Main Properties: JW Marriott, Mandalay Bay Casinos: Main Street Station, Rampart at JW, Mandalay Bay Spa: Aquae Sulis at the JW Dining: Carmel Room, Promenade Café, Delmonico, Aladdin Spice Market, 3950 Bars: 777 Brewpub, Toby Keith’s, Harrah’s Carnival Court, Forty Deuce Shared with T2Vers: Vegas Jer, Pattifromontario, Vegasdrea, Exquizite As I have mentioned, the premise of the trip was a medical conference my hospital was sending me to. The site was the JW Marriott in Summerlin that may have only been a few miles from downtown, but at peak travel times it may have well been the next state over. The cabbie was cussing like a drunken sailor with Tourette’s syndrome at the interchange between 15 North and 95 where three lanes of jam-packed motorists were squeezed into a single lane construction zone. I was about to kick myself for not hitting an airport bar before leaving McCarran , when things broke up and before I knew it, we had pulled up to the resort. In a nutshell, the place reminded me of Del Boca Vista on steroids, only with a golf course and a slightly older crowd. The room was sweet, however- complete with marble shower stall with overhead nozzle that “rained” the water over you, 36” TV, and terrace with breathtaking view of the golf course. I’d spend all of about 30 waking minutes there for my four-day excursion. The Carmel Room and MSS Round I Just off the Rampart casino at the JW, Carmel Room is an steakhouse just off the casino floor, although you’d never know it because the extensive fabrics, soft lighting, and comfortable seating nicely blunt the sounds outside. We were seated in one of its many alcoves surrounded on three sides by thick velvet green tapestry, lit only by distant wall sconces and a table candle. Splitting the crab and lobster with micro greens appetizer, we then moved on to our Caesar salads- the only weak point in the meal. It was like they pulled off one stalk of romaine lettuce and threw on some bottled dressing. However, my New York strip was served perfectly, and was nice and lean. Dr. Holiday had the filet which cut like butter. Along with a nice bottle of cabernet (suggested by our waiter) it made to a great start to the weekend. Some time later I was hopping a cab to downtown (actually, one doesn’t “hop” a cab, or any means of transportation from the JW, since the wait for and cab to pull up can be as long as a half-hour), I got my feet wet at the MSS craps tables. I started off easy and the action was choppy, at best. Feeling fatigued from travel and jet lag, I requested a can of Red Bull from the circulating waitress and was denied- sorry, no can do for free. So I paid for one with vodka. When the geriatric Japanese tourists came over, I knew I had it in the can. These old farts can really roll. I walked after two good rollers up a couple of Bens, hitting Fremont just in time for the country medley on the ceiling. Oh yeah, the cowboys are in town this week, but more on that later. Taxied back to the JW and found myself hungry so I hit the Promenade Café, also just off the casino. I wanted something to satisfy my huger yet not give me nightmares, so I settled on a BLT, which, it turns out, had the volume of some corned beef you’d get at the Carnegie Deli. So I scaled Bacon Mountain to the best of my ability, shuffled back to the room, and let the nightmares begin. Lost in Paradise East-coaster that I am, I awoke around 5am. Conference was not to start until noon, so I had scheduled the “Lost in Paradise” body treatment at the Aquae Sulis Spa. Of course that left just enough time for me to grab a cup of coffee (early breakfast of champions) and hit the treadmill with the other eastern Type A personalities. I must have killed an hour doing that, after which I hot tubbed, steamed, showered, and showed up for the main event right on cue. The spa’s name originates from the Roman town famous for its Temple and baths so popular with it’s town-folk, and now known as Bath, England (Imagine that, you could go pray then spa, or vice-versa). Robed and slippered, I was placed in the “comfort room,” a dimly lit place with well-spaced chez lounges and trickling fountains in each corner. Out of a hidden sound system came the stylings of a soft flute which reminded me of some Amazon village boy sitting in a treetop at sunrise. I felt myself sinking into my surroundings. Stephanie came for my high colonic and Brazilian wax and led me down another corridor to the treatment room where over the next 80 minutes I was oiled, exfoliated, showered, and massaged. At some point the flute of the village boy had been merged into duet with a Liberace-style piano, a combination which sounded far more pleasant than the visual imagery in conjured. Finally, I was smeared with three layers of various lotions, each of which held the scent different tropical drink. To say I floated out of there relaxed is an understatement; Alas, I was a human dessert. Delmonico and MSS Round II OK, had to do Delmonico, after all the hype. So after conference that afternoon we grabbed a limo to the strip. Imagine that, here over 24 hours and hitting the strip for just the first time. We had 6:30 reservations, so of course we were seated around seven. With several vodkas in us and our appetites peaking, it was time to see if this place lived up to its expectations. Well, almost. The appetizers were phenomenal but what I remember most was the sausage gumbo- out of this world. I had the bone-in rib eye and Dr. Hailey had the filet. Excellent, both of them. Smashed potatoes, fantastic. Service, well, OK. Best meal I’ve ever had? Not so sure. We parted ways and I went back to MSS where the trend was my friend. Met Dell Beddard, a floor manager, and I was able to strike up a nice chat with him as I placed my sixes and eights. Must have spent about an hour there before I ran into Terry, one of the shift bosses. After checking my action he was nice enough to comp me for the next night’s gathering at the 777 Brewpub, for which I was rather grateful, since I really didn’t have that much of a track record over there. Mandalay Surprise The next morning I found myself with an hour to kill before the 8am lecture, so I sat down at Rampart for some BJ. I was one-on-one with an experienced dealer with a six-deck shoe. I have forgotten how quick these dealers can be. I was half-asleep, playing three or four hand a minute. I left it to the dealer to do everything but make my bets, my mind was a pre-caffinated mush. Luckily a few kyphotic senile old men sat down alongside me for comic relief and the waitress rushed me a black coffee. . Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the geysers but also take some humor in a Parkinson-tremor hand cutting a card deck. Plus they’ll flirt with anyone 1/3 their age, which is great to see. I decided to go Martingale-style with the low minimum bet and ended up walking away up enough to be amused by the whole scene of the Rampart casino, with it’s little old ladies scurrying along with their change bucks and match play coupons. Hit the Promenade Café for some breakfast and once again was not disappointed with the potions of scrambled eggs, bacon, and fresh-squeezed OJ. By noon or so I was homesick big-time for my Mandalay Bay. I cut afternoon lectures and high-tailed it to the south strip, courtesy of JW’s minibus. We pull up, the door opens and I am hit with the aroma of vanilla and the throngs of beautifully enhanced people giving check-in attendants grief while simultaneously on their cell phones. Ahhh, I am home. To make it better, the promo which I used was a comp to the penthouse suites. For the rest of the weekend I would have use of a high-end room I really didn’t even need, or so I thought. These rooms really are fantastic. Open living area with bar, bathroom and kitchen leading to nice-sized bedroom and bathroom you could play squash in. Far superior to The Hotel Suites. A quick trip to the down to casino cage to set up my account and I was off to the races. Dice, dice, dice all afternoon, free flowing vodka tonics, stopping only for bathroom breaks and the occasional BJ break, just for a change of pace. I think I was up a bit before I decided to head back to MSS for the T2V meet….. The T2V Gathering Showed up to MSS and Jer was practically the first person I saw, anchoring the dice pits; play was choppy at first until Jer rolled; methinks he nailed a couple of points and places. The guy to his left, whom Jer affectionately nicknamed his “horn man,” had a kick-ass roll, hitting horn bets like they were fish in a barrel; he nicely rolled up and down the middle numbers as well, thank you very much. The same floor guys were circulating and I made sure to small chat with them along the way. Suddenly my requests for Red Bulls were not a problem anymore. After a cold roll we colored up- when I got there I literally saw Jer with a single $5 chip in the rack; he came all the way back plus some. I cashed in a tidy sum as well. Hitting the Brewpub on cue, we grabbed the reserved table and some drinks. Patti shows up and sits at the end of the table looking around until she realized she’s where she needs to be. Hellos all around. We order a potpourri of appetizers and gorge ourselves on wings, nachos, calamari, and pizza while listening to Patti’s anecdotes and interactions over the last week at the LVC. A nice couple whose names I forget who were friends of Patti’s show up, followed by Typhinie’s alter ego, Vegasdrea herself. Perhaps alter ego is a bit strong, but now having spent some time with both, they are two sides of the same coin. My gaming luck was better with Typhinie whereas Andrea was truly a dark cloud when she stepped near green felt. It’s OK though- she made up for it with her good humor, relaxed disposition, and stamina to party. A few more drinks and Exquizite shows up on the scene with her entourage. LaTika- It was great meeting you and your friends for the brief time we were all there, sorry we never got it together for more fun and games the rest of the weekend. We break from the Brewpub around 8 and head back to the dice pits: Me, Jer, Patti, and Andrea. I felt all my pre-brewpub winnings slipping away, slowly at first, then in buckets. I even make Patti blow on the dice during my roll, which helped a little, but not much. Jer breaks from the table to play some BJ with Andrea, and Patti and I stay at the dice pit where she watches the torture-fest continue. Just to Patti’s left elbows in a short elderly Japanese man with a wispy goatee and a coarse, stuttering dialogue whom I aptly name Mr. Miagi. In fact, he shows up and I turn to Patti and exclaim, “It’s Mr. Miagi,” to which he asks her “What! Did! He! Say?!” I swear I thought I had the beginnings of a fight on my hand. I just tell him we’re just having some fun and relax. He responds by glaring. Things quiet down, not enough to stop me from uttering the occasional “Show me wax on! Show me whacks off!” to keep the spirit of The Karate Kid alive. That and Patti’s amusement with all the sexual connotation with craps lingo (I need a hard eight!…I need a come!) made for a more enjoyable losing session. We met back with Jer and Andrea and headed to Patti’s home, the LVC. She knew everyone there- dealers, managers, slot hosts, servers. Got a nice shot of the four of us from a cowboy and was much obliged. Patti’s friends were found, the three of us said our goodbyes and Andrea, Jer, and I headed off to Carnival Court. Jessica and the Giant Sucking Sound Carnival Court- the place of so many S&M stories and workplace of the infamous Jessica. The moment we walked up to her (empty) table and she said “This table is hot” I knew I was in trouble. I sit down first, Jer hits the men’s room, Andrea watches (me, not Jer)…..(insert giant sucking sound here)….It was like a money black hole…..I lost my first six hands going up each bet, draw on my 7th (two face cards, dealer has 16, pulls a 4), and then lose another five. So in twelve hands, I won a big donut zero. By the time Jer came back from his piss I was down $600. It didn’t get much better. At one point I just offered Jessica an opportunity to make things simple by just taking my ATM card and PIN, credit cards, and vehicle title to boot. Finally, Andrea took pity on me and agreed to get on the dance floor with me. Jer stuck it out and I think he held his own, but we all know where this was going so we decided to leave. Meandering about, we came across Toby Keith’s Bar…. Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy As many may know, the National Rodeo Finals were in town. Walking about Vegas you couldn’t two-step three feet before running into a Back Hat, Wranglers, and boots. They were everywhere up and down the strip, downtown, everywhere. It was highly concentrated at Toby Keith’s, out next stop on the tour. Andrea seemed to get even more of a bounce in her step; I grabbed three Jack-on-the-rocks for us and we all danced to Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich, and other CMT delights. Many a chickadee there had booty worthy of a trace Adkins video, and this was underscored by the “best female bod” competition we were lucky enough to view. The three finalists were fantastic, but the winner was out of this world. (Jer, you agree?) It didn’t stop me from separately telling each finalist that SHE should have been the winner. Mandalay Bay and Forty Deuce Back in a cab to the ‘Bay. The gang wanted to see the suite so we headed Mandalay Bay and Forty Deuceup and took the tour. I called down to get us a table at Forty Deuce, a club allegedly modeled after a 1920’s speakeasy and cabaret. Well, if the dancers back then wore what even the bartenders wore at this place….ouch…did they really have lace thongs in the 20’s? We stood for a while until the floor guy was able to get us a table, although we never really sat down. We got our bottle of Stoli, our carafe of cranberry juice, and jumped around like twentysomethings for the next several hours. The music was pop/ hip-hop, with an occasional dancer coming out with a four-piece band to do a striptease for the crowd. Very nice indeed. The place rocked; well, it certainly rocked me. I vaguely remember making out with Holly and Cari. We all started to run out of gas around 3am, waddled up to the suite, and crashed. Morning Melons Woke without an alarm at about seven. Showered, dressed, and tiptoed past the sleepyheads in the other room to head down for some more dice. Turned out to be a strong move. I at one end of the felt and was up a bit when the dice came around to me. Just then a guy and his hottie girlfriend who had never played craps took up positions at the far end of the table. She had the face of Faith Hill and the chest of Pam Anderson and was in a black tankini. . I think they were real; I’ll tell you why. I was hitting my sixes and eights with four as the point. I managed to bounce the dice up high as SHE was leaning over….see dice bounce…see dice bounce on her left one….see dice land on deuces……ya! Four the hardways, pay the line. The way that die came off her boob I’m sure it was adipose and not saline. I was all hits from there. Kept the dice for half an hour hitting everything up and down, Now I know the Billboard Awards had just been in town but for me it was all about those Golden Globes. My only blemish on that extraordinary roll was that I never could hit her right one despite the ample cleavage. Andrea shows up and we say our goodbyes…she informs me Jer had already left for a BJ tourney somewhere; she heads out just as the sev** comes up (thanks, Andrea!)..and I color up. So pretty those yellow chips…. The Vegas Drag I was beginning to hit that point in the trip I call the “Vegas Drag”...you know- you need to rest, to sleep, to eat and drink less, you body is asking for a break, but you know Vegas time goes fast, so you resist. I decided to walk from the MB to Aladdin for sun, fresh air, and Buffet. Hit a few shops along the way but nothing looked good enough to buy. Spent about an hour at the Aladdin Spice Market and went totally veggie there (a good place to do it, with all that Middle Eastern cuisine)…dolma, chick pea stews, tofu rolls, salads…fresh squeezed OJ, tomato juice. Just what the doctor ordered. Took a taxi from Caesars back to the JW and the cabbie tried to sell me on this “special house” he knew of where I could have anything I want- Asians, blacks, blondes..”you name it…not far form here.” I politely declined, instead heading back to my conference and a nap. 3950 I awoke around 4pm, showered, and hit MB. As it turns out, Jer had left his wallet in the MB suite; since I was going over there anyway, I retrieved it for him. In the meantime, Andrea’s driver’s license was with Jer. Seems appropriate, but nobody had anything of mine (except CC Jessica). So after retrieving Jer’s wallet and charging $400 in obligatory phone sex to his credit card, I headed downtown. I tried to call Vegas Al but the # I had programmed in was a disconnected number. So either Al lost his phone service or a transposed digits when I entered them in. Oh well, no Al meet-up tonite. See you and MM3, guy. Met up with Jer in our usual dice place but the magic just wasn’t there. No horn-boy, I guess. Said my goodbye to Jer and went back (again) to MB to meet my host (Johnny) and see what I could get done for March. Good guy, that Johnny. He didn’t promise me a penthouse suite for MM but he promised me a room- good enough, let’s see how things go. I hit the tables pretty heavy the rest of the night, and too keep going had about five Red Bulls in the space of an hour. I broke only to dine at 3950. If you’re ever gonna dine solo, 3950 is the place to do it. I got a corner table and dined in a relaxed atmosphere as the beautiful people of the world sauntered in and out. Red and black leather softer than a baby’s bottom was everywhere. Food was fist-rate, particularly the “mac and cheese” which was white with shells, velvety smooth, and had a mixed flavor of cheeses none of which I had ever heard of but will never forget. It was decorated with meat of a crab claw, a nice top. I gambled some more but this morning’s breast bounces just weren’t there. At best I held the line and called it quits around midnight, went upstairs, and tuned into Barely Legal #26 (unfortunately I had missed episodes #24 and #25 so found it hard to follow the storyline). Bally’s Sterling Brunch I won’t bother with details of checkout and airport, but I did divert from McCarran to hit Bally’s Sterling Brunch. You are greeted my a maitre’d who pours you a flute of Perrier Jouet. The buffet is low-lit and elegant, to say the least. The following were my favorites: Petit Filets, Duck l’orange, sushi, steamed half-lobsters, eggs benedict, fresh berries with fresh cream, fresh squeezed OJ and, of course, more champagne. There was far more than that there (prime rib, hams, etc….) I had three plates and headed to the airport fat, sleepy, and content. Thought/tips: *If you are under age 85, avoid the JW, except maybe the Promenade Café of Carmel Room. *Had a blast with T2Vers, especially Jer and Andrea- thanks! Let’s do it again! *I think everyone finds that one Vegas place they call home; maybe it’s the memories, but MB is mine. Plus my host is going to bat for me for MM. *Delmonico is great, but not in my top three. *When at Carnival Court, say hi to, joke with, flirt with Jessica but BY NO MEANS pull out your wallet. *Check out Toby Keith’s Bar when you’re in a C & W mood. *Forty Deuce- thumbs up. ‘nuff said. *One spa treatment is the equivalent of one full night’s sound sleep. *Bounce dice off real boobs. *JD on the rocks tastes almost as good in a country bar as it does out of a D-cup. *MSS is my downtown home. *Three months to the madness so I can do it over again, this time without a pesky conference to get in the way. *When it comes to hosts, honey goes further than vinegar. *The penthouse suite at MB is the best room on the property, and the nicest Vegas room I have ever been inside.