Monday, December 28, 2009

Link to article: New TSA screening policies in place after Dec. 25th incident

Due to the Christmas Day terrorist bombing attempt aboard an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight, new TSA screening rules have been added to ALL flights for the foreseeable future. Here is a blog article from Yahoo! regarding the rules and some updates that have already been made to those rules:

While the rules are vague at best, I'm sure that an attempt at basic streamlining will come along at some point. Remember the variations from airport to airport after 9/11? Some locations were stricter with their 3 oz. liquid rule when it applied to gifts of wine that they didn't want to check in their luggage, while others were more apt to throw all bottles in the nearest trashcan if you came anywhere the security checkpoint.

Either way, expect longer lines to get through security for a while.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Resort Fees: What They Are and How To Avoid Them

Resort fees - what are they? Why do you pay them? How can you avoid them?

Resort fees are charged by most Vegas hotels for using their "facilities". The fees tend to cover a large gray area in a lot of cases: it can be a basic charge that only amounts to a couple of dollars and is added to your hotel room bill for incidentals; it can be a basic fee added for your use of the gym or basic spa facilities (whether you use them or not); it can be a nominal fee charged for the use of the in-room telephone - it could be for basically anything the resort chooses, and it could cover any combination of services to boot. It depends on the hotel and what they offer versus what they want to charge you for.

Many resorts started charging the fees regularly a couple of years ago. To me it seems as though the fees appeared with more frequency after the recession began, sort of as a way to compensate for lost earnings. I also wonder if the fees are used to offset any free rooms that people (like me) are getting.

There's a way to get around resort fees in most cases, and it's very simple. Here are two of the very best ways to try and avoid them, but remember that they are not foolproof and you should be sure to check the terms and conditions when booking your rooms to determine what the charges are (if any) and what the fees include:

Book your room online - Many hotels will waive resort fees if you book online. You should check with the hotel to make sure this is the case, as some resort fees can be as much as $25 a night. If there are any resort fees, they will be applied to your bill at the end of your stay, and you should receive notification from the front desk before they are applied. Ideally, the front desk should notify you of any and all resort fees at the time you are checking in.

Book your room directly through the player's club or from the slot club offers you receive - This is the way I personally avoid the fees. By signing up to become a member of a casino's players' club and booking my reservation directly through the players' club or the offers I receive from them as a result of my previous play, I automatically avoid the resort fees that are normally charged to other customers. And that's a good thing for me: if my room is totally comped based on my previous play, I don't want to be surprised by a $12.50 charge at the end of my stay when I don't do anything but stay in my room and use a single towel and wash cloth. (Let's not discuss the bath goodies I took, though, shall we?)

In any case, take advantage of the players' clubs and online offers when you can. Not only will you avoid the fees, but you'll probably also get a better rate than you would just by calling up the hotel and booking your stay directly through them.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Link to another fantastic trip report for the Westies!

The fantastic Mr. Westie of LV4E fame just completed another 2-week journey to the glittery world of Vegas with his wife, Ann. With his permission, here is a link to his latest trip report posted on LV4E:

Mr. Westie is one of my very favorite trip report writers for many reasons: he always includes hilarious commentary in his reports; he has a wonderful sense of making the most out of coupons, gift certificates and discounts; his rating system of all things consumed and enjoyed is entertaining and reliable; and he includes photos and links to every restaurant or entertainment venue he and his wife partake in.

He enjoys dining in out-of-the-way restaurants that tourists don't normally get to, and he backs up his dining experiences with lots of fantastic details and beautiful, close-up photos so you can see exactly what the dish looks like. I believe he's on a first-name basis with many of these restaurants' owners, which also helps him to get additional great deals and discounts for being a friend.

It's a very enjoyable read from beginning to end.

Link to article: Government imposes 3-hour limit on tarmac strandings

If you've flown to or from anywhere that's prone to really bad weather, or if you've been stuck in a notoriously bad airport that has extreme delays and cancellations, you might be happy to hear that the government is now imposing a limit on how long the TSA can force travelers to remain aboard stranded planes.

Here's a link to the article outlining the effective date and rules for tarmac stranding:

After a rash of really bad situations over the past few years in which hundreds of people were forced to remain in airplanes left parked on the tarmac for more than 10 hours - and unable to fly due to weather conditions or other factors on one side or the other - the government has finally seen fit to act on this. Good for them...good for the travellers, too.

Can you imagine being stuck on a plane with ANY crying babies, overflowing airplane toilets (horrors in their own right), no snacks, or a lack of medication? For the record, you should never pack any medication you may need in your checked luggage, so shame on you if you do that in the first place.

It's about time some rules were put into place to give guidance in these situations. There may be more delays due to stranded people being allowed to disembark the plane in these situations, but allowing people off the planes in order to make their own decisions - and take care of themselves and their families when necessary - is the ethically and morally correct thing to do.

But that's my opinion.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Link to article: Bellagio Conservatory's Christmas display is now open (video)

If you don't already know this, the Bellagio Conservatory is changed and decorated by the seasons, plus one: it is decorated for Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and the Chinese New Year.

Over the past couple of years they seem to have started re-using many of the same design elements in their decorations from season to season, but I'm a fan of recycling, so I don't mind at all. What I do mind is when they don't add enough elements in their designs, because Vegas is supposed to be over-the-top. More is better in this case, in my opinion.

The Las Vegas Sun just posted a video with an overview of Bellagio's Christmas display for 2009. Click the link to view some beautiful stuff, including a softly falling snowstorm:

I've seen the Spring, Summer, and Fall displays repeatedly, but never the Christmas or Chinese New Year displays. I'm going to have to make a point of making a wintry trip to Vegas to see them both someday!

Keep in mind when you visit the Bellagio Conservatory that they DO have a change-out period between seasons, so there's a chance that you may see a work in progress during your trip, or not be allowed in at all. Check out a Vegas website like, for an overview of when the current display will be up before your next trip to make sure you won't miss a thing:

Take your camera - lots of photographic opportunities!

Link to article: Five Foods to Avoid Before Flying

My friend Bonnie found a great article that encompasses a lot of mistakes people usually make when traveling: eating and drinking the wrong things before flying.

Here's a link to the article from

The only thing I don't really agree with is #5 - EVERYTHING. I say that because eating nothing at all - especially before a long flight (or any flight, for that matter) - can make you feel worse. People with diabetes shouldn't necessarily fast before or during a flight, nor should anyone taking certain kinds of medication. I would say that, depending on the length of the flight and your personal medical circumstances, you might want to have a light meal or a snack before you fly. Check with your doctor about what is best for you given your health and medical needs rather than avoiding food and drink altogether.

For me personally, drinking carbonated drinks (or even alcoholic ones) before or during a flight is limited to one drink MAX before or during a flight. I try to stick to apple juice or orange juice if the flight is over three hours long, because I dislike using airplane restrooms, too. Sodas and coffee don't go over well with me for flights with a long duration. Too much information, I know.

Try to find a healthy dining alternative in the airport before you leave. They are out there, but you may have to look around.

Happy traveling!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Twelve Days of Christmas - Vegas Style!

My own take on "The Twelve Days of Christmas" - Merry Christmas to everyone!

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
A casino filled with full-pay VP!

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Two free buffets and a casino filled with full-pay VP!

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Triple-play slots, two free buffets,
And a casino filled with full-pay VP!

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Four Fremont light shows, triple-play slots, two free buffets,
And a casino filled with full-pay VP!

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Five nights in a comped suite!
Four Fremont light shows, triple-play slots, two free buffets,
And a casino filled with full-pay VP!

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Six lucky bets, five nights in a comped suite!
Four Fremont light shows, triple-play slots, two free buffets,
And a casino filled with full-pay VP!

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Seven cocktail waitresses, six lucky bets, five nights in a comped suite!
Four Fremont light shows, triple-play slots, two free buffets,
And a casino filled with full-play VP!

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Eight hours of poker, seven cocktail waitresses, six lucky bets,
Five nights in a comped suite!
Four Fremont light shows, triple-play slots, two free buffets,
And a casino filled with full-pay VP!

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Nine holes of golf, eight hours of poker, seven cocktail waitresses, six lucky bets,
Five nights in a comped suite!
Four Fremont light shows, triple-play slots, two free buffets,
And a casino filled with full-pay VP!

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Ten free gifts, nine holes of golf, eight hours of poker, seven cocktail waitresses,
Six lucky bets, five nights in a comped suite!
Four Fremont light shows, triple-play slots, two free buffets,
And a casino filled with full-pay VP!

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Eleven waiters "waiting", ten free gifts, nine holes of golf, eight hours of poker,
Seven cocktail waitresses, six lucky bets, five nights in a comped suite!
Four Fremont light shows, triple-play slots, two free buffets,
And a casino filled with full-pay VP!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Twelve beautiful showgirls, eleven waiters "waiting", ten free gifts,
Nine holes of golf, eight hours of poker, seven cocktail waitresses,
Six lucky bets, five nights in a comped suite!
Four Fremont light shows, triple-play slots, two free buffets,
And a casino filled with full-pay VP!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Twitter friends on Vegas - pay them a visit!

I mentioned previously that I'm not a big Twitter-er. I don't have my own account, but I do follow a few of my friends who are regular Vegas Twitterbugs (I just made that term up, so I'll be glad to take any royalties for use of the expression).

I do like looking at the posts, because some of them have SO MUCH to post about their trips. Diana (Evoni) is in Vegas frequently and adds photos of every win - and she has a lot of them. Terri (socal2lvgirl) and sumchiconthenet both live in Vegas, so their Vegas-related tweets come quite frequently, too. It's just nice to see my favorite city at any time of the year.

Here are links to some of my favorite Vegas-related Twitter members who could be in Vegas at any time:

If any other Vegas tweeters would like to be added to this list, just let me know. I didn't mean to leave anyone out intentionally.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Link: Bellagio review by Vegas Tripping (and my own comparison)

I previously posted my own review, video, and photos on my blog after a delightful stay at Bellagio in July of this year. I just received the December newsletter from Vegas Tripping and saw their somewhat critical review of a recent stay and thought I'd share the link with all of you:

Bellagio is the nicest Las Vegas hotel room I've stayed in to date. In my experience with the hotel, I found nothing to criticize or fault; the room was fantastic, it was well-appointed and beautiful, and I had a very nice view (even though it wasn't a lakeview room, sadly).

Maybe I'm not picky enough. Maybe others are too picky. You be the judge.

I personally had no trouble finding plugs for my cell phone charger without having to rearrange furniture or become a contortionist. Apparently my room was a little different from the one featured in this article, though, so maybe that's a concern I just didn't have to deal with. I found no stains, burns, tears or scuffs anywhere in the room, either. Also, the amenities were all provided above the bathroom sink, below the mirror, exactly where I've found them in every other Vegas hotel room. I had no problem picking up what I needed to take into the shower with me. I guess I've never been in an extremely fancy-schmancy hotel where I would find extra amenities near the sink, the shower, AND the bathtub. Seems a little bit like overkill to me. Most people either shower OR take a bath, but not both. Why waste the stuff? (I'll end up taking it, anyway, and the maids will replenish everything when they come in for turn down service. Oh, how I loved Bellagio turn down service...)

Maybe he had a room that hadn't been checked or renovated recently. My room appeared to be in tip-top shape. But I also feel that if you're used to staying in 5-star hotels all the time, you're going to look at things a little differently. Me? I was just happy to be there at a very big discount (and equally happy to spend some of Bellagio's money), so maybe I just had too many stars in my eyes. I hope to visit Bellagio again. It was certainly THE MOST comfortable night's sleep I've ever had in Vegas.

Oh, Bellagio...please send me another fantastic offer so that I may once again partake of your lovely hospitality. You were very gracious hosts from beginning to end. I'll be checking my mailbox daily until I hear from you.

Friday, December 4, 2009

LasVegas4Ever recognized with a Vegas Trippie nomination and kudos on a popular blog site

LasVegas4Ever, created by my good friend Bonnie (aka "Blonde4Ever") almost 2 years ago, was recently recognized for a 2009 Vegas Trippie award on the Vegas Tripping website. The nomination was announced by the site and voting just wrapped up last week. Not quite sure when the winners will be announced, but I'll be sure to share the details here.

This is LV4E's second nomination in a row - not bad for an itty bitty site created on a whim by a mad blonde woman!

Vegas Tripping:

Vegas Links blog:

Be sure to sign up for e-mail notifications on the Vegas Links blog site for some great weekly deals.

Congratulations to Bonnie for single-handedly taking on the big boys with her great little site - lots of good Vegas info shared among people with common interests...and a bit of great social networking thrown in for good measure!

Best of luck, B!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Link to article: Las Vegas Review Journal's "Holidays in Las Vegas - 2009"

If you're planning a trip to Vegas during the next month or so, I found the LVRJ's guide to the holidays for visitors has now been posted on line. Take a look and see if you can find something to tempt you during your trip this holiday season:

There are separate categories for dining, lights and displays, shopping, photos with Santa and much, much more. Why not celebrate the holidays when you're traveling? I know I would!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Vegas bathrooms - my most photographed subject




Bellagio (my bathroom)


It's a very odd thing, but I have become known as somewhat of a Las Vegas bathroom aficionado. I don't know exactly when it happened, but I do know why.

When my daughter was about four years old, she developed a fascination with public restrooms. She always wanted to see the inside of every public restroom we encountered to see how it was decorated. She had her favorites, too, and always insisted she had to go to the bathroom before we left certain places because she just had to see them again.

I had only recently started going to Las Vegas at the time, and I got the idea to take pictures of some of my favorite Vegas bathrooms for her to admire when I got back. She would "ooh" and "aah" over the cool lighting fixtures, stall doors, or lavatories. Yes, it was odd, but I found myself checking them out at every turn - and double-checking for occupants before I took a shot or two to take back home with me.

Once I joined a couple of on-line Vegas message boards, I began sharing my Vegas bathroom photos as part of my usual collection of Vegas trip photos. People would comment on them and laugh about how I ALWAYS took bathroom photos, and it was true; there is always at least one photo of a restroom - in a casino, restaurant, or my hotel room - among my vacation photos.

Now people have started quizzing me on Vegas bathroom photos to see if I know where they are located. Sadly, I'm not the 'expert' I thought I was, but that's okay. At least I know I'll have something to look forward to (and take photos of) on my next trip.

Link to article: Las Vegas Review Journal's search for unusual Christmas gifts

Recently the Las Vegas Review-Journal posted an article about some of the unusual Christmas gifts you can find in Las Vegas.

Some are pretty strange, and they're all pretty tacky, but I know of at least three people I could buy gifts for from that list who would love, love, LOVE the gifts because...well, they are what they are.

So, if you're interested in finding some truly unusual gifts for your family and friends (or just want to have a good laugh), check these out:

For the record, the gifts I could give and make someone happy with are the Pole Dancer Alarm Clock, the "Las Vegas County Jail" t-shirt, and the "CSI: Las Vegas" Evidence Bag and LED Flashlight. Some people are so predictable when it comes to gifts...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Thanksgiving Post: 25 Vegas Things I'm Thankful For (and a link to a Vegas4Visitors list to boot)

A friend over at LV4E shared Rick Garman's Vegas4Visitors weekly column with us and pointed out a holiday-related portion for our perusing pleasure. Check out the bottom article titled "Thanksgiving Special: Things in Vegas To Be Thankful For" that includes 25 things that the author is thankful for in Vegas -

That made me think: What are the Vegas things I'm most thankful for? Let's just see, shall we?

1. Breakfast - or dinner - on the patio at Mon Ami Gabi in Paris

2. Bellagio dinner buffet

3. Watching the lights come on over the Strip at dusk

4. Seeing the Bellagio fountains in action, day or night

5. TITO tickets

6. Comped rooms

7. Cocktail waitresses with good memories and quick feet

8. Video reel slot machines

9. Lucy in the Sky, With Diamonds

10. Wynn breakfast buffet

11. Gold Fish machines that let you play and play and play

12. The chandelier at The Phantom of the Opera

13. Random Elvis sightings...thankyewverymuch

14. Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, paying me a lovely visit

15. The Venetian lobby

16. Eggs Benedict in all its incarnations

17. Mardi Gras beads for a blackjack...or just because

18. People-watching at the Forum Shops

19. Grand Lux Cafe appetizers shared with friends and family

20. Encore's red butterflies

21. Seeing snow on Mt. Charleston - from the Strip - in June

22. Tix4Tonite

23. Meeting new friends

24. Seeing the Strip for the first time as the plane comes in for a landing

25. The promise of new things to see and do every time I visit

My list could change next year, too*. Who knows? I hope it does, because it'll mean I've found something new - and exciting - to do in Vegas yet again.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

*I would've included the dolphins at The Mirage in my list, too, but I was trying to be different. Not that I don't love the dolphins, because I do. They are part of a great attraction that should not be missed if you have the time and would like to get away from the noise of the casinos for a while.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Twitter in Vegas: To Tweet or not to Tweet? My, that IS an interesting question!

I am slowly getting on the information bandwagon. It's a struggle, but I'm trying. My best friend finally talked me into joining Facebook after more than a year of saying, "I really wish you'd join!", and it's been a whole new learning experience for me. One of my other friends is now trying to get me to sign up on Twitter, and at this point I'm still resisting.

Why resist? Well, I don't do a whole lot of texting, and I have a fairly simple cell phone that doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles. Oh, yeah - and said phone is not one of the touch screen variety, so typing anything in is a chore and a pain.

What I DO like about Twitter is that I can live vicariously through my on-line friends while they are in Vegas, which is the next best thing to being there, right? It's fun to read their tweets about a great dinner they just finished, or how they're doing gambling-wise, and it's especially nice to see pictures of their recent wins. Gotta love that! But I can do all of that from my computer, so I'm still not sold on getting a Twitter account for myself. I just don't see the benefit for me personally at this point. Like I said, I'm very resistant to change (or having my cheese moved, for you corporate folks who are familiar with that term).

So, should I continue to cyber-stalk my friends while they're in Vegas, or get myself a Twitter account so that I can actively talk to them while they are enjoying my favorite city? It's certainly a conundrum, but I'm not rushing my decision just yet. Like I said, it took me more than a year to sign up for Facebook after my best friend asked me to do it, so I don't think I'll be rushing out and setting up an account today or anything. Sorry, Claire. But I WILL be reading your tweets and wishing I was everywhere with you.

Plus it makes it easier for me to stalk you all anonymously.

Resisting the change until convinced otherwise,
Viva Las Vegas!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Link: article on M Resort

I have heard wonderful things about the M Resort since the day it opened. I've heard great things about the casino layout and decor, the restaurants, the staff, the buffet, the comps...everything. In all the comments and reports, I've never heard a negative thing about the property to this day. Visitors who rent cars love it. People who take the shuttle from the Fashion Show Mall love it. Locals love it. Oh, I really want to visit this property!

Here's an overview of the property that gives a lot of details about everything you might want to know about it. It might make you want to head out there, too:

Link: Las Vegas Review-Journal on The Mirage's 20th birthday

I wasn't a Vegas visitor 20 years ago, but I DO remember my mom talking about the grand new hotel when it first opened up on the Strip. She was absolutely amazed by it. From what she said, there was nothing else like it in Las Vegas, and there was nothing quite as beautiful and amazing anywhere on the Strip.

It seems The Mirage was the hotel that started the Las Vegas hotel/casino boom. It was the first hotel that Steve Wynn added to the Las Vegas Strip, and the first new hotel on the Strip in 15 years when it opened in 1989. It was amazing for its size, its beauty, and its whopping $640 million price tag (a record at the time).

The Mirage started the growth that helped make the Las Vegas Strip what it is today: an eye-popping, neck-swivelling, gasp-inspiring mecca of bright lights, great deals, and 24-hour fun. Wait...I think I just recapped all the reasons I love it so much!

Happy Birthday, Mirage! Say hello to your dolphins and the performers in LOVE for me. I hope to see you all in the Spring.

Check out the LVRJ article here:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Video: LolaDoggie's Christmas display 2009 - the finished product

My friend LolaDoggie has finished her Vegas Christmas display for 2009. Here is the link to her YouTube video if you'd like to have a look:

Thanks so much to LD for letting me link her video here - I always enjoy a little Vegas decorating!

P.S. - I will be adding my own personal photos (and maybe a video) of my "Very Vegas Christmas" decorations to the blog sometime during the first week of December.

P.P.S. - (Update Nov. 20th) - LD saw this post and tried to post a response, but has been unable to post one so far. In her words, "My name is LolaDoggie and I approve this message." I love it!

Monday, November 16, 2009

My gambling money does better in Vegas without me!

As my mom and cousin enjoy their last day in Vegas, I've discovered the following to be truth: my gambling money does better in Vegas without me!

We started a tradition several years ago where we make sure to give whoever is lucky enough to go to Vegas some money to play on specific types of machines so that our money can enjoy Vegas without us. We then call the person who has the misfortune to NOT be in Vegas and let them listen in while their money is being played. If we're lucky, we get to experience all sorts of fun bonus rounds and generally enjoy the Vegas vibe together. Winning just becomes a secondary benefit to the "phone gambling".

I gave my mom $40 to play two $20 sessions of Gold Fish during this trip. Her first attempt on Saturday was no good, as she went through that money without a single bonus round for me to enjoy over the phone while she played for me. Still, it was nice to hear sounds of Gold Fish - and Vegas in general - in the background.

She called me on Sunday morning while she and my aunt ate breakfast, and I asked her to play $1 on Keno for me using my birthday numbers and that she could just take it out of my next session's money. Well, lo and behold, my birthday numbers came up during the very next game! There was much cursing to be heard on the other end of line from my mom about my luck - could've been some disparaging remarks about me, too, but I don't remember because I was laughing too hard - and my $1 birthday bet quickly became $42! I told her to keep the $2 for herself to pay for "pain and suffering", but I think the suffering was actually mine for not being there. So $40 went into the "take home" kitty for me. Excellent!

Since she already won for me on a random Keno bet and had spent $20 on Gold Fish at Flamingo, she decided to wait until today to gamble my second $20 at Caesars Palace, where I have managed to have some pretty good luck on the past few trips. As is tradition, she put my money in the machine and then dialed my phone number. Wouldn't you know it - she hit the Fish Food Bonus on the very first spin! Yay, me! I listened to her play through a couple of other bonuses, and she had my $20 up to $50.03 at one point, but I finally told her to just take it down to $40 and cash out. Doubling my money from $40 to $80 is fine by me - and it will come home to be part of my "seed money" for gambling in April.

I think I should send all my gambling money with my mom from now on. Well, maybe not...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My money is enjoying Vegas right now!

I guess you could say it's the next best thing to being there...

My mom and my extremely fun aunt left for Vegas last night to attend my (one of many) cousin's wedding at Wynn tonight. The wedding will be followed by a reception at Caesars Palace, and everyone will be transported from Wynn to Caesars via buses hired by another one of my cousins (the bride's uncle). Very nice! Only the bride knows that my mom and my aunt are coming - it's a surprise for everyone else until they get to the chapel for the ceremony.

Anyway, my mom called me while she played $20 through a Gold Fish machine at Harrah's for me. I sent a total of $40 with her - along with my Harrah's player's card - to see if my money is luckier in Vegas without me being there to actually witness the play. Sadly, she didn't hit any bonus rounds on my first $20. I guess I'll have to wait until Monday to find out if my second $20 is luckier than the first $20.

At least I got to HEAR Vegas, but I really miss the sights. Since my next Vegas trip isn't until April 2010, I have a loooooong time to wait. *Sigh*...I'll just be waiting right here...

My aunt apparently has the golden touch so far today. She was playing a Mermaid's Gold slot machine right next to my mom while mom played MY money through the Gold Fish machine, and my aunt got bonus round after bonus round while we were on the phone. She ended up cashing out $110 from her $10 investment as they got ready to head out for breakfast. Lucky!

I hope they have a great time. I planned out a few of their events and booked their airfare and hotel for them, and I just wish I could've taken the time to head to Vegas with them, but it just wasn't possible.

To anyone heading out to Vegas soon, best of luck to you! I hope you have a great time, too.

Link to article: New Year's fireworks return to Strip roofs

Now, I've never been to Las Vegas over New Year's (or Fourth of July, for that matter), but I have heard tell that watching the fireworks go off above the city I hold so near and dear to my heart is truly a sight to behold.

The powers that be in Las Vegas have determined that the fireworks will indeed return to the rooftops of seven Strip hotels this year, and I just wish I could be there to see them:

Trying to revive the Las Vegas economy is important (especially to me, because I want it to be around for my next adventure!). I'm glad they've decided to "do it up big" on NYE and add more activities.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blog link: 101 Reasons to Visit Las Vegas

Fellow blogger/list maker ANDREW recently added a great list to his collection: "101 Reasons to Visit Las Vegas" after his most recent Vegas trip. Great stuff there!

There are so many reasons visit Las Vegas at any time of the year, I'll have to think for a while on what I can add to his list that isn't already there.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Link to article: Las Vegas Review Journal's Best of Las Vegas 2009

The Las Vegas Review Journal website has a link to their "Best of Las Vegas 2009" poll results for all sorts of Vegas-y things. Check out the best of the best - and the best of the worst - as voted by readers of the LVRJ in all their various and sundry categories here (AND you can check out the winners from years past and view some nice slide shows, too):

Votes were submitted by locals and visitors alike, and although most came from people in the Las Vegas area, they were received from countries around the world. A total of 15,145 votes were submitted, which is almost double the number of votes they received during their 2008 poll.

Categories are listed at the bottom of the page and include (but are not limited to) dining, entertainment, hotels, shopping, and the aforementioned "Best of the Worst" winners so you know what you might want to skip on your next Vegas trip.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Videos: LolaDoggie's Las Vegas Christmas trees and displays

If you've ever wondered how to carry on your love of Las Vegas into your home, my friend D (aka "LolaDoggie") has a history of great Vegas decorations for the Christmas holidays.

Here's a link to her 2009 decorating progress to date - I promise I'll add a link to the new videos when she puts them up on YouTube:

She has a lot of great ideas for Vegas-related holiday decorations. Here's a link to her 2007 Vegas Christmas tree video - she did an awesome job on this one, and it has 3,500 lights! (She mentions Las Vegas Talk, which is now OpenVegas, but neither of us are members of that board anymore - our great friends went to LasVegas4Ever (and she still has friends at WhatBrianThinksAboutVegas, too):

I myself only have a very small Vegas Christmas tree - inspired by LolaDoggie - which I put up last year when she really couldn't do one because of her health issues. I previously shared photos of that one so she and my other LV4E friends could see it because I felt we were ALL missing the Vegas Christmas tree spirit, and everyone enjoyed it. I hope to someday do Vegas decorating as well as she does it, and I'll definitely be putting up another Vegas tree this year. Photos will be posted here for sure!

Link: Prix Fixe menus in Las Vegas

Thanks to 2Westie for finding this link and sharing it on LV4E - I just couldn't resist linking it here, too!

Prix Fixe menus change from day-to-day and week-to-week, but I LOVE the fact that they are all listed here for ease of viewing:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Deals and steals for a $1 or less

I've mentioned some of the free things to see and do in Vegas before, but what about the things you can get for a dollar or less? Here are some deals for a buck and under.

Please note: I have never been to either Slots O Fun or Circus Circus, and I really don't have any desire to ever visit them. That being said, I'm just posting the deals here, so try them at your own risk.


$1 beer at Draft Bar in M Resort - This offer is only good during "happy hour", Sunday - Thursday, 4-7 p.m.

$1 margaritas at Bill's Gambling Hall and Saloon (formerly Barbary Coast) - A single note will get you a margarita blended or on the rocks. They're pretty strong, too.

$1 margaritas at Casino Royale - This special has been around for quite awhile. Don't expect them served in a real glass, but for the price they're pretty good and certainly hit the spot on a hot day.

$1 domestic beer at Casino Royale - Yes, you'll have to pay $1.50 for an import, but even that price can't be beat.

75-cent frozen margaritas at Slots O Fun - Many flavors to choose from, according to the website.

$1 Heineken beer at Slots O Fun - From what I've seen elsewhere, this is a pretty good price for a Heineken.

$1 beer at Sahara - The offer doesn't say if this price is for ALL beer or just the domestic varieties like Casino Royale. If anyone knows, I'll be glad to update this posting.

$1 shots at Sahara - Not only are the shots just a buck, but you get to keep the shot glass, too.

$1 beer at the Station Casinos - This offer is only during football season and ONLY during the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday football games. Still, if you like to hang out in a sports book to watch your favorite games, you could do worse.

$1 Miller Genuine Drafts at Silverton Casino - This offer is only available at the 24-hour casino bar.

$1 Budweiser and Bud Lights at Fiesta Henderson - This is an ongoing offer, with no start or end date posted.

$1 tequila shots or Miller Chill bottles at Mi Casa Grill - Located in the Silverton Casino, this offer is available only during "happy hour", Monday - Friday, from 4-7 p.m.

$1 beer at Gold Spike - This downtown casino was notorious for being dirty and dingy - and more than a little bit scary - but a recent remodel has the place showing in a new light...literally. If you're brave enough to go into the Spike, I say go for that beer! (If anyone does, I'd love to hear about it.)


99-cent shrimp cocktail at Golden Gate - This offer has changed a little bit over the years, but it's still a great deal. In order to get the 99-cent version, you must first have a Golden Gate Player's Club card. Once you do, you can enjoy their spicy shrimp cocktails over and over again. There is a $2.99 version of the shrimp cocktail that also contains imitation crab in addition to the shrimp and spicy cocktail sauce in a slightly larger glass, but the classic original is still the best deal you can get.

$1 hot dogs at all Station Casinos - As with the $1 beer offers, this is only good during football season at ALL Station casinos while football games are being played on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays.

99-cent shrimp cocktail at Slots O Fun - Being as there is a fantastically delicious shrimp cocktail at Golden Gate casino downtown, I can't imagine even thinking about trying this version. I think I am hopelessly biased.

99-cent half-pound hot dogs at Slots O Fun - I have no idea what comes on this dog or what the quality is, so you're on your own here.

$1 hot dogs at Mermaids casino - This downtown establishment is more famous for their frozen drinks than hot dogs, but they're available for anyone who wants to give them a taste.


50-cent roulette at Slots O Fun - This sounds like the best deal from this casino by far. You could make quite a few bets for just a little bit of cash.

$1 blackjack at Sahara - This deal is back by popular demand. It used to be that you could find $1 (and $2) blackjack everywhere in Vegas, but the takeovers by large corporations shut them out. The $1 blackjack games are near the NASCAR area.

$1 roulette at O'Shea's - O'Shea's Casino has had 50-cent and $1 roulette at their tables for quite a long time. Sometimes the tables are crowded and sometimes they're not, but you can be sure they'll be busy on long holiday weekends and during college tournaments.

$1 roulette at Golden Gate - You could take in a few spins of the wheel after you've had a couple of their 99-cent shrimp cocktails. A full afternoon under $20 could be possible!

Sites and Attractions

Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort - Located at 500 E Washington Avenue in Las Vegas, the old fort charges only $1 admission every day. Displays change occasionally. Call (702) 486-3511 for days and hours of operation.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Booking flights and hotels - tips for finding deals

One of the questions I'm asked most frequently is how I find the best deals for my own personal Vegas trips. The answer is easy: I look early and I look often.

When I start planning my Vegas vacations, I first look at the dates I want to travel and see what makes the most sense for the trip I'm trying to plan. Once I've got the basic time frame down, I start looking at airfare and then my hotel offers (free and discounted) and then start to make my plan. But even at that point nothing's set in stone for me. Now that's a very basic and oblique answer for what I personally do when I plan a trip, but here are some tips and things to remember when you decide to start booking flights and hotels for your next Vegas vacation...or any vacation, for that matter.

Weekend airfare is higher than weekday airfare. If your travel dates are flexible, but you really want to spend a week in Vegas, think about planning your trip from Wednesday through the following Tuesday. Airlines generally discount their airfares on Tuesdays and Wednesdays - followed by smaller discounts for travel on Mondays - and heading out mid-week makes sense if you're trying to save money. You could easily save a couple hundred dollars each way (especially on Southwest, which I use exclusively because I love them so much).

Hotel rates are higher on weekends and holidays. Unless you're comped at your favorite hotel on a regular basis, you'll probably end up paying a higher rate for any weekend dates (Friday and Saturday nights) or holidays you're planning to enjoy. Why? Because a lot of travelers like to be in Vegas for the weekend or for a popular holiday, and the hotel owners know that. They know they'll get the customers they need to fill their rooms without having to offer them at a deep discount. Be sure to check out my post on hotel websites for discounts - you may find a steal!

Booking online for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and shows can save you money. Many sites offer discounts for booking online, booking by a certain date, or booking one of their "in house specials" for anniversaries or room and show discount packages. When it comes to room packages, you can find room deals with dining credits or spa treatments, or buy one, get one at X% off for shows by checking the hotel websites.

Look both ways if you don't get comped rooms. By this I mean look at booking your trip as a package deal through any of the airlines' websites, but then look again at booking each item separately; air, hotel, car rentals, and show tickets can all be found at discounted rates when you search online using individual sites, and you may save more money by booking each item separately rather than as a package deal. Compare the prices both ways before you make your purchase.

Be sure to print your confirmation information for each booking. If you're booking a package deal, you'll only have one confirmation sheet. If you book travel items separately, you'll have a separate confirmation number for each booking. You should keep them with you while you check in at the airline, pick up your rental car, and/or get to your hotel - and definitely make sure you keep your confirmation information for any show tickets you've reserved. In most cases, your show ticket confirmation IS your ticket, and without it you won't be getting in. Having a printed confirmation document will help the customer service representatives ensure you get what you've booked, and it'll be a lifesaver if your reservation is mysteriously "lost".

Start looking early, and don't be afraid to re-book if you can. If it's possible, start looking at airfare, hotel rates, and car rental rates as soon as you know what dates you'd like to travel. This way you can see what the pricing trends are and jump on a good deal quickly if you see the prices going up or down. In addition, if you travel with an airline that offers you a flight credit if you re-book your flight at a lower price, you'll be able to take advantage of the discount for a future trip (or give it a friend or family member to use).

Be sure to look at the fine print on any hotel reservations before you finalize them. Besides the cancellation or re-booking fees that may apply to your reservation, be sure you're aware of any additional fees that are automatically charged to your room, such as "resort fees" or "Internet fees" for certain hotels. But for me, the nicest thing about having comped rooms is that I can cancel my reservation within 72 hours of my trip without any penalties or charges to my credit card if I find a better offer somewhere else or if I have to cancel my plans (God forbid).

The two weeks before Thanksgiving, the week after Thanksgiving, and the two weeks before Christmas are the cheapest weeks for airfare AND for rooms in Las Vegas in general (although this doesn't apply to all Vegas hotels). Why? Because people are usually preparing for their own family celebrations, and they're probably not thinking about taking a trip to Vegas right before the holidays. Holiday airline travel peaks on the night before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day, and the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and then again on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve. Hotels have rooms available and are willing to let you have them for a portion of their usual price...except for New Year's Eve. Forget NYE unless you're comped somewhere if you expect to get a good deal on a Las Vegas room rate, because the rates can inflated to double their usual cost.

Happy hunting!

A few additional Vegas safety tips for you

I was looking back over my old "Vegas safety tips" posts and found that I neglected to mention a few of the most important ones in my book:

Write your room number or floor number on your room key. These days, the convenience of magnetized key cards for hotel rooms comes with a price: there are no room numbers on the cards because they are reusable and/or disposable. To make sure you don't forget your room number - or, if you're like a few people I know (and I'm included in this bunch) and have double-booked yourself into more than one hotel room per night to take advantage of comps at different properties - use a permanent marker to put your room number OR the floor number directly onto the card. That way, every time you pull it out of your purse, wallet, or pocket, your room number/floor number is conveniently displayed for you and will help to jog your memory lest you forget where you should be headed. If you received a key holder or folder from check in, just keep one of your keys in the folder and both items securely with you.

An additional safety note regarding the room keys: I would suggest either putting just the floor number on your key OR the last two or three digits of the room number instead of the whole number, just in case you DO lose the key and someone else picks it up. Putting just enough information on the key to help you remember your room number or floor number is what you want to do in order to stay safe.

Don't admit you're all alone when traveling solo (or even if you're just spending the day alone). Whether you're a regular solo traveler, it's your very first solo trip, or if your spouse/significant other is not in the same hotel/casino with you at the moment, it's more than okay to lie to strangers. Tell anyone who asks that your spouse just went to the bathroom or to get your coat or to pick up tickets for a show. There's no need to let anyone know that you're alone, except for the check in agent at the hotel if you've booked a hotel room by yourself. It's no one else's business, and it's safer to let people think that there's someone waiting for you right over there.

Please don't try to help the cocktail waitress do her job! The balancing act she maintains with her tray is an art form - do NOT upset that balance by trying to grab your drink from her tray unless she specifically asks you to! Why? Because you'll literally upset the balance of the rest of the drinks on her tray, and someone - maybe you, maybe someone else - will end up with drinks on their head or in their lap. She will get your drink to you, and she'll get everyone else's drinks to them as quickly as possible. So don't rush it.

That's all for now. If I think of anything else, I'll be sure to pass it on.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Gluten-free dining in Las Vegas: lots of options

Looking for a gluten-free meal in Vegas? Here's a listing of all the places in Las Vegas where you can find more than a few gluten-free choices.

Aurelio's Pizza - 10960 S. Eastern Ave., Henderson. They recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.

Bahama Breeze - Serving primarily ethnic foods, this restaurant is located at the corner of Paradise Road and Flamingo Road (Northwest corner).

Bonefish Grill - 10839 S. Easter Ave., Henderson. Menus change daily. Check them out here:

Border Grill - Located in the Mandalay Bay hotel, this restaurant serves up all types of Mexican food. Dishes are in the $20-$40 price range.

Captain's Cove - 2902 Lake East Dr. Serving seafood with prices in the $15-$25 range, live music and the atmosphere are part of its charm. Lots of good reviews when I Googled them.

Carraba's Italian Grill - Located at 8771 W. Charleston Blvd in Las Vegas. This is a chain restaurant, but it is my personal favorite here in San Antonio. It has a great atmosphere and a pretty extensive menu to boot.

Chili's - Las Vegas Blvd, next to Bellz Outlet Mall - If you're located anywhere in the U.S., chances are you have a Chili's near you. Decent food at a decent price.

Claim Jumper Restaurant - 1100 S. Fort Apache Rd - Located in the Town Square area, they serve American cuisine. Lots of variety on their menu.

The Cracked Egg - With various locations around Las Vegas, this was the Citysearch 2009 top-rated restaurant for breakfast. Check out their locations and unusual menu here:

Elements Kitchen and Martini Bar - 4950 S. Rainbow Blvd (at the corner of Tropicana Ave.). Continental cuisine. They have happy hour specials, too.

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse - Located at 8721 W. Charleston Blvd., this steakhouse also has an award-winning wine list to go along with the food.

In-N-Out Burger - This popular burger joint is located at the corner of W. Tropicana and Dean Martin Dr. just off the Strip. People talk of having their burgers and fries "animal style", and I still have not gotten over there to try them out.

Lazy Joe's Fish & Chips - 7834 Rainbow Blvd. - Family owned and operated since they opened. Obviously they serve seafood.

Maggiano's Little Italy - Located in the Fashion Show Mall on the Strip, this is another chain restaurant but one of a different ilk. Their decor is dark and upscale, and they have an extensive menu and wine list.

Market Grill Cafe' - 7920 W. Tropical Parkway - Serving Mediterranean food in the freshest way possible. They are located in the Centennial Shopping Center (next to Wal Mart, I believe).

Mimi's Cafe' - With several locations all over the Vegas area, this is another chain restaurant serving American food. That being said, they have a great selection of items, and they serve breakfast all day. A good, casual restaurant with a nice atmosphere. They are great at arranging for large groups, too.

Mix Zone Cafe' - 2202 W. Charleston Ave. (at the corner of Rancho Dr.). Thai food. They tend to close for holidays, so check before you go.

Outback Steakhouse - Found upstairs in the Casino Royale Hotel and Casino, it's yet another chain restaurant you're probably very familiar with. This one just happens to be conveniently located center-Strip and gets a lot of business. Reservations are recommended because of the location and popularity.

Pasta Shop & Ristorante - 2495 E. Tropicana (located between S. Eastern Ave. and Topaz St.), they are open for lunch and dinner and sell their food in both the wholesale and retail markets in Vegas.

Pei Wei Asian Diner - Yes, it's another chain. This one is found at 10830 W. Charleston Blvd, Suite 110 in Las Vegas. The Pei Wei restaurants are owned by PF Chang's, and their just a little less expensive. The food is very good for the price.

PF Chang's China Bistro - Various locations around Las Vegas and Henderson, including one in the Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino facing the Strip. If I had to pick between Pei Wei and PF Chang's, I'd take Chang's.

Potato Valley Cafe' - 801 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (just north of E. Charleston Blvd.) All sorts of baked potatoes and potato foods. They get great reviews and are a big tourist stop for visitors from around the world. Who knew?

Sammy's Woodfired Pizza - 6500 W. Sahara Ave. - I did not know this was a chain, and it was originally started in San Diego. Healthy pizza options galore on their menu.

The Saucy Tomato - Located at 3870 E. Flamingo Rd., this is an Italian restaurant that specializes in gluten-free pizzas. Great comments about the pizza crusts in the reviews.

Thai Pepper - 2226 Paradise Rd. (at Sahara Ave.) - This Thai restaurant has a great family feel to it, according to the many reviews available. Delivery is available.

Trattoria Del Lupo - Located in Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, reservations are recommended for this Italian restaurant. Entree's start at $40 per person.

Yard House - 6593 Las Vegas Blvd. S. - This is (yet another) chain restaurant. Located in the Town Square district and serving American food, they also have a "transparent keg room" where you can view their more than 400 barrels of beer while you dine.

The basic list was taken from the Las Vegas Advisor website; addresses and some additional information added by lil ol' me.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Article: Ban alcohol on board? 7 (good) reasons to lose the booze

What do you think about banning booze on flights?

It's not something I really think of when I fly, because I only fly to Las Vegas, Disney World, and home again from both destinations. Both of these are about 3-hour flights, and you don't have the opportunity to really drink a lot even if you wanted to, but the argument is there with some pretty good reasons to support an alcohol ban on flights.

Personally, I'd rather wait to get to my destination before I drink anything alcoholic. I don't have control of the plane, so I'd like to be able to have full control of ME when I'm in it.

Check out Christopher Elliot's MSN article on the subject here:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kosher meals in Vegas: A Las Vegas Advisor QOD

My friend 2Westie posted the link to the Las Vegas Advisor "Question of the Day" response for October 29, 2009 on the LV4E website, and it's good information for anyone who needs to/wants to continue to eat Kosher while in Vegas.

For Kosher dining while in Vegas, here are the places on LVA's list:

Adar Pizza - A dairy and fish restaurant located at 318 W. Sahara. Their specialty is pizza.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf - This chain has numerous outlets in the Las Vegas area, including one in the Venetian, one in Palazzo, and one in the Palms.

Haifa - A Mediterranean restaurant located at 855 E. Twain. They serve lunch and dinner for dine-in, take-out, and delivery.

Kosher on the Go - Located at 3250 W. Ali Baba. You can dine in, but the majority of their business is delivery to the Strip hotels. The minimum delivery charge is $25, unless you order a "substantial" amount of food (but I can't even begin to imagine the amount of food needed to qualify for a "substantial" amount, as they do Kosher catering for various Strip hotels, as well).

Panini Euro Cafe' - Mediterranean-styled cuisine, located at 2521 S. Fort Apache Rd. They serve breakfast, salads, sandwiches, pasta, etc. (I don't know what "etc." includes).

Sababa Grille - Serving Israeli cuisine and deli sandwiches, they are currently located at 3220 S. Durango Dr.

The Village Steakhouse - Located at 9440 W. Sahara Dr., this restaurant serves modern American and Asian-fusion cuisine. They are no longer open for lunch.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Las Vegas hotel deals websites

If you're ever looking for deals on specific Las Vegas hotel rooms, be sure to check here for offers that are available directly from the hotels' websites:

The sites are updated frequently, and there are some pretty good offers that include several "buy 'X' nights, get 'X' nights free" offers.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Prix Fixe menus in Vegas: The Mirage

One of the newer trends in the Las Vegas food industry are "prix fixe", or "fixed price" menus at some of the upscale restaurants.

When I first heard of them, I thought there'd be no way I could afford to take advantage of any of the prix fixe menus because the restaurants that offered them were above my *allotted* Vegas daily dining budget. As a rule, I try to spend no more than $40-$50 a day on meals, including any comped meals I earn through my rewards points from the various slot clubs or any free meals I might get from casino e-mail offers. That's not a small amount by any means, but it's not a huge amount when you consider all the higher-end restaurants in Vegas, either.

Because I save money on my Vegas trips by booking only free or discounted rooms for each trip, fly only on Southwest at discounted prices, and allot myself 'X' amount of money to spend on entertainment and gambling each day, I have decided to start allowing myself a little more leeway on each trip to try new and exciting restaurants I wouldn't have tried before.

It's amazing to even consider the number of restaurants that have popped up in Vegas over the past few years, and especially on or near the Strip. Because of this, Las Vegas is no longer just a gambling destination, but a food-lover's dream come true. Some of the restaurants have started offering prix fixe meals as a possible way to get more people in the door and give them an affordable way to enjoy a delicious meal at a lower price than if they just ordered the same items - or something similar - directly off the menu.

The choices on prix fixe menus are ever-changing, and they typically include an appetizer, an entree', and a dessert selection for a set price beginning at $29.99. Most prix fixe menus give you two or three options for each selection, so you're not tied into one set menu if you don't like seafood or can't eat chocolate. The sizes are probably a bit smaller than the dinner offerings - more like a lunch-sized portion of food - so don't expect to see a huge pile of food on your plate. Also, the menu price does not include drinks, tax, or tip, so be careful to consider the full price of your meal and read the fine print before you commit to a meal.

Be aware that some restaurants may offer several different prix fixe menus in different price ranges; $29.99 is the most common, but they may also be as high as $59.99 or $79.99, depending on the restaurant. Be sure that you specifically ask for the $29.99 prix fixe menu and verify the price at the bottom of the special menu before you place your order.

The Mirage is one of the leaders in the Las Vegas prix fixe meal arena, and they currently have three restaurants with prix fixe menus listed on their website:

Fin (contemporary Chinese):

Kokomo's (steak and seafood):

Onda (Italian):

Stack (American Grill) previously offered a prix fixe menu, but they currently don't list one on the website. Fin was not listed before, so they may have replaced Stack in the prix fixe "rotation". These offers, and the restaurants that offer them, are subject to change at any time, so be sure to check before you go. All of the restaurants' menus can be viewed online via the Mirage's website:

One of the goals for my next trip (April 2010) is to try two prix fixe menus, and I'm aiming for one at The Mirage and possibly Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace ( It depends on where I end up when I'm hungry more than anything else, but I promise to report back here as soon as I get back from that trip.

Something to consider for your next trip!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Like playing video poker? Try Big Event Poker from WMS Gaming online!

Blonde4Ever (the web mistress at LV4E) just found a neat new game over at WMS Gaming: Big Event Poker. Yet another fun video poker game for me to get addicted to!

Here's the link for you to practice your video poker strategy - or just play for fun:

It's always nice when you find some of the games that are available in Vegas (or soon will be) available on line. I love to try these things out before I go on my trips; that way I'll know whether or not I should give them any play when I get there!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Link to Las Vegas Advisor's pool information

For those of you who absolutely MUST have a pool available for your use no matter what time of year it is, here's a link to the Las Vegas Advisor's Hotel Pool chart:

They have taken the time to list each pool's hours of operation, the pool temperature (where available), and a link to each hotel's website for additional information. They even list the hotels that do NOT have a pool on their property but indicate if any neighboring hotel(s) allow guests to share their pool(s), instead.

For some people, the lack of a pool located conveniently on their hotel's property is a real deal breaker. I think of every trip I took with my family as a kid and it was something my brother and I refused to do without, no matter where we were. Now I don't really care, but lots of people absolutely must have their morning (or afternoon, or evening) swim.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Trip Report - Kodidog and Tom in Vegas - Sept. 2009

Here's the link to yet another great trip report recently added over at LV4E, written by my friend Sandy, aka 'Kodidog':

She has a fantastic writing style, and her details - as well as her ability to use coupons and discounts very effectively - make for a very interesting read.

But consider yourself forewarned: her reports are notoriously LONG! Set aside some time to read the whole thing from beginning to end, and enjoy her photos, too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Keeping your valuables and information safe

It doesn't matter what sort of traveling you're doing: keeping your personal information and valuables safe and secure should be your number one priority.

Not only is this is a very important goal on any trip you might be planning, but it's important to remember even when you're just running errands around town. It should not be looked upon as a scary prospect that is best approached in an armored car with numerous guards and guns, though. Common sense and practical solutions are the best weapons in defending your personal property and keeping your items out of a stranger's hands.

Here are some easy to follow ideas for keeping your information safe:

E-mail travel and hotel confirmation information to yourself. Before you leave, e-mail all of your confirmation details to yourself so that you can easily retrieve the information from your destination if you lose your paper copies (or if you forget to print them and find that you need them in order to check in). But be sure to display the information as an attachment if personal details are included instead of including those details in the main body of the e-mail. Go a step further and add password protection to the e-mail so that sensitive information will not be readily available to anyone.

Re-title e-mails that contain sensitive information. Especially when e-mails contain details about your credit card, trip itinerary, etc., use an alternate subject/title as a decoy or distraction (i.e., instead of using "Paris Hotel Confirmation", use something like "Ray's Vacation Photos"). As long as you remember what you're looking for when you need it!

Make copies of all your important personal documents and keep them separate from the originals. This goes for your driver's license, passport, Social Security card, and whatever other document you have that confirms your identity. Keeping copies of the originals in a separate location is the smart thing to do whether you're traveling or not. A missing driver's license or passport could keep you from going home at the end of a trip, so why take a chance? Having a copy of the original allows for verification to be made and ultimately allows your travel to be completed.

Don't use "Mom", "Dad", "Work", or "Home" on your cell phone. Use their first names or some other identifying information. Why? A thief stealing your cell phone can text your family or friends and ask them to send money to "X" address because "YOU" are in trouble. The money could be received by the thief before you even know your phone is missing.

Use room safes when available. Most hotel rooms in Vegas have room safes in some form, whether they be in the wall, in a drawer, or in the floor. Instead of taking all of your money with you when you go out, take only what you need for the time being and leave the rest of it behind (along with your non-essential travel documents). Keep your passport in there, too, unless it's your only form of ID; otherwise, your driver's license or state ID card will be enough to keep you properly identified by those who need to know who you are.

Use the safe deposit boxes at the Cashier's Cage if room safes are not available. Even more readily available than room safes in Vegas, safe deposit boxes are available for rent and should be used if you're carrying a large amount of cash or other valuables. Peace of mind is better than worrying about what you left behind in your hotel room during your entire trip.

Put valuables in your suitcase - and lock it - while storing it in your room. Let's face it; maids don't generally want to risk losing their job over your stuff, even if you think they do. While I've heard a few tales of people having items "ripped off" from their hotel rooms in Vegas, I find it hard to blame anyone but themselves for the "thefts". Why? Because if you don't have/don't use the safe, you still have your suitcase as an option, and you probably have a lock for it. Put your (not so) valuables in it and lock it when you leave the room. Accidentally leaving a watch or a ring on the nightstand or bathroom counter happens to the best of us when we're getting dressed/undressed, and it's usually OUR fault when they go missing, not the maid's. I say that because, when in Vegas, we generally "forget" where we put something (whether we were drinking or not), or we accidentally knock it off or misplace it when we're rushing around doing something else. It's easier to point the finger at someone else in these situations, but we should all remember that when we're pointing at someone, there's only one finger pointing at them and four pointing back at us. Just sayin'. As a general rule, whatever I don't put in the safe or take with me (money and good jewelry), I put in the suitcase and attach the lock (fake jewels and confirmation info included).

Pack important items in your carry on instead of your checked luggage. This goes for important documents, expensive jewelry, money, cameras or video equipment you don't want damaged, and your medicines most importantly of all. Not only are you trying to keep everyone at the airport honest, but you're trying to keep your items from getting broken or misplaced by anyone but yourself. Also, keeping your medications with you is especially important if you and your luggage are inconveniently (and maybe inexplicably) separated from one another. Even the airlines aren't perfect, and lost or damaged luggage happens from time to time. Delays and cancellations happen, too. Keep your stuff as safe as possible and keep yourself as healthy as possible, too.

Keep your money out of sight when you're walking around. Whether you're buying dinner for friends or walking the Strip, don't flash the cash. Keep your stash of money out of sight and out of a potential thief's mind...and hands.

Ladies, consider a purse for security rather than beauty. We know there are all kinds of sparkly purses out there that would be great for Vegas, but carrying a purse that you can A) hold close to your body, and/or B) secure across your body with a strap are the best sorts of purses you can carry. Something you have to set down on a chair or the floor is just begging to be stolen. Carrying that cute little clutch is great if you're headed to a show, but taking it back to your hotel room in exchange for a more secure or sensible version is advisable. Don't despair, though; there are plenty of cute and adorable purses out there that will fit your needs nicely, so just look around until you find something that suits your tastes.

Those are some very basic ideas, but they make a lot of sense if you think about the common sense of them all. You're putting the responsibility on yourself to make sure your stuff is safe, but you're also reducing the temptation factor.

Before you leave on your next trip, just remember this little bit of additional information: Items left in a hotel room are not always returned to their owners. So, if you really want to make sure that your favorite hoodie gets back home with you, or that blanket you take everywhere gets back to your linen closet at home, double-check your room before you complete your checkout. Maids pile everything on a cart and take it away if it's not part of the hotel room setup. Maybe some items get kept by the maids (if they need that small coffee maker you brought along for your trip), but a lot of items are donated to homeless shelters and battered women's shelters. They won't go to waste or be thrown out, but the hotels don't always sort and retain the items in the hopes that you'll suddenly remember what you'd previously forgot.

Just remember to be safe and have FUN!