Trip Report 2/16 - 2/21/06 LONG
Reason: I like to have a reason for going to Vegas, makes it easier to explain to the people who are not Vegas addicted<g>. This trip is to celebrate my brother's birthday - it's a milestone one and our birthdays are a day (and two years) apart so it's going to be a dual celebration. His group is coming in from FL and I'm flying in from CT. I originally booked arrival on 2/17 but they were unable to get the flight they wanted and are coming in early on 2/17. I had an offer from MGM that I used for them so I had to be there before they got in so they would have a place to sleep<g>.
I was able to change my air at no cost as I was using a Rapid Reward; however I had to take a connecting flight instead of a non-stop on my way out. Connection was at Midway, Chicago and was just a 50 minute wait between planes. I had four comped nights at Caesars so that left me with an additional night to find for free. Sam's Town had sent me an offer for two free nights and a food comp, called them to book and they had Thursday available but not Friday. I told them I didn't need Friday, Thursday would be fine - no, I couldn't do that, if I only wanted one night I had to pay for it! That's against my principles, so I rummaged through my offer file and found an offer from the Rio for two free nights. Learned my lesson from the last exercise....just booked two nights even though I would only be using one of them.
Next problem was the car rental - I had booked a compact a month or so ago for $103, when I went in to revise the rental the extra day brought it up to $293! Now I know that it's President's Day weekend and there are a lot of big conferences, but I thought that was ridiculous. I reserved a car for one day from Dollar for fifty bucks, picked it up when I landed, picked my brother up the next day, drove right to Dollar and returned the one day rental and walked to the other side of the lot and picked up the reserved rental. A circuitous way to do things, but it worked for half of the revised price.
Flights: Flight out was packed to Chicago (why do people go to Chicago in February?) - the connection to Vegas was also full. Boarded about ten minutes late and then got to sit on the runway about an hour and a half because of bad weather (rain, mixed with some sleet). Flight home was two-thirds full, aided by a good tailwind we got in about half an hour before scheduled, nice!
Hotels: This was the first time I have stayed at Rio (I don't know why I got the offer, I have probably put two or three hundred dollars through there) - I told them at check in that this was a first at their hotel and the clerk said he would be sure to give me a remodeled room. The room was in the Ipanema Tower and was very nice. The window that everyone talks about in the bathroom has been closed in - it's now a shelf in the bathroom and there's a picture hung in the bedroom where the opening would have been. I probably would not stay here again, though, I'm used to the great bathrooms at Caesars and I don't think this measures up to their standards. I also don't like the casino at Rio - I could have walked over to Gold Coast to play VP, but after traveling all day I was just too lazy. I only used the room for Thursday night - again, large comfortable room, but I just like Caesars better.
Moved to Caesars Friday to the Palace Tower - much happier here - nice sized room, really nice bathrooms with separate shower and lots of toiletries. The big plus here is that there is still lots of playable video poker, primarily 9/6 jacks or better, and some triple play machines that I like. I settle in and feel like I'm home at last
Dining: My brother and his wife are starved when they get off the plane and we take a ride to Silverton, hoping to try their steakhouse. Find out they don't open until 5 PM and it's only 3 PM They don't want to wait, so we eat at Sundance (I've had lunch here before). It's a big hit with them (the fact that they're ravenous might be one of the reasons<g>) and all of us are satisfied with the sandwiches we ordered.
We did my usual stop at The Palm one day for lunch - very enjoyable and delicious filet mignon with mushrooms. They frequent two of The Palm locations in FL so they are very familiar with the food and service here - they weren't aware that they were open for lunch or about the lunch specials.
Friday night we went to Hyakumi at Caesars for dinner, I had lots of comp dollars and now that they only have a six month life I wanted to blow some out rather than chance losing them. We had teppanyaki seating; a very nice experience. I've been to other teppanyaki places like Benihana's and found this much nicer. A little pricier, but very generous servings and superb service. They had two choices on the menu, one featuring filet mignon and the other featuring seafood. We all ordered the filet mignon dinner - started with a shrimp appetizer, then a choice of miso or chicken soup, a cucumber salad, followed by the dinner which consisted of a chicken breast, a rock lobster tail and a filet mignon each. A serving of vegetables that consisted primarily of bean sprouts and mushrooms accompanied this, in addition to a separate bowl of white rice. Dessert was a very pretty presentation of a scoop of green tea ice cream and red bean ice cream. None of us could finish our dinners, but we enjoyed the meal and theatrics so much that they decided when the rest of the group arrived that this would be the site for our "big" get together on Monday night.
My nephew, Bryce (11 years old) couldn't wait to get here on Monday night, ate the appetizer and then promptly fell asleep The other youngster in the group enjoyed the whole experience, though. Again, way too much too eat - we had one person in the group who is a real steak lover, so we managed to pass on some of our leftover filet to him.
Most of the other eating was done on the fly in coffee shops, etc. We had a group of nine, so it wasn't always easy to get everyone coordinated.
Gambling: Alas, no winners this time Many four to a royal but that royal was elusive this time. For me it was more of a gradual bloodletting than a hemorrhage, I was lucky the last night and made a few bucks so I came home with almost all of my bankroll. The others were down anywhere from $300 to $700 each but everyone had a lot of fun.
Went down to Slots a Fun one day (my brother likes to play blackjack and craps here). We parked at valet park in Circus Circus; I haven't been in here since 1982 and quite frankly, I don't care if I never go back! It was overrun with kids, in the casino, standing at slot machines with their parents, sitting on the floor, yuk! My only "big" hit of the vacation was 4 deuces at Slots a Fun, paid off in quarters, needed to have a hopper fill - for those people who say they miss coins in the payoffs, this is the place to go. After washing my hands a half dozen times, I finally got all the filthy grit off.
Miscellaneous: Seven of the group went to the Aerosmith concert at MGM on Saturday night. I passed on that, they said the concert was fun but thought the intermission was way too long - 45 minutes, and they weren't too crazy about the opening act, Lenny Kravitz.
My niece, Jill, came as nanny for Bryce. There are apparently plenty of things for kids to do in Vegas, she ran the legs off the two that were with her. They went to the Star Trek adventure (twice, they wanted to get their money's worth<g>), the Secret Garden, FAO Schwartz, the Tournament of Kings, Hoover Dam (bus tour), Ethel M factory, and the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay. I asked the kids what their favorite things were and they were the monorail, the revolving doors and the ground squirrels at Hoover Dam!
Enjoyed sharing breakfast at Boulder Station one morning with a group of online friends from Henderson. Always good to visit with all of them and one of the things I look forward to on each trip.
Next trip is the beginning of May - two newbies are coming with us this time, so I'm looking forward to their reaction. Just get home and I'm anxiously awaiting another trip.