Country awards week in las vegas 4/14 â€“ 4/20 COUNTRY AWARDS WEEK IN LAS VEGAS 4/14 – 4/20 Originally we planned this Vegas trip for March, but then decided to hold off for one month so we could enjoy the events of the Academy of Country Music Awards in April. We had gone to the Billboard Music Awards in December, 2006 and had such a great time. We were unable to purchase tickets for the Sunday ACM awards show when they were first offered since those tickets went very fast and many were bought out by ticket companies. However, the Academy offered tickets to a Monday show which featured most of the country stars which appeared on Sunday. That show honored country legends Brooks and Dunn who are retiring from their music careers together. Jill needed handicapped seats since she cannot walk long distances without assistance. When those tickets went on sale, I lucked out and got the very last handicapped seats offered. We also bought tickets for our two sons who were going to accompany us on this trip. Randy, our younger son is married and his wife is a high risk pregnancy so she could not make this trip. They got married in Las Vegas in the Little White Chapel in January, 2005. They were last in Las Vegas in May, 2009 and saw the last show Dan Gans performed before he passed away. We had reservations for Paris Las Vegas for six nights and had to pay for only one night. We also got a room at Bally’s for Randy and had to pay for just two nights. We were leaving from Newark Airport flying on Continental Airlines. Like previous trips we hired a limo to take us to the airport. Ok - Now we’re ready for the good stuff - here starts the trip report ! WEDNESDAY APRIL 14, 2010 We get to Newark Airport with plenty of time to spare and board the plane on time. Our flight leaves mid afternoon. Jill loves to talk to as many fellow passengers as possible and finds out that the overwhelming majority of the people are not from the USA. A large number were from Canada and many were from Europe. I wonder if those from Europe had difficulty returning home due to the volcanic ash. Many passengers told us of plans to attend the country music events. We had a very smooth flight. Check out this video I took as we passed over the snow capped Rocky Mountains: [youtube]4lVQGoD1tjo[/youtube] We arrived in Las Vegas around 6:30 pm. Here is a video of our plane arriving in Las Vegas: [youtube]V9ngCHKyb8M[/youtube] Off we go to Alamo to rent a Mercury Marquis. Randy called it an old man’s car but it was big and easy to drive. Pulled into the Paris valet. We got a room on the 25th floor in Paris and I got Randy a room in Ballys in the North Tower. We finally get a few minutes to relax as we dine at the 24 hour CafÃ© Ile St. Louis. The food is just ok here but it is a convenient place for dinner. Now that we are here in Bright Light City - it is time to pull out my lengthy agenda for the trip. This drives Jill crazy as there are plans for almost every minute of every day. There has got to be time for gambling which is right after breakfast every day. Then the plans are to go to one of the many events sponsored by the Academy of Country music. Friday and Saturday there are concerts downtown on Fremont Street sung by the newest and most popular country stars. Saturday night Toby Keith will be visiting his bar and grill in Harrah’s. Sunday is the orange carpet outside of MGM Grand just before the awards show. Monday we have plans to meet our online friends Jeff and Nancy and Marge and Pat for breakfast at Le Village Buffet. Monday evening is the ACM Brooks and Dunn tribute show. I frequently check the online blog written by Las Vegan Robin Leach for the latest updates on shows and events. It is called Vegas Deluxe and is updated many times per day. Randy’s agenda also calls for daily early morning trips to the Bally’s pool. THURSDAY APRIL 15, 2010 Bright and early we are off to Le Village Buffet – the best in Vegas. The regular line is quite lengthy and there is also another line which people pay $10 extra to avoid the regular line. Then there is the Diamond Entrance. It is actually good for anyone from Platinum to Seven Stars. That line is ours and there is only one person in front of us. Right next to the buffet cash register is a pamphlet describing how the new 24 hour $29.99 buffet pass works. This will work for us this first day so we take that offer. The info is put into our players cards so the next buffet we dine at will know it has already been paid for. As we enter the breakfast buffet, Jill spots her long time friend, Darcey, who is the buffet host. Here is my video taken of that happy reunion: [youtube]fGSKVhByHdo[/youtube] Breakfast is great as usual. After breakfast, I try out the horses for the first time and Jill plays at the nearby penny slots. We played throughout the afternoon. Jill got lots of game time but no big winners. The machines were tight. I took advantage of my knowledge of the racing at Gulfstream park in Florida and bet my favorite jockey, Paco Lopez. Paco won the race I sponsored at my retirement party several years ago at Monmouth Park. I have been following his racing career since then and have discovered he wins when least expected to by the fans, especially in longer races. That knowledge got me ahead by $150 for the day. We ate dinner at Planet Hollywood’s Spice Market buffet. There was a long line but since that buffet is now administered by Harrah’s, there is a Platinum/Diamond/Seven stars line and it was very short. Although most of the food items were quite spicy, the buffet was very good. After dinner, we drove to the MGM Grand to check out the scene there. We didn’t see any celebrities or country stars but did make several purchases at their stores. Among the items I bought was a new postcard of the MGM Grand which lights up in many colors and the lights last for several minutes at a time. Randy posed for a picture near an MGM Grand poster advertising the ACM Awards: FRIDAY APRIL 16, 2010 The day started with breakfast at the Le Village Buffet. Absolutely delicious!! I took the following picture of Jill with two of her waitress friends. We have known these gals since the buffet first opened. Right after the buffet was gambling time. Jill’s play was very much like the day before. I was down about $120 when I got an $80 win from Paco and ended up down by $40 for the day. Unlike AC, all my horse racing play counts on Total Rewards. Randy bet on sports but lost both of his bets. Lonny rarely gambles but enjoys the gambling atmosphere. Jill and I visited the Paris pool and had our picture taken there: We had an early dinner at the Paris Le Village Buffet. Dinner there is good, but not outstanding like breakfast. Then we drove down to Fremont Street for a night of free country music sponsored by the Academy of Country Music Awards. Since the hit group Lady Antebellum was scheduled to perform at 10:45, downtown Vegas was packed! The official count was 22,000 people. This was the biggest event of the year with the exception of New Years Eve. Jill talked the Golden Nugget valet staff into letting us park there in spite of signs saying only hotel guests were welcome because of the crowds. We visited their shark pool and here is a pic and video of that scene. [youtube]-qiwwO8xItg[/youtube] The first thing we saw outside was a large mechanical bull set up on the street. Here is a video I took of a gal giving it a try before ending up on her butt: [youtube]iF_Bgt-3Hsw[/youtube] The first two country acts were Emily West and the Band Perry. Here are pics I took of them singing. I used my new Olympus 14 megapixel 30X optical zoom camera. I am still learning how to use it. Before each show, three ACM logo shirts were tossed into the crowd. Somehow I got one of them making a football like catch. Meanwhile Jill found herself right in the middle of a scuffle that broke out right in front of her. That was quickly broken up. Then shortly afterwards, a drunken man decided to sit down on her walker, but she coaxed him to leave. Lonny, Randy and myself were now at the opposite end of the street waiting for former American Idol Danny Gokey to sing. There was lots of pushing as people made their way through the crowd. The most aggressive ones were young “ladies”. Here is a pic I took of Danny singing: Back to Jill who was watching David Nail sing on the opposite end of Fremont Street. A gal decided to relieve herself right near where Jill is sitting on her walker. Where I am standing waiting for Lady Antebellum, similar stuff is going on around us. Now it is 10:45 pm and Lady Antebellum takes the stage. Here are photos of them: Here is a video I took of them singing their hit song “Need You Now”. [youtube]04fZBBMqW5A[/youtube] Seeing them live singing that song made this evening well worth it. However, we decided that one night of chaos like this was enough. Plans for returning for Saturday’s performances were nixed. SATURDAY APRIL 17, 2010 This morning starts with a delicious breakfast at Le Village Buffet. Again, we took advantage of the $29.99 24 hour pass. The lines for that buffet were gigantic. Even the Diamond Entrance had a line of about 20 people. Here is a pic I took of the huge lines: The staff at the buffet told us these crowds at this time of year were not the norm. Only during New Years have they seen such crowds. The $29.99 buffet promotion had to be a big reason for these crowds. After breakfast Jill returns to her tight penny slots, Randy makes some more sports bets and I am ready to bet on Paco winning some races. Paco comes through this time and I hit the trifecta and exacta winning $442! If I had tried the superfecta, I believe I would have won that also. It paid well over $2,000. We all have dinner at The Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood. I checked out Robin Leach’s online blog and read that there is a movie premiere tonight of Kenny Chesney’s new film “Summer In 3D” at a mall just a little past Mandalay Bay resort. This supposed to be a Red Carpet event so I decide to go. I missed the celebs entering the theater, but caught them as they left. There were about 20 people outside watching including one from TMZ. A Vegas cop entertained us by telling us stories of the three episodes of the show “Cops” he was featured in. Some of the celebs who attended this event were Reba McEntire, Morgan Freeman, Dierks Bentley, Tim Mcgraw, Faith Hill, Matthew Mcconaughy, Jewell and Kenny Chesney. I did get to see most of them but I had trouble with my camera settings which were affected by the bright lights nearby. Here is a pic I took of Jewell in her car. The night was not over yet by any means. According to Robin Leach, Toby Keith was going to make an appearance at the Toby Keith Bar and Grill at Harrah’s. We all packed into our Grand Marquis and arrived at Harrah’s valet at 11 pm. Upstairs, country star Randy Houser was singing. It was a private party but there was a good sized crowd outside watching those inside. There was Toby Keith and country music star Joe Nichols. Here is a video I took of Joe Nichols there: [youtube]g9ehucWXwVo[/youtube] The same people that were standing directly in front of us at the Lady Antebellum concert were here also. After enjoying the music for about one hour, we called it a night. SUNDAY APRIL 18, 2010 The morning started off at the Le Village Buffet. It was still extremely crowded outside. After the buffet, Jill returned to her slots and I went to the sports book with Randy and Lonny. Randy bet on the Yankees to win by two runs and won his bet. I was up and down on the horses but left down about $100. We originally wanted to view the ACM Orange Carpet this afternoon at the MGM Grand, but by the time we got near it, the crowds were beyond huge. Instead, we went to New York, New York across the street. We visited their sports book as well as MGM Grand’s. Jill played their slots. Dinner this evening was at the 24/7 cafÃ© at the Palms Casino Hotel. We have eaten at this cafÃ© several times and it is the best of its kind. The food is absolutely delicious. I like to order the oriental chicken salad when we go out to eat in NJ and nothing in NJ can beat this one at the Palms. Randy had a really good steak. Jill and Lonny also raved about the food. We also had a $50 comp from the Las Vegas Advisor book. Here is a picture I took of my brownie ice cream desert: MONDAY APRIL 19, 2010 This morning was going to be a very special visit to Le Village Buffet. Our online friends Jeff and Nancy and Pat and Marge were going to make this a Vegas breakfast meet. We sat and talked for nearly two hours enjoying the food and catching up on events. Here is a pic of all of us at the buffet: Although Jeff and Nancy also live in NJ, we first met them in Las Vegas at a meet many years ago. We have previously seen Marge and Pat in AC. Marge and Pat were also going to attend the Brooks and Dunn show tonight at the MGM Grand. They had been to the Awards show the day before. After breakfast we gambled for several hours at Paris – I lost another $100 – Paco was not scheduled to race. Randy had better luck winning all three of his sports bets. We then drove to the MGM Grand for the ACM Brooks and Dunn show. It is a very long walk from the valet area to the forum so we found out security would provide a wheelchair for Jill. They wheeled her to the food court near the forum and we dined at Nathans. Then we again contacted security and they escorted Jill over to the forum. Our seats were in the handicapped access section. Randy’s and Lonny’s seats were well above us. Only one person was allowed to sit with Jill in the handicapped area. The view was pretty good from this area. The show was fantastic. A couple nearby said that is was actually better than the awards show the night before. A man who was standing near us attracted our attention because he was apparently directing much of the action from above. We asked him about it and he said he was one of the production managers. The day before he was stationed right by the stage. This tme he was well in front of it. He said he owns a production company in Nashville and country star Miranda Lambert is on his label. Reba Mc Entire, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney and many others performed. A few minutes before the show ended, security came and wheeled Jill back to the valet area ahead of the crowds. TUESDAY APRIL 20, 2010 Our last day in Las Vegas and the last day for the La Village breakfast buffet. We said our good byes to the staff. We said hope to see you all in June when we plan on returning. We returned our rental car and headed to the airport. Boarded the plane. Heard an announcement - the electronics are broken and a part was ordered. We waited and waited. The part came and it did not work. We waited some more on the crowded plane. Finally after nearly 2 and a half hours, we left the plane and went back to the terminal. They told us the next plane was arriving at 10:30 pm and it was overbooked. The next days planes were also overbooked!!! We were NOT happy. Finally a supervisor appeared and told us a plane would be arriving at 5:30 pm and it would be able to take all of us to Newark. We boarded that plane at 6 pm – almost 4 hours later than originally scheduled. For the return trip, they comped all of us Direct TV. It would have normally cost us $6 each. We also were given a certificate for 10% off of a future Continental flight plus a coupon for a free drink. I contacted our limo driver about the delay. We arrived home at 4:30 am Wednesday. Overall, I won about about $150. Jill lost and Randy broke out even. The food was great just about everywhere we ate. The entertainment was spectacular. The thing we didn’t have was relaxation, which we can do now till our next Vegas trip. Harrahs sent us comped Cher tickets for June + 5 night free at Paris. However, in May we are staying for 4 night in a row in AC – bringing Jill’s mom up from Florida for Mother’s Day.