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VEGAS: June 9th -13th

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Ay Caramba, Jun 16, 2004.

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  1. Ay Caramba

    Ay Caramba Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Messages:
    385
    Location:
    Greenville, SC
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    70

    My Trip Report

    Had a great trip last week, Wed-Sun. I took my little sister, who had just finished her last final exam, and we celebrated her college graduation Vegas style. Here are the highlights of our trip.

    WEDNESDAY
    I flew from Greenville, SC to Washington Dulles, then connected on to Vegas. My sister came from Chicago and we met at McCarran around 7:30p. We rented a Jeep from Dollar and headed to the Hard Rock, our hotel for the first two nights. At check in, we didn’t even try the $20 trick or ask for an upgrade – the desk clerk just gave it to us! We couldn’t believe it. We were in a “Celebrity Suite†and this thing was awesome. The living room was huge with a big circular couch, dining room table, full-size walk-behind wet bar, 36†TV with stereo, VCR and DVD player, two balcony windows overlooking the pool (from the 5th floor) and a beautiful view of the strip in the distance. The living room by itself was the size of about two regular Vegas rooms. The bathroom was gargantuan, with his/her vanities, stand-alone shower, Jacuzzi tub, walk-in closet, and a w/c bidet. I remember trying to book this room for a bachelor party a few years ago, and the price was in the $900 range. We had paid less than one-tenth of that for our stay.

    We were stoked about the room and ready for some dinner, so we headed downstairs and tried Nobu, the Japanese restaurant. The sushi was pretty tasty – anything is better than the sushi I usually get back in Greenville. We played some blackjack at HRH, and I lost a couple bucks. My sister played roulette and she won a couple bucks. The night pressed on and we decided to head over to Foundation Room to grab a drink and see the view. We got there around 2am, and by the time we parked and got inside they were just closing down the club, and the doorman was putting away the podium and rope outside the elevator door. So we decided to play a little more at Mandalay. Since it was a Wednesday, the limits were pretty low. We found a $5 blackjack table and played for a couple hours on $100 before finally losing out. Now it was 4am and my sister was feeling tired, so we headed back for the room. She went off to bed, and I decided to keep on playing – for some reason I still wasn’t tired, even though it was 7:30am eastern time. So I sat down at a $5 blackjack table and started to play. Luck was on my side, apparently, and I had a great little run. After I got up a little, I started playing two hands at once with $15 - $30 bets each. After three hours of some really nice cards, I had won about $1400, so I was stoked.

    THURSDAY
    Started off the morning with about two hours’ sleep, but couldn’t really slip away into dreamland. The maintenance crew started setting up the pool area around 8am, and there was a guy out there with a leaf blower who kept me awake. They turned on the pool stereo system at 9am, and there was no sleeping after that. So I flopped around in bed for another hour, then got up around 10am and got ready for another Vegas day.

    Since I had won such a nice chunk of cash, I decided to treat my sister to a little slice of the good life. We crossed the street (Paradise Blvd.) to Benzo Rent-a-car, and ordered up a 230 SLK convertible Mercedes for the rest of the trip. We took the Jeep back to Dollar two days early and it was a madhouse trying to get to the counter – easily as bad as the worst DMV experience I’ve ever had. Total incompetence at every clerk station. There were only three people ahead of me in my line, and it took me 45 minutes to get through. So I finally get out of there and we decide to head over to Taqueria Canonita in the Venetian Canal shops. Lunch was great, but very filling, and my lack of sleep was catching up in a hurry. So we went back to the hotel room to take a catnap. We get up around 4pm and we’re not sure what we want to do, so I suggested we cruise over to Green Valley Ranch to check it out. I had seen it on American Casino and also heard great things about Whiskey Beach, so we gave it a try. We walked around the entire property, including the pool which was breathtakingly beautiful. Several interconnected pool areas with waterfalls, walkway bridges and ultra modern décor and landscaping; there was even a small vineyard adjacent to the pool area. After the quick tour, we sat down to play a few hands at GVR – I played blackjack and my sister played roulette, and we both lost a couple bucks, maybe $25.

    We left GVR and decided to head over to Paris, where we wanted to have dinner at Mon Ami. So we put our name on the waiting list for the patio and went off to the casino, where we lost a little more money. We had to wait 45 minutes for the patio, but it was worth it; we had a delicious dinner, with French onion soup, scallops gratinee and I had the steak clasique, my sister had the roasted chicken. Wonderful dinner – I love looking up and down the strip with the Bellagio fountains firing off every 15 minutes. After dinner we decided to try Foundation Room again, since we had missed it the night before. We cruised on over to Mandalay, and found the valet lot was full. So we parked at THE hotel, and walked in the back door, which gave me a chance to show my sister Red Square. She liked the bar and thought it was really cool, but we didn’t drink there. We just took a quick look, then zoomed on up to Foundation.

    We grabbed a couple drinks at the top of Mandalay Bay, enjoyed the couch and fireplace and grooved with the ambient tunes being spun by the DJ. But, we were also weary from lack of sleep so we decided to make it an early night. We were back to Hard Rock by midnight, and similar to Wednesday, my sister went off to bed and I hung around the casino for a while. But the tables weren’t as kind to me this time, and I ended up losing a pretty good chunk of money back to HRH before the night was over. The casino was more active on Thursday, however, and there were plenty of “distractions†that kept my mind off the game. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t winning!

    FRIDAY
    I was able to sleep in a little bit on Friday morning, and got up around 10am. Check-out was at noon, so I decided to investigate the famous (or infamous) Hard Rock pool area. My sister and I were down there before it got too crowded, and I swam a couple of laps around the perimeter of the pool, tried out the waterslide, walked through La Palapa lounge and relaxed while I watched the place fill up with backward-hat frat boys and silicone-enhanced girls. While I am getting to old to fit in (or even feel comfortable) with this scene, I have to admit it is very nice to look at. We stuck around for an hour, then headed back upstairs to pack.

    It was too early to check in to the Fairfield Grand Desert, so I took my sister over to NY-NY to show her my only non-table game addiction in Vegas, the Elvis slot machines. She liked them right away, too, and we played about an hour and pretty much broke even. (I was up a little and she was down a little, but not enough to matter either way). After we collected what was left of the money we put in the machines, it was time for lunch so we hoofed it over to the Monte Carlo brewery for a quick bite to eat. I had a couple wheat beers and a brewery burger, and for the first time I noticed that MC Brewery had an upstairs! I’ve been in that place probably 20 times and I never noticed it before. On the way out of Monte Carlo, we passed the show tickets counter, and they had a big poster advertising Robert Schimmel, one of my all-time favorite comedians. So we grabbed two tickets for Saturday night’s show.

    We crossed the street and wandered into Aladdin, where my sister wanted to go into the Desert Passage to buy a funky fun hat, one of her own Vegas traditions. Her last two trips she bought a cowboy hat and then a Kangol hat, so she took off into the mall on a mini shopping spree. I wandered into the Aladdin casino and parked myself at a blackjack table playing $15 hands for about two hours. The waitress was pretty quick, and I think I polished off about five Coronas in my two hours there, before eventually losing my $100 buy in. My sister found me in the casino, then played roulette for a while, and we finally left Aladdin around 5:30pm. She didn’t find any hat she wanted, by the way.

    We walked back to NY-NY, got the car and went to check-in at the Grand Desert Resort. I had booked a one-bedroom suite through Travel Worm for $95, thinking my sister could have the room and I would take the fold-out couch in the living room. But when we checked in, the clerk said, “I see you have reserved a two-bedroom suite.†I told her that was wrong (because I didn’t want them to ultimately discover the error and charge my credit card), but that we would really appreciate a two-bedroom suite upgrade if there was one available. She thought about it for a second, then coyly said “okay.†Cha-ching!!

    This room is also amazing by Vegas standards. The entire resort is less than a year old, so everything still has that new hotel room smell. All rooms come with a kitchenette, fridge/freezer/icemaker, microwave, coffee maker, dining room table, entertainment center with 32†TV, VCR and stereo and two couches. The bedrooms are normal size and about what you would expect, but the master bath has his/her vanities, standalone shower, Jacuzzi tub, water closet and a small stacked washer/dryer. The master bath is open into the bedroom, and we had a strip facing view. It was oddly exciting to take a shower while looking out across the strip.

    We had tickets for the Velvet Revolver concert at Hard Rock, and the doors opened at 8pm, which only gave us a few minutes to change and get out of the room. (VR is made up of the remnants from Stone Temple Pilots and Guns ‘n Roses, if that helps with the whole perspective thing). We dashed to the concert and found there was already a long line halfway around the entire gaming floor, waiting to get in the venue. We walked to the front of the line and the doorman pointed all the way across the casino, telling us where the line started. So we played dumb and halfheartedly started walking back against the line of people. But there were lots of people in the casino walking all around too, not in line for the concert. So when we found a break in the line, we just stopped walking and hoped no one noticed. And it worked! We got inside within three minutes, and pushed our way up to the third row. The opening act was a band called Living Things, and I thought they were horrible. They were trying to be British punk, but they were just too scrappy for my taste. Then out of nowhere between songs, the lead singer addresses the audience and starts bashing President Bush. I’m for free speech and all, but come on. Put the politics away and let’s rock. They finally leave the stage and then it takes forever for Velvet Revolver to come out. The openers ended at 8:35pm, and VR didn’t go on until about 9:45pm. But when they did, the place was rockin’. The music was loud and muddled, but just being so close to the front made it really cool. My ears were ringing for about two days after the concert. We got out of there around 11:30pm and decided the only club we’d be able to get into at that point was Foundation Room, so we headed back there again.

    The club was packed with people, and it took forever to get a drink. I kept an eye out for celebs (and other T2V’ers), but didn’t see any. We were both pretty weary, and since I had been drinking since 2pm, I was beat down. We only stuck around for one drink, and then we busted out around 1:15am. Back to our room at the Grand Desert and we decided to call it a night.

    SATURDAY
    After my first full night’s sleep since I got to town, I was awake by 10am and ready to make the most of my last day in Vegas. Since we had been eating like pigs for three days, we decided to make use of the free access to the resort’s fitness center. After an hour’s workout on the treadmill and free weights, we got ready to go out for the day. I had vaguely remembered something on the Travel Channel about a great roller coaster outside of Vegas, on the California state line. So we asked the concierge, and she told us it was the coaster at Buffalo Bill’s in Primm. What the heck, we figured, so we cruised on down I-15 about 35 miles to the border. The coaster was not what I had remembered – I thought it was a new generation “super coaster†but it was about like NY-NY’s Manhattan Express, only older and more rickety. But it was only $7 so we took a ride.

    We wanted to eat at the buffet, but the line was really long and we didn’t want to wait. So we grabbed a burger at McDonald’s, then sat down in the casino to play a bit of blackjack. What a mistake! I was losing left and right, being dealt mostly 13’s, 14’s and 15’s, then always busting. The couple of times I got a hand above 18, the dealer somehow pulled a 20 or 21. I chewed through $250 in about 20 minutes. The only person who could cheer me up now was “The King,†so we headed back to NY-NY to play the Elvis slots so I could lick my wounds. My sister and I both sat down to play, and the machines were ice cold. I burned through another $80 and my sister lost $50 before deciding to play some roulette. I stuck around the Elvis slots and decided to keep playing, but do so very slowly. I put in another $100, and within a couple of minutes I hit a 400 coin ($100) payout, and then just a few minutes after that, I hit a 500 coin payout. So that at least stopped the bleeding. I went to find my sister at the roulette wheel, and she had just hit her “magic†number 24 with a $5 bet, and got the $175 payout. So we both did okay, and decided to grab dinner before the Schimmel show at MC that night.

    We walked to Monte Carlo around 6:00pm and there was no line at the buffet, so we walked right in. We weren’t that hungry since we had eaten McDonald’s just a few hours before, but this was the only chance we were going to have to eat. After dinner we played a few hands of blackjack at MC, and I lost another $100, but my sister played one-on-one with a dealer for an entire shoe and won about $150 on $5 and $10 bets.

    One of the things I wanted to do on this trip was to check out Ghost Bar at Palms. I had passed by the door several times, and the line was always way, way too long to even think about going up. So I planned to arrive very early to avoid the line. We dashed back to our hotel, changed clothes for the evening and headed to Ghost Bar. We got there at 7:50pm, 10 minutes before they opened, and there were only about 20 – 30 people in line at that point. Right at 8:00pm, the line started moving, and we were up to the 55th floor within minutes. We even got a table out on the deck, where we sat and enjoyed the view and the evening breeze for a while. Drinks were expensive though, our two Bailey’s Rocks came to $18, which would have bought an entire bottle of the stuff at any liquor store. But the bar was pretty cool, blue and green neon lights lit up the indoor room, and of course the outside was all about the view. We stuck around for about an hour and a half, then left to head to the Schimmel concert.

    Schimmel was great, although we got there 10 minutes before the show and the line for drinks lasted about 30 minutes. So we missed Wendy Liebman, the opening comic. I had seen Schimmel twice before, and his stuff is completely raunchy, but hilarious. The last two times I saw him I was rolling on the floor with tears in my eyes, but this time I was mainly just chuckling. He opened his routine with 20 minutes of jokes about Siegfried and Roy, which was pretty tasteless. I’d never seen the tiger show, and I’m not an S&R fan by any means, but it was just really tacky to make disgusting jokes about Roy’s tragedy. My sister didn’t think it was appropriate either, but the crowd was laughing, so maybe some people liked it. The rest of the show was pretty good, and I had a few belly laughs. But overall I didn’t think it was as funny as some of his older stuff.

    I had contacted T2V’s “Vegashost†about getting on the guest list at the Light nightclub at Bellagio, and he had gotten us on the list for Saturday night. We got to Bellagio just before midnight and the crowd outside the door was a mob scene. There was no real line, just a horde of people pushing up against the semicircle velvet ropes. There was a “VIP†line for bottle service, and that line had backed up too. The doormen were letting groups of attractive women in a few at a time, but otherwise the line really wasn’t moving. My sister somehow burrowed her way to the front and told the doorman we were on the guest list. He walked back over to the podium and flipped through a couple pages of paper, but didn’t come back – he just walked over to the bottle service line and kept talking on his little walkie-talkie. Eventually he walked back by, and we petitioned him again to be let inside, and, after a pregnant pause, he very coolly opened the velvet rope for us.

    On our way in, we met a couple guys named Bubba and Shehada, and apparently Shehada’s dad was a genuine high roller who was staying at Bellagio and had three penthouse suites under his name. I guess we were in the right place at the right time, because Bubba said to stick with them, and they were going to open a bar tab and all our drinks would be on them (which, they said, were going to all be comped by Bellagio anyway, so it didn’t matter). So that was nice. We kept ordering drinks all night on this guy’s tab, probably $80 worth between the two of us anyway. The people in the club were all beautiful, or at least the women were to me. The club was fun, but nothing out-of-this-world. I thought with a name like Light, they would have had a cool laser light show or something, but it was just a big room with a lounge area and dance floor. I still really liked it though, especially for the free drinks! We danced and drank, and met all kinds of people through Bubba, who was a very excitable character - all over the place. Overall, had a great time – thanks again to Vegashost for getting us on the list!

    We left the club around 3:15am, and neither one of us were ready to go home quite yet. So, of course, back to NY-NY to say goodbye to “The King†(Elvis slots) and my sister hit the roulette wheel a little while longer. We both lost a little more money, and headed back for our hotel around 5:30am.

    SUNDAY
    We got about four hours’ sleep, then got up to pack. Nothing eventful, just got gas in the rental car, then to the airport and left town right on time at 12:30pm.

    Summary:
    - Sometimes you don’t even have to ask for an upgrade
    - I am getting too old to hang at the Hard Rock pool, but it sure is nice to watch
    - If you rent a fancy car because you won some money in the casino, pay up front in cash (while you still have it!)
    - There is a reason why rock stars wear earplugs at their concerts
    - You are practically guaranteed to have a good time when someone else is buying your drinks
    - What a timeshare lacks in location and amenities, it makes up for in size and conveniences
    - You pay for going to exclusive clubs in three ways: you pay a cover charge, you pay for drinks and you pay with humility and patience while standing in line.
    - Elvis is and always will be The King
     
  2. Falcon_Rob

    Falcon_Rob Flying Winnebago

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2003
    Messages:
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    Location:
    Columbus, OH
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    20
    Ay Caramba,

    Great report! Even though you and I have very different tastes in what we like to do in Vegas, I enjoyed reading about you and your sister's adventures!

    Quick question, how did you like the buffet at Monte Carlo? I've eaten there for breakfast and dinner before, and thought it was decent, but I've haven't heard many good reviews about it lately.

    Also, I haven't noticed an upstairs to the Brew Pub either!!! What's up there?!?!
     
  3. doctor_al

    doctor_al VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    Nice report. The Review-Journal's Norm had mentioned the Schimmel S&R stuff, said the crowd went flat, which Schimmel's PR folks of course denied. Interesting to get your take on it.

    Nice to start the trip with the big cash win, and go through the rest of it with a "why not" attitude. I've got to try that sometime. Ha.
     
  4. boxcars

    boxcars High-Roller

    Joined:
    May 19, 2004
    Messages:
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    Location:
    North Dakota
    Great trip report!

    I bet the temperature was just about perfect for a convertible last week. I was there Mon-Fri and thought Wed was a little too cool... 77°
    (and breezy) for the sake of being at a swimming pool.

    I was hoping for the heat of days' before we arrived... 107° Heat doesn't bother me!

    The pool was a little cool Wed, but much better by Thurs.
     
  5. abner2xday

    abner2xday Tourist

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2004
    Messages:
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    Location:
    Seattle
    Great trip report! I think I am a little past the club scene, but your report and others make me want to check one out on the next visit.

    BTW, the earplugs the rockstars wear are actually earphones, which helps them hear what they are playing or singing. Anyone who has been in any type of band will tell you it is often hard to hear if you are on key or playing the right notes when mixed in with the other sounds going on. [​IMG] This is especially true at a rock concert where the majority of the speakers are in front of the band and the sound travels away from them. Then most of the sound coming toward the band is the audience screaming and yelling.
     
  6. farkingidiot

    farkingidiot High-Roller

    Joined:
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    The Great Midwest..Ugh...
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    Loved the report. How is it you have such casual access to the Foundation Room? I'd love to see it just once. I suspect you like the clubs as much as I? Light? Foundation Room?

    Ghostbar is cool, but unspectacular, huh?

    I haven't made it over to Green Valley Ranch, yet. I keep meaning to. My wife's been there and said I simply must go.

    We were in the Desert Passage looking at hats, too. I was gonna get my wife a pink cowboy hat there, but found it 10 dollars cheaper at a stand by Harrah's party court. (Of course, first chance she got when we got home, we went to a socail gathering with her wearing her pink cowboy hat, black belly t-shirt with Vegas in pick letter, pink belt and pink heel. Needless to say, the folksd at home were a little overwhelmed. What works in Vegas don't neccesairly work at home! LOL)

    And you may have gotten tagged gambling, but your luck otherwise? Free upgrades? The guys in line at Light? Damn you! [​IMG]

    If we're ever in Vegas at the same time, we've got to do a little hanging out together.

    Excellent report. Thanks.
     
  7. Ay Caramba

    Ay Caramba Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Greenville, SC
    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    I usually don't eat at buffets when I go to Vegas, so I really don't have much of a comparison. I started with the Mexican area, and didn't really find anything that great. I couldn't finish my chimichanga (bad taste, too doughy). So I went for round #2 and got pizza, breadsticks and the pasta bar. The pizza tasted like a frozen pizza you'd get in the supermarket, and the breadsticks were cold and hard. The one saving grace was the pasta bar, where the chef would take your ingredients and stir fry them with your choice of sauces. That was pretty good. I probably wouldn't go back to MC's buffet, but then again I don't know what to expect in those places.

    The only part of the upstairs I could see in the brewery was the catwalk directly over the main dining room, and I saw more tables and chairs. We didn't go up there so I don't know if there's any more to it. I guess that will be an adventure for next time!
     
  8. KathyinNY

    KathyinNY Tourist

    Joined:
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    What a great brother to take his sister to Vegas! [​IMG]

    Sounds like you all had a great time!
     
  9. mab0125

    mab0125 Tourist

    Joined:
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    Dallas, TX
    How did you get up to Foundation Room on a night other than Monday night? Do you have a membership?
     
  10. Ay Caramba

    Ay Caramba Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    My sister landed a job a few months ago with an executive placement firm in Chicago. It turns out her company has a corporate membership to HOB's Foundation Rooms, mainly because they operate in Chicago (where there is another HOB) and use the club as a cool place to interview candidates and schmooze employers.

    When she told her boss she was going to Vegas, they added her name to the corporate membership registry, so she has full access to any HOB club in the country.

    So, even though I am the Vegas "veteran" in the family, my little sister is the one with the Foundation hook-up.
    :confused: Who knew?
     
  11. Mia4071

    Mia4071 Tourist

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    Great report! Too bad we didn't run into eachother on friday @ the Foundation room. Either way sounds like you guys had a great time.

    Any pic's?
     
  12. Ay Caramba

    Ay Caramba Low-Roller

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    These turned out much better in prints than they did on CD. I wonder if they were damaged by the x-ray machine in the airport?
    Oh well. CLICK HERE FOR PICS

    Just a couple shots of our room, the view, the Foundation Room and the Velvet Revolver concert. After that, we ran out of film.
     
  13. vegashost

    vegashost Guest

    Awesoem report! Sorry you had a bit of trouble with the list at Light. It's a total mob scene there every weekend. Glad you made it in and had a great time.
     
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