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20th Anniversary “Guaranteed Win” Trip to the M Resort: 9/9-9/11 (90+ pics)

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by M_ILIS, Sep 13, 2015.

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  1. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:

    My Trip Report

    Prelude: All year, my wife and I had planned another Vegas getaway to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. My mother-in-law had agreed to stay at our house and take care of our kids for a couple nights, so we had our sights set on a return to Green Valley Ranch using MyVegas rewards just like we did last year. But by the time I called to make a reservation, Green Valley Ranch had no MyVegas rooms still available, despite plenty of hotel availability.

    We were pretty bummed, and seeing we were expecting free accommodations, our knee-jerk reaction was to book whatever next-cheapest (within reason of quality, of course) option we had. My wife had a mailer from Downtown Grand for $20 room nights and $10 free play, so we called and booked two nights on that. It turned out the second night was $49, so the total for two nights with resort fee and tax was $122. We’ve stayed at DTG three times and really love the hotel, but the more I thought about it, it just didn’t seem fitting for our 20th wedding anniversary. While very nice, Downtown Grand really isn’t romantic in any way.

    So I began researching our options for alternatives that would fit the bill without breaking the bank. It was then I remembered the M Resort billboards we always see driving to Vegas that say California residents receive 30% off room rates, so I called to inquire. We'd never visited the M, but pictures looked great and they had a lot of excellent reviews on tripadvisor and a favorable opinion here on VMB. With the California resident discount, two nights in a Strip-view room came to $198, and they have no resort fee, so we canceled Downtown Grand and booked that in mid-August. Suddenly we were super excited for our trip. We each had MyVegas rewards for Zumanity tickets we’d be using, and a few other MyVegas rewards for when we were on the Strip. Now all that was left was to plan for our restaurants, so we chose one night at an old favorite, Primarily Prime Rib at South Point, and another night at an off-strip restaurant called Yonaka Modern Japanese that gets rave reviews.

    BUT THEN… while at work on the afternoon of August 25, I received an email with the subject line, “Congratulations Best of Las Vegas Winner.” I didn’t recognize the sender’s name, but I clicked on it and was shocked to see I’d won a contest I entered for two nights at the M Resort! Not only that, but it included a $200 credit to their steakhouse, Anthony’s, as well as a $100 M Resort gift card, a $50 wine card for their bar/wine cellar, Hostile Grape, and day passes for two to the hotel spa facilities. I was blown away! I replied to the email and explained that we’d just booked a trip to their hotel about a week earlier and asked if this could simply apply to that reservation.

    I didn’t get an email reply right away, but curiously I received a new email reservation confirmation from the M Resort, but instead of having us booked in a standard Strip-view room, they had us slated for a One-Bedroom Suite! I waited to tell my wife in person when I got home from work and we were simply ecstatic! The representative from the M Resort got back to me the next day and was in touch with us all the way up to our arrival. Seeing we had the $200 steakhouse credit, we canceled our reservation at Primarily Prime Rib and made a reservation for Anthony’s for our first night there.

    We’re always excited for our Vegas trips, but with all this pre-trip craziness, this one was over-the-top excitement. The days seemed to crawl by, but finally everything was set and it was time for our trip. Now the only thing left to see was whether or not it could live up the grand expectations in our heads…
  2. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Day One: Wednesday, September 9, 2015
    [Note: click on any photo to go to my Flickr page, where you can view the photo in full size.]

    Our son is driving himself to school now and our daughter starts bright and early at 7:45, so the plan was to drop her off and immediately hit the road for the trip. Some pre-trip sadness from our daughter caused a slight change of plans, when she cried and said she was going to miss us the night before, I agreed to take her to breakfast at IHOP for a special treat before school. Then I dropped her off, went home to pick up my bride and off we went around 8:30 am. The drive was super smooth and only took around 3:40.

    We had Zumanity tickets for this night that had to be picked up by 4:00, so we actually passed the M Resort and went straight to NYNY. Knowing this was the plan, I also got a “Buy One Entree, Get Fish & Chips Free” MyVegas reward for Nine Fine Irishmen for lunch. It felt so great to arrive at the NYNY valet and officially begin our vacation. We hit the Mlife desk to get the reward and then got seated at a perfect little secluded booth that had a bench on one side where we could both sit. We never do the “sit on the same side of the table” thing, but in this case it seemed natural and we loved it. My wife got a Stella and I got a Harp, both of which were delicious. I love Harp but I hadn’t had it for years, so that was fun.

    [​IMG]IMG_2779 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2787 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2790 by Mark, on Flickr

    I was looking forward to the fish and chips, so that allowed my wife to order whatever she wanted. She chose a sandwich called the BMT that had applewood smoked bacon, fresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes and a chive aioli on sliced ciabatta.

    [​IMG]IMG_2793 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2794 by Mark, on Flickr

    We both loved our food, and even better, we loved the freeing feeling of being on vacation. We roamed around NYNY a bit to find the box office, got our Zumanity tickets and headed back toward the M Resort around 2:00.

    We valeted the car and entered the gorgeous lobby.

    [​IMG]IMG_2803 copy by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_3056 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_3057 by Mark, on Flickr

    The front desk clerk was super friendly and gave us the gift cards I’d won and thoroughly educated us about everything we needed to know. The one thing she didn’t mention was whether or not our suite had a Strip view. We took the elevator to the 15th floor (16 is the highest) and entered our room.

    And yes, it certainly had a Strip view:
    [​IMG]IMG_2846 copy by Mark, on Flickr
    (Although this is really zoomed in.)

    Obviously compared to some Vegas suites seen in other trip reports, this was nothing too extravagant, but to us it was awesome. We’re accustomed to standard rooms and having all this space to celebrate our anniversary was so fun. Here are some pics of the room:

    [​IMG]IMG_2811 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2812 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2820 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2827 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2830 by Mark, on Flickr

    The tub is situated to have a Strip view through this window:
    [​IMG]IMG_2821 by Mark, on Flickr

    This suite had 1.5 bathrooms, and even the toilet paper was fancy:
    [​IMG]IMG_2833 by Mark, on Flickr

    We set up our DIY bar, made some drinks, explored the room, reveled in our “alone time” and basically started having the time of our lives.

    [​IMG]IMG_2834 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2838 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2841 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2843 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2857 by Mark, on Flickr

    After a bit, the room phone rang and it was room service saying they had “an amenity” to deliver to us, asking if they could bring something to our room in a few minutes. We eagerly awaited their arrival, and a guy showed up with a beautiful plate of four chocolate-covered strawberries with an anniversary card from the front-desk agent who checked us in!

    [​IMG]IMG_2853 by Mark, on Flickr

    We felt like royalty and like there’s no way this day could get any better.

    We then decided to check out the pool area for a bit. The pool staff greeted us with towels and two ice-cold bottles of water, and then you proceed to the security table where a guy checks your bags going in. I’ve never had someone so thoroughly check a bag as this guy – not at an airport, not at Disneyland, nowhere. I didn’t mind it, but it seemed a little bit over the top, while also reassuring that they’re so strict about what can and can’t enter the pool area. One thing he told me was that I couldn’t use my real camera at the pool. He considered it a professional grade camera and said they weren’t allowed, so we only used our phone cameras while at the pool.

    Anyway, the pool area is gorgeous and split into two semi-circles with a walkway down the middle. Each corner of the pool has a bunch of lounge chairs slightly immersed in shallow water that are great for relaxing and beating the heat. I went to the bar and we got a Long Island Iced Tea using our M Resort gift card. It was delicious (although dangerous, as we’d learn later)!

    [​IMG]IMG_20150909_164715 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150909_170031 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150909_170046 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150909_171200 by Mark, on Flickr

    With 7:00 dinner reservations, we returned to our room and got ready. We arrived and were seated in a great, high-backed circular booth. Knowing we had $200 to spend meant we could splurge a bit, so we ordered a lot of food. My wife had a glass of pinot noir and I had a gin and tonic. They brought out a delicious bread basket, and we started with half a dozen oysters on the half shell as well as the seared Hudson Valley foie gras with peach-ginger marmalade, roasted grapes and panettone crouton:

    [​IMG]IMG_2875 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2876 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2880 by Mark, on Flickr

    The oysters were great, but wow the foie gras was amazing. I thought the crouton was almost scarily rich, but if you got a bite with the peach, the foie gras and whatever sauce was on the plate, it was incredibly decadent and luxuriously layered with flavors and textures.

    Next we split a Caesar salad with anchovy, which was perfect and delicious, served on a giant parmesan crisp.

    [​IMG]IMG_2881 by Mark, on Flickr

    Then our mains arrived. Mine was the 22-oz. bone-in rib eye, which was dry aged 24-30 days. My wife opted for the filet mignon, wet aged 21 days. We also split a side of asparagus.

    [​IMG]IMG_2882 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2883 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2884 by Mark, on Flickr

    Quite simply, this was the best steak I’ve had in years, and my wife’s was possibly even better. Each was served with a grilled artichoke heart and tiny baked parmesan tomato, but the beef was undoubtedly the star. It was incredibly good. We were stuffed and my wife didn’t come close to finishing her whole steak. Our ordering worked out well, too. The bill came to $201 and change. I left a $40 tip and we quickly dropped off her doggie bag in our room before hitting the valet so we could make it to Zumanity at 9:30.

    We zipped back down the 15 to NYNY and arrived around 9:00. Suddenly the two glasses of wine my wife had at dinner – on top of the drinks in the room and the Long Island at the pool – were catching up to her, and she was very funny en route to the theater. All was good once we found our seats, however, and the pre-show antics began just a couple minutes later. We both loved the show! It was funny, sexy, had amazing acrobatics and was all-around great.

    Some of the crowd interaction bits were so funny I almost wondered if they were audience plants. There were two women on one of the front-row sofas who the emcee drag queen asked if they were lesbians. One nodded yes, the other said no but then they mentioned they had gotten married earlier in the day. So when pressed for details, they explained that apparently they were not lesbians, but decided to marry each other just because they could and they were caught up in the spirit of Vegas!

    Another guy – older guy probably in his 60s – was asked if he enjoyed the show and what he wanted to do later in the evening. His answer: “Masturbate.” The emcee asked him why he didn’t want to include the woman he was with, and it got awkward but very funny.

    After the show, we headed straight back to the M. My wife was exhausted so I put her to bed, but I wanted to experiment with shooting night shots of the Strip from our room. I got a few decent ones but from that far away, the images aren’t very crisp. One thing that I found interesting is how much that distance “condensed” the Strip while zooming in, like in this first photo below. From this angle, Mandalay Bay to Mirage looks like half a city block:

    [​IMG]IMG_2916 copy by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2917 copy by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2907 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2918 copy by Mark, on Flickr

    This one didn’t focus correctly and created a really cool bokeh of the Strip:

    [​IMG]IMG_2910 copy by Mark, on Flickr

    Once I was finished, it was around 12:30 and I found myself sitting on the couch of our room reading tringlomane’s trip report on my phone. I’d been up since about 5:45 and this had already been just about the Best Day Ever, but then reading his report inspired me to go do some gambling. I was a little bit tired and didn’t want to ruin a great day by losing a lot, so I told myself I’d go play $20 maximum and see what happens.

    I found a nickel Super Times Pay machine and slipped in a $20 and there was nothing doing. When I was down to under $5 in credits, a CW came around and I ordered a gin and tonic. (That’s how they getcha!) I depleted my $20 and put $5 more in, drank my drink and lost that $5, too. My discipline was lacking and I grabbed another $10 from my wallet and put it in the machine. Within a couple minutes, boom! Deuces with kicker!

    [​IMG]IMG_20150910_013231 by Mark, on Flickr

    I went from down almost $30 to up $12 or so. I played it down until I was up $5 and cashed out. Then I moved to a Bonus Poker machine, put in $5 and hit Aces within a couple minutes.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150910_015218 by Mark, on Flickr

    I played it down to $20 credits and cashed out, now up $20 on the trip. I’d never played Quick Quads before, so I gave that a shot and quickly lost $5 and didn’t find it fun, so I moved on. I put $5 in a 6/5 DDB nickel machine and quickly hit yet another premium 4OAK – quad 3s.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150910_022338 by Mark, on Flickr

    I cashed out for $20, adding $15 profit to my previous winnings for a total of $30. At that point I hit a wall and decided to call it a night at 2:30. For pure fun and relaxation, I think it was one of the most fun days of my life.
  3. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Day Two: Thursday, September 10, 2015 (Our Anniversary)
    Both my wife and I slept great and I stayed in bed a little later than I anticipated, not waking up until about 9:15. We lounged around for a while and then I went down to get my wife a coffee. Right at the bottom of the elevator is a beautiful bakery called Baby Cakes, so I went there. Before I left the room, I asked my wife if she wanted anything else and she said a cream puff if they have them. It turned out they did so I got a coffee and a cream puff for my wife, but I wasn’t hungry.

    [​IMG]IMG_2938 by Mark, on Flickr

    A few minutes later I realized I forgot my vacation tradition of making myself a Bloody Mary when I wake up, so then I made one, and another once my wife finished off her coffee. Eventually we condensed what was left into a plastic cup and headed for the pool. Again they greeted us warmly before my backpack was all but anally probed for contraband. (I’m not complaining; it’s just sort of comical to me how extremely thorough this guy is, and he’s very friendly while doing his job.)

    We didn’t confirm, but the way it seemed, all the daybeds and cabanas were fair game for anyone free of charge this time of year. There were no “Reserved” signs or price sheets like you see at other pools. Also, like nearby Green Valley Ranch, all of the lounge chairs (except for those in the pool, of course) are padded and super comfortable. We chose two that were partly shaded but spent most of the next hour or so in the pool. We ordered a spicy Bloody Mary from a poolside CW and it was delicious.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150910_123159 copy by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150910_115230 by Mark, on Flickr

    After a while I walked around to check out a cabana and it was really nice, with ceiling fans to keep you cool, refrigerators, sofas and even its own tiny, private pool (or jacuzzi?) in the back. I’m not sure they all had these, but the elevated ones at the far end of the pool deck did. Pretty sweet.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150910_122002 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150910_121945 by Mark, on Flickr

    While at the pool we discussed our lunch plans. Despite the fact we were having Japanese for dinner, my wife was already in the mood for sushi and knew they’d probably have some at the highly-touted hotel buffet. I had no other ideas for lunch, so I agreed we’d try the buffet.

    Around 12:30 we went back to our room to find the housekeeping cart parked outside our door. So we took that time to go get our Marquee Rewards players club cards and swiped them to see how much free play we each got. I got something like 2,300 points and my wife got 3,300, but we weren’t sure how much that meant in dollar value. Then we returned to our room, changed out of our swim attire and got ready for the buffet. Before we left, though, I got sort of a cool picture of the Strip with a giant white cloud overhead, which I tweaked to look like this:

    [​IMG]IMG_2941 copy by Mark, on Flickr

    Apparently there’s no discount at the buffet for just being a players club member, so two lunches came to something like $37 that we put on our M Resort gift card. Our VIP hotel room keycards did allow us to cut the line, which was really nice.

    [​IMG]IMG_2942 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2944 by Mark, on Flickr

    I feel like I don’t know how to do buffets right. My wife was being really adventurous and trying tiny portions of all kinds of different salads and cuisines, but for some reason I seemed to stick to the basics and ended up having a bunch of plates that looked like this:

    [​IMG]IMG_2945 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2948 by Mark, on Flickr

    One thing we did was both tried crayfish for the first time. Seems like a lot of work for a tiny bite of wannabe lobster, but now I can say I’ve had one. Overall, we both agreed Studio B was just another buffet. Nothing great, nothing terrible. I will say they deserve credit for having a wide variety of dishes from seemingly all around the world, and the price includes beer and wine, although I didn’t feel like drinking. My wife had two beers.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150910_142857 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2949 by Mark, on Flickr

    Next was an after-lunch gambling session. My free play was $8 and my wife’s was $11. We both lost the free play quickly, mine being donated to a triple play STP nickel machine. I then put $20 more in and hit these:

    [​IMG]IMG_20150910_145916 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150910_150259 by Mark, on Flickr

    However, I eventually lost that $20, reducing my winnings from the trip to just $10. When my wife found a Game King that had Cleopatra on it, I mentioned that I could sit right next to her and play VP, so we did that and I put just $5 in and hit this:

    [​IMG]IMG_20150910_152726 by Mark, on Flickr

    Another premium quad! Holy shit! I cashed out for $42, raising my winnings up to $47 for the trip! My wife didn’t fare very well, but made a nice little comeback at the end and only lost about $20 for the session.

    Around 3:45 we decided to use our day passes to Spa Mio, so we went in together but went our separate ways into the gender-specific facilities. For some reason I wasn’t that into it, but I still sampled a bit of everything they had to offer. I did a few minutes each in the sauna, jacuzzi, steam room and plunge shower. Then I took a real shower and pampered myself a bit with all the available toiletries. I actually love the way a steam room makes me feel and I left the spa after only about 45 minutes feeling rejuvenated and great.

    Anytime I had “down time” in the room, I found myself taking pictures of the Strip. So here’s another I took at this point:

    [​IMG]IMG_2952 copy by Mark, on Flickr

    For our anniversary evening, the plan went as follows: Use the Hostile Grape gift card for a few drinks, then use a MyVegas reward for a free drink at Hyde at Bellagio (right on the fountains), and then proceed to our 8:30 dinner reservation at Yonaka Modern Japanese. Around 5:00 I realized we might be a little pressed for time, so I pushed the Yonaka reservation back to 9:00, which gave us some nice breathing room that was much needed later.

    First, we went downstairs to the Hostile Grape. Until this point, all of the employees at the M Resort had been incredibly friendly, almost like programmed robots in how uniformly pleasant and welcoming they were. Until the bartender here, that is. Quite simply, he was a real dick and acted like we were bothering him by asking how this whole place operates. You see, the gift card I won was only for the self-serve wine tasting portion of the venue, but then there’s also a regular bar. It’s unlike anything we’d ever seen before, so the bartender should expect to need to explain how it works on a regular basis.

    Anyway, I got a Bombay Sapphire and tonic from the bar (wine tends to give me acid reflux, so I avoid it except for sips here and there) while my wife started using the gift card on the self-serve wine tasting contraptions. You can purchase either one-ounce, three-ounce or five-ounce pours. Clean stemware sits atop the machine and each different bottle’s price tag is displayed digitally above the bottle. It’s a great concept but seemed extremely expensive from our viewpoint.

    [​IMG]IMG_2963 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2969 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_2970 copy by Mark, on Flickr

    Having read a lot about Jordan Cabernet here on VMB (hello GChrome), I encouraged my wife to try it first. She ended up splitting the $50 card over four different three-ounce tastings: two Cabs, a Pinot Noir and a Malbec, IIRC. Aside from the cold reception, we had a lot of fun in there, although I doubt we’d ever do it on our own dime.

    Next we fetched the car from the valet, but not before I admired the M’s lobby again:

    [​IMG]IMG_2986 by Mark, on Flickr

    We drove straight to the Bellagio North Valet and hit the Mlife desk to redeem our rewards for the free drink at Hyde. (If you’re wondering why you’ve never seen this reward, it’s because it’s only available on the mobile app.) Easy peasy, and in we went. Unfortunately, however, Hyde was hosting a private event in the best section right atop the fountains. We had to settle for a sofa booth indoors with a giant TV screen showing the Pats-Steelers NFL season opener. Continuing the service pattern established at the Hostile Grape, one of the waitresses at Hyde acted like she was doing us a favor by taking our order.

    Acting on a previous waitress’s recommendation, I ordered a Hennessey-based cocktail (I can’t find it on their online menu, or at least the name doesn’t ring a bell) while my wife went for the Love Unit, which blends Absolut, Absolut Vanilla, Thai basil, fresh lime, grapefruit and “hand extracted” bell pepper juices. Our drinks arrived quickly and we each enjoyed them, especially for free. Mine was a little over the top in sweetness, while my wife’s was more nuanced and layered in flavor. I didn’t truly love either one, though. For free from MyVegas, it was awesome. We got to see three fountain shows while we were there and the last one was “Con Te Partiro,” so we couldn’t ask for anything better.

    [​IMG]IMG_3000 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_3002 by Mark, on Flickr

    Despite typical Bellagio foot congestion exacerbated by the letting out of a performance of O, we wove our way through the casino, made a quick bathroom stop and retrieved our car from the valet at around 8:55, just enough time to drive a few blocks west on Flamingo to Yonaka.

    When we arrived, they had a little two-top table reserved for us in the far corner of the restaurant. We were right on the window, but this place isn’t about the view. It’s in a strip mall with a view of an ugly parking lot, but the food easily makes up for that. The interior decor is pretty cool with walls made of wood blocks of varying depths.

    [​IMG]IMG_3032 by Mark, on Flickr

    I’d informed them it was our anniversary when I initially made the reservation, so everyone was very friendly and wished us happy anniversary. Then our waiter arrived and walked us through the menu, explaining that while they offer sushi rolls and more standard sushi fare, they really excel in more creative and modern dishes. He outlined different sections of the menu and then finally revealed that the omakase for two was only $109, so I jumped all over that. They’d bring us the best of the menu and we could sample all sorts of their specialty dishes, and it made the whole process a lot of fun. Also, my wife started with a sake and I had a Cucumber Basil Sake Martini.

    [​IMG]IMG_3018 by Mark, on Flickr

    The amuse bouche was compressed watermelon with thai basil, all swimming in some sort of sauce the waiter said would sort of set the tone for the feast to follow. It was delicious.

    [​IMG]IMG_3010 by Mark, on Flickr

    Then came an appetizer of crispy brussels sprouts with lemon chili, mint and puffed rice. Very good!

    [​IMG]IMG_3016 by Mark, on Flickr

    Next was a dish called Sake Orenji, Scottish salmon with oranges, some sort of roe, yuzu, orange oil and micro greens on top. Until you’ve tasted this dish, you don’t know the limits of what “freshness” can feel like in your mouth. This might have been a case of the opening band stealing the show from the headliner, as this was one of my favorite dishes of the entire evening. (And I typically am not even a fan of salmon sushi!) Simply one of the best things I have ever eaten. Already the meal and experience was worth $109.

    [​IMG]IMG_3019 by Mark, on Flickr

    The next offering was tuna based and on paper, sounded delicious. It had thinly sliced cucumber, some onion, some crispy scallions IIRC, jalapeno and mint. But for some reason, it just didn’t all come together very well. It, too, was extremely fresh tasting, but it seemed like it was lacking any real flavor. It was almost like everything was too fresh and canceled the other flavors out. I wouldn’t categorize it as “bad,” but it was a slight disappointment after the previous dish being so wonderful.

    [​IMG]IMG_3022 by Mark, on Flickr

    They redeemed themselves in the next round, sending out a yellowtail dish called Hamachi Midori. This was another candidate for “best of the evening,” highlighted by a green herb dressing so bursting with flavor and freshness that it was almost unbelievable. A+ again here.

    [​IMG]IMG_3023 by Mark, on Flickr

    My wife had finished her sake and opted for a Sake Berry Mojito next. It was good but almost too sweet. More like dessert than a beverage, chock full of smashed sweetened berries.

    [​IMG]IMG_3031 by Mark, on Flickr

    The next course took quite a while to arrive, but it proved to be worth the wait. It was a simple presentation of two varieties of sushi, one that was salmon belly and another that our waiter said was flounder, or similar to flounder. I ate the flounder one first and it had the softest, richest texture of any sushi I think I’ve ever eaten, almost like butter. The salmon belly was perhaps even better, as it turned out to be slightly smoked and incredibly delicious.

    [​IMG]IMG_3035 by Mark, on Flickr

    A palate cleanser came next in the form of two tiny mint-cantaloupe popsicles.

    [​IMG]IMG_3038 by Mark, on Flickr

    The omakase now turned to hot foods and first up were skewers of wagyu filet with a Thai chimichurri sauce. Unfathomably tender and packed full of flavor, this one also vied for best dish of the night.

    [​IMG]IMG_3040 copy by Mark, on Flickr

    Our last pre-dessert course was Yonaka’s “Meat Candy,” a caramel glazed kurobuta pork belly with kimchee apples, all served atop a base of smoked tofu peanut butter puree. For a tasting menu, this was a very large portion and my wife was getting stuffed, so I ate most of this. I thought it was good, but nowhere near as interesting or sophisticated as everything that had preceded it. It actually tasted quite a bit like when you dip a breakfast sausage in your maple syrup.

    [​IMG]IMG_3041 by Mark, on Flickr

    Earlier our great waiter tried to get us to indicate a dessert preference, but I said I would lean toward chocolate while my wife preferred something in the green tea realm. I guess they decided to be nice because they ended up bringing us two different (both gigantic) desserts to round out the meal. One was their “Best of Vegas”-winning Choco 10 Ways, while the other is called Greenies on their menu. We also got tiny mugs of strawberry-white chocolate soup, which tasted like warm strawberry milk that was so comforting it wrapped you in a blanket and rocked you to sleep. Nearly everything on the Choco 10 Ways plate was delicious, on the Greenies plate had two standouts: a green tea brownie packed with melting chocolate chips, and a super-refreshing strawberry-basil ice cream.

    [​IMG]IMG_3048 by Mark, on Flickr

    They brought us some Yuzu shortbread cookies as petit fours with the check, which came to only $151 for one of the most mind-blowing meals we’ve ever eaten. I urge everyone reading this to try Yonaka on their next Vegas trip. You won’t be disappointed. If it was on the Strip, it would be 3X the price and super popular.

    [​IMG]IMG_3049 by Mark, on Flickr

    We made it back to our room by around 11:30, spent the remainder of our anniversary together and then my wife decided to go to sleep around 12:30. I wasn’t too tired, so I decided to go do some gambling. Ouch. I had a disastrous 70-minute session where I glued myself to a Triple Play Double STP DDB nickel machine. I lost one $20 bill after another and was down $120 on the night before I finally hit a quad.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150911_011914 by Mark, on Flickr

    It really seemed like throughout this session, anytime I already had a winning hand, it almost never improved on the draw on any of the three hands. I only got dealt three of a kind twice and didn’t convert either one. I had several four-to-a-straight flush opportunities but nothing came through. I ended up losing $140 on the night, which brought my trip total to down $93. Around 2:00 am I returned to the room and sunk into bed. Despite the dismal gambling results, I had to remind myself it had been another fantastic day.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2015
  4. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Day Three: Friday, September 11, 2015

    With Friday being the last day of our trip, I wanted to make sure I didn’t sleep as late as the previous day and I got up around 8:00. This gave me a chance to roam the property while my wife kept sleeping, although in doing so I realized the M Resort really isn’t very large at all. Here are a few pictures I took during my walkabout:

    [​IMG]IMG_3060 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_3061 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_3062 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_3070 by Mark, on Flickr

    Check-out time was 11:00 and my wife started the day with some coffee from Baby Cakes again, while I had a Bloody Mary. We finally used the tub (mostly just to say we used it) and checked out right on time. At this point we had about $25 remaining on our M Resort gift card, so we bought our daughter some cookies at Baby Cakes and then picked out a few souvenirs for the kids and a thank you gift for my mother-in-law at a gift shop inside the hotel. It turned out the gift shop didn’t accept the gift card, so we had about $12 to spend and decided to watch the end of Serena Williams’ U.S. Open defeat :-( at a casino bar, where my wife got a melon margarita.

    [​IMG]IMG_3072 by Mark, on Flickr

    Around noon we said goodbye to the M, which had treated us great and really won us over, even if the whole trip hadn’t been won in a contest. It’s a beautiful property with a great staff.

    We drove down to the Strip and valeted at Monte Carlo to use a Buy One-Get One Free MyVegas reward at Double Barrel Roadhouse for lunch. On our way in, a woman out front handed us a coupon for a $3 “second drink” when the first is purchased at full price. So we each got a beer (Stella for her/Landshark for me) and ordered our food. My wife went for the pork street tacos while I chose fried chicken for some dumb reason. The big bummer was the two things we loved here on our last trip – fried pickles and ahi tuna lettuce wraps – are either no longer on the menu or only on the dinner menu.

    [​IMG]IMG_3075 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_3080 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_3081 by Mark, on Flickr

    My wife’s tacos were really great – the pork had an incredibly smokey flavor – but my fried chicken was just okay, although their fries are fantastic. Then our waiter claimed because we were using the MyVegas reward, he couldn’t also apply the coupon for the $3 drink, so all three beers we had were full price. It’s only a $5 difference but it pissed me off. In my opinion, MyVegas rewards shouldn’t be treated like coupons, they should be treated like comps.

    We left Double Barrel with about an hour to kill before our next stop, James Turrell’s Akhob exhibit at the Louis Vuitton store at Crystals, where I had reserved a 2:30 appointment several weeks earlier. We’d been wanting to see the Lucky Cat at Cosmo, so we headed that way, but first we stopped to take some photos of Aria/Veer/etc.

    [​IMG]IMG_3087 by Mark, on Flickr

    When we arrived at the Cosmopolitan, we realized the Lucky Cat exhibit doesn’t open until 4:00 pm, so we were shut out. But my wife did buy a Art-o-Mat item and we discussed the possibility of returning after Akhob for a Verbena at Chandelier.

    [​IMG]IMG_3091 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_3094 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_3095 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_3096 by Mark, on Flickr

    With still a few minutes to spare, we sat down and played a little electronic roulette and I won $10. Now I was only down $83 on the trip.

    We arrived at the Louis Vuitton store and were greeted by the store’s Art Coordinator, Johana. As a “pre-game” of sorts, she walked us all through the store to show us various works of art that are part of the regular retail space. Frankly, none of them were very impressive to us and it was a bit awkward feigning interest. Then she took us onto the elevator and punched in a secret code to access whatever floor the Akhob exhibit resides on. The doors opened to a darkened space where two additional employees, both dressed head-to-toe in white, greeted us. They sat us on a couch and gave us a brief education on Turrell’s art and what we were about to experience. We were asked to sign liability waivers and it all felt very structured and a bit like we were enrolling in a cult, but we forged ahead anyway.

    Thankfully, the end result was worth all that awkwardness. The Akhob exhibit is unique, to say the least. You climb about seven stairs into a circular entryway into the first room, which is glowing with colored light. Then you proceed down one stair into a larger room much like the first. One final room filled with light exists beyond that, but it’s inaccessible to visitors. At this point the two white-clad employees stand by to ensure you don’t accidentally fall off the six-foot ledge that extends into the larger, inaccessible room. They then encouraged us to “explore the space,” but there’s not really anywhere to go. The whole exhibit is based on something called the Ganzfeld Effect, in which light and shapes play tricks on your mind to create the illusion of being in an infinite, limitless space. It’s pretty cool, but both my wife and I wished the exhibit could be experienced without the two employee onlookers staring at us the whole time. Considering it’s free and unlike anything you’ve likely done before, I recommend it, but also recommend tempering your expectations with those caveats in mind.

    There is no photography allowed once you’re at the Akhob portion of the tour, but you can see images on Turrell’s website here: http://jamesturrell.com/artwork/akhob/.

    Afterward, we trekked back to Chandelier and found a great two-person booth on the edge of the top level. We ordered a Verbena to split, but once it arrived and the waitress explained how to consume it and the buzz button, we realized we each needed one. The problem was I didn’t want to drink anymore with a four-hour drive home on the horizon. Then the waitress told us we could just buy one addition buzz button flower instead of another whole drink. Perfect! The Verbena itself was $16-something and the extra buzz button was $2.16. For $23 total with tip, this was quite an interesting experience!

    [​IMG]IMG_3088 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_3102 copy by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_3100 copy by Mark, on Flickr

    You take a sip of the drink, then eat the entire buzz button, stem and all. After about 10 seconds, you start to get a tingling sensation in your mouth that is very unusual and sorta fun. The best way I can explain it is that the inside of my mouth felt like it was foaming up like a snail would if you sprinkled salt on it. But that wasn’t actually happening, it just felt like it. The waitress joked with us that it will last about seven hours, but then said in reality maybe 10-20 minutes. It was very fun and highly recommended. I got some water a few minutes later and every sip almost felt like it re-activated the buzz button qualities.

    The afternoon was getting late and we had a long drive ahead of us, but we still wanted to get in a little more gambling before heading home. I went back to the roulette machine I’d won $10 on earlier and put in a $20 with the idea that would be the last of my gambling budget if I lost. My wife went off to play various slots.

    With $3 minimums on roulette, I played five hands ($3, $3, $4, $3, $3) with no wins and found myself down to my last $4 bet of the trip. If you’ve read my previous trip reports, you might recall 11 is my roulette “go-to” number and I always have something on it. Well it saved me once again, although this time I didn’t even see the ball drop in. I just saw the wheel circle around with the ball already in the 11 slot. I turned on my camera just in time to shoot this picture:

    [​IMG]IMG_3103 by Mark, on Flickr

    I played one more hand, lost the $3 and cashed out for $60. Suddenly I was only down $43 for the whole trip. I then found a nickel DDB machine (6/5, ugh) but it required 10 credits for max bet. Oh well, what the hell, we’re playing whatever we can find before we need to head home. I put in a $20 and before long, boom, quad 3s for $40 more!

    [​IMG]IMG_20150911_160146 by Mark, on Flickr

    My credits got up to $53 at one point but I played it down to $40 and cashed out for another $20 win.

    At one point in that session, I got dealt this full boat:
    [​IMG]IMG_20150911_160742 by Mark, on Flickr

    With my luck on fire and time dwindling to “hit it big,” I ditched the deuces and went for the 4 aces, but struck out. Oh well, I lost that $1.50 difference but it was fun.

    I was very happy with today’s hot streak, which brought my total losses to the trip to only $23. Felt like a win after the previous night, and especially after the Hail Mary on the roulette wheel. My wife didn’t fare as well and probably lost around $30 or $40 at Cosmo, so she was ready to call it quits.

    Good news! By now the Lucky Cat was open, and we each got our fortunes!

    [​IMG]IMG_3106 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_3110 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_3111 by Mark, on Flickr

    We walked back to Monte Carlo (walking the Strip on a carefree midday with a loved one is so fun, isn’t it?) and got our car from the valet around 4:45. Our drive home was exceptionally smooth and we made it home by around 8:30. Not only did we do everything we had planned, but we also got in some good gambling time, “experienced” the Verbena and finally met the Lucky Cat! What a day! What a trip! Aside from some huge jackpots in the casino, I’m not sure how this trip could have been any better!

    Thanks for reading!
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

    Jul 22, 2015
    The Island
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for the great report! Excellent pics, too!
  6. john1516inny

    john1516inny Low-Roller

    Aug 19, 2008
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Really enjoyed reading your trip report, seems like you had a great time. Happy Anniversary!!
  7. rscpa

    rscpa Low-Roller

    Sep 21, 2011
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thank you for the trip report and the fantastic photos. Really enjoyed it!
  8. Sam610

    Sam610 Low-Roller

    Aug 24, 2015
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for this report - I've really enjoyed reading it. Your photos are gorgeous and it sounds like a perfect anniversary get away for you both! :)

    CALELLA Low-Roller

    Dec 30, 2013
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Great trip report and excellent photos, enjoyed reading it.
  10. Elf70

    Elf70 High-Roller

    Aug 20, 2013
    South Carolina
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    What a great suite! Glad you has such a nice trip. Thanks for sharing your photos.
  11. WHU66

    WHU66 High-Roller

    Sep 11, 2014
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Great report and photos, glad you had a lovely anniversary!
    Caesars Virgin
    Vow renwal
  12. Flowers

    Flowers VIP Whale

    Mar 29, 2014
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    What a fabulous trip and trip report! Thanks for writing for all of the tips and happy anniversary!
    Celebrating Life, Family + Friends in Our Beloved Vegas + the Great SW
  13. Sissyboy_Deuce

    Sissyboy_Deuce Tourist

    Jun 29, 2014
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Amazing detail and pics, thanks for writing it up!
  14. Packer Backer

    Packer Backer Low-Roller

    Dec 17, 2012
    Cornell, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    What a Great trip report. I have always wanted to try the M Resort out and you have made it sound like a must do for my next trip.
    Glad you had a fantabulous anniversary.... :peace:
  15. IM ALL IN

    IM ALL IN High-Roller

    Aug 3, 2015
    Vancouver BC
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    I'm so freaking hungry now...Good report. And at least I know where the M Resort is.
  16. freez111

    freez111 Low-Roller

    Nov 14, 2011
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    great TR! thanks for sharing!
  17. ColoradoJohn

    ColoradoJohn Low-Roller

    Apr 6, 2010
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Great report and pics. The M should be happy that you really showcased the resort. It is one of our favorites! Nice job! Thanks.
  18. jpw711

    jpw711 Is that your cat?

    Mar 10, 2009
    Southwest Missouri
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    great trip report, enjoyed the pictures!
    surely this won't go kaput
  19. thecarve

    thecarve Misanthrope

    Aug 24, 2009
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Sounds like you guys had a great anniversary trip. Thanks for the report and all the fantastic pics. Love the strip panoramas and the "condensed" one that makes MB and Cosmo look like neighbors!
  20. katmu

    katmu Well-Known Member

    Jan 11, 2010
    Great trip report and photos.

    Congrats on the anniversary!
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