Friday, July 31, 2009

Flamingo's Paradise Garden Sunrise Brunch Buffet - review

I met my mom and cousin for brunch at Flamingo's Paradise Garden Sunrise Brunch Buffet on a Sunday during my July trip. I've always wanted to try a champagne brunch, but I didn't want to pay a huge amount of money for my first one. I'd heard about Flamingo's brunch from several of my online friends, and I decided that the reasonable price ($19.99, including mimosas) and mid-Strip location made it perfect to try.

We got to the buffet at around 8:30 a.m., and there was no line at the cashier and hardly anyone else in the restaurant at that early hour. The hostess gave us our choice of seating, and we picked a four-top table alongside the floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Flamingo bird habitat and waterfall. It offered a great view of the entire habitat area and the gazebos on the Flamingo property.

The waitress immediately brought us water and offered us mimosas to start. We were more than happy to try the mimosas while waiting for our coffee, too. They pre-mix the mimosas for you and bring them to your table with a little extra orange juice for mixing if you're not too fond of champagne. I preferred mine exactly as it was served to me, but my mom added a little OJ to hers because she's definitely not a fan of champagne (it didn't stop her from drinking it, though).

The buffet included a table full of muffins, biscuits and breads, as well as the usual hot breakfast selections such as eggs, bacon, corned beef hash, hash browns, sausages, grits, and pancakes. They also had a separate station for made-to-order omelets and eggs (over easy or fried).

For their non-breakfast selections, they had prime rib, turkey, crab legs, salmon, a variety of fresh fruits, salads, pastas and antipasti dishes, and a full dessert table that had several types of pies, cakes and cookies. In addition, they offered soft-serve ice cream in two flavors (mango and vanilla were the flavors of the day).

The hot food selections that I tried were not quite as warm as I would've liked for them to be. They were more on the lukewarm side, and I prefer my breakfast meats and eggs to be steaming hot. While their scrambled eggs were perfectly cooked, they were just not warm enough for me.

Out of all the foods I tried at this buffet, I found one dish I absolutely loved: French Toast Casserole. It was presented like a bread pudding without the sauce, and it was cooked through, very warm, and had a wonderful flavor and texture. I went back and got three big helpings of the casserole because I loved it so much.

After all was said and done, I'd had three mimosas and what seemed like a ton of food. The atmosphere was very relaxing, the mimosas were good, but the overall food quality was not quite as high as I had hoped because of the heating issues I experienced. It was a quite passable buffet, however, and I found a new love in the French Toast Casserole and mimosas as a breakfast option. I just don't know if I'll be back for another visit when there are so many other champagne brunches to try in Las Vegas. At least I started with an affordable one. For the price, though, the selection is certainly very good.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give the Flamingo Paradise Garden Sunrise Brunch Buffet a 6.5.

The Flamingo's champagne brunch is available on Saturdays and Sundays, from 7:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cafe' Bellagio - restaurant review for breakfast

During my recent stay at the Bellagio, I decided to try Cafe' Bellagio for a meal because I'd heard such good things about the food and the atmosphere. On my final morning in Vegas, I realized I needed to get down there before I missed another opportunity.

I got to the Cafe' at 8:30 a.m., and there was absolutely no line at all. The seating hostess asked if I wanted to sit at a table or if I minded sitting at the bar, and I decided to try the bar area because of the interesting-looking bottle display behind it.

They have a pretty extensive breakfast menu, and I was immediately drawn to their omelet selections. I couldn't help but do an "eeny-meeny-miney-moe" when choosing my omelet because so many of them sounded absolutely delicious. I finally landed on the Bellagio Classic Omelet: a three-egg omelet with Maine lobster, diced asparagus, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. It was served with a side of toast and hash browns, as well. Cost was $16 for the omelet, and the total with my coffee and the tax came to $21.62 before trip.

I have to say that it was the best omelet I've ever had! The eggs were perfectly cooked, with just enough veggies and cheese to make it a good combination but not overly veggie, and the Maine lobster tail placed inside was absolutely delicious and buttery-tasting. Along with the toast and hash browns - and the coffee I needed to fully wake up - it was an extremely delicious and satisfying meal. It was a huge undertaking to do it, but I managed to finish every single bite of the omelet. I resisted the urge to lick my plate clean.

While dining at the bar, I took the time to check out the interesting bottles on the shelves behind it (some functional and others for display only), and I made sure that I took a good peek at the rest of the restaurant, as well. It is laid out in an "L" shape, and the tables are all arranged with plenty of space to walk between them and not feel like you'll fall over another diner. In addition, the open area facing the conservatory makes for excellent people-watching, and the large windows facing the pool area offer the same opportunities and allow for a lot of natural light in the whole restaurant.

My waitress had a lot of customers sitting at the bar that morning, and that could be why they asked if I wanted to sit at the bar (besides being alone): because of staffing. Coffee refills were a little slow, but other than that the service was quick and very good. I think I waited maybe 5 minutes for my food to arrive, and I spent that time people-watching, so it wasn't like I was tapping my foot or anything.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give Cafe' Bellagio a 9.75. If I'd had top-notch coffee service, I think it would've been absolutely perfect.

For a nice, relaxing meal in a great atmosphere, I'm looking forward to trying this restaurant again.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bellagio room - hotel room review

The standard Bellagio room
Nice sized armoire - plenty of storage
Comfy robes for your use (but don't steal them!)
I love this bathroom sink!
This is a review of my experience with the Bellagio hotel during my recent stay. I have already written a separate review of the Bellagio Buffet, and I will be posting a separate review of breakfast at the Bellagio Cafe' at a later time.

Check in time for Bellagio is officially 3:00 p.m., but I was in the lobby at 2:00 p.m. and there was no line at the check in desk so I had to give it a try just to see if they had a room ready for me. I walked right up, handed the clerk my confirmation sheet, and I was up in my beautiful room - #11009 - within minutes. I took a video and some photos of everything before it got messed up.

From the marble tile in the entryway and the bathroom to the automatic curtain and lighting controls stationed around the room, this room exudes class on all levels.

The bathroom area has a separate glassed-in marble shower stall with plenty of room to move around in; in fact, you could easily fit four people in there with its size. There is also a deep tub accented with decorator vases if you prefer a soaking bath instead of a shower. A wall-mounted phone is located next to the toilet (in case of emergency?). The towels throughout the bathroom are monogrammed with the Bellagio "B" and are thick and fluffy. The vanity and the mirror above it are both huge and are also accented by wall sconces for extra lighting. There is a lighted makeup mirror next to the large vanity mirror, and a hair dryer is tucked away in a drawer to allow more room for your personal items on the counter top. Underneath the vanity is a digital scale (if you choose to weigh yourself on vacation), but it is kept out of the way and is not even noticeable when you enter the bathroom.

The bath amenities are Gilchrist and Soames and include shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, lotion, and mouthwash. There is also a shower cap, bath soaps, and even a sewing kit in the vanity drawer.

In the bedroom area, you'll find a fully stocked mini bar with the usual ice bucket placed on top of it, as well as a set of two drinking glasses and two champagne glasses for use during your stay (but not to take with you unless you want a charge to show up on your credit card). A full listing of the mini bar prices is also included on top of the mini bar.

The huge wooden armoire would dominate a lesser room, but it is a beautiful accent piece here. A flat screen TV is housed in the middle, and five full-sized drawers open effortlessly below it. Closet areas on either side of the armoire have full-length mirrors inside the doors, as well as plenty of hangers in each. One of the closets contains a digitally locked safe for your valuables, as well as a luggage rack for storing your suitcase; the other contains two Bellagio-monogrammed robes for use during your stay. What a life!

A full-sized desk with a phone and cable/internet hookup is situated near the floor-to-ceiling window, and it is accented by a large, gilded mirror, a lamp with an easy on/off switch at the base, and a comfortably cushioned chair. The drawer in the desk revealed the room service menus and other hotel services available during your stay, as well as some beautiful monogrammed stationery (which I just had to take).

Near the bed is a seating area with two very comfortable wing-back chairs and a side table with another easy on/off switch lamp. These chairs were almost as comfortable as the bed, and they were very nice to have when I invited my mom and cousin up to see the room later in the day. So many times there is only one (or maybe two) chairs in a room, and they are not always comfortable.

The bed itself is heavenly! The mattresses can be purchased for your own home, and I may consider buying one when my husband and I finally decide to replace our current pillow top mattress. I'm not a big sleeper in Vegas, and I usually only get about 4 hours of sleep every night I'm in town because I'm just not usually comfortable in hotel room beds as a rule - and maybe I'm just a little bit excited, too - but I slept almost 7 1/2 hours in that fantastic bed.

The bed is beautifully laid out with five thick and comfortable bed pillows, as well as a great comforter, two decorator accent pillows, and two other king-sized pillows in shams. The bed is framed by a "canopy" and accented by reading lights that are individually controlled from each side of the bed. On either side of the bed is a nightstand and lamp with the on/off switch located at the base. Each of the nightstands has a pull-out writing area for convenience. From the comfort of the bed you can control the lighting in the room, as well as the curtains and sheers at the window. A third phone and an alarm clock are located on one of the nightstands.

I'd forgotten all about Bellagio's turn down service, so I was surprised when I opened the door later that night and heard soft jazz music playing. Now THAT'S the way to walk into your hotel room! I almost didn't see my Bellagio chocolates because they placed them on the nightstand instead of the pillows, but I did look around for them because I knew they'd be there somewhere. The drapes were closed, the accent pillows cleverly hidden behind the seating area chairs, and my bed linens were turned down and looked very inviting. It took nothing at all for me to get ready for bed in my Bellagio robe and leave the jazz music turned on as it was - what a relaxing evening!

I'm glad to say that they have 24-hour security at the entrance to the elevator hallway checking room keys. Even when they were asking a couple to see some ID, they were very nice and pleasant. This gave me an added sense of security I haven't found anywhere else.

The offer I was staying on gave me $50 in Free Play, which I activated at the Player's Club desk. I was able to turn my $50 in Free Play into $170 in cash, which was another positive experience for me. Some areas of the casino were a little cooler than others, but I didn't feel overly chilly anywhere. In addition, some quick cocktail waitresses were always able to provide me with my alternating sodas or Bailey's and hot chocolate drinks, so I was very happy to stay in my seat and gamble for an entire evening.

I was also given a VIP line pass for use at the Bellagio Buffet and the Bellagio Cafe'. I used it for the buffet because there were about 40-50 people in line at 6:30 p.m., but I didn't need it for breakfast at the Cafe' the next morning because there was no line at all at 8:00 a.m.

I stored my bags at the outdoor Bell Desk when I checked out at noon the next day, and they were quickly retrieved for me when I came back to get them at around 5:45 p.m. to head for the airport. A little added touch: when I left my bags with the bellman, he asked me how I would be leaving and for my name. He indicated "taxi" and my last name on my slip so that they didn't have to ask me again when I picked up my bags later. Nice!

I have to say that the Bellagio has been my favorite hotel in Vegas to date. I hope I get the opportunity to stay there again, because it was by far the best top-to-bottom hotel experience I've ever had. The hotel itself, the people, and the service were all top-notch. A beautiful property with a lot to offer, I didn't even begin to scratch the surface of all the available services for its guests.

On a scale of 1 to 10, the Bellagio hotel deserves a solid 10. A fantastic place to stay and play!

Paris room video

Here is my room video for my Paris hotel room - another view of the pool and the Eiffel Tower, with a little bit of Bellagio in the background. A very nice room at a Harrah's-owned property.

This is a standard king room, but it is hardly anything to sneeze at. Between the Strip location, the ease of getting to and from the room, and the access to the rest of the property's amenities, it was a great room for a few nights' stay. It didn't hurt that it was free, either. :)

Bellagio room video

Here's my YouTube video of my Bellagio room - #11009. I had a pool view and LOVED it! I hope to get some great offers from Bellagio, because it was a fantastic room and very, very comfortable.

In my video, I forgot to mention a couple of things that some people may find very important to their stay:
  • The makeup mirror in the bathroom is lighted on both sides
  • There is a digital scale under the bathroom vanity
  • A programmable safe is included in the armoire

There is also a turn down service every night - I came back to my room to find the lights turned down, the curtains closed, a jazz station tuned in on the TV, and chocolates on the nightstand. A girl could get used to this!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

LOVE @ The Mirage - show review

LOVE is a Cirque du Soleil show housed at The Mirage Hotel & Casino, and July 2009 marks its third anniversary. This was my second time seeing the show, and I loved it just as much as I did the first time!

You don't have to be a huge fan of The Beatles to enjoy this show; conversely, you don't have to be a fan of Cirque du Soleil to enjoy it, either. People of all ages and walks of life enjoy this show, and it never fails to deliver a feeling of awe and wonder for those who are fans of one, the other, or both.

The show is approximately 1 1/2 hours long, and it encompasses songs from the entire Beatles catalog. I'll try to describe the show, but it's darn-near impossible to do. If you've seen a Cirque show before, you may know what to expect: aerial acrobatics of all types, scenery that doubles as costumes and props for the performers, and a stage that constantly metamorphosizes with every change of song or mood. It's truly sensory overload, but in a wonderful way. From the lives of four young boys in Liverpool during WWII, to the symbolic loss of John Lennon's mother, to the songs that made The Beatles world-famous, the entire musical career of the band is laid out on the stage and in the air above the audiences' heads, and it is jaw-dropping.

Not every number one song is used, and there are some songs that are a bit obscure for a casual fan, but the sensory delight of each performance makes up for any lack of immediate recognition a moot point. Some of my favorite parts of the show include "I am the Walrus", "Lucy in the Sky (With Diamonds)", and "Octopuses Garden". Again, you have to see it to understand it, but it's worth every penny.

I purchased my ticket online using a discount code through the Ticketmaster website for 40% off. I had previously seen the show from a 5th row floor seat, and I was curious to see it from higher up and compare the view from the two seats. Plus, I felt like I was looking up constantly from my floor seat last year, so I wanted to be able to look OUT or DOWN, instead. I scored seat 8 in the front row of Section 305, eye-level with some of the aerial acts that would be taking place during the show. Total cost for my ticket was $55, and it was still a great deal.

The theater seating is arranged all around the stage area, and there's truly not a bad seat in the house. After seeing the show from both a lower level and an upper level seat, I have to say that I prefer a lower level seat for the audience involvement in the show. Either way, it's a great show.

The online ticket purchasing process required me to go to the LOVE Theater Box Office at least one hour prior to showtime to get my physical ticket, and I'm glad I decided to go the day before the show to pick it up. Not only was there no line at 3:30 p.m. Saturday for my 9:30 Sunday show, but I was able to take a look around at The Beatles shop without being trampled by people exiting the theater after the 7:00 p.m. show. When I got to The Mirage for my Sunday night show, it was around 8:15 p.m. and there was a HUGE line to get tickets for the 9:30 show! I can't even imagine being in that line. So plan ahead and be sure to get your "physical" tickets early.

Seating for the 9:30 p.m. show begins about 15 minutes after the theater is emptied from the 7:00 p.m. show. Be aware that if you arrive late for any performance you may have to wait before you are allowed to enter the theater. No photos are allowed.

Shows are twice nightly, Thursday through Monday (dark Tuesdays and Wednesdays). Call toll-free 1-800-963-9634, or book online:

On a scale of 1 to 10, this show is a definite 10. Go see the show at least once, and enjoy every wonderful minute of it.
Edited on 6/16/10: I have now seen the show 3 times - once from each of the 3 levels. While seating at the top level (300 sections) is fine, I think I prefer the lower 200 seats or the upper 100 seats to get a great mix of eye-level performance and not be distracted by the acrobats coming either A) down from the ceiling, or B) up from the floors...but even that is a bit fascinating.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Phantom of the Opera - show review

Phantom of the Opera is a 95-minute production show that is staged at The Venetian Hotel on the north end of the Strip. The show's venue was built specifically for this particular production, and the result makes the experience all the more enjoyable.

I was in row HH, seat 8, which is almost dead-center and far enough back from the stage so that I was able to see the entire stage from top to bottom, all the "box seats" for the "audience" that was part of the production, and also enjoy the chandelier rising and falling throughout the performance. This row is considered the front row of the Parterre section, and to me was a perfect seat for this type of show. I don't think I would've enjoyed being more than 5 rows forward, because I would've missed a lot of the chandelier "action" throughout the show.

I sat next to a really sweet older gentleman, Ed, and his 14-year-old daughter, Darcy, and talked with them quite extensively before the show began. Ed told me that it is customary for theater goers in New York City to introduce themselves to one another before a show, and I really enjoyed talking to both of them. Theater patrons everywhere should introduce themselves to their neighbors before a show!

Prior to booking my ticket, I was warned that the theater can be a bit cold, and I briefly considered bringing a shawl or sweater, but decided not to in the end. I think that the seats closer to the stage might be a bit colder because of all the action and the need to keep the area cooler, but I found the temperature to be perfect for me in my t-shirt, dressy capris and sandals. In addition, there is plenty of leg room between the rows of seats, and the seats themselves are comfortably upholstered and big enough to settle into without feeling too close to your neighbors' elbows. The seats and rows are at such an angle that you don't feel as though you are looking at the back of someone's head, and that's a big deal to someone who's only 5'5".

For the record, there were some people dressed up quite a bit, and there were even a few people dressed in shorts at the other end of the spectrum. I'm planning on coming back to see the show again, and I will be dressing up a bit more because I think the theater calls for it with its beautiful details throughout.

The show is divided into two acts and moves quite seamlessly and effortlessly the entire time. In fact, I couldn't remember what songs had been left out of this production, so I don't think you'll find anything lacking in the whole performance.

The chandelier is truly the production's centerpiece - it goes from being suspended above the audience in four pieces to a wonderful attraction for most of the show to a heart-stopping effect as it crashes to a point just above the audiences' heads.

Anthony Crivello stars in the role of The Phantom, and his voice is amazing. On the night I attended, Kristi Holden performed the role of Christine and Andrew Ragone performed the role of Raoul, and they were both fantastic. From the stage to the rafters and down to the Phantom's lair, all three led the cast of dozens in a magical journey that was seamless and beautiful. I was surprised by the use of on-stage pyrotechnics, but they were perfectly placed and a great addition to the performance.

Using a promotional e-mail from The Venetian, I purchased my ticket through a 40% off sale and spent a total of $60 for my seat. It was easily worth twice that, and I look forward to taking advantage of one of the many similar deals that are available through The Venetian's website in the future.

The show is presented at 7:00 p.m. nightly except on Sunday, when the theater is dark. In addition to the 7:00 p.m. show, there are additional 9:30 p.m. shows on Mondays and Saturdays. I took advantage of the later Saturday showing to accommodate my busy Vegas schedule for this trip.

A fantastic show in a beautiful theater, I recommend this show for everyone who's seen another version of it anywhere. It is wonderfully presented and a great performance. It's truly a gem on the Las Vegas Strip.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give the production and my experience at The Venetian's Phantom Theater a 9.5. Simply wonderful!

Titanic Exhibit - review

The Titanic Exhibit was something I'd wanted to see for quite a while, and I'm glad I finally had the opportunity. Moved from The Tropicana Hotel across the Strip, the exhibit has been housed in the Luxor Hotel (on the Atrium Level) for almost a year now.

I loved the way everything in this exhibit is laid out; you receive a "boarding pass" with a real Titanic passenger's name and information when you enter the exhibit, and you find out if your passenger survived or perished at the end. It made the tour a little more personal for me.

You enter the exhibit and first see how and where the ship was built. There are photos, actual recovered pieces from the ship sitting two miles down on the ocean floor, and recorded sound and video playing all around you.

Next, you feel as if you're boarding the ship; ship artifacts - as well as some of the passengers' personal effects - are displayed in temperature-controlled display cases throughout the exhibit. The walls are adorned with quotes from passengers and photos and videos of the ship leaving England on its maiden voyage.

One of my favorite parts of the exhibit was next: a scale model of part of the Grand Staircase from the first class dining area. Here's where I wished photography was allowed! I would've loved to have a photo of it, but not with me on the staircase. They do have a photographer available to take your photo on the staircase, and I declined. I don't know how much the photos are since I didn't purchase one, but I'd guess you're probably paying $15-$20 each for them. No, thanks.

You get to see how the staterooms and cabins for first and second class were decorated, and just how small the third class cabins were for four people to share. There is definitely a sense of class separation throughout, but it also makes you understand exactly how separated the passengers themselves were, and why so many third class passengers perished in the sinking.

Next comes the ice warnings and the somberness of April 14, 1912. You see when the ice warnings came through to the ship, and what the crew experienced along the ranks. I started to feel a little sad, and when I opened the next door, I certainly felt alone; I was standing "on" the Promenade Deck, looking out at a moonless, black sky lit only by the stars. The air was cold and still, but the mood had definitely changed.

A huge piece of ice is also on display that you are allowed to touch and get a sense of exactly how cold the water was on the night of the Titanic's sinking. The water is colder because of the salt content (think of how rock salt makes ice cream freeze faster when you make it at home), and I can't imagine how anyone survived for even a few minutes in near-freezing water.

After that, there were more displays of pieces of the wreckage, as well as some of the passengers' personal effects, all of which were recovered from the ship during some of the recovery missions. I was amazed at how well preserved things were after spending more than 70 years at the bottom of the ocean before their recovery in the 80's and 90's. Still, they almost made me feel as though I were intruding in a way.

There is a 22-foot long section of the Titanic's hull also preserved and on display, and the sketch of the Titanic's starboard side shows exactly how small that huge piece of metal and broken windows was when it was still a part of the huge ship.

After that, you see the wall of names: there's a separate listing for first class, second class, third class, and even the crew members who survived or perished in the sinking. I found that my second-class passenger, 7-year-old Eva Miriam Hart, survived along with her mother. Her father, though, perished in the sinking.

There is a small gift shop attached to the exhibit where you can purchase souvenirs and view your Grand Staircase photos, but I left with just my boarding pass and memories.

The cost of the exhibit was $30, but I purchased a half price ticket from one of the Tix4Tonite outlets on the Strip before heading to the Luxor. In addition, a friend of mine advised me of another $2 off coupon that was being offered for a limited time, so my total cost was $13.75 for the experience. The hours of operation are 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. daily.

As a Titanic buff, I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit. While I was originally put out that I could not take photos throughout the exhibit, I can understand the reasons for not allowing them to be taken. The items need to be preserved, AND I would feel as though I were invading someone's private history if I took photos of things that they were unable to enjoy because they never made it off the ship.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this exhibit a 9 because of the discount available for all visitors. Without a discount, I'd have to say it would be a 8. Either way, if you're a history buff or have an interesting in the Titanic and all its secrets, you should definitely check it out.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Trevi at Caesars Palace - restaurant review

We dined at Trevi in Caesars Palace on a whim - it was mid afternoon, and we wanted a lighter meal. After passing up several other restaurants in Caesars Palace, my mother, my cousin and I settled on Trevi near the main fountain. It was a good decision for us.

We ended up sharing three appetizers and two desserts between us, and it was just the right amount of food for us to share without feeling really stuffed:

Antipasti - Mozzarella cheese drizzled with olive oil, marinated mushrooms, three types of olives, artichokes and an assortment of peppers served with several slices of prosciutto. I ate mine with the complimentary crusty bread.

Polenta fries - Fried polenta served with marina sauce and presented in a newspaper-lined basket. I'd never heard of it before, but it had a great flavor and was warm and delicious.

Fritto Misto - Tempura-style fried calamari, shrimp, scallops and vegetables served with a mayonnaise-based sauce for dipping. The sauce was okay, but I preferred dipping the seafood items in the marinara sauce that came with the polenta fries myself.

Gelatti Trio - A choice of three gelatto flavors from the ten or so flavors of the day. We selected pistachio (very strong), tiramisu (perfect!), and chocolate chip (a little on the vanilla side). The tiramisu was fantastic by itself, but we found ourselves combining the different flavors to come up with other combinations. Mixed together, the other flavors were really good! I wish we'd tried the chocolate or peanut butter flavors, too. Double the tiramisu would have been wonderful.

Sorbetti Trio - A choice of three sorbet flavors from four flavors of the day. We chose watermelon (not enough flavor), lemon (delicious!), and strawberry (good). We didn't choose raspberry because it was the only flavor that my dining companions didn't like, but I think I would've preferred it to the watermelon choice. Again, we mixed the flavors together for other "tasting combinations", and they were very good when mixed together. The lemon sorbetti is also available as a part of one of Trevi's specialty drinks - I might be trying that one next time!

Together with three iced teas, our bill came to about $62.50. Not a bad total for our light "meal".

The atmosphere was great; we dined on the 'patio' next to the main Caesars fountain, and got to 'experience' the changing sky while we dined. It was a great location and a wonderful atmosphere. From the Forum Casino, it is about 100 yards into the Forum Shops and is connected to the fountain area - you can't miss it.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give Trevi an 8.5, and I look forward to dining there again to try more of their menu options.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Paris Hotel & Casino - hotel review (Classic room)

A classic Paris room
Plenty of room in the armoire
My view of the pool area 
Paris Hotel & Casino is located at 3655 Las Vegas Boulevard South, just south of center-Strip in Las Vegas. I stayed here for the first time during my July 2009 trip, and I found it to be a very comfortable hotel. This review will be of the hotel only; a separate restaurant review for Mon Ami Gabi restaurant's lunch and dinner menu has already been done, and another review for their new breakfast menu will follow shortly. I have not taken advantage of any of the other restaurants or amenities as of this writing.

The property is part of the Harrah's Corporation (HET), which means that all of the HET casinos are "linked" together by a common Total Rewards player's club card that can be used at any of their properties: Paris, Harrah's, Rio, Caesars Palace, Imperial Palace, Bally's, and Flamingo. This also means that any credits you earn on the Total Rewards program can be redeemed at any of the properties, which is very convenient if you like to move around during your vacation.

Walking into the registration area at Paris finds you surrounded by crystal chandeliers and decorations in the style of Louis XVI, and it is very beautiful. The registration area is also only about 50 feet from the taxi and valet area, so it is not difficult to find or navigate to get to when you're checking in or out.

I checked in at a little after noon last Saturday for a three-night complimentary stay based on my previous HET play. Check-in time is officially at 3:00 p.m., but because I was going to be away from the hotel until sometime in the early morning hours, I preferred to try and get a room so that I could drop off my luggage and put my things away before I headed out.

There was no line at the check-in desk, and I was able to walk right up and present my confirmation information to the clerk. She confirmed my king bed, non-smoking room, and asked if I was okay with a fifth floor room. No problem for me at all. In less than 5 minutes I had my keys in hand and was standing in my complimentary room, 501.

There are three banks of elevators for the rooms: floors 4-15, 15-26, 26-35. The elevators were quick and spacious enough for about 10 people (5 or 6 with luggage). Once on your floor, the room numbers are indicated above each of the four hallways, which are arranged in a half-circle.

My room was a standard Paris room, decorated in Paris blue and cream accents. Aside from the king bed, the room was equipped with a mini bar (didn't even open the door), a huge armoire, two night stands and lamps, a very comfortable chair, an ottoman (it was hard), a settee with two pillows, a coffee table, a folding luggage rack, and a writing desk with a standing lamp.

The king-sized bed had a pillow-top mattress, and the white comforter and five pillows were more than adequate to keep me comfortable during my visit. As usual, I removed the decorative bolster to sleep, but I left the decorative coverlet at the foot of the bed because I don't toss and turn enough to have it bother my feet and legs at all.

The armoire houses the TV (though not an upgraded flat screen), and two full-sized closets on either side of the TV have plenty of space and hangers. Five full-sized drawers provide more than enough space for two people to use. A full-sized ironing board and iron are also located in the armoire, as well as a safe and floor-length mirrors on the insides of both armoire doors.

The bathroom was also decorated in Paris blue and cream accents, and I loved the huge mirror over the vanity. There was ample counter space, plenty of storage space beneath the vanity, and I really enjoyed the separate glassed-in shower separate from the tub. I never use a tub, and I actually prefer the look and functionality of the separate shower. Good water pressure and plenty of hot water, too. A hair dryer is mounted on the bathroom wall, and a makeup mirror is mounted next to the huge bathroom mirror. The bath amenities are Gilchrist & Soames products: White Tea shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and lotion, as well as Aloe Cream bath bars and facial bars. All have a refreshing scent and feel very rich.

My view from this room was directly overlooking the Paris pool area, with a view of the Eiffel Tower. It is an excellent view day or night, and the pool noise was undetectable from my room.

The only disappointment I had with the entire experience is that housekeeping was knocking on doors at 7:00 a.m. on the first morning. I had my privacy sign on the door and they did not bother mine, but I am a light sleeper and was unable to get back to sleep after hearing them. I mention this because there is a note on the writing desk that gives the hours that housekeeping services the rooms, and they are supposed to start 9:00 a.m. on weekends and 8:00 a.m. on weekdays. They were a full two hours ahead of schedule! I didn't hear them for the remainder of my stay, though.

Check out time for all Harrah's properties is 11:00 a.m. If you have a late flight, you can ask about extending the check out time by a couple of hours, but if the hotel is full or your room is booked you may not be able to keep it for part of your final day.

All in all, it was a wonderful place to stay, and I look forward to staying at Paris again. A beautiful property inside and out, it was a comfortable room with great amenities, and the employees were very nice.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give the Paris hotel a solid 9.

For more information or to make reservations, you can contact them at 1-877-796-2096, or visit their website at

Friday, July 17, 2009

July 2009 Trip Photos

I've downloaded my trip photos - you can see them here while I'm working on my reviews:

It was a fantastic trip overall. I stayed at two new hotels, saw two great shows, and met some wonderful people. Also, I came home with $200 more than I took, so that's a winning trip to me!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Safety on the Strip - be careful!

I'm still working on organizing my thoughts for some of my reviews from my trip, but I wanted to bring up a couple of safety tips that I felt I should mention because they are very important.

Don't jaywalk across the Strip - or anywhere else! I previously mentioned the fact that jaywalking is very dangerous in Las Vegas - it's dangerous anywhere, obviously - but apparently people feel the need to cross the streets as soon as possible and risk life and limb by doing this. If you see other people already in the crosswalk and the signal is saying not to walk, don't do it! In a city filled with so many tourists from around the world, the chances of you getting hit by a car, a bus, or a taxi is very high. Just wait a couple of minutes until the light is in your favor, because there's nothing worth getting killed for in Vegas.

Don't try to hail a cab on the Strip. This is not New York City, or any other big city that allows cab pickups on every street. Cabs can be hailed at every casino, bar, restaurant, residence or hotel all over the city, but it is illegal for cabbies to stop and pick up passengers on the Strip. They're not ignoring you, they're obeying the law. Go to a safe place to hail a cab, and don't be mad when they don't stop for you.

Please don't make yourself a moving target!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Final thoughts from NMchop on his Vegas adventure - good information

Our traveling Vegas friend at LV4E, NMchop, finally got back from his almost four week long Vegas adventure.

Here's a link to his final post with some closing thoughts on the trip - good information in there for handling the ups and downs of gambling, staying healthy in Vegas (in the colder casinos), and some of the other memories from the trip:

Friday, July 10, 2009

I'm off to Vegas in the morning - woo hoo!

I got Southwest boarding passes A24, A39, A45 for me, my mom, and my cousin. I don't understand how I can have three windows open simultaneously and get 15 people between me and mom. Weird.

I'll be back late Tuesday, July 14th. I hope to have lots of show reviews, a new buffet review, restaurant reviews, and two new hotel reviews when I get back.

Viva Las Vegas!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Embers at Imperial Palace - restaurant review

Embers is a romantic restaurant located on the 5th floor of the Imperial Palace Hotel & Casino. It is one of the few remaining restaurants in Imperial Palace, and it has been repeatedly voted as one of the most romantic restaurants in Las Vegas.

There are only about twenty tables in the entire restaurant, so the whole atmosphere is very intimate. Limited tables also means that the waiters and waitresses are very attentive, and we have never wanted for anything during our visits. The menu is not very extensive, so you don't have to worry about perusing a long list of foods that you've never heard of.

Over the past few years, I've dined at Embers on five different occasions. Four of my visits have been in small family groups, but I did have one romantic dinner with my husband on our 10th anniversary.

For starters, I would recommend the Gratin Scallops or the Lobster Bisque as both are delicious options that are not too filling. My mom loves the Escargot, but I am not a fan of them and haven't personally tried them.

If you are a fan of steaks, the Delmonico Steak is a great option. A medium-sized cut of beef, it is perfectly seasoned and very tender. If you prefer chicken instead, the mushroom-and-herb filled breast of chicken is delicious and very juicy. My husband loved the pork chops, but I'm not a big fan of pork chops (but he has them whenever he can).

Be aware that the side dishes are available separately, and selections range from baked or mashed potatoes to a variety of vegetables. The Garlic Mashed Potatoes are my favorite side, but the Asparagus with Hollandaise is also very good.

The dessert menu is very simple, and an assortment of cakes and Creme Brulee' are offered. At this restaurant I always go for my all-time favorite dessert: Bananas Foster, prepared table side. If you've read my prior blog entries, you know I'm quite partial to Bananas Foster dishes everywhere and in every form, and I try them whenever I can. Theirs is delicious! They also have a Cherries Jubilee that they prepare table side, but I can't pull myself away from my favorite. I have sampled their chocolate cake and Creme Brulee', and they are yummy.

A meal with a glass of wine, an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert could run anywhere from $50 to $100 per person, but you can pay for your meal with your HET Rewards Points if you have them. Regardless of the price, the atmosphere and food are very good and worth a try.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate the whole meal experience a 8, and I would definitely visit again.

Embers opens at 5:00 p.m. every Thursday through Monday.

View their complete menu here:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cafe' at Harrah's - restaurant review

Harrah's Garden Cafe' was renamed the Cafe' at Harrah's after a complete renovation in 2008. Open 24 hours a day, the Cafe' offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night dining selections in a quiet, casual atmosphere.

The Cafe' is situated in the middle of Harrah's Hotel and Casino, and all of the main walkways will lead you past the entrance. You would think that the location would cause the Cafe' to be noisy, but it isn't. Like most HET properties' eateries, a separate Platinum/Diamond/7-Star entrance line is available for immediate seating, which leaves us lowly Gold members and the general public to wait together in a separate line. Still, I've never had to wait for more than 10 minutes to be seated, even when the Cafe' was crowded.

For a casual, quick dining experience, you can't go wrong with the selections here. I've eaten here on many occasions, and I've been happy with my meals every time.

In addition to the meals, a Keno runner is available to take your keno bets on a regular basis. One of my favorite Vegas things is sitting down to a relaxing breakfast and enjoying the company of my travel companions while playing keno and planning out our day.

At breakfast, you can choose something unusual, like the Biscuit and Sausage Benedict. I had this during my March 2009 trip, and it was enough for two people. Instead of eggs and an English muffin topped with Hollandaise sauce, two biscuits and eggs are smothered in sausage gravy. Delicious, but I could've shared it with someone and still had plenty to eat as leftovers. They do offer a traditional Eggs Benedict for purists, so don't despair.

Something that I would highly suggest if you love Bananas Foster - the Bananas Foster Pancakes! They make a traditional Bananas Foster topping with spiced rum and pour it over a full stack of pancakes and top it all off with whipped cream. I would also suggest sharing this with someone, because it is HUGE...and delicious.

For a different kind of lunch, I've had their Loaded Potato Skins, which is actually on the appetizers list but is definitely a full meal if you're craving baked potatoes. Something else I love for lunch is their New England Clam Chowder - an edible bread "bowl" filled with deliciously chunky chowder that is yummy and filling.

When I've wanted something a little lighter, the Crab and Lobster Salad is a good lunch option. Served with a lemony vinaigrette dressing, it's great for a hot day. In fact, every salad I've tried has always been fresh and very tasty, so I wouldn't put any of them off of my list. The same goes for their burgers; I've often ordered a salad and had my dining companion order a burger so that we could split them between us because of the size of the orders - and the huge amount of fries that come with the burgers.

I'd like to say that I would split a Club Sandwich and fries with someone if they wanted me to, but I'm not sure I would. Following the theme for all their offerings, the Club Sandwich seems to be extra-large, and they are served with fries or chips. This sandwich has always been fresh, crisp, and delicious, and I become very possessive and don't want to share once I get to the Cafe' and get ready to place my order. And if you serve me a sandwich with half of a Claussen pickle, you can bet I'm not sharing that, either.

Dinner finds me repeatedly ordering the Open-faced Turkey Sandwich if I don't go back to my lunchtime favorites, as I find that the dinner offerings are a little too pricey for my tastes. Still, they offer steaks, chicken, pizza, and even a surf and turf special for those who'd like to try something a little more "dinner-like".

When I come back to Harrah's after a long day on the Strip, I'm usually starved! I'm so happy they also offer a late night menu with some of my favorites on it from the day menu: the clam chowder, loaded potato skins, and the club sandwich are all available from 1 a.m. until 6 a.m. In addition, they offer a steak and eggs special that is really good and a reasonable price.

Out of all my visits to the Cafe', I've only once encountered a waiter who seemed to be a little on the snotty side. Of course, I didn't say anything to him while I was dining, but I made sure that his service was reflected in the tip I left, and I also made sure that the hostess was aware of our displeasure with his surly attitude.

I've always had really good meals at the Cafe' at Harrah's, and I plan on visiting again and again. The good food, great portions, reasonable prices and nice staff are great reasons to visit.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give the Cafe' at Harrah's an 8 across the board.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tips for surviving Las Vegas weather year-round

Some people think that, just because Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert, there's no weather there...other than HOT.

Temperatures from late June and into mid-September could very well top 100 degrees on an almost daily basis, so don't forget to keep yourself hydrated, wear plenty of sunscreen (this applies to year-round visits), and use lip balm and moisturizer regularly if you're not used to the arid climate. Also, be sure to take along a nasal spray if you're prone to nosebleeds, because the dry air will affect you after only a little while. While temperatures in the 100's are not uncommon during the peak summer months of July and August, those months can also have daily temperatures that range into the mid to upper 110's, with nightly cooling only into the 90's, so be sure to dress appropriately. Limiting your sun exposure between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. is also a good idea if you're not used to extreme heat.

While it's certainly hot a lot of the time, Spring and Fall can be very pleasant times to visit. Temperatures can range anywhere from the 50's and 60's to the 80's and 90's during the daylight hours. Just be aware that a lack of daytime heating can cause those temperatures to quickly fall off into the 30's and 40's at night, so be sure to have a sweater or jacket for the evening hours if you plan to be outside. Also, if a cold front comes through the area, a matter of minutes could have you wishing you had a jacket - or a coat. My husband learned that lesson the hard way on a trip in late May one year when the temperatures went from low 90's to mid 60's in less than 30 minutes. Checking the weather forecast before you head out for the day is advisable; checking the forecast before you pack for your trip is even better still.

Also be aware that, no matter what month it is, the desert landscape is a very flat place, and flash flooding is quite a possibility with as little as 1/2 an inch of rain. Such was the case on my trip in August of 2007. I went to bed on a particularly warm night (I think the temperature topped out at about 112 that day), and I heard quite a bit of thunder in the wee hours of the morning. Being a South Texas girl, I paid no attention; thunderstorms are quite common in Texas, and we don't usually think anything of them unless it rains quite a bit in a short amount of time.

Heading for breakfast the next morning, I heard quite a few people talking excitedly about the flooding all over the city. Yes, it had rained during the night - that 1/2 inch that I spoke of before - and because of all the flat land and built up areas pushing the water into the alleys and side streets, the Imperial Palace parking garage, Koval Road behind it, and many other streets and roads around Las Vegas were closed due to flooding. Being the curious person that I am, I headed out the back door toward the monorail station between IP and Harrah's to have a look, and I snapped a few photos like this:

Flooding like that would've taken at least 7 or 8 inches of rain in Texas over a couple of hours, so I was a little surprised. But I reminded myself that Las Vegas IS in the middle of the desert and there is nowhere for the water to go. Keep that fact in mind when you're out and about and a storm pops up - hotel lobbies have been known to flood, and you should never try to go through any floodwaters for your own safety. Also be aware that a hotel/casino may temporarily close their exits to the Strip or the parking garage/valet parking because of high water, but the water usually recedes pretty quickly and everything will be back to normal as soon as possible.

Traveling to Vegas in the winter months can also be a great treat if you're used to living in more frigid northern climates, or if you don't really experience any cold because you live someplace really warm, like Southern Florida or South Texas. Temperatures during November and December are usually quite pleasant; I've been visiting when the daytime temperatures have been in the 40's and 50's, and it's quite comfortable for me in a light jacket or sweater. Of course, the nighttime temperatures can dip into the 20's and 30's easily, so be sure to bring plenty of clothing on if you're not used to those lows.

Something else you shouldn't be surprised to see in Vegas during the winter months: snow. Yes, it's snowed on the Las Vegas Strip quite a few times in the past couple of years, and it makes for a very pretty picture, indeed. I've never been lucky enough to be in Vegas during a snowfall, but it's something I'd love to experience in person.

This photo was taken from a hotel room window by one of my LV4E friends known as "skybank" - and what a peaceful view it is:
Don't be surprised when the snow doesn't stay around for too long, though. As soon as the sun comes out with the temperatures holding in the 40's or above, the snow will turn to slush and water, and it'll soon be a happy Vegas memory. Just remember that Las Vegans (and tourists) don't necessarily know how to drive in those conditions, and watch out if you're in a car or on foot.
Because Las Vegas is not used to getting a lot of snow or rain at any given time, be aware that experiencing either may cause delays at the airport, or traffic tie-ups around the city and on the highways out of town. Be sure to check for flight delays or road closures before you head out on your journey.
No matter what type of weather you experience in Las Vegas, I leave you with this one bit of truth: It's always a very pleasant 72 degrees in the casinos!
Have a great trip!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Five hotel/casinos you shouldn't miss

There is so much to see and do in Vegas that you can easily get overwhelmed if you try to see and do everything in one trip.

Over the years, I've spent most of my vacation time on the Las Vegas Strip. Why? Because I love the neon lights, the hustle and bustle of the people, the constant activity going on around me 24/7, the open access to each of the hotel/casinos, and the beautiful "fake" architecture everywhere.

So I started wondering: if I wanted to tell someone not to miss five hotel/casinos on the Strip when they visit, which ones would I choose, and why?

Here are my top 5 picks for must-see hotel/casinos on the Las Vegas Strip:

The Bellagio - With its lake of dancing fountains facing the Strip and a beautiful conservatory that changes with the seasons just off the hotel lobby, this is my top pick for favorite hotel/casino to visit in Las Vegas. In addition to the fountains and the conservatory, the casino is a great example of excessive luxury. A fantastic buffet is available for a reasonable price, and the Fontana Bar is a great place to listen to music, have a drink, and enjoy the fountains while you relax.

The Venetian - Sheldon Adelson had this hotel built for his wife after a visit to Venice. The recreated Italian streets, statues, and paintings look good enough to be the real thing. Being able to take a gondola ride through the shops and out toward the Strip with a gondolier singing behind you is an experience that seems to be an "only in Vegas" moment. Strolling musicians and "living statues" are everywhere, and many of the shops offer Venetian jewelry, blown glass, and other items imported from Venice.

Paris - This beautiful hotel is fronted by a 50-story recreation of the Eiffel Tower, and two of its four legs can be seen when you walk into the casino. The ceiling is painted with clouds and blue skies, and you feel like you're outside everywhere you go. Cobblestone streets and old-fashioned street lights line the shopping promenade, and all of the employees greet you with a "Bon jour!" and wish you "bonne chance" when you head for the casino. Take a trip up to the Eiffel Tower observation deck for a great view of the city day or night, and be sure not to miss a chance to have breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Mon Ami Gabi for a great Strip view while you eat.

Wynn and Encore - I consider these two hotel/casinos to be one and the same, and lump them together for my fourth choice. Both were built by Steve Wynn and mirror each other in architecture and interior design. Wynn was built first and has a fantastic open feel, with plenty of red accents and a theme of flowers throughout. Encore was completed last year and has even more red in its design and a theme of butterflies throughout. The two are connected by a promenade of shops, and they compliment one another very nicely.

Caesars Palace - Caesars continues to grow every year as new hotel towers are built to expand the empire, and Roman excess is seen in every corner of the property. The hotel/casino is attached to the Forum Shops seamlessly, and the Roman design continues within almost 800,000 square feet of shops and restaurants under an ever-changing sky. The casino area has recently been renovated and is much lighter and feels more open than it did in years past. The shopping area has wide walkways and plenty of benches to allow you to sit and relax if you get tired of trying to see everything. Use the maps to find your way, because it's easy to get lost in here.
These are my favorites, but pick your own favorites to share with others. Las Vegas is ever-changing and always exciting, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Harrah's Hotel and Casino - review

The basic room
A good sized armoire, with double mirrors and plenty of storage

Harrah's Hotel and Casino is located mid-Strip between Imperial Palace and Casino Royale, directly across the street from The Mirage and The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, and is part of the Harrah's Entertainment giant HET. With its great location, Harrah's is a fantastic place to stay and be in the middle of the action day or night.

I've stayed at Harrah's three times so far, and in three different types of rooms: Classic, Deluxe, and Luxury. In addition to these rooms, there are four others available: a Mini Suite, a Petite Suite, a Classic Executive Suite, and a Deluxe Executive Suite. I am apparently working my way up the list one type of room at a time!

The rooms are available in either the Mardi Gras Tower, which is closer to the Strip, or the Carnaval Tower, which is closer to the Carnaval Court area. If you have a problem with late-night noise, I would ask for a room in the Mardi Gras Tower, because the music from the Carnaval Court could keep you awake until at least 3:00 a.m. if you are a light sleeper.

Room features: Each of the basic rooms offers either one king bed or two queen beds with a pillowtop mattress, a TV armoire with three drawers, a small table and two chairs, one or two bedside lamps, and a separate standing lamp near the table area. WiFi hookups are available for a daily fee via the television. Also in the Luxury room, the TV armoire has a closet on either side, with full-length mirrors on the exteriors of the doors. Luggage racks are available in the closet, as well as a full-size ironing board and iron. The color scheme is each room is earth tones: brown, tan, cream, and white, and is very basic and calming.

The bathroom areas vary depending on the type of rooms, but contain either a one or two sink vanity, a shower and tub combo, a wall-mounted hairdryer, and even include built-in storage shelves and a shower bench for the Luxury room. Some of the bathrooms even have a second flat screen TV mounted on the corner wall, but I found they take up too much space for my taste.

Casino: All the usual games are offered here: slot machines of every variety, video poker, blackjack, roulette, craps, poker, baccarat, keno, and live betting in the Sports Pit. Variations of poker are available at the tables as well; pai gow, 3-card and 4-card poker are among the choices you will find. The casino also offers Rapid Roulette, which allows for faster play and no reaching across other bettors.

Cocktail waitresses are fairly plentiful here, but they seem to take a lot of routes along the main aisles. Be sure to tip them well in order to receive your drinks quickly.

Restaurants and dining: Harrah's offers a full compliment of dining options for just about every taste, as well. I have not dined at all the restaurants, so I will only provide the hours of operation for those I've never tried.

Cafe' at Harrah's - Open 24 hours, the Cafe' offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. A separate restaurant review will follow in another post.

Carnaval Court Bar & Grill - 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 a.m., Sun.-Thurs.; 12:00 p.m. - 3:00 a.m. Fri.-Sat.

Flavors, The Buffet - Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A separate restaurant review was posted on July 3rd. It's a very good buffet value for the price.

Ming's Table - 11:30 a.m. - 11:00 p.m., Sun.-Tues.; 11:30 a.m. - 12:00 a.m. Fri.-Sat.; closed Wed. and Thurs.

Oyster Bar at Penazzi - 11:30 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. Sun.-Thurs.; 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 a.m. Fri.-Sat.

Penazzi Italian Ristorante - 5:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. Wed.-Sun.; closed Mon. and Tues.

Pepper Rose - 24-hour deli located next to the Sports Pit (near the Carnaval Court entrance door)

The Range Steakhouse - 5:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Sun.-Thurs.; 5:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat.

Starbucks - 3 locations with varying hours: Carnaval Court, lobby area, 2nd floor promenade. The usual Starbucks offerings are available at each location, and prices are comparable to your local stores.

Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill - 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 a.m. Sun.-Thurs.; 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 a.m. Fri.-Sat.; live music nightly from 9:00 p.m. - 2:00 a.m.; reservations recommended for parties of 14 people or more

Entertainment: Harrah's offers a full compliment of entertainment options, from stand-up comedy to magic and music.

Rita Rudner - The comedienne offers up her comedy at 8:00 p.m. on every night except Sunday. Ticket prices start at $54 + tax and fees.

Mac King - The slight-of-hand magician has two afternoon shows at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. each Tuesday through Saturday (no shows on Sunday and Monday). Admission price is $24.95 + tax, but coupons can be found for $6.95 + tax and two drinks, so check around before you go to the show.

The Improv Comedy Club - Two shows nightly at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday (no shows on Sunday). Admission starts at $29.05, and packages are available that include a buffet dinner and/or VIP seating.

Legends in Concert - A music extravaganza, this show recently moved from Imperial Palace to a new home in Harrah's Showroom. With a continuously rotating cast of impersonators, this show is ever-changing and always entertaining. Performers include Tom Jones, Britney Spears, Madonna, The Temptations, and a very credible Jay Leno look-alike/sound-alike. Each show ends with a performance by Elvis, because you're in Vegas, of course. Tickets start at $49.95 for adults and $34.95 for children, and a tip to the seating host will get you a better seat or a coveted booth. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on Sun., Tues., Thurs., 6:30 p.m. on Mon. and Sat., and 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. on Fri. No shows on Wednesdays.

Carnaval Court - Live bands perform at this outdoor bar daily. A great entertainment option. Be aware that the area can get extremely warm during the summer months of July and August, when temperatures could top out in the 110's, even though the perimeter is cooled by misters.

The Piano Bar - Various lounge performances nightly. The Piano Bar also features Dueling Pianos and TJ's All-Star Karaoke. This is a great place to hang out and people-watch, enjoy a drink with friends, or get involved in the action.

Other services:
The Spa at Harrah's
The Health Club
Meeting rooms
Preferred golfing access to Cascada and Rio Secco courses
Preferred golf instruction at Butch Harmon School of Golf

With its great location, wonderful employees, affordable and comfortable rooms, and a wide variety of dining and entertainment options throughout the property, Harrah's is a fantastic place to stay and play. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it an 8 and look forward to staying here again.

For more details:
Contact Harrah's toll-free at 1-800-427-7247, or visit their website at

Enjoy your stay!