Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by MikeOPensacola, Jun 11, 2021.
Another great TR @MikeOPensacola! Hopefully we can meet up in the future!
Well, I’ve had almost two weeks to digest the happenings of my trip and I’m still of two minds about my 12 days at Encore. On one hand, it was great to get away from home and to visit one of my favorite vacation spots on the planet. On the other hand, there were some major disappointments on this trip; some of them were somewhat expected, others were not. Still, most of the things that went wrong with this trip were on me, in the sense that I anticipated them, and I really shouldn’t bellyache too much about them. For example, I knew going into the trip that the heat would be almost unbearable with it being in the 115 degree range on most days, the restaurant situation would be worse than my visit in October; crowds up, employees down; and overall customer service would not be up to par at most venues for the same reasons.
All the above being said, I try to make my TRs as positive as I am able, so I’ll try not to dwell too much on the negatives. However, I’ll touch on them, if only to bring to light some of the issues going on in Vegas, especially for VMBers who are considering or planning a trip there in the near future. These aren’t complaints, per se, as much as they are FYI items.
I flew Delta first class and it was as good as ever. I had one of those reclining seats, in my own little pod, for the first time and it was quite the treat. Delta customer service remains outstanding and I can’t see myself changing airlines until Delta gives me a reason to do so.
Presidential Limo was also outstanding. The driver met me at baggage claim with my VMB handle on the sign (pretty cool) and drove me to CVS, in a bad-ass Escalade, and then to Encore in all of 45 minutes. On the return leg to the airport the driver was about 15 minutes early, as usual, but this time I was able to ride in a Tesla SUV. Love Presidential and will continue to use them as well.
Uber vs. Taxis: One of the huge positives of this trip was the abundance of taxi cab availability and their very reasonable fares. Uber wait times, and fares, were long and high and I didn’t even bother with them after the first few times checking their app on my phone. One thing I would say in respect to catching a cab, with a minimal wait time, is to go to the busier, big-name, properties like Caesars, Cosmo, Wynn/Encore (Tower Suites) and Bellagio. Even if you have to walk a little bit out of your way to do so these properties have a lot more taxis coming in and going out and your wait time will be much less than at other properties like Park MGM, Mirage, Mandalay Bay etc. I made two round trips to South Point and they ran about $30 each leg from Encore and trips downtown were in the $15 range. Trips to Cosmo were only around $10. The taxi situation this trip was completely unexpected and was a huge, huge, huge bonus.
Encore Tower Suites. My room was simply the best room I have ever had, in any hotel, Vegas or otherwise. With the exception of housekeeping, more on this later, the customer service in the Tower Suites; front desk, bell services and concierge were as excellent and spot-on as one would expect when staying at Wynn/Encore.
Crowds on the Strip. I felt much safer this trip on LVB vs. last October. The folks out there seemed very well behaved and the only time I even thought about safety was when I noticed how calm and peaceful everything was. Doing strip walks during the evening was not an issue at all this time. I truly enjoyed my time on the strip every single night that I was out there. The overpasses also seemed to be very calm and actually had some pretty good musicians doing their thing. The behavior on the strip was another huge plus for my trip. The same can also be said for Fremont St.
Gambling. It went way better than I thought it was going towards the end of my trip. I generally don’t like the slot selection at Wynn/Encore, but love staying there, so I did most of my slotting at V/P and Cosmo. I didn’t hit anything really big but I didn’t have any of those horrible days that can put a big dent in the bankroll.
The Not So Good:
Encore Tower Suites Housekeeping. I was really disappointed in this area and it was a big-time letdown compared to my previous visit in the Tower Suites at Wynn. On at least four different occasions housekeeping failed to replace my amenities in the bathroom and twice left my used towels in the bathtub and didn’t bother to refresh them with clean ones. The only way I could tell that they had serviced my room was because my bed was made. The same thing happened twice with turndown service. Also, on two occasions they failed to call my room, at the appointed time, for my wakeup call. Even worse, one of the times that I put in a wakeup call they called me, at the appointed time at which time I then canceled my back up call, per usual SOP. On that particular occasion I immediately took a shower, after they called I answered and then cancelled my back up call, and when I was toweling off there was banging on my door and a ringing doorbell. I opened it to see two purple-clad security guards letting me know that I didn’t answer my wakeup call, which I did, and wanted to check and make sure I was okay. While I appreciated the gesture this really felt excessive on their part. In regards to housekeeping, I left a $10 tip every morning and a $5 tip every evening for turndown service so I’m pretty sure the complete lack of quality service wasn’t due to me being a cheapskate. These aren’t the worst problems in the world, but, to be completely honest, when I’m paying $250-$300 per night I expect much better service, regardless of the circumstances. Period. Legitimate rant over….
Restaurant Closures/Limited Hours. Ugh, what a massive headache. This was also anticipated but it was much worse than I imagined it would be. Every property, with the exception of two, that I visited had massive casualties on their restaurant rosters. Wynn/Encore, Aria, MB, Caesars, MGM and especially Mirage all had multiple restaurants closed. Wynn and Encore were particularly bad. Wait times were considerably longer, for the restaurants that were open, especially for breakfast and lunch, compared to last October, and several of them had more severe availability, in regards to the hours that they were operating when compared to last October, especially Charlie’s. It was so bad that twice I ended up walking over to the Canal Shoppes to get an ice cream and pretzel for dinner and another time I went to the Fashion Show Mall Food Court for a bite to eat for lunch. The mid and south strip areas were much better in this regard. NYNY especially stood out as doing a fine job. V/P and South Point are way, way, way ahead of the curve in regards to restaurant availability. I was always able to find somewhere to eat at V/P and South Point had all 13 of their restaurants open, including their buffet. Like I mentioned above, I fully expected the restaurant situation to be a challenge this trip but with massive crowds and restaurants still getting up to speed, in regards to rehiring, training and efficiency, finding a restaurant without a reservation, for lunch at least, was a massive problem at Wynn/Encore and many other resorts. Making reservations for breakfast and dinner is a must, regardless of where you’re having meals on the strip.
Encore Tower Suites Club Noise. This was yet another problem that I anticipated because it is “clubbing season” at the Encore Beach Club, but I thought I would be insulated from by being on a high floor. Not to be. I was on the 56th floor and every night that the night swim at EBC was going on I could hear the music until they shut down – at 4:00 am. My advice is if you are a light sleeper and planning to stay at Wynn/Encore Tower Suites is to stay at the Wynn Tower Suites, where there is zero club noise, or get a north facing view at the Encore Tower Suites. I think I will limit future summer visits there to the Wynn Tower Suites during the summer and go with the Encore Tower Suites during the winter.
WiFi would constantly cut out on me at Encore and each time it did I would have to start the log-in process again. This became very, very tedious. I mentioned this to the front desk and they sent a tech up but he wasn’t able to do anything.
Overall Customer Service. This seemed to be pretty much one of those-across-the-board issues. For the most part, customer service was a little below par everywhere I visited but I imagine most of these problems will be ironed out in the future. However, IMHO, I don’t see a significant majority of them being resolved before the end of 2021. Las Vegas still has lots of work to do to get back to 2019.
Okay, enough of the negatives. I’m really not complaining for the sake of complaining but trying to give an accurate account of the current state of affairs in Vegas. I think most of the customer service related problems I encountered were a result of the growing pains with regards to rehiring & retraining of staff.
Wow!! This was one of the highlights of my trip. These are all the restaurants that I ate at:
Allegro – Sat at the bar and had a good salad and pizza.
Terrace Pointe Café – Breakfast most mornings. Fruit plates, Eggs Benny, steak and eggs and croissant French toast were all excellent.
Grimaldi’s – Great pizza at the bar and traditionally slow service. The service thing is almost endearing at this point so it doesn’t really get to me too much.
Chica – What a find!! I have never eaten there and it will be a great spot for me to have a quick bite to eat, or a more leisurely meal, when I’m in the V/P area.
Auntie Annie’s – I ended up walking over to V/P one night for dinner and ate here when I couldn’t find anything else open without a long line. I only mention this because I had eaten here before and had a really great unsalted pretzel.
Pizza Rock – Love this place. We had their happy hour personal pizza special for only $5 per pie. Great deal.
Mon Ami Gabi – Tip o’ the chapeau to the folks at MAG. Excellent food, service and ambience as always.
CUT – Hands down the best meal and service I’ve ever had in Las Vegas. If you eat there be sure to get their Banana Cream Pie dessert. The presentation is phenomenal.
China Poblano – Love their tacos and Chips & Salsa. CP is a must for me whilst in Vegas.
Border Grill – This was my first visit and I’ll be back for many more brunches in the future.
Mizumi – This is still my favorite restaurant in Las Vegas. The show the chefs put on along with the incredible atmosphere really clicks with me.
Sinatra – Another one of the greats in the Wynn/Encore lineup. At some point I’ll have to try something other than their lamb chops but they are just so damn good it’s hard to change up.
Ri Ra – Another great find!! Had their incredible Guiness Beef Stew whilst nursing a Guiness at their really neat bar.
Sirrico’s Pizza at NYNY – A tradition when I’m at that end of the strip. Love snacking on a slice while sitting on the sidewalk in the Little Italy section of NYNY.
Greenberg’s Deli at NYNY – Kind of like Carnegie Deli. I had a foot long all beef hot dog and it was great. Next time I’m going to arrive hungry as hell and have one of their massive pastrami sandwiches.
District Donut – Love their massive donuts that you almost need to eat with a knife and a fork.
Wazuzu – Great view of the Encore casino and I had the best sweet & sour chicken of my life. Not overly priced at all for the atmosphere and quality of food.
Sugarcane – Not too impressed. The service was poor and the food was only so-so. I’ll give them another shot at some point because I know they have a good reputation. I just happened to hit them on an off night.
These were the highlights. There were other restaurants, mostly for lunch, that were more forgettable. I ate better this trip than any previous visit to Vegas and found a handful of first-time restaurants that will be mainstays of future trips. Vegas eats are always such an upgrade from Pensacola, ….duh....lol, and have become one of the cornerstones of my trips. I was doubly fortunate this trip to find some really nice places to add to my rotation on future trips. Thanks to so many VMBers for these recommendations, much appreciated!! One more thing, big props to all the restaurant workers who are working doubly hard and still doing an exemplary job under less than ideal circumstances!!
This TR recap has been written between the airport at SLC, a lakeside cabin in Montana and home sweet home in Pensacola, hence the total lack of brevity, so I suppose this has a sort of scattered shotgun approach. Here are some random thoughts and observations from my trip:
An opportunity for a double scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream, accompanied by a Corona, with a priest from Senegal at a Bubble Craps machine at the Venetian should always be taken advantage of. Helluva way to kick off my trip on my first night!! Had a blast.
Eastside Lounge at Encore is open and has dueling pianos on the weekends. Good stuff.
Parasol Up at Wynn is being remodeled into some type of an ultra-lounge. Big-time ugh. Others may disagree, and perhaps I should wait and see, but why even attempt to reinvent the wheel?
Scooter brigades were a complete non-issue.
Wynn/Encore still has Fiji water available on the slot floor.
It was so hot this trip that I only went to the pool once, on cabana day. I love the hot Vegas weather so this should say something about how nasty it was over the course of two weeks.
The 24-hour tailor/alterations shop at Fashion Show Mall is very convenient.
Playing UTH and catching quads on the river is great!!! First quads ever, in any carny game, and it made my day.
Spa at Encore is A+++++. Better than Canyon Ranch at V/P and way better than the spa at Cosmo.
Circa is really nice. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time there, and didn’t get to see the entire layout, but it is a beautiful property and the Stevens brothers did one helluva job.
Considering how brutally hot it was, all the casinos did a really fine job with their ACs. The only casino where it was a little warm was the Four Queens, and I visited almost every casino on the strip and downtown.
If you have even a remote interest in casino chips and/or memorabilia you should consider visiting the annual Casino Collectibles Association show at the South Point. There are all kinds of retro-casino items to purchase or even just view and admire. Even the most casual casino enthusiast could easily spend a couple of hours there.
Perhaps the best thing about this trip was spending time with so many of my favorite VMBers.
@topcard - and his buddy Mike. We had a hell of a lot of fun time hopping around Fremont Street and all three of us managed to have a winning day. Hope to see you next march “Top”.
@Texas Rock - I ran in to him at the CCA show and he is such a great guy. I’m always a little anxious walking into a room with 50 or so complete strangers but he and his wife were so nice to invite me to join them for dinner at the banquet it really made for a nice evening.
@spdandpwr – Wow, we had a blast. Gambling, drinking, great, great, great eats, meeting his wonderful parents, doing the cabana and just hanging out was amazing. Hopefully we’ll be able to do our dune buggy thing next time we meet up in Vegas.
@luck.ofthe.draw – LOTD is probably my favorite VMBer. We always seem to have such a great time hanging out together and her personality is infectious. Cosmo, China Poblano, Mizumi, Border Grill and Ethel M’s wouldn’t have been the same without her keeping me company and entertained.
@Vegas Erica – Met her at Chandelier Bar with LOTD and she treated everyone to a round of drinks. Hope to meet up with her again sometime. Nice lady.
@cvkelz and @cvkelz hubs - I’ve been able to meet up with them for our last three consecutive trips and have been so fortunate to get to know them through the years. The biggest regret of feeling so tired and beat up at the end of my trip was not being able to spend more time with them. Hey Kelly, I’ve got a $20 bill for ya, in pretty rough shape, for next time we’re barhopping.
@44inarow – It was really nice meeting Las Vegas’ very own 44inarow and I was so happy that he was able to join us for dinner at Sinatra. What a great, great guy.
I also met up with @TiffyChick, @Sweetvibes and @Johnnguyen2 at VMB meetup at Encore, along with a robe-clad VMBer who was flying under the radar during his trip and wishes to remain anonymous. I had never met these VMBers before and it was great and hope to run into them on future trips.
I barely missed out on meeting some VMBers that I was really hoping to meet up with, among them @tringlomane. Hopefully we'll be able to all meet up in the near future.
If I forgot to mention any VMBers that I met, 1000 pardons.
My final thoughts on this trip are a little bit better than when I departed. The excessive heat really beat me up this trip and, perhaps, I was way too active. I put in about 300,000 steps this trip, about the same amount I normally put in over the course of a month. I think my time of going to Vegas during the summer months are now past me. If I’m honest with myself I think that a real lack of energy, due to the heat over 12 days, kind of effed up my attitude more than it should have. If I had to do it all over again I would probably have cancelled my trip and rescheduled. Triple digit heat, before 9:00 am, can really grate on you over the course of two weeks.
After this year’s trip to Cosmo with my GF for xmas I think I’ll start going in March and October instead of my usual summer and winter trips. As I alluded to earlier in my TR, getting old(er) sucks, and the summer Vegas heat really sucked most of the energy out of me. Completely. Besides the housekeeping, EBC noise and restaurant situation at Wynn/Encore I really had another outstanding Vegas vacation. My experience with the Encore Tower Suites didn’t leave me with the same “wow factor” as those over at the Wynn Tower Suites. However, even with those issues, Wynn/Encore is still head and shoulders above any property I’ve ever stayed at in Las Vegas. When I got up to Montana my GF asked me how my trip went and I told her it was a major “meh-burger”. A few days later she read my entire TR and asked me how I had such a mediocre time after all the great restaurants, friends, casino hopping, picture taking, shopping, gambling etc. Now that I look back on it, and have had some time to put things in perspective, I feel very fortunate that I’m able to take these kinds of vacations and shouldn’t ever take them, or Vegas, for granted.
It’s kind of funny because every time I fly away from Vegas I decide immediately where I want to stay during my upcoming trip. It’s one of those things that I like to do when all the thoughts from that trip are still alive and vivid. Even though I usually triple, or even quadruple, my bookings for my next trip my instincts usually hold true and I invariably stay where I decided to stay on my flight home from the previous trip. This last time, flying up to Montana, I knew that I’d be with my sweetie at Cosmo for xmas, but it was pretty easy to decide on where to stay during my solo trip next March. Having not spent near enough time downtown on Fremont Street over the past several years it’s a no-brainer for me to go a little old-school and stay at the Golden Nugget, in the Rush Tower, next March during the NCAAs for 11 days.
Cosmo at xmas will be great. My GF isn’t a Vegas fan but I was able to coax her into an xmas trip with the provision that she got to choose where we stay. After weeks of discussion, bargaining, answering questions, reading countless VMB TRs in re Cosmo, Wynn, V/P, MB, MGM, Delano & Red Rock she finally decided on Cosmo. So, my near-term Vegas plans are Cosmo and an old-school Golden Nugget trip….a whole helluva lot of nice things to look forward to!!!
Thanks for following along during my TR. All of your comments, advice, humor and general encouragement really contributed to me having a great time out in the desert!!!
In 2021 so far IMO this is the #1 trip report on VMB , maybe there will be another further down the line that might top your TR ???? , great detailed in every word , best pics , food porn , everything on your TR was great , great , My amigo
Congrats on an awesome , awesome TR , Thanks for sharing such a great TR.
Thanks for the report Mike! I was staying at the Wynn the last few days of your trip and the first week of your report was SO helpful for my trip.
Here's a fruit plate for you @MikeOPensacola making an Encore. Enjoy.
Nice summary @MikeOPensacola! Bummer we couldn't get around being in the same place at once. Hopefully our trips align in the future!
titans at 30 to 1 after adding Julio Jones. yes please.
I have to agree with rooster42000 This trip report is my favourite. You come across so humble and appreciative of life. I love it! Thank you so much for taking us along Mike I hope our paths cross someday.
Christmas will be awesome, good luck! The Ice Rink at Cosmo, and the overall Vegas dedication to Christmas decorations, are the best. There and NYC are probably my favorites in terms of decoration. I'm Jewish but still love Christmas, and one of my college professors once told me that NYC is one of the only cities that gets all in for Christmas. Vegas is a close second.
Great write-up! I was at the Wynn Tower Suites last week and echo many of your sentiments- best room ever, front desk service was great, housekeeping somewhat disappointing (including just not showing up for turndown service one night). Also, hours/closures were a pain (Charlie’s, sportsbook in general, a bunch of things at Palazzo) but overall food was very good (Tableau, Allegro, TPC, Yardbird- exception was Wynn in-room dining, where the turkey burger was dry and inedible). There were definitely hits and misses, and like you say the overall service level still needs to come up a little to be back to normal.
What a great summary AND total trip report, @MikeOPensacola! There is so much love for you on VMB, I really hope I get to meet you at some point! Thanks for all the photos and honest critique of Vegas at this unusual time.
During Covid, we have stayed at the Wynn twice. It is true that you need to make reservations well in advance, especially for dinner. For lunch, it was easier but usually used OpenTable to reserve a spot, usually on the same day. We found the steakhouses such a Smith & Wollensky and the Palm had plenty of availability. They both have a nice selection of salads and sandwhiches.
+1. Yeah, I also found that Smith & Wollensky seemed to have plenty of room at both lunch and dinner time. Their bar was almost empty every time I walked by. I don't know if they still have their happy hour BOGO on bar eats, but with all the long lines at most other eateries around town Smith & Wollensky is definitely worth checking out if you're in the area and want a nice meal without a long wait.
Thanks for coming back in and doing a final recap! Never stayed at Wynn/Encore, but when I do going for the tower suites, so sick!
Hope you caught some of England/Denmark yesterday, proud to see the boys in the final!
Fantastic report and all the pictures were just brilliant!!! Bravo, Mike!!
Just finished up and all I can say is WOW, epic TR and great pics!!
@MikeOPensacola and @luck.ofthe.draw you went to Ethel M?! How was it? I so wanted to go but didn't know you were both going. They're a client of mine!!
Loving your trip report! I've got a lot to catch up on. I've seen your reports and posts here before, but first time I'm gonna mention - I lived on Pensacola Beach as a child - went to the school on stilts and everything - my stepfather was manager of the Sabine Yacht and Raquet Club. Do you frequent Flounders much? Miss the beaches there! And if you don't know what I'm talking about, then I don't know what to think of your username anymore...lol
Ooh awesome! Ethel M's is sooo good! You gotta try them out next time! I'm amazed at how they've expanded - I think their chocolate is better than See's and Godiva! Just quality.
Great. Now I want some.
You can order them online and they'll get shipped to you
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