WARNING. As any who have read my previous trip reports would expect, this is a very long report with lots of detail. It includes a lot of information about the flights and starts with an overnight in Los Angeles. I produce these reports so that I have a full record of our holiday but hope that some readers might find snippets of interest. Background This is the 'How difficult can it be to get to Vegas' trip report. It was first envisaged as a nice straightforward return trip with British Airways. A delay in me being able to book meant that a simple London-Vegas return trip was no longer possible. No problem â€“ travel out via LA with Air New Zealand, return via LA with BA. Flights booked, time to relax. Oh no, BA strike, potential impact on return flight. This could join the list of holidays affected by hospitalisation, death, bankruptcy (not ours!), schedule changes and the rest over the last 3 years. Rebook return flight with Continental via Houston. Add 2 more nights to holiday. That's OK, time to relax and anticipate another trip. 6 days before trip â€“ volcano eruption in Iceland. What has that got to do with my flight from London Heathrow? All flights from Heathrow are grounded due to volcanic ash over UK. Thur/Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon/Tue all flights cancelled. Our flight is Wednesday!! By Tuesday afternoon I have alternative flights and accommodation booked for May. I call to cancel the April flights but the agent wants to charge me to cancel my booking for the following day as the flight has not yet been cancelled. After some to and fro I decide to just leaves things until tomorrow when I can cancel for no fee once the outward flight is cancelled by the airline. So by Tuesday 3pm I have still not cancelled the flight for Wednesday, although there seems little prospect of travelling. I told Mrs T that we would cancel by now but find that the hotels, parking, cattery and so on can all be put on hold without penalty. It's becoming tedious waiting for news updates so I suggest we just pack for the hell of it â€“ we can just unpack in the morning. We settle down to dinner around 7pm. At 9pm we check the news â€“ breaking news is that UK airspace is to reopen at 10pm!!! We go to bed with the prospect of flying on Wednesday after flights have been grounded for 6 days. Surely we cannot be that lucky. Wednesday 21 April Wednesday 7am â€“ on the telephone to Air New Zealand. Our flight is set to go and our seats are confirmed. Domestic arrangements completed, final packing and we are on the road at 11am. We have not had the usual relaxed build up to the holiday and the anticipation of the trip but we are pleased to be on our way. The drive to London Heathrow is easy enough and we are parked up before 1pm,waiting for our valet parking to appear. The car is handed over, check-in at a very quiet terminal is completed and lots of dollars are collected. The terminal is so quiet that we are looking for fast track security before we notice that the line is roped off and there are just 2 passengers in the regular line. The BMI lounge has reduced the goodies, with no ice cream or the delicious chunky chocolate bars they used to offer but there is still enough for a decent lunch. A couple of glasses of red wine go down well and then it is time for the trek to the departure gate. We arrive just as boarding is commencing and walk on to the 'plane without breaking our stride. This is our third flight in Business Class with Air New Zealand. Each time we have been able to reserve seats 1A/1K in the nose of the plane. The best seats on the aircraft IMO. I have read reports that people have been unable to reserve these seats or that, when they have, they have been moved to other seats, but we have never had any problems. A pre-departure glass of bubbly and everything seems fine. Then an announcement that the airline has been unable to load the usual food because of the previous flight ban. No!!!!!!! A short time into the flight the First Officer comes round to assure us that the pilots have not seen any volcanic ash! That is all a distant memory by now. As it happens the food is OK. No pre-dinner nibbles, no lemon for the G&T, some confusion over the bakery, a strange combination starter, no choice of dessert and no cheese & biscuits or mini box of chocs. But plenty of wine, dessert wine and port. When I start giggling over the non-availability of a raspberry compote I know I have had enough to drink. The plan is to watch 'Up In The Air' but, part way through, my picture breaks up so I leave Mrs T to watch the rest while I get the laptop out to start the trip report. This is the first time I have brought the laptop. It is quite a novelty having access to all my Vegas files and being able to charge the laptop, courtesy of Air New Zealand. Dozing, chatting and eating completes the journey. We have already been warned that the scones have not been loaded. No scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. It is a sad day! Even in Business Class, 11 hours on an airplane is a long time. The Air New Zealand seats/'suites' are excellent, as is the service, but it is hard to arrive at around 3am UK time, looking good and feeling good. I suppose the booze does not help but, as Oscar Wilde put it, the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. Speedy immigration and bag collection sees us in a taxi to the Holiday Inn Express near the airport. I have booked a free night using some points I collected. The hotel was renovated last year and the rooms are fine. Straight to bed with an early start tomorrow. Thursday 22 April Up early, complimentary buffet breakfast and a speedy hotel shuttle back to LAX. We take the sneaky shortcut to bypass the ridiculously long security line at T1 and are airside with lots of time to spare. We are denied access to the US Airways lounge, although we used it last trip. They have tightened up the rules and we are not expecting to get in, but a polite enquiry only takes a few minutes. Our 8.30 flight is on time. The aircraft is a very basic, single class regional jet. We have been moved to the bulkhead seats at the front and are in the first group to board so no complaints for a very short flight. As we approach McCarran we can see that it is raining heavily. A cabin announcement informs us that it is 58Â°. We can get cold and wet in England, thank you very much. Baggage reclaim seems to take forever, which gives us opportunity to notice the long snaking line for taxis. Standing in line in the cold and wet is not our idea of a fun start to the holiday so we head out the opposite side of the baggage area and pick up a sedan. Very comfortable and plenty of space for 2, Mrs T says that she actually prefers the sedan to a limo. We are even more pleased with our decision when we get held up on Paradise because of an incident at the junction with Flamingo. Our driver does a U turn, gets in at the back of Paris, turns right from a left turn only lane and delivers us safely at Bally's. I am not sure what a standard tip is for a walk up sedan. 15-20% seems low, the standard $20 limo tip a bit high. I give the driver $50 for the $38 fare and he seems happy enough. Bally's is a new hotel for us. With the exception of a couple of nights at Mirage, all our previous stays have been at Bellagio & Wynn/Encore. Most of those stays have been in suites but my gambling has dropped off and so have the comps. I could not find any great rates for the week and when my Total Rewards account showed 5 nights comped and $100/night for the weekend at Bally's, we decided to give it a go. It all seems very generous based on the 176 Reward Credits I earned for a little VP at Harrah's last trip. Only a small line at check-in. $20 and a polite request gets us moved from the South Tower to a 'Junior Suite' in the North Tower. We are very pleased with the room. It is certainly not a suite but a nice large room with an additional vanity area outside the bathroom. Are these the standard rooms in the North Tower or a slightly enhanced version, I wonder? The view from 17th floor is over Flamingo Road and the back of the strip casinos. To the right we have the LV Hilton and the mountains. To the left Barbary Bills and Caesars. Not a bad view at all. I do a quick pros/cons list, comparing Bally's with the likes of Bellagio & Wynn. Some of these are not real issues for us, but might be of interest to those considering a stay at Bally's. Pros Large room Vanity area outside bathroom Hanging space Marble bathrooms Decent toiletries Huge comfy bed Large windows Cons Combined tub/shower Shallow bath No hair conditioner No robes/slippers Small pillows Linens not as fine as some places CRT TV Desk chipped Some carpet stains in vanity area $3/day charge for use of safe No automatic drapes No turndown service No newspaper delivery Bally's is not a beautiful hotel. It does not have the elegance of a Bellagio or a Wynn. It does not have the upscale restaurants. But nothing about it feels rundown, the location is great, the link to Paris is handy and all the staff we encountered were friendly and helpful. Housekeeping was totally reliable â€“ our room was always cleaned by the time we got back in the afternoon. The casino was buzzing every night we were there with a live band performing in the lounge. $200 for 7 nights was superb but I would still have been happy for several hundred more. We will almost certainly be back next trip. Anyway, we are checked in to our room and it is still morning. Plenty of time to unpack and settle in, then time to hit the casino for some VP. We only play JOB and BP and the best that Bally's can offer at the 25c level is 7/5 BP. We find a bank down the bottom of the casino. Mrs T gets 4 aces after just a few hands and we are off to a great start. After about 15 minutes I am dealt KQJ spades. The draw brings AT spades for my first Royal. Yeeeeesssss!!! Not just a Royal Flush, we are playing a suited Royals progressive. The payout for a spade Royal is $1300. The magic words â€œJackpot. Call Attendantâ€ greet my eyes. I hit the call button. Time for another drink. My machine is silent so there are no bells or whistles while it is bumping up 5200 credits. The paperwork takes forever to complete but should cover me for any future wins over $1200. I am presented with the full $1300. I can cope with the $25 I was down before the Royal. Time to stretch the legs so we walk up to Harrah's and play a little more. Enough to pick up a free T-shirt. I foolishly ask for XL. The T-shirt will double as a duvet cover. I see Mrs T back to the room and leave her to catch up with news from 'Fair and Balanced' Fox News. That one gives me a chuckle every time I see or hear it. I head off for a bit more Vegas time, just having a wander round Flamingo and over to Bellagio, checking out the VP paytables. Then back to catch up with Mrs T. It is too cold for our original plan of eating on the patio at Olives so we head up to Cheesecake Factory, arriving just in time to catch the Atlantis show. This is a new one for us. The show is fun to see once but I would not plan a trip around it. A 10 minute wait at Cheesecake Factory becomes 20 before we are seated in a pleasant booth. We share a starter, pizza and a cheesecake. The food is surprisingly good, the pizza is superb. Service is friendly but typically US fast food demoniacally quick and efficient. So the waitress is asking for our order 30 seconds after we have been presented with a 20 page menu, the starter arrives as we are nibbling at the bread basket, the main course arrives as the last bite of starter is being chewed, the plates are cleared and the dessert menu appears as the last slice of pizza leaves the mouth. Quick order, quick delivery to table and the check is there before the seat is warm. Wham bam thank you maam. 3 course meal with a glass of wine each, in and out in an hour. Perhaps it's what some diners want, more Vegas time and all that. I'm sure it's what the restaurant wants with people waiting to be seated. It's not what we want. Bill is $53 with tax and tip. No complaints there. I see Mrs T back to Bally's and do a quick 180Â° turn to head for Mirage and some 'serious' gambling. It is so serious that I am $900 down in 5 minutes at the double deck BJ table. I move tables and make the $900 back fairly quickly but my heart is not in it. Perhaps I am not a 'serious' gambler any longer, just happy to throw around some small stakes and have a good time. At any rate, I colour up and take a walk back to Bally's, pleased with the relative warmth of the casino after the cool temperature outside. I am still looking for more gambling action. The craps tables are buzzing so I head that way. This is a new game for me but I have done enough research not to make a fool of myself. I just bet $10 on the pass line and back it up with $10 odds. Nice and simple. It is fun being the shooter but none of the players are able to hold on to the dice for long and I lose most of my modest buy-in before calling it a day. The vanity area in the room is great to dump my stuff before freshening up and sliding into bed without disturbing Mrs T too much. Friday 23 April We enjoy the buffets for breakfast in Vegas. Paris is first choice today but a long line outside puts us off. Down to PH where we find just a few people in front of us. We have coupons for $5 off so $10.80 all-in for the decent Spice Market breakfast buffet is good value. We spot several people wearing the 24 hours buffet of buffets 'artery lining' wristband. It's actually a good deal for buffet aficionados but do people really wear the wristband all day and night, in bed, in the shower? A quick return to the room and we are back on the strip. The bridge over from Bally's to Barbary Bills seems to be full of water sellers, buskers and beggars. Far more than we have ever seen before. This continues for the rest of our stay. VP at Flamingo (and another T-shirt) and Harrah's, then on to Venetian. This place appears to be a VP wasteland. I cannot even find 7/5 BP. I check the high limit area but that is no better. Absolutely ridiculous. Palazzo is just as bad so we head over to Wynn. I have always loved this place, despite the fact that I have lost big bucks at BJ here over the years. Perhaps VP will be more rewarding. We settle in for a nice quiet session of 25c BP and a few drinks. I drop $30 but Mrs T loses $140!! I tell her that losing $140 at 25c VP takes some doing but I am not sure that helps much. It really is ridiculous though. We walk back though Palazzo and Venetian and stop off at Casino Royale for some full pay BP. Mrs T is interested in watching craps for a short while so I buy-in for a quick session. This goes well and I make $90, betting $5 on the pass line with $15/16 odds. Back to Bally's to freshen up and then up to Harrah's for a brief craps session before dinner. I break even and we cross over to Mirage for CPK. We like this place as it has a decent selection for veggies. We share a starter and a couple of plates as a main course, skipping dessert. An inexpensive bottle of wine and the bill comes in at $75 with tax and tip. Service speed is much more to our liking. We will be back here again. Back at Bally's I take my leave of Mrs T to hit the craps table. It does not go well so I wander over to the poker room to put my name down for $3/6 limit. After about 15 minutes a new table is started. This seems to be a well managed room with decent tables and dealers. The players are solid enough, no reckless players or drunks. I play for about 2 hours and drop $23. Saturday 24 April Breakfast on the patio at Mon Ami Gabi. It is just a touch chilly but bearable. Good service, omelette and coffee for 2 costing $38 with tax and tip. VP at Flamingo earns another T-shirt with Mrs T hitting 4 aces again for a good profit. On to Harrah's for another T-shirt. Mrs T hits 4 aces again during a short session and is doing really well overall. Over to Mirage for the tram to TI and Fashion Show Mall. We often find something to buy here but not this time so on to Wynn for some redemptive VP. No redemption for me as I drop $100. I am not sure I can bear any gambling at Wynn in future! We decide to save our feet so get a taxi back to Bally's. Very slow on the strip on a Saturday afternoon. Mrs T again bails me out at VP and retires with her winnings. I decide to tick off another must-do and head out the back of Bally's, down Flamingo Road to Ellis Island. I wonder whether I will just walk in and walk out again but I feel comfortable immediately. I pick up a 20oz amber ale microbrew for $1.50, which is delicious, and take a wander round the casino. The place is tiny but I can see the attraction. Cheap beer, cheap restaurant and low stakes gambling. I spot some JOB VP machines. Not only do they pay 9/6 but 90 for a straight flush for 100% return. Stakes are 1c or 5c!! BJ is $5 minimum. I decide to give it a go and buy in for $150, betting $15/hand. I am the big bettor until someone buys in for $200. He sits out a few hands until placing a bet of around $40. Dealer shouts out â€œchecks playâ€. Classic. For anyone not familiar with BJ, â€œchecks playâ€ is the method by which a dealer notifies the pit boss of a bet that is clearly out of keeping with a players usual betting pattern. You don't hear it that often. A $25 bettor might have to suddenly bet several hundred before a dealer would call the bet. $40 on a $5 table is of no consequence, except at Ellis Island. I get another beer and have a decent fun session before cashing out for $315. Expecting to receive 3 black chips I am surprised when I get a stack of green chips. There are no $100 chips in the tray! The cashier even calls to check the payout before giving me the notes. What a place. Back to Bally's for a change of clothes and I set off to Bellagio for dinner with Mrs T. I check with Olives whether they can seat us on the patio and find that they can, but not for 90 minutes. We had anticipated something like this so make the reservation and take a wander round Bellagio, checking out the conservatory display and the new tram through City Centre. We still have some time before dinner so settle in at a smart VP bar for some 25c BP. The paytable is 6/5 for BP. I would not play that on the casino floor but I can make an exception at a nice bar at Bellagio. A very large glass of wine each and we are on our way to Olives. Our seats on the patio give a good view of the fountains. The meal is well paced with good service, despite the wine waiter breaking a glass on the table just as she is presenting the wine. Everything is removed and replaced very quickly and we start again. The salad is very tasty, the gnocchi a bit heavy, the shared souffle dessert delicious. The wine is excellent and the whole lot comes in at $170 with tax & tip. I would not pay Olives prices to eat inside, but feel we are paying a supplement for patio seating, like eating outside in a cafe in Paris or Venice. A stroll back to Bally's. Mrs T retires while I give craps another go. This time things go well and I finish up $80. They have good crews at the craps tables at Bally's, friendly and welcoming. That's enough for today. Sunday 25 April I'm thinking this is the best chance for the Paris buffet, before the Sunday brunch begins. There appears to be a small line outside but we overhear the lady behind us saying that it is about a 30 minute wait from this point. We do not come to Vegas to wait in line so head off to PH and get seated almost immediately. A quick regroup after breakfast and then over to Bellagio and the tram to Monte Carlo, connecting to Aria. It's a smart place but all the grey and the subdued lighting does not quite do it for us. The cocktail waitress dresses rival those of Wynn, which is a plus. A walk through Monte Carlo and on to NYNY. I cannot quite explain why, but I have always felt comfortable here. Today we are here to identify and exploit the full pay 25c JOB. We track them down behind the reception area and settle in. Full pay or not, I cannot hit anything and give up when $50 down. Mrs T balances out my losses as usual. Time for another first so we get a taxi to Orleans. This place is just huge. Bank after bank of VP machines but difficult to track down full pay BP. I thought 8/5 BP was the norm here but obviously not. After spending some time wandering around and checking paytables we give up and sit at a bar, which does have 8/5. I hit a straight flush early on which ensures I end with a profit. It's not that exciting hitting a SF at BP, because the payout is lower than for 4 aces, but I'll take it without complaint. After a couple of drinks we decide to move on and try the shuttle back to Barbary Bills. The first shuttle is full. We wait about 10 minutes and are on the verge of heading for the taxi line when another shuttle appears and delivers us back to the strip. I set up the internet connection in the room and leave Mrs T to have a browse while I head off for some poker. No $3/6 game running at Bally's so over to Bellagio. I get seated immediately at $4/8 limit and play for a couple of hours, making $87. Back to Bally's to get ready for dinner. Bally's has an Italian restaurant called Al Dente. It looks like a smart place and the menu has several veggie options so we decide to give it a go. Even better, there is a fixed price menu at $19.99. Salad with spicy tomato dressing, angel hair pasta with marinara sauce and tiramisu. Salad and dessert are OK, pasta is very good, although it's hard to go wrong with pasta & sauce. The hostess is very welcoming, the rest of the service is just OK. With a glass of wine each, the meal costs $72 with tax & tip. Good value. After dinner we play VP for a while, both having a poor session. Mrs T goes back to the room while I have another losing session at craps. Still waiting for the big momentum at the craps table. Monday 26 April Mrs T wants something fairly light for breakfast. Crepes seem like a good idea so we try out La Creperie at Paris. It's just a walk up place where you can get a crepe and coffee to eat at the tables at the side. Not that cheap at $9.99 each but we have a tasty crepe with lots of berries (and cream) which keeps us going all day. Today has been identified as monorail day in our very loose itinerary. Out the back of Bally's, we pick up a day ticket for $14. Another first for us, we enjoy the ride out the back of the casinos up to LV Hilton. We have a wander around the casino for a while and then settle in the sportsbook for some 25c 9/6 JOB. Mrs T gets well into profit but then drops back. I tread water and we cashout with us both breaking even. We both feel comfortable at Hilton but there is not much action on a Monday morning. I am slightly surprised when Mrs T takes me up on my proposal to go one more stop north on the monorail to check out Sahara . I cannot resist signing up for a Players Card, which comes with a drink coupon and a promise of a souvenir glass and another drink for a small amount of play. Off to the VP bar, which has a surprising display of top shelf liquor. Bombay Sapphire and tonic please. No. Tanqueray? No, just well drinks. OK, I'll have a beer, Sam Adams please. No, don't have that. He opens up the fridge and I spy Newcastle Brown. Last choice before I give up. Yes, no problem. Mrs T gets a first choice of red wine. I'm happy with my beer and the bartender is friendly so it is all a comfortable experience. We play for a while at the somewhat battered machines and earn the points required for the promotion. I pick up the voucher for a free glass and drink. I have to return to the bar for these. The glass is plastic and frosted. Having learned my lesson on the free drinks I hand over both drinks coupons and exit with 2 bottles of water. Sahara is OK. It is not dirty. It does not smell. It is over 50 years old and a bit frayed around the edges. Even at the lower end of the market, I cannot see that it offers tourists anything that is not available at better quality on the strip or downtown. But the place survives, perhaps it is able to entice the locals. Time for us to get back to Bally's and hit the pool. It's not a great pool but it's not bad. It is just a big rectangle and the views of the monorail are not the most inspiring. But the landscaping is decent with palm trees around the pool. The best thing is that there are plenty of chairs available, although it is tricky finding some shade. After a swim we settle with a huge cocktail each and enjoy the warmth. Mrs T is tucked away in the shade but I am more exposed. She saves me later as I am dozing off in the hot sun. Time to cool down. I leave Mrs T relaxing in the room while I head out again. I have no definite plans but find myself in Barbary Bills, adding to my Players Card collection. The $5 craps lures me in but one seven out follows another without a point being hit and my $100 buy-in disappears. I tuck my tail between my legs and check on Mrs T. Tonight the monorail delivers us to MGM. A stroll through the casino, stopping off to see the lions, with just a passing glance at the dancing ladies in the Centrifuge Bar, sees us on the bridge over to NYNY and dinner at Il Fornaio. It's almost worth eating here just for the delicious breads and oil but we add on a salad each and a shared veggie pizza. A glass of tasty red wine each but no dessert and a bill of $65 including tax & tip. Service is very good. Time to get my own back on those 9/6 JOB machines but no, I drop another $50. That is enough for now. The duelling pianos are in full swing as we pass by so we stop for a couple of songs. They seem to be having a great time inside. I can imagine giving it a go after a few drinks but I doubt I can convince Mrs T. She rightly points out that I would not know the words to many of the big American rock anthems. Something something half way there, something something living on a prayer. There you go, I could do it. The stroll back up the strip becomes something of a yomp now that City Centre has been built. Two sets of steps and bridges just to get to Bellagio. I notice that Aria is fairly easily accessible from the strip, certainly easier than getting out the back of Bellagio for the tram. We arrive in front of Bellagio just as a fountain show is starting and lucky for us, 'Time To Say Goodbye'. I can always stop for this one even if I pass on others. Although we have seen the fountains from many vantage points, nothing beats standing against the balustrade on the strip. Back at Bally's, Mrs T heads for the room but I am not ready to call it a day. I decide to see what the action is like in the Paris casino at night. Along the way I pass the duelling pianos at Napoleons. An older crowd than NYNY and much more subdued. Everyone is seated, although they look as though they are enjoying it. I will have to check out Harrah's piano bar next trip. Paris casino is quieter than Bally's so, after a good walk round, I stroll back to Bally's. My dogs are barking, to quote John Candy, so I call it a day. Tuesday 27 April People continue to be happy to wait for 30 minutes or longer for the Paris buffet so we walk over to the Bellagio buffet and get straight in. It's a great breakfast buffet with bowls of berries, strawberries and cream, bircher muesli and the usual offerings in the other departments. There are no rolls and no bread and butter pudding, which is often available, but the pastries are excellent. The Rio shuttle seems to have left early so we cross over to Barbary Bills for the Gold Coast shuttle. Given that Gold Coast is where we are heading, it is no hardship. The place is bigger than I remember and a pleasant off strip casino. After a good look round we play VP for a while at the Sportsbook Bar. Mrs T settles for another $70 profit while I take my usual loss. We walk over to Palms, where we have done well in the past. After playing at the upright VP machines we find some very modern slant tops with a huge bonus for a sequential Royal. My machine is lightening fast,which I enjoy as it means I can lose faster! $60 down for me but Mrs T hits another straight flush to boost the household funds. We cross back to Gold Coast for the shuttle back to the strip. Mrs T is happy to take it easy so I have the chance of a lengthy poker session. I walk up to Venetian and get seated immediately for some more $4/8 Hold'em. The room is really busy. A couple of pots early on put me well up. I then get over excited with T5 in the big blind on a 552 flop. I pay a lot of money to see the small blind show me 52. Ouch! After that it all goes downhill. I keep getting hands that are too good to fold and too poor to play after the flop. Small/medium pocket pairs, suited connectors with nothing on the board. I know I should never rebuy at this level. If I lose $100 and rebuy I am only likely to lose more. So I rebuy. The last hand sees the river card give me 2 pair at the same time it gives another player their straight. That's enough. $156 down through some bad play and some bad luck. I am now linking losing sessions at a variety of games. It has been breezy all day but the wind is really gusting on the way back to Bally's. Windier than I have previously encountered in Vegas. The evening meal is at Cafe Bellagio. This is a nice place overlooking the conservatory and we have enjoyed a delicious veggie lasagne in the past. Unfortunately the veggie lasagne is no longer on the menu. It has been replaced by a veggie cannelloni which is quite good. Having decided not to have a dessert, I find myself ordering the chocolate tiramisu, which is just like a chocolate mousse with chocolate chips in the bottom. Not bad but I should have resisted. With a glass of wine each the bill is $78 with tax & tip. A bit steep for a cafe really, with a glass of wine costing $12. We have been watching the palms by the pool sway in the wind and noticed that the Olives patio was closed as we came over from Bally's. A planned post dinner cocktail on the Fontana Lounge patio is not looking likely. I suspect that the fountain shows have been suspended. Yet again the Fontana Lounge will have to be saved for another trip. Mrs T suggests I give the Bellagio craps a go while she plays VP nearby. Unfortunately my gambling is going nowhere so I rejoin her earlier than anticipated. She is not doing well either but then hits another straight flush just after I arrive. We repeat the split gambling over at Bally's and this time I find a hot shooter who hits several points. By the time I think about rejoining Mrs T I am up $88. She is struggling but again, just after I arrive, she hits 4 fours to get back into profit and we end the day on a high. Wednesday 28 April Not much planned for today. The thought of doing the 'Diamond in a day' thing has been in my mind all trip. We have reached the last day in profit, with very little 'serious' gambling so we have a good stack of $100 bills in the safe. I ask Mrs T what she thinks about some $5 VP, with the prospect of losing several thousand dollars and turning a winning trip into a losing trip. She is entirely unconcerned so we agree to go for it. A last breakfast buffet at PH and then back to the room to regroup and gather the cash. I know there are several $5 9/6 JOB machines in the high limit area at Caesars so that seems the place to go. The Total Rewards desk confirms the requirement for Diamond, I purchase 2 $1000 tickets from the cashier and we are ready to go. I have been on a bad gambling run the last few days, especially at VP, so I am hoping for a change of luck. An early 4OAK sets me up nicely. Another follows and my $1000 is up to $3000. A fallow period sees me back close to $2000 before a third 4OAK bumps me back up. Mrs T is not having such a good run. Her $1000 has gone so I slowly feed in ten $100 bills and she is off again. By the time we have earned the 3000 points, I have $2775 and Mrs T is back up to $1225 so we have exactly $1000 profit between us. I take our hefty tickets to the cashier and exchange my Total Rewards Gold card for a nice shiny Diamond card. I am delighted with how things have gone and feel our bravery has been rewarded. I have Diamond status to March 2011. I do not expect to earn enough points this year to retain Diamond beyond that date but I can earn enough points next trip to get Platinum status through to March 2012. We will not get much chance to try out the Diamond perks this trip but it will come in handy next time. Time for a deep breath and back to the room to regroup, just dropping in at the Diamond check-in lounge to see what it is like. A bit of packing, update my trip notes and we are out again. After a look round the shops in Bally's we cross over to Barbary Bills for some VP and await Big Elvis. No Sam Adams from the waitress, no Newcastle Brown. She suggests Blue Moon. That is a new one for me. What no bottle? Most of the beers seem to be served in a small glass, mine even comes with a slice of orange. It tastes OK but I give up on the waitress and grab a couple of glasses of Newcastle Brown from the bar before the show starts. Big Elvis is better than ever and delivers a great set. We have an early start tomorrow so head back to the room to finish the packing and make sure everything is organised before we go out for the evening. Then time to try out the Diamond Lounge at Paris before dinner. It's quite a smart lounge with a full bar. We are not bothered about the food but get a few chips & nuts to have with our Bombay Sapphires & tonic. Drinks are brought to our table and we are pleased with the place. We'll be back next trip and might get chance to try out one or two of the other Diamond Lounges. We decide to stick at Bally's for dinner tonight and try Al Dente again. The place is packed and we have to wait 15-20 minutes before being seated. We skip the starters. Mrs T orders mushroom ravioli while I order the eggplant parmigiana. As we are fairly hungry and are not having starters we specify a side dish of parmesan garlic bread, which is listed as a starter. Service is slow tonight but we are not concerned as we have the bread basket and a bottle of wine to tackle. Eventually the garlic bread is presented without the main courses. We nibble at this for a while before the main courses arrive. Mrs T's mushroom ravioli with pesto sauce has transformed into cheese ravioli with marinara sauce. She decides to keep the dish rather than wait for another to be prepared. The waiter insists that he placed the right order. My eggplant parmigiana is not good with 2 large slices of eggplant rather than the numerous light pieces that are often produced for the dish. The garlic bread is excellent! The problem with Al Dente is that it is a busy restaurant and the waiters are not attentive. They seem keen to get away from the table as soon as possible when taking orders, food is placed on the table with little ceremony and little or no comment. Our bill tonight is $84 with tax & tip. Early night tonight with a very early start tomorrow. Final gambling calculations for the trip show - My VP +$835 Mrs T VP +$184 Craps -$135 BJ +$165 Poker -$92 Caesars $5 VP +$1000 (joint effort) Total profit +$1957 Obviously pleased with the final figure. I struggled with VP after my early Royal. Mrs T did really well to come out ahead after a lot of play, without hitting a Royal. The craps was fun and I will probably play again next trip. I only played 2 sessions of BJ. I usually play a lot more and might do so next trip, especially if the craps does not take off. Poker was steady apart from some poor play at Venetian. Making Diamond status and a good profit at Caesars was more rewarding than hitting the Royal. Thursday 29 April 4.30am alarm. Mrs T likes to be at the airport before the airline has allocated an aircraft for the flight! Surprisingly enough, there is no line at checkout. We settle our account and get $34 in comps off the bill. They also knock off the $24 safe fees, now that I am Diamond. Quick taxi ride to McCarran. Check-in is straightforward, we are able to check our bags through to London and get boarding passes for both flights home. Nice and easy. Security is surprisingly busy this early in the day but we have access to the fast track line so are soon through. As we have plenty of time before the flight we head off to the Continental lounge. Smart lounge with full bar (too early for that), coffee, muffins, bagels and so on. We have the tiniest breakfast, just to settle our stomachs and relax with the newspapers and the free WiFi. Time passes quickly enough and we are boarding the flight to Houston. First Class is very comfortable with wide seats and plenty of legroom. A decent quality, light breakfast is served and we make use of the seatback screens which have been recently fitted. The flight lands around 15 minutes early. The great thing about Houston airport is that terminal connections are airside so no additional security checks. We just walk through from one terminal to another, stopping off to purchase some duty free and head straight for the lounge. Another smart Continental lounge, this one is large and quite busy. But we find a couple of soft armchairs and settle with a glass of wine from the bar. It still counts as Vegas till we get home. Another chance to check e-mail and some internet sites before we are ready to board. Continental's top transatlantic service is called BusinessFirst. It is more Business than First and although Continental are refitting these aircraft with fully flat seats, our aircraft has not yet been refitted. So, although the seats are very comfortable, they so not recline the whole way. The seat configuration is 2-2-2, a bit different to Air New Zealand's 1-1 layout in the forward cabin. I do get to sit next to Mrs T though. Onboard service is quite impressive. The amenity kit is comprehensive and good quality. The food is very good, with everything but the main course served from a trolley. That would not be every flyers idea of Business Class dining but I like it as it makes it easier to pick and choose, both food and wine. Champagne and warmed nuts is followed by a multi-course meal, accompanied by ample top-ups of red wine and port. After dinner we try to get a few hours sleep but neither of us are really tired and the seats are not really conducive to a good sleep. Just lying still with earplugs and eye mask for a few hours leaves me fairly refreshed. We enjoy a light breakfast before landing on time at Heathrow. Baggage is quick, we have lots of dollars to change and then a few minutes wait for valet parking to return the car and we are on our way home. Next trip already booked for October.