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Rio - 7/16 Thru 7/22 - A Family Affair

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by wizard950, Jul 25, 2005.

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  1. wizard950

    wizard950 High-Roller

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2005
    Messages:
    686
    Location:
    Harleysville, Pennsylvania
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    47

    My Trip Report

    Before I begin anything else, I would like to thank everyone here for all the knowledge they have shared in this community. I would especially like to thank Gregrio for his information about the Rio, Gold Coast and the many shows he has attended. And a special thanks to Mikey for his personal commentary on the Bootlegger's Bistro and the Rat Pack Tribute Show at the Greek Isles. I want to apologize for not being able to get up to the Suncoast to say thanks personally. Maybe next time and there will be a next time someday.

    This is quite long and I apologize in advance for that. Because of my heart condition and age (I guess) I can’t do the things I once did and would like to do again someday, so please don’t expect a “white bikini with nipples†type story although I would enjoy that too!

    We were in Las Vegas last year and I was feeling mighty poorly. I didn’t know what was wrong I just knew something was not right and I couldn’t walk 50 feet without stopping to rest. In short I wasn’t feeling good and the trip was a miserable experience. Within a week of being home we knew what was wrong and what had to be done to correct it. Last July 13th I had a triple bypass. Before the surgery I promised my wife that I would take her and the kids back to Las Vegas if I pulled through this thing OK. And off we went this year!

    Pictures will follow once I get them all sorted and arranged.

    OBSERVATIONS

    1. America is definitely taking a summer vacation this year. Before we left Philadelphia, every major parking facility near the airport was fully booked. Every plane we were on, both directions was full. Every airport we were in Philadelphia, Phoenix and Las Vegas was very, very crowded. This to me is a good thing, although with all this demand there is no wonder why there are few travel bargains out there this year.

    2. Las Vegas knows how to treat a visitor. Except in one case we received Outstanding Customer Service everywhere we visited.. The one exception was late at night when one of the Harrah's to Rio shuttle buses broke down and was taken out of service. No one provided any information to the many people waiting in the still hot night and when a bus did stop the driver was surly and generally not very nice. He kept mumbling something about "Shooting the Messenger!â€

    3. The heat! It was very, very hot. Las Vegas set records the first 4 days we were there. It was in the triple digit teens all week except for Wednesday and Thursday when it dropped to 110 and 109. And that felt good!

    4. There are a lot of eastern European people working in the hotel service industry. I thought this was an Atlantic City phenomenon but it is happening in Las Vegas as well. Our valet at the Paris Hotel was from Gdansk, Poland (that’s the city my grandfather was from when he came to America). We had a nice conversation about the old country. Several of our waitresses during the week were from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Germany and Macedonia.

    THE TRIP

    Saturday 7/16 - I stayed up and at 12:01am I printed all of my boarding passes straight through to Las Vegas. All A passes! We left the house at 5am and arrived at the parking facility around 6:10am. We were shuttled to the Philadelphia airport and checked out bags curbside. It's a good thing we got there a little early; the security lines were very, very long. Everyone was patient and it went as well as could be expected. Our plane arrived from Raleigh, NC just in the nick of time for Southwest to disembark all the passengers, go over the aircraft and board all of us heading west. We arrived in Phoenix right on time but were delayed in departing because of the huge number of people in the airport trying to switch planes etc etc etc. We took off only 10 minutes late. The pilot said he would try to make up the lost time. He did. I think we were in the air a grand total of 38 minutes between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

    McCarran was a zoo, but an organized zoo. We got our bags after a short train ride, a nice long walk to the very last carousel in the terminal. After just a few minutes waiting our bags, all of them, showed up and we were off to catch one of the Avis shuttle buses. We left the terminal and immediately determined that it was going to be a hot week! Since I had booked my “Avis Preferred†reservation on the internet through the AARP all of the required paperwork was completed. The bus dropped us off directly at our vehicle which was running with the A/C on and an Avis attendant there to assist us with our bags. I had booked a Chevy Uplander van since there were 5 of us in the group. A good choice, it was very roomy without being too big and served us very well for the entire week.

    It was around 1:45 when we finally left the Avis facility. A tradition we have always had when arriving in Las Vegas on a Saturday is to attend the 2:30pm Vigil Mass at the Cathedral across the street from the Stardust to satisfy our Sunday obligation. I always enjoy this visit to the Cathedral. It gives me a chance to get my head back on straight after a long day of travel.

    After mass it was off to Walgreen’s for some supplies for the room. This Walgreen’s was kind of expensive but considering the location, I guess not too bad.

    Finally off to the Rio for check-in; being a Diamond Card holder we were escorted into the new Diamond Check-In Area; very nice, very plush and no lines whatsoever. Check-in was smooth, our rooms were 1545, my son and his wife were in 1347 and my daughter was in 1690, all in the Ipanema Tower. Rooms 1545, 1690 were renovated, 1347 was not. The renovations are ongoing one wing of our floor was closed for renovations as well as a couple of other wings on different floors.

    After settling in a bit and a nice hot shower, we headed of to the Sao Paulo Café for a light supper, After a long day of travel and the time change no one was super hungry, we were all tired but knew we had to stay up so that we could be semi-normal come Sunday morning.

    After supper we all headed off in separate directions. I parlayed a $20 bill on a dollar Double-Diamond slot into $500 on a nickel King of the Nile slot. Then it was off to bed for me.

    Sunday 7/17 – Up sort of early at 8am and off to breakfast. The kids went to the pool before the heat of the day set in. I went up to the room and read the paper and just sort of vegged for a short while. Around noon the 5 of us gathered and headed off to the Gold Coast using the instructions Gregrio provide on this forum. It was a profitable walk for my wife. She took $400 out of a nickel Cleopatra slot and get this $1,243 our of a penny Mr. Cashman. I pretty much stayed even and I don’t remember what the kids did. For those who may be wondering the liquor store and the gift shop in the Gold Coast have been combined into one room. The liquor prices are very reasonable and there is a good selection of brands and sizes. I liked the Gold Coast casino. It was much quieter than the Masquerade Village in the Rio.

    Late afternoon and back to the Rio. Dinner was at 6pm at Bamboleo. I’m not much of an expert on Mexican food so my opinion is what it is to me. We all enjoyed our meals, the Fajita I had was wonderful. I really enjoyed it. After dinner the kids were off to the Penn & Teller show. I was able to get them half price tickets which was a bonus for their budget. We spent the rest of the night playing the slots at the Rio.


    Monday 7/18 – A laid back day. That was the plan anyway. Started the day off with a nice breakfast followed by a prolonged session at the pools; followed by a nice nap in the room. For some reason I was running on empty today. Must be age catching up with me. About 4:30 or so we went over to the Orleans to check it out. It’s a nice place, had a hot dog from the cart in the Sports Book to tide us over to dinner which will be much later at the Bootlegger’s Bistro. Then being the tourists we were, we went over to the Las Vegas sign, parked at the Klondike (What a seedy joint this is!), and took lots of pictures. Off to the Bistro we went.

    What a wonderful place this is! Here we hooked up with the rest of the family for our 8:30 reservation. There were 14 of us surrounding this big long table. Since it was Monday, it was Celebrity Karaoke Night with Kelly Clinton. The meals were fabulous! Not one thing bad. I had the Bootlegger Mixed Antipasti (Shrimp Scampi, Calamari and Toasted Ravioli) as an appetizer that I shared with three other people. My main course was the Bistecca French Sauté USDA Prime (NY Steak Sautéed to Perfection, Topped with Mushrooms and a Peppercorn Wine Sauce). Fabulous and large! So bring a big appetite. The entire bill for 14 people with drinks, a handful of appetizers and soups, and assorted main courses was $500 including the built in 18% gratuity for groups. www.bootleggerlasvegas.com
    The Karaoke show started with Kelly Clinton doing a couple of numbers and making a fuss over me because she liked the way I looked and my chrome dome. Like Santa Claus, she said. Then a parade of other singers followed, all excellent. Not a clunker in the group. No big names tonight, just a lot of back up singers, lounge singers and up and comers; an outstanding night of entertainment for the price of a meal. Back to the Rio for a little more play.

    End of Part 1
     
  2. wizard950

    wizard950 High-Roller

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Harleysville, Pennsylvania
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    Rio - 7/16 Thru 7/22 - A Family Affair - Part 2

    Tuesday 7/19 – A full day! And was it ever! Started with a nice breakfast at the Rio then off to Red Rock Canyon for some sight seeing. On the way out we stopped and loaded up with water because the heat was already building. There was a major fire threat in the Canyon so everyone was extra careful with everything. In fact there was a government fire truck circling the scenic drive just in case a fire broke out. It now costs $5.00 for a carload of people to enter the trail and worth every penny. I just love the beauty and serenity of the place. If you have never seen it, you should. Before leaving we stopped to use the facilities at the visitor center. They have a desert tortoise exhibit/trail set up so you can wander around and see how these animals live. Amidst the signs and indicators of what desert tortoises do there were ground sensor thermometers to show the conditions on a real time basis. The ground temperature on this day was 142 degrees. It was hot out there!!!!! I got back in the car to start the A/C it’s not a good thing for me to stay out in this kind of hear for very long. The temperature indicator on the van showed the air temperature at 117 degrees. Back to Vegas we go swallowing every drop of water to be had in the van.

    Next stop “Tix 4 Tonight†to get half price tickets for the Rat Pack Tribute at the Greek Isles. They had plenty and with tax etc they were $28 and change each. Much better than the $49 plus tax list price. Then back to the Rio to cool off at the pool, in the shower or wherever. It seems once that heat gets to you it stays with you a while.

    Dinner was at the Carnival World Buffet which was once again very good and varied. Off to the Greek Isles for the show. I’m not sure this joint is a dump as Mikey described it, but it was close enough for a judgment call. There is a single bar, a small place for a band and about 2 dozen slot machines in the casino/lounge area. The crowd started lining up for the show and so did we. The maiter’d showed us to our seats which were center stage 2nd level which were very good. Just before show time the place was about 90% full. I was surprised for a Tuesday night. The show started and kept us laughing and thinking of the old days the entire time. This show is very, very good and in my opinion a sleeper in Vegas. With a better venue and some promotion you wouldn’t see tickets at $28. It is a night of good entertainment.

    After the show, off to the Wynn. We drove around the corner and did the self-park on the roof of the Wynn garage. The most remarkable thing happens from up there at night. First, you have no idea that you are right next to and attached to a very large curved hotel building. You have this feeling of space and then you turn around and look up and you see this lighted curved thing and for a moment you don’t know what it is until you realize it is the hotel building itself. I don’t know how to explain it but with the shape of the building and the way it is lit you just don’t recognize it as a building for a few seconds. The inside of the Wynn is very plush and a noticeable lack of kids. There is a sign in the elevator lobby, “No one under 18 without an adult and no strollers allowedâ€. I like kids but this was a nice respite from all the kids we encountered in other casinos.

    Back to the Rio, it was a long day!


    Wednesday 7/20 – Another day starting off at the pool. It was yet again another hot one! Around 1pm we headed over to Harrah’s for lunch at Toby Keith’s new place. It’s on the second floor back toward the monorail station. The portions were large, the food and service were excellent. None of us had breakfast today so this was the opening meal of the day. Right after we entered they played “I Love This Barâ€. When this song is played, there are free shots at the bar. So we all went up for the free shots which were very good. One funny story about the portions; my wife wasn’t very hungry so she ordered the dozen chicken wings. Most places you get a mix of drumettes and wingettes for your dozen. Not here! Here you get a dozen very large complete wings (drumettes, wingettes and tips) from some kind of mutant chicken for a total of 36 pieces in most other places. I had the best iced tea I ever had here. It was a peach flavored tea with diced apples floating in it. Outstanding!

    On a full stomach went down the street to the Barbary Coast to catch Big Elvis. No big Elvis this week! It seems he was in the hospital and someone mentioned that he lost 80 lbs so far. With no official announcement I’m guessing he had the gastric bypass surgery. In his place was a young entertainer named Tom Stevens who does a fabulous Dean Martin impersonation along with many others. Tom has a website you should check out www.deanofdeans.com we were going to stay for one set but ended up staying for all three. He was that good! We didn’t get out of there until 6pm. A nice, cheap fun filled afternoon.

    Off to Paris for their fabulous buffet. I used my comps from Atlantic City so the buffet for 4 was free or very expensive, depending on how you look at it. Once again it was magnificent. The split crab legs, the peeled shrimp and all the French cuisine along with all those fancy desserts with custom made crepes. My mouth is watering still.

    After a fine meal, the kids went off to explore the strip and my wife and I went across the street to catch a couple of water shows at the Bellagio. We played a little more at Paris before heading back to the Rio.


    Thursday 7/21 – The last full day in Vegas. Where did the week go? Once again, we started the day out at the pool. Then later in the day it was off to do the souvenir thing. It seems the best selection of souvenirs was at the Walgreen’s on the strip across from the Stardust and the Vegas Shoppe in the Masquerade Village at the Rio. Speaking of souvenirs, there was a discussion of cheap or free souvenirs that could be had in Vegas. Well, one day I left a note to our maid asking her for some extra Rio pens and Rio pads that we could take back home for our friends. I expected a handful of each, what I got was about a gross of pens and a complete sleeve of Rio pads. A few pads and pens for everybody! I left her a special tip the next day.

    Then it was off to the Hard Rock so the kids could look at some of the rock memorabilia they have there. My wife and I played some slots; it was a nice way to spend an hour or two.

    Then off we went again across the street to the Hofbrau House. Once again we met up with the rest of the family, all 14 of us together again for the last full meal in Vegas. The Hofbrau House is a huge, gaudy, Las Vegas style reproduction of the beer hall in Germany of the same name. This is a pretty good place to go if you have a huge group of people, as the booths are enormous. There is also a giant beer garden in the back. The beer comes in massive 32 oz mugs, which is kind of fun, and the food is decent - predictably, lots of sausage and kraut and other German fare. Not a great place to go if you want to talk, as the live German Oompah music is tough to compete with. Participate and you will have fun. www.hofbrauhauslasvegas.com Our waitress Angeleen and her helpers were excellent. So lift a mug of beer and offer a toast Ticky tacky ticky tacky, oy oy oy!


    Friday 7/22 – We got up early to prepare for our 11:35am flight to Philadelphia. I sent the kids to the valet with the luggage to get the car packed and ready to go while I settled up at the front desk. I applied all my earned comps to the meals plus our room comps. Three rooms for six nights with quite a few breakfasts and a couple of dinners came in at approximately $700 total. Not too bad at all! I was happy to be able to help the kids out and give them a little vacation this year. Oh before I forget, the front desk at the Rio will go to the internet and print any boarding passes for any airlines for you if you provide them with your confirmation number or other required airline ID.

    On the way to the airport we stopped at Terrible’s Casino on Paradise for breakfast (Southwest doesn’t feed you and it’s a long flight home). The service was wonderful and the food was surprisingly good. And not expensive either, $32.00 for 5 complete breakfasts including 1 steak and eggs.

    We dropped off the car, checked out baggage, made it through security all without incident. The flight home was jam packed and smooth as silk with a pilot who was a wannabe tourist guide. He pointed out just about everything of interest all the way across country. It was kind of fun, I haven’t heard that so much in recent travels.
     
  3. RamBill

    RamBill Tourist

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    Great, detailed TR, Wizard! Like Greg, I really like the Rio to stay in. Love the margaritas at Bamboleos (not to mention a certain bartendress! :thumbsup:)! Maybe I can talk the gang into seeing the Rat Pack when we're out there in September and if not then, maybe during MM3. 142 degrees??????? OUCH!!!!
     
  4. Jimbucc

    Jimbucc VIP Whale

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    Sounds like good food and a great time was had by all.

    I can't believe Tom Stevens is at Barbary Coast. This guy is really talented. I saw him at The Suncoast when he was with The Frank and Dean Show. I wonder what happened to Frank?

    Nice idea about the pads and pens for gifts.
     
  5. HoyaHeel

    HoyaHeel Grammar Police & Admin

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    Thanks. I knew I wasn't crazy when I posted that a few months back.....
     
  6. Candy Apple

    Candy Apple VIP Whale

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    Loved all the details. Thanks for writing.
     
  7. GREGRIO

    GREGRIO Tourist

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    That's the kind of trip I like to read about!
    The one 'tip' I forgot to tell you about, but you seemed to figure it out
    on your own, was the RIO NAP. They're complimentary, but you're totally
    on your own......glad you figured yours out (mine are around 2PM each day)

    Funny your discription of the Greek Isle...just the way it is. When I
    went over for the show....the two or three locals sitting at the bar all turn
    around and look at you like........what are they doin' here LOL!!!
    GOOD TRIP/GOOD REPORT
    thanks
     
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