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That Wasn't There Yesterday!! Aladdin 1/8/06-1/13/06

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by HoyaHeel, Jan 16, 2006.

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  1. HoyaHeel

    HoyaHeel Grammar Police & Admin

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    My Trip Report

    Aladdin, Las Vegas January 8-13 2006
    That Wasn’t There Yesterday


    Although I’m on travel restrictions until I finish my dissertation (meaning we haven’t had a real vacation since May 2004) my husband “permitted” us to take my sister to Vegas as a 21st birthday present. Her birthday was Thanksgiving but due to our holiday schedule and her school schedule, early January worked out to be the best time for the trip—great room rates in Vegas too! I decided that we needed a couple extra nights in Vegas since our last trip (Feb 2005) was a business trip AND we were both sick most of the time.

    Flights:
    Flew Southwest this time. Don’t like Southwest because we prefer assigned seating. But hey, when the price difference is $100 a ticket, we’ll do it. Flew direct with a stop at Midway on the way out, supposedly nonstop on the return flight but we made an unscheduled stop in Nashville (reportedly so they could fix the radar but my pilot husband and father-in-law are skeptical about that reason!) Flight to Vegas was packed; return flight had space, thank goodness.

    Hotel: We stayed at Aladdin/Planet Hollywood. We LOVE this place—huge bathrooms, comfortable rooms, fantastic location, and usually can get cheap rates. We've been here 5-6 times now. We usually stay in a Resort room (the tiers are Deluxe room, Resort, Resort Vista, Strip Suite, Panorama Suite) but this time we decided to upgrade to a Resort Vista room ($159 a night). We booked the plain ole Deluxe room for my sister. I have a Starwood Gold card and we were able to “upgrade” my sister to a Bellagio fountains view (yeah, I hate it that the same room on the other side of the hotel is considered an upgrade, but what can you do??) I have some photos coming soon—including the fire escape diagram from our room to show where we were located. We had room 2279. My sister had room 3081. We didn’t find the Resort Vista to be all that much more special than the Resort room—all the extra space seems to be in the bathroom, and while it’s nice, I don’t know that it’s worth the extra money. The full wall of windows overlooking Bellagio was pretty dang nice though!!

    Here’s the good news/bad news on the Planet Hollywood transformation—the casino changes are now fully underway. Good news—it hasn’t really interfered with operations. Bad news—every freakin’ morning more new walls would be up and it was pretty hard to get around if you didn’t REALLY know where you were going. Hence, the theme for the trip was “Hey, that wasn’t there yesterday!” For instance, we checked in on Sunday January 8 on the lower level registration desk. On Monday, we went to check in my sister and registration had moved overnight to the Mezzanine level. It should be there for the next 9 months. Over the next couple days, signage denoting this move did go up—but it was a shock to us because no one told us when we checked in that they would be moving—AND we even said we were checking into our second room the next day….But all the staff we talked to were very helpful (in addition to the 2 check-ins, I also had to talk to the concierge desk and go back to registration another day to ask for a late check-out). As a matter of fact, the only cranky employee we ran into the entire week was one lady working at the Player's Club booth. Boo on her (and we were polite & happy--I can only imagine how she responded to the cranky comp-chasers) and yippee for everyone else who are handling the stress of the contstruction & constant changes in such an upbeat way.

    Quick Chronological Report:
    (this trip was mainly about showing Vegas to my sister, so we did a lot of walking around and window shopping…)
    Sunday 1/8/06: Arrived (Southwest from RDU through Midway) around 10:30 am. Mikey picked us up, we got our luggage and hopped into the Ghetto Sled (my virgin trip, hubby’s 2nd time) First stopped off at Lee’s Discount Liquors oh my god I love this store!!! Spent around $100 to outfit the hospitality suite. Mikey got his rum (so did we—a different Mt Gay, and some bacardi coconut, as well as Jim Beam, some premixed Cuervo margaritas, coconut mudslides, and white Russians. And some wine) Then we headed over to Vons (original plan was to get liquor at Vons but Mikey decided their prices were too high so we had to try Lee’s instead—GREAT call Mikey!!) Got soda, water & some snacks at the grocery store ($30). Feeling a little hungry so we try Metro Pizza—the restaurant on Tropicana, not the Ellis Island outlet. We had a pitcher of Fosters (apparently, while I was washing my hands, the boys ordered two other kinds of beer and both kegs exploded….So we ended up with Fosters!) Hubby and I split a Bleeker Street individual size pizza—sausage & garlic and a really nice light tomato sauce ($10 for the pizza, didn’t see the final bill so I don’t know how much the beer was). I think Mikey had a pepperoni, nothing fancy. Finally en route to Aladdin, we passed the Liberace Museum and Wayne Newton’s house. We didn’t see Wayne. He does have a couple of big ass horse statues out front….

    Mikey dropped us off at Aladdin and we gave our bags to the bell desk and went to check in. We could check into a 9th floor room or wait for a room on the 22nd floor that wasn’t clean yet. I opted to wait and coerced my husband to accept my decision ;-) We reserved a Resort Vista room and that was what we got—great view, but no other upgrade available. Since we had a little time before our room was ready, we went into the Desert Passage Mall to find the Sin City beer bar. Yum. I had the hefeweizen, Dane had the red I think. $4.50 each. Small bar (first retail outlet for this beer—they’ve been selling to local restaurants for a few years) with about 10 seats and a flat panel tv with football on. Other than the football, it was a nice way to waste a couple hours waiting for our room….We got room 2279 and it was lovely. We’re not quite convinced it was worth the upgrade, space-wise. About the same size as the Resort rooms are, in the bedroom/living area. Bathroom was much bigger in the Resort Vista, plus you have a foyer with closets and the desk area. Lots of doors. And WINDOWS. A wall of curving windows; we faced the Bellagio fountains—how lovely to wake up and be able to look at that (or, lie in bed at night and watch the shows!!) We took a nap, then showered and headed out to our tasting menu at Commander’s Palace. Menu below (if you want more details on food or wine, I have the menu but am not going to transcribe all the descriptions unless someone wants to know—god knows I’ll write a long enough report as it is J) The tasting menu is $88. The wine pairing (which we ordered) is an additional $45. We sat next to the fireplace (which just had a candelabra in it, no fire) We started out mostly alone in the dining room (7:00 reservations, seated immediately) but ended up with two loud tables on either side of us. Not the most romantic, but great fun to eavesdrop. Especially the one guy who was trying to convince his tablemates that Arkansas really has a high per capita average income….I LOVED the meal, hubby not so much. Should have guessed because I adore all kinds of food found in New Orleans and he doesn’t. Still, I had hopes….He liked about half the menu. He gets to pick the next tasting menu…

    We had 7 courses with matching wines:
    1. Sesame seared gulf shrimp salad with Riesling
    2. Truffled crabmeat imperial with Chardonnay
    3. Roasted foie gras gumbo with Vouvray [hubby and I both thought this would be better with a red—it was VERY rich!! Would be interesting to hear the conversations between the sommelier and the chef as they decide what to pair]
    4. Gulf Hake with Louisiana crawfish with Riesling
    5. Petit filet mignon with Zinfandel
    6. Chefs selection of cheeses (one was an absolutely amazing blue chevre!) with Chateau de Pennauitier Cabardes
    7. Chocolate-Coconut Terrine with Banyuls (similar to port)


    I started getting full around the filet mignon and didn’t finish the rest of the courses, but I did a good job finishing my wines! The meal was long and leisurely with attentive but not overbearing service. I would love to go there again (esp. for the prix fixe lunch!) but it looks like I might have to find another lunch date since my husband won’t try it again.

    Straight to bed after this. We were zonked out!

    Monday 1/9/06:
    Aladdin buffet for breakfast (2-for-1 coupon with our package at check-in) so $14 total. Very nice buffet, omelet/egg station, good pastries, amazing fruit—cantaloupe was perfect—and steel-cut oats oatmeal. Yum yum!! Checked my sister into her room—once we found the registration desk. Overnight, it moved up to the Mezzanine level and more new walls went up around the center of the casino. Over the week we were there, the entire central part of the casino was enclosed, slot machines removed. The poker room and high limit slots are still open—there’s a tiny doorway to get in—but the bar where the band played is closed. We were told 9 months before the new registration area would be open, so presumably that 9 months would hold for the entire central part of the casino. Even dealers were having a hard time finding their way around. Anyway, with my Starwood Gold card we got a fountain view room high up for my sister (room 3081) which unfortunately meant she had to take a different set of elevators from us. We could have had a room on our floor but no view so we chose the view for her—so what if it took her a couple more minutes to reach our room?? We took a cab to the airport and picked up my sister, brought her back to her room, then took off down the Strip, northbound. Quick walk through Paris and Ballys and then had lunch at the Victoria Room at Barbary Coast where we ran into Mikey and Rob & Lisa. Lunch was fine but service was slow for no apparent reason—it was mid-afternoon (around 3:30) and there weren’t a lot of people around. I found a slot machine and listened to Elvis sing (though apparently his annual Elvis tribute involved a birthday cake and lots of trivia instead of lots of singing…I still heard one set at least) The Pai Gow players were apparently getting spanked so we left to go to Caesars Forum shops. Fun shopping—didn’t buy much but had fun. Then walked back to Aladdin for a nap.

    We had an idea we’d go to the Monte Carlo Brew Pub for dinner so we started out walking south. Stopped in at MGM (saw the lions—they were sleeping) and NYNY, then went to the Brew Pub. I had a hefeweizen (I really like that beer! Though most brew pubs only do it in the summer—guess in Vegas it’s a good enough seller that places make it year round..) Hubby had a beer, can’t remember what, and the bartender made my picky sister a Shirley temple with vodka (she wanted something with cherries) We all had pizzas and they were really good. Sister had the margharita, hubby had sage & walnut, and I had something that had sundried tomatoes and a bunch of other yummy ingredients on it. After dinner we took the tram to Bellagio, saw the chocolate fountains, tried the conservatory (which, alas, was under construction and closed—looks like the next theme is something to do with Chinese New Year because I saw lots of red lanterns) Then we caught the fountain show out front. It was pretty cold! (I’m spoiled—we’ve had a mild winter so far) Walked 7.4 miles today (I think today was one of the only days I wore my pedometer all day) We did a little gambling back at the hotel and then hit the sack early-ish (by the way, if you’re reading to see what clubs we went to, stop now.J My husband and I are not club people and we warned my sister ahead of time—fortunately she’s not a heavy club-goer either so it was ok with her)

    Tuesday 1/10/06:
    Breakfast at Paris Buffet. Great as always. $12.95 each. No line at 8:15 am. (opens at 7:00 am, Aladdin buffet doesn’t open until 8:00 am) IP car collection—took some photos to make our dad jealous (I had some free coupons from ages ago, not sure where I got them) They open at 9:30am I think. Then walked down to Venetian and window shopped for a while. Had a drink in the food court then walked back to Aladdin. Stopped at Casino Royale for more drinks ($1 for Michelob bottle, $1.50 for Stoli Razz for my sister….We could NOT get this girl drunk! Between not liking half the things we offered her—which we then had to drink—and drinking slowly, she never consumed enough to get drunk!) Played craps back at Aladdin—I won $158 (think that was my best run, though I never had any terrible trips to the table—I don’t make big bets so I don’t win big but I don’t lose big either…) At 4:30, Mikey met us in our room for drinks before our big night. The limo came at 5:30 (I was a little drunk when I answered my cell phone because I was pretty rude to the guy before I realized who he was—fortunately I apologized quickly and he didn’t hold it against me!) I made a copy of the Rat Pack live at the Sands cd so we played that (next time I’m bringing Barney’s Get Psyched mix though because there’s too much banter on the Live cd that doesn’t work well in that setting. We booked an hour and wanted to end up at Binions—fortunately there wasn’t much traffic so we had plenty of time to backtrack to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign and start from there. Our dinner at Binions was really good—old school steakhouse, fantastic view of the city (it’s on the 20-something floor) We all had steaks—I had the lobster bisque and filet mignon, Dane had surf & turf, Mikey had French onion soup and the ribeye and Melissa had the ribeye. We had a cabernet ($22 Kendall Jackson) and tried again for drinks for Melissa—cosmopolitan. Nope, she didn’t like it so Dane drank it. Mai Tai. Nope, she didn’t like it. In all fairness, Mikey drank it and said it was made with bitter tinned orange juice and was about the worst mai tai he’d ever had. Not sure if he finished it or not. Our total was $265 (including tip, for 4 people). We went to play craps but I think the $5 table was full so we were going to check out another casino. I was sidetracked by the fact they were filming CSI outside and forced everyone to stop and watch. Even though they were in an alley and we couldn’t see a darn thing. I think I made us watch for an hour or more….Did I mention I wasn’t sober?? We did play some craps but didn’t do well (I’m clueless about where we were playing though—Binions or Vegas club??) Grabbed a cab back to Aladdin and gambled more—craps, Mikey played Pai Gow, and when I crapped out I headed for the slot machine. Pedometer 5.2 (some of that estimated since I hit reset accidentally….)

    Wednesday 1/11/06:
    Breakfast at Peppermill (took a cab down there). I had the bagel bene Florentine, sister had fruit fantasia waffles and Dane had a seafood Mediterranean omelet with hollandaise sauce. With coffee and juice, I think the total was around $45. While the hash browns (shredded) weren’t crispy enough for me, the rest of the bagel was great—I can’t believe I finished it! We popped over to Riviera and did a walk through to the taxi line and headed back to Aladdin. Hubby went to play craps and sis and I did a walk through of the Desert Passage Shops. She got some stuff (Vicky’s Secret sale ;-) and then we went to get ready for the spa. We exercised first then each had a Swedish massage. There’s a 20% off coupon in the Desert Passage coupon book (and we also got one at check-in) so our massages were $100 less 20% ($196 total for both, includes tax) After the massage we used the sauna and the whirlpool then eventually had enough energy to shower and get ready. While we were having our spa day, Dane and Mikey met up and went to Whiskers (“Ultimate Grooming for Men”) Apparently Dane had a hot lather straight razor shave and a pedicure—he came back with a receipt for $50 and a note $20 tips and some business cards for me: website whiskers4men.com, 3100 South Durango Suite 102 (702) 838-6922. I assume the website has a price list too, but the haircut is $30, ultimate shave is $30. I think they had fun! My sister’s mom (that would be my stepmother ;-) was coming to town for a conference so she took us out for dinner on Wednesday night—we chose Mon Ami Gabi and sat on the patio. We went over around 6:15 pm and there was no wait for the patio. Granted, it was about 35-40 outside BUT they have a ton of patio heaters that kept us warm! I had the French onion soup and then mussels in a leek cream sauce, and everyone else had steak. After dinner we walked Janet back to the monorail station and she headed back to the Hilton while the rest of us went back to Aladdin and did some more gambling.

    Thursday 1/12/06
    Breakfast at Krispy Kreme, the Trashy Castle (aka Excalibur) Did some last minute souvenir shopping on the way back to Aladdin—Melissa got a t-shirt and shot glass, Dane got a bunch of t-shirts (he likes the cheap 3/$10 shirts for work, doesn’t care if they get dirty and only last a year or so). Melissa was mostly packed already so we checked her out of her room and brought her luggage to our room and just hung out drinking & talking for a while before she had to leave for the airport. After she left, Dane & I played more craps at Aladdin then went to Todai for dinner (coupon in the Desert Passage coupon book) After dinner I went back to the room. Dane gambled for a while but eventually came to bed early as well. Considering this was our first vacation in more than a year, it was nice to spend some of it actually relaxing!!

    PS I couldn’t make the web access on my phone work so I went to the business center at Aladdin to check-in for the Southwest flight--$5 for 5 minutes on the desktop. You can also get high speed in your room for $11.99 for 24 hours, but I didn’t have my laptop with me this trip.

    Friday 1/13/06

    I asked ahead of time for late check-out. Our flight was scheduled for 3:30 so I asked for a 2:00 checkout. Either I smiled nice or it was my Starwood Gold preferred customer status :) We had another coupon for the Aladdin buffet (Melissa had the same coupons for her room that we got with ours, and we didn’t use all of them). After breakfast, I went to the spa to exercise & relax. Dane relaxed and spent some time trying to get a tour of a Strip Suite to see if we want to upgrade to that next time. When I was done in the spa, we made one more quick trip through the Desert Passage mall and then hit the craps table where we played for an hour or so until I really needed to go pack. As we were walking to the elevator we noticed that housekeeping was cleaning the strip suite down the hall from us so we peaked in—the room wasn’t occupied so housekeeping let us in to check it out. Pretty nice, large, enormous bathroom, BUT the sitting area was inside and the bathroom & bedroom were on the outside—facing Bellagio. As much as I liked the idea of the vanity facing out the window on the Strip, the only reason we’d get a room that big is if we’re in town with other people and want/need a hospitality suite, and in that case—we’d prefer the sitting area to face the windows.

    We checked out, we headed to the airport, grabbed some lunch and some food for the flight, found out our flight was delayed. Lucked out with Southwest first class (ie not a full flight and we had a row to ourselves) Some problem with the plane and we landed unexpectedly in Nashville. They fixed the plane and we took off again, made it into RDU a little late, made it home a lot late (2:30 am) and I still wish I were sleeping….

    I know I promised a short report but I guess I didn’t make that. Sorry! If you have any questions on specifics I might have overlooked, ask away J We actually took way more photos than we normally do and I promise I’ll get some online as quickly as I can.
     
  2. vegasbound

    vegasbound Moderator

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    Sounds like a great trip. Nice of you to introduce lil’ sis to Vegas… So she couldn’t catch a buzz, but did she have a good time anyway? Good to hear all the construction didn’t put a damper on your stay. Hefeweizen is available all year round here, Ellis Island has a decent brew for $1. Whiskers is a couple blocks away from my house, I’ve wondered about the place - I’ll have to tell hubby it’s worth a try...
     
  3. blackjack

    blackjack Monkey!!

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    Great trip Hoya. Glad to see that nobody got sick this time. I'll be curious to see what Planet Aladdinwood looks like in March. Maybe my mojo will change for the better (it couldn't get any worse). Is the upstairs casino lounge still open or are they renovating that as well? It was my favorite part of the casino. I can't believe that your l'il sis just couldn't catch a buzz. No grain train this trip? :drunk:

    Great food, spa, limo ride, a little gambling, and good times with friends and family... nice trip. :thumbsup:
     
  4. HoyaHeel

    HoyaHeel Grammar Police & Admin

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    Nope, that lounge is shut down now too. On Wednesday night we could hear the band in there playing. On Thursday night the walls were up and the carpeting had been taken down--hubby took a few photos looking down from the Bonsai lobby--I'm planning to post somewhere from work tomorrow, when I have a high speed connection....I think my sister managed to have fun despite the fact I was unable to get her drunk. I'm guessing she's used to that state of being if she's this picky about alcohol:haha:

    Re: Whiskers--Mikey wrote a little more about it on his blog, too.
     
  5. SH0CK

    SH0CK Stylin' and Profilin' Quasi Tech Admin

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    Nice trip report Hoya. It's amazing how much more fun can be had when your not sick in Vegas :D
     
  6. MTPocket

    MTPocket Low-Roller

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    Nice report

    Thanks for the infomation. Good to know check-in is on the mezzanine level and that the construction isn't that bad, I'll be staying there for NASCAR weekend.
     
  7. YoungGun

    YoungGun VIP Whale

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    Great trip report full of great details. I liked the Aladdin too my few times staying there (well, I liked the rooms at least and yes the people there are very friendly) and I hope it does well as Planet Hollywood. I know it probably shows how tacky I am to ask this after your report full of details about all those great restaurants you at at and stuff, but the Lee's Discount Liquor you mentioned had me at hello. Is it just named Discount Liquor or is it really a place with cheap liquor (like Costco prices maybe?).
     
  8. HoyaHeel

    HoyaHeel Grammar Police & Admin

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    YoungGun--I guess whether or not the liquor is discounted depends on what you're used to paying for it. I found the prices to be quite good--but it was the selection that REALLY pulled me in! I live in a state-controlled ABC-store state, so not only are my choices limited in individual stores, they're limitied in special orders by what's on the "state roster". I have my receipt at home so I can give actual prices if you want, but I spent $98 (including tax) and bought too much alcohol to be consumed in our 5 nights/6 days. The only bottle we finished was the Mt Gay. My husband says I always do buy too much liquor....:haha:
     
  9. HoyaHeel

    HoyaHeel Grammar Police & Admin

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  10. blackjack

    blackjack Monkey!!

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    It's asking for a login & password.
     
  11. LV Terry

    LV Terry Captain Flop'N Fold

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    I assume you tipped the staff for the daily print removal.

    :jester:
     
  12. HoyaHeel

    HoyaHeel Grammar Police & Admin

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    Ron--I assume it's just asking people to login, not for my personal login to see the photos, because that's how snapfish does it (I think...) I'll see if I can find webshots or some other place....
     
  13. blackjack

    blackjack Monkey!!

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    I signed up & then tried your link & got this:

    We're sorry-there's been a system error. Click on the button below to return to Costco Photo Center. If you have a moment, please give us feedback on what you were doing when this happened. This will help us solve the problem. Thanks!

    I'll try again later.
     
  14. HoyaHeel

    HoyaHeel Grammar Police & Admin

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    Even my husband is bitchin & moanin' about having to sign in, so I told him I was working on it....I do have a day job, ya know!! :haha:
     
  15. Heathcat

    Heathcat Tourist

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    question on dining

    Thanks for the great report, Hoya!

    I have two questions for you regarding your dining experiences. What are the prices like for dinner at Mon Ami Gabi? Also, would you choose Binion's Steakhouse, Mon Ami Gabi, or somewhere different altogether for a romantic dinner that would run us about $150 incl. wine and tip?

    Downtown, Strip and off-Strip are all options as we have a rental car. Thanks!
     
  16. HoyaHeel

    HoyaHeel Grammar Police & Admin

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    1: OK, try my webshots page and see if that works (not all photos uploaded yet, but Day 1 is there):

    http://community.webshots.com/user/Hoyaheel

    2: Heather--we didn't pay for Mon Ami Gabi so I don't know the bill total. Wine by the glass was $7-$15. French onioin soup was $7.50 and my mussels were ~$18. I think the steaks were in the low $20s and came with a HUGE side of frites. While the view of the fountains is lovely, the atmosphere is classic bistro--which is to say, rather loud, tables crowded, etc. We had a great time, but for future visits it would not be my first choice for traditional "romance". Binions was virtually EMPTY. We sat at a table, window-side, but the other side of the aisle had semi-round booths that looked VERY cozy. Very dark & intimate (it was a Tuesday night, so who knows if it gets loud & crowded on the weekends) The booths were somewhat elevated, so you still got the view of the valley despite not being up against the window. Of the two, I'd choose that for romance, though there are SOOO many choices for romances, esp. if you have a car and could go anywhere.
     
  17. blackjack

    blackjack Monkey!!

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    Works great Hoya - thanks for sharing. I'm very impressed by the room at Aladdin. Nice pics.
     
  18. DaveP

    DaveP VIP Whale

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    Thanks for the report, Hoya. I love the detail you provided on food. That's probably my favorite topic when it comes to Vegas.

    And I agree with you on the Peppermill hash browns. Could have been a little crispier for my tastes too.
     
  19. HoyaHeel

    HoyaHeel Grammar Police & Admin

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    Yep, my memory for trips and places I've lived is always food related....Dave--partially my fault at Peppermill as I forgot to ask that the hash browns be extra well done--in the past when I've asked, they've turned out great!

    Ron--we're happy we splurged on the Resort Vista but not sure we'll do it again or even go up to the Strip Suite (which we peaked in on) We'll probably stick to either a Resort room unless we splurge all the way up to Panorama suite....
     
  20. RamBill

    RamBill Tourist

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    Thanks for the TR, Hoya. I'm glad you enjoyed your dinner at CP. Too bad it does get noisy in there!
     
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