In short, I enjoyed our stay at Aladdin. I really like the rooms, especially the bathroom. However, customer service and service, in general, certainly needs improvement. At this time the construction is minimal and not bothersome. My mom didn’t even notice it… The most noticeable changes are that the exterior is being repainted. The sportsbook has been relocated. Sections of the casino floor have construction walls up while work is in process. Additionally, it looks like the timeshare should break ground soon. Click here for photos Now in detail: In early December, I paid close attention the hotel offers valid for the coming weeks. We picked and chose the offers we thought would suit us best – booking nights at Mirage and South Coast. Then, I noticed the fall “Cearly” promotion at Aladdin was still available so we reserved a room for Christmas Day ($49, 2 for 1 breakfast buffet, $10 free slot play, passes for the spa, etc.) My mom and family friend, Karen, were coming in for a visit Sunday, as well, so we convinced them to book the offer, too. We left the house with bags and Christmas gifts in tow during halftime of the Bears’ game. Minutes later, we were stuck in holiday traffic as we approached the Flamingo-Las Vegas Blvd. intersection. Slowly we crept and eventually we made our way down to Aladdin. Meanwhile hordes of people were passing us by… Frank and I looked at each other, simultaneously we said, Yeah, Vegas is dead. So often, we hear reports and read articles that suggest Vegas is no longer a hot spot and that the attraction of Sin City is fading… We always find it hysterical! We wonder what Vegas these people are visiting. Slow times, peak times - doesn’t matter if you’re on the strip, downtown or at a local casino – anytime really, this city is a zoo. Knowing that it’s a mile-long stroll thru the mall from parking garage we opted to use valet. From there it’s a very short walk to the registration desk. There was a line of guests waiting to be checked-in, but it moved fairly quickly. We were greeted by a not-very-pleasant young girl. She was very short with us and unfriendly. Complete opposite of the bubbly young girl we had at Mirage last week. I tried for a complimentary upgrade, I did my homework ahead of time and knew what rooms were available, but we were told the hotel was sold out and we should be pleased we had a strip view. Not a problem, but we could’ve done without the attitude. We’re given our keys and we head to our room 3011 via the south tower elevators. We stepped off the elevator and initially we were overwhelmed by all the deep blues in the décor. Then, we entered the room and found it to be tastefully decorated and quite comfortable. The bathroom was one of the larger we had in a standard room. The view was nice, but there was no where to sit to conveniently gaze out the window. Meanwhile, we settled in and watched the rest of the Bears’ game. Around the 2-minute warning I received a call from my mom. They were checking-in and the only room available that met their request was a handicap accessible room (2496) accessed via north elevators. We decided to finish the game, give them some time to settle in, and then we’d meet in their room. Bears win! And we head out. We walked around the tower and quickly noticed how strangely the rooms are laid-out. We made way around to the other side and located their room. It’s at the end of the hallway, with double-doors and it’s marked 2496/2497. Odd. I knock and no one answers. I call, and my mom lets us in. You need a key to access the double door, then you enter a small foyer with 2 doors one is to a suite (the panorama I believe) and the other door is their room. In the foyer was a room service table with dirty dishes and leftover food. It sat there through the duration of her stay. Out of sight, out of mind I suppose. We hugged, shared gifts and did all that catching up that loved ones do when they haven’t see each other in sometime. From there, we wanted to grab some dinner. We decided to give the Cheeseburger (I swear it was Cheeseburger Oasis, but it seems they dropped the Oasis) place in the Passage Shops a try. It was a good choice because we walked in and got a table with no wait. Everywhere else had long lines of people waiting to be seated – I had heard the buffet was a 2.5 hour wait. Yeah, Vegas is dead. Burgers all around: A regular cheeseburger for me, bacon-cheese for mom and Frank, and Karen chose a turkey burger. We also ordered chili-cheese fries and coconut shrimp. I hear the chili was very good, the shrimp were tasty too, but the burgers were nothing to speak of. Far better burgers can be had elsewhere, but they did their job and satisfied our hunger. In addition to our meal we also got to see a show. There was a stage set-up in front of the V Theater. There’s two separate acts, about 5 min segments, not sure how often there is a performance, but its fun and free (although, donations are accepted for Habitat for Humanity). We passed on dessert when it was offered, because we had already made plans to hit the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Shop after dinner. We strolled on over and made our selections. Their waffle bowls are very scrumptious and ice cream was tasty, but I prefer Ghirardelli. We waited for rainstorm while we ate our treats. Just like last time I tried to see the show, it never happened. We waited around for 45 minutes, but never saw a raindrop despite the sign suggesting it rains every half hour. Perhaps it’s unpredictable just like Mother Nature. Moving along, we entered the casino. Make a stop at the player’s club to get everyone squared away. Karen, my mom and I all sign up for the cards and we receive a V.I.P. coupon book and $5 free play for doing so, and we each get a coupon for a free spin promotion, as well. Additionally, Karen and I each receive $10 free slot play from our hotel promotion. Frank doesn’t partake in any of this, since he had previously signed up and they refused to extend any promotions to him. He saw an old friend that he worked with at Harrah’s sportsbook so he went over to say hello. This was the first change I noticed. They’ve temporarily moved the sportsbook next to the player’s club. They have keno there, as well. The old ‘book is under construction. After taking care of my free spin, I joined Frank and we chit-chatted with Hank. He says, he likes the new ownership and he’s real excited to see all the plans unfold for the transformation to become Planet Hollywood. He prefers working for an independent owner rather than a large corporation because they can do more for their customers… He said they’ll change the name once the transformation is complete. Until then, both names will be used. While chatting, Frank received a call so he stepped away from the ‘book… Turned out to be a good friend of ours from Chicago, her boyfriend of nine years finally popped the question, so she called to share the good news. Frank ran back for me to talk to Jen. So, I never finished the Aladdin/PH conversation with Hank... I was so thrilled for her, I’m screaming’ in the Passage shops entry way – people are walking by looking at me like I’m nuts, but oh well. They’re finally gonna tie the knot! They were the first of our friends from high school to date, move in together, but the last to get married so this is a big deal. I ask her if they’ve made plans yet. She tells me they want to get married here, in Vegas – Wahoo! Everyone had such a great time when Frank and I got married, but we were so stressed we weren’t able to fully let-go and have a fabulous time so were super-psyched by the thought of them getting married here. I figure I’ll send a copy of Ken’s book to help seal the deal. While I’m on the phone, Karen and my mom play a Free 20 spot on Keno with a coupon in the VIP book. They both win $10 for my mom and $5 for Karen. My mom puts her winnings on the Bears to win the Superbowl (18-1). After all that, we’re back to the task at hand – gambling. Mom and Karen set off for the penny slots. Frank and I scoped the casino for some VP. We play here and there, profitless and thirsty. We never saw a cocktail waitress pass by so we moseyed of to the bar. We were surprised to find 9/6 DB there. We played for a short while, just long enough to finish off a beer. We had no luck there either; we were down $200 between us so we went to find my mom and Karen. I thought a trip over to Bellagio would be good. Take a break from gambling, see the conservatory, the chocolate Santa, and catch a fountain show or two. We found mom and Karen (both even) and they were game. So, Bellagio it was. Frank wanted to grab the car out of valet, but I thought it would be quicker to walk over since traffic was pretty bad and I saw a huge line going into the garage earlier from the hotel room. Frank led us thru the Passage Shops, but he made a wrong turn or missed the right exit somewhere along the way. We ended up exiting on Harmon east of the Todai Buffet. It was a nice night so we didn’t mind the walk. Eventually, we made across the street and over to Bellagio. The place was a madhouse. People coming and going in all directions. Yeah, Vegas is dead. It’s the slowest time of the year, doncha know…We fought the crowds and got brief glimpses of the holiday display. The Tree looked beautiful. We detoured thru the shop to sneak a peek at the 200lb chocolate Santa. The chocolate shop was bustling too. Insane, I tell you. People everywhere. We re-enter the conservatory to see the rest of the display and we run into the most ignorant people I’ve ever encountered there. It started with one couple who walked over the side rail, trampled the flowers to snap a picture next to the polar bear. Then they walked over the bridge to pose for pictures on it, as well. Then, everyone nearby followed suit and trampled all over the display to take photos. They made a mess of something so beautiful. Security came by and told people to stop and as soon as they walked away, they were right back up there. I’ve visited hundreds of times and never once saw anything like it. Truly inconsiderate people! From there we fought our way into the casino. We figured we’d play a bit there. I had hoped a cocktail waitress would come by. I wanted to try a Peach Bellini or Bellagio cocktail that I’ve heard so much about, but no such luck. No wins, either. There was time for 2 fountain shows, but no one wanted to walk over to catch them. So we walked back to Aladdin. No detour this time, just a quick straight shot. We sat at a bank of slots trying’ to figure out what next? I went to collect the Aladdin mug I earned since I had reached 5 points on my card. Frank earned 5 points, too, so he came along. They said Frank wasn’t eligible because it was for new members only, but then she said she’s give it to him anyway, since it was Christmas. After receiving our consolation prize we returned to the slot bank. Sitting there I was on empty, my batteries were dead. Karen’s were too. So we decided to go up to our rooms for the night. My mom hit penny slots and Frank hit the table games. I snuggled in the bed and watched the movie Scrooged until I fell asleep. Frank came stumbling in the room around 5:30am. Everything he touched turned to gold. He played blackjack and won, then signed up for the 2am tourney, he took 5th place, he also won a cash game and high hand of the day. From there he went on to play $1 VP for an hour or so. He ended up recouping all of our losses and won an additional $100. I told him we planned to hit the breakfast buffet at 9am so he had time to eat before the 10am poker tourney. Instantly, he was out when his head hit the pillow. I noticed Scrooged was still on TV, so they must have played it a few times back to back... Not much later, I happened to catch the sunrise it was particularly beautiful yesterday morning. There were many puffy clouds over the Spring Mountains and the rising sun cast a breathtaking sea of pastel colors across the sky. I should’ve taken some pictures, but I couldn’t tear myself away. Around 8:30 I started nudging Frank in attempts of waking him, but I wasn’t having much luck. About half hour later I bribed him out of bed with the thought of made to order omelets and other goodies. The buffet was busy, but the line wasn’t too long when we arrived, we seemed to beat the rush as many filed in behind us. This was our second visit to the buffet. Last time we had the dinner buffet it was Mother’s day so the price was hiked for the holiday. It turns out, they hiked the price again, it had slipped my mind that Monday was a holiday, as well. Holiday breakfast was $18.95 per person. Luckily, they still honored the promotional 2 for 1 coupon so it came to $20 and some change for two. The buffet had a variety of fruits, cheeses, pastries (croissants, scones, Danishes), 3 omelet stations, pancakes, waffles, French toast, several types of potatoes, as well as, sausage and bacon. Nothing unique or out of the ordinary. The omelets were yummy as were the potato pancakes. I was underwhelmed by everything else. None of us were thrilled by the buffet and we all agreed we’d be disappointed and upset if we had paid full price. Frank ate and ran so he could play in the 10am poker tournament. Us girls hung around for a while talking. They started to turn the dishes over to lunch by beginning with the desserts. I sampled a few, the lemon meringue, cheesecake and cookies were all bad. But the Carmel corn with drizzled chocolate was pretty good. I don’t get what all the fuss is about in regards to the Spice Market Buffet. Nothing was exceptionally good or fresh and I think it’s over priced for the menu served. Their buffet isn’t even in my top five. To each their own. After the buffet, we returned to our rooms to gather our belongings and check out. I brought my bags to my mom’s room and we called the bellman to take the luggage to the bell desk until we were ready to leave. The bellman came up quick enough, but he was unfriendly, he gathered the bags and turned the claim ticket over to us. My mom tipped him a few bucks and he didn’t say thank you, didn’t even mutter a word. I felt he should have said something… We finished up our stay playing a few penny machines while Frank played in the tourney. He ended up making it to the final table and finishing in 8th place. Again, we lost at the slots. Retrieving our bags and cars took about 20 minutes. We got the cars loaded and returned home after sitting in traffic on Las Vegas Blvd and watching massive crowds wander by. Yeah, Vegas is dead.