Dbueler’s Christmas trip to Las Vegas Ahhhh… my work is insane during Nov and Dec, plus all the baking, shopping, wrapping..etc.. for Christmas therefore, my Christmas trip is my favorite. The office is only open a few days during the days between Christmas and New Years, so few emails and calls to distract me. And FFlowers and I always meet for the first time in months on Christmas night, great to spend lots of time with a great friend. I will write this in categories and, while I had my usual planning spreadsheet, I didn’t keep detailed notes, I don’t keep strict accounting during my trip, that would be too much like my weekly business trip. And most of you will probably remember, I’m a low roller playing primarily multi-line nickel vp, so no high rolling stories here! Travel Stuff: The only direct flight available from STL on Christmas day departed at 2pm. This was a little early for our family activities (I live 2 hours from the airport) but we re-arranged a little bit and made it happen. No getting stuck in Chicago for me on Christmas day! Every single seat was taken, but there were few flights that day so the airport was pretty empty. TSA Pre-Check is one of god’s greatest gifts… everyone in the entire airport was in the regular security line, the Pre-Check was completely empty. I paid with points for my outbound flight plus early-bird check-in, I was #A30. For the return, I used a SW Luv voucher for $75 (given to me for a major problem on a business trip I took. Probably should have been more like $750, but I wasn’t expecting compensation, so I was glad to have it) plus $150 plus early-bird, I was #A35. Both flights left on time and were, unbelievably, very routine. My checked bag was on the turnstile when I arrived in baggage claim and I was quickly in the empty cab line. Cabs: My cabbie from the airport to the Flamingo didn’t say one single word to me. I don’t think he could speak any English, or maybe he was just having a bad day. He wasn’t unpleasant, he smiled, just said not a single word. But no worry, he took me the correct route to the Flamingo, was quick to lift my heavy bag, so he was tipped well. My cabbie from the Flamingo to the airport was the nicest guy. It was New Years Eve morning, the day of the projected snow storm, and it was spitting snow. As in, I saw 5 snowflakes max. I thought it was funny how the news stations were flying helicopters all over the valley trying to find snow. The cabbie said his wife was afraid to drive in snow, so he offered to take her to work at Treasure Island and pick her up at 3:30am when we finished her shift. So he had been up since 3am and proudly said he didn’t want her to be afraid. What a nice guy, so compassionate. I tipped him huge and wished him a happy new year. Hotel: I stayed at the Flamingo, as usual, in a comped GO room overlooking Caesar’s Palace. Check-in using the Diamond room was quick and my room was ready. CET will comp 5 nights, but since I needed an additional night, the VIP manager had charged me $25 for Christmas night, a true bargain for this room, but they ended up comping that off anyway and gave me a refund. This was truly the perfect room for me… soft bed, near the elevator and ice machine, killer view of Caesar’s from the floor-to-ceiling windows BUT the interned was horrid. I prefer the lobby tower (it’s closer to my machines..LOL..) but I was told the internet has not been upgraded in this tower. I waited 10 minutes for a Google screen to come up, it was that slow. I really want internet as I like to mess around on my computer, and I would need it for work a few days as well. So I spent 2 hours of my first morning walking around the property, tower to tower, with my laptop to determine where the internet had been upgraded. If they are going to charge for it, it better be damn good internet speed! I decided the Spa tower was the best choice and had been going back and forth to Diamond check-in and they were able to find a similar room in the Spa tower, but cautioned me it wouldn’t have a strip view. It didn’t matter to me, I have to have the internet. As it turned out, the new room had a lovely full view of the Belligio fountains. It was a great room, but I wouldn’t want it during warm months as Drai’s was directly below it and the noise from the Drai’s pool party is really loud. But since the pool was closed, I couldn’t hear a thing my entire stay. I love the Flamingo, the staff is all so friendly and helpful. The VIP host split my reservation into 2 reservations so I could use (2) $25 fsp offers. Not much, but I will take what’s offered. Diamond Lounges: FFlowers and I didn’t have a show booked one night and thought it would be fun to Diamond Lounge hop! We got a late start, then over consumed at the Flamingo lounge, our first stop. We arrived after the hot food was gone, which was fine by us, so we snacked and had a couple drinks. The Harrah’s diamond lounge was really HOT and pretty busy, but they still had hot food out. BTW the strawberry daiquiris at the Harrah’s diamond lounge are far superior to the Flamingos. The staff at both were very welcoming and friendly, but the Flamingo staff were over-the-top friendly. We will start earlier on our next trip and hit more diamond lounges! Shows: Our first show was Jerry Seinfeld at Caesar’s on Dec 26th and was he ever a scream! FFlowers used an offer for the tickets and we had 2nd row aisle seats (our row only had 4 seats). We saw him last year and loved his show, and I thought it was even better this year. I laughed until I cried. We were so close I just wanted to reach out and hug him, I love Jerry! I purchased tickets to Boyz to Men as a “Christmas Gift” for us. Upon reading the reviews (which were all 5 stars BTW) I knew the Boyz came up the aisle and danced with girls sitting in the aisle seats at the end of the show. So… I sprung for 2 5th row seats, one being on the aisle for FFlowers! What a concert this was! The Boyz are true class, so grateful for everyone attending, so grateful to still be together after 23 years. They are so energetic, true performers. I’ve always been a fan but hadn’t realized, until I saw them in person, what truly talented vocalists they are. And true to the reviews, they came up the aisle while singing “End of the Road” and SLOW DANCED with the ladies! Nate was in our aisle and he actually ASKED FFlowers to dance with him! Of course, I was taking pics and video! Do see this show if you have the opportunity, it was incredible. We used my Diamond tickets to see Legends in Concert at the Flamingo on Sunday Dec 28th. We have seen this show several times before, the last time was a couple years ago and the show was disappointing. Half the performers were good and half were not. Since moving the show to the Flamingo, they have certainly upgraded the talent! Michael Jackson was very good, Elvis was solid, and Brittney Spears was the spitting image of the real Brittney! Honestly, if I didn’t know she was an impersonator, I’d have never known it wasn’t really Brittney. We truly enjoyed the show this time, especially using Diamond tickets. Our final show on Tues. Dec 30th was Olivia Newton-John at the Flamingo. FFlowers used an offer or comps for these, our seats were at the front table. Since neither of us are a fan of table seats, we asked for a booth in the back (we also had a booth to ourselves at Legends). The showroom is small and the front tables are just too close and cramped. Olivia Newton-John was exceptional… I wasn’t prepared for the emotional tide that hit me when she began singing. She was most popular while I was in high school and her songs brought back so many memories! I was stunned to learn she is 66!! She looks so much younger and so beautiful. Her voice is exactly the same! She sang constantly for 1 hour and 20 minutes and still didn’t sing all her hit songs. A portion of each ticket goes to her cancer treatment center in Australia, so she feels really good about singing and helping people at the same time (she is a breast cancer survivor of many years). Great show by a truly classy lady. It’s pretty rare for me to be thrilled with every show on a trip, and I would gladly see all of these again, and probably will!! Food: Oh, we do enjoy our food! Fflowers and I take our food “traditions” very seriously and also add a few new restaurants each trip. Our Christmas night arrival dinner was at Sugar Factory at Paris. The original plan was to sit on the patio overlooking the fountains, but the cold and high winds cancelled that! We did get a nice table along the windows, so the view was excellent. We both had the French Onion Soup (just ok) and their specialty burger (very good) and fries (excellent). We have eaten here before and enjoyed the food but were less than impressed by the service. The service was improved this time, but was still a little slow. I used a Groupon for dinner and left the tip. Our first morning in Vegas tradition is breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi on the patio. The cold and high winds once again forced us inside, but we had a lovely table along the glass with a great view. We always order exactly the same thing – I order the eggs bene, bacon, and a baguette for the table. FFlowers is crazy over the blueberry French toast and country sausage. This breakfast was particularly good and we spent several hours talking and catching up. We ate at Giada’s prior to the Jerry Seinfeld show. We ate here in August and fell in love with the small plates, specifically the bacon wrapped dates, the prosciutto, the gorgonzola cheese with honey, and the little pot of rosemary bread. We ordered waaaay too much food last time, so we swore we would only order the small plates and a cocktail. Well, our best intentions weren’t strong enough and FFlowers also ordered the tortellini and the surf and turf! I was so full after the rich small plates. I had one bite of pasta and one bite of fillet mignon and I was done…ugh! The fillet was really good, but I was just too full. We really enjoy the food at Giada’s, but aren’t a fan of the service. The receptionist has the slightest “too good for you” attitude and we’ve seen a bit of this in the waiters as well. The time between courses was far too long and I was just ready to leave rather than wait for even more food. We will definitely return, but will stick to the small plates next time! FFlowers used comps for the meal. Breakfast Saturday morning was at Payard Pastry in Caesar’s. This is a great, small breakfast place with excellent food and a bustling business. I had the cheese omelet (very good) and crisp bacon. FFlowers enjoyed their French toast with berries and country sausage, we were both very pleased with the food. FFlowers used comps to cover the bill. Dinner before the Boyz show was Ruth Chris Steakhouse at Harrah’s. This is one of our very favorite restaurants in LV and was the location of FFlower’s birthday dinner in August. Tonight was my treat, and they gave us a great table along the windows, we love the view here. We both ordered the Harvest Salad (outstanding, our favorite) and she had scallops and I ordered the bbq shrimp. We had tried the shrimp before as an appetizer and they are excellent. I was stunned how many large shrimp were included in the dinner; it was well over a dozen. I even left some! The scallops are Fflower’s favorite and she said they were excellent. We try to eat here every trip and hope to return our next trip as well! Sterling Brunch. Damn.. what can I say? Large lobsters, huge shrimp, crab legs, prime rib, fillet mignon, a virtual feast of top quality food! We ate on and off for 2+ hours! They also had excellent quality cheeses and Italian meats, which I really enjoyed. I’m not sure if I ate enough to justify the $85 price tag but I gave it my best effort! Fflowers covered the meal with comps, I’m so glad I was able to try the Sterling Brunch! On Monday, we enjoyed the Milo’s lunch special at Cosmo. I ordered the tomato salad to start, exceptionally good tomatoes cut into bite size pieces and topped with marinated onions, feta cheese and olive oil. I’ve not had a “salad” like this before and it was wonderful, I plan to make it at home next summer when our garden tomatoes are ripe! We both ordered the shrimp dish and it was good. Fflowers had mixed berries for dessert and I had the Greek yogurt… sublime. She also ordered the fried zucchini and eggplant “tower” as an appetizer and it was out of this world! So lightly breaded and delicious. The $20.14 price for the 3 course meal is a great buy, especially in such a lovely restaurant. We enjoyed our meal and talked for 3 hours! On Tuesday, my last day, we went to the Flamingo breakfast buffet. This is always a must-do for us as diamond and seven stars members are seated on the glass overlooking the flamingos, ducks, fish, etc.. in the habitat. Not to mention their bacon is hands-down the best in Vegas – thin sliced and so crisp! I also love their biscuits and gravy and their eggs with cheese. The eggs bene were woefully overcooked, as is usual on a buffet. We talked for a long time over mimosas and enjoyed the beautiful scenery! I had $5 off coupons and paid the rest with points. Our last dinner was at Border Grill in the Forum shops which just opened a few months prior. We are both huge fans of Border Grill and occasionally made the trek to Mandalay Bay to eat at that location, but it’s quite a haul from our center strip location. We were beyond thrilled when we learned a location was opening in the forum shops! I wax poetic over their skirt steak! I make one hellova marinated skirt steak at home, and was worried about ordering theirs initially. Wow.. theirs is better than mine! We had coupons for a free specialty cocktail and ordered the peach sangria; it was to-die-for! We liked the new location, very comfortable and easy to access, we will be back! Gambling: I Hit 4 Royal Flushes! Yep, you read that correctly… FOUR royal flushes! Each were nickel royal flushes, naturally I couldn’t hit one at the dime or quarter level, not for lack of trying! Three were diamonds and one in clubs. Three were in one day (Saturday). Everyone should have a gambling day like I did on Saturday where I went from $100 from hitting the ATM to having more $$ than I brought with me! The first Royal was on 5 play BP and I was dealt 4-to-the royal and pulled the ace of diamonds on the last hand! The second Royal was on 10 play DDB where I held 3 clubs and pulled the king and queen on the fifth hand. The third was on 10 play DDB and I pulled the Ace and King on the 8th hand for the Royal. The 4th and final royal was on 5 play DDB and I pulled the King and Ace of diamonds on the last hand. I had numerous other 4-to-the-royal deals that didn’t fill in. I’m surprised I was able to get the ace in these situations because aces surely let me down the rest of the time! So WTF is it with aces? How many times can you possibly be dealt 3 aces on 5 play and 10 play and not pull a single ace? At least 20 times for me, and probably more. FFlowers had the same issue the whole trip with trip aces. I hit aces 3 times over the course of the trip, once holding two aces and drawing two more with the kicker on triple play DDB. So yes, as insane as is seems, I hit more Royals than quad aces. Impossible! Other notable hands were: • 5 play DDB – I held 3 three’s and filled in the last 3 on two hands, no kickers. • Triple play DDB – I was dealt quad 4’s and drew a kicker on one hand. This was my only dealt quad of the trip, which is unusual. • 5 play DDB – I held 3 kings and pulled the last king on lines 4 and 5. • 10 play DDB – I needed a Jack of clubs for an inside straight flush draw and drew it on 2 lines. Straight flushes are usually nonexistent for me and I hit quite a few this trip. • 5 play deuces wild Ultimate X – I drew to a straight flush x 12 (480 coins) and four deuces x 2 (2000 coins) on the same hand. • 5 play DDB – I held 3 three’s and drew the fourth on three hands, no kickers. • 10 play DDB – I held 2 kings and pulled quad kings on 2 hands. • 5 play DDB – I again held 3 three’s and drew the last 3 on two hands. • 5 play BP – I held 2 fives and drew quad 5’s on two hands. • 10 play DDB – I held three 2’s and drew quad 2’s on two hands. I played both single line quarter VP and triple play quarter BP but couldn’t duplicate my big wins, although I didn’t lose on quarters thanks to quad 10’s. I’m just a fan of 5 and 10 play vp and I can’t swing that on quarters. I did play dimes several times when I game was playing “hot” and it never once paid off… go figure! The best way for me to kill a hot game was to up the ante. Other fun stuff – • Best Memory of the Trip – Fflowers was entered in the Seven Stars drawing at multiple properties for ridiculous amounts of fsp. The Saturday afternoon drawing was at the Flamingo, we have great karma gambling together at the Flamingo and we “felt it”. The MC draws the winning names and you have 60 seconds to make it onto the stage to get your prize. We were in the back of the crowd, way the hell back, as he called the names. For the $1000 fsp prize… he called her name! We both screamed like the girls we are and she FLEW, no, she LEVITATED over the crowd to the stage! I was still screaming and everyone was high-fiving me, what a blast!! I lost her in the crowd and she texted saying she was headed to the TR booth then the cashier. We have had so many awesome memories at the Flamingo but this one takes the cake! • I was headed to my room one night, not late, probably 11pm, and was joined in the elevator by 2 girls. We said hi and the door closed. The minute the door closed, they started making out! And I mean… seriously making out! Tongues flying, hands groping, bodies wiggling. Their floor was the 20th and mine was the 26th, so needless to say, it was a loooog ride! Now, I’m very liberal when it comes to personal choices and think anything is A-OK between two consenting adults (with a SAFE word, lol) but this was on the extreme side. Awkward! • My son is 21 now and we’ve had a tradition, since he was probably 10, of betting the Bowl games together. I text him the Bowl games and the spread, then he tells me which one to bet for him. If he wins, then $20 is his prize, if not then no penalty. It’s fun, he’s a real sports nut, and it keeps us connected. I don’t limit the number of games we bet, and am always amazed he only recommends games he truly believes are a good bet, even though losing is not a penalty or loss of revenue to him. This year he won 4 and didn’t cover the spread on 2. When I texted him that Clemson was +6, he thought I had the spread backwards and asked that I re-check. I was indeed correct, Clemson +6. He said to bet that, and was so adamant it couldn’t be right that I added “mom” money to the bet. Clemson lead 24-0 very early, so it was fun. And they ended up winning by nearly 40 points, so we both made cash (me a lot more than him!). • I’ve not been in Vegas before when it was so cold. I’m one of those people who are always HOT, so it worked out ok for me, although the wind was brutal several days. And predicting a NYE snowstorm was called “the perfect storm”. The casinos had the heat cranking, at night I wore shorts and sandals while gambling. • I had a massage using a Groupon at the Westin on the 26th. Groupon had a special deal- $55 for a 50 minute Swedish. The Westin spa was very small and didn’t have a hot tub, which I really like prior to a massage. The massage was good and worth the price, no more. • I had a second massage, this one for 80 minutes, at the Flamingo Spa on Monday. The Diamond discount is 20% so the massage cost $130 and was worth every single penny, if not more. At the end of the massage all I could do was whisper to the therapist “I need your card”! I’m a real baby and like light pressure, I’m really just there to be rubbed with oil. She was perfect, absolutely perfect. The spa attendant, Felini, is the hardest working attendant anywhere. I love how she “mothers” me. She dashes to turn on the hot tub for me, brings me bottles of water as I soak, reminds me when it’s time to get out because “you get so hot” and hangs up my swimsuit in the sauna so it will dry during my massage. She always remembers and welcomes me and I tip her well. I always try other spas, especially if there’s a deal, but I’m so spoiled at the Flamingo spa I’m not sure why I try other places as they just fall short. FFlowers could get me into Qua for free but I never made it over there. Shame as it’s a fabulous spa. Next trip! I came home a couple hundred lighter in the wallet, I paid for many things in cash so I’m not sure how I came out gambling. Like I said, a detailed accounting is too much like my everyday life. This was easily one of my best trips – all the shows were fabulous and I would absolutely see each one again – all the meals were fantastic and I will definitely repeat each one – the gambling was feast or famine with 2 great days and 4 horrid days – my room was great and my neighbors were quiet – and I was able to spend 6 days with my true Vegas soul mate. We travel so well together, we are both very independent and like alone time, and we effortlessly link up for activities then part to do our own thing. Our next trip is Easter, FFlowers arrives on Good Friday while I don’t arrive until Wednesday April 8th as my daughter’s birthday is on the 7th. I disliked the Easter crowds last year, so arriving the Wednesday after Easter is best for me anyway. Good luck to all and thanks for reading!