦ When I walked out I realized that I would be coming back soonâ€¦ I was so relaxed! After another 20 minutes in the steam room and a shower, we were on our way back to the Mirage for a cocktail. Saturday nightâ€™s dinner was at the Nine steakhouse at the Palms (our reservations were for 9 at 9 at 9 â€“ figure that out!). Iâ€™ve had the good fortune to eat at some of the best restaurants on the Strip and downtown and I was excited to try Nine. It took about 10 minutes as we waited for our table. The first thing I noticed about this restaurant was that it was LOUD. The staff was attentive and the menu was full of choices. I ordered a Caesar salad, French onion soup and the filet. They brought out some rolls that were absolutely fantastic. I have to say that all the food was quite good. The only thing that I didnâ€™t like was I had to yell to talk to people across the table. All in all, the birthday dinner went very well. The bill ended up being about $100 per person, not too bad considering the quality of food. That said, I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ll return to Nine. I can get food that is just as good at Delmonico or Prime, and when I eat there I donâ€™t need to scream to have a conversationâ€¦ We headed out of Nine and at this point it was about 11pm. The Palms was PACKED with people waiting to get into the Ghostbar and Rain. It was wall-to-wall peopleâ€¦ Pretty overwhelming. As we headed outside we took one look at the cab line and knew we had to come up with an alternativeâ€¦ Somebody in our group flagged down one of those 13 person mini-busses. Iâ€™ve never been inside one of these though I see them often. This thing was done up nicer than our limo on the inside! It was great! We had the driver take us back to the Mirage and Iâ€™m convinced it was cheaper than the two cabs would have beenâ€¦ From there, it was time to hit the tables again. My girlfriend went off dancing again, and I was determined to go home a millionaireâ€¦ You can probably guess how that ended upâ€¦ My friends wanted to go to Oâ€™Sheaâ€™s. Again, not one of my favorite places. What made it worse was that we hit a great rally at the craps table but they limit your odds to 2 times! I guess I canâ€™t be too picky about winning, but if I had been able to take full odds, I would have been sitting really pretty. Out of Oâ€™Sheas and into the Flamingo and then the Barbary Coast, we bounced from table to table and downed drink after drinkâ€¦ After a few of my buddies sat down at a blackjack table that was full, I decided to walk down to TI and see some of my friends that deal there. I headed down there and was happy to see that all the regulars were on dutyâ€¦ Played there for a few minutes before I decided to go back to the Mirage. I didnâ€™t feel like I missed out on TI, I knew I was coming back in 10 days! When I got back to the Mirage I saw one of my friends and a lonely craps table. Well, I couldnâ€™t let that standâ€¦ And it was good! Netted another profitâ€¦ Since it was now about 4am, I decided all that I wanted to do was go to sleepâ€¦ When I got to my room, there was a nice party going on. It seems that my girlfriend and her friends decided that a suite was made to party in and that was that. By the time I finally hit the pillow, it was 6:45am and the sun was coming up. Yikes! Slept until about 11 and headed downstairs to see what other people were doing. Being Sunday, Mr. Birthday was into another round of sports betting. We decided to spend the day chilling out. Watched a movie in the room and took a nap. By the time evening rolled around, I headed down to the pool to chat with a friend that was in the hot tub. After that, we retired to the sports book to watch the Laker game. It was a lot of fun, considering it went into overtimeâ€¦ Birthday Boy lost his bet, but we laughed it off. After that, it was over to the Grand Lux CafÃ© for some dinner. We had some friends who were flying home, so we said our goodbyes and back to the Mirage. At this point, Birthday Boy and my girlfriend went off to their (respective) rooms for bed. I headed out with the other friend for some more gambling. We made a few bets on craps and roulette and then headed upstairs. The next day, it was a leisurely breakfast and then a limo ride to the airport. All in all, it was a profitable trip and a hell of a lot of funâ€¦ There is no way that this report really conveys the madnessâ€¦ I really need to write another report for my COMDEX trip last week, but this stuff takes a long time!