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TR: The Hotel & Love (9/7 - 9/10)

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Kuch1000, Sep 17, 2009.

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  1. Kuch1000

    Kuch1000 Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    My Trip Report

    I like the format of the trip reports that are divided up by topic, rather than chronological, so I’ve done mine that way, along with my letter grade for each item.

    Pre-Trip
    We live in Kansas City and have a 4 month old (first baby). We go to Vegas each year, and REALLY needed the trip this year (#12 for me). My parents, who live in Minnesota, agreed to watch the baby for the trip. Since it was their first time watching him overnight, we opted for a shorter 3-night trip instead of the usual 4 or 5 night trip.

    Getting There (Southwest: A+)
    We took a Monday morning flight on free Reward tickets on Southwest from Minneapolis. Our first leg to Chicago was uneventful, watching video clips of “The Hangover†on my iTouch. We grabbed lunch at the Illinois bar and grill at Midway since we had an hour and 45 minutes before the Vegas flight. (food was great by the way). Flight to Vegas was on time. We had A33/34 boarding passes, but since the flight was a continuation, there were already quite a few people onboard, so no exit row. We sat in the next to last row. Full flight, but a small kid had our aisle seat, so we were comfortable. We watched Oceans 13 on the laptop, used my drink coupons, and the flight was 25 minutes early. Love Southwest.

    Getting Around (Enterprise: A)
    We rented a car from Enterprise and had a free one-class upgrade. Line was short (3 people) and when we got to the front she informed me I was an E+ member and could’ve gone right to the front of the line. Got a Chevy Impala which did just fine for us, for a total cost including all fees/taxes for $126 for 3 full days. A little higher on the rates than in prior years, and I had to search to find that rate. The rental shuttle is great and efficient, and we were in and out quickly.

    There was a lot of construction on the strip between Tropicana and Flamingo, with Harmon being closed at the Strip. Thanks to the board, I was aware of this and used the side streets and shortcuts to get around. Traffic was definitely less than what I was used to, and we got from place to place fast.

    Hotel (The Hotel at Mandalay Bay: A-)
    I usually book a room early to have a reservation in place, then look for better deals. I originally booked Mandalay Bay for a standard room at $69/night. I then found the $89/night special at The Hotel and decided that was a better value and changed my reservation. Check-in was fast – we waited about 10 minutes at 3:00 PM on a Monday. Did the $20 trick, asking for a V-Suite upgrade. We were successful and got room 28-816. The V-suite isn’t really much of an upgrade in terms of size or amenities, but it does provide awesome views since you have windows facing 2 separate directions. We had a view of the Strip/airport (Luxor, MGM, Tropicana) on one side, and the pool and South of the Strip on the other.

    Overall, I thought the suite was fantastic. I had read a few reviews on TripAdvisor suggesting problems, but we loved everything. The suite was spacious, and the bathrooms were very luxurious with a huge tub, separate shower and his and her sinks. I do agree that the TVs were not the best – volume was inconsistent and channel selection was poor – but watching TV in my room is not a priority for me. Yes, the Internet is expensive at $14.99, and the minibar prices are expensive, but that is pretty much par for the course, and your choice to purchase.

    The Beach was nice, though I have seen much better wave pools. The lazy river was fast and a lot of fun. We had no problems getting a deck chair where we wanted, and we arrived an hour after opening.

    Parking deck was right by the entrance, so we usually had about a minute walk from car to elevator. I love the location at the end of the South strip, since it’s easy to use the highway and side streets to get everywhere fast if you rent a car.

    Food
    We’re not the $100/plate type diners at all. Give me good food at a good price and I’m happy. We typically do granola bars in the room for breakfast, a big meal in the afternoon, and maybe some fast food late at night. We wanted to try the Pasta Shop but they were closed Labor Day, so we ended up hitting buffets all week.

    Todai Sushi and Seafood @ Planet Hollywood (A-)
    Love this place. Eat here every year. Great selection of seafood dishes and sushi rolls on their buffet. They had salmon with a creamy mushroom sauce that was the best salmon I’ve ever had. And the dessert bar with bite-size portions is always a hit.

    Carnival World Buffet @ The Rio (A)
    The sheer variety of food is enough to make anyone happy. True, it’s not gourmet, but it’s very fresh and hot. We met some friends from Vegas and ended up getting in on a buy 1 get 1 free deal, so my wife and I did lunch for $18.

    Studio B Buffet @ M Resort (A)
    First time for me at this buffet. You get $2 off with the players card, so it was about $45 for my wife and I total at dinner. The buffet was very large and there was a good selection of various types of food. It was very heavy on seafood, which I don’t mind. It would have been nice to see more Italian options. I have never eaten so many vegetables on a buffet – very fresh and prepared in unique ways.

    Jack in the Box – South Strip (A-)
    I got hooked on JITB when traveling to California. I love the variety of choices and it’s always a good treat since we don’t have it locally. Had the classic Sourdough Jack and some jalapeno poppers. Love it.

    In-N-Out Burger – I-15 and Tropicana (B+)
    We wanted to try In-N-Out based upon all the raves about it. Honestly, it was good but nothing special. We had singles with a shake and fries, and thought they were decent, but couldn’t understand why everyone was so obsessed. Maybe I’m biased since in the Midwest we have lots of options around beef and burgers. But it was fun, and now we’ve been there since we’ve talked about it all the time since it’s mentioned a lot in “The Big Lebowskiâ€.

    Gambling
    My wife and I mainly play 25-cent video poker and Pai Gow poker. We prefer $5 tables, but they are getting rarer. Lots of the strip hotels had $15 Pai Gow. Here’s my thoughts on the places we visited:

    Mirage (D) - $15 Pai Gow and we got killed. We were just killing time before a show, and lost several hands fast. Smoky casino these days and very dark.

    Palms (B+) – We stuck to video poker and did some matchplays at BlackJack. Won 3 of the 4 matchplays for a nice $50 profit – dealers were very friendly and helpful. Palms has great video poker odds at all levels. Drink service was awful.

    El Cortez (A-) – We love this place for $5 Pai Gow and video poker. Was very hard to find true Jacks or Better machines – everything was some variation of Bonus Poker or Deuces Wild. The Pai Gow was fun even when losing.

    Hilton (C+) – Went 0 for 4 on matchplays here on Pai Gow, and pretty much got killed in 2 sessions. I do like the Hilton for gambling, just not the cards they were dealing. Pai Gow was $10. Dealers seemed grouchy.

    Hard Rock (B) – Same story as Hilton. Went back there our last day at noon and their Pai Gow table was closed. At least their dealers are friendly.

    Terrible’s (C+) – took out their only Pai Gow table. Good odds on video poker.

    Gold Coast (B) – Lots of Pai Gow tables but they were all $10. Did a couple BJ matchplays and broke even.

    Mandalay Bay (B) – Just played some 100 hand VP here mainly for fun. Like the sportsbook and the location close to The Hotel. I lost my only sports bet. Thanks Florida State.

    M Resort (A) – probably our new favorite place for Pai Gow. They had several $5 tables, as well as lots of video poker. The casino is very modern and very clean, and drink service was great. This is definitely worth checking out if you rent a car, or take the free shuttle out there. I wouldn’t mind staying here something.

    Show - Love by Cirque du Soleil (A)
    We had seen the other Cirque shows we cared to see (O, KA, and Mystere) and loved them all. My wife and I are not huge Beatles fans, but of course know many of the songs and they have universal appeal. Was not really sure what to expect from the show, but got the second ticket for $25 promotion so decided to give it a try.

    It is a very psychedelic experience, and lots of activity constantly taking place. Even halfway through, I felt like I still wasn’t sure exactly what I was watching. But I absolutely loved it and it’s one I would actually see again. The music was great of course, and the imagery was fantastic. There was not as much acrobatics as other cirque shows, but there was quite a bit, unlike some reviews I read which said there was none and it was all dancing.

    Miscellaneous & Observations
    We of course saw the Bellagio Fountains and Conservatory, still the best free attractions hands down.

    I definitely noticed that crowds were thinner all week. Granted we were there Mon – Thur, but that’s when we usually go, and it was quieter this year. I’m not complaining. I don’t like lines and crowds, and really the longest wait we had for anything was the buffet at M at primetime, and that was only 20 minutes.

    We got to land parallel to the strip, which is really fun and was only the second time I’ve gotten to do that.

    City Center looks impressive. We will definitely go see Viva Elvis by Cirque du Soleil there next year if it’s up and running. I don’t like the fact that it totally blocks the view from the Bellagio fountains, though, since that used to be the most picturesque place in Vegas in my opinion.

    Leaving Vegas always sucks, but it was a little easier this year going home to our 4-month old son. ot me over the “Vegas depression syndrome†a lot quicker. My wife only called home once a day – I would’ve lost that bet if someone offered it!

    My tribute to Zac Galifianakis in "The Hangover":
     
  2. spunky96

    spunky96 Tourist

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    Great report, thanks! We're leaving next week and staying in a "v" suite at The Hotel as well so it was cool to read your report on it.
     
  3. sabrina

    sabrina Low-Roller

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    thanks for posting! great report.
     
  4. aer2001

    aer2001 Low-Roller

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    Great TR! It gives me hope when I read about people surviving leaving their young kids to go to Vegas! We're going the end of next month and our son will be 16 months old.
     
  5. lovinlasvegas

    lovinlasvegas Newbie

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    We can only go to Vegas on vacation because it is the only place I don't wish my kids were with me! Glad you had fun!!
     
  6. blackjacknut

    blackjacknut VIP Whale

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    Nice TR, thanks for posting
     
  7. mesa

    mesa VIP Whale

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    Very nice report,Thanks
     
  8. rje

    rje High-Roller

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    Nice report..
    Will be staying at The Hotel in November.
    Good to know the $20 trick has a chance there!
     
  9. Wanger1969

    Wanger1969 High-Roller

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    Very nice report, really enjoyed reading! Love your pic. You look like a fun guy to hang out with!
     
  10. VegasDiva

    VegasDiva VIP Whale

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    great report :)

    am staying at the main Mbay in November , did get an upgrade to a suite too , all comp'd :)

    have heard theHotel is lovely , have a couple friends staying there same week Im there :)
     
  11. gotavegasjones

    gotavegasjones VIP Whale

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    Nicely done. Thanks for posting.

    later, GVJ
     
  12. Viva Las Vegas

    Viva Las Vegas Ramblin' Gamblin' Man

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    Great report. We look forward to playing some pai gow and staying at The Hotel in November!

    I also agree there are better burger joints in the midwest (Portillos in Chicago has great burgers) though In N Out is the best fast food option out West, IMO.
     
  13. pywakit

    pywakit Low-Roller

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    Fun report and Great Pix !

    Someone mentioned Portillos in my old home town...makes me want an Italian beef w/mozzarella and tons of peppers...mmm mmm good!
    Great little place (well used to be not sure if it is still there) on corner of Lake St and 9nth in Maywood...had the best beefs!!!
     
  14. TVC15

    TVC15 Tourist

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    nice tr - thanks for posting!
     
  15. Viva Las Vegas

    Viva Las Vegas Ramblin' Gamblin' Man

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    Never been to that particular joint but I love Johnnies (especially the Italian Ice) on North which we always hit on the way back from Maywood Park.

    Other great beef joints include Jay's on Montrose & Nagle (Naraghansett or Ridgleland in other parts of the city / suburbs) and downtown nothing tops Mr. Beef on Orleans 3 blocks north of Ohio.

    They closed my favorite hot dog stands down (Wally's on Diversey and Central and Bowser Dog on Irving between Six Corners and the Kennedy). Both served Leon's hot dogs.

    You may also been to Bob-o-rino's which had a store on Belmont near First / Cumberland though we frequented the store on Central. The owner is selling (may have sold by now) the business and has moved to Las Vegas.
     
  16. Blonde_4_ever

    Blonde_4_ever "The Welfare Queen of Windsor"

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    Love the picture!
    I would have thought your wife would be calling home 10 times a day!

    Thanks for the report.....
     
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