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very very late trip report strat/westin/poker

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Gold Member, Dec 11, 2004.

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  1. Gold Member

    Gold Member Tourist

    Mar 13, 2004

    My Trip Report

    Sorry that this is a little old, but I am missing Vegas and it was great writing this report after a few months. .

    Vegas Trip Report 5/16/04 -> 5/23/04

    Flight+Stratosphere booked via swavacations.com (it was actually cheaper to get the rooms+flight then just the flight alone)
    Westin Casuarina booked via priceline for 5 days $52 per night.
    Ballys for 1 night (friday night) via their website special offer $105 + coupon book that included $50 in matchplay.

    Arrived in Vegas on Saturday night via Southwest, took shuttle to Dollar Car Rental
    and got a Neon for about $100 for a week! (booked via their website) Way cheaper then using cabs for a week.
    We could of went with a bigger car but I think a neon is perfect for Vegas, very nimble
    when changing lanes in awful traffic and easy on the gas. There was a line at Dollar
    that moved very SLOW. Only one counter person. Line got really long behind us. Oh and for those
    people that don't have a credit card, don't worry… they will take your PayPal check card. (they charge
    $150 the day you arrive to make sure you got some cash)

    The drive down the strip to Stratosphere took about 45mins, haven't been to Vegas
    for about 3-4 years and loved seeing all the changes. My fiancé (vegas virgin) loved the crowds and lights.

    Wasn't sure where parking at The STRAT was, they did not have good signage off the strip. But I found my way in once I made a second pass. Check in was easy and quick, no free upgrades, but they did offer a $20 per night upgrade to a newly redone room with a Jacuzzi. We took it. Getting to the room was a @#$%@ The elevators are pretty far from
    the check in desk, you have to basically walk through the whole casino. It took us about half an hour (took wrong elevator up) to get
    inside our room. Passed a couple drunks along the way in the hallway.. vegas standard. Room was ok, looked pretty standard.
    Jacuzzi was pretty nice and we used it 3 times for the 2 nights we were there. View was pretty good. The bed was pretty hard,
    Pillows very flat, sheets seemed old. The one thing I would think every hotel should get right is a very comfortable bed and bathroom.
    Bathroom was ok, but the soap and shampoo sucked.

    We were booked at the Strat for Sat+Sun night. I made full use of 2 coupon books. Had to go back to the check in desk to get
    them, they were not offered upon arrival. I believe each book had 2 $10 matchplay coupons. (won 1, lost 3) Table minimums
    for Sat/Sunday/Monday were $5, that surprised me because I expected at least $3 and maybe some $1 mins. Fiancé quickly won
    $100 at a dollar slot machine, unfortunately that was our biggest win for the whole trip.

    Went up to the stratosphere tower about midnight Saturday night, it was awesome! (2 for 1 coupon) we spent about 40 minutes up there
    Soaking up our first night in vegas. It was really chilly up there, We loved it!

    Stratosphere is not a bad place if you are traveling on a budget and rent a car. We only slept at the Strat for 1 night, but came back to use the Jacuzzi…
    Checked out Monday morning about 3am.

    Next day we move our bags to the Westin, check in was smooth and easy, we were offered several rooms. Next time I should ask for the room closest to elevator, somehow
    I picked the one at the end of the hallway. The elevator requires you to put in your room card before you can pick your floor; this is extremely inefficient, as many times
    I would forget about it, and by the time I found my room card, the elevator was already being called up. The Westin room has a modern feel to it, nice 27’ TV coffee maker with
    Starbucks coffee, THE BEST DAM BED I HAVE EVER SLEPT ON, really nice 2 head shower and awesome lotions and toiletries. I could probably write a book about how much we loved the bed. Oh and no matter how much “action†you put it through, it did not make any noise, nice! Great change from our squeaky bed at home. The rooms are smallish but we loved it. Since we were getting married in Vegas this was the perfect bedroom for us.

    Self parking at the Westin is a very short walk from the parking garage to the elevator. Pool is smallish but classy, great lounge chairs and hot tub. Plus its open till 10 or 11 at night.
  2. Gold Member

    Gold Member Tourist

    Mar 13, 2004
    had to split it up, wouldn't let me post it all???

    I like to play some poker so we had some activities planned around it, I believe Monday morning I drove out to the El Cortez to get my feet wet at their $1/2 holdem game. Jakie Ghaun (owner of the cortez
    , ex owner of the Plaza) was at my table! I have never been here but felt like I should really check it out, this place is ok if you like cheap gambling, but I don’t smoke and it was a bit too smoky for me. Walked away up $25 after about half hour of play.

    I believe on Wednesday we went to the Sahara and I played in their $40 no limit tourney, looked like 100 people played, all tables were full, I lasted a while and got kicked out with about 20 people left (no prize)
    Last hand: I was small blind, with AK, and low cash, button with about as many chips as me went all in, I called, he had AQ, Q on the flop 

    A day or 2 later I signed up for the Mandalay Bay morning holdem tourney, while waiting went to the Excalibur and played some low limit holdem, it had this local older asian guy that left the table every time he was about to be the blind and came back in to pay 1 blind once the button passed. Everyone was pretty much cussing at him under their breath, table had 2 local tight players, but I walked away up $40. Back at Mandalay I got 4th place and a cash prize. Really enjoyed playing it, good mix of good/new players.

    On a different night played 2/4 holdem at Luxor. 2 drunk college kids at the table calling everything, I loved it. But they were very talkative and cussed, so some @#$% kept complaining wanting them to be kicked out, and got his wish, I was pissed. Unfortunately I was being dealt crap cards and left up only $60 after 3 hours of play, asked for a comp to the coffee shop and got one ($5 bucks I think)

    Also played some 2/4 holdem at Flamingo, lost $80. This was my last night and wanted to get some more poker in, bad mistake playing at 4 am.

    I really wanted to play more low cost tournaments but they are almost always in the morning and I had trouble waking up early enough to sign up for them.
  3. Gold Member

    Gold Member Tourist

    Mar 13, 2004
    reviews of other places we went to:

    We got married at the Tropicana outside at slightly before dusk. Really nice garden area, we both enjoyed it. It was just us 2 there. The photographer was great. But we were glad we did not book our room there. A couple days before the wedding we went there just to see what we would be getting… the casino was very dead and old looking. Had some coupons for free stuff, but there was a large line and it was not worth waiting around. Oh and if you want a wedding cert at the courthouse, go there at an odd time, like early or late at night. The lines were freaking long at midday and you will get sick at looking at other couples that are “in love†waiting in line. We were so much more in love then anyone one else! LoL (got a ticket for not paying for parking :-(

    We went 2 times (at night), tables were jammed packed and its hard to find low limit games anymore (under $5) 4queens had some but tables were packed. Ate at the Carson street café (inside Golden Nugget) really liked that place, and the food was pretty good. Nice and quiet. Oh and if anyone ever dreamed about owning one of the vending carts/spaces in the Freemont st exp area, its $5 thousand per month. I was talking to a water/coke vender and she said its worth it. We both were kind of sad to see Parrots/Snakes used for poses for pictures. Really bad atmosphere for animals.

    Ate at Grand Lux café, wow nice place!!! Venetian is a very nice place but table limits are 25/50 too rich for us. After a nice meal we left. Self park is a good mile (maybe 2) walk to the casino floor. Maybe it just seems like it because our feet were sore.

    Bathrooms smell great! Lol, here we discovered the souvenir coin slot machines, and we both fell in love with them! One guy gave us a $20 bill for a $10 coin we just won. We also found these at Ballys and Paris and really enjoyed playing them, mostly because they payout that souvenir coin, so you cant gamble it away until you cash it in. We came away ahead on all the machines we played (we cashed in all the coins) In fact we never really won at any other machines except the souvenir ones. (except for that one $100 dollar hit) I wonder what the payout rates are on those…

    Had their buffet for lunch, we both enjoyed it. No waiting in line and a nice atmosphere. We both played the “you cant loose†slot tourney for $20 (I think) it used to give you food vouchers for $20 but when we were there it was $10, (sorry don’t remember the details but it was a rip off) Everyone wins a food voucher and a cheap gift. I didn’t realize they lowered the food voucher amount until after I signed up and started playing. Aladdin has a great bar above the casino floor, they made the best pina colada my wife has ever had. My vodka sour was pretty tasty too (I would say it might have been the best I have had) We were going to see the Christina Aguilera concert but it got cancelled (we knew this before we left for Vegas but there were no other national headliners in town so we were a little disappointed)

    We went to see Ron Lucas and then have a dinner buffet. Ron was very funny and we loved his show (coupon for free entry w/6.95 drinks) He looks much better live then on his billboards, he looks too goofy/funny looking on advertisements. Carnival buffet was a disappointment to me, but wife loved it. I don’t like sea food, and they had a ton of sushi and other fish. I didn’t see any sign or anything that it was a seafood night or anything (and I know they have a separate seafood buffet but this was not it) They almost had no “real†meat, after trying some crap… I found something I liked, a hot dog! It was one of the best ones I have had but for $20+ buffet I felt ripped off. My wife likes seafood and enjoyed almost everything she tried.

    Saw Mac King (coupon for free entry w/6.95 drinks) we both enjoyed it, pretty funny act.

    Saw George Wallace at the outside karaoke area (he had a show that week at the Flamingo) We also saw Second City (2-for-1 coupon) loved it! This time I decided to slip a $5 to the guy that seats us (sorry forgot what they are called) and he sat us right up front. My wife was very upset since we will probably be made fun of, the cast did ask us some questions but no jokes aimed at us even though we are from Nebraska, shooo it was close.

    We checked into Ballys, get suckered to upgrade to a newer room, had a partial view of fountains. The room was pretty ugly, had a blue velour type sofa, yuck. Room was big but nothing special about it, besides the view. We really missed the Westin bed/sheets/pillows/toiletries. We won on almost all of our match play coupons playing mini baccarat. I played banker and won 4 times in a row  Souvenir coin slot machine was very nice to us, every time we put in $20 bucks we would get 3 $10 coins before the credits ran out. We played it every time we walked by it (they only had 2 of the machines) Once I was bothered by a couple asking for money. Claimed to be out of town and are starved because they need money for food. I was like WTF are you doing in the casino??? If felt good to put in $40 bucks into my slot machine and tell them I don’t have any money. It felt like they were scam artists. I really enjoyed the fact that Ballys is connected to Paris, wish more hotels would do that.

    My wife claims she met Chris Rock at the valet parking area at Ballys. Conviently the camera was out of film and she couldn’t take a pic. She said she was walking through the area when a car door opened and hit her, and it was Mr. Rock! He apologized and they chatted for a short while. She didn’t recognize him at first, because he looks much thinner in person. I only 80% believe her story. He had no shows in Vegas that week.

    We went up the Eiffel tower, again nice and cool up high with all the wind. Strat tower was 100x better. On the Eiffel tower the top is a cage, really wished they had it open like the Stratosphere. Oh and before you can ride up they force you to stand still and let them take a picture. (this was the same at the strat) big waste of time, most people were not happy about doing this. I didn’t want to be a big jerk so we “suffered†through it.

    Before my poker tourney, we went on speed the ride and the nascar ride. Wow I was cussing the whole time I was on the speed ride. We sit down, they buckle us in, we wait and all of a sudden it goes. I was mad as hell we were not warned! I would of liked to prepare myself mentally before the ride went. The ride is very freaky and fast, this was the first time ever we went in an upside-down rollercoaster ride. We were shaky after it and not really walking straight. Well worth it, but we were a little sick/scared to do it again. Nascar ride was ok, but I almost left it early because I got sick. Most likely because we went to it right after the speed ride. I didn’t puke but I felt like I would pass out. So my advice is take a short break between rides. We got the unlimited rides pass (with coupon) but only did each ride once.

    If you like to play cheap poker it would be great to stay at the Luxor, it would be easy to get to Mandalay Bay and Excalibur (and Monte Carlo) poker rooms. Especially if you want to play the morning tournaments at Luxor and Mandalay

    We will try to see more shows next time we are in Vegas, You really can’t go wrong with a comedy show. Before this visit I have been in vegas 3 times and never seen a show. We both agreed we should gamble less and see more shows.

    Eat at Barbary Coast’s Victoria room (I think that’s the name) the best breakfast food for the least $$$

    Try not to overdo it and walk too much, it will make the trip less enjoyable when your feet are sore.
  4. jenaphir

    jenaphir Well-Known Member

    Mar 24, 2004
    the westin sounds really nice. i hope to stay there in 2005.

    thanks for sharing your report!
  5. misterKeno

    misterKeno Guest

    Pretty good TR. Congrad's on your wedding.

    Regarding the Westin---ive heard things bout the bed anywhere from 'its just a regular bed' to 'it has nice sheets' to 'its sooo comfy' to 'its a soft cloud that lets you sleep for 17 hrs', etc.

    Soooo, is it just a normal bed w/ $200 sheets on it?

    Yea, i want to do Speed the ride, sounds like a winner & a bit of a scare, lol.

  6. doctor_al

    doctor_al VIP Whale

    Nov 25, 2002
    Twin Cities
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    From the Strat to the Westin, what culture shock! Sounds like a nice trip all-round. What did the new wife do while you were at the poker table?

    "We were so much more in love then anyone one else! LoL" - think Tina Turner's got something to say about that... ;)
    seriously, congrats and best wishes. [​IMG]
  7. Gold Member

    Gold Member Tourist

    Mar 13, 2004
    Thanks guys.

    About the Westin "heavenly" beds... at first they don't seem so special, yes they have about $400 worth of nice sheets/pillows/comforter. The mattress has a pillow top, bed overall seemed a little firm at first... then we slept in it... had really good deep sleep (it was like that every night we slept there)... and no it wasn't just becasue we were tired (strat and ballys beds were awful) I don't think you realize how good the bed is untill you sleep on it for a few nights then go back to your regular bed.
  8. misterKeno

    misterKeno Guest

    well -- you're a newlywed, so i reckon the heavenly bed was indeed a (nevermind, i'll hush up).

    Anyhoo, thx for the feedback. Ive gotta pick a hotel for my 'getaway' day outta LV, this is now a candidate, actually.

    Last time i checked, i (sorry to go off topic partner) saw a rate of $129 @ westin's website for a monday nite in Jan. Soooo, i'm still checkin around and all.

    Yes, ive also heard of a 'modern' & 'business-oriented' theme there.

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