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Vegas Condo Trip Report: June 15-20

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Robkno, Aug 17, 2005.

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  1. Since my next Vegas trip commences this Saturday, I figured I better hustle up and submit a TR from the June trip. My parents have friends that own a condo in Summerlin, and were invited to go stay at it in June. It’s pretty spacious, so they asked me to tag along, and with American Airlines selling a reasonable ticket from St. Louis ($220 round), I jumped at the chance.

    DAY ONE: We were “wheels down in Vegas†at about 3:30 local time. This was the first time I’d noticed the MGMMirage and Caesars Resorts airport check-in desks. I saw no visible lines and made a note-to-self for future trips. We proceeded to the Dollar Rent-a-car desk to check in for our car. The Dollar people are VERY, VERY high pressure about taking out their insurance (I’m talkin’ timeshare-caliber pressure!). My folks vowed to rent from elsewhere in the future. We got a silver Chrysler 300. Hurricane Mikey is right; there are million of them rolling around Vegas!

    We made it to our condo (at the TPC @ the Canyons), settled in, and very shortly made our way to a nearby Von’s supermarket to stock up. The roundabouts on the streets in Summerlin can be very nerve-wrecking during the rush hours. It was back to the condo for a quick meal and then off to Suncoast for an evening of play. The condo owners had recommended Suncoast as the best place to gamble in the area. It may very well be, but the video poker was ice cold. It just didn’t have much “feel†or “vibe†in the place. It was a little too smoky, and the movie theater abuts the casino, thus LOTS of kids around. My Dad remarked that it almost felt like Circus Circus. The coin-out players club system there left us pretty empty-handed, so our plan to rack up some comps at Suncoast during our stay wasn’t looking good. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

    DAY TWO: Morning was spent at the pool (typical condo pool…smallish but very nice and very un-crowded). After a while my Dad and I decided to go check out Rampart Casino (@ the JW) for a couple of hours. He settled in at their small, but very nicely appointed sports book, and I hit the VP machines. A good inventory (no ridiculous short-pay). Three 4-of-a-kind’s later, I’d recouped my previous night’s Suncoast losses. Rampart has the feel of an upper-crust Caribbean or European casino, yet with locals-style odds and limits, and friendly/attentive service.

    In the afternoon, we headed to DOWNTOWN…my happy place. First stop was Main Street Station. I hit the long VP bar that runs parallel to the pit. I broke about even, and enjoyed a couple of MSS microbrews. Good stuff! We headed back the Cal to kill a little time in Keno parlor until Tony Roma’s at Fremont opened. My Dad hit a good lick on the keno, more than enough to cover the dinner check at TR. I’ve spent plenty of time eating the best in Memphis and KC, so I know a little about BBQ. Tony Roma’s was more than on its game, and has the best ribs in Vegas I’ve had.

    After dinner, the BJ tables were packed at Fremont, so we ambled over to Four Queens and found a friendly double-deck table. It first ran red hot, and then cooled a bit. When it was time to go meet my Mother (who’d been playing VP at Golden Nugget), I was up about $40. We then headed back with her to Four Queens and I played VP at a bar with her for an hour or so when the big one hit. DIAMOND ROYAL FLUSH, $1038 progressive jackpot. Woo-hoo! We played a bit longer in 4Q before walking back to Binion’s (where the car was parked) and losing a bit on the slots there. Oh well, it was still great time on Fremont St.

    My Dad was tired so he took us back to condo, and my Mother and I went back to Rampart. The BJ started cold, and then warmed up to the point that I walked away with an extra hundy and two buffet comps. Not a bad for day’s play.

    DAY THREE: Morning again at the pool, followed by a trip to Rampart play awhile and use the comps for a buffet lunch. Rampart’s buffet was pretty good, a fairly standard buffet selection and everything tasted nice and fresh. Not Aladdin or Paris good, but good. After that, we headed out to the Strip and valet parked at Monte Carlo. Mother played there, and Dad and I headed off to the MGM Grand (hadn’t been there in years) to bet the horse races. No luck there, so we swung past M&M World to pick up some requested souvenirs for folks back home and went back to MC. I played some VP there with little luck, but had a few comped microbrews which made it a net gain, in my mind.

    From there it was off to Cashman Stadium for a Las Vegas 51’s minor league baseball game. We’re a family of baseball nuts, so we thought we’d take in the local diamond. Cashman is a step down from the newer, more opulent minor league baseball palaces in the Midwest, but the outfield view of the palm trees and mountains at sunset gives the place some serious intangibles. The 51’s were losing badly, but we were sitting in a section just behind a group there on some sort of corporate outing. Their boss or “main man†was pretty drunk, and when the beer vendor would walk by, he get say “anybody want one?†and the hands would go up, and after the vendor doled out 10 or 15 $5.25 brews, the main man would pay him. I lifted my own hand for a drink, and then after trying to pay the vendor, was told “the main man up there got itâ€. What a deal.

    After about 7 innings of baseball, we left and decided to hit Sahara for some old Vegas fun on the Strip. I hadn’t been there in a while, and was again taken aback by the old Vegas “vibeâ€, live music in the Casbar Lounge, etc. It was about 10pm, and we were a bit hungry, so we decided to try the NASCAR Café. They had some live karaoke going on. Bad, bad karaoke. Five bad singers for every good one. To make matter worse, the service was terrible. The waitress was friendly enough, but she was the only one on duty. It was about an hour from when we were seating until an appetizer of cold nachos was served.

    After we ate, I decided to give the Speed roller coaster a ride. I had no idea what it was like, but I love to try new coasters. I paid and walked up to the line, and there wasn’t one (at 11:15pm) so I was quickly seated and ready to go. I had NO idea it was one of those coasters that shoots out of the gate at full speed, so it really shocked me and was a thrill from the get-go. The view of the Strip lights was awesome. What a ride! After another half-hour of losing Sahara VP, we called it a night and went back to the condo.
     
  2. Robkno

    Robkno Guest

    ...continued

    DAY FOUR: Saturday morning meant more R&R at the pool. After lunch at the condo, my Mother wanted to go back to the Strip to try her hand at Flamingo (her favorite place) and Bally’s. Dad and I dropped her off, and went motored over to Caesars (his fave) and camped out at the sports book/keno place for a few races/games, with a smattering of video poker mixed in. The crowd there was bit younger and more hip than I expected (I thought most of those folks had drifted to newer resorts), and the drink service was good but the luck wasn’t. We back to Flamingo. The casino there just seems less and less appealing as the newer joints have passed it up in terms of atmosphere, and I detected a bit of moldy smell usually found at the Trop. (Hopefully, it’s now gone since I’m spending two comp nights there next week).

    We strolled into Margaritaville for a spell. The place was packed, but seemed to have more of the Buffet-type character than other Margaritaville locations I’ve visited, save for Key West. The outer balcony sitting area is a great place to relax and people-watch the folks walking the Strip. All three of us then walked over to Bally’s, which was having a Moose Lodge convention. Lots of middle-aged guys (fitting the lodge-man stereotype) milling around, chugging Budweisers, talking about life back in Peoria or Keokuk. I never hit much on the VP there, but a small lucky run put me $60 up, covering earlier Caesars losses.

    After that, we made the pilgrimage from Bally’s to ELLIS ISLAND. We’d never been before, but were chasing the legend of the $5 steak special. The joint was smoky and packed, and the VP was heavy on short-pay or and light on recent maintenance. The food more than made up for it. Talk about value. And the microbrews weren’t bad, either.

    Bellys full, we headed back to spend at Saturday night at the Rampart. Busy, yet not packed, the place seemed subdued for a typical Saturday nite, but the crowd was a bit younger than the usual daytimers there, and the vibe was pretty cool. A good piano man was playing in the casino, and the BJ tables were again good to me. I donated much of that bounty back at the VP bar, but my Mother hit a Royal Flush, and all was well for the home team. We picked up some breakfast comps for their Promenade coffee shop and headed back in for the night.

    DAY FIVE: After a hearty Rampart Promenade breakfast, we played a bit and went back to the condo to watch the NASCAR race on TV and to cook lunch. Post-race, we loaded up the car and set out for Laughlin. I’d never been there and had never really driven through the desert, so it was cool ride. We parked at Flamingo and took a water taxi ride all the way down to Harrah’s and back to the Colorado Belle, I was mesmerized by the riverboat façade (growing up near the Mississippi River, now working on the banks of the Missouri River, et al) and wanted to build on my stash of One Club points. Once inside, the Belle just didn’t do it for me. The place was dingy, dirty, and the crowd inside was pretty rough. Overall, the place badly needs renovations to make it up to MGMMirage standards. By comparison, the Boardwalk seems like a palace.

    We walked over the Edgewater to pay a few hours. It’s pretty well-worn itself, but a step up from the Belle. The saving grace of the Edgewater is the long VP bars with huge windows facing the river. A great daylight view. My luck was so-so, but at least I was losing slowly. Around dinner time, I decided to ask for some comps and was told by a slot attendant that the best things to do would be to step by the VIP services desk. I did so, and was promptly told by the guy at the desk that I wasn’t supposed to go there unless I was referred by a host. Who knew? I’ve used the VIP services office at their sister casino in Tunica for years. Anyway, he said my play certainly warranted $50 in the Garden Room (their coffee shop, not to be confused with the venerable lodging at the Trop).

    The line for the Garden Room was long, so we assumed the food would be food. Unfortunately, it wasn’t up to Vegas coffee shop standards. The service was painfully slow, and my baby back ribs were served extra tough. We all agreed we’d had better meals at Denny’s. The kicker was this: after the meal I went back to the One Club desk because they had a promotion where you got to draw for a prize for every X number of points you earned that day. I’d earned quite a few, so I got to draw four times. My prizes were: a t-shirt, $10 cash, and two $20 comps for their steakhouse. The comps expired the next week and we’d just eaten dinner and were ready to leave, so they were worthless to us. We’d just dined on grubby grub, when a steakhouse meal was in reach. Ouch.

    We left Laughlin, and I had enjoyed the novelty of it but knew it wasn’t a place I’d ever want to spend a night or any serious time. On the way back, we stopped at Terrible’s Truck Stop/Casino/Bowling in Searchlight. An interesting place. I’ll leave it at that.

    DAY SIX: We spent the morning packing and finishing up laundry and cleanup at the condo, before heading back to Rampart for a farewell gaming session. Rampart got a little revenge, as the VP separated me from a hundy. Oh well. I cashed out 1,500 of the points I racked up there for very nice Nike dri-fit polo golf shirt. Sort of made up for the fact that we didn’t take our golf clubs this trip. Not satisfied that our gaming should be complete, we stopped by the Palms on the way to the airport. The daytime crowd is really an oldies set there, I’ll tell you. Like fools, we hit a VP bar near the door and played fast and feverishly until our agreed-up hour was up. I left a $40 “donation†for the Maloof brothers. Maybe it’ll pay for a nanosecond of playing time for one of their star NBA players.

    It was on the airport and by 2pm, we were “wheels up†on an American Airlines silver bird headed home. I had $900 more in the wallet than I went with, and was well rested and relaxed. It’s nice when the first stop after arriving back at the home airport is the bank ATM to make a DEPOSIT.

    Doing Vegas via a Summerlin condo is a totally different experience. More relaxing, for sure. Facing the Vegas traffic daily just to get around is a chore, though. You also miss the late night vibe and being able to let yourself go and just stumble up to a hotel room. All in all, a great trip. Can’t wait to get back ON SATURDAY.

    THE GOOD:
    Downtown -- Need I say more?
    Rampart Casino--Classy décor, friendly staff, loose odds/machines, decent food; a cut above most locals’ places.
    Tony Roma’s--Chain or not, the ribs are a treat.
    Ellis Island--Surprisingly good food for such a slummin’ casino.
    Four Queens--Two words: royal flush.

    THE BAD:
    Laughlin--It just didn’t do it for me. If they want to play up the “resort destination†angle, they need to spiff up the “resortsâ€.

    THE UGLY:
    NASCAR Cafe--The poor service and cold food was bad enough. The awful karaoke made it worse.
    Colorado Belle (Laughlin)--A disgrace to the proud riverboat gambling legacy of Mark Twain and the Midwest.
     
  3. duffelbag don

    duffelbag don Low-Roller

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    -Hitting the royal at the 4Q's...nicely done!

    -Enjoying someone else's company outing at the ballgame...with the drinks taken care of....another score.

    -Speed:the ride...at night..first time...bet it scared the hell outta ya!

    Nice to know 'ya hadda great time!
     
  4. HoyaHeel

    HoyaHeel Grammar Police & Admin

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    I love that your baseball beer is gonna show up on some corporate guy's expense account :thumbsup: Sounds like a fun trip, quality time with the family....And you get to go back again soon!
     
  5. vikkign

    vikkign Tourist

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    I have only hit one royal flush in my life and I play a lot of video poker. Congrats! Sounds like a great time.
     
  6. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

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    Nicely done TR and congrats on the ATM deposit at home. I really need to try Speed at night sometime! I'd love to have seen your face when you launched!
     
  7. Robkno

    Robkno Guest

    Yeah, I'm sure it was a doozy. I'm so used to looking over the coasters pretty good before I ride and seeing what they do. This one was a total shocker. I'd love to repeat that type of thrill again, but I know it's nearly impossible.

    P.S. You might not want to board speed with a full tummy of NASCAR Cafe nachos. I didn't think about that until after the ride, but luckily didn't get too queasy or sick.
     
  8. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

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    That's probably good advice for most people... but I could eat them ON the coaster... now possibly with too much alcohol, I could have an issue, particularly with the going backwards part, but food? Nah...

    Threadjack: I see you live in Jeff. City - have you been down to Branson in the past couple of years? They have an excellent wooden coaster now at Celebration City. It's called the Ozark Wildcat. It was the highlight of our 4th of July trip in '04.
     
  9. Robkno

    Robkno Guest

    I haven't been to Branson in a few, but I've heard good things about Celebration City rides. It's on the radar for a possible fall weekend trip.

    I'm a season ticket holder at Six Flags St. Louis. Have you been there? Four very good coasters (for different reasons) and one so-so (the Ninja). The Boss is the best wooden coaster I've been on, Mr. Freeze is a lot like Speed, Batman's silky smooth, and the Screamin Eagle is just a classic (it was THE primo ride there when I was growing up).
     
  10. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

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    oh boy, I get to get my geek on!

    SFStL was part of the 4th of July trip last year, and I far preferred the rides in Branson. I liked Mr Freeze the best. Batman is a ride about six or seven other Six Flags has, so there was no surprises there. Screamin Eagle was ok - I have a feeling it needs a little more tender loving care than Six Flags can give it (starting with some paint please?). Boss has such potential. I really liked the layout of the ride but it could be so much better with different trains on it. The trains they currently run (Gerstlauers) are uncomfortable and do not track well. I noticed some serious shuffle (meaning it feels like one side is running better or faster than the other side) and it was a very rough ride. Once you've ridden Ozark Cat, which has the finest tracking trains in the coaster business, you'll see what I mean. That is a RIDE!
     
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