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Trip Report, 6/25-6/30

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Go Blue, Jul 2, 2002.

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  1. Go Blue

    Go Blue Tourist

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2001
    Messages:
    156
    Location:
    Boston MA

    My Trip Report

    Some background info first : My last trip to Vegas was just last October- I was going with a different group this time though. Total of 7 of us going, in two different groups. 3 of us were doing a 5 night stay (tues-sun) at Bellagio and St. Tropez All-Suite Hotel, and the other 4 were doing a 3 night stay (thurs-sun) at Hard Rock. We are all in our mid 20’s and flew in from various areas: Boston, Michigan, San Diego, and San Fran. This trip report focuses heavily on Vegas nightlife, so some of you will probably find our doings tedious. I’ll try to keep things PC ;)

    TUES : Woke up at 4 AM, got to the airport in Boston and met up with my friend for our 7 AM flight. This was his first trip to Vegas- he is an ER doctor so he was definitely looking to let some steam loose over the next few nights. Flight went hitch-free, we had a layover at LAX and then arrived in Vegas at 2:30 PM. We got to Bellagio and met up with my cousin, who had flown in from Detroit that morning. This was also his first trip to Vegas, and being that he starts law school next month, he was treating this as his last chance to party (not that people actually study in law school though!). He had just returned from a two-week vacation in Italy four days earlier, so he wanted to see how well Bellagio/Venetian recreated Italy. Both were leaving all planning to me- from hotels to restaurants to clubs.
    Anyways the 3 of us checked into our lakeview room on the 21st floor. I had heard many people disparage Bellagio rooms, but all of us loved it. The bathroom was very classy and décor of the room was well-done. Of course, it’s no Venetian room, but we were still impressed. The view of the fountains was excellent, even though the window was on the small side. I wish they had the floor-to-ceiling windows that are common in Vegas, but I guess they thought it would ruin the elegant exterior of the hotel.
    We waited for an hour for our luggage to arrive at our room- that was the only bad service we received at Bellagio. We decided to walk down the Strip to Venetian. The heat on this walk was the most intense we felt all week- I’m guessing it was because we weren’t used to it at that point. We walked around Venetian for a while and then at dinner at Grand Lux Café. It was basically a carbon copy of its sister restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory: decent food in huge portions that nobody could possibly finish. They must waste a ton of food, since nobody wants to lug around doggie bags around the Strip. Asked the waitress for a drink recommendation and she offered their watermelon martini. Yes, a little feminine, but I ended up drinking two (at $8.50 a shot!).
    Walked across the street and checked out the Pirate Battle, which was packed. Afterwards, walked back to Bellagio and took the tram to Monte Carlo Brew Pub. This bar was disappointing- the place was dead and the service was horrendous. I thought the place would be an upscale brewery- but it was really dank and ugly-looking. It seemed like I was drinking in my friend’s unfinished basement. I’m not a microbrew expert but my cousin and friend enjoyed the beer. If you want to share, they have a 5 liter glass of beer for $28. We were still on east coast time so we headed back to our hotel by midnight and crashed.

    WED : Woke up at 5 AM- we were taking a bus tour to the West rim of the Grand Canyon. Went thru Grand Canyon Tour Company and paid $95 a person. I thought the tour would be kinda boring but it was really cool- we stopped at the Hoover Dam and then went thru some small towns. Being from the northeast, it is really interesting to see how different small-town life is. We got to the Canyon and the views were excellent- also, there are no guardrails so you can walk right up to the edge of the Canyon and look straight down! Pretty crazy stuff. They had a Native American buffet too, which was pretty bad. Our bus tour woman was nice- she basically got on her knees to thank us for visiting Vegas and saving people’s jobs. We had to tip her well after hearing that! Anyways I would recommend the West Rim tour- I’ve heard the South Rim tour is much longer and more commercialized.
    We got back to Bellagio by 4 PM. Went down to the pool, which is really nice. 3 or 4 large square shallow pools with nice landscaping all around. Crowd was mostly older people and families. Showered and headed over to Luxor to see Blue Man Group. Luxor was pretty dead actually. We had dinner at La Salsa there- standard Mexican fare. Walked around a little and headed over to the Blue Man theater (had 12th row tix). Honestly, I was a little disappointed in the show. It was entertaining, but I was expecting something better. The skit quality erratic- the marshmallow and paint skits were fun, but what the hell was the point of the one with the three cards? Even I could have thought of that. I did like how they embarrassed the late arrivers, and the energy of the crowd was excellent. I’ve heard Blue Man in Vegas is a combo of various skits from their shows in Boston, Manhattan, and Chicago. Perhaps those shows offer more continuity. I saw Mystere last fall and thought that was much better.
    Show got out at 11:45 and then we walked over to Mandalay Bay to check out The Dragon. This is an upscale lounge that is only open Wed nights- they convert the China Grill restaurant into this place. $20 cover and drinks were about $8. We loved this place- it was fantastic. They had an in-house DJ that played techno and hip hop..great selection of music that got me pretty energized. Amazingly beautiful women here..pretty much a model-type scene. They had a bunch of velvet sofas and tables in the front, and they opened up a small dance floor in the back after 2 AM. We probably would have stayed until closing, but we were tired from the early wake-up so we left at 2:30 AM. Mandalay Bay is such a cool place..I’d love to stay there in the future sometime. Walked back to Bellagio and saw Matt Damon in the elevator at 3 AM, presumably going up to his pimped-out suite. My friends also saw Damon at the Hard Rock the following night. It seems like every celeb in town is either at Bellagio, Mandalay, or Hard Rock.

    THURS : Woke up at 10 AM and headed over to Paris for the breakfast buffet. I love breakfast food so this place was great- omelets were solid and blueberry pancakes were the best I’ve ever had. A super bargain for under $12. We stayed for the start of the lunch buffet, which was mediocre. I definitely would not pay $17 for that spread. After the meal, we walked over to Barbary Coast to gamble. I tried learning basic craps before the trip and wanted to finally play a little. Got in on a $5 table which only had 2 people playing on it. I made some rookie mistakes- I put a place bet on the 8 when it was also the point. They were like…what the hell are you doing? They didn’t tell me why this bet is frowned upon- I did it on all the time on the craps computer game I have. Anyways I kept it on there and the next roll was a 8 so it worked out fine. Played for about an hour and ended up with a $110 profit. Had a great time too- fast drink service but I was only drinking water at that time of the day.
    Got back to the hotel and the other 2 guys went down to the pool. I changed and got ready to hit the Bellagio Spa …what an experience! I want to visit a spa on every future vacation I have. Checked-in and went to the mens locker room area. They give you a robe, slippers, and locker. Sat in the whirlpool for a while and then took a shower and waited in their lounge (filled with a TV, newspapers, unlimited fruit and drinks) for my massage. Had a very relaxing back/neck/shoulders massage in this huge sun room we had to ourselves. After the massage, I went to the exercise room, which is filled with Cybex equipment. This stuff is amazing- the treadmills all have 10-inch flat screen TVs attached to them, and you can put on headphones and listen to music or watch TV. I worked out for about an hour and then went back to the room. Spa price is $25 per day, and it’s included for free if you get a massage.
    We all met up again and headed to Caesars Forum Shops for dinner. I had planned on eating at Bertolino’s but it was closed for remodeling, so we went to Spago Café instead. Limited menu but great pizza- about $12 each. Tasty bread and goat cheese included with your meal. On the way back, we stopped at Café Gelato in Bellagio. I highly recommend this place..they have many flavors ranging from mango to tiramisu to choc chip, and you get a huge portion for $4. My cousin said it was comparable to the gelato in Italy.
    We went back to the room and relaxed for a while, and took photos of the fountains from the room. We all got ready for the night and headed downstairs by 10 PM. The 4 guys from CA were arriving that night, so the original plan was for them to come to Bellagio and go to Light (the new nightclub that was featured in GQ). However, we got a call from them and they said they were just going to eat dinner and then gamble all night at Hard Rock. The 3 of us decided to go to Light instead of meeting up with them. Oh yeah, we were right outside the Fontana Bar and I heard a familiar voice. I turned around and it was the actor who played Kenny Bania on “Seinfeldâ€. We are huge Seinfeld fans so that was a great celeb spotting!
    We played video poker until about midnight, mostly to get free drinks so we could save money at Light. Drink service at Bellagio was fast, even though it was crowded. Went to Light and paid the $20 cover. Once you walk in, you go up an escalator and down a hallway. Actually it’s more of a lounge than a club- there are two bars and a small dance floor (I read the place only holds 600). This place was really fun as well…mix of techno and older hip hop. We stood and hung out..this older short, bald guy had a table right in front of us and had about 5 model-type women around him. Tables at clubs like this are expensive to get- so I’m sure he was rolling in money. Anyways my cousin said something to him about the women..the guy said come down and join him! That made our night..his table had a bottle of vodka with all kinds of mixers- carafes of OJ, cranberry juice, fresh limes and strawberries. We didn’t really get to chat with him..he said he was from Iran and partying for the weekend. Eventually he disappeared into the crowd and we just hung out at the table and drank the free stuff. Service was amazing at the table- someone would come by every 5 min to pick up spilled drinks, ashtrays, etc. Beautiful women in that club as well. Anyways I was tired and took off at 3 am…I didn’t feel weird leaving alone because we were already in our hotel- very convenient! My friends stayed until closing.

    FRI : Two of us woke up at 10 AM and headed down to the pool one last time- it was fairly empty and the water was feeling great. Came back upstairs and packed for our 1 PM checkout. We were not looking forward to leaving Bellagio! Anyways we grabbed a cab and headed over to the St. Tropez All-Suite Hotel. We chose the St. Tropez because we wanted a cheap hotel near our friends at the Hard Rock. It was directly across the street (our room had a view of the HR Guitar) and nightly rate was only $49. Actually I was pretty happy with this place. Our room had a sofa, big fridge, and soaking tub in the main room. The place had free breakfast and free shuttle to the Strip. Other than a bad smell in the lobby, it was everything we wanted in a cheap motel.
    So we dropped off our stuff and grabbed a taxi to eat a buffet lunch at Gandhi’s Indian Cuisine on Paradise Road. That was a very good meal- they had various chicken, salads, and veggies and price was $7.95 a person. Then took a cab to the MGM Grand area..briefly checked out M&M World and Coke World and then went into MGM Grand. Just as we are about to leave, we overhear someone saying Shaquille O’Neal is playing craps there…so we quickly walk over there, but we missed him by about 10 min. Shaq was in town for his All-Star Comedy Roast. On our way out, we see some TV cameras set-up and a makeshift studio, and see that former NFL star Michael Irvin was getting make-up. He was on location for Fox Sports’ “The Best Damn Sports Showâ€. The crowd got bigger as the time went on..we stuck around and got on TV briefly when they showed Irvin. Apparently former Cowboys Emmitt Smith and Jimmy Johnson were also playing craps on the floor, but this time we didn’t go over. I think everyone was expecting Shaq to be interviewed by Irvin for the show, but we couldn’t wait around so finally we took off for St. Tropez.
    That night we had dinner at Pink Taco at the Hard Rock (yes, they are trying to be raunchy with that title). Better mexican food than at La Salsa, with much better looking waitresses. After dinner, we finally met up with the 4 CA guys at Circle Bar. The bassist for the band The Who had died in the hotel a few days earlier, so they had a small shrine to him near the casino floor..and they were playing Who music all night. We had a few drinks and then went back to our motel to shower and change for the night. We were all going to Baby’s, which is the underground club at the Hard Rock. One of the CA guys had a connection to get into the VIP room at Baby’s, so we happily did that. It’s pretty sweet in there- the room has its own bouncer. Basically the rules are: if you are not on the VIP list, you generally can’t get in. But anyone in the room could bring in as many girls as he wanted to. The bouncer would even make fun of you if you came back from a restroom trip and didn’t pick up any girls to bring back. Prices were not cheap (we bought two bottles of Stoli O vodka at $200 a pop), but service was fantastic. Stayed there until closing and headed over to Club Paradise at 4 AM, and it was packed in there. Headed home after about 30 min and went to bed.

    SAT : Slept in until about noon. We got up and grabbed a quick lunch at Subway next door. Saturday afternoon was pretty uneventful- we sorta just hung out in the room and did nothing until about 4 PM. Then took the shuttle over to Caesers. We had a coupon for an IMAX ride there so we checked it out- pretty cool but very short. Did some shopping there and bought a shirt at Diesel. Walked over to Aladdin for the Spice Market Buffet- there was about a 15 min line at 7 PM. I’d heard this was one of the better buffets in Vegas- price was $19.99. Tried out their pizza, tandoori chicken, mushroom salad, mexican food, rice, pasta, lemon cheesecake, and mousse. The food was decent but nothing special. I think I’m just gonna stay away from lunch and dinner buffets in the future. Breakfast is fine because it’s hard to screw up breakfast- but I feel a buffet just isn’t going to compare to a regular meal at a good sit-down restaurant. We left Aladdin and took some photos of the Strip, then grabbed the shuttle back to the motel to get ready for the night.
    Met up with the guys at the Hard Rock, which was packed. For those who haven’t been there- you would be shocked to see how small the casino is. Basically one medium-sized circle. Nobody plays the machines there, because everyone wants to be social at the tables. Found this to be an advantage- played a little nickel video poker and received quick drink service more than once. That night we were planning on checking out Rain at the Palms. However, we were about to take off and then realized..there are so many hot women here and the place is packed- why do we need to leave? My buddy got on the phone and was somehow able to pull us two tables in the VIP section at Baby’s. Got down there and had the two booths in the back. Place was rocking again- a bunch of San Fran 49ers, including QB Jeff Garcia, were also in the VIP room. Owner of Hugo Boss was also at Baby’s with a bunch of models. We decided to buy an overpriced disposable camera in the bathroom to chronicle the night. Everyone was having a great time…only bad part was the music. It was the same exact play list they had on Friday night! You would figure a musically-oriented hotel would have the best music. Anyways our flight to Boston was at 7 AM. So we partied until 4 AM, said bye to everyone else, and then walked across the street to pick up our bags and grab a taxi. Pretty damn convenient.

    Some Final Thoughts :

    - heat wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Certainly wouldn’t discourage me from future summer trips
    - I know many people have the philosophy of “why pay a lot for a hotel if you are only gonna sleep and showerâ€. I see their point, but having a nice room is such a pleasing experience
    - had no problems with the mid-trip hotel switch. Would encourage others to do it to take advantage of cheap rates during weeknights at the better hotels
    - not sure when my next trip to Vegas will be. A large group of friends from college are doing their yearly fall trip at the end of September. If I go, that would be my third LV trip in one 12 month period (which is high for an east coaster). People already think I’m a gambling nut for doing two trips in a year, even though I barely gamble. I guess I’ll just decide in the next month or so. I definitely do want to head back!
    - Thanks to everyone on the board for advice. Feel free to ask any questions. [​IMG]
     
  2. LV Terry

    LV Terry Captain Flop'N Fold

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    3,957
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA, USA
    Outstanding report!! Sounds like you guys had a great time! I share your feelings on getting a nice room...definitely adds to the experience, but they Kill you on the weekends. I know what you mean about people thinking you're a gambling nut...I average three trips a year...people think I'm a big gambler, but there is so much other stuff to do, sometimes you can't even fit much gambling in!

    Glad you had a great time.

    T.
     
  3. HoyaHeel

    HoyaHeel Grammar Police & Admin

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2002
    Messages:
    19,131
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    16
    I love to read about "real" people getting in to the VIP sections of clubs--I live vicariously! Sounds like you had a fabulous time!

    If you can get good airfare and cheap hotel rates, go to Vegas again!!! Last year I went three times in 8 months (from the east coast) Once for a wedding, then a family reunion, then just me and my husband for our anniversary, sort of.....It got to the point where I didn't want to tell my boss or co-workers why I was taking vacation time--they started to think I had a gambling problem :D I don't even gamble that much [​IMG] But if you enjoy the trip, and it fits into your budget, go for it!
     
  4. punkypete

    punkypete Tourist

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2002
    Messages:
    185
    Location:
    MD
    Nice report! It is fun to read what the young people do in Vegas. [​IMG]

    By the way, how did the Venetian and Bellagio compare with Italy?
     
  5. radicalfem

    radicalfem Tourist

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2001
    Messages:
    35
    Hot damn, Blue. For 200 bucks a pop, those had better have been big ass bottles of Stoli O!

    Your report was great..especially the celeb sightings!
     
  6. DutchVegas

    DutchVegas Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2001
    Messages:
    176
    Location:
    Ruinen The Netherlands
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    19
    Great report .

    Whats that with a table in a club ? You have to pay for it ?

    WHats up with that, over here you get a table if you are early.

    Looks you had a blast by the way!
     
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