Introduction â€“ As a long time troll of this board and non-contributor, I felt compelled to at least provide a report on my recent all-out Vegas vacation, and our third and final trip of the year. As the story goesâ€¦Myself and my girlfriend live in the northern San Francisco/Sonoma county bay area. At the beginning of this year, I found a fantastic rate for TheHotel and figured â€œWhat the heck, Letâ€™s check out what Vegas is like?â€ That was the first trip for both of us, and we were hooked. It was only for three nights, and I decided I wanted to come back for my birthday, which I did in early June. That was four nights at Encore, and it involved Mystere, Love and Phantom. Now we were *really* hooked, and I put the rest of my spare change into this blowout, week-long stay. Iâ€™m going to break this down bit by bit with my own commentary, and hopefully some of you will find it worth a read. If I bored you to death, I sincerely apologize, but all three of my trips involved many hours spent consulting the many threads of the Vegas Message Board, and I feel like I need to at least try and give back! The Trip Out We left the bay area on Friday, August 28th by car destined for Valencia, CA. On my previous two trips, I flew out of San Francisco via Virgin America. I was able to get fantastic rates and I dearly love that airline, but there were no good rates to be found on this trip and it gave me an excuse to shortcut to Six Flags Magic Mountain for the first day of the trip. We spent Saturday at the park, and my only commentary for that will be that the â€œX2â€ roller coaster at that park cannot simply be described with words. Worth the price of admission alone. Sunday we split from Valencia and rolled into Vegasâ€¦ The Accomodations - Our first trip out to Vegas earlier this year was a stay at â€œTheHotelâ€ and we were extremely impressed. I was going to return there for the second trip, when an undeniably amazing summer offer came up for Encore. So we booked that, nearly lost our minds on how amazing it was, and immediately swore to return. And return we did. During the first stay, we had a room on the 54th floor facing North, and I was quite enamored with it, even if it really was just staring at a couple of unfinished financial messes, CircusCircus and Dennyâ€™s. This trip, I was very much determined to get the South Side. When we got in around 3:45 on Sunday, almost every front-desk terminal was running and had a line at least two deep. However, there were staff members greeting anyone that walked up and directing them to the shortest available line. We were getting checked in within 10 minutes, and I canâ€™t complain. I ask for an upgrade to a panoramic on the south side, not attempting the $20 trick due to the frequent reports of it being brutally shot down on a regular basis at Wynn. I wound up paying the extra $25 a night, but was able to get a south-side room on the 59th floor. It was all the way on the east side, but I canâ€™t complain one bit about the view. When you get the airport, the golf course, the east and west mountains, the wynn, the pools, the mall, T.I and the Mirage all in one floor to ceiling panoramic view, you canâ€™t complain. I really want to quickly commentate on the staffing at the Encore. I honestly feel like they were able to accomplish getting 99% of the people working in this resort to go into â€œIncredibly happy, relentless customer-serviceâ€ mode, and thatâ€™s no easy task at a hotel this size. Every single employee that I interacted with, from the front desk, to the servers, to the room service attendants, to the housekeepers, to the maintenance people I walked pastâ€¦every one of them greeted me in an extremely friendly way and treated me like I was a valued guest. Not one even slightly negative experience with any employee. Thatâ€™s an accomplishment. Our stay was just as fantastic as it was in June, if not more so. Ka - Itâ€™s nearly three weeks later and I still canâ€™t fully comprehend what I saw. My parents were coming out to Vegas specifically so they could come see â€œLoveâ€ with us after our rave reviews. The night they got in, we were going to take them to another Cirque show, but I was deeply, deeply split between Ka and O. I scoured the threads here, the reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor, the Youtube videos, and everything else I can think of before making a decision, but finally went with Ka based on all of the above, as well as my personal opinion of what I thought my parents would get the bigger kick out of. After calling the box office, I wound up getting a set of 4 tickets for around $350 way up in the back. Thereâ€™s nothing I can really say about Ka that hasnâ€™t already been said. Something like that show obviously canâ€™t be experienced anywhere else in the world. Prior to this, I had seen â€œMystereâ€ and â€œLoveâ€ and enjoyed both of them thoroughly, but this was the first show that had sequences where I literally just stared at something in complete and total disbelief that it was actually possible. The core scenes of the show were all phenomenal, but there were little touches that I truly enjoyed. I most certainly got a kick out of the pre-show stage setup (A comment was made to my girlfriend that I really, really wanted to have a giant abyss with fireballs shooting out of it at work). Also, I really dug the effect of the huge whooshing bass coming out of the sound system every time someone flew off the stage. Seriously, whoever thought of that was a genius and it made for a truly awesome use of the sound system in that theater. I walked out of this show with it being my new favorite in Vegas, with â€œLoveâ€ being a very close second. Itâ€™ll be repeated on the next trip, no doubt. Love â€“ We saw this on our first trip, and absolutely loved it. From the beginning, opening moments to the very end, the entire show is incredible. Once again, an absolutely amazing sound system paired with an amazingly perfect soundtrack makes for a great experience. Myself and my girlfriend agreed that there was absolutely no way weâ€™d probably ever be able to notice everything thatâ€™s going on in the whole show. There were so many things we didnâ€™t notice the first time that it blew us away. This is another show worth several repeat viewings. Jersey Boys â€“ This was way more for her than for me. Sheâ€™s a huge fan of musicals, and I took her to Phantom the last time. I enjoyed it, but wasnâ€™t overjoyed with it. It was well done, and it was pretty amazing to see a theater built just for that show. You can imagine that I was feeling under whelmed walking into the Jersey Boyâ€™s theater and seeing the rather plain looking stage. I also noted right up until before show time that we were the youngest members of the audience that we could see by quite a ways. Go figure that during the middle of the show, part of what I kept saying over and over in my head was â€œDamn it, I should have taken my parents to this too!â€ Well, thereâ€™s always next trip. I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve read a bad review for this show, and I can understand fully why that is now. For someone thatâ€™s *not* a huge fan of musicals and didnâ€™t know the story before hand, I loved the heck out of this show. I did end up really getting into the music, and the cast was fantastic. I especially loved the guy playing Tommy DeVitoâ€¦.absolutely perfect casting. The Joe Pesci thing still kind of blows my mind. I got the tickets for this off bestofvegas.com during their promotional period for a â€œFree Upgradeâ€ to the front orchestra section. From what I can tell, I saved about $100 with this and the seats really were great. Titanic: The Exhibition Iâ€™ve had a lifelong interest in the Titanic and eyed this on the two previous trips, but couldnâ€™t bring myself to fork $30 for it. I finally forked $13.50 for it at Tix 4 Tonight. This is a walk-through museum featuring actual recovered artifacts from the Titanic, which was actually a trip to finally see in person. Thereâ€™s a wide variety of objects and informational signage all over the place, and some very well put together replications of the ship (The outside deck, The Grand Staircase, etc) The obvious highlight comes at the very end, where they feature the largest recovered portion of the shipâ€™s hull on display. There are fascinating video and written displays explaining the process of how this massive piece was recovered and transported. Overall, $30 for a ticket is pushing it, but $13.50â€™s more than reasonable. Tix 4 Tonight looks like it offers that deal pretty much daily. Itâ€™s worth the experience. Dining â€“ Weâ€™re the king and queen of casual eatingâ€¦. I wanted to get that out of the way first. Itâ€™s not that we donâ€™t like fancy places, but weâ€™re not into dressing up at all, or experimenting with exotic, intricate and complicated meals listed on small menus with large numbers all over them. We hit quite a few of the casual â€œdennysâ€ like places during the trip, and Iâ€™ll try to briefly speak to them The â€œTIâ€ Coffee Shop â€“ This was pretty much our home base as far as food went. We had breakfast here three times and dinner once, and on our previous trip we had breakfast here almost daily. Itâ€™s the closest place to Wynn/Encore we found that has somewhat reasonable prices, a decent menu and a great staff. As tasty as the Terrace Pointe is at Wynn, I canâ€™t bring myself to afford them more than once or twice tops. The food at the Coffee Shop has always been good. Weâ€™ve had several of their breakfast offerings (Omelets, Pancakes, Waffles, French Toast, Cinnamon Rolls, Juices, etc) and everything was excellent. All of the waiters have been friendly, and one in particular that we got both trips during dinner we loved. Overall, itâ€™s a great place. Grand Lux CafÃ© â€“ This was the Venetian one. We went twice, once with my parents before Love and the other on our last night of the trip. We hadnâ€™t been here on either of the previous trips, but I kept reading nothing but good things and decided to give it a try. We had good waiters each time who were quite prompt. My girlfriend and my dad had one of their Pasta dishes, my mom had the Meatloaf and I had a sirloin. The second trip, we both had their roasted chicken breast. We thought everything tasted great, and the bread they give you in particular was phenomenal. Seriously, Iâ€™m going so far as to say this was the best bread ever given to me by a restaurant. It was that good. We will be back again next trip. Planet Hollywood â€“ Our Jersey Boys ticket purchase had come with a free â€œ$10 Offâ€ coupon that I decided to go ahead and use one day for lunch. Weâ€™d never been to one of these before and admittedly got a kick out of the ambiance. We didnâ€™t get a kick out of the food prices quite as much, however. Out of all the casual places we ate at this trip, this seemed like the most overpriced. We both had salads and I tried one of their smoothies, which was $35 after the coupon. Pretty good food and friendly staff, though. Bellagio CafÃ© â€“ This was the most eventful meal of our trip, and it almost seemed like our one attempt to dine somewhere that was right on the border of â€œcasualâ€ and â€œfancy.â€ I had the club sandwich and I canâ€™t quite remember what she had, but we were both impressed with the food and the service. The eventfulness came from the table across from us. Apparently, some sort of horrible event occurred with an older lady eating with her husband that prompted the lady to ask for the cafÃ© manager. We watched her speak with the manager for almost ten minutes, after which he whisked her plate back into the kitchen. About five minutes after that, some sort of higher-up manager with Bellagio showed up and went through a bunch of paperwork with her. She chatted him up for almost fifteen minutes, and then finally left. He went off into the kitchen and came back out a few minutes later with her plate of food, shrink wrapped, and took off with it. We werenâ€™t close enough to overhear any of the conversation, but our only hypothesis was that it was possibly some sort of a food allergy issue? It made for quite a scene. Cheesecake Factory â€“ Itâ€™s been tradition now for all three trips that we make it to Cheesecake Factory at least one night for, go figure, cheesecake. This is the first time Iâ€™ve ever *not* gotten the Godiva, and went with the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle while she went for the Fresh Strawberry. Excellent as always, and we always get a kick out of the Forum Shopâ€™s aquarium while we wait for a table. BLT Burger â€“ Iâ€™ve tried Burger Bar on an earlier trip, and I honestly feel like both places have almost a dead tie as far as quality. I absolutely love the burgers here, and itâ€™s just more convenient to us obviously since weâ€™re at Encore. The only complaint I can offer would be my dream of it being a *little* cheaper, but itâ€™s still worth it. Tried the waffle fries for the first time on this trip and loved them! Heard a lot of good things also about â€œStrip Burgerâ€ and came very close to going this trip, but looks like weâ€™re going to save it for next one. California Pizza Kitchen â€“ This is the Fashion Show one, and itâ€™s our traditional pre-show dinner stop. You canâ€™t really go wrong here, with great food, reasonable prices and good service. Also always makes for a good time sitting on the patio and coming up with commentary on the â€œJohnny Rocketsâ€ dancers across the way. Terrace Pointe CafÃ© â€“ We had our last meal here for breakfast, the morning we left. She had oatmeal and I had the waffle with Strawberryâ€™s. Still very expensive, but still outstanding food. This was Saturday morning, so the place was fairly packed and it took about fifteen minutes to get seated. A couple of last, miscellaneous thoughts.. Quite possibly the ultimate highlight of our trip - Actually going down to watch one of the Wynn's "Lake of dreams" show, only to behold a nearly three minute presentation of a giant, animatronic frog hanging over a waterfall singing Low-Rider. A close second to that would be the water-seller adjacent to the Caesar's Palace front sidewalk who's selling tactic was to yell out "The greatest of the waters, Aquafina water...ne dollar!" Maybe that was something you just had to be there for, but we didn't stop cracking up for about twenty minutes.. So, within a week of coming back, weâ€™ve booked our next trip for Jan 10th-16th at Treasure Island using the â€œ90 Days out, 30 percent offâ€ dealâ€¦hoping the good stories about the rooms, the beds and the $20 trick successes are true! Thanks again to this board for all the help making this trip awesome!