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Trip Report 8/13 - 8/20

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by spencerdogg, Aug 22, 2002.

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  1. Tuesday 8/13.

    We were going to leave our North Reading house at 3pm for the 45 minute drive to Manchester, New Hampshire for our 5:45pm flight. Since we were ready we decided to leave at 2:30. Figured we could just as well wait around airport as wait another 30 minutes. As it turned out this was a good move. After weeks of hot hot weather and virtually no rain and none predicted, there was a sudden thunderstorm in Southern New Hampshire and a resulting 3 car and 1 boat accident on the 2 lane interstate route 93. It caused a good 30 minute delay and I'm sure delay would have been longer if we had left at 3pm.

    Check in was very quick. Flying First class allows checkin in a special line and there was no one in it. Security was a fairly quick, maybe 5 minutes. AS usual I set off the detector and was pulled aside for a full security check. I finally found out that the main cause of my always setting off the detector is my Rockport ProWalker sneakers. The security agent said the Rockports always set off the detector. I think he said there is metal in the shank.

    Plane left right on time at 5:45pm. And we landed in Cincinnati for our connection which also left on time. Time went pretty fast watching the enjoyable 2 hour movie Spiderman.

    On the leg from Cincinnati to LAS we had seats on the right hand side of the plane. The recent discussion on AVLV about seeing the strip from the plane led us to choose seats on the right side. In almost every trip over the last several years we had sat on the left. Sitting on the right we were able to see the entire strip as we were landing. Then after landing when the airplane made its first turn to go to the terminal we had an excellent view of the South strip out the Left side. Could see well past MGM. I mentioned in an earlier posting that when we sit on the left I have difficulty seeing out the right side because of restrictions in my neck movement. Fortunately I have better flexibility turning it toward the left and was able to see quite well, plus First class leaves more room between seats that also helped.

    Look at that. You've read all the way to hear and all we got to is the airport.

    We arrived at the D gates and took the train or whatever it is called to the main baggage area. I went immediately to the Hertz desk and there were 3 or 4 agents and no waiting. I really like to use Hertz and Avis because it is always fast. Back to baggage claim and a very short wait for our bags. I had seen the agent in Manchester put Priority tags on our bags and I'll tell you one thing - It didn't matter. But everyones luggage came fairly fast. We were on the Hertz shuttle bus and arrived at the lot within 30 minutes of landing. We had reserved a full size using AAA for around $125 a week and had a free upgrade. They gave us a loaded Mercury Gran Marquis LS with every option including dual power seats and leather. It was an excellent car. When we got to car it was black so I went right into the office and again no line and got it switched to a Silver one. Since we would be doing some house looking, we didn't want a black car sitting in the hot sun.

    Valet Parked at Caesars and went to Registration. Had decide not to use the airport checkin as we felt we had a better chance for an upgrade at the hotel itself. And boy did we. Very short wait and as I approached the agent I made sure she could see the $20 as I put it in front of me on the counter. Gave her my credit card and said to her how glad I was to be back for my 12th stay at Caesars. And then said we were very excited about spending our 35th wedding anniversary there and asked her if she could get us a very special room. We had booked thru the Emporers club (I think it is called something else now) for $59 weekday and $119 weekend for 7 nights. Agent said she would see what she could find for us. She gave us what she called a Petite Suite in the Palace Tower. This is a fabulous room. We had one a few years ago when we were given a free weekend of Baccus Bingo. Briefly it is a luxury room with dual bathrooms connected by a large shower. Being the great guy I am I took the smaller one and Bernadette took the large one that also had a Jacuzzi. Room had tons of closet space, a refrigerator, safe, couch, desk, and much more. It overlooked the Pool area and the Bellagio. Definitely the nicest room we've ever had in Las Vegas.

    August 14.

    Ate at Caesars Palatium Buffet for breakfast. As usually it was quite good. One change that I noticed was that they did not have someone doing omelets at the buffet and when I asked they said that the wait staff would get them for us. It was not very busy at the buffet and as it would turn out it was quite slow at Caesars until the weekend.

    As mentioned in previous day trip report we had a fantastic room (Suite) in the Palace Tower. But other than that it was very disappointing at Caesars. There are so so many ares of construction that it just doesn't feel like Caesars. This is our 12th stay at Caesars and the casino areas are very disappointing. We both agreed that had we know we definitely would have stayed somewhere else.

    Retrieved car from Valet and headed to Rio to get tickets to that nights Scintas show. This was their only performance during our week long stay and we wanted to use our 2 free tickets using the LVA POV coupon. Actually the coupon says valid Friday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and not valid on Saturday. Since this was a Wednesday there was a good chance it would not be honored. But they gave us the 2 tickets. I'm guessing that maybe the show used to be dark both Wednesday and Thursday and now it's only Thursday, but that's just a guess.

    Came back early evening and used the 2 for 1 at the seafood buffet prior to the show. Buffet is around $30 a person and probably would not have gone without the discount. The buffet is quite good and they did have Maine Lobster. Since we are from Massachusetts we have lobster most anytime. The ones at Rio were the smallest I have ever seen. They are cut in half and have no claws, so what you end up with is just the tail. The tail is the best part anyway and like I said they were very small. They had the labster on both sides of the buffet and the ones on one side were quite dried out, while those on the other side were a little moist. I laso had a full plate of the steamed cherrystones (I think that is what they are called). They were excellent. Sample several other items and had several desserts. The desserts were exceelent and there was a huge selection.

    Show was very good. We had seen them at the Rio before and enjoyed it then too. We had very good seats. The show was pretty much the same as before and I recommend it to all. The one thing I think it needs is a better opening. The opening portion just doesn't seem to have it. I can't put my finger on it but I feel they could be an ever better act if they had a strong opening.

    We didn't do a lot of gambling, mostly slots and probably dropped $100 - $120.

    Also during the day we made a quick trip to Sun City Anthem to see the 2 new models that were built since our last visit. We would return at a later time to look over all the models again. I'm not sure when but eventually we should buy something at Sun City Anthem. Anyone thinking of retiring in the Vegas area should come and see this place.

    August 15

    I left the room first to go to the pool. Picked up a coffee at Cafe Caesar, which is a small area where the original Casino cashier used to be, also got a newspaper and headed to Pool. Got 2 sets of towels and asked the young girt if she would get me a location with an umbrella. She asked if I wanted the poll with both adults and kids and I said no. Anyway she got me a location with umbrella and also got me a small table. About 30 minutes later Bernadette showed up and asked why I was ate the topless (European) pool. I actually didn't realize it and told her that I just went where they put me. There were not any topless bathers at that time, but about 30 minutes later my wife made a sound and when I looked up I saw the first topless bather. All told there were 5 or 6 by the time I left around 11am and all but 1 was quite attractrive.

    I was due to meet Dave Berman and Bill from N.H. at Treasure Island to go for lunch. We had decide to meet near the Mystere Box Office. From there dave drove to the Salvadorean Restaurant on North Main Street somewhat past the Main Street Station. We all had quite good meals there. I believe mine was called a Salvadore theme plate which consisted of a beef, fried platains, beans and rice, salsa. Everything was very good and it was the first time I had had fried platians, which are from the banana family. Bill had the same. Dave had a breaded shrimp dish. Everyone was quite satisfied with the place. Both Bill and Dave were excellent company. After lunch Dave drove us past the new Shade Tree shelter and as many know the profit from Dave's calendar sales go to the Shade tree.

    Dave dropped Bill and I at TI and Bill offerred me a 2 for 1 to the TI buffet for that night which I graciously accepted and then we went our separte ways. Bill is on an 18 day trip and on that afternoon was heading to Red Rock Canyon.

    The wife spent that time shopping for gifts for the 6 grandkids. We met up and gambled for a while. She loves Wheel of Fortune and I hate it. I know she only plays it to get the spin to hear the Wheel of Fortune music. She doesn't care to win only to spin the wheel. That has got to be a huge winner for the casinos.

    We went to TI for the dinner buffet. We hadn't eaten at a TI buffet since the place first opened. I hadn't remebered many positive reviews of it. The price is around $13 and as I mentioned we had the 2 for 1 from Bill. The dinner buffet features prime rib and peel and eat shrimp. We both got the just the prime rib and mashed potatoes. They were excellent. Both went back up and checked out the whole buffet and came back with prime rib and mashed potatoe again. The selection was small and nothing really impressed us except the prime rib, but it took out to be an excellent choice. I did try some dessert and it was uneventful. I wanted to try the bread pudding but it there was not much left and so I skipped it.

    After dinner we went to NYNY. They have security checking IDs to get into the parking garage. There had been an imprompto march on th strip the day before when a large group of firefighters were in town for a convention and somehow the march got started. The fence in front is packed with tee shirts from all over the country.

    We gambled for a short while, nothing memorial. Then we went to see Rita Rudner. Her show cost about $45 and is quite good. The seating sucks. Just oridinary hotel ballroon type chairs aranged in rows. Probably hold 400 or so. But there are problems with tall people and big hair people sitting in front of you. We were able to move our chairs somewhat to see better.

    August 16

    Warning - A lot of this days report is going to go into some detail about Sun City Anthem model homes.

    I can't believe we in Las Vegas more than 2 days and haven't gone for Krispy Kreme. My wife wanted to take some pictures inside the model homes at Sun City Anthem. So went out highway 215 to Eastern Ave and bought a couple disposable cameras at Target and then went to the KK in the same shopping lot. We got there just before 11am. There was a short line and one of the employees handed us both a sample glazed donut. Oh, it melted in your mouth. We bought a half dozen glazed originals and some coffee. We both ate 2 more and took the other 2 with us.

    Spent a few hours at Sun City. As my wife found interesting rooms in the models she'd have me take some pictures. She was actually looking for decorating ideas both for our house in Mass and for any future purchase at Sun City. For those who may have visited Sun City I thought I'd give our feelings towards a few of the house.

    The Anthem is the most expensive at around $345,000 (Base price). The Del Webb salesperson had told us previously that most people spend about 15 - 20% over the base. Anyway the Anthem is an outstanding home. Probably more house than retirees need. The great room is huge and has floor to ceiling windows that wrap the room and it has a Master Bedroom suite that takes one complete side of the house front to back which includes the huge luxury bath , walking closets, the bedroom area and a retreat section. The Anthem is part of the Estate series. The 2 new models that they built recently are also in the Estate series. The Bostonian at around $317,000 and has an excellent layout. The Mayflower at about $337,000 which has an excellent private front courtyard with the included casita and its attached golf cart garage. While the Mayflower's layout is not as good as the Bostonian it has the separate casita plus another bedroom with a private entrance which really attracted my wife's interest. She has visions of all the families visiting at the same time and having separate private areas for them. What I think might happen is that the families will come and leave us the kids while they stay at the Strip. The Estate Series also includes many features that are extra cost on the other series of homes.

    The series of homes just below the Estate is the Premier. The base prices range from the very low 200's up to about $250,000. Many of the Premiers offer a casita at around $20,000. The Casitas have a nice bedroom , bath with shower and closets. Just in case someone is wondering the casita is a separate small building that in the case of all the model homes is in front of the house. Almost all of the Premier series are quite interesting and in reality are probably the series we will choose from. All of the Premier homes feature a master bath with both a separate tub and an enclosed shower stall.

    A very interesting house which I believe is part of the Casual series is the Andover. The model home is quite nice having around 1500-1600 square feet and is priced at $179,000. 2 bedrooms, a large Living room dining room combination, a huge kitchen with sitting area and 2 car garage. For someone who might want a nice second home at a very attractive price this would be good.

    We left Sun City and headed to Paris. The Valet was full so we use the Parking garage. Since we were going to the buffet this turned out well. The Garage entry is into the shops and restaurant areas. In fact I would recommend parking in the garage over using Valet as Paris can sometimes take considerable waiting for the car. We arrived at the buffet at just about 5pm. We paid the Lunch price and at 5:30 they switch over to dinner. I believe the main difference between lunch and dinner is the crab legs. Anyway I'm starting to think this may be better than Bellagio buffet. As it turns out we never did do Bellagio buffet so I'm unable to compare this time. But Paris was excellent and it has the most beautiful decor and theme of any buffet. And the food is great. They had Roasted leg of lamb which was outstanding. I also had steamed cherrystones that were steamed in a spicy broth and it was also excellent. Other items were also top quality and desserts were very good. The only complaint I had was with the Bananas Foster. First the banana mixture was overly sweet and then the vanilla ice cream (soft serve) was way to soft.

    After dinner we went to the Mirage and saw Ray Romano. His show was excellent. However there was one person in the audience who didn't like the show, so I guess everybody doesn't like Raymond (OK I couldn't resist, everybody did like Ray). One of the other 2 comedians was the fellow who plays Giambi on his show. Ray is just like his character on the show and very funny. Mostly talks about his kids (he really does have twin boys plus an older daughter and a younger child). He shows a home video collection of the kids which is great fun. He also took some Q & A at the end and finished with some outtakes from the show. I highly recommend seeing him. In fact we chose this week to go to Vegas because he was there.

    I don't really remember how much gambling we did this day but I'm sure we didn't win anything to speak of.

    August 18

    Probably should of started the day by going to church and atoning for my sins (the 2 visits to the Topless Pool at Caesars). But I didn't. We actually slept a little late and didn't leave the room until about 11. Wanted to see the new Palms casino and since I had the 50% off coupon figured we could eat there. Was going to do the Brunch but saw a sign as we came in announcing the Mexican buffet in Gaudanos (sp). So for around $12 (half of 24) we ate there. Fajitas were good, they had 2 good salsas - 1 was a fruit type,, the other tomatoes based. Cheese enchilada (sp) was lousy. Burrito also lousy. Soup was barely ok. They had an excellent deep fried pastry thing that you add honey to that was very good. Desserts were fair. But for $12 for 2 it was ok.

    Since it was Sunday we decide to drive around the Sun City Anthem property and see if there were any open houses at resale properties. I believe we stopped at 5 or 6. There were somewhere around 70 - 90 resales in the Sun City Anthem property according to a couple of the sales agents at these homes. What I found interesting was that in 3 of them the owners were moving to large homes in the development. Maybe it is the lower interest rates that is making this possible for some. It definitely would save a few bucks buying an existing home. It appeared to me that some of the upgrade costs would be save. But from my limited experience in Las Vegas and Henderson home sales that Sun City Anthem homes retain their prices and increase value better than other areas. I'm sure there are exceptions but in general this appears to be true. We probably spent a couple or three hours doing this.

    That evening we ate at Stefano's in the Golden Nugget. Buy the GN is a beautiful place. I wish it was on the strip so I could enjoy it more without trekking down town. Anyway we had an excellent meal. Got there about 8pm and got in after a 5 minute wait. I had the Tortileoni Gorgonzola (I'm sure I destroyed the spelling but it was close. And I'm part Italian). Bernadette got the Penne with Veal Bolognese (again the spelling). They gave us a basket of 3 different breads and a tomato and olive oil mixture (like a brusetta topping). The bread and topping were excellent. And the meals were also very good. Price was reasonable at around $13 - 15 each.

    Now it was time for my wife to repay me for sitting thru Michael Bolton. I was anxiously waiting for this and had been thinking about it for days. Yea you guessed it. We went and saw the Amazing Johnathan. Although she was thrilled she said she enjoyed it. I had seen him in Vegas once before and loved the show. We both really enjoyed it. He didn't do any of the really bloody and gory stuff which made Bernadette happy.

    As far as gambling that day we did slots at GN and Caesars. At GN my wife was in the process of sitting at a double diamond $1 machine when an old woman swooped in out of nowhere and grabbed the seat. I thought it was hilarious, but Bern was peeved and put a hex on the old bag.

    August 19

    Last full day of trip.

    We were meeting David and Roz Berman for Lunch and a tour of Green Valley Ranch Hotel and Casino. We decide we would go there early and sign up for slot club and play some slots. Prior to arriving at GVR we took a ride thru a couple areas where we had looked at homes the last couple of years that were in the Green Valley Ranch Developments. WE finally went to GVR and played for a while then met up with Dave and Roz and had an enjoyable lunch at the buffet. This was an excellent buffet. I thought the selection rivaled some of the best buffets in LV. I had the Mongolian Grill where you load up a dish with various veggies and seasoning and they cook it with meat of choice (or shrimp). I choose beef. This was excellent. Went back and tried some of the Italian entrees. Desserts were good. Everyone seemed to like most everything.

    After lunch David and Roz took us on a tour of the facility. What a beautiful place. Casino has wide aisle. There is an excellent pool area. Hotel section has lots of seating areas to relax and get away from the action. The exterior is beautiful. It was as nice as most anything on the strip. David pointed out the fact that the restaurants sign are visible from outside so you can park near the entrance closest to the one you want. We will definitely spend more time here in the future. After Dave and Roz left we spend some time returning the profit we had made before lunch.

    Late we spent more time shopping on more gifts and played some more at Caesars with no gain.

    August 20 -

    up at 4:30am and headed to airport around 5:15 for our 7am flight. Hertz was quick and easy and we were at airport within minutes. Checkin again was easy at the First Class counter. Security was a good 10 - 15 minutes and once again I got to do a special security check. Thanks Rockport. Plane left 45 minutes late but still had plenty of time for connection in Cinn. Movie was great - My Great Big Fat Greek Wedding. Landed on schedule and was home soon after.
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