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Trip #10 Recap CP 1-20 to 1-24 Really Late, Really Long

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by leo21, Feb 13, 2011.

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  1. leo21

    leo21 VIP Whale

    Jan 9, 2010
    Chicago South Suburbs
    Trips to Las Vegas:

    My Trip Report

    This was a trip with my sister. We both had the time to get away for a weekend and just decided to book it and go for it. Here is a recap of the places we saw and the stuff we did. Even though it's not a true step by step recap, it's still long and I apologize.

    Caesar’s Palace

    We were booked for a Forum Room but at check in found we had been bumped up to Palace Tower Deluxe with a view of the pool right off the elevator. I did want to check out Forum Tower but a big ass room with a jetted tub? I’ll take it! The room was as lovely as all the previous ones. It did have a Keurig coffee maker and there was a pack of four K cups available for $12. I didn’t check closely but they didn’t appear to be run of the mill coffee varieties. You can apparently order a similar pack of tea from room service but we wanted hot chocolate. We visited a CVS on and off strip and neither had K cups so the coffee maker went unused. Housekeeping was great. We forgot to tip the first night but the room was cleaned as normal. When we started tipping, though, there was an explosion of soap, lotion and towels in the bathroom. We didn’t ask for it – we were too embarrassed about the forgotten tip – but it was much appreciated. Service at valet and throughout the casino was friendly and efficient. All that makes up for the walking and we were really happy here.


    Payard’s @ CP
    I have been hearing about the prixe fixe lunch for ages and we decided to hit it after we got settled in the hotel. It’s $21 and the current menu features a choice of shrimp romesco or tomato mozzarella salad for the app, roasted poussin or Chilean Sea Bass for the main and a choice of 10 or so desserts. I went with the shrimp because I don’t eat raw tomatoes and Sis went with the salad because she’s allergic to seafood. The shrimp was spicy and helped keep things cool. The salad was good apparently, too. The neat thing about the bistro is that there is no kitchen. The seating is in a bit of a round and there is a cooking station is in the center so we had an obstructed view of our food being prepared. We both picked the poussin – Cornish hen – for the main. It was served with a polenta cake. The serving was small but tasty. The serving sizes would be my only complaint but each course was truly worth at least $7 and when you consider the service quality, it was worth it. We agonized over the desserts. My sister settled on the Vienne which was dark chocolate, orange marmalade, and caramel. The server said it reminds her of Grand Marnier and my sister raved over it. I chose the Louvre which was chocolate and hazelnut mouse covered in dark chocolate. At first I was overwhelmed by the dark chocolate but when I got a good bite of all the elements together, I was in love.

    We ended up coming back to Payard’s everyday for one reason or another. We had the chicken crepes for lunch the next day and came back to pick up sweets and to check the clock for chocolates in the Pâtisserie each day after. Payard is a great addition to Caesars and I hope more people take an effort to take a look and to eat in the bistro!

    Cortez Room @ Gold Coast

    We went to Gold Coast with the idea of going to Ping Pang Pong or Noodle Exchange but my sister said she felt carnivorous. She didn’t want a steak but I didn’t understand why. I took her over to see the menu and she agreed it was a good choice for dinner Thursday night. We both had the 20 oz. Prime Rib. What the hell was I thinking? There was no way I could finish all that food. It was yummy though and I was impressed with the butter with brown sugar and cinnamon they served with the sweet potato. I can’t believe it didn’t think to cream them all together myself at home. Next time I will get the petite cut and add on crab legs or something. We both had a glass of wine and we couldn’t believe the gigantic pours they gave us. Most glasses were under $8 and I don’t think there was a bottle of wine over $40. I wasn’t pleased with the service this time. It was dinner rush and you could tell that the servers let it get to them. But that won’t deter us from coming back.

    Hash House A Go Go @ IP

    I caught the Restaurant.com offer for IP right before the trip. It had to be used by Friday so that kind of scheduled our visit for us. We were a little befuddled by the menu but settled on more traditional fare. Sis went with the Tractor Driver and I went with the French Toast. She added potatoes and I added ham. That was kinda dumb since our entrees were GINORMOUS! The tractor driver is two eggs, choice of meat (she went with bacon) and one pancake. They never tell you the pancake was the size of a big frickin’ pan! The French toast was served with bananas and pecans. It was only three slices but they were huge and thick. We couldn’t finish all that food but we tried hard because it was so good. It was hectic here too but unlike the night before, the wait staff was a well-oiled machine and never let a table go unattended no matter which server was assigned. And the restaurant was packed. I was surprised at how many groups, be it family or friends we encountered. There were lots of larger parties at the restaurant. If IP can capture the energy of this place and port it to the rest of the casino and hotel, it could actually be a more decent place to stay.

    Café Ile St Louis @ Paris

    We came this way after seeing the Jabbawockeez and having a harrowing experience trying to escape City Center. We were thinking of heading to SEA for dinner but my sister wasn’t comfortable with all the seafood on the menu. There weren’t a lot of options open that late so I suggested the Café since we have had good experiences there in the past. I won’t be breaking my neck to come back. We both chose the roasted chicken late night special. It was dry and unremarkable. The server was a jackhole who did his best to not do more than drop off food. We paid with points and that annoyed him. My sister wanted a box for her leftovers and she had to ask three times. I won’t be back here as there are too many other fish in the sea. Now that I realize how late it actually was, we would have been better off trying to catch a steak and egg special somewhere.

    Tropical Breeze Café @ Flamingo

    Another dud. I usually skip Flamingo but I wanted to get in there to see what’s changed. I decided to eat at the café because I had a coupon from the funbook. It took a long time to get seated even though I was in the Platinum/Diamond line. I was having picking something that was a good match to my level of hunger. I was thinking soup and salad but all the salads were dinner size and I didn’t feel like looking into other options. I went with a two egg breakfast platter instead. It was competently prepared but then there is something terribly wrong if eggs over easy, sausage, potatoes and toast don’t turn out right. Outside of one of the hostesses who was merely old, everyone else working in there was old and bitchy so I didn’t feel well served. It was really scary to see that the young girls next to me having cereal and milk were seated before me and served after me. But then, it was scary to think that they stood in a slow moving line to eat cereal in an overpriced restaurant. All this did to was reinforce my opinion that strip cafés are a bad bargain. If that’s what you can afford, so be it. But if that’s the type of fare you are looking for, you are better off heading off strip.

    Beijing Noodle No. 9

    This place looked amazing and it was even more beautiful when the decorated it for New Year. We sat surrounded by tanks of what I think were goldfish but they had a light gold color that that made me a little unsure. The walls are covered in white wrought iron and they added the red lamps and firecrackers that morning. We were a little confused about the type of noodles but the server was great with our questions and we ended up starting with a cold cucumber dish and some pork dumplings. The dumplings were what you would expect but the cucumbers were a revelation. I was expecting something similar to what they have in Thai restaurants. But where those are sweet these were salty. They were tossed in sesame oil and seeds and probably some type of vinegar as well as salt. They were so yummy. We split a sautéed noodle dish. On the menu you have a choice of meat but our server told us we could do a combo of all three which was what we chose. We both loved it. This is another place more people should try. It seems pricey every entrée can be ordered for one or for two. Splitting helped keep our bill under control.

    Pampas Steakhouse

    This was stop one on Bad Food Sunday. We saw signs at Miracle Mille Shops for a $5.99 steak and egg breakfast, which we both ordered along with Mimosas. The menu said we were supposed to be served 6 ounces of sliced sirloin. There was no way the portion was what advertised and the meat was freezing cold. Plus, my sister spilled her drink and no one offered assistance. We only saw our server when she took our order and dropped off the check and that made us even more upset. My sister kept raving about the place and saying we needed to come for dinner on a future visit. She chilled after the poor experience and I told her there was no way in heck I was ever going back!


    We came here to watch the NFC Championship game. My sister insisted that we not only watch the game but go to a sports bar to do it. I don’t get why people do that. My inclination was to go to Harrah’s or Flamingo and watch the game on the big screen in the sportsbook while I played slots. We got there early but they wouldn’t give us a table inside as we wanted saying they needed to balance the customers for the servers. What? We all knew every table was going to be taken so I couldn’t believe that they wouldn’t accommodate us. Whatever. We ended up with a nice and perky server who kept the drinks flowing. Eventually, we decided to get lunch. Sis had some wings and I order a Philly cheesesteak. The wings were just okay but the sandwich was flavorless. I have a problem with $16 for flavorless. Since the game was going south and we were surrounded by obnoxious Packer fans (one insisted on a glass of ice for his beer!), we left at halftime. Everyone was razzing us like we were on a walk of shame or something. Even as we walked past a police van, we heard a voice on the loud speaker to say “Better luck next year!” Blondie’s is a fun place to watch a game but this is the absolute last time I pause for a Bears game in Vegas.

    Cypress Marketplace

    We were exhausted after the game (and probably a little drunk) and we ended up sleeping the afternoon away. We decided to go to Cypress Marketplace for dinner. I thought the Chinese place did everything cooked to order and was turned off when I saw all the food looking stale under glass. I wandered around looking for alternatives and ended up at the Lobster place. They had fried calamari. I am a sucker for fried calamari so I ordered it. It was properly cooked but not seasoned. The sauces that came with didn’t help. Strike three. I was out! I haven’t had such a bad food day since we stayed at IP on my first trip and we at the buffet there for most meals.

    Groupon Excursions

    We had two Groupons, one for $15 for $7 at Freed’s and another for an $85 pedicure package for $29 at A Harmony Spa.

    We headed to the location closer to Henderson because we figured we could stop there on the way to M Resort. The directions I had was to take I-15 to I-215 to Eastern. Well there was construction around the I-215 ramps continuing to near the LVB junction that had the right lanes I-15 backed up almost to Tropicana. What probably should have been a quick zip over to Freed’s took probably three times as long. And that was at 2 or so in the afternoon so I can’t imagine what it’s like at rush hour. When we finally made it, the shop was almost packed up to move to a new location in a week or so. But the bakery cases were full so it was no big. We got a couple cake slices and some cupcakes. We only overspent the certificate by two bucks or so. Let me tell you: the cake was DIVINE. I see complaints about the prices at Freed’s but after tasting their wares and see their sample cakes, I get it. They didn’t have real cakes on display because of the move but the samples showed that they can do any cake you want. I am a fan of those wedding cake reality shows and their work is comparable. So if you want just a simple cake from local bakery, this isn’t the place. They do higher end cakes than that. The cupcakes were tasty but they weren’t the gourmet cupcakes that are the rage. Overall, it was well worth the stop.

    A Harmony Nail Spa

    The deal was for a pedicure including a sugar scrub, foot massage, and paraffin dip for $29. I pay about that for just a pedicure and it would be more convenient to do it in Vegas than to try to squeeze the time out at home while I was still prepping for the trip. I found just three reviews but they were all positive so I booked it. My sister initially wanted to pass but she came to the same conclusion and booked one too. We scheduled it for Friday noon and were told that we could also use the Groupon for a facial or for a haircut and style. But my heart was set on a pedicure. The place is in Commercial Center and since I hadn’t been I didn’t grasp where we were headed but it’s in the same shopping center as Lotus of Siam and you can see the Green Door from their front door. We didn’t know what to expect as we were given a tour and saw the emphasis on angels and incense in the gift shop. They had a hair salon in back but I only saw one stylist there. Then they took us to the actually spa which was done in an enchanted forest theme, including a faux tree. The front of the spa was the nail spa and towards the back were rooms for facials, massages, and a meditation room used for spiritual cleansing (!). We were set up for our pedicures in purple hand chairs with massage mats. This wasn’t some rushed through pedicure but a thorough job with a gentle massage topped with paraffin. I think the best part was the sugar scrub which was a brown sugar scrub with raspberries, chocolate and cinnamon. The smell and feel was amazing. The owner worked on my sister and she told us a lot about how she came to design the spa and her emphasis on cleanliness and rewarding loyal customers. In fact, we were offered a chance to get another Groupon and offered a discount in the gift shop that day. It was neat to see Groupon work to help a small business. I wouldn’t suggest this as an alternative to the spas on the strip. This is nothing like that experience. But there are people who are looking for a more reasonably priced place to get their nails or toes done for a special occasion. This is pretty close to the strip and there basic prices are slightly expensive than I am accustomed to but very reasonable compared to the strip.


    Sucked! Lost everywhere, even M Resort. I only had luck at Bally’s and Harrah’s. We also hit IP, Flamingo, and TI on the strip. Caesars was okay most days but one night just sucked me dry. We should have made a better effort to hit offstrip and downtown but I didn’t want the trip to be all about stuff I wanted and my sister wasn’t giving good feedback on what she wanted. We were also hit with fatigued at odd times and it kept us closer to the strip than I intended.

    Shows and City Center

    Well, show. We chose Jabbawockeez. We both saw their season on ABDC and my sister become obsessed with seeing this show. We hit Tix 4 Tonight at Circus Circus to get the tickets on the way back from the spa. I decided to get them there because I suspected there would be no line and I was right. We got the tix in no time flat and walked around the place. It looked different since the first time I was there. Not better, just different. We may have mustered the courage to stay and play for a few minutes if we hadn’t encountered that nasty stench coming from the buffet. Instead we just looked around and left. My sister was annoyed that there were other ticket booths we could have gone to closer to CP but I told her chances were they had lines and we didn’t have to wait, which was true. But I also got the personal satisfaction of knowing I still could torture my lil’ sis!
    We went from CC to MC to pick up the tix. I realized then that we probably could have gotten similar pricing from the box office direct since it wasn’t a 50% off show. But either way we had good seats assigned and headed back to Caesars to rest before the show. We decided to walk to Monte Carlo for the show because we figured traffic would be bad. We walked through Bellagio and took the tram which was pretty easy to do. We stopped and saw the Conservatory which had a genuinely new display for Chinese New Year. I had never been at night and it added a dimension to the display. We also paused to see the chocolate fountain. I never realized it was right there.

    At MC, we got our M Life cards and played for a little before the show. We got seated pretty close to the doors opening and I was glad we did because the warmup started about 15 minutes before the show. I can’t really explain the show. I guess it was supposed to be a dream expressed in dance and movement but there was a ton of humor and expression from guys with no face. Maybe it’s a CDS show for people who wouldn’t normally see CDS shows. My sister noticed that they incorporated all their routines from ABDC into the show. I think that’s true – PYT was the only one that I remembered. It was a really good show. They are supposed to at Monte Carlo through November and I hope anyone who is curious about the show sees it. It not mentioned a lot on the different Vegas boards but it had a lot of buzz on the strip. Even the lady who did my pedicure had seen it and recommended it.
    Although it was easy getting to the show, the way back was hell! The plan was to walk back through City Center to check it out and to see Cosmo. The walk from MC to City Center was easy. We walked all the way back to Aria and checked it out. It was snoozy. I could see elements that reminded me of Bellagio and Wynn, even Red Rock. What I didn’t see was anything unique. The other thing I didn’t see was people. It was Friday night and it was almost empty. Even around the tables. The tables should have been hot and they were half full. We followed the signs to get to Crystals and got lost once but made it out.

    Crystals was weird. What the heck were they thinking? I kept seeing shops that I’ve seen in other malls and casinos. I kept seeing places with high price tags. I saw shops that had clothes that only a skinny b could wear. That is a lot of frickin’ square footage for stuff that most people can’t afford and the average traveler can’t fit into. Do they understand who comes to Vegas? I understand that they thought they could draw new types of guests but that obviously isn’t working. We were trying to get back to the strip and headed out one door. We went down to street level on some really steep stairs. We get to the end of the block some intersection and found that the only way across was to go up more stairs and use a crosswalk. I lost it. I mean I LOST IT! There was supposed to be an elevator but I was too keyed up to find it. So up the damn stairs we went. That’s another thing that MGM doesn’t seem to get. There are a lot of people in Vegas who don’t walk well or at all. Would an escalator have killed them? They wasted money on so much else. I understand why some of the other crosswalks are so weirdly laid out. They were being added to existing infrastructure. This was ridiculous as this was all new construction. It shouldn’t be so hard to use. I am still furious that it is so hard to figure out how to get through Crystals on foot. The signage should be clearer that the way really back to LVB is upstairs in through the Cosmo. (Am I the only one that thinks it’s bizarre that MGM is delivering its potential customers to the front door of another business?)

    Cosmo was a revelation. Here are all the people that should have been in Aria living it up big. We saw the chandelier and I was impressed. The frustration of City Center wore on us because we didn’t really stay to check things out. My sister wrote it off as a place for the Paris Hilton set. She may be right but I didn’t feel excluded. I will be curious to see the atmosphere in the day and on a weekday before I write it off. My overall impression is those if you need to walk from center strip to south strip, either use the tram or stick to the east side. There is nothing in City Center worth the hassle.

    Other Impressions

    Service is still declining on the strip. I had good experiences with CW’s and valets but the service in the restaurants was either excellent or abysmal. The only difference is that there are really old people being rude instead of young or middle aged people and I am used to more experienced people being more friendly. I don’t know why the demographics have changed but the service staff this trip was really grey.

    I don’t know how long that construction will last on the I-15/I-215 but you should refuse the tunnel until it’s over. On our way back from M, we used Sinatra and the backups looked bad.

    I attribute the losing this trip to deviating from my pattern of hitting the local’s casinos. I won’t stick to the strip so closely next time.

    I attribute part of the bad food run to my sister squashing my idea of hitting EI. Next time there is a conflict I will ditch her!

    I was really disgusted by seeing beer and liquor bottles dropped all over the place. There are garbage cans everywhere people!

    One good thing my sister did was make me pause a few times and look around. She got me to stop and watch the Mirage volcano and the Atlantis show at the Forum shops. I don’t see either as must do’s but they were fun.

    Well, that’s it. If airfare is reasonable, we may come back but chances are Vegas will stay off my radar for a while. I got bigger and more important trips to plan!
  2. chef

    chef Resident Buffetologist

    Apr 20, 2002
    Nothing wrong with a TR packed with details. Good work.
  3. luvnvegas2

    luvnvegas2 Guest

    Enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing!
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