So this was a trip for me, my two sisters A & C and our friend T. This was number 10 for A and myself, 7 for C and and 4 for T or somewhere thereabouts. We were staying one night at Vdara and the rest of the nights at Rio…at least that’s how it was PLANNED. Here’s what really happened… DISCLAIMER: I write really long reports, so feel free to skim or skip or ignore entirely. I try to provide pricing for some things because I’ve found that to be helpful to me in reading other people's reports in the past. We were due to leave on Tuesday, September 30. I’d seen somewhere that there were $98 one-way fares from Southwest leaving from BWI. I’m in the DC Metro area (DMV) so I can leave from three different airports and be OK. My sisters live in Philly. And T is in the Baltimore area. The plan was that A & C would Amtrak down to BWI and we would all leave from BWI together. They were able to get Amtrak tickets for $40 and that combined with the $98 fare was still less than leaving from Philly. Tuesday, Sept. 30 T had to work so we were taking the 7:50 PM flight out of BWI. I teleworked part of the day (figured why waste leave if I didn’t have to) and C worked part of the day, as well. My plan was to cab from my apartment to the Metro station where there is an express bus to BWI for $7. A & C were taking Septa Regional Rail from their apartments to 30th Street in Philly to board Amtrak. T was getting dropped off at BWI. As I was waiting for my cab, I got a call from A in the train station. She suggested I check my email. As my cab was arriving then, I said I’d check it in the cab. The email was from T. Due to some incredibly shady sounding circumstances that I still don’t quite believe, she wasn’t going to Vegas. Oh yes. An email. The day OF. AS everyone was already on the way. This normally wouldn’t be MUCH of a problem, but the Rio reservation was in her name and non-transferable. We decided we’d figure it out later. So the three remaining souls arrived at various times at BWI easily and with time to spare. We discussed our options over dinner at Ram’s Head in Terminal C. As we were waiting for our flight, we took advantage of the free wi-fi and pulled out various phones, tablets, and computers to see who could come up with the best hotel options for our remaining days. I eventually came up with a smartervegas.com deal for Luxor. A place we swore we’d never stay. But it was less than $500 for the remaining days, there was immediate availability, and they don’t make you do an incidental deposit if you don’t want to. We decided we’d just deal. We boarded SouthTran flight 777 (yep – triple 7) on time and non-stop to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. The flight was fine, the seats were mildly uncomfortable, the flight crew was amusing, and there were no screaming babies. We arrived a few minutes early and I turned on my phone to find a text from Louie with Presidential Limo (booked earlier one way stretch limo $75) that he would meet us at the bottom of the escalators. He was there and waiting with the iPad with my name. Our luggage was out immediately and we were off to the limo. Louie offered to take various pictures, opened the “champagne”, we got our roses, and we were off to Vdara. We try to have one night at a place we haven’t stayed before. Kind of scouting for future trips, if you will. I’d booked Vdara via an $89 TravelZoo deal. We enjoyed our limo ride up the Strip seeing the night lights. We rarely come in on a night flight, so this was a rare treat. We pulled up to Vdara, got our luggage, and left Louie with a $20 tip. I will say I will be purposefully seeking out Vdara again. Lovely place. Check-in was painless (and quick since it was almost 11 PM by then) and the front desk dude was friendly. The booking was for a Deluxe Studio room and when I’d called to place the reservation, I was advised to book City View. Which I did. We were in room 8046 where we had a lovely view of a parking garage and the back of Bellagio. The room itself was exactly like the pictures on the website. Dark wood and hints of green. King bed on the bedroom side of the dual-sided entertainment unit and a pullout queen bed on the living room side. Small kitchenette w/sink, fridge, microwave, and two-burner flat top. Small kitchen table. Awesome bathroom w/free-standing deep soaking tub and a walk-in shower (I didn’t like the tile though). And nice automatic blinds w/the all-important black out blinds under them. Since it was so late, we didn’t do anything that night except go off to find food. That is an odd thing about Vdara. There were two places to eat – the café for refrigerated sandwiches or the bar for what bars have. They actually suggest you go to Aria to eat. They push Aria amenities a lot at Vdara. We went to the café at Aria to eat. We’d been there last year so we knew the food was pretty good. I don’t remember much more of that night, but we did get our food. A went back to the room. And C and I wandered around a bit playing lightly at Aria and Bellagio before crashing for the night. Wednesday, Oct. 1 The next day was moving day. Check out was at 11 which was fine since we were still on East Coast time and had been awake and dressed long before then. We dropped our luggage off at the bell desk outside and went wandering off. I can’t remember all we did (Vegas memories get hazy real fast…wonder why?), but we hit up Aria again, Bellagio again, and our favorite Cosmo. I do remember we went to Bond in Cosmo to sit and rest our feet and also have a drink or two. Mostly because they had furniture hanging from chains. And then a trip to Walgreen’s for water. We eventually made our way back to Vdara for our bags and cabbed it south to Luxor. As I mentioned before, I got a decent deal on smartervegas, but wasn’t expecting much other than “a room”. We got a two queen room in the Pyramid. Which meant I could cross an item off my original Vegas bucket list from like 10 years ago and ride the inclinator. Which feels like it goes sideways. Anyway, we took an ear-popping ride to the 18th floor to room 18017 I think. That was a LONG walk. I’m not sure I’ve ever had to walk and turn a corner and… Honestly the room wasn’t bad. It was clean. It was dark (which I knew from other posts). It was oddly shaped (being in a pyramid and all…). But it was fine. Nothing fancy but I’d stay there again. We dropped off our stuff and hit the MLife desk to go load our cards for MyVegas rewards for the Public House there in Luxor. Both A and I got that and they had no problem combining on our bill. That night we had plans for a Thunder From Down Under show. We go at least once a trip. This was one time where we were reminded and irritated by T’s sudden disappearance since the tickets were prepaid. As usual we had a blast at the show. A won the “O” competition and got free pictures and a swag bag of goodies. While we were in line they were giving out wristbands for free admission and one or two drinks at LAX in Luxor. We didn’t know if we’d go, but it was good to have. After the show, a girl walked up to us and put us on her guest list for Light in Mandalay. That was a better option for us since it was so late and we would have had to rush LAX. We got into Light w/no problem and for free and hit the open bar (open bar til midnight w/the guest list wristband). A left after about an hour, but C and I stayed on until 2:30 or so. DJ that night was Baauer. We only left because we were hungry. It was a great vibe in there, we had a nice spot by the railing, there were Cirque performers in the ceiling, and since we had flats in our bags we were comfortable. Given the dearth of 24 hr places, we ended up in the Shoppes at Mandalay and ate at RiRa. They were still open because they were trying to break a Guinness World Record for 15 days of consecutive live music played or something like that. After that late meal, we called it a night and crashed. Thursday, Oct. 2 I’ll summarize our next days since they pretty much followed the same pattern. Thursday – MyVegas Bellagio BOGO lunch buffet. All these trips to Vegas and this was our first time hitting that buffet. It was smaller than I expected, but plenty to eat and good quality. We just beat the line – there was no one in line when we went around 12:30 or so, but by the time we left there was a massive line. We all bought monorail tickets and went…somewhere. I’m not entirely sure where or why. A went back to the room for a nap and C and I continued to make use of the monorail tickets to check out SLS. It was ok. Interesting to look at. We got The Code cards and got free play. I turned $5 into $30 so free money for me. We found our favorite Crystal machines there and played for quite a while. Drink service was quick and drinks were served in real glasses, which surprised me. Since we were on the North end of the Strip, we decided to check out Wynn. We hadn’t been there in a while. Also I wanted to see Popeye. We weren’t in there for long because by then we wanted to sit down and get something to drink. We ended up heading to Palazzo and going to the Canal Shoppes. We ended up at Illy enjoying some rather strong, but real coffee. Nice pick-me-up for the afternoon. We decided to head back to Luxor to meet up with A. That night C and I had MyVegas tickets for O at Bellagio. And A had a MyVegas ticket for Ka at MGM. And we wanted to change and get in a quick dinner before the shows. We ended up at the Rainforest Café in MGM (this happens pretty much every trip for reasons). After that A stayed at MGM for Ka and C and I walked to Monte Carlo and took the tram to Bellagio. C had been dying to see a Cirque show – specifically O. I went along because why not. And with MyVegas, premium tickets were 20% off. I knew from reading around these boards that section 203 was the best spot. There were spots in 203 available, but closer to the back of the section, so we opted for 204 about 4 rows up. That worked quite nicely for us. We were able to see all the action from there. That was quite a beautiful show. And just the right amount of unexpected humor and innovation thrown in. I’m glad that was our first Cirque experience. A really enjoyed Ka, too. She said she thought it suited her more after we told her about O. She said there was a lot of action and movement which she really enjoyed. Also her MyVegas ticket (premium seating and free) put her in the front and she could feel the fire (there is fire, right?). After our show we met up with A at Chandelier in Cosmo. Last year she’d been sick and hadn’t made it to Chandelier with us. So this year we told her she had to try the Verbena on Chandelier 1.5 (Inside the Chandelier). The look on her face was priceless. After drinks, we stayed and played a little. Then decided to find not-so-Secret Pizza and grab a slice or two. I’m not a pizza connoisseur, but it was just ok to me. I’ll try again with a classic cheese because I went with the Sicilian-style white pizza. Friday, Oct. 3 We always try for one pool day if we go in warmer months. I think if we stay at Luxor again and go to the pool we’ll spring for a cabana. Seating is definitely at a premium. We did some rearranging and got a spot for all three of us. That’s how we spent much of the day – baking in the sun with an occasional dip in the pool and a bucket of beer. With pictures to post on Facebook for the folks back at home enjoying 50 and 60 degree weather to our 90. I haven’t a clue what we did the rest of the day. But that night was another Thunder show. And another irritating reminder that T had bailed out on us since we had an empty seat at Thunder. This time after Thunder we didn’t hit any clubs. But we WERE starving. We decided to head to Mandalay to see if anything was open there. After playing our favorite Crystal machines, we determined that not much was open and what was open cost too much for just some midnight snacking. We headed to RiRa again. The service was worse than last time we were there. In that it was non-existent. So we left. C found that she’d lost a strap to a shoe she was carrying. A informed her that she’d seen a strap way back between Excalibur and Luxor. An hour ago. C and I decided to go look for it. A got tired and headed back to the room. No luck on the strap, but we still hadn’t gotten food. We found our way to Backstage Deli and proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait. We finally got through the line after a 30 minute wait and ordered food for the three of us. A texted and said she’d also gotten sandwiches from one of the little sundries type shops near the lobby. Another day in Vegas over and we crashed. Saturday, Oct. 4 There was more walking around today. We were going to try for the pool again, so C and I went down. No go on the seats. So we gave up on that and went back to the room. A stayed in the room and C and I just kind of wandered around town. We checked out The Cromwell (dark) and Flamingo (still not my thing). Then we decided to see how the renovations were coming at The Quad/The Linq. Should be an ok property when they’re done. Not bad at all. Since we were there, we headed to the actual Linq. None of that had been completed when we were there last year. It was pretty much what I expected. Shops and shops and food and shops. We wanted to try the Highroller Half Happy Hour car and went to inquire about how that worked. We got tickets for the 5 or 5:30 car and texted A to meet us down there. I’d heard about The Yard House so we decided to go in there and sit awhile while waiting for A. Awesome place. Lots of space, good people watching, and friendly service. Oh and really good beer. But what REALLY got us – they have deviled eggs on the menu. You don’t see that…ever. So we decided to try them. Best. Thing. Ever. Deviled eggs with spicy tomato sauce, sweet chili sauce and chives. We had one plate each and then split a third. That goes on my must-have list. As far as beer – I like that they let you taste before you buy. I went with Young’s Double Chocolate followed by Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar. I also tasted a Tangerine Wheat (that was the “no-ist” of all the no’s). C had a Guinness and a Speakeasy Double Daddy (that was…interesting). We seriously floated (heh) the idea of a beer float, but decided against it in the essence of time. So here’s where the day started heading in a downhill direction. If we’d only known… A met us as arranged to do the Highroller Half Happy Hour car. There’s a special section you wait at a specified time. I think they said there are four such cars. Anyway, it ended up being the three of us and a dude named Travis or Trevor or something like that. The views were incredible. You can barely tell you’re moving, so if you’re one of those people that hate rides and/or heights, this might work for you. Our bartender was awesome. She was originally from Long Island, Travis/Trevor was from NYC, A & C live in Philly, and I’m in the DMV. So we had some East Coast bonding going on. There’s a drink menu to choose from as well as regular drinks. We all chose something from the drink menu to start with. Then the bartender was mixing stuff for us to try. Then she mixed and poured shots of something. Then she mixed more stuff for us all to try. Then she mixed still more stuff and sent us off with two drinks a piece. All said, I know I had at least 4 drinks and a shot of whatever she mixed. That’s not counting the two I left with. I know my limits so I only drank partial portions of the two drinks I had and tossed the rest. A drank, we THINK, at least one more than I did. And C drank about the same as me, plus I took her last drink from her and threw it out. We decided to catch a cab at the Flamingo and hit the Aria buffet. About 2 minutes in to the cab ride, C pretty much passed out and A and I decided that heading back to Luxor was the better option. I was pretty ok, but A had been holding on to my purse as we were walking, so I didn’t think she was much better off than C. The whole cab ride I was thinking “Well great…now I’m going to have to have a wheelchair brought out for C because there’s no way I can get her that long way from the lobby to the room”. So we get to Luxor and I ask the bell desk/greeter dude if we can have a wheelchair for C. He doesn’t blink an eye and calls for a chair. I look over at A who is literally pouring sweat and hanging on to the cab door. She says “I need to sit down” and promptly sits down on the ground in the cab lane. My thoughts at this point just aren’t printable, but I turn back to the bell dude and tell him I’ll be needing another wheelchair. Security has shown up with the first chair by now, which was initially for C, but is now for A, since at least C is seated in the cab. A is a big girl and it takes both me and the big security guy to lift her from the ground into the chair. And then a security lady shows up w/another chair for C. C is a much lighter lift, though rather unwieldy due to the dead weight. They check them both for responsiveness and then we head for the room, depositing one in the bathroom and the other on one of the beds. But only after I get blackmail pictures in the elevator, much to the amusement of both security guards. I checked to make sure everyone was breathing and then went for water and ice for both idiots. And then I spent my night babysitting. Oh and telling on them to mom. Sunday, Oct. 5 I woke up feeling fine, and still less than amused. C woke up feeling fine. A just woke up. I had no sympathy whatsoever. We left A in the room still recovering. A had decided to use MyVegas (free again) to go see Zarkana at Aria that night. C and I decided to check Tix4Tonight by Planet Hollywood to see what we might want to see. We couldn’t decide and went to the Miracle Mile Shops to get something to drink at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (there’s only one in DC and none in Philly) while we thought about it. We eventually decided on Mystère at TI. We got Category 2 tickets and then went to TI to go switch the Tix4Tonight tickets for actual tickets. We did that and since C had wanted noodles the entire trip, we went to the Coffee Shop at TI which serves both American café food and…pho. Go figure. We enjoyed HUGE bowls of pho and packed the rest to go. A texted that she was feeling vaguely warmed over and thought she might want to eat. So we went to go back South to meet her. It took a while since we walked from TI to Bellagio and then took the tram to Aria. By then we were hungry again and decided to meet her at Aria to hit the buffet. We had MyVegas buffets, but forgot that they were only good Sunday through Thursday. We decided to forgo the buffet and ended up in Crystals at Wolfgang Puck’s. I had carbonara, A had eggplant parmesan, and C had four cheese ravioli. It was so hard to choose what to eat from the menu. Everything sounded great. We all enjoyed our meals. We’ll be back. After eating, A wasn’t feeling up to going back to Luxor, so she stayed at Aria since that’s where her show was. C and I went back to Luxor and changed. We cabbed it to TI since we’d been doing so much walking this trip. I think for me Mystère was my favorite. It was awe-inspiring and HILARIOUS. I wasn’t expecting it to be so comical. Also when we got our tickets, they said it was pretty slow that night for that late show so they moved us to the very front row. We had to turn around to see a couple things, and a higher spot would have been better for the vantage point of some things happening on the stage, but we were quite pleased with our seats. It made for great interaction w/some of the performers. We cabbed it back to Luxor and met up with A. She thoroughly enjoyed Zarkana, as well, but said Ka was still her favorite. Monday, Oct. 6 This was our leaving day. We were originally going to leave on Sunday, but Monday had better flight options. We left around 11 or so on a non-stop Southwest flight back to BWI. We made it back to BWI by 7 and got on our buses the same way we had come. A & C back on the shuttle to Amtrak and me back on the B30 to Greenbelt. They took a 9 something train and were home shortly after 11. I, of course, was home sooner and sitting on my bed before 9. Final Thoughts I say this every trip, but this trip was even better than the last. We lucked out with fairly cheap non-stop flights both ways and of course free bags on Southwest. And also free bags on the AirTran flight because we booked through Southwest. It’s a good thing I prepare incessantly and was aware of smartervegas and MLife and Total Rewards options for our last minute hotel. We didn’t get to use as much MyVegas as we’d planned, but still good to have. Lessons learned – don’t drink so much on an empty stomach on the High Roller if you can’t handle it. And I’m always putting the hotel(s) in MY name. No arguments. We packed way more into this trip than we thought we would or could. Looking forward to the next one.