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Two-Night Escape to Mandalay Bay, March 30-April 1

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by M_ILIS, Apr 3, 2014.

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  1. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    My Trip Report

    Prelude: After two consecutive “family” trips to Vegas over the last few months, my wife and I eagerly anticipated another kid-less visit. When Grandma agreed to watch the kids for a few days, we booked two MyVegas “Bonus” nights at Mandalay Bay and I began planning the trip. We bought a Living Social voucher for two for Vegas Nocturne at Rose.Rabbit.Lie. and secured two tickets to “Love” at the Mirage via MyVegas. We also had a 2-for-1 reward for the Mirage’s Cravings buffet from MyVegas. Here’s how it all went down:
     
  2. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Day One: Sunday, March 30

    We left our Orange County home around 10:15 am and sped across the high desert in decent time, arriving in Vegas a little past 2:00. Our first stop was the Cosmopolitan in order to redeem our Living Social voucher for Vegas Nocturne tickets for later that night. The voucher said we had to pick up the tickets at least an hour prior to the 10:00 show, so this way we avoided having to arrive early.

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    We left immediately after getting the tickets and headed for MGM for a lunchtime happy hour snack at Emeril’s New Orleans fish house. They have $1.50 oysters from 2:00 to 6:00 daily (thanks westie for the link to the Vegas Seven “Cheap Eats 2014” article) so we ordered a dozen to split. A $5 marinated olives and pepperoncini appetizer also caught our eye, so we ordered that as well as a margarita for myself and an Emeril signature “Bam” Drop for my wife. We practically had the whole place to ourselves, the service was excellent and everything was delicious. There’s nothing like that giddy, carefree feeling of starting a vacation, and this proved to be a really fun way to kick off our trip.

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    We then proceeded to Mandalay Bay. The check-in line wasn’t too bad, but the check-in process sucked. The desk clerk told us that although the reservation system showed us staying two nights, MyVegas had only comped one of the nights, so I had to get on the phone and get that whole ordeal sorted out. MyVegas insisted that everything was kosher, so I was stuck in the middle two sides each claiming to be “in the right.” Eventually the MyVegas phone rep talked to someone at Mandalay Bay, and together they got it all figured out, but not before wasting at least half an hour of our time and effort. I really got the sense that the hotel employees resent MyVegas and try to make them the scapegoat whenever there’s any sort of confusion.

    Also, while checking in, the desk clerk said they had no King bed rooms left, so we could either take a room with two queens or pay $20 a night for an upgraded, Strip-view King room. We opted for the King room with the Strip view and off we went to room 29225.

    I hadn’t stayed at Mandalay Bay for probably 10 years, and some of the recent comments I had read seemed to indicate the rooms were getting run down. Well, ours was sparkling clean and we loved it. The bathroom had a great shower as well as a separate, nice-sized tub. The room had a chair and ottoman near the floor-to-ceiling windows, providing a fantastic view looking right up the Strip.

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    Due to all the hassles checking in, we didn’t get settled in the room until around 5:15. We poured ourselves a few vodka cranberries and just relaxed for the next hour or so before we needed to get ready for dinner. The dinner plan was for one of two options – either take advantage of the “Cut of the Week” special at Charlie Palmer Steak or hit up Goyemon Sushi House (off-strip) for all-you-can-eat sushi. The previous “Cut of the Week” offer had expired the day before we arrived, so I kept checking their website to see if they had updated the menu online. Eventually I just called the restaurant, but in trying to reach them, I was transferred to someone who informed me that Charlie Palmer Steak is closed on Sundays. Hmm, go figure. Sushi it is, then!

    We had to be back at Cosmo by 10:00 for Vegas Nocturne, so we headed to Goyemon around 8:15. When we arrived, even though there seemed to be several seats at the sushi bar, the hostess said the wait would be 30-45 minutes. We were seated around 8:50 – luckily at the sushi bar instead of a table – and started frantically ordering a bunch of rolls and nigiri in order to stuff ourselves before we had to leave for our show. The quality of the fish was excellent – better than our favorite AYCE place at home – and quite a good deal at $26.95 per person. We split a large Asahi and loved everything we ate. I had read lots of good things about Goyemon, and this was our first time there, but probably not our last. Highly recommended.

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    We made it over to Rose.Rabbit.Lie. with a few minutes to spare and took our seats. We were seated in the only row of folding chairs while every other row was full of big, plush, comfortable looking seats, so that was a bummer. I had every intention of ordering one of the “flasks” from the bar but none of those drinks on the menu appealed to me, so we got a vodka Mint Fizz instead for $19. It was very good and rather large. There was already some pre-show activity going on when we arrived, and within a couple minutes the show started in earnest. For the most part, we really enjoyed the show in the moment. Upon further reflection, however, I felt it didn’t really live up to the sense of intrigue and “other-worldly” experience depicted in its marketing campaign. I feel like it would benefit from a little more continuity or at least some semblance of building toward a climax. It sort of felt like the performers could have appeared in any order. If I want to get really nitpicky, I would also say the lighting effects could use some work and some of the jokes could be improved upon. I don’t want this to sound overly negative, because it was a very fun show and we really enjoyed ourselves, but I wanted to be blown away. I wasn’t. I think it has potential to be something really extraordinary with some fine tuning.

    My favorite acts were probably Butterscotch, the tap dancers, and the guy who climbs his stacked buckets. The evening’s host was also charming and reminded me a bit of Hugh Jackman.

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    After the 10:00 canto, we took a seat in another room and enjoyed a gin and tonic while a band and two women dancers performed on a stage over in the corner. We stuck around for the beginning of the midnight canto, and by this point, the standing-room-only crowd was abuzz and there was a much livelier environment in the showroom. Unfortunately, the standing-room-only aspect of it did us in, though. After a long day, standing for the second show was tiring us out (tickets to the 10:00 show admit you to the midnight canto, but standing around the perimeter only), so we decided to head back “home” to the comfort of our King bed at Mandalay Bay. It had been a great day full of delicious food, drinks and a really fun show. We went to bed without having gambled a cent. Here’s a night shot from our room:

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  3. dhlamar

    dhlamar Low-Roller

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    I hadn’t stayed at Mandalay Bay for probably 10 years, and some of the recent comments I had read seemed to indicate the rooms were getting run down. Well, ours was sparkling clean and we loved it. The bathroom had a great shower as well as a separate, nice-sized tub. The room had a chair and ottoman near the floor-to-ceiling windows, providing a fantastic view looking right up the Strip.

    Most of the reports of rooms in Vegas on the strip being run down are probably in relation to the newer casinos like Aria so I usually don't pay them any mind.(Except for maybe the casino formerly known as the Quad!)
     
  4. Irishwake

    Irishwake Tourist

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    Completely agree with your assessment of Nocturne.
    It's Absinthe Light or Not Ready Or Prime Time.
    Good, but doesn't live up to the hype.
     
  5. VegasDave

    VegasDave Addicted

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    Thanks for the pics!
     
  6. Readingfanman

    Readingfanman Low-Roller

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    That picture up the strip up the night is a fantastic shot.
     
    NFL Championship Weekend
  7. bswim

    bswim High-Roller

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    We stayed twice last year at Mandalay Bay. While it's obvious it hasn't been remodeled lately when comparing it to the MGM, we didn't think it was "worn" at all. We'd gladly stay there again.
     
  8. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Day Two: Monday, March 31

    You know it’s going to be a good day when you wake up in a hotel room around the time you’d normally be arriving at work and realize you have a whole, carefree day in Las Vegas ahead of you. That’s how Monday started, and it only got better when I remembered it was time for our vacation tradition of morning Bloody Marys in the room. They went down easily and quickly, and before I knew it, I had a nice buzz going.

    While getting ready and discussing where we wanted to eat lunch, I was browsing the MyVegas app and saw there was a reward for $20 off a $40 tab for lunch or dinner at Public House at Luxor. I bought the reward and we headed through The Shoppes at Mandalay Place over to Luxor’s Mlife desk. I got the reward applied to my Mlife card and we proceeded over toward Public House. As we approached, I noticed it seemed very empty inside. Too empty, in fact. Too dark, too. Uh oh. There was a sign out front saying they don’t open until 4:00 pm on weekdays. Damn! Not only are we hungry and ready to eat, but I already redeemed the MyVegas reward, which typically means you cannot get it refunded.

    We wandered around Luxor for a bit, played a few bucks on some video slots like my wife’s favorite, Coyote Moon (lost), and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (lost), and searched for somewhere new to eat. We stopped at Backstage Deli, which looks more like a snack bar than a restaurant, and spotted the patty melt on the menu. The notion of a patty melt caused me to blurt out, “Or we could go to the Peppermill for Peppermill Burgers and bleu cheese salads.”

    Once the idea of Peppermill Burgers enters the mind, there’s no turning back. So we then trekked back to Mandalay Bay to fetch the car and made our way to the Peppermill. It was pretty busy but the hostess informed us we’d arrived at the perfect time and sat us right away. We both had the same thing – Peppermill Burgers with side salads with bleu cheese dressing.

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    Everything was delicious, but my wife’s burger came out well done while mine was perfectly medium rare. I tried a bite of hers and surprisingly, the well done version was very tasty, too. The patty’s exterior char added another dimension to what’s already a great burger. I took this as evidence that the Peppermill can do no wrong. We were stuffed and satisfied as we made our way back to Mandalay Bay. It was an ideal Spring desert day with a deep blue sky framing the Strip-side landmarks.

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    The only other time I’d stayed at Mandalay Bay was a winter trip on business, so we’d never been out to the pool complex. We decided to go check it out. We found a couple of vacant lounge chairs in the sand near the giant wave pool and simply relaxed for a while. For a Monday in March, there seemed to be a lot of people at the pool, which made me wonder what a zoo it must be on a summer weekend. We split a 16 oz. Heineken from the snack bar ($8.65). The clear blue skies from earlier had now collected some clouds, and there was a cool wind blowing around as well. I took a dip in the wave pool, but the wind made it too cold to really enjoy it. I then explored the different pools and took some pictures while my wife basked in the sun.

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    It never ceases to amaze me how fast time passes on a day like this. Suddenly it was almost 5:00 and time to get ready for our night at the Mirage – dinner at Cravings buffet followed by “Love” at 9:30. We wanted to take full advantage of the buffet’s free wine and beer, and we weren’t sure whether or not there would be a line to get in, so we left Mandalay Bay around 6:45. I took Frank Sinatra Drive, which served as an expressway to the Mirage. We valeted the car, hit up the Mlife desk for the MyVegas 2-for-1 buffet reward and found the buffet with no line whatsoever. For some reason the MyVegas reward gave us even more than half off and we only paid $25 and change for the two of us.

    We started with a trip to the wine and beer bar – my wife got a Cabernet she really liked and I had a Goose Island IPA. I had planned to structure my meal more like a traditional restaurant meal, so I started with a salad and cheese and crackers, followed that with shrimp cocktail, and then dove into a few helpings of prime rib, which I paired with a glass of the Cabernet. It was all surprisingly delicious. My wife opted for the typical “buffet” approach of sampling this and that and enjoyed everything she had, too. We tried to take our time and eat slowly, but before long we were both completely stuffed. We forced down some desserts and left Cravings with half an hour to kill before Love.

    Now comes the part of this trip report that will make the die-hard VP players cringe. My wife played a few spins on some slots and then I slipped my first $20 of the trip into a 7/5 DDB VP machine (first cringe). We ordered a drink from the cocktail waitress and my $20 was rapidly disappearing. Not wanting to lose more than $20 before the show, I decided to switch from max bet to single quarters (second cringe) to slow play it until our drinks arrived. Bad, dumb decision. Within a couple hands, I hit a quad (third cringe). Ugh. Then I still continued to bet only a quarter (fourth cringe), and hit another quad (fifth cringe) just a few deals later. Double ugh. I couldn't bring myself to take a picture of the first quad, but here's the second:

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    The good news was I didn’t lose anything – I cashed out for $22, but it really felt like I’d wasted a little hot streak. Now it was time for Love.

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    We took our seats just about a minute before the show began, seemingly missing out on some sort of pre-show crowd interaction bits. This was my first-ever Cirque show and my wife’s second. We both thought Love was spectacular. Highlights for me were “Something,” where four women flew so incredibly gracefully around the theater in and out of the life of the shirtless guy, “Help” with the roller skaters and two half pipes, and “Revolution/Back in the U.S.S.R.” with the phone booth and the trampolines. I loved the non-stop momentum of the show, and our seats in section 200 couldn’t have been any better to take it all in.

    A day full of drinking had taken its toll on my wife and she was ready for bed by the time we returned to Mandalay Bay. I tucked her in around midnight and headed down to the casino to do my first real, focused gambling of the trip. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. I don’t really like to lose more than $100 on a trip, but playing max bet 25¢ DDB at Mandalay Bay, I found myself down $78 before I hit anything better than two pair! Even then, nothing was hitting, and I blew past my $100 threshold. This was the worst run at VP I’ve had since I made it my game of choice a couple years ago. Not ready to quit quite yet, I decided to play lower denominations and of course hit a quad playing a single credit at a time (Return of the Cringe). I ended up losing another $40 or so in various ways – video roulette, interactive roulette, a few more VP machines, etc.

    I laid in bed, pretty mad at myself and wishing I had just gone to bed with my wife and waited to gamble with her the next day. But that’s gambling, I guess. Aside from the quick beatdown and the Public House fiasco, we’d had one of the best days in recent memory.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2014
  9. wellmel

    wellmel Low-Roller

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    Your trip sounds awesome! I'm saving my MyVegas points for a weekend bonus room comp at Mandalay Bay, I hope it's worth it!

    Thanks for describing your trip in such detail!
     
  10. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Day Three: Tuesday, April 1

    Whenever I have a good city view from a hotel room, I prefer to sleep with the curtains open. Especially in Las Vegas, with the neon action of the city glistening through the night, it seems like a waste to pull blackout curtains across the floor-to-ceiling windows. As a result, I awoke early on Tuesday as the sun was coming up, and was able to get a semi-decent photo of the Strip while the lights were still illuminated but with the sky beginning to lighten.

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    Somehow we’d already finished off the bottle of vodka we brought, so there were no Bloody Marys to look forward to this morning. Just the harsh reality of an 11:00 am check-out time. But that didn’t mean we couldn’t have some more fun before we headed home. We actually requested a late check-out and were granted a whopping 30 minutes extra! Yes, 11:30 was the latest they’d give us. We took our time getting ready and packing up. We’d read that the High Roller had opened while we were in town, so we decided to hit up the LINQ and see it in action. I’d heard good things about Hash House a Go Go, but had never eaten at one, so we also decided to do a late breakfast at the one at the Quad.

    Our parting memory from Mandalay Bay was amusing. When I handed the valet attendant in the booth our claim ticket, he said something like, “Outside the door to the left. Your car will be pulled up. Thanks for staying at Mandalay Bay” all in about one second flat. We got a good laugh out of his insincerity.

    We made our way to the Quad self-parking (few places in “tourist” Las Vegas feel as run-down as this area) and found a great spot right by the elevator. Hash House told us it would be a 30-minute wait, but in reality, it was probably only 10 minutes before we got a table. Considering the restaurant name has “Hash” in it and I love corned beef hash, I couldn’t pass it up. My wife selected some sort of special pork and eggs scramble with red bell peppers in it. She also added the $1.75 PBR offered with her special. The food took a while to come out and it was just alright. Neither of us were all that impressed with our meals. The portions were huge, but the flavor was lacking. At one point a random server (not our waitress) brought my wife another PBR for no apparent reason, and it didn’t show up on the check, so that was a bonus. Here’s my corned beef hash, as served in a giant cast-iron skillet:

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    I’ve been meaning to get a Total Rewards card for my last few trips but never have, so next we went and did that and then started gambling at the Quad. My wife selected a Buffalo Stampede video slot machine while I sat as an observer on the seat next to her. I think it’s fun gambling together like this; I’m not sure my wife likes me peering over her every decision as much, though.

    At any rate, we started hitting free spin bonuses left and right, and then hit one within another that led to 24 free spins at one time. Within just about 20-30 minutes, we’d built our $20 investment into $85 in credits. A cold spell quickly quickly returned us to $60, when my wife decided to cash out. Considering I’d blown my gambling budget the day before, she gave me $20 to go play more VP while she went off to play more slots. We went on to follow similar arcs – having both doubled our $20 before blowing it. My wife lost her $40 and I lost $10 of the $20 she gave me. So overall, we only lost $10 in about 90 minutes of gambling, which was fun. Unfortunately, we had to cut this session short in order to go buy some souvenirs for the kids and hit the road out of town.

    We walked through O’Shea’s out onto the LINQ. We got somewhat close to the High Roller, but had no intent to ride it, so we stopped short and turned around.

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    The Kitson store caught our eye and we ended up spending a considerable amount of time in there, buying souvenirs for our kids and a Gents brand hat for myself. All told, we spent about $130 in there and had fun looking around at the various merchandise.

    We filled up the car and made it back home to Southern California in a little under four hours, bringing another fun Vegas trip to a close. Thanks for reading!


    P.S. I submitted a support ticket with MyVegas upon our return and eventually was able to get my Public House reward refunded, so I didn’t waste the 15,000 loyalty points for that.
     
  11. tara

    tara Low-Roller

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    Great report, great pictures! I had a question about the MyVegas points though. I thought I read somewhere that you can only redeem 2 of them per 48 hours. Were you both using separate accounts to redeem them or was it just a free for all on the redemption?
     
  12. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    I'm not sure where you heard 2 redemptions in 48 hours. It's actually 3 in 30 days. But yes, both my wife and I were redeeming rewards, so we used five between the two of us:
    • Bonus weeknight at Mandalay Bay (her account)
    • Bonus weeknight at Mandalay Bay (her account)
    • Standard Love ticket (her account)
    • Standard Love ticket (my account)
    • Mirage 2-for-1 buffet (my account)
    • Public House $20 off $40 (my account, refunded)
     
  13. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Good report once again!

    As for your VP quad, I'm more cringing that you settled for 7/5 DDB on the floor for a single quarter. They have better paytables on the floor for lower demonations. On the floor, I usually play 6/5 Bonus with Double STP there at 35c a hand, 1.65% better than 7/5 DDB max betting, and 2.89% better than short coining 7/5 DDB. And the multiplier bets help give a DDB-like swing to the game. But then again, the only AWAK I have ever got while actually playing DDB in a casino was short-coining 7/5 DDB at the Mirage Sports Book Bar. So I can't cringe at it too much. :evillaugh
     
  14. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Thanks!

    I didn't even know Double Super Times Pay was a thing. Thanks. I suspected Mirage didn't have any nickel machines at all. Do you know if Mandalay Bay does? VPfree2.com doesn't seem to be much help for nickel machines at the bigger casinos, unless I don't understand how to read it.
     
  15. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Unfortunately, I barely have played at MB. I played 6/5 Bonus nickel spin poker with dream card there (97.04% w/dream card), so I know they have that at least. Playing one line of spin poker sorta sucks though.

    There is the whole list of videopoker.com games there:

    http://www.videopoker.com/gamesNearYou/?state=Nevada&location=Mandalay+Bay

    Of that list, these are the games that are often available for pennies or nickels, and can be also be set to one line at max bet.

    All Star Poker (if they have Super Times Pay or Spin Poker loaded on it)
    50/100 play draw poker
    Good Times Pay (has optional side bet)
    Spin Poker
    Spin Poker Deluxe
    Spin Poker w/Dream Card (has optional side bet)
    Super Times Pay (has optional side bet)
    Triple Spin Poker

    VPFree doesn't list nickels typically because VPFree2 tends not to list games that payback less than 99%, which is virtually every nickel game in the entire country. :grrr: But you should be able to find 7/5 DDB (95.71%) on these at the minimum. Possibly 8/5 DDB (96.79%) and 6/5 Bonus (96.87%). Super Times Pay also adds about 0.28% to the return, another reason why I like game in particular (or Double STP which adds about 0.5%).

    Last trip in February, I stumbled across Spin Poker Deluxe for pennies at Harrah's with a game as good as 6/5 Super Double Double Bonus (97.69%). If you see a 6/5 Super DDB game (sometimes available on Spin Poker), I would also consider playing that over 8/5 DDB.
     
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