Sorry this took so long for me to post. I keep getting side tracked. I've been trying to write this since I got back. I have some pictures but haven't had a chance to even look at them. I may try to edit this and add some pictures but if I don't post this now, I may never get around to it. It's very long and I apologize if there are any typos (I've revised it so many times that if I have to read it again, I'll slit my wrists) - Venetian/Monte Carlo Friday, June 29, 2007 We had a 7:15 pm flight from Newark. We didn’t have a ride to the airport, so we took a local taxi service but because we wanted to be picked up at 4:00 pm and they changed shifts at 5:00 pm, so they asked us if they could pick us up at 3:30 pm instead. It wasn’t a big deal and we agreed. We were at the airport by 4:00 pm, checked in with no problems and were through security in about five minutes (the lines were long, but I flew enough last year to qualify to Elite status, so we were able to cut the line). We then had about 3 hours to kill and I cancelled the credit card that I used to use that allowed for free access to the President’s club, so we went over to the food court at the airport and had a late lunch and killed some time watching tv. Of course, since it was a Friday night, in the summer at Newark airport, I should have known that our flight would be delayed. According to the sign at the gate, we were going to San Jose instead of Las Vegas. For some reason, Continental could not fix the sign to say “Las Vegas” but they did confirm that we were at the right gate. Everyone was confused. There was a constant line at the gate asking for flight updates and people confirming they were in the right place. The airline didn’t seem to care. If they couldn’t fix the sign, I really don’t think it would have killed anyone to write “Las Vegas” on a piece of paper and tape it up over the San Jose sign. Of course, that is much too sensible. Our flight boarded 45 minutes late, but then we sat on the tarmac for another two hours before taking off. I used frequent flyer points for three first class tickets so at least we were able to have a few cocktails while we waited although dinner was not provided on the flight. Because of the delay, the flight took off beyond their mealtime window so dinner was downgraded to a snack, which I found to be gross. I called the Venetian and gave them updates on our arrival time since it kept getting pushed back and I was worried that they would give up our room. (We were using an offer I received for three free nights + $75 in slot credits) I must have spoken to about six different people over the course of the afternoon/evening before and after we landed. By the time we got our luggage and headed over to the hotel, it was around 1:00 am. When we checked in, everyone around us was getting upgraded because they ran out of regular rooms. Well, everyone except us. I had be so diligent about informing them that we were running late and doing everything I could to ensure we wouldn’t be homeless and as a result, one of the people I spoke with pre-assigned a room. We did have a newly renovated Bella Suite, which is what we reserved and it was very nice, but I couldn’t help but wonder what the upgraded suite would have been like. I don’t think it’s possible to get stuck with a bad room at the Venetian and at that point, I just needed to sleep. The newly renovated suites are on floors 18 and higher right now. Not sure when the remaining floors will be finished. The roman shade and drapes are remote controlled. The furniture was new and tasteful, although I didn’t care for the dresser in the bedroom. It just looked out of place and cheap/plastic-like to me. Other than that, they were done quite tastefully. There are plasma tvs in the bedroom and living room. They also installed DVD players in the living rooms. The sofa beds are gone but have been replaced with sectionals. The sectional was a bit hard and stained already, so I asked housekeeping to bring up a few blankets to drape over it. We knew the living rooms had DVD players, so we brought plenty of movies with us. Bathrobes are no longer automatically placed in your suite. If you want them, you’ll need to call housekeeping to request them. (I didn’t utilize turn down service this trip but if you want it, you’ll need to request that as well) The bathrooms were also upgraded although not completely. The shower, tub, sinks and counters are the same. I do think they replaced all the hardware. The bathrooms now have a tv in them, which is nice although you cannot lay in the tub and watch it. You actually have to sit up to see it. They probably should have either mounted the tv somewhere else or took the tub out and reversed it so the plumbing was on the opposite side. All in all, they did a good job. Saturday, June 30, 2007 We woke up and grabbed a quick breakfast in the Venetian food court. Then, we went out by the pool for a bit. It was very hot, so that didn’t last long. We showered and decided to head to Maggiano’s for lunch. We ordered a bunch of appetizers and entrees and shared them. It was a really good meal. I always enjoy Maggiano’s and actually seek them out when traveling now. (I’m still somewhat convinced that is where my credit card number was hijacked but that is another story). We wandered around the Fashion show mall a bit and did a little shopping. Personally, I hate shopping at the mall and will do whatever I can to avoid it. I even buy furniture online now. My daughter actually likes the mall and since we were there, I figured we may as well shop. This was an extra special treat for her because she knows how much I hate the mall. Actually, we moved from bench to bench and she shopped. One thing we did stumble across in the Fashion Show Mall was an ABC store. We spent quite a bit of time in the ABC stores in Hawaii and my daughter wanted to go, just in case they had a 2008 Hawaii calendar (she has had the 2005, 2006 and 2007 and was actually bummed that she didn’t have a 2008). They didn’t have the Hawaii calendar she wanted but she did find a Vegas calendar and she was pretty happy with that. We did stumble across the Pineapple Nectar we’ve been trying to get ever since our last trip to Hawaii. (You can get it online but because they have to ship it from Hawaii, the price was a bit ridiculous) The ABC store was selling a six pack for $3.99, so we got one. If we had a rental car, we would have purchased a case and had it shipped back home. (If nothing else, now I know where I can get it) It’s really good with vodka and rum. YUM!!! After lunch, my daughter (soon to be 16) headed up to the room to relax, digest and watch a movie and my husband and I went to gamble for a bit. He participated in a Venetian promo called “Mystery Slots,” which is something they do twice a day. They have a guy dressed up in a trench coat running the promo. They play music and gather a crowd and they try to find the lucky bank of machines to do the promo at (from what we could tell, it was always at the same bank of machines, even though they lead you to believe it’s not). It’s a quarter bank of machines and they give you small prizes, starting with each time you hit something for 15 credits or more. Every time you hit something for 15 credits or more, you raise your hand and they run over with something. At the end, you can trade up for bigger prizes and they have a few small raffles for $50 in slot credits. There are 13 machines in that slot bank. Some are two coin machines and some are three coin machines. You play for 10 minutes. Considering that it’s easier to get a 15 coin win on a three coin machine vs. a two coin machine, we played the three coin machine. My husband racked up a bunch of small prizes (I was the prize holder while he played). He won the $50 in slot credits, plus wound up with three decks of Venetian cards, pens and a spa gift set. After that, we headed back up to the room and rested a bit and hit the pool again. Everyone was still full from lunch so I think we wound up grabbing pizza and salad at the food court that night. (I simply cannot remember for sure). After our daughter went to sleep, we went down and gambled. We played some monopoly machines (I enjoy the bonus rounds) and I played A LOT of video poker. Sunday, July 1, 2007 It was much too hot to venture outside. The hotel was extremely crowded. There was some sort of a child beauty pagent/talent show going on at the Venetian. The place was crawling with kids under 10. There were more kids at the Venetian than Disneyworld. Lots of the kids were wearing tons of make up and fancy gowns. They look tiny 40 year olds. It was beyond creepy. I wonder if stuff like that attracts pedophiles. Even some of the mothers were kind of scary. I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. I had a really funny conversation on the elevator with a guy who said it looked like a Stephen King movie in there. Other than that, the day was uneventful. We drank and gambled (more video poker) and found a really nice/sweet cocktail waitress named Tiffany. We had dinner at Grand Lux that night. My daughter loved their strawberry lemonade. We went over to the pool after dinner. The pool closed at 8:00 but the sun didn’t go down until after that. It would have been nice if it stayed open longer. Monday, July 2, 2007 We really weren’t all that hungry when we woke up so we had breakfast over in the food court again. My comp room offer was for three days and it was up on Monday. My husband had one for two free days (+ $50 in slot credits), so we arranged the reservations back to back. I checked over at the host desk to see if we could have our meals comped and the host I spoke with said I needed about three more hours of play. That was easy enough to do, except that I needed to officially check out in about two hours and once that happened, it would be too late to have the meals comped. I explained the situation and she was very helpful and instructed me to have the front desk person import the charges over, have myself added to my husband’s record as a share-with and check back with her before we left. I checked back with her the following day and she was able to comp the food, so it worked out well. After getting that all straightened out, we decided to head over to the Orleans for a movie. It was too hot to do anything else. We each wanted to see a different movie but wound up seeing “Knocked Up.” We all loved the “40 Year Old Virgin” and assumed it would be just as funny. It was good, just not as good as I expected. After the movie, we had a late lunch at the Orleans Buffet, which was right at the bottom of the escalator. The food wasn’t bad but they stop allowing people in for lunch at 3:00 pm and they don’t serve dinner until 4:00 pm. When you pay to get in, they inform you that you need to have your food by 3:30 pm because they start removing/replacing it but we found they started taking things away as early as 3:15 pm. After that, we wandered around a bit and headed back via shuttle. When we got back, we were hot and headed to the pool for a bit. It’s hard to find the water refreshing when the outside temperature is 117! Instead of heated pool, they should have cool pools where they add ice chips or something. After we showered, we had dinner at Canter’s Deli in Treasure Island. I’m addicted to their knishes. They’re the best I’ve ever had and I try to make it there at least once a visit. Their chicken soup is pretty good too. After dinner, we headed back to the Venetian. My daughter headed up to bed to work on some of her scholarship essays and her summer homework package and we gambled and drank for a few hours before calling it a night. Tuesday, July 3, 2007 I simply cannot remember where we had breakfast that day and I can’t seem to find a receipt. A week in Vegas is too long for me and one day starts to melt into another. I’m sure we ate something but I have no idea what or where but since I can’t remember, I assume it was uneventful. I believe we may have gone swimming that morning. My husband wanted to do the Mystery Slot promo again that afternoon, so we both went down and participated. We were already sitting at the machines we wanted and watched the crowd follow the trench coat person around for about 5 minutes before he led them to where we were already sitting. This time, I won the $50 slot credit prize and between the two of us, we wound up with two hats, a t-shirt, pens and really nice key chains along with two tins of chocolate. We had an early dinner over at Maggiano’s again. Food was plentiful and good, as usual. After that, we went for a walk. When we got back to the hotel, my husband took my daughter over to Madame Tussaud’s. We haven’t been there in a few years and figured there may be a few new things to see. After that, they had gelato. I gambled until they got back. After that, we packed up our stuff so it was ready for our move over to Monte Carlo the following day. Wednesday, July 4, 2007 We slept late that day and headed over to Harrah’s and had lunch at their buffet. My daughter is a huge fan of buffets and she said it ranked up there with the Rio buffet. I thought they had a nice variety of food too. The host arranged for us to have a late check out so we didn’t have to worry about not having a room ready at the Monte Carlo. We headed over to the Monte Carlo around 1:30 pm. My husband had an offer for two free nights, two Lance Burton tickets, $150 in free play and two free spa admissions. We have no idea why he received this offer because we’ve never stayed there and have only gambled there on occasion, while passing through. I had comp rooms at Paris and Rio for the same time period but they didn’t have the extras, so we decided to give Monte Carlo a shot. (I like Paris and would stay there again but I’m not fond of the Rio anymore because there is just too many beer bottle caps and garbage by the pool and I don’t enjoy swimming with trash floating around – maybe I’m just getting too old?) The line at the front desk was long and totally unorganized. People were cutting each other off. It was actually getting a little nasty. I told my husband that he could use the invited guest line, since he was technically an invited guest. He wasn’t sure and asked a gal from the VIP services room if he could. She was really nice and actually took him into the VIP area and checked him in there. The Monte Carlo already noted that we wanted something away from the construction and she was also quite accommodating as well. Our room was on the 28th floor and overlooked the strip. I did have a few problems with the room and was disappointed about how the front desk handled them. The air conditioner wasn’t working right. The air was cool but not cold and the room was uncomfortable as a result. The tv only had six stations, which I was not happy about. I haven’t been stuck with six stations in over 20 years. I actually considered watching an in-room movie, which I rarely do because I just couldn’t sit through an afternoon of Judge Judy and Jerry Springer. The menu button on the remote didn’t work, so I couldn’t even do that. The front desk said they’d send up a new remote. I explained that everything else on the remote worked and that it was probably the tv. They ignored me and after 45 minutes, they sent up a new remote, which didn’t work. Surprise! It also took them about 45 minutes to send up some extra pillows (the ones in the room were flat as a pancake – my cats have nicer pillows than what they had in that room). Since the new remote didn’t work, they needed to send someone else up, which was to take another hour. It was also going to take at least an hour to have someone fix the air conditioning. I was really ticked off that I was spending an afternoon waiting around to have things fixed that should not have been an issue. After getting the run around from the front desk, I wanted to speak to the manager on duty but they wouldn’t put me through and instead, directed me to their operations manager, who told me he reports to her. Finally, I made my husband call the gal over from VIP service and she was able to get them to come up within 10 minutes. The air conditioner had a dirty/clogged filter, so it was only working at 25% capacity. He replaced that and it worked fine after that. He also fixed the tv. There is some sort of a box in the back that someone messed with. Not only were we able to get in-room movies and the guest service button, we also wound up getting about 35 more tv stations, which made me very happy. They really should have a quality control person to ensure these things are functional. The filter that was pulled out of the air conditioning unit was really gross. Those things should be maintained regularly. I did hear that even though the renovated their rooms two years ago, they were scheduled to renovate them again next year. Maybe they’ll buy some new pillows? After dealing with all that, I needed a cocktail or two. (Actually, more like three or four but it’s vacation so who’s counting?) The drinks at Monte Carlo are bigger and stronger than those over at the Venetian. (I found myself ordering double martinis over at the Venetian because a single one wasn’t doing the trick) After a few long island iced teas, I was much calmer and happier. I also found a very generous Pegasus slot machine. I’d throw $20 in and would cash out for $100. Of course, it wasn’t always generous but I got a lot more out of it than what I put in, which was more than I could say for the rest of the week. We attempted to find the gal from VIP services to thank her but she was gone for the day. We gambled a bit and then we had dinner over at the Brew Pub, which was really good. It was about 9:00 pm when we finished dinner. We saw Purple Reign setting up and I thought the show started at 9:00 but it wasn’t starting until 10:00 and since I have ADD, I couldn’t sit around and wait. The only place we knew of nearby with fireworks was the Hilton and we didn’t fee like going there. We wandered around for a bit and then gambled for a while before heading to bed. July 5, 2007 I ran down to grab some breakfast to bring back to the room and my credit card would not go through. It kept getting declined. I only had a $300 balance on it and the limit was $20,000, so I was upset and embarrassed over the situation. Turns out someone snagged my credit card number and started using it. I spent a large chunk of the morning on the phone with the credit card company, the Las Vegas police department and my local police department. Not fun! After that, I needed another couple of cocktails. We went down to thank the gal from VIP services and she was so nice that we wound up chatting with her for over an hour. After that, we picked up the complimentary Lance Burton Tickets. We had two free buffets included with the room offer so the three of us went to the Monte Carlo buffet. It was mediocre at best and if two out of the three buffets weren’t free, I would have been disappointed. I’m not a Lance Burton fan, so my husband and daughter went. I gambled and had a few cocktails while they were at the show. After that, we walked down to the Bellagio and watched four fountain shows. We decided to play for ½ hour more before calling it a night so we ran a few dollars through the $5 machines. Again, no luck. While we were in bed, my husband heard what he thought was gunfire and I was sure it was fireworks. We had a very early flight the following morning, so I told him to mind his own business and go to sleep. We didn’t know until the following morning that it was actually gunfire. July 6, 2007 We had an 8:30 am flight so we got up at 5:30, showered and headed out. Our flight departed on time and actually arrived in Newark 20 minutes early. Of course, Newark is Newark and they couldn’t find a gate for us so we literally drove around the airport for 45 minutes. Even though we arrived early, we still arrived late. It took another hour to get our luggage (so much for priority tags). My dad offered to pick us up on his way home from work and was circling the airport so as soon as we got our luggage, we ran out. We didn’t realize it until we got home but the airline broke 2 out of our 3 suitcases (so much for Samsonite). It was too late to file a claim. The gambling gods were not good to us. We had a fun trip but my bad luck seems to be continuing. We didn’t find out until a few days ago but while we were gone, lightening struck our house and melted the main circuit breaker. Its VERY hot here and we were afraid of an electrical fire so we couldn’t use the electric or the air conditioner until it was fixed. Cost us another $2,000 to replace the electrical panel. At least the house didn’t burn down while we were away. In addition to losing everything, we could have lost our cats. I am in dire need of a vacation from the vacation! Unfortunately, my next vacation is Disneyworld so there will be no rest for the weary.