A few months ago I had no intention of going to Vegas this time of year, given I have a tripped planned in March. However, after finding some great airfare ($138 RT) on Southwest and a decent rate at PH, it did not take much convincing to bookâ€¦ We (myself and one of my college room mates, both 30) flew Southwest and the flight left Chicago Midway on time, but landed about Â½ late due to head winds (giggety! giggety!). Despite taking about 4 Â½ hours, it seemed to go by a bit faster thanks to the portable DVD player I borrowed from a friend of mine. We watched Airplane!, Shrek 3, and a few Family Guy episodes (hence the reference above). After landing we grabbed a cab to Planet Hollywood. The Hotel: By the time we got to the hotel, check in was quick and painless. Found a nice clerk in her mid Twenties, slipped a twenty between my Mastercard and ID and asked if there were any upgrades available. I had booked what they called a â€œmountain roomâ€, after a few clicks we were assigned a remodeled room on the 21st floor with a great view of the Bellagio Fountains. The room was very nice, although I should use â€œredecoratedâ€ rather than remodeled. Besides movie related artwork above the bathtub, there have been no changes to the bathrooms, down to the â€œAladdinâ€™s Lampâ€ inspired faucet handles and light beige marble. This is not a bad thing as the hotel it self is not old and the original Aladdin bathrooms were pretty nice to begin with (water closet/ large tub/ separate shower etc.). The â€œbedâ€ part of the room was newly carpeted and furnished in contemporary dÃ©cor (large dark wood armoire, white duvet covers, large velvet head boards, steel and black leather desk chair etc.) plus a 42â€ plasma TV with about 10 HD channels. Not bad. Plus, the pillows and mattresses were very comfortable. As the elevator doors opened on other floors I could see at least a few of them still had the Aladdin dÃ©cor. So as of now, despite the â€œgrand openingâ€ party in November, the transformation has yet to be fully completed. After dropping off our bags and freshening up a bit, we went down the casino. Had a few drinks, played a few slots and a few hands of blackjack without much luck. Grabbed a bite to eat at Planet Dailies then called it a night around 1:30 AM Vegas time. Planet Dailies: Overall the food was pretty good, however a bit expensive (with tax and tip the tab was $38 for hot wings and a turkey club plus 2 soft drinks). Service left a bit to be desired however. Our server was very friendly, but not terribly attentive. I ordered hot wings and fries and had to wait all to patiently for a refill of my iced tea to quench my buffalo burned tongue. When it was time to pay, I had to bring the check up to the hostess to give to our server to ring up as he was nowhere to be found at the time. Day 2 Fri Nov 30th. Woke up around 10:30, drew the shades to look out the window to see RAIN. In Vegas? I know it does rain sometimes in the desert. But why while Iâ€™m there??? Oh well. We got ready and headed across the street to the Bellagio where we went to the buffet for lunch. As always, the food was good. Desserts very good! We walked around the casino a bit to work off lunch then settled in by the sports book where we played 25 cent bar top poker and blackjack while enjoying a few Grey Goose and Cranâ€™s. Prior to sitting down I asked the bartender what the comp policy was and he said we need to buy in for $20.00 to be comped. No problem. We played slow, chatted a bit, and a few hours later I turned by $20 buy in into $25 (plus at least 3 drinks). A fun was to spend a few hours in Vegas. At this point it is about 5:00 and we start to head over to Caesars. We never make it there, rather deciding we want to head over to the Â½ price ticket booth to get show tickets. We leave Bellagio to see that it is still raining. For better or worse we then take a convoluted route to the Fashion Show Mall, with the intention of staying out of the rain as much as possible. So, we cross the strip by CP and cut through the Flamingo, O Sheaâ€™s and Harrahâ€™s. We cross over to the Mirage by Harrahâ€™s, take to moving walkway in, with the intent to take the Tram to TI. Well, the Tram is down, so we walk to TI, walk through the casino and take the walkway across from TI to the Mall. After reviewing our options, we go for Legends in Concert at the Imperial Palace. I was hoping to take a cab from the Mall back to PH, seeing as how it is still raining. No suck luck as we have to take our vouchers back to the IP to get seats assigned. So, it is back to the TI, Mirage, Harrahâ€™s etc. to get our tickets from the IP box office. At this point we just walk the rest of the way back to PH. Back up in the room we dry off, wash up and head down to PH Changs for dinnerâ€¦ PH Changs: I felt as if it was a repeat of the previous nights Planet Dailies experience: Good, slightly overpriced food with friendly but very mediocre service. We thought having 8:00 reservations would give us plenty of time to make a 10:30 show at the IP, but by the end of the meal we were rushing, My friend wanted to complain to a manager, but we just didnâ€™t have the time. Traffic was actually not that horrible and we made to the IP with a few minutes to spare. Legends: This was my sixth or seventh time seeing the show and again it did not disappoint. For the price, I think it is one of the best entertainment bang for your bucks on the strip. (Although, as much as I enjoy the show, I donâ€™t think it is worth the $59 full price ticket). After the show, we played a few slots at the IP, then walked back to PH (at this point it had finally stopped raining). Played a bit more at PH then went to bed around 1:30. Early I know, but walking in the rain really wears you out! Day 3 Sat Dec 1st We were up and out the room by about 11:00 or so. Not wanting a buffet we gave the Earl of Sandwich a try at PH. The menu is pretty limited with a selection of about 10 or so sandwiches, a few soups, salads and a small selection of pre-packed sides of pasta salad and fruit. As you would expect, prices were slightly on the high side, but the meatball sandwich I went with was pretty good. After lunch we headed down to the south strip. Stopped in NY NY to play some blackjack. In a matter of minutes my $100 buy in was down to one $25 green chip. I decided to cut my losses and walk away. On the way to the cashier, I threw the chip down on the 1st 12 of the roulette wheel and it hit. So my NY NY gambling only set me back $25. After leaving NY NY we took the tram from Excalibur to Mandalay Bay. After wandering the casino a bit we found ourselves at Red Square just as it was opening. They were having a special, if you bought two drinks using Imperia Vodka you got free caviar. The martiniâ€™s we had with the Imperia Vodka were very good. I have to say it was a very smooth Vodka. The drinks were $18.00 each, but when you factor in the free caviar, it was not a bad deal. Plus, having caviar for the first time is another Vegas memory. However, while it was actually not bad, it is not something I would have again, unless a deal like this was to come along or it was on someone elseâ€™s expense account. Before spending $65 plus on an ounce a fish eggs, Iâ€™d go for a prime porterhouse any day of the week. After our Martiniâ€™s and feeling no pain , we walked over to the Luxor to visit a friend of mine who was in town to run the LV Marathon the following day. From there we cabbed it back to PH to get ready for the evening. Trader Vicâ€™s: We met another friend from college, who was also in town for the weekend, for dinner. Back before it closed, I used to meet up with co-workers many a Friday night at Trader Vicâ€™s in downtown Chicago. We did not go so much for the food as for the very tasty beverages. The food was pretty good tonight, but the beverages were better and just like I remember from the location here. However, the dÃ©cor was not nearly as cool. The dÃ©cor of the Vegas location is very sleek and modern, a very stark contrast to how the Chicago location was with is bamboo walls, large wooden kayak suspended from the ceiling, thatch roofed bars etcâ€¦ Iâ€™d go back in a heat beat for drinks, but you can get more bank for your dining buck else where. After Trader Vicâ€™s we made our way through PH playing slots here and there, then over to Paris. I have to say the pours of Grey Goose on the rocks I ordered at both places were very generous. Top that with the martinis in the afternoon, and the drinks with dinner I was feeling no pain (for the time being anyway). My friends called it a night around 2 am. I was about to before I realized I still had a few cash out tickets in my wallet from Mandalay Bay. So I decided to walk there and walk back (walk to Excalibur anyway, where I took the tramâ€¦) When I finally got to Mandalay Bay I decided to play and promptly loose those tickets (about $50 total). Determined to leave with something, I threw some money in a Top Dollar machine and after a few spins got the Top Dollar bonus, and won my $50.00 back, plus a few bucks (when I say a few bucks it was and extra $30 or so.) I then decided to take my money and runâ€¦ After a detour to McDonaldâ€™s I was back in the room by about 4:00â€¦ after just 2 chicken nuggets my day of feeling â€œno painâ€ quickly ended. After taking the porcelain bus for a spin I drank as much water as I could then crawled into bed. Day 4 Sun Dec 2nd. It was a slow moving morning. But I eventually got out of bed around noon and met my friend who was down in the Sport Book watching a few games. I went to the ABC store for a Starbucks Frapachino and felt a bit better after the caffeine kicked in. Determined a bit of the â€œhair of the dogâ€ would do me some good we made our way to Paris and I had a giant Pina Colata in one of those plastic Eiffel Towers. Pretty good and it doubled as a nutritious breakfast . After a few hours of playing at Paris we went back to PH, rested then went to dinner. When I say rested I should say napped. I was still pretty tired from the night before, but felt pretty refreshed after a 2 hour nap. We took a cab to Circus Circus to have dinner at the Steakhouse. I have to say, the cab driver who took us to CC had an interesting story. He told us back in 1992 while he was visiting he bought in for $400 at a CP blackjack table and 27 hours later walked away with $240,000! The next day, he told, he and his wife took the money and bought a house near where the Red Rock Casino is now and retired a few years later. He went on to say how he has 6 kids, numerous grandchildren etcâ€¦ In addition, this night was what would have been his 45th wedding anniversary had his wife not passed away over the summer. Bittersweet story. Only in Vegas does it seem that cab and limo drivers have such interesting back stories. It would make for an interesting coffee table book to interview some of these drivers. CC Steakhouse As on my past visits, the meal here was pretty good. Good service, good food, reasonably priced. However, it did seem prices went up slightly since the last time I have been there (about a year ago). My dinner tab was $80 (tax and tip inc.) for a NY Strip (side and salad included) and one drink. Still an overall good deal compared to some of the steakhouses on the strip. After dinner we played some $5 Blackjack and did pretty well. It was a 2 deck game and we had some decent luck. Of course it was only a $5 table and in the end I cashed out only $30 ahead it was a good time and I didnâ€™t loose! If only I could have had this â€œluckâ€ when I was at the $10 and $15 tables! Anywho, from CC we walked down to the Wynn the casino hopped our way back to PH. By this time is it close to 11:00. I pack up most of my stuff and head back down to the Casino. I meet up with the college friend from dinner at Trader Vicâ€™s the previous night and we take our last shots at winning a fortune. Not to be had, but I ended the evening up about $20, and went to bed about 2:00 am. Mon Dec 3rd. Time to go home. Got up, finished packing, the headed down to the Spice Market Buffet for lunch before heading to the airport. Uneventful flight home. Overall a good time in Vegas, as alwaysâ€¦ if a bit low key. Gambling losses were about $200-$250 or soâ€¦ not bad for 4 days methinksâ€¦ and best of all: Back in March!