This is my trip report for my Sept 25-Sept 29 Las Vegas trip. First, a little background about our group. We go every fall to Vegas, and this year we had a stellar showing of 43 people (mostly in our mid-to-late 20s). The core group are my college friends, but people have started to bring girlfriends, parents, co-workers, etc. I am from Boston and was just in Vegas in June (with a different group of people). WED: The main group was flying out Thursday, but I generally like going a day early to get the extra night in Vegas. Flew Northwest without problems and arrived in LV at 2 pm. Checked into Mandalay Bay and had a room on the 15th floor with a pool view. I was expecting a lot from Mandalay and it was excellent. The room is not as nice as Venetian but as good as Bellagio. The bathrooms are great, with double doors, and the toiletries they have are by far the best in Vegas (of course I took them all home). After checking in, I headed down to the wavepool- the waves are very small but still more fun than a standard pool. I liked how they tried to emulate a real beach with the sand and crashing waves. Went back to my room and rested, showered, and went down to play craps- made enough profit to pay for dinner. Around 9 I walked over to Charlie Palmer Steak at the Four Seasons for dinner. Very impressive meal! I love the bread that restaurants serve before meals, and Charlie Palmer has the best free bread Iâ€™ve ever had. They give you 4 different types (including wonderful cornbread) and warm butter. Wow! For an appetizer, I had a mozzarella tomato salad, which had a beautiful presentation and was very good. I had the filet with roasted au jus for dinner, and that was excellentâ€¦my side dish was the potatoes au gratin- decent but nothing spectacular. Overall I would say I liked it better than Delmonico at the Venetian. Definitely check this place out! Total bill for me with one glass of wine was $60 before tip. After dinner I just went to bed- long day for me. THURS: Woke up around 7 and headed down to Mandalayâ€™s Buffet. I normally donâ€™t like eating at buffets, but decided to eat the breakfast buffet here (you canâ€™t screw up breakfast too bad). It was decent- the scrambled eggs and pancakes were average. The best part by far was the made-to-order omelet. I would only eat here again if I were up that early and intent on eating breakfast. After some more rest I went back to the wavepool for a few hoursâ€¦then back to my room for a shower. Decided to eat lunch at the Border Grill in Mandalay. The place is upscale and unique Mexican food- even many of the lunch entrees are $16. They bring out chips with 3 kinds of salsa, which are spicy. I ordered the tamales- they were different but pretty goodâ€¦with certain entrees, they serve sweet grinded corn stuffed in corn stalks. Damn! Those things were fantastic- Iâ€™ve never seen anything like that before. Come here if you want to try something other than standard Mexican tacos and burritos. After lunch, checked out of Mandalay and headed over to Rio, where we were staying for the weekend. We had a room on the 11th floor facing the Strip, and enjoyed the size of the room as well (the huge TV and couch were great). Even though we didnâ€™t book rooms as a group, Rio still gave our group about 8 rooms on the same floor, which was nice of them. We went down to the casino and had a few drinks at the Ipenama barâ€¦we were watching the Louisville-Florida State game, and I had bet on Louisville getting 15. We ended up eating dinner at All-American Grille so we could watch the thrilling end of the gameâ€¦ However, they didnâ€™t serve the full menu where we were sitting. We had a choice of appetizers and a cheeseburger. The wings were actually damn good- very crispy and spicy sauce. The back of the restaurant has a full menu. After dinner, we relaxed for a while and had everyone meet at VooDoo Lounge on top of Rio. We had been there last year as well- and it has an amazing view. Definitely an older crowd..I would feel comfortable coming here in your 30s and 40s. The only bad thing was a terrible odor that was permeating the outdoor deckâ€¦it was driving people inside and away! Most of the group stayed indoors, but some of us got disgusted of the smell and left for Ghostbar at Palms. Its outdoor deck view isnâ€™t as good, but it draws a younger crowd, and carries no odor to speak of. The deck does have a clear glass area where you can look straight down, but itâ€™s very small. We left Ghostbar around 3 and then ate at Sunrise CafÃ© in the Palms (typical casino diner). FRI: A few of us woke up around 11 and headed down to the pool at Rioâ€¦pretty cool area, with a small waterfall and sandy beach. The waitresses wear thongs surrounded by clear sarongsâ€¦I saw the cabanas and they looked pretty bad. We ate at Bamboleo in Rioâ€¦ I really enjoyed my lunch here. I had a burrito with rice and beans on the side, and it was all fantastic. They also bring chips with 3 kinds of salsa. Service was spotty but the food made up for it. Itâ€™s also pretty cheap and definitely worth checking out. Some people went back to the poolâ€¦I stuck around the casino and played more craps. Friday night for dinner, about 15 of us ate at JWâ€™s Tavern, the new place in Rio. This place is trying to be an upscale Benniganâ€™s or Applebees, and it fails in that aspect. The menu has some fancy items, and entrees run about $12-$20. Soup is $7! Most people were not impressed with the food. I had the mushroom stroganoff which was just average. On the plus side, they have a huge variety of beer on tap. Come here for the drinks, not the food. Friday night, we went to Babyâ€™s at the Hard Rock. We were able to fit 27 of us into a Cadillac Escalade stretch limo..wow that was cool! It had an amazing sound system with a smoke machine and strobe lights. Very fun way to start out the night. We got to Babyâ€™s right on time, and briefly waited in line. I had been to Babyâ€™s 3 other times and itâ€™s always a great place to party. Some tall blonde wearing all white was being followed around by a huge video cameraâ€¦we thought it was some celebrity but it ended up just being some rich bachlorette who seemed to be professionally chronicling her bachlorette party (since when is that a good idea?). People went home at different times..I think I got back around 3. One fun thing about having a big group is hearing the stories of how everyone got home. One guy ended up being kicked out of the casino (I guess they donâ€™t like it when you fall asleep on your chips)â€¦and another guy got escorted back to his room at 5:30 am by a County Sheriff (nobody has any idea why). SAT: We met up with the Las Vegas chapter of our college alumni association to watch our Michigan Wolverines beat up on Illinois. It was at Buffalo Wild Wings in Henderson- about a $25 cab ride but it ended up being a great place to go. We spent so much money that the owner of the place came out to offer a free ride back to Rio. Sat night we split into two groups and had dinner at Rosemaryâ€™s. Their off-Strip location has a high Zagat review, so we decided to eat at their brand new Rio location. This is by far the classiest place to eat at the Rio. Before dinner, they serve great olive and potato bread with butter. For a salad, I had their spinach salad with bacon dressing, shitake mushrooms, and blue cheese. This was one of the best salads Iâ€™ve ever had. For dinner, I had the Brick Chicken with veggies and potatoes. This was excellent as well- the chicken was so tender. Their dessert menu is a stunner! I had the Chocolate Flourless Cake with nuts and walnut ice cream- this was fantastic. Overall a great meal. Total bill for me was about $50. Sat night we were planning on going to Rain, which is the Sat night hotspot at Palms. Well it just happened Rain was hosting a Playboy Playmate party that nightâ€¦it was open to the public, but a two hour line formed by 10 pm! We called an audible and went to Curve at Aladdin instead. This upscale lounge is really coolâ€¦itâ€™s set up like a billionaireâ€™s house, with all these plush rooms and couches all over the placeâ€¦even has a small outdoor deck overlooking the Strip. And as you wait in line, there is a dancing midget in a white tux to entertain you (no joke). Beautiful women hereâ€¦I definitely recommend Curve, especially if you arenâ€™t into the traditional club scene. Itâ€™s so big that it can be crowded and you still wonâ€™t be bumping into people. I partied there until about 3 and then took a cab back to Rio..my flight back to Boston was at 5:30 am so I had to hit the airport really early. Overall, another excellent trip to Vegas. I will admit that the concept of diminishing returns has affected me. Iâ€™ve stayed at the Holy Trinity of hotels (Venetian, Bellagio, Mandalay), and Iâ€™ve hit all the top nightspots (minus Rain). So the anticipation/excitement level was stronger on my last two trips. Itâ€™s definitely still a fun time and I hope to be back soon.