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TR: The Phinal Phour (MGM Grand and… shhhh... it’s a secret) Oct 29th - Nov 4th, Nov 4th – Nov. 7th

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Audible Nectar, Oct 28, 2018.

  1. Audible Nectar

    Audible Nectar Low-Roller

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    4B370FEB-81FF-4785-9BA7-FC07CF4E686C.jpeg A closer look:
     
  2. Audible Nectar

    Audible Nectar Low-Roller

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    7A06AD4B-06A4-4530-BC5B-EA03C909071C.jpeg A pair of Gaucho sandwiches from Eggslut:
     
  3. Audible Nectar

    Audible Nectar Low-Roller

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    FB88834A-9E97-446A-8123-EE8D09401153.jpeg A closer look with a little more showing:D
     
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  4. Audible Nectar

    Audible Nectar Low-Roller

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    0A7526D4-127B-42F6-B0AF-DF6B9007B4BF.jpeg 7734C4E8-9945-4D18-BFA4-AE81222C0C01.jpeg 590C3C66-6B72-44E7-A4FC-BE2A6C54DAA2.jpeg We awake on our final full day in Vegas, and share a few highlights from last night’s action. Spent some time strolling around the fountain and environs and snapped these:
     
  5. Audible Nectar

    Audible Nectar Low-Roller

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    68FAFB84-2257-429B-8586-0F833D19E448.jpeg B3266313-6D8B-40DA-90BD-F9820B621BE8.jpeg CFBDB1CC-0E14-4647-A218-BBEF7636A3C7.jpeg 3C0F5D50-B1EA-418E-9018-2BFA886E9892.jpeg Fountain show, street level:
     
  6. Audible Nectar

    Audible Nectar Low-Roller

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    1E8E4839-4D1B-4275-B52D-304E86DE9969.jpeg FD26A574-3D26-4E85-9D8A-8C0C7195FDE6.jpeg DCE5E390-4874-4963-A312-6B23402473B2.jpeg BC9CF2ED-22DE-49DD-9065-A7353DCA5035.jpeg Snack at Holstein’s:
     
  7. Audible Nectar

    Audible Nectar Low-Roller

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    B340A417-F619-45B0-AFCB-050DBA7A0374.jpeg F9B4C968-2243-4FAE-931A-0E71829920CA.jpeg Live at Mon Ami Gabi:
     
  8. Horseplayer1

    Horseplayer1 Low-Roller

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    Ah my favorite view from my favorite morning spot
     
  9. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Love seeing the fountains at night! I don't make a big enough effort to catch those shows. Have a good time the rest of the way!
     
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  10. Audible Nectar

    Audible Nectar Low-Roller

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    6AF9EAD2-661E-4ED9-ADAD-A4DCFEC96559.jpeg 37DED630-4019-4506-9FC9-160029930124.jpeg The breakfast:
     
  11. Audible Nectar

    Audible Nectar Low-Roller

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    DA7BDAAF-CB77-4EAC-BB64-806A627BF4EE.jpeg FECD82CB-3753-4D11-8C4E-12B6001DD453.jpeg F87BB224-65AF-4FDD-8320-2FD7CB35D963.jpeg Three divers do this day’s fountain maintenance:
     
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  12. the nuts

    the nuts VIP Whale

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    You've got that daily fountain maintenance surveillance on lock down
     
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  13. FullPay

    FullPay When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro

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    It’s such a bonus when you can see it from your room, they run a small test show when the divers are finished.
     
    Birthday Solo!
  14. Audible Nectar

    Audible Nectar Low-Roller

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    B222E6A4-46E8-4958-8215-8FED43F2BB07.jpeg Ahhhh - after our last of nine nights in Vegas, a morning shot before our departure.....
     
  15. rooster42000

    rooster42000 Patriots #1

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    great report.
     
  16. Audible Nectar

    Audible Nectar Low-Roller

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    A75FFEB1-ADF8-4729-92C8-E33FEB16579B.jpeg Ready for the ride home:
     
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  17. Audible Nectar

    Audible Nectar Low-Roller

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    Back home. Some thoughts on the trip:


    The six Ps (Prior Planning Prevents P--- Poor Performance) has probably never been more useful and pertinent than it was on this trip. I tend to "overprepare" and end up with a bunch of researched stuff that I never have a need to use, but have in head for those emergency cases. I think of it like a football coaches playbook, or a QB who has all those "checkdowns/second/third routes" in the head for when the initial "play call" doesn't work out.

    I worked DEEP into that "playbook" this trip. A lot of things I thought I would do never got done - some things we didn't think would be useful were, and used third and fourth options when needed. Some examples that might be educational for you:

    - Wal Marts in Vegas aren't like normal Wal Marts. I've now been in three who seem to have different stock lists particularly on the grocery end of things. I use Wal Marts when traveling nationally because I know they stock certain things that I know I can get there. Well - not in Las Vegas Wal Marts - the last three visits to three different locations came up missing 9ish of the 15 standard items I buy for these trips (24 oz. sport bottle flip cap waters being a huge one). OTOH Albertson's was a huge hit, having every one of the "basic fifteen" in exactly the desired packaging/size. Similar on the liquor store and dispensary front - having multiple options was a big help, so when our first recommended place (Khoury's) was closed at 8PM on Mondays, we just went to the second recommended/researched place and got the necessary goods there. Something about Wal Marts and that region is different on stock lists than other versions I've visited nationally.

    - For long trips, shopping on day one was the best move EVER, allowing convenience throughout the trip as well as HUGE cost savings. The $260 I spent on car and shopping list not only saved money from not having to go downstairs/to gift shop/on Strip Walgreens to get the daily needs, it saved huge dollars. I don't know about you, but going down to the main casino/mall floor for Starbucks is NOT EVER an acceptable option on a long vacation. If the coffee isn't at arm's length at wakeup, it's not a vacation, and spending $5 a cup for the stuff isn't an option either, especially when that can be circumvented. Yes, the 20 hour day in flight, car rental, check in, and shopping trip endured might well have been a bit much to throw all into one day, but it paid divdends each and every day of the trip, and double when we got the cold/ills midweek.

    - The Las Vegas buffet is obsolete to me, because every restaurant I visited served up more food than I would or could eat on specific orders. WOW do these places serve up the portions. Why pay the money for "all you can eat" when most every place you go serves "all you can eat" from a simple ordering of a meal? The smaller "end" of the portion sizing of restaurants we visited, like Mon Ami Gabi, was still plenty. And they weren't "small" just "small-ER" in comparison to everyone else, who served up often enough to serve TWO on a plate. The only reason one might go to a buffet might be a group all wanting different choices, but the "AYCE" angle is effectively been made moot because very few meal plates in this town aren't AYCE on their face.

    - Las Vegas food pricing: I find that the restaurants are a very good deal in the bigger picture, and research can help a great deal to put your food budget more on point. In addition, when one realizes the sheer size of some of the portioning, you also figure out that the appetizer you thought you wanted - or needed to get a full meal wasn't necessary - in fact, in many cases the appetizers made meals in and of themselves. So for example our visit to the Peppermill was understood that we were sharing our plates between my wife and I - because even then we left food behind. Those pancakes were enough to feed six. On ONE order. They were bigger than the plate. One look at a Peppermill plate and you know one human can't eat all that.

    -- The importance of water: The arid conditions really emphasize the importance of a steady water supply. I am convinced that THE REASON people take Vegas vacations and have such a hard time recovering isn't just because of the partying - but the partying in that arid, 25% relative humidity that ruins a Vegas trip before it ends - and makes returning to reality that much harder. These "REVIV" places that do IV hydration in every resort lobby are there for a reason - just existing in that climate sucks the water right out of you, and will begin to work on your body and head before you ever have a shot of booze. It's interesting because I had BOTH desk agents at check ins hand me/offer me water because they could tell I was grasping for moisture/dry mouth/etc. I would take those 24 oz. sport bottles of water everywhere I went, making sure the dehydration bug wouldn't hit. Because when it does, it ruins your day, and if not dealt with your whole trip. Times TEN when the head colds showed up. Hydration made those pass more quickly and with less detrimental effect. I also oft only had water at meals because again it's better for me as well as allowing for a better energy/heath/ability to be active and do more when out here.

    - 22 gallons of purchased water was consumed by the two of us, and that doesn't include water consumed at restaurants (substantial and at every meal) or a few extra bottles bought out on Strip. We had less than a gallon left at checkout on the last day.

    - Customer Service: It wasn't always perfect, but i did notice/experience that even when "clunky" they always made an effort to make it right. I saw a lot of genuine effort and a desire to be of good service, so in a general sense i thought things went really well - this in both a very high capacity/occupancy situation as well as a "lesser" occupied time.

    - The Strip, while being a favored roaming ground in prior trips, has been ruined by "The Hawks". It got to a point of genuine annoyance, but hey, when you've got a fountain view room at the Cosmo with the one you love there's not as much reason to be hanging on-Strip anyway.......:D


    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


    Some specifics/observations on places we visited.....


    MGM Grand: It's behemoth, and my impressions were correct: it was much "The Mall" and I oft sought to get out of the place, but it wasn't as problematic as would be imagined. Many mornings we just went outside for a morning vape/smoke and a mug of coffee out next to the Port Cochere, and would gather with other visitors just doing the same thing. Once I get woke, coffeed, and showered I'm in search of fresh air so we did some mileage just getting outta the place.

    - The place definitely has some issues. Our room had no such problems, but many who were there in Grand Kings primarily (for the concerts and booked through the same travel provider for both show tix and rooms) DID have water issues (no hot water and water shutoff entirely for periods). This is NOT a "West Wing" problem, and while some review sites have to be taken with a grain of salt, this issue is real: Some of the rooms have water issues, and is unacceptable in a four diamond AAA property. I knew of this before arrival, and made sure to ferret out this stuff at the desk and do whatever it took to try to alleviate any such issue. My original assignment was a low floor (fourth IIRC) in a block of rooms/area of the hotel where a number of the package holders were staying, who reported water and truck noise issues at wee hours. We were able to purchase an upgrade to the Level Up suite, which covered a bunch of bases i wanted covered: extra bath space, Strip View, close to elevator, etc. So MY room and stay was good. But some had issues, and readers should know this.

    - West Wing rooms are better than people say they are. I had a chance to see a couple walking through the hallway, as housekeepers had room doors open and allowed me to walk inside to see, and while in comparison to Grand King aren't all that, but not horrible either.

    - For the concerts being at MGM Grand, though? The MGM turned out to be THE best decision for that six day block of time around the concerts. ESPECIALLY when we took ill - I literally would have missed the Friday concert if I had not stayed there. But when my wife suggested drinking a couple pints of OJ and I took a bath two hours ahead of show and had a two hour nap before, it was as if I had been given a visit from the Reviv people because after that I felt pretty good. So at ticketed showtime we decided to go downstairs and watch the show - and ended up enjoying it greatly. Granted I watched most of it just sitting down and listening but we had a great spot which was roomy and easy to see even when seated.If I had NOT stayed at MGM Grand i probably don't make that show. But because we were already there, it yet seemed possible to do, so I didn't give up until I would have HAD to. So if you have tix to a run of shows at MGM Grand it becomes a completely different animal than if you don't. i doubt I would do MGM Grand again if not attending shows, but if attending shows there it becomes a REALLY desirable option.

    - We had problems with room charges here. It took three visits to the desk to get it cleared up. After twice being told at restaurants that the room charge wasn't going through, the third attempt fixed the problem - but most definitely a little glitchy. I was to the point of already having decided what second pay method would be applicable if the room charge system didn't work. It was a bit annoying but worked out - but I thought a bit cumbersome and ill advised. I'm more patient/forgiving on stuff like this, but could see others not being so much, and that would be understandable.

    - Liked the public spaces at MGM Grand - lots of neat areas to hang in, and they do a good job (as do most places in Vegas) in setting a "mood" in a room in what is basically a mall. So they have a good ability to "suspend disbelief" of that knowledge that you're in a mall and make it feel comfortable. Needs some help on "mid grade" food options (Cosmo is MUCH better here) and found ourselves eating outside of MGM Grand a lot. Enjoyed Whiskey Down a lot. Nice room.



    The Cosmopolitan: ZOMG this place was fantastic and was MUCH better in room than is displayable in vids or pics. Again the research paid off, so when my original request of Blvd Fountain View between 35 and 55 floors wasn't doable, I could make the most of the options remaining that were offered. So when the desk agent offered back of Chelsea Tower on 46th floor or 27th floor Blvd Tower room 2795, I knew full well that the fountain would NOT be blocked by the Bellagio bell tower. When I told the desk agent why I was taking the 27th floor room, he said "You sure know a lot about this place for having never stayed here" I said "Yeah, I read Vegas Message Board and have seen pics and floorplans and knew that this room wouldn't be blocked." He even then said "Check the view and if you don't like it come back to my line and we'll probably have more rooms open - just check the view before settling in and we can easily move you over if you don't like." Can't ask for more than that. I was also offered 69th floor Blvd, but both the desk agent as well as the bellman mentioned (as did many of you) that the really high floors seem almost like a picture and almost TOO far removed. So the 27th floor was really good, and while I could certainly see/imagine the benefit of being 10-15 floors higher was NOT complaining.

    - The Boulevard Tower is preferable to us. We really liked the simple down-the-vator access to the Strip and restaurants, and would prefer it if ever returning. It wasn't too bad going back to Chelsea to catch Uber, etc but wouldn't want to have to do it over an ongoing stay as much as would be necessary.

    - Unless I ended up in a Wraparound (and even that's debatable) I really liked the Terrace One Bedroom as a "couples room". If not a couple or not necessarily wanting to take advantage of the fact that the soaking tub can fit two people :D:D:D it is a perfect "couples room". And this place just oozes that sexy/romantic/"let's play" vibe like no other, and was an absolute home run with her. I also liked that the bathroom is closer to the bed, as I imagined in advance of the trip tripping over the long ottoman in the middle of the hall in front of the closets if assigned a Studio.

    - I do think the "quieter time" post convention/post weekend suited us better here, in the respect that it wasn't overloaded or jammed with weekend looky-loos. Not that this is a bad thing inherently but the Chelsea tower might well be quieter on weekends and Blvd might be a detriment. But it seemed that it wasn't overflow in any sense, but busy enough to keep the various restaurants/businesses doing enough to make it certain that "things were happening". So a good balance here.

    - EATS: As good as the rooms are, the food is every bit if not even better. We ate here a LOT: China Pablano being the biggest hit, Eggslut another worthy stop, Holstein's solid as always (been there before). They really excel at the "mid-priced" stuff so this place was great for more than just the room. And while we never took advantage of it, the room service menu was NOTICEABLY a better deal than MGM was. We just never ran into a time where we felt the need to do it, but we sorta planned/made room for it but never did. But even the room service menu seemed reasonable for "room service".

    So yeah, Cosmo was awesome:D


    Joe's Steak Seafood, and Stone Crab: This place was a home run in every way, and as the one "premium/high end" dinner we did over the week was even more convincing/satisfying in the rear view mirror. Impeccable food and service, and given Las Vegas high end food options was really an outstanding value. In a sea of celebrity chef restaurant choices, it was the opne that wasn't that made the biggest impression. Recommended without reservation, but you better get a reservation:D


    Absinthe: loved EVERYTHING about this. The venue, the details, the show, the vibe, everything about it. It's a hit for a reason, add one more to the pile who enjoyed every minute of it.


    Legal Cannabis: Welcome Las Vegas to the 21st century and the freedom to procure cannabis legally. This will ALWAYS be a driver in vacation decisions and has been such for several years now: Legal cannabis states have a HUGE edge in garnering our vacation business and was another reason Vegas was worth the trip.

    Knowledge is power. Those who are not "in the know" have a distinct disadvantage in knowing where to put their dollars, even within any given dispensary. The "common strains" represent the best values on the flower end of things, where even the "close to Strip" Reef Dispensaries had high quality Jack Herer flowers for $93 per quarter ounce - very respectable pricing for a retail, supposedly "high priced" market. I found that both of the shops I visited had ample selection and a myriad of pricing choices. They are extreme on high concentrate resins and carts as well as new strains/crosses, but if insisting on value for the dollar both Reef and Showgrow did pretty well, considering what I was prepared to see. At least for educated shoppers, there are some good choices, and for those less so, it's not likely that one would have too much trouble if looking closely at product and asking the budtenders some questions.

    Regarding "On-Strip use": It was seemingly everywhere, yet mostly unseen, as most everyone uses vape versions. i saw a LOT of vape pens in crowds/on corners/cubby holes around the resorts. Even in casinos (not something I feel comfy with, but lots were doing it). But almost every resort/area has a place sorta out of the way too, where smokers would gather in the morning, both cig and cannabis, and enjoy one. Only once did we have any issue, when a security guard at MGM Grand asked us if we could not just stand in groups while "doing that" as it got a little large on this particular day and the SEMA crowd coming and going could apparently smell it coming and going from the Port Cochere:rolleyes: so a little "watchfulness" and respect was due, but I saw lots of people enjoying discreetly and not having any issues. I also noticed a distinct LACK of that smell in the hotel hallways, as seemingly on this weekend people were not smoking in the room areas I was staying in. Maybe SEMA taking up so much of the rooms???


    The Phish concerts: As this was the impetus for the trip, it bears commenting on: Liked the "run" of shows in the overall - very well played, "foot on the gas" assertive performances. Regarding the "costume", a bit "off the mark" IMO, although very well "sold" and executed as a "gag". For the uninitiated (see original thread post) the idea of Phish Halloween was to bear a "musical costume", usually carried out by performing another band's album in it's entirety. In this case, they played into a "current zeitgeist" by creating a "fake news" story about an album that never existed and performed it as if it were this "long, lost, undiscovered" album. Plant a reference to it in an album review site, use Phishbill given upon entry to the show to get people to do searches for the album (where it shows up on Allmusic.com) to actually believe it existed, then attempt to suspend disbelief for the actual performance. As a "gag", it was brilliantly executed, even if I wasn't a fan of "The Gag" I have to be impressed with the "commitment/attempt to sell it as real." But to this old Rock and Roller - even on a celebratory cocktail - it seemed a bit far flung that "Face Plant" would even be a phrase in 1981, much less in Scandanavia at that time, or that "recycling" in the lyrics over and over would be a "thing" in 1981. It just all seemed to be a "bit off", which was the whole point of the gag - like watching Spinal Tap for the first time, and seeing how long it took for you to see it was a "mockup". Eventually one realizes that the "sale" of the gag has "gone to eleven" and confirmed next morning in Spin Magazine. As I was a bit late getting to the venue on the 31st, and the security lines were LOOOOOONG, and they took the water bottles from us on entry to the venue, it was a bit messy and rushed getting to the seats on time. This meant that we didn't read the Phishbill-as-primer to the gag, just only in browse, but the point was eventually driven home.

    So not as much as fan of "The Gag" as I still am impressed by their commitment to it. They sold the hell out of it - so at least they gave it their all. And while it IS a perfectly "Phish" thing for the band to do - ever being the jokesters - Halloween always stood as a serious testament to the Rock and Roll genre - bigger than Phish and an ode to the genre. On this year's edition, it seemed to fall short of that. They themselves set a very high standard, to which it seemed existed a winning formula of showcasing the greatest compositions Rock has ever seen, and that which influenced the band. I've always been a proponent of the idea that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", so the non-classic album sets seem to all fall in that category of trying to fix something that isn't broken. The non-classic album sets all rank and have a distinct delineation/separation from those that were not classic albums, and I think it's pretty easy to see how that plays out in my own mind and opinion, anyway.

    The band did do very well a rounded rendition of their current catalogue with no repeats in the proceedings. The band in general, and the other eight sets were really solid, and generally a good mix of old and new. So a good way to "go out" - as I said, a "Phinal Phour" of shows for the foreseeable future.


    Venue (MGM Grand Garden): As a large scale venue, pretty good overall. The minimal "skybox/suites" arrangement of a more traditional old-school design has everyone close to the floor/playing surface given the number of people the place holds. Pretty intimate. Minimal bad seating, and good sound for the seating in most places. A bit cumbersome on the water policy (no sealed bottles allowed first day) but resolved/addressed in the following days, in a good show of "thinking on their feet". Food is VERY average/mediocre - in an era where Momofuku spicy chicken is sold at Madison Square Garden and at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Vegas, but the best MGM Grand's arena has is a hot dog or average burger, it was a noticeable thing. Just seemed a stark contrast to everything else we saw....food in quality and excess. Small thing (hey, eat before or after the show) but still a bit surprised by this. But overall, in space and sound, a really good venue, and one worth traveling into Vegas to see shows. If the choice for you is seeing a show at Chicago's United Center or Philips Arena in Atlanta vs going to Vegas and seeing that same show at MGM - MGM CRUSHES any of the newer generation arenas that are luxury boxed all to hello. So "double dip" - see the band that you like here and get your Vegas on. It's worth it. And the energy is like few other places (maybe Madison Square Garden in NYC, but that's the only place I've seen come that consistently close to the energy at concerts in Las Vegas).


    If I could fix/change anything.......

    Not much. I bought a five day Monorail pass that I ended up not using enough to justify it, and I would have liked to have returned the cold we got to the original owner, but given those two things it was a wildly successful trip. Having all of the backups in my brain - or at least enough to know just what to do a directed web search for - made this trip a HUGE success. We ended up bailing on/not drinking any alcohol the last five/six days of the trip, but had no less enjoyment - in fact might have gained in some respects because of it. But a tremendously successful trip, made possible in major part from this forum, who helped me be totally aware of the available choices. And when things sorta go wrong, that stuff became a vacation saver.


    Thanks again!
     
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  18. Syringe Monkey

    Syringe Monkey Hero of the Baggage Carousel...

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    Fantastic trip report, thank you!!!
     
  19. Horseplayer1

    Horseplayer1 Low-Roller

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    What an awesome and informative report. Thanks for sharing.
    Couldn’t agree more about the Cosmo food options. Great for the price, China Poblano a favorite for midday meal when having a late dinner reservation.
     
  20. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Great TR and nice summary!

    And West Wing King isn't bad, but on weekdays when Grand Kings are as cheap as $10 more a night, a Grand King is seriously a "no- brainer".
     
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