Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bacchanal for Brunch (again) in October - with photos

When looking back through my blog posts, I realized that I hadn't posted my Bacchanal brunch photos from my October 2013 trip.  My friend Tania especially wanted to hear about it and see the photos, so this is mostly for her.  :)

Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace recently celebrated their one year anniversary.  Still delicious.  Saturday brunch is as expensive as dinner, so be aware of the price if you go.

Coffee, juice and unlimited mimosas for Saturday brunch: $44.95+tax and tip (take $2 if you are a Total Rewards member).



First round: Sui mai and pot stickers (delicious!), green beans in wine sauce (yummy!), Chinese vegetables (good), bacon and egg pizza (very good and crispy), skirt steak and egg (small plate-pretty good and not overdone), Monte Christo (almost out of shot on the right - interesting...).  Oh, and OJ and pre-mixed mimosas (which are goooooood).  I'd never had a Monte Christo before - it tastes like a jelly doughnut and a ham sandwich had a baby.



 Second round:  Cold boiled shrimp (can't really mess those up), papas con carne (yucky!), hash brown casserole (delicious!), salumi (fresh and good), and a bacon, egg and cheese frittata on the small plate (decent).



Dessert plate!  Of course there's a dessert plate!

Delicious bread pudding, a fruit cup with honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon (meh!), a lemon strawberry cupcake (also meh), and a warm, ooey-gooey chocolate lava cake, which was soooo good I almost licked the container!  Plus coffee, of course.  I love their coffee.

I also tried their fresh squeezed watermelon juiced and discovered I am NOT a fan.  It was not watermelon-y at all and I felt like I was drinking the leftover water in the bottom of the container that held the watermelon.  Bleh...

I managed to have 4 mimosas and sit there for an hour and a half, enjoying my breakfast and taking my time.  I don't mind eating alone at all, and it was a great chance to sit and people-watch.  The Mexican futbol team, Tigres Dorados, came in for brunch while I was there and had a whole area to themselves.  They were taking more pics of the food than I was!

Looking forward to going back for a visit in January with my mom! 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

How To Celebrate Halloween In Vegas (Link to Article)

I didn't plan a trip to Vegas during Halloween this year, but I was there last year for the celebrations and it was...interesting.  I wish I'd taken more photos of some of the costumes, like the very creative girl dressed as the Three Blind Mice - all three of them.  Very clever!

Still, unless you're in Vegas right now (which several of my friends are), you are probably finding ways to have fun at home.  If you're not in Vegas this year, you could be there next year.  So here are some great ideas for how to have some Halloween fun in Vegas, compliments of Forbes.com:

Trick or Treat!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Traditional Indian Wedding in Vegas - October 19, 2013

A traditional Indian wedding in front of the Bellagio hotel.  I couldn't imagine what that would look like - before.

My friend, Claire, texted me while this was going on.  She saw a simple post on Facebook, and I was actually across the Strip, in my room at the Flamingo, getting ready for the evening.  I wish I'd gone over to see some of this!

Here's a link to the Facebook photo album for the wedding - gorgeous photos, and I can't even begin to imagine the cost:

Namaste

Monday, October 28, 2013

There and Back Again: A Human's Tale by HayleysMom


October 18-22, 2013

Note:  This trip was supposed to include my mom, but her freak accident while still IN Vegas in September kept her home, though not by choice.  She really, really, REALLY wanted to go with me, but with her broken arm still in a cast, it really didn't make sense, either, so she will be heading back with me in January 2014, instead.

Friday, October 18th

I worked a full day on Friday, and headed to the airport after that.  My first clue that this would be a bad flight should have been the 40 minute delay I got on my phone while I was still AT work.  They quickly made up the time and got the plane to San Antonio a bit later, and we were set to leave only 20 minutes late.  We got on the plane...and waited...and waited...and waited.  We finally left almost 2 1/2 hours late because a tiny light was not showing that the outer door was secure for takeoff.  There are lots of things I can do without, but a secure door during a flight is NOT one of those things.  My plane arrived in Vegas at 11 p.m. Vegas time, or 1 a.m. San Antonio time, which makes for a loooooong day.
Mom bracelets-represent!
I was staying at Flamingo for the first time, and I had called to let them know that my already "late arrival" would be even LATER due to the plane issues, but I was stuck with a "FAB" room on the 6th floor, directly across from the construction at Bill's Gambling Hall (soon to be the Gansevoort Hotel).  I was expecting the "FAB" room - it's what I had booked.  I just hadn't expected the construction view and noise.  I had room 6052, so if you're staying at Flamingo over the next few months, ask for a room ending in an ODD number to be sure you don't get stuck facing the construction.

Crappy view
The room itself was very pretty, with pink curtains, hardwood floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and plenty of storage space.  The bathroom didn't match the rest of the room, however; the single sink for a room with double beds never fits in my opinion (fine for me as a single traveler, but not good for sharing), and it looked like it had the original 1950's tile, and just didn't "fit" the rest of the updated room.
Much prettier inside!
I went down to the casino and only gambled for about 30 minutes before calling it a night.  I was absolutely trashed from the full day's work, travel, delays...and tomorrow was another day.

Saturday, October 19th

Waking up extremely early (even for me), I set out after my daily preparations to decide where I was going for breakfast while I walked.  Believe it or not, I really didn't have a solid plan.  My only real plans for the trip were to see LOVE with my free ticket from myVegas rewards, have dinner at Dragon Noodle @ Monte Carlo (also with a myVegas reward) and to meet my cousin and his wife for dinner one night.

My walking took me across the Strip to Caesars, my favorite place to gamble and hang out.  Ever since the casino was remodeled a few years ago it has become my #1 destination.  If only they would comp me some rooms...
Old school Vegas look
Using my miniature effect again...
Hello again!
I decided to go to the Bacchanal Buffet for breakfast.  Mom and I had been last year after it first opened, and we really liked it.  It was around 9:00 a.m., and there were only 6 people in line ahead of me.  Saturdays and Sundays are only Champagne Brunch (woo hoo!), which meant I also got unlimited champagne and/or mimosas for the $44.95 price.  (For a full listing and photos of what I tried, see my separate buffet review.)  That might seem like a lot of cash for a buffet, but they have such a great food selection, even early in the morning, that I think it's a really good deal.  My plan was to sit and chill for awhile, people-watching and drinking mimosas in between eating and texting my friends and family, and that is exactly what I did.  Four mimosas later, I think I was mimosa'd out.  But I like mimosa brunches!


I still like Vegas bathrooms.  This is the one right outside of Bacchanal Buffet.
After brunch it was time for a little bit of gambling.  I looked for my old Lord of the Rings (LOTR) machines, but they have all been taken out of every Total Rewards-related casino.  They DO have new "Return of the King" (ROTK) machines, but they are not tied into the old ones yet, so I have to play them like I'm a newbie and have no bonuses unlocked, etc. (which is annoying for someone who's played LOTR machines for the past few years and have tons of miles racked up on the old machines).  I'm still not sure what I think of the new ROTK machines; I will reserve judgement until they are tied into my old points and I'm able to access more stuff.  Says the nerd in me...

Next stop was the Mirage to pick up my free LOVE ticket for the evening.  It was my biggest reward purchase on myVegas (playing on Facebook - great for free rewards at MLife properties!), and I had to pick it up by 4:00 p.m. or forfeit the seat.  Ticket in hand, I was able to find another new machine I hadn't seen before: a new movie version of Phantom of the Opera, complete with multiple movie scenes involving Gerard Butler, mmm hmmm!  The Phantom machines at the MLife properties became my new best friends on this trip - I played them everywhere I could, and often.
It's a must have!
Bellagio called my name once again because I had not yet seen the Fall display on this trip.  It hasn't changed much in the past few years - they reuse most of the elements in different ways every year - but I always like seeing it and I try to find new things to take photos of each time.  I like that they reuse everything, really, but I would like to see some new elements used every once in awhile because it does get a bit repetitive.  My only consolation is that I can come back in January and catch the Chinese New Year, which will be guaranteed to look somewhat different for at least 11 years.  I took photos and made a mental note to come back and take more pics after dark because it always looks different with the changes in the light...and there are less people to contend with, too.


Bellagio Conservatory-daytime
It needs no introduction.

I like this shot.


An Ent - Middle Earth dwellers will understand...

I do love their use of the cornucopia.

Another pretty good shot.
Over to Cosmopolitan, I located The Henry restaurant, which wasn't difficult, since it's right inside the entrance when you come in on the Bellagio side, immediately on the right.  How did I miss this?  I had looked over their breakfast menu online several times and decided I would try it on this trip if it didn't look too hoity-toity, crowded, or difficult to find.  Being none of those, I made a mental note that Sunday breakfast would be here.  A few black-and-white-yet-still-sparkly Cosmopolitan photos and random slots later, it was time to move on to Planet Hollywood.
Cosmopolitan table games - I really like this shot, too.

Cosmo lights

A different view

Cosmo Noir - taken with my iPhone
I have a love-hate relationship with PHo.  When it's good to me, it's really good to me, and it makes me want to stay.  When it's bad, it's really bad, and I just want to leave.  Being a crowded Saturday, I was able to play a little bit of Wizard of Oz Ruby Slippers before the Wicked Bitch Witch took my money, and I headed back to Flamingo to change clothes for the evening.

It was back to Caesars to find a place for dinner.  Really, I had no plan as to where I wanted to eat, but since I had no plan, I also had no reservation, and many things were too crowded for even a 6 p.m. dinner when you had Jimmy Buffet, a UFC fight, Jason Aldeen and an NBA game in town at the same time.  Serendipity 3 had a line that snaked down the steps, and I considered Central for a minute before I remembered how unhappy mom and I were with the service last time.  I took a little walk, didn't like anything on Spago's menu, decided against The Palm because it was too crowded, and finally picked Trevi, where I had antipasti and dessert with my mom and my cousin a couple of years ago.
Lotsa pasta!
A seat by the fountain was a great place to people-watch, and I had time to sit back and enjoy a leisurely dinner of Fettuccine al pesto con Gamberi - fettuccine tossed with shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and basil in a pesto-cream sauce.  With a salad of field greens, complimentary bread with dipping oil, and a coconut mojito, dinner set me back $46.15+tip.  The pasta was too much for me - I only finished about half, but I did justice to the shrimp.  The bread and salad were delicious, but I only drank about 2/3 of the mojito because it just didn't have a ton of flavor.




Sugar Factory at The Mirage had a good display.
Over to Mirage to do a bit more gambling before LOVE, and this time I tackled the Wizard of Oz Ruby Slippers and Ghostbusters machines.  They were both nice to me and let me leave with more money than I came in with, which is unusual for Mirage slot machines.  Other than the Phantom of the Opera and Plants and Zombies, I really didn't see many "new" machines.  Perhaps I wasn't looking hard enough, and I can say that I really stuck to the same area of the casino near the deli/sports book area than any other, but I didn't notice anything that caught my attention otherwise while I was walking around before the 9:00 p.m. show.
It's all I need.
This was my fifth time seeing LOVE at the Mirage.  It still is a fantastic show, and I would see it again in a heartbeat.  My free ticket from myVegas rewards was Section 206, Row V, Seat 4, and I think it is probably the ONLY seat in the entire theater that has a partially obstructed view, with a thin pole kind of a third of the way in front of the seat where the safety net above is attached.  There are only 8 seats in that entire section - 4 in front of mine - and I think I had the crappiest one.  Still, I enjoyed the show, and I'm sure I will be back again.  If I redeem another myVegas reward for a free LOVE ticket, I will redeem for the higher priced seat next time, so I know I won't have ANYTHING obstructing my view.

I gambled a bit in the Margaritaville Casino before I decided to head to bed.  The lack of sleep the night before was catching up with me, and I called it a night around 1 a.m.

Sunday, October 20th

As I promised myself, I had breakfast at The Henry in Cosmopolitan.  If you've never been, it's a small restaurant/bar, but it's surprisingly quiet even though it's open to the casino floor.  I had a small table facing the bar and got to do a bit of people-watching while I ate, which is always entertaining for me.


I had the Cinnamon Roll French toast, a side of bacon and coffee.  The French toast!  So good!  It doesn't need syrup at all because it is deliciously sweet and soft.  The six pieces of perfectly cooked crispy bacon I ordered on the side were just right for a sweet-and-savory breakfast.  The syrup and cream containers were almost identical, and I almost put syrup in my coffee more than once.  If I had, I would've been able to quote Buddy the Elf: "Syrup and coffee...mmmmm..."   Cost was $26.11+tip.

It was really, really good...
After that delicious breakfast, I took a nice, leisurely stroll down to Monte Carlo to redeem a myVegas reward for the evening.  I wasn't sure what I would have to do to get it and if I needed to make a reservation, so I wanted to be sure I had time to get it AND make a reservation if needed.  The nice lady at the MLife rewards booth said I didn't need to make a reservation, and the $50 food credit had to be used within 24 hours and could only be applied to one restaurant.  All fine by me.  I had already planned on going to Dragon Noodle, and if I needed to drink more to add up to the $50, then SO BE IT.  I  put a reservation for Dragon Noodle at 7:45 p.m. using the OpenTable app on my phone, just in case, and headed out for another walk down the Strip.

A glutton for punishment, I headed back to PHo.  This time I finally got a seat at The Godfather slots I'd seen the day before, but after $20 through the machine and hitting absolutely NADA, I decided that was enough of a donation to "the family" for now and went in search of other entertainment.  I headed for the Hangover slots, which is my other slotty weakness (besides LOTR), and I got a great run of bonuses that let me play for a long, long time on $20.  It's always good when I can put lots of Total Rewards points on my card!

I headed over to Paris to work on my "high limit play", where I'd set aside $300 just for playing the higher slots.  For me, that means $1 slots, which I never play.  I've literally had two dreams where I hit big bucks in Paris' Champagne Slots area twice now, but even with my $300 investment it was not meant to be on this trip, even though I did my darndest to make it happen.  I did, however, hit a triple Double 7's on a $1 machine with a $2 bet for $320 on a Double Gold machine right outside the Champagne Slot area, which is nothing to sneeze at, especially for a low-roller like me.  THAT money went home. 

YAY!
When I finally felt like Paris had given me all she was gonna give, I headed to The Quad, because I haven't been inside since the remodeling.  It is mostly done - they still have a few little areas to work on - but I think it will look quite nice when it's all said and done.  It's definitely a small casino, and it's even smaller than it used to be, if that's possible.  Judging by the prices I've plugged into caesars.com for The Quad's rooms in July 2014, they are expecting to really redo and price me out of them altogether.


The Quad from across the Strip
The Quad's sign is being tested and looks surreal...
Face lift of casino almost complete!
Not bad looking...
It was over to Harrah's and a walk around to see what had changed since February.  Quite a bit, actually.  They have redone the area to the left of the sports book and made it all one level instead of an up-down entrance and steps up to the slots.  Once again, they have taken out a few of my favorite machines, and the poker tables are all at the front of the casino where slot machines used to be.  I ended up taking $80 out of my favorite Reels o' Dublin machine next to the tables before a lady at the electronic craps machine finally drove me away with her incessant yelling for "HARD EIGHT" and random bits of information at 150 decibels.  I can only take so much...

It was on to Venetian, where I found the last of the original LOTR slots in existence (so it seems).  I had to play them.  I actually got to play for quite a while on my $20, and it made me happy.  It gave me hope that there is truth and justice in the world...

I walked back over to Caesars for a few Gold Fish slots, then back to Bellagio for more of the Phantom of the Opera slots that were calling my name.  I hit the "Don Juan" progressive on my first pick-$163-to make my afternoon.

I took the tram from Bellagio to Monte Carlo for the first time.  It is a bit of a long walk to the Bellagio side of the tram, but I was mentally playing things out for possible trips down this side of the Strip with my mom in January.  It is a nice, clean tram, and pretty quick, too.  End to end it took about 10 minutes, and there was no walking through Crystals' shops OR past crappy little shops across from Monte Carlo with random scary people hanging out and hawking things in an aggressive manner after dark.  Thank you, tram!

Dinner at Dragon Noodle using my $50 myVegas reward was great.  The reservation was not needed - there were about 10 tables occupied in the restaurant at 7:45 p.m., but I get 100 points on OpenTable for the effort, anyway.  

Mango Dragon cocktail
I started out with the Mango Dragon cocktail, which has shaved jalapenos in it, and it was very, very good.  The first sip was very spicy, but it was delicious!  I should've had another one.  Next was the Wonton soup followed by the Seafood pan fried noodles.  The Seafood pan fried noodles have scallops, crab and shrimp with broccoli, carrots and green onions in a seafood sauce. It was all very good, and way more than I could eat.  I left a lot of noodles and vegetables. Cost was $44.54+tip, so I didn't even use my entire comp.  Next time I will try the sushi, because it looked delicious.  The hostess had advised that all sushi is half price if you sat at the sushi bar, but I was trying to use the comp in full, so maybe next time.
Wonton soup

Seafood pan fried noodles.  I swear they're under there.
I gave my waitress, Penny, a $30 cash tip because of the rude girls at the next table.  The three of them split their meals and then balked at paying an extra $5 to split the bill.  They tipped her less than $1.  I told Penny WHY I was giving her the tip - to make up for rude young women.  She was very happy, and it made me feel good, too.

I took the tram back to Bellagio for some night photos, and played (you guessed it) a few more Phantom slots before I walked back to Flamingo.



Bellagio Conservatory - night shots






Random shot in Bellagio, but I like it.

Chocolate witch at Jean Phillipe Patissiere 

I really like this chocolate sculpture!
I played for a bit at Flamingo, but couldn't find anything that would give me any bonus rounds.  I couldn't even find a seat in the Margaritaville casino, so that was out, and I finally gave up around 2 a.m., down quite a bit for the trip outside of my "high limit" win that I was keeping separate.


Monday, October 21st


Happy 45th birthday to me!  It's 6:50 a.m., and the workers are in place next door.  Time to get up and get going. 

The pre-breakfast of Vegas addicts everywhere!
A cup of Baileys and hot chocolate paired with some Gold Fish slots at Paris started the day, but no wins there, sadly.  I had already decided breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi was in order.  The only thing I hadn't tried off of their breakfast menu yet: an omelet.  A mushroom omelet, hash browns, thick toast and fresh made strawberry jam with a side of bacon, add in a cup of coffee and peach Bellini, and it made a great birthday breakfast.  Out of all of that, I didn't care for the bacon.  I don't know what they put on their bacon, but I don't like it.  It's probably some maple syrup or something, but I only ate half of one piece and left the rest.  I used Total Rewards points (and picked up my credit voucher from the rewards desk before breakfast) for most of it.  A $30 comp covered the $24.38+tax.
My breakfast table view at Mon Ami Gabi.
I got birthday phone calls from Hayley and my mom, and texts from several of my friends while I was eating, so most of my breakfast was filled with family and good friends, even though I was technically eating by myself.  

After breakfast, it was time to head back to Bellagio once again - for more Phantom slots, what else!  This time I got to play for quite awhile before I finally lost my money and gave my old friend Hitchcock a try.  I love those machines.


I continued on to Caesars, Mirage, and then Harrah's and The Quad for my day of random play.  I would play for awhile on $20 here and there and finally lose it, never really gaining or losing much of anything.  Phantom of the Opera, Gold Fish, Reels o' Dublin, Hangover and LOTR Return of the King were the usual suspects, keeping me entertained until it was time to get ready for dinner, since my cousin and his wife were picking me up and taking to their favorite fish and chips place.  


Crown and Anchor's Fish and Chips
Dinner with Eddie and Pam was at the Crown & Anchor Pub off of Paradise Drive.  $49.02 for 3 people, unlimited fish & chips (plus tea, soda, and 2 non-alcoholic beers).  Ask for extra crispy fish, as I was instructed to do.  If you don't, the fish can be a bit mushy.  The fish and chips are served with your choice of regular or mushy peas.  I should have tried the mushy peas that my companions had because the regular ones were cold, and they obviously loved every bit of theirs.  Of course, I was talking quite a bit, and the thought of mushy peas made me think of The Exorcist.  There was a lot of food on a plate, and they got seconds of fish.  The generous portions meant only one piece for me.  The cost of dinner was taken care of by my mom, who wanted to thank Eddie and Pam for all they did for her while she was in the hospital.  They had intended to take me to dinner for my birthday, but I turned the tables on them, muahahahahaha!  It was great to see them.

After dinner, it was back to gambling at The Quad and Flamingo for the remainder of the night.  I really enjoyed gambling at The Quad - even with such a small casino - because they have great drink service and it was never too loud or too crowded.  I just couldn't find my groove at Flamingo and didn't enjoy gambling there on this trip.  I finally gave up around 1 a.m. because I was leaving for the airport pretty early in the morning.  Counting my money back in the room, I found that I had...not so much...


Tuesday, October 22nd


Because I was up early again, I was packed and headed to the airport extra early.  Too bad there are no seats at the B gates if you're not gambling!  I played two $20's through a 25-cent video poker machine for a bit and decided I'd lost enough money on this trip.  At least my flight home was on time.  I'm not used to coming INTO Vegas at night and LEAVING Vegas during the day...

On the way to "B" gates - a portal?

See?  No seating!
Some final thoughts:

The Quad drink service is awesome-so is Free play on Hangover slots!  Doubled my money and walked away - for awhile...


Electronic craps players are annoying.  The machine at Harrah's is right behind the Reels O' Dublin machine I love so much, and the lady yelling on every spin ABOVE EVERYONE ELSE finally annoyed me enough to leave.

So are people who announce every spin on Gold Fish and Hitchcock machines.  The Gold Fish ladies at Caesars were extremely positive ("Go for Nemo!  Go for Nemo!  You got him!  Yaaaaay!") while the Hitchcock ladies at Bellagio were doom and gloom ("Why does he have to scare me?  I don't understand why he has to scare me.  I'm going to have a heart attack!  I don't even like candy bars!").  Apparently they don't get the idea of Hitchcock in the first place.


Don't think I will be back to Flamingo.  Nice room, but the construction noise, small bathroom and casino were less than stellar.


My next trip is 79 days away!  Hope mom is ready!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Happy, Happy, Happy Hours in Vegas!

I drink a LOT more in Vegas than I do at home. 

Could be the change in scenery, the fact that people are bringing me free drinks every time I turn around, or the fact that it's just Vegas, baby.

Here's are a few links to some of the Happy Hour specials you can find the next time you're in Las Vegas - and it's not just for the drinks, either:

Eater.com - Updated Ultimate Guide to Happy Hours - Sept. 2013 - Happy hour specials at 115 bars and restaurants around Las Vegas

Cosmopolitan specials - several of Cosmo's restaurants offer some good deals

LasVegasHappyHour.net - the go-to source for the latest and greatest of the Las Vegas Happy Hours

Bottoms up!  Have a good time and celebrate safely!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fastest Vegas Trip EVER!

This will be the fastest (shortest) Vegas trip I've ever made, and I hope I never have to make one like it again.

I will be headed to Vegas in the morning to get my mom and bring her home when she is released from the hospital.  On the last day of her trip with her sister last week (Monday night), she tripped and fell outside the elevators at Harrah's. (For the record, this was completely an accident - Harrah's was not at fault at all, and she is completely ready to go back and stay at Harrah's again on a future trip.)

 After a trip to the emergency room with Las Vegas' finest EMT's, she was admitted and found to have a broken right hip and a broken right arm.  She had surgery to put pins in her hip last Wednesday, and she has been in the hospital for 9 days.  She has recovered enough to finally come home.  Luckily my aunt was able to extend her stay by a couple of days to make sure everything was okay, and also VERY lucky that we have wonderful relatives in Las Vegas who have been looking out for her welfare, keeping the doctors in line, and advocating to get mom released to her family as soon as possible.

My job is to go out and escort her back, so I will be headed out first thing in the morning and we will be home before dark.  I am SO looking forward to seeing her and getting her back home again!  

Our October trip plans have changed, and I will be headed to Vegas for my birthday alone, but I will be adding her on to my January solo trip to make up for the missed trip next month.  I want her to be completely comfortable on her next trip - and I will be watching her like a hawk!

You can't say my mom is not a true gambler: she has stated that "Hell, yes!" we will be gambling in McCarran Airport tomorrow afternoon while we wait to take our trip home!

Here's to a safe and worry-free trip!  Cheers and Viva Las Vegas!

Link to Video: "The ARIA Welcome"

I mentioned "The ARIA Welcome" once before after I had stayed there, and I said I wished I'd known the room was going to be so welcoming (in such a different way!) because I would have recorded it.

No need to worry about that anymore.  Here's a link to what your ARIA room does the very first time you open your door: 
Oooh and Aaah!

It will only do it once, so BE PREPARED and PAY ATTENTION!  I don't think any other hotel room says "Hello, there!" quite like this.

So cool!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Making a frugal plan for my January solo trip - even though I haven't left for my October trip!

I'm a planner.  It's my thing.

I'm already thinking ahead to January 2014, when I have my next solo trip planned.  That's not to say that I'm not excited about my October trip with my mom because I AM, but my mind is thinking ahead to a challenge: "What can I get for free?"

I'm seriously considering using my Total Rewards (www.caesars.com), my M Life rewards (www.mlife.com), and the myVegas comps I'm planning on redeeming in the next few weeks to get free meals and shows and cover all of my expenses outside of my gambling.

It's not that far of a stretch, really.  My room at Harrah's is already comped, so no problem there.  Outside of airfare (which my family helps with by giving me much-loved SWA gift cards as gifts!), I have meals and entertainment to cover when not gambling.  Is it possible I could become a frugal Vegas visitor like my friend Dewey?  (He's on my favorite blog list, but here's a quick link to his Vegas blog if you haven't seen it yet: Vegas Adventures)  It is possible that I could cover the cost of everything outside of gambling easily.

I'm a low-rolling gambler, but I have enough comps built up that I could eat easily at Total Rewards and/or M Life properties for my entire solo trip without any problem.  Add in the myVegas rewards that I'm earning through playing the game on Facebook and I can also throw in another meal, a show (will it be LOVE again? probably), and another visit to the Mirage habitat, depending on what I choose to redeem.  And I just remembered the Wynn buffet that I could redeem with my points that continue to wait...wait...wait...for me.

So...will I eat breakfast at Harrah's, redeem a myVegas reward for lunch at the Bellagio buffet, see the dolphins and tigers at The Mirage before seeing the Beatles in LOVE once again?  Redeem some Total Rewards comps for dollars and have a nice meal at Mon Ami Gabi on the patio while watching the Bellagio fountains across the Strip?  Try the Aria buffet?  Go for cheeseburgers at Mix when I visit Mandalay Bay?  Another round of Zen mojitos at Fin in The Mirage?  Wynn buffet while I'm taking a break from taking more photos?

So many options, and plenty of time to decide what I REALLY want to do!

Only 33 days until my October trip, and I'm already looking to the future beyond that one!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The High Roller Wheel Showing Signs of Progress

The construction of the High Roller wheel behind The Quad is finally starting to look like a giant wheel!  Here's a link to the latest photos:

Got rims?

Still, it's a giant ferris wheel, and I'm not crazy about it even if it IS in Las Vegas, so I'll just take photos from the ground, thanks very much.

But I'm glad to see some progress to the construction in this area!  It seems like the Boardwalk theme can't come together fast enough for me.  Looking forward to seeing some new shops, trying some new restaurants, and enjoying the outdoors in Vegas.  Hurry, Vegas!

Traveling - and Airplane Etiquette - Revisited

Once upon a time, about 2 1/2 years ago, I posted a list of airplane etiquette items on this blog for consideration - here's the original post: Be nice!

Webmistress Bonnie at LasVegas4Ever found an article titled "13 Things That Make You Public Enemy #1 On A Plane".  Here's a link to that article: 13 things...  There are a few things that kind of overlap my own list, but I agree with each and every one.

I have to say I especially agree with #10, and when it comes to clipping nails, that is someone I would NOT want to be seated next to!  What if their fingernail shrapnel flew into my drink?  Disgusting!

Just remember that you ARE in a public place, even it's a small and confined one.  Don't do stuff that would embarrass your mother.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

"The Walking Dead"...Coming To a Casino Near You!

Pretty much anything can become a slot machine these days.  Movies and TV shows are the biggest trends right now.

My husband's favorite TV show, "The Walking Dead", is coming to Vegas via Aristocrat slots.
Zombies!

He might actually play slot machines now!  Well, probably not, but if he did, this is what he'd be playing.

I love all the themed slots in Vegas, especially if they have good bonus rounds with lots of interaction.  I will have to try this one out on my next trip and see how it goes, so I will reserve judgement until then.  

Here's a promo clip from YouTube:
Flesh-eating Fun

A Space Finally Filled at Harrah's!

I was hoping they'd put something good next to the Harrah's Sports Bar, and it looks like they did!
Carnaval Grill

The photos look yummy, so here's hoping that a quick food option is a positive change for Harrah's.  

I have been supremely disappointed by the Harrah's Cafe' constantly changing its hours, its menu, and its whole attitude towards the customers.  It was a great place to have a quick dinner, but now you can't do that.  So, Carnaval Grill looks to meet that quick dining requirement.

If anyone has a chance to try it, please post your opinions!

The Quad Makes Progress

This is a complete makeover I'm actually looking forward to seeing.

My original home-away-from-home, Imperial Palace, is getting ever closer to being transformed into The Quad. See some recent photos here: Metamorphosis

It was a very tired and outdated hotel, to be sure.  There are so many good changes coming to it, but I am worried they will also price themselves out of my market, too.  Let's hope they don't do that when they start renovating the rooms.

Imperial Palace was always a cheap place to stay in Vegas.  I remember my very first trip in 1997, my mom, an aunt, and a cousin stayed in one room during a quick weekend trip that was part of a bigger trip to Southern California to see my dying uncle.  That trip formed by Vegas foundation.  I fell in love with the city, and I was able to find my way around the little casino blindfolded.  After only a couple of trips, I was able to give people directions through the casino and hotel while they were in Vegas and I was sitting on my own couch at home because I knew it so well.

The food choices definitely needed updating.  The Emperor's Buffet - I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.  I hope they give it a complete overhaul, as well.  Hash House a Go-Go and Embers restaurant are the only two places I think are very good right now.  But I'm looking forward to Guy Fieri's new restaurant, too.

So many possibilities.  They should be almost finished with the main casino renovations by the time I get there in October, and I'm looking forward to a visit to see what great new things await.

Bill's Changeover To Gansevoort Is Making Progress

I am not a huge fan of the new name, and I'm not really a big fan of Bill's Gambling Hall changing to Gansevoort...

But they are making progress.  Here's a link to the latest information on the change from "gambling hall" to "boutique hotel": Floors With A View

I was finally curious enough to look up "Gansevoort" and find out what it means, because it's certainly not a word I hear every day, even in the world of all things Vegas :).  

I found that Gansevoort was the surname of a Colonel in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.  It is also the name of two luxury hotels in New York, which is who Caesars Entertainment is partnering with on this new venture.  Here's an artist's rendering and a related article on the new Gansevoort boutique hotel in Las Vegas: High Style.

According to the article, the hotel is set to open in January 2014 with rates starting at $249 - WOW!  That's far above the usual Bill's Gambling Hall rate.  Those had better be some REALLY fantastic views of the Bellagio fountains!

Drai's late night club will be returning in the new hotel - and I'm sure that will make the Vegas party set very happy.  I will enjoy it for another reason: people-watching as all the late night/early morning zombies return to their rooms.  Ahhhhh...happiness.

Caesars Entertainment is trying to lure "a new breed" of Las Vegas tourist with this new hotel, in addition to the new Nobu wing at Caesars Palace and the makeover of Imperial Palace into "The Quad" (I will expound on that one further in another post), but they really need to remember that Vegas was built on the little guy, too.  They are going to price themselves out of a market and have some of us loyal Caesars Entertainment hotel visitors moving to MLife Properties where we can get more FREE stuff by playing online games for comps, as well.

Just sayin'.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pssst! Wanna earn free stuff for Vegas?

I am a big fan of all things "free" in Vegas.

If you have a Facebook account and haven't signed up for the MyVegas games, you really should.  You can save up "coins" to redeem for actual Vegas goodies.  What could be better than that?

Go to apps.facebook.com/playmyvegas to sign up and start playing.  You  can earn coins in a few different ways, including adding Facebook friends as your MyVegas slot friends, giving each other gifts of "coins" every day, and by just playing the slot games for your own entertainment (but not for real money).

I was a little skeptical at first, until I saw a couple of my real-life Vegas friends easily redeem "coins" for actual Vegas experiences.  The redemption process is very straightforward, and there are many prizes to be had -   everything from a free glass of wine or an appetizer at MLife property restaurants and bars, to free show tickets and hotel rooms.  Playing PRETEND slots to get REAL hotel rooms for free in Vegas?  How much easier can it get?

All of the Las Vegas MLife properties are included in the MyVegas online world: Bellagio, Aria, MGM Grand, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, Monte Carlo, NY/NY and Circus Circus.  There are prizes for each of the hotels, and they change often.  You can view the rewards by hotel or "cost" to help you determine the number of "coins" you need to earn.

I am saving up my own "coins" to keep an eye out for some of the changing prizes and see what really piques my interest as I get closer to a trip.  Some of the more popular rewards sell out quickly, so you need to keep an eye out for the stuff you really want to make sure you can snap up an offer before it's gone.

Things like free meals, free shows, and free hotel rooms are always a big draw for me.  I usually stay at Caesars properties because that's where I gamble the most and get the most free offers in return, but if I can play an online game and get free things from other places, that's even better!

I have to go earn some more free stuff now...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chinese New Year - A Trip Report In Photos

Note:  There's been a lot of stuff going on for me during the past few months.  My daughter is a Senior in high school.  That fact itself has made for lots of busy, busy days.

On the morning of March 21, 2013 at approximately 5:00 a.m., my mother was on her way to work and was hit by a pickup truck as she was leaving town, less than 2 miles from home.  She was hospitalized for 16 days with several broken ribs and a punctured lung.  Thankfully - incredibly, I think - she was spared more serious injuries, and she is recovering fully.  I thank God that she is okay, and I think she will be even better than before, because she has incredible strength.  She will be going back to work on April 29th, and I hope her Guardian Angel is preparing her wings to fly with her and keep her protected once again. She is ready to go back to work, she is strong, and she has her next goal in her sights:  IT'S TIME TO GET BACK TO VEGAS!


February 8-10, 2013


I have looked, and looked, and looked...and I cannot find my trip report notes anywhere.  I have only myself to blame.  I kept my notes on my iPad while I was in Vegas and I *think* I transferred them to my e-mail account.  Either way, they are no longer on my iPad, and they are nowhere in my e-mails.  Poo.  Because of my stupidity, I decided that I would do a mostly photographic trip report and just comment under some of them with little things I remember from the trip.  Hopefully you'll enjoy this version, because there were lots of great photo opportunities to be had.  I was lucky enough to meet up with my friends Mike and Doris, who I've missed on the last couple of Vegas trips, and we had SEVERAL free drinks and lots of laughs in the Caesars Diamond Lounge.

I found a few receipts, so there are a few prices listed, as well.


My first stop: La Creperie at Paris for a 3-cheese crepe.  It was rich and delicious.
Crepe and a coke for $11.88 with your Total Rewards (TR) card.

This has replaced Les Artistes restaurant in Paris.  Not a fan of the look...

Chinese New Year decoration in Paris

I found reminders everywhere.

I took my $13.91 ticket from my October trip back to Monte Carlo and turned it into $108.24 on "Wizard of Oz - Ruby Slippers" (one of my favorites)...

...and then I put $20 of that in a "Gone With the Wind" machine to run that up to $155.22.  Needless to say, I cashed out and left Monte Carlo up over $250.00  Win!

Crystals at City Center had some decorations...

...but the snake was the cutest!

Cosmopolitan had a pretty tree right inside their entrance.

It is still dwarfed by the Chandelier Bar!

China Poblano restaurant on the 2nd floor of the Cosmopolitan has a kitschy combination of Asian and Mexican decor, as the name would suggest.

I don't remember the name of this Dim Sum dish, but it had two pork, two beef, and two  scallop selections.

My scallop Dim Sum had real gold flakes on it.  Yes, I ate them without hesitating.

An unusual dessert at China Poblano with pomegranate seeds, Mexican chocolate, caramel and sea salt.  It was interesting, but I don't think I'd order it again.
It was a bit too different for my limited palate.
The Hermes store at Bellagio even got into the Year of the Snake

Just a photo of the statue in the Bellagio lobby - so I could use my miniature effect again!

 The next photos are from the Bellagio's Year of the Snake display.  I took two sets of photographs; the first at around 3 p.m., and the second around 5:30 p.m., as it was just getting dark.  The difference in the images is striking.


Lucky coin tree


















The only real flower photo I have from this trip.

Jean Phillipe Patisserie sugar creation at the Bellagio

Sugar fan

Edible!

These photos start the 5:30 p.m. Bellagio set.  The light is very different.



I also used the Toy Camera effect on this photo for impact.

Performances on the "junk boat" at the top of the hour, 5-7 p.m. daily.












One of my favorites.






Random Vegas stuff...
A sad, sad sign...

The new entrance to The Quad, formerly known as my original Vegas home,
Imperial Palace.  Spiffy!

Vegas shoes I had to have.
*Click, click, click* There's no place like Vegas! *Click, click, click*

Mongolian Beef at Ming's Table in Harrah's.  
Pretty darn good and a lot of food for $16.  I couldn't finish it.


Photos from Wynn and Encore
Coffee and a blood orange mimosa while I waited for my mini quiches at
Society Cafe' in Encore.
Total for the whole meal was $33.51 plus tip.  Great atmosphere, and I want to go back.

Mini quiches - Spinach and tomato, smoked salmon and chive, and ham and Gruyere.
Ham and Gruyere and Spinach and tomato tied for 1st place with me.
Not crazy about smoked salmon in a quiche.
Served with an apple and walnut salad that had cranberries, pomegranate seeds, water cress and tossed in a vinaigrette - so very delicious!



The most random decor between Wynn and Encore
Orange trees at Wynn
Out with the Year of the Dragon...
...and in with the Year of the Snake.
I love this shot.  If only that random woman had stayed out of the way!



The next photos are from the Palazzo.  They have really come into their own when it comes to decorating for the different "holidays" in Vegas - they know they have some stiff competition in the other hotels!


Palazzo lobby

My first view of the fantastic display.
The cute snake turned its head, opened and closed its eyes, and could even stick out its tongue!  I spent a couple of hours here, watching peoples' reactions.






My favorite photo of the trip.  Peaceful and beautiful.

Back view of the snake in its tree.



A monkey shot for my brother.


Okay, that's enough of this!
A shot of St. Mark's Square at The Venetian, using my favorite Miniature effect.

Shrimp Po'Boy at Emeril's Table 10 restaurant in The Venetian.
With a tea it was $21.08 before tip.  And their rolls are like crack.  Seriously.

Caesars Palace gets snazzy near the High Limit area.

Even the Caesars Palace lobby got dressed up!

My friend, Mike, took my picture with Caesar, Cleopatra and a Centurion guard.
Doris (Mike's lovely wife) thought I was pointing out Mike's real focus: Cleo's "assets".

My last big Chinese New Year meal in Vegas was at FIN at The Mirage.
I started with a Zen Mojito - no pic, but it was fantastic! - and their delicious Won Ton Soup.

FIN's Singapore Noodles were served with my choice of rice (white) and a delicious soy sauce.  I ate about half of this, but it was great, and the service was excellent.  Total for the soup, entree and mojito was $38.92 before tip, so it's definitely affordable.
The door to FIN blocks out all noise from the casino, and the atmosphere was wonderfully relaxing.  I highly recommend this restaurant.  It was my favorite meal of the trip.

One last bonus on Lobstermania 2 before I head to the airport!