This trip was a last minute decision. I had just finished and invoiced a project, so I wanted to get out of town. Southwest fares had gone way up, but I decided to check Priceline. I was really surprised to find non-stop on Airtran (motto: Veal pen in the sky) round trip for about $220 with taxes. So, at noon, I booked a 9am flight for the next morning. I didn't have any comp offers on the strip, but I did have a two-night offer from the Gold Coast. I had never stayed there, so I booked and got a premium room on the offer. One nice surprise from Priceline. They let me request and receive aisle seats without Airtran's usual $6 seat selection fee. Aisle seats are a must on Airtran because the seat pitch is so close that even at 5'9", my knees bump into the seat in front of me. The guy in the middle seat was about 6'5" and was suffering mightily. Gold Coast was a first for me. I had only stayed one night off strip before, and that time, I had a car. I'd take this as a challenge to see if I could stay off strip in the future. I knew the gambling was better at Gold Coast than on the strip, but I still like to spend evenings on the strip or downtown. You can say I'm a cheapskate. I'm a low roller with a gambling budget of a couple hundred bucks. Because of my underlying cheapness, I have taken airport shuttles on many trips. ...always without any of the nightmare stories until now. I bought the ticket and the woman said, "There'll be a bus at stand 5 in about 20 minutes." That was the first clue. 20 minutes later, the bus arrived and I was in the middle of a long line. We loaded up all the people who would fit, leaving about 10 people behind. As the driver got in, a man who introduced himself as a Las Vegas Ambassador got on. First he gave a quick bit about some attractions and how single women could get in free to most nightclubs before midnight. Then... he started talking about Planet Hollywood... and how great it was... and how they were giving away free show tickets... BING, BING, BING. There was a timeshare saleman for Westgate on the shuttle!!! This is utter BS from Grayline. Never again. At least the timeshare guy left the bus with a bunch of unfortunate suckers at the Venetian. About an hour and 15 minutes after the plane landed, I was at Gold Coast. First nice thing. No line at the check in counter. A very nice young lady checked me in and I was up to a 7th floor premium room with a view of the strip, the Palms and a field of satellite dished that would make NASA jealous. The premium rooms are a lot nicer than I expected. They have made the most out of the little rooms. The bathrooms are very functional for their size and are much larger than the ones at some of the downtown hotels. The one negative is that the dark wood furniture is showing wear -- any nick immediately shows light wood underneath. After a quick lunch, I started gambling --- and losing. Pretty soon, I found myself down to $25. I didn't have a lot budgeted for gambling on this trip and was waiting to hit my bank's ATM in the Walgreens on Fremont St for a free withdrawl. Hopped the shuttle to the strip and the Deuce downtown. Refilled the wallet and started a little low-rolling play on Fremont. Nothing worked, down, down, down. Stopped at the Triple 7 for a steak and a large IPA. Lost more trying to hit the progressive royal on the 10cent Joker Poker at MSS. Lost at Blackjack. Lost more at full pay Joker Poker at the Vegas Club. I won back about $40 on low stakes blackjack and headed south to the strip. Stopped in at Bill's and tried the unfortunately named "Rapid Craps." Rapid Craps is a Shufflemaster game in the same vein as Rapid Roulette, with individual screens for each player around the table. It has one dealer instead of the normal three. They were keeping a pit boss or an extra dealer around to help people but one guy ran the show. You buy in with cash and are paid with chips. Players throw real dice on a full-size table. All the bets are on a personal screen. It seems like a good option for a person like me, since it's a $3 table on the strip and it really reduces the trepidation level for new players. It could also be good for folks who like playing the dark side, since no one else can see your bets and only the aggregate bets are displayed on overhead screens. Drink service was great and I was losing money at a slower rate. After a couple hours, I was down about $40 and took the 202 bus back to Gold Coast, since the shuttle had stopped running. Woke up and found myself with $34 and some change. Charged a buffet to my room and played some nickel triple play VP, planning on another ATM trip. When I was down to $2.05 in the machine (and I had been down under a dollar), 10d, Qd, Ad, Jd came up. I held them, expecting to get something like a 4. Amazingly, the Kd showed up and breathed life into my bankroll. Freshly (royal) flush, I headed back to the strip for some sightseeing. Hit the Bellagio to see the conservatory, walked through Vdara, where there were virtually no people. Walked over to Aria, which was surprisingly empty. I had been there opening night and couldn't walk for the crowds. Now, dollar VP machines were 25c and the bank that had been $25 was $5. The place was very quiet, not empty, but there didn't seem to be any buzz. It took less time to walk from the back of Bellagio, through Vdara to Aria than it would to take the tram to Crystals and walk through the pocket park to Aria. Went back to Gold Coast and played a bit of VP. Won consistently, but small. In the evening, back to the strip, where I hit 4oak at Casino Royale and cashed in the $25 bonus. Then I hit a $73+ Tie Fighter bonus on Star Wars. Dinner at Grand Luxe at Palazzo with four 4s as a nightcap. Walked back to Bill's and hit a couple hardways on Rapid Craps for a small profit. Got back to Gold Coast and hit two straight flushes and a Wild royal on Joker Poker to finish the day up over $300 from $2.05 after buying dinner, drinks and handing out a lot of tips. Friday, I checked out after getting the bill squared away. They hadn't entered the room as a comp, but the clerk quickly rectified the issue without any drama. All the service at the Gold Coast was without any problems, the room was cleaned quickly, bartenders and waitresses were pleasant. Drink service was good. I have to say that it may be quicker to take the 202 bus when heading to the strip, since it is more frequent than the Boyd shuttle and the shuttle goes to the Orleans before it ends up on the strip. Took a cab to the airport. Much faster, but much more expensive than a shuttle ($20 w/tip). In the future, it's either a rental car or a cab. No more shuttles. Airtran back to MKE was about an hour delayed and the guy next to me had some sort of unfortunate gastric issue necessitating aggressive use of the air vent. All said and done, I was able to spend two nights in Vegas, eat, drink and gamble for about $300 including airfare. That's why I keep going back.