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!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Free Shuttle Links and Schedules

Shuttles are a great way to get around to some of the more popular off-Strip areas of Las Vegas if you don't rent a car or if you don't like to pay exhorbitant amounts for taxi fares to and from the casinos. Here are links to some of the more popular outlying Las Vegas area casinos' shuttle schedules, which are available for free to the public on a space available basis.

Gold Coast:

Green Valley Ranch:

The M Resort:

The Orleans:

Palace Station:

Red Rock:

Sam's Town:

South Point:


Las Vegas Advisor - free shuttle listing:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Online blackjack site for fun or practice

If you like to practice your blackjack strategy before you head to the casino - or just enjoy playing online games - here's a site that you might like to try:

This particular game will check your playing strategy and possibly help you correct any errors in your current method of play. It will show you your percentage of correct plays vs. incorrect plays so you'll know how often you would've won against the dealer. Maybe it'll save you some money!

Don't forget that most casinos will allow you to use a blackjack strategy card and keep it on the table while you play if you're unsure of proper blackjack strategy on any hand. Just be sure to ask the dealer before you attempt to use a card in case they are one of the few casinos that don't allow them. You can find the cards at most hotel gift shops for $1 or $2.

Map links: The Strip, downtown, and various casinos/hotels

Three maps to help you get around Vegas a little easier!

Here's an up-to-date map of the Las Vegas Strip:

A really good map of downtown Las Vegas:

A link to maps and floor plans for the various Las Vegas hotels and casinos:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Customer service review for Stack @ The Mirage - a surprising revelation and my personal opinion

I just got this news clip/restaurant service review link from over at LV4E, and I must say that I was a little shocked by the treatment of this customer, who just happened to be an influential blogger from the LA Times:

But let me say this: it could've been an isolated incident. Also, we are only hearing one side of the story. Regardless, it is still very bad customer service - especially in these harsh economic times - to be treated this way by anyone in the customer service industry. Heck, no one deserves to be treated like that anywhere, anytime.

The blogger brings up the point that the restaurant is owned by the ruling family of Dubai, and that the doormen were the only people who treated him badly. Again, it doesn't matter who was in the wrong, or who treated whom badly, it's certainly going to get more airtime thanks to the fact that the person they decided to pick on writes for the LA Times.

I have wanted to eat at Stack and still plan on making it my dining destination at some point in the future. Will this "incident" make me a little more wary? Maybe yes, maybe no. The thing is, people are treated differently everyday, everywhere, and there is no rhyme or reason to their treatment. Regardless of what the truth really is, the fact is this: people will stand up and take notice of the restaurant, for better or worse, and the article may influence their decision to dine there.

That's just my two cents.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lagasse's Stadium restaurant opens at Palazzo

Emeril Lagasse opened his newest restaurant, Lagasse's Stadium, at the Palazzo Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip last week. It is replacing the short-lived Jay Z's 40/40 Club and the equally short-lived Palazzo Sports Book. According to the article, this new restaurant is set in a sports book-like atmosphere, but is supposedly arranged intimately. Makes me curious, because I can't imagine an "intimate" sports book setting in most cases. Maybe it's the casino itself that will set up the "intimate" feeling, I don't know.

If you don't already know, Emeril has three other Las Vegas restaurants on the Strip: Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian, Table 10 at Palazzo, and Emeril's New Orleans Fish House at MGM. I ate at the Fish House years ago - very good stuff! I'm hoping to go again during one of my trips next year because I really enjoyed it and I'd like to add a new review for you here.

Here's a link to the article in the Las Vegas Weekly:

Here's a link to Emeril's website so that you can check out all of his great restaurants in Las Vegas and elsewhere - restaurant information is available for each of them:

If anyone tries one of Emeril's restaurants - but most especially any of his current Vegas eateries - I'd love to hear your opinion of the dining experience in the comments section.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Trip Report - The Westies in Vegas Sept. 16-30, 2009

I just had to share a link to a really great trip report by Westie, a good friend of mine over at LV4E:

He and his wife, Ann, are retired, and they are both really adventurous foodies, show-goers, and lovers of art. They just returned from another two week trip to Vegas (they take 3 or 4 two-week trips every year), and their latest report is chock-full of unusual food adventures and some great show reviews, as well.

Westie is a serious coupon user and deal-finder, and he always provides the LV4E members with great links to the very same deals that he uses when he books his trips. In his reviews, you will see his rating of the experience as well as the total cost and what coupon/discount code he used for each one.

Their next trip is in December, and I'm sure it'll be just as stuffed with interesting new places I've never heard of and how to get the same deals for my trip.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cool Vegas Maps - Interactive Vegas maps and matching games

Here's a link to another great Vegas-related site:

I asked the site owner, John, (also known as "jpkvegas" over at LV4E) if he minded me linking his site here, and he welcomed the additional attention. I have added it to my favorite sites on the sidebar, as well.

Not only does his site give you access to various interactive maps of Las Vegas, but he also has several matching games under the "Fun Las Vegas Game" tab. I was able to provide him with some of my Vegas photos for his 'Vegas carpets' matching game, and I hope to be able to provide him with more photos in the future.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Online Video Poker sites for fun or practice

Yesterday I added a couple of links to some popular slot manufacturers' websites, and I felt that the slot players out there shouldn't have all the fun.

Here are a couple of links to some online video poker sites. The first one, Governor of Poker, is a lot of fun and not quite as "serious" as you might expect a video poker site to be:

The second one requires you to register as a member/player, bit it also has a bigger selection of games for the more serious-minded video poker player. These games are indicative of the VP games you'll find in and around Vegas, and new games are added on occasion as they are developed. I play these when I want to brush up on my VP skills before I head out to Vegas, and I really like it:

If you've never played VP before and want to try it out before you attempt to play in Vegas, I would recommend the website over the Governor of Poker website, but that's just a suggestion.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

WMS and LED game sites - try out some slot machines before you head to Vegas

If you like trying out new slot machines when you're in Vegas, here are the links to a couple of the most popular Las Vegas slot machine creators' web sites, LED and WMS gaming.

The slot machines found online are the same machines you can play in Vegas, so it's almost like being there. This is purely a simulation, though; no money changes hands, and there are no cocktail waitresses running around to take your drink order, so don't think you'll be able to duplicate that "Vegas vibe" exactly. Plus I'm sure the online "payouts" are a lot higher than what you'd find in an actual casino, but they're fun to try, anyway.

LED (Leading Edge Design gaming):

WMS (Williams Slot Machines gaming):

LED and WMS are two of the leading slot machine creators in the industry, and they are constantly updating their websites with fun new games. Play them online for free and for fun, and find what you like the best before you take your next trip to Vegas. Enjoy!