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Trip Report - 5/31-6/4 - Mandarin Oriental, Skylofts, Liquid, Light and more...

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Universal, Jun 7, 2013.

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  1. Universal

    Universal Low-Roller

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    My Trip Report

    My wife I are fresh off four nights in Vegas. We were originally supposed to travel with two other couples but they had to back out for different reasons. So this was the first time we've ever gone alone.

    The first two nights were spent at Mandarin Oriental in City Center and the next two nights were spent at the Skylofts at MGM. I’ll post a day-by-day report that details our hotel stays, our meals, and our pool party/night club experiences.

    We didn't gamble once on this trip, so this will be a unique report compared to most others on here.

    Day One

    We left Charlotte at 7:30 AM on Friday after a free night’s stay at the Ritz Carlton the night before. We flew direct on US Airways and went first class both ways. I know US Airways gets a bad rap at times, but our experience was great overall.

    We jumped a long security line at both airports and our luggage was the first off the conveyor following both flights. Our flight to Vegas arrived on time, while our return home arrived 30 minutes early. Their first class prices have come way down recently and we found this to be money well spent for a long flight.

    Our driver from Presidential met us in baggage claim and I have no complains about that experience. I booked a one way Escalade transfer since we’d be taking the Skylofts limo back to the airport. The price was reasonable and our driver was nice enough even if not particularly memorable. Short ride to City Center. Tipped him $20 and made our way into the hotel.

    I booked our rooms through the American Express Fine Hotels program, which at Mandarin entitled us to a room upgrade at check in (if available), a $100 spa credit, a daily breakfast credit and a 4:00 PM late checkout time. Check in is on the 23rd floor and that area provides a great view of the strip. Since it was daytime and was going to be a hot day, they had the shades down but they are sheer so you can still enjoy the view.

    We arrived at the hotel around 10:00 AM. While there were some rooms available for immediate check in, I told the girl at the front desk that we were willing to wait until later in the day to check in if it meant we could get a better room. She informed me that she could upgrade me to a premier room on a high floor, which was a one category jump from the strip view room I booked. So we went changed into our bathing suits, went to Liquid and chose to check in afterwards.

    I’ll preface this report by saying I’m good friends with one of the club owners at 1 OAK, and he’s able to set us up with some very favorable deals at Light Group venues on non-holiday weekends. We still take good care of people from a tip standpoint where appropriate, but these deals save us a ton of money on minimums.

    I use Pearce Cleaveland at Liquid and he always takes great care of us. In fact he made most of our Light Group reservations on this trip and was perfect to work with. He had sent me a text the day before letting me know he was holding a cabana for us even though it was just my wife and me. While it was more space than we really needed, it was great to have a shaded area to go into when we got too hot, not to mention the TV, the refrigerator, the outlet charge our phones, etc... We spent most of our time on the daybed and in the small pool in front of the cabana.

    Friday was a slower day overall at Liquid but it was perfect for us since we’d been up since about 4:30 EST. We weren’t looking for a blowout party right off the bat. So we enjoyed the cabana, ate some great food and made some new friends in the cabana next to us.

    First pitcher of the trip in the cabana at Liquid...

    [​IMG]

    Love the fries at Liquid...

    [​IMG]

    Pearce told us they were having the “US Weekly Hot Bodies Issue” party the next day and that it would be slammed. Since we were planning on coming back to Liquid, that was exactly what we wanted to hear. Unfortunately he also told us they were losing the three smaller cabanas to "US Weekly" crew, which meant we were going to have a daybed on Saturday. Our spend just wasn’t high enough to justify one of the bigger cabanas on a Saturday. No worries though.

    After finishing up at Liquid around 5:00, we headed to Mandarin to check in. Upon arriving in room 1921, we found the room to our liking for the most part. It was a bit on the small side by Vegas standards, but it was designed extremely well. Everything we needed was included in the room from the technology, to high quality linens, to the incredible bathroom. Unfortunately, while the premier room we were given was bigger than the strip view room I booked, the view was a step down. Instead of looking out towards the City Center and the buildings beyond it, our primary view was of the Polo Towers and its surrounding buildings.

    That night we had 9:00 reservations at Hakkasan restaurant followed by 1 OAK. Before dinner we stopped by the Mandarin Bar, which is also on the 23rd floor. It's a laid back atmosphere but the scenery was damn good. The view is also great:

    [​IMG]

    The vibe at Hakkasan wassn’t quite what I expected. I thought it would be more like STK as far as the DJ goes, but the level of the music was substantially lower. The restaurant is also difficult to navigate and feels like a maze, but I’m sure we would know our way around better the second time around.

    We had a very knowledgeable server and she made some menu recommendations to help us since there were so many choices. We ended up ordering several different items and shared them. While Chinese isn’t our favorite type of food, we did enjoy the meal.

    On the way out my wife needed to use the bathroom and I was standing near the exit waiting on her, I realized I was right beside Tiesto and a few others I didn’t recognize. Initially I thought one of others was Calvin Harris, but I don’t think it was. I didn’t want to bother him, so I didn’t ask for a photo or anything like that, but it was pretty cool to see him.

    From there we took a car to The Mirage. Since it was just the two of us, my buddy set it up where we could sit at one of the owners tables behind the DJ. Jeff Tomastik, the VIP Director, said they weren’t quite ready for us when we arrived around 11:15 since my buddy’s partner wasn’t there yet, so we headed to Stack for a couple of drinks and came back around Midnight.

    We had been to 1 OAK before, but this was an even better experience being behind the DJ. Our table looked out over the dance floor and offered us a perfect view of the majority of the club. DJ Karma was on the decks, and his open format style is perfect for our tastes. He played a lot of hip hop but mixed in enough top 40 and house music to please everyone.

    View from our table...

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately, we were both exhausted because of the time change even before getting to 1 OAK, so we didn’t last nearly as long as we wanted to. We called it a night a little before 2:00 AM and headed back to the hotel.

    Coming next: a packed Liquid, a great meal at Mix and an unbelievable night at Light
     
    Return to Sky Suites
  2. schwaiguy

    schwaiguy Low-Roller

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    Impressive so far.
     
  3. UKFanatic

    UKFanatic The Arbiter of Taste Caviar Kid

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    Very interested to hear about Light
     
  4. KingBBInLV

    KingBBInLV High-Roller

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    More bikini pics of wife please :beer:

    Good TR so far!
     
  5. smartone

    smartone VIP Whale

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    Glad to know I'm not alone!:peace:
     
  6. Universal

    Universal Low-Roller

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    Day Two:

    I also wanted to find some time to relax on this trip and there is no better place to do that than Mandarin Spa. I booked a two-hour massage after breakfast and before Liquid and it was awesome. Exactly what I needed after a very long first day/night in Vegas.

    Overall, the spa facilities were excellent, especially the plunge pools that overlooked the strip from the 8th floor. I went from pool to sauna to pool for about 30 minutes before my treatment and enjoyed all of it. The service was also top notch in the spa.

    My massage therapist was also very good at what she does, and the massage room itself was the nicest I've ever been in. Huge space with an incredible shower in it. It also had a sliding partition where I could shower in after the exfoliating treatment and before the massage itself while the therapist was still in the room.

    I've been to the spa at Caesars, Aria, Vdara, and Mirage, and feel comfortable saying Mandarin's is better than all of them both from a facilities standpoint and service standpoint. I've never been to the spa at Wynn/Encore, so I can't compare it to those.

    Following my massage we made our way to Liquid around 12:30 and Pearce met us at the door. We could immediately tell Saturday was going to be much different from Friday, as it was already packed when we arrived. Like I said earlier we were slated to have a daybed and ended up choosing an end bed near the entrance to the main pool. This was a good choice as far as traffic went but a poor choice as far as the sun goes. By 3:00 we were roasting in the sun and our umbrella was no match for the Vegas sun. That made the day a bit less enjoyable than normal but nobody was to blame but us...lol. They gave us several choices and that’s the one we picked. I just didn't think about the sun when making the pick.

    Fortunately everything else went great. My wife made some dance partner friends and had a blast with them. Pearce also gave us a shout out on the mic which was hilarious. DJ Exodus played that day and we were again blessed with a set that was right up our alley. He played a lot more hip hop than I expected and the crowd responded to it.

    Shots from Liquid...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After a fun day at Liquid we did a little shopping at Aria and Crystals and then made our way back to Mandarin. We rested for a while in the room because we knew a long night was ahead of us. We had 9:00 PM reservations at Mix and again made the Mandarin Bar our first stop before dinner. My wife found a drink on the menu that she loved the night before and stuck with it on Saturday night.

    We took a car to THEhotel and made it up to Mix right at 9:00. We hit some traffic on the strip and I thought we were going to be late, but we ended up being right on time. For those that may not be familiar with Mix, it’s located on the 64th floor of THEhotel and provides one of the best overall views of the strip. We had put in a request for a table on the patio, but we knew it was a long shot since there are so few tables out there. They ended up seating us inside but right by the window with a great view toward The Orleans and the mountains.

    Our server, Mark, was one of the best we’ve ever had in Vegas or anywhere else for that matter. He was very eccentric and reminded us a bit of actor Mike Myers with his mannerisms. He knew the menu inside and out and made several recommendations.

    We started with the shrimp cocktail, and it was very different from any other we’ve had at other restaurants. First off the sauce was not your typical cocktail sauce but a mix of different sauces and tasted great. Secondly, the shrimp were served on a bed of mixed greens and we ate the greens with the sauce and the shrimp. The combination sounded weird at first but went together perfectly once in our mouths.

    For our entrees we both ordered the filet. I paired mine with macaroni and cheese while my wife chose the fork crushed potatoes. A great filet and high quality mac and cheese is one of my favorite all time meals and this one ranked right up there with any I’ve had elsewhere. My wife felt the same about her combination and Mark’s service made the meal that much more memorable.

    Incredible chandelier in the dining room at Mix...

    [​IMG]

    Following dinner we had a little time to kill before going to Light, so we spent some time in the lounge portion of Mix, which is connected to the restaurant. It was pretty dead, especially for a Saturday night, but the view was incredible.

    View from Mix...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After a couple of drinks in the lounge we made our way to Mandalay Bay. My buddy had set us up at a table with the marketing director of Light. I sent him a text and he let me know he wouldn’t be at his table until 12:15 or so. So my first objective was to get a look at the line to get in the club, and I can only describe it you as so long that I never found the back of the line. It was crazy.

    To kill some time we went to Red Square, which is a Russian themed restaurant next to Light and was recently acquired by Light Group. It has a subzero vodka vault with over 200 different types of vodka stored inside. You can actually put on a giant winter coat and go in the vault, but we passed on that. Instead, we sat at the bar, the top of which is iced. The bartenders working that night were also hot, which always a bonus.

    An hour or so later I sent my contact a text and he let us know that the table was now ready. I met him near the door and he directed us past the waiting hoards of people, which is always a good feeling. He had another host walk us to his table, and we took the back way through the club's corridor to get to the table because it was already so crowded inside.

    We made our way to the table and were introduced to a guy who was already at the table with a few pretty women. He was only called “Dave” when we were introduced but he looked very familiar. After a few minutes it came to me - this was “Vegas Dave” - he’s one of the best sports bettors in town and maybe the biggest spender at the clubs as far locals go. He couldn’t have been nicer to us and made us feel right at home.

    After the introductions I started scanning the club to get sense of what it’s all about and all I can say is - WOW! I’ve been to a lot of clubs over the years whether in Vegas or NYC or elsewhere and I’ve never felt energy in the air like I felt inside Light. It was palpable and constant. It just built throughout the night.

    Pic inside the club...

    [​IMG]

    DJ Stellar was playing when got in the club, while Krewella - the headlining act - was due to take over at 1:30 AM. I loved Stellar’s set, but Krewella just took the whole place to a entirely different level once they came on. If you love bass and high energy beats, they are what you’re looking for.

    The club feels more like a concert performance than a typical night club, and that’s by design. The DJ and the Cirque performers scattered all around the club are everyone’s focus. The performers come down from the ceiling, drop down off walls, stand on platforms, etc... They are everywhere and add so much to atmosphere. There also giant LED screens behind the DJ booth, which also have platforms behind them for the dancers to perform on. It’s hard to describe but something awesome to experience.

    Here's a link to a video I shot from my table...

    [YOUTUBE]?v=T-uV8_az2hQ[/YOUTUBE]

    Krewella played until after 3:00 AM and we stayed for the whole thing. After their set DJ Stellar came back to play for a while longer. By that point my wife was in another world but in a good way. She’d basically never stopped dancing and made some fun friends at our table. However, I could see the look in her eye and knew that she had consumed a few too many vodka/Red Bulls over the course of the night.

    My wife with her new friends...


    [​IMG]

    I knew I had to get my wife back to the room, so I thanked everyone at the table and we said our goodbyes. We headed outside Mandalay Bay to find a ridiculously long cab line. So I did what I always do in that situation - I tipped one of the valets and asked him to have a town car pulled around so we wouldn’t have to wait in line. He was happy to oblige and we were in a car very quickly. Unfortunately, this is where one of the best nights we've ever had in Vegas takes a giant turn for the worse.

    Said driver decides to take us on the most circuitous route imaginable to get back to the City Center. It involved going off the strip and into the Monte Carlo the back way, around the building, etc ... and required him to go over approximately 500 speed bumps. After several fast stops and starts, I looked over at my wife and saw the look on her face that I always dread in situations like this.

    To top off the nightmare ride, the dumbass driver didn’t even have change for a $100 bill on a $44 ride. Neither did the bellman at the Mandarin, so he had to take the elevator up to the 23rd floor where the front desk is located to get the change. I still tipped him but I’m not sure why.

    My wife managed to make it back to the room but she proceeded to spend the next two hours or so in and out of the bathroom throwing up. It was an ugly end to a great night, and, unfortunately, her sickness will carry over to day three.

    Coming next: An entrance the Skylofts will never forget, dinner at Yellowtail and more...
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2013
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  7. BeeeJay

    BeeeJay President of The Red Lobster Hostess Satisfaction

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    great looking couple, one of the best trip reports I've read. Love the pics and the great detail of non-gambling activity. really enjoyable report! :beer:

    ps....no shame in overdoing it a bit in Vegas!!!
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2013
  8. KellyLovesVegas

    KellyLovesVegas certified personal trainer/retired space nerd

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    Great trip report so far, with awesome pics! Light looks like a really nice club.
    I can relate to one of those tough rides after a late night of partying. Ouch! I'm sorry to hear it carried over into the next day.
     
  9. beaumontbhoy

    beaumontbhoy Low-Roller

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    Ur not alone and camel toe?:nworthy:
     
  10. Universal

    Universal Low-Roller

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    Day Three and Four:

    Day three started with me walking to the CVS beside Mandarin Oriental to buy Gatorade for my wife, who had thrown up quite a bit a few hours before. I also drank too many red bulls over the course of the previous night and got very little sleep, so neither of us was feeling very well. We then ordered breakfast in the room since my wife wanted to see if she was to the point where she could hold food in her stomach. We both had scrambled eggs and I also had two of the best blueberry muffins I’ve ever eaten.

    Our initial plan was to have the Skylofts limo pick us up around 11:00 AM. If our loft was ready, great. If not, we would have them hold our luggage and then head to Daylight, the new pool party at Mandalay Bay. So, we ate breakfast and my wife felt just so-so a few minutes after finishing her food. She decided to lay down for a little while before the limo arrived.

    Our pickup time rolled around and we checked out of Mandarin and headed downstairs to meet the limo driver. A Rolls Royce was not available and we were picked up by a “regular” stretch limo. As soon as we started moving, my wife began feeling nauseous again but was doing her best to keep her composure.

    We had hoped to take advantage of the potential Noon check in, which is part of the FHR package, but we were notified upon arrival that our loft would likely not be ready until 2:30-3:00 PM. Given the previous night was a Saturday, this was certainly understandable.

    Blake, the arrival concierge, offered to let us hang out in the MGM Grand VIP lounge until we could check in. I had told him my wife wasn’t feeling well, so he told us about the food, sodas, couches, etc.. in the VIP lounge. He began leading the way out of the Skylofts reception area and into the casino. Probably no more than 10 steps into the lobby, my wife told me she was going to throw up and quickly made her way to the nearest trash can.

    Blake had kept walking and talking and didn’t realize we weren’t with him. After getting about 20 steps ahead of us, he looked back and saw what was happening. Moments later, multiple MGM Grand employees circled around to block her from the gawking people waiting to check in the MGM and to see if she needed paramedics or any other medical attention. I looked at Blake and said, “bet nobody has ever made an entrance like this to Skylofts.” He just laughed and reassured me that he has seen about everything there is to see being a long time employee in Vegas.

    After she finished throwing up, I realized it was going to be tortuous for her to sit in the VIP lounge for three hours. After thinking about an alternative plan for a bit, I called Mandarin to see if our room was still available since we were technically entitled to a 4:00 PM checkout with the FHR package. They were gracious enough to allow us to return to our room and Blake offered to have the same limo driver take us back, which we accepted.

    My wife was able to take a two hour nap and felt like a new woman once she woke up. So much so that she had a craving for pizza so we headed to Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant in Crystals to satisfy that desire. While eating there Blake called my cell to notify us that our loft was now ready and offered to send another limo to pick us up from the hotel. This time we were pleasantly surprised to see the Rolls Royce Ghost waiting for us in the valet area of Mandarin as we came off the elevator from the City Center bridge.

    Pic in front of the RR Ghost...

    [​IMG]

    After a short but enjoyable ride back to Skylofts we were again greeted by Blake, who was happy to see my wife was feeling much better. He walked us through the casino up the Skyloft elevators and we began our walk down the hall to loft 67. While making our way down the hall, Blake told us due to availability they were able to upgrade us to a two bedroom loft, which is substantially bigger than the one bedroom we had booked. Just before entering loft 67 he received word through his earpiece that we had actually been assigned loft 83, which is a two bedroom with a strip view. Score!

    So he “apologized” for the mixup and we turned around to head back towards the other hallway. Of course, this was no inconvenience for us and we were ecstatic to not only get the upgrade to a two bedroom loft but also a strip view. Prior to arriving my wife had no idea what the Skylofts were and no clue what we were about to walk into. We’ve stayed in some impressive suites in Vegas and other cities, but nothing like this 3,000 square foot, two-level loft. Needless to say she was “wide eyed” as we walked in and blown away by both the size and the quality of the room.

    Blake completed the check in process in the loft and went over the various benefits we would receive as part of the Fine Hotels program. After finalizing the paperwork he handed things off to our initial butler, whose name escapes me. She gave us a tour of the loft and went over how everything works from the coffee machine to the remote controls to the bathtub to the shower, etc... She also told us all the various tasks the butlers are available to provide and we took advantage of many of them.

    Once we were alone in the loft my wife was speechless. She not only loved the room and all the furnishings but was also blown away by the level of service and attention of the Skylofts team. We then began exploring the loft to get a sense of how best to take advantage of everything.

    For anyone who isn’t familiar with Skylofts, here’s a video another guest took of our exact loft:

    [YOUTUBE]?v=UuCAGH90vcs[/YOUTUBE]

    At this point it was obvious Daylight wasn’t in the cards, so I canceled those plans. We instead spent the next few hours exploring and getting settled in the loft and relaxed until our 9:00 PM dinner reservations that night at Yellowtail, a great sushi place at Bellagio.

    The restaurant has limited seating on the patio overlooking the fountains and we were fortunate enough to receive one of those tables with minimal wait. We had a great meal there with an even better view. The sushi was excellent and their rock shrimp are some of the best we’ve had. Our server was also very good at what he does.

    View from our table...

    [​IMG]

    We had a table reserved at The Bank but my wife still wasn’t ready for any more partying, so we canceled those plans too and headed back to the Skylofts for the night.

    We initially thought the Skylofts bed was going to be a bit too firm for our liking but found it to be very comfortable after settling in. We both slept extremely well and each liked the fact that there is a heavy black curtain that can be closed to cover the blackout shades. In our room at Mandarin, it seemed like the lights of the strip always found a way into the room even with the blackout shades down. There was no such issue at Skylofts because of the extra curtain.

    The next morning we had 10:00 AM breakfast reservations at the Mansion. My wife had never heard of the Mansion, so she again had no idea what kind of treat was in store. We made our way to the concierge desk and they immediately contacted a butler to escort us to the Mansion. He was very entertaining and told us some great stories on the way there.

    Upon arriving we were seated “outside” even though it’s really inside in perfect 72 degrees temperature. We were the only guests dining there and received impeccable service from the staff. I ordered fresh squeezed orange juice, pancakes, bacon and a blueberry muffin. My wife ordered fresh squeezed apple juice, French toast, and bacon. Both of us loved not only the food but the overall experience at the Mansion. We only saw one set of guests the entire meal and they were just walking through with a staff member.

    Breakfast at the Mansion...

    [​IMG]

    In the atrium...

    [​IMG]

    We were then met by our butler who escorted us back to the Skylofts. While walking back we mentioned to him that we were celebrating our anniversary. He asked us if we had any plans for the afternoon, and we told him we were headed to Bare at the Mirage. We took a cab over there and had a VIP daybed reserved on the elevated level. We were given the middle daybed we requested and enjoyed a fun but low key final day in Vegas.

    Pizza at Bare is great...

    [​IMG]

    We found out after arriving at Bare that Daylight was having their industry day, so the crowd at Bare wasn’t what it normally is on a Monday. It was good but not great. We made the best of it though. My wife did a little shopping in Paradiso in the Mirage and then we headed back to the Skylofts.

    We walked in to find our butler had left us chocolate covered strawberries and a complimentary bottle of Veuve champagne. This was a great touch and we enjoyed both the champagne and the strawberries that night after eating an in-loft meal. As part of Skylofts, guests can order food from any of the MGM Grand restaurants and the butler will bring it to you in the loft.

    I ordered a filet from Craftsteak, and macaroni and cheese from Wolfgang Puck. My wife ordered her meal from Fiamma, an Italian restaurant, and a caesar salad from Craftsteak. We ate while watching game 7 of the Miami-Indiana series playing on every TV in the loft. No matter where I walked I didn’t miss any of the action, although it turned out to be a blowout.

    Our meal was excellent and it was so nice to be able to eat in the loft on our last night in town. By that point we were exhausted, so it was relaxing to not have to go anywhere. We then ordered breakfast for 7:30 AM delivery the next morning since our flight left at 9:30 AM. It was delivered promptly and was excellent. This time I had the French Toast and my wife had an omelet.

    After breakfast we headed down to catch our limo to the airport. Unfortunately a Rolls Royce was not available, so we had to “settle” for a ride in an Escalade limo. We made it to the airport right on time and had a smooth flight back to Charlotte.

    So another Vegas trip is in the books. It had its ups and downs but the positives definitely outweighed the negatives. Next time we go we will definitely go with a crew though and save the trips where it’s just the two of us for other cities.
     
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  11. Tellafriend

    Tellafriend High-Roller

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    Fantastic report!

    I was right there with you :)
     
  12. uli_1515

    uli_1515 Low-Roller

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    Great read!
     
  13. chess

    chess VIP Whale

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    awesome TR.... Well done and easy to follow and read... seems like there were a ton of good memories made !!!
     
  14. shifter

    shifter Degenerate Gambler

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    very nice report. you guys are bigger partiers than my wife and me, but have similar tastes. those 2BR Skylofts are amazing and big enough to sleep 8. too bad you didn't get the Rolls for 2 out of the 3 trips. that's one of the best parts.
     
  15. breanna61

    breanna61 Super Moderator

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    It was fun to read about all the things I could be doing in Vegas if I didn't send all my time gambling, lol. A fun read!
     
  16. DonD

    DonD Super Moderator

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    Me too . . :nworthy:
     
  17. Jones

    Jones Tourist

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    Awesome TR!
     
  18. KellyLovesVegas

    KellyLovesVegas certified personal trainer/retired space nerd

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    Trips to Las Vegas:
    59
    Thanks for the great TR! We're thinking about the Skylofts for our summer trip. We've used the FHR program for years - it's always a good deal!
     
  19. dfalk

    dfalk VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2011
    Messages:
    2,349
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    10
    Great Report. I need to bring a hottie like that to Vegas with me and party instead of gambling 24/7 with the guys.
     
  20. Universal

    Universal Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    Messages:
    421
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    10
    Thanks for all the kind words. I wasn't sure how this report would be received with no gambling involved, but I'm glad it went over well.
     
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