Trip Report 7/7-7/13/2013 Monte Carlo and the Palms Our annual Vegas “summer fest” is over for another year. Back home with good time memories, more Vegas stories and less money, but I’m ok with the tradeoff. I’ll take a few minutes to share some highlights, give out a couple of kudos and answer some of the question that I had before leaving, some that we discussed here on this board. I spend a lot of time reading the thoughts and comment of other on this board, surfing Vegas sights as well as paging through many Vegas tourist publication in order to become better informed as to what Vegas has to offer and to be sure that we don’t fall into a “rut” in that we do the same thing, go to the same places, etc., each time we are in town. To that end, we arrived with somewhat of a list. Not a must-do list, just some ideas of places to try if the opportunity presented itself. The plan to stay at the Palms (first time staying off-strip) was part of the “something different” mode. We didn’t cover everything on the list but the new places we visited turned out to be very enjoyable and lead us to meeting some really nice people working at the various locations. We decided that this will be repeated for future Vegas trips. I tend to get a lot of “value” out of our trips to Vegas. From planning, to going, to recounting our time there, 6 nights in Vegas can turn into a month(s) of enjoyment for me. The Highlights The Monte Carlo is one of my favorites because it is easy. We stayed there 3 times (the rut?) and every time it is just an effortless event. With one phone call the offer is booked, just as it stated, the room is always ready and clean, the pool is fun and the spa is refreshing, people who work there are friendly and helpful, the machines don’t beat you up, they usually still win, but don’t leave deep scars and when we factor in the location (I think, one of the best for south strip) and the money saving offers that they send to us, it hard to pass up. It is just a comfortable place, nothing more to say. Three nights at the MC, check! Now to work on that list… Item 1 was to spend more time at the Cosmopolitan. We had walked through it before but never spent any money there, I was interested in the Sunday brunch at The Henry, the Dive-in Movie/pool night on Mondays and the Wicked Spoon Buffet that I had read about from various sources. So the first stop after the 6 hour plane ride and checking in at the MC was to walk over to the Cosmo. While signing up for Identity Club cards, we had nice conversation with girl, asked about the Henry, which she recommend for the brunch and told us to be sure to have everything you spend applied to the card to get point credit for every dollars spent, not just gaming dollars. Even suggested to save any receipts and stop back and she would verify that they were on the card. Kudos to her for showing interest in customers and not being just a sign-up robot. And one other thing, new sign-up get to play the touch and win game board for a chance to win prizes, guess who won two comp. passes to the Wicked Spoon Buffet! We went to the Henry, and the brunch was great. Played on the slots awhile before heading back to the MC. The walk to the Cosmo was a good choice, left with full belly, a few gambling dollars ahead, two buffet vouchers in my pocket and a couple item checked off the list. The rest of the afternoon was spent at the MC spa, another pleasant decision. Sunday evening we made our way over to MB, to take care of one other item, which was to visit MIXX. We had attempted this a few trips earlier, but we were denied access due to private party happening at time we showed up, so this was on the list as unfinished business. This time it was smooth sailing. It’s true that the view of the strip from up there is awesome, we had some drinks and appetizers along with a nice conversation with our server, she wasn’t busy, very few customer there at that time, Sunday, between 7-9 pm. No music or dancing but it was unforgettable experience to watch the strip turn from day to night from that vantage point. Walked back to the MC and fooled around in the casino for a couple hours. This day, that started 20hrs. ago in Philly was over, even in Vegas you can run out of gas. Monday mostly consisted of MC pool day. While at the pool we cashed in our” Picnic at the pool” coupon that GF earned playing the my Vegas Face book slots. A bucket of Buds and a plate of nachos, no charge, no hassle. The 6 beers went down smooth in the Vegas sun, plus they helped dilute the Gatorade that we forced down earlier to combat the Vegas sun and heat. Back to the Cosmo on Monday night for the WS buffet, and it was all that it was all it was touted to be, just great, a $72 meal, no charge! After dinner we went to Dive-in movie at the Blvd. pool, nice time, very relaxing. Perched on padded lounge chairs overlooking the strip at night, awash in the glow of LED lights, with cocktails in hand, now this is my Vegas! Afterwards we played slots at Cosmo, Aria and MC and were still doing ok. Tuesday was another pool day at MC, drinking frozen slushy drinks and making plans to work on two more items on the list. After another late afternoon session at the spa, we set out for Bellagio and HYDE. Never made it there when it was the Fontana lounge and always wanted to see the fountains from the other side. Now that it has become this lounge/nightclub with all the slick ads, it made the do-list for sure. Part 2 was the 10 pm Jubilee show at Ballys. We had been there several years ago when we were Vegas rookies and after a long day in the sun the GF fell asleep or zoned out and did not remember seeing the show. She wanted a chance to revisit knowing that it is the last “feathered” showgirl show left in Vegas and its future is never assured. HYDE started out as an unknown as to what to expect, I made plans to be there for the 5-10 pm “cocktails and small plates” just for the experience and to say that we have been there. Another good choice, we arrived a little after 6 and joined maybe two or three other couples in the entire lounge, more workers then customers (this trend will continue throughout the week, more later) but this worked out ok. We were seated at a corner sofa and greeted by a cocktail server who was as friendly as she was visually stunning. The view and the atmosphere were all that I hoped for, because this was my adventure. The GF was a sidekick for this trip, not knowing exactly where I was “dragging” her to, only that the Bellagio fountains were involved. Because of the early hour and the small crowd we were able to enjoy the space and the fountain almost in private setting. We were our servers’ only table which allowed her time to sit and chat, take pictures of us, and her, and her and us, inside, and out on the balcony with the rising fountains in the background. It was a fun couple of hours, that we both enjoyed, but at what price? Four drinks, two “small plate” appetizers, about $100 plus tip, but it’s all good, we have been to HYDE, check! Off to Ballys for Jubilee, good show, wonderful costumes and colors. Now we both remember seeing Jubilee. Check! Wednesday is moving day to the PALMS….now come the real Vegas stories! Moving to the Palms was no real issue. Not much activity at the check-in counter, no line. The newly remodeled Premier room in the Ivory Tower was great. Very modern design and great colors including the graphic of the “eyes” on the wall, really different, we liked it a lot. And it was spotless, everywhere in the building was clean and well kept, the room, the halls, elevators and common areas. Thumbs up to the Palms for that much. The Palms was fairly empty, even for a Wednesday. It was no more evident than at the pool. We had just left the MC where like most strip hotels, don’t bother to look for a lounger after 9:30 am., here at the Palms pool, which again is a nice facility, there were about 20 people milling around the pool, about the same number of worker, (Security, bartenders, waitresses, food runners etc.)who were mostly standing around or trying to look busy. Is this the norm for an off-strip hotel? Just as bad on Thursday, a cloudier day. But there’s more, we went to the “View” nightclub both Weds. and Thurs. evening, and once again we were the only one there, some folks came in later, but few stayed, never more than 6 couples in the large club area that was formerly the Playboy Club. DJ played both nights to an empty dance floor. Although this was the theme of our 3 day stay, “where is everybody?” doesn’t mean we didn’t have fun. I don’t know what it is about our trips to Vegas, we have best time laughing at situations that start out normally and then take the “Vegas twist”. You got to picture this, We step up to podium on the casino floor and told the host that we would like to go to “The VIEW”, (employee#1), ok she says and nods to a secret service type (wired with mike, empl. #2) who steps over to us, points the way down a short walkway and takes us to two more waiting employees. #3. After checking our i.d., #3 said “ok” to SS fellow standing with her and he calls on the radio to the elevator operator, #5, another SS type who greets us onto the elevator and takes us to the 52th. floor. Stop here, now we’re looking at each other both wondering what did we sign up for? I thought we were just going to the rooftop lounge for a drink? My GF, fill of anticipation, says to the elevator op. “Guess it must get pretty wild up here? Reluctly he cracks a smile and says, “Don’t know, never been there, this is my first night running the elevator” The elevator stop and the door opens revealing another Sec. Sev. type (emp. #6) who welcomed us and directs us to the right. Now this it, we about ready to be swallowed up into wildness the likes of which we have never seen before…chinch up those belts, we’re going green… not exactly, we turn into an beautifully decorated, glass lined, large area with pool tables, shuffleboards black leather sofas and candles. With two bars, three bartender, at least 4 or more cocktail servers and more Security guards lining the walls about every 30 paces around the room, who all turned and looked at us… as we stood in the entrance looking at them. Nobody in the place. We turned and look at each other with big grins, we knew that we had found our 2013 Vegas Story. I don’t remember what we muttered to each other as we tried to decide which of the 15 sofa to choose. After choosing, the cocktail server came to us, took our drink order and left, “didn’t we see her at the pool today? “ After longer than expected, she returned empty handed, “the bartender can’t find the milk for the kulhua and cream, do you want it straight”, NO,NO, was the reply, just give me any kind of fruity margarita. Ok, I’ll see what he can do. We laughed more as poked each other with “what kind of place did you bring me to”, “what happened to the big fancy nightclub” “Don’t know, it right here in the brochure” She returned with my beer and a rose colored drink, which was quite good according the my GF. We ordered several more rounds of the same and had a great time shooting pool, drinking, playing shuffleboard and more drinking. Is this what they call a “private club”? We did have a chance to talk with the server, she hung out for a while, nice girl who was at the pool working that day, she said that business is so bad she has to work both the pool and this lounge to make ends meet. While we were chatting, a suit came over a touch her on the shoulder and she jump up, I thought we got her in trouble for sitting instead of working(not that there was anything to do), she said no, that’s my signal to punch and go, I’m done for the night. It was 10:30. We did return on Thursday evening just to see if the situation was any different, it wasn’t, a few more people were there and occasionally some young partiers would appear but they didn’t stay. We could have gone to “MOON” on Thursday night, but we didn’t want to party with the twenty-some crowd. The “View” was going good for us, we had great drink service and didn’t have to share any of the game tables…till they turned on the bright lights and told us to leave because they were closing, the time, 1 a.m. We spent the rest of the night losing money in the casino, maybe which was their plan all along? We took the Palms shuttle to the strip on Thursday afternoon, did lots of walking and shopping at the Forum shops and Miracle Mile stores. We did find the Max Brenner Chocolate shop and had our chocolate Martinis, check! We were lined up for the “buffet of buffets” promotion because of the TR cc, so dinner was at PH Spice Market Buffet, no charge, then walked over to Rio for breakfast buffet on Friday morning, free meal #3 for the week, check! The afternoon was spent at the Palms Place pool because “Ditch Friday” was happening at the Palms pool. Ditch Friday caused the pool to be more crowded but certainly not enough to validate the ad that states, “three thousand of your closest friends”. The PP pool was ok, a bit short on sun seating when the afternoon sun is blocked by the height of the building. Not wanting to sit in the shade, we opted for a couple of hours at the Palms Place Spa, then off to a wonderful “last night in Vegas” dinner at NOVE at the Palms. Great space and view, great service and even better food. Too bad this meal wasn’t free…yikes! Back to Philadelphia on Saturday. Ok, let me wrap this up. Overall we decided this was one of the more relaxing trips we have taken to Vegas. Although we went to several different places, except for Jubilee, none of them required a strict time schedule or an obligation to be somewhere because we invested in tickets. The Palms for me was “ok”. The lack of a crowd didn’t bother me, I just don’t know how (or for how long) that can go on. I don’t want to see any part of Vegas lost, or workers unsure about their future. We did what we could to help their bottom line. The GF, not so much, although she enjoyed our time there, she doesn’t think we’ll ever stay there again. The age question for me was put to rest, I did not feel uncomfortable there being over thirty, way over. I saw as many people my age as I did thirty-some. The Security attitude is slightly over the top, they are all so very “stone-faced”, one at the pool entrance rifled through my GF pool bag/purse, TSA style, till he found a open pack of gum, held it up saying “no gum at the pool” as if he had foiled our plans to desecrate the pool area, then deposited it in the trash. No big deal, it’s just things you notice or vibes you get. And as for noticing things, within a few days of returning home, I received emails from the MC, Southwest Airlines, Showtime tours (airport shuttle) and the airport parking lot where we left our car in PA. all thanking us for being customers and inquiring about the service that we received. Nothing from the Palms. If am trying to grow a struggling business I would not want to be viewed as not caring about customers input, or even expressing a simple “thank you”, just things I notice. Hope we made some connection at the Cosmopolitan. Would like to see offers in the mail this year that would result in the Cosmo being the base camp for the summer of 2014. So that’s it, thanks for reading this long report (or novel). We’ll be heading back in December for the Rodeo. I’ll be looking forward to your replies and comments. VIVA LAS VEGAS!