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Solo Trip Report, Sept. 9-13, 2013

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by pjpeck, Sep 14, 2013.

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  1. pjpeck

    pjpeck Tourist

    Aug 3, 2013
    Trips to Las Vegas:

    My Trip Report

    Flew Allegiant Air out of Cedar Rapids, IA, and returned to Moline, IL, as two one ways, instead of buying a round trip fare. Doing it this way enabled me to fly out Sunday and return Friday, so I could spend four full days in Las Vegas. A round trip from either location would only allow three full days. I live about half way in between the two airports, and my wife was dropping me off and picking me up, so I was able to make it work out. No difference in price, in fact I may have saved a few bucks doing it this way.

    The Sunday flight out of Cedar Rapids was on time, no problems. The return flight to Moline left the gate on time, but then we sat on the apron for 45 minutes due to a faulty indicator light in the cockpit. A technician came aboard and reset a breaker, and we were on our way, arriving about 20 minutes late.

    Car Rental-
    Used Hertz for the first time this trip. From the time I started planning the trip in late July, car rental prices were high at all the places I usually use (Alamo, Dollar, Thrifty, and Budget) and despite checking back many times, they never went down. All ran in the neighborhood of $220. Finally checked the companies I don't use, and found Hertz to be about $180 (prices are all taxes and fees included). So I joined Hertz Gold Plus, and made the reservation, canceling all the others. Bypassed the counter (about 20 standing in line), found my name on the board outside, went right to my car, a Nissan Altima, and checked out at the gate.

    Luxor, one night comped (plus resort fee) on a myVegas reward. There were a surprising number of people checking in at 10:30 at night, so I went to the invited guest desk, even though I am a lowly sapphire mLife cardholder. The young lady checking me in never made an issue of my card level, and assigned me room 1876 in the East tower. I told her I kinda wanted to stay in the pyramid (in fact that was why I took the myVegas reward for Luxor). But she said I upgraded you in a beautiful suite, so how could I refuse. It was indeed a true suite, with a separate bedroom with a door that closed (my definition of a suite, so Venetians standard “suites” don't qualify). Living room had a wet bar, and there was a large, but strangely shaped bathroom, with a large soaking tub and separate shower. The suite was in good shape, and spotlessly clean. The décor seemed a little dated to me. By the way, I did not try the $20 trick/tip/bribe, and I don't know why I was upgraded.

    Caesars Palace, two nights comped in a Forum Tower King, from the Total Rewards rate calendar. I never usually see Caesars Palace comped on the rate calendar, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to stay there for free (except for resort fee, of course). No upgrades asked for, or offered. The Forum Tower room (5602) was very nice, and looked recently updated. The bathroom had a TV in the mirror, and a rainfall shower head (so much for water conservation, this thing put out a ton of water). I know that there are other towers that are supposed to be better, but this room was really all I need in a hotel room and I would take it any day. I probably will not return to Caesars. It is everything I don't like in huge strip resorts. Long walks to get anywhere, especially out to the strip. And no inexpensive places to eat. I knew all this going in, but wanted to stay here just once, and now that is done.

    Fremont Hotel-
    This is where my wife and I usually stay in Las Vegas. The rooms are small but nice and clean. The beds and pillows are very comfortable. From valet to front desk to room elevators is literally less than 50 feet. The room hallways are not long either, since it is a relatively small hotel. Lots of great food choices, both in the hotel, and nearby. Had to actually pay to stay here, but only about $25 a night, and no resort fee. This hotel just feels like a second home to us in Las Vegas.

    Bellagio Buffet, lunch, myVegas reward comp. Nothing wrong with this buffet, the food was good, but would I pay $40 per person to eat lunch here? No way! The buffet at M Resort is just as good, and lots cheaper (and usually comped for me). Or any of the Station buffets, for about $9 for lunch would suit me just as well. Smaller selection of food here than say, the Rio or Green Valley ranch buffets. And a very poor selection of sugar free deserts.

    M Resort Buffet, lunch, comped with a coupon sent by mail. Easily as good a food as the Bellagio Buffet, and more choices. Sugar free deserts were much better, and more choices than Bellagio.

    Cravings Buffet at Mirage, dinner, myVegas reward comp. My wife and I had lunch here in April, and were not really impressed, but I took a myVegas reward here as it is near Caesars Palace. Dinner here this time was much better. They were carving prime rib, and it was just a good as you would get in most sit down restaurants. All the other side dishes I tried seemed improved also. Small selection of sugar free deserts, but more than at Bellagio, and what was there was very good.

    Harrah’s Buffet, breakfast, $5 off coupon received at check in at Caesars. Solid choice for breakfast. Cooked to order omelets and eggs, and all the usual breakfast choices. All were hot and good.

    Binion's Cafe, several meals, all comped. Limited menu, but open 24 hours, value priced, and everything they make is good. Binions has to be the easiest casino in Las Vegas to get comps. Play for a little while, then swipe your card at the kiosk near the Players Club desk, and spin the wheel for rewards. You can almost always get a $10 or $20 dollar food comp. These are good in the steakhouse too, by the way. The club sandwich is the highlight here for me. The burgers and breakfasts are also good. I like to sit at the counter and watch the cook. All the employees are friendly and provide good service.

    The D Cafe, lunch, $10 comp with a coupon received in the mail. The burger I had was very good, thick, juicy, and cooked as ordered. Prices are much higher than when it was Fitzgeralds, but that's progress, I guess.

    Du-Pars, Golden Gate, breakfasts. Had breakfast here two days, one day on a $15 coupon received in the mail. Good cafe food, no complaints. Pancakes are as good as advertised.

    Lanai Express, Fremont Hotel. Ate here twice, as it is fast and convenient. First time had sweet and sour chicken, with chou mien side. Got it to go and ate in my room, good and cheap. I also had a very early breakfast here before heading to the airport Friday morning. $6.99 steak and eggs with potatoes. Good old fashioned Vegas value. The only drawback here is all meals are served on disposable plastic plates, and only plastic utensils are available. Good thing the steak was tender and easy to cut!

    All other meals were fast food, when and where the impulse struck me. Nothing to write home about.

    I mostly play penny slots, I enjoy the bonus rounds, and all the bells and whistles of the newer machines. I know what the payback numbers are, so don't lecture me. It's my money, and this is how I enjoy spending it. Once in a while I play video poker, but frankly, it gets boring fast for me.

    For some reason, I had the best luck at Binions. Had some good payouts at the Quad, New York New York, and Red Rock Resort, also. Seems like I never hit anything at the Fremont, which is a shame as I would love to play here more, and get some better room offers like I used to. Ran some money through the Lion's Share at MGM, never got one dollar back. It is still located by the High Limit room, by the way.

    Brought home more than a third of my gambling budget, and never made the walk of shame to the ATM, so to me it was a good trip.

    Miscellaneous observations-
    Seemed like there were fewer porn snappers on the strip this time, though there were a few on Fremont Street under the canopy. First time I've seen that. Never was offered a CD, and none of the dress up characters bothered me, I just walked by. I was only asked for money by a panhandler once, and that was in Binions casino while playing a slot machine! As a solo visitor, it is also great to be invisible to the time share pests.

    I also was never approached by any hookers. Getting too old I guess.

    Rode the monorail one day, wanted to check out LVH (more on that later), and then go to MGM next, so it made sense. Also got a good look at the Linq and the observation wheel under construction. I still say if they had built the monorail up the middle of the strip, they wouldn't know what to do with all the money it would be making.

    Was in the area, so went up in the Stratosphere Tower one afternoon. It will be interesting comparing the photos I took ten years ago, to the ones I took this time. Watched the people taking the free fall jump. Might have done it a few years ago!

    How long can the LVH survive? When exiting the monorail you pass through the old space theme casino area near where the Star Trek Experience was located. It appears to be a furniture storage area now. Dark and spooky. And are they playing “cricket” noise in that area, or is it from actual crickets? Weird! Didn't eat there this time, but poked my head in the door of Benihana, it has to be the most beautiful restaurant interior in Las Vegas!

    They have taken the Imperial Palace and O'Sheas and converted them into a bland, theme-less, generic casino. Mission accomplished, I guess. But if you miss the Imperial Palace, go back about two thirds of the way into the property, and you will find some of it is still there, starting in the hallway where the shops are. The strangely shaped waste of space that connects to the garage and monorail is also unchanged.

    I hope the Downtown Grand turns out as good as it looks, and is a great success. Can only be good for downtown Las Vegas.

    The Las Vegas Club continues to deteriorate. They have turned a great chunk of the casino floor into a cheap souvenir shop. And you can no longer go through the back to get to the California, it is all closed off. No restaurants at all, and little reason to go in there now.

    I have never been a big fan of the zip lines on Fremont Street, another sign of old age, I guess. But now that they are nearing completion of the landing pads, there is a lot less congestion for foot traffic in these areas, so that is good.

    I am always amazed at the number of people standing in line at the car rental counters in the rental center at McCarran. Most of these companies have “clubs” that allow you to bypass the counter and go right to your car. Even if you use it only once in your life, it is worth it to avoid standing in line. Flew to Florida with my brother a few years ago for a funereal, and there must have been a hundred people in line at Thrifty in Orlando. My brother was dismayed, and said we would be hours getting out of there. I said nonsense, and walked up to the Blue Chip counter, no one in line, and we were out the door in five minutes.

    That's it, I guess. Had a great time, but glad to be home. Ask questions if you like, I'll try to answer. All my opinions are my own of course, YMMV, that's what is great about Las Vegas, it can be a different vacation for different people.
  2. skybank

    skybank Low-Roller

    Aug 29, 2007
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for sharing your trip!

    I agree with you on the rental car clubs, I have joined 3 different ones just to not have to stand in line in Vegas!!

    Also the Harrahs buffet for breakfast is usually a must do once for me. The food is always hot and after a few years going there I found out that most of the breakfast crew working there have been with that buffet for many, many years. So the service is always good.
  3. smartone

    smartone VIP Whale

    Jul 17, 2011
    Northern Nevada
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Solid, positive report!!! Thank you for sharin' I too agree with join the rental clubs to bypass the counter. I've walked past VERY long lines of people dyin' to get their Vegas on and just grinding it out in the line... Ughhhhh
  4. Crazycrue

    Crazycrue Low-Roller

    Dec 3, 2012
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Really enjoyed your report. Great information. I am also a penny player and like you I know that I could get better value playing tables or video poker but I like the action of the games and get bored with the tables and video poker. I do try higher denominations if I feel lucky but usually stick to what I know and love.

    A bad day in Vegas is still better then a good day in the office.
    Can't wait for your trip.

    Awesome report keep them coming.:nworthy:
  5. breanna61

    breanna61 Super Moderator

    Aug 6, 2008
    Ontario, Canada
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Congrats on the suite upgrade at Luxor. Caesars is definitely one of the more difficult casinos to navigate, but once you figure it out, it isn't too bad. Love the showers there. Did you try any new penny slots? I enjoy the bonuses too! They hook ya!
    Lady Gaga and Dierks Bentley Concert Trip
  6. ValerieJo

    ValerieJo Low-Roller

    Jun 8, 2010
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Very nice report with great information. Thanks for the tip about Binions comps.
  7. sprat8

    sprat8 Guest

    Great Report!!

    One thing, though...

    I'm a big fan of Bellagio Buffet and I go there every trip. I realize food is very subjective, though. But re: "Bellagio Buffet, lunch, myVegas reward comp. Nothing wrong with this buffet, the food was good, but would I pay $40 per person to eat lunch here? No way!"

    Lunch @ Bellagio Buffet is not $40. It's $21.99.

  8. pjpeck

    pjpeck Tourist

    Aug 3, 2013
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Your are right about the price, I got corrected over on Tripadvisor also. I thought I overheard the people in front of me get charged $90 for two, but I either misheard, or they were paying for more than two. Still not worth $21.99 in my opinion though.
  9. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

    Jan 21, 2013
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Really any strip buffet isn't worth full price. Bellagio in particular was a little too exotic for us. Thanks for sharing!
  10. VegasGroove

    VegasGroove VIP Whale

    Jul 27, 2009
    3H-30M Away
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Great report! Thanks for posting!

    I'm with you on the car rental thing. I am off the shuttle, down to the garage and on LVB within 10 minutes. I love it! Don't know why more people don't take advantage of signing up for the car rental memberships. Saves lots of time and hassle.
  11. Boone

    Boone Tourist

    Aug 17, 2011
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    I think there is a brunch on Saturday and Sunday at the B that is more expensive
  12. D in the D

    D in the D Low-Roller

    May 21, 2013
    Canton, MI
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Great report, love the details. Nice tip on Binions, thanks. :beer:
    50th Birthday Trip
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