The wife and I recently stayed at the Venetian with my whole family. She submits this report: My husband and I are Vegasholics; we drive there 4-5 times a year from our home in Los Angeles. We have played mostly craps and video poker in the past; recently we have enjoyed 3-card poker, and N (the hubby) has been getting into live poker. We consider ourselves kinda upscale and fun-loving. Have been comped at the Hard Rock, but feel we've outgrown it. Past couple of years we've been fully comped to gorgeous suites at Mandalay Bay and have gotten very comfortable there. This trip, though, N's family from Chicago decided to make it a gala family event, and his dad selected the Venetian because they guaranteed the room configurations he requested. Bellagio and Mandalay Bay would not comply with those requests. As is our custom, we hopped out of bed at 4:30 a.m. and were in the car by 5:00. First stop, at 9:15 (after one pit stop for coffee) was Mandalay Bay where we had to cash in some chips left over from the last trip in July. Soon we were checking our car with the Valet at the Venetian. Our room was in the new Venezia tower, which seemed nicely appointed at first, but got to be a loathsome walk to pool and spa. Every time we got lost or waited for an elevator, we heard other guests complaining about the circuitous paths from guest rooms to casino, pool, and spa. We caught up with the rest of the family after a reconnaissance mission to the Mirage. N wanted to check out their poker room, which has been favorably described in these Trip Reports and by his friends. I was anxious to try my luck at a Family Feud slot machine, which I'd read about in these reports. I love the concept of slots with ticket payouts rather than digging into the filthy troughs for coinage at the end of a session. Mandalay Bay doesn't yet offer this feature. So my first hundred was lost in a New York minute -- I never got a Survey Says, or any of the interactive goodies. So we bought a couple of souvenirs for our kids, walked around the casino to soak up the vibe and look at the restaurants, activated our players’ cards for future trips, and headed back to Venetian. I'll reiterate the sage advice I have read from other Trip Reporters: wear comfortable shoes! One night we ate a fabulous dinner at Prime Steakhouse at Bellagio and after a little gambling there, the taxi line was so long we decided to walk back to Venetian. It took a half an hour at midnight! Shouldn’t have worn those nice-looking but not-made-for walkin’ platform mules. My doggies were howling. But I digress. We played our hearts out the first day at the Venetian, and didn't enjoy the tremendous good luck we had there our previous two visits. We've both hit huge video poker jackpots there, as well as nice runs at the craps tables. This trip wasn't so lucky for us, although other family members did better. We had room service dinner the first night. It was delivered in the 30 minutes promised, and was very good. I find service in the hotel to be above-average, but not on the consistently excellent level I have found at Mandalay Bay. Saturday, our second day of the trip, we awoke early to work out in the gym. It's huge, well appointed, and well maintained. I prefer the locker room layout and the general atmosphere of the Mandalay Bay spa and fitness center. But I had a good workout, steam, shower, dried my hair, and hiked the long route back to the room to drop off my sweaty clothes and prepare for a long day of gambling. We played and played, up and down, couldn't seem to catch a wave. My father-in-law got a cabana every day of the trip, so that was a very nice respite from the rough trends in the casino. The Venetian pool has no shade or landscaping (the Hard Rock pool is gorgeous, but always too crowded; we like the Lazy River at the Mandalay Bay too). But the Venetian cabanas are comfortable enough (although my sister-in-law complained that the refrigerator was dirty). And they were shaded. It was a good place to relax, read, have a drink, and wait for better luck. A word about hotel Housekeeping: disappointing. I had requested cleaning service at 8:30 a.m., and when I returned to the room at noon it was in the same state in which I had left it. I had read a trip report from a very disgruntled guest at Venetian a few months ago, whose room was beyond filthy, and she had a very difficult time getting Housekeeping to respond to her pleas. Luckily, we had a better experience. Eventually our room was cleaned, and we didn’t have a problem beyond that. I had a hot stone massage at Canyon Ranch Spa in the afternoon - my best hot stone treatment ever (by Garrick). I was so relaxed it was everything I could do to navigate my way back through the maze of hallways and elevators back to the room. My main complaint about Canyon Ranch at the Venetian is that there is not a consistent effort by the staff to create a soothing spa experience. Some of the staff chat loudly in the lounge, and the treatment room walls are thin, so you can hear voices in adjacent rooms. But by and large, it's a good spa with very well trained massage technicians. Prime Steakhouse at Bellagio is elegant and delicious. The casino was hopping on Saturday night, but craps was not treating us kindly, so we headed back to Venetian. Sunday was more of the same in the casino, struggling to catch a winning hand. Triple Play Video Poker, Wheel of Fortune, 3-card Poker, Craps – it’s all a blur; cashed out a couple hundred ahead at the Wheel in High Limits Slots, and a few profitable craps games, but not a solid winning streak for me or hubby. I had another massage treatment in the afternoon (it was my birthday, so I indulged). This time I had the Canyon Ranch Massage with an added scalp treatment. Highly recommended. Excellent treatment and masseuse (Misty). In the evening we had dinner at Postrio in "St. Mark's Square". Excellent food and service, but terrible acoustics. It was very noisy, but we did enjoy the meal. I'm not a big fan of the Grand Canal tourist thing. In fact, we don’t really go to Vegas to eat, although there are many outstanding restaurants all over town. We usually manage to have one excellent dinner on each visit. This time we indulged in two because family insisted. But as long as I’ve mentioned eating in Vegas, I have one request for developers of the new hotels: bring back the good ol’ coffee shop counter! I can’t stand food courts, don’t like waiting in lines for meals. For my money, the best bet for casual eating without a big to-do is the cafÃ© at Canyon Ranch Spa. Easy, healthy, and delicious, but only open until 5 or 6 p.m. Our idea of breakfast is coffee and a muffin and off to the craps table. I don’t want to walk 3 miles through the Grand Canal to a bakery to grab a muffin and coffee. My solution was to get a cappuccino to go from the Illy Coffee place in the food court on the casino level, and eat a balance bar I brought from home. The Grand Luxe CafÃ© in Venetian has very good food, but I usually have better things to do (gamble) than wait to be seated, and wait for the food. One of my fave places to eat in Vegas is Mr. Lucky’s in the Hard Rock. They have a counter where you can grab a quick solo meal; an excellent menu full of the good stuff I like, and friendly staff. The Hard Rock also has another counter-only coffee shop, which is the kind of eggs-and-coffee kind of place ALL the hotels should offer. Our breakfast routine at Mandalay Bay was usually coffee and muffin at the Starbucks in the Orchid Lounge near the casino. Quick and easy. Meanwhile, back at the Venetian. . . Monday we requested late check-out. I had wanted to redeem a $50 slots voucher I received in the mail as a birthday promotion. I was told at the Gold Club desk that since I did not have the coupon scanned when I registered at the hotel, they would not honor it. This was cheesy. Once before, my husband had a similar voucher, worth $100 for his slot play. He tried to redeem it on a visit when we were staying elsewhere, and they would not honor it. Look, we came to your casino, we’re playing with your player’s card, you think the odds are in our favor? Cut us a break already! We drove back to L.A. Monday afternoon, and sailed home in no traffic (perhaps the best luck of the whole weekend). We reminisced about our gaming, the fun with the family, some characters we ran into (people watching is possibly the best single benefit of Vegas besides the gambling). And we started planning our next trip. Next time we think we’ll try Bellagio, ‘cause we’ve never stayed there. But I’m always ready to return to my home away from home at Mandalay Bay.