Sunday, April 19, 2009

Station Casinos lists land parcels for sale

The recession rolls on. Debt-strapped Station Casinos has listed the 30 acre former site of the Castaway Casino with a local commercial broker and is asking $39.5 million for it. Two additional parcels were also offered for sale ; nearly 8 vacant acres near Boulder Station and almost 5 acres adjacent to Sunset Station. The gaming company is attempting to accumulate cash in order to improve their position with bondholders who are critically important for signing off on a prepackaged bankruptcy plan that Stations has prepared.

I'm curious if some of the execs at these financially strapped Vegas resorts just meander around with a constant thought in their minds such as "Slap me, beat me, make me write hot checks" ? I hope they all hang in and things improve sooner than later.


Southwest Vacations deal : Save up to $100 and get a free airport shuttle

Southwest Vacations just announced 3 ($75 savings per reservation) or 4+(save $100 per reservation) night air - hotel package specials involving any MGM Mirage property in Las Vegas. As an additional goodie, they will provide free transportation to and from McCarran Airport for your convenience. Restrictions include a 5 - day advance purchase and must be booked now through April 30th for travel between 4/25 and 10/28, 2009. Some representative package deals from specific departure cities, specific MGM Mirage properties, and 3 night stays are :

Albuquerque / MGM Grand from $280 per person

Chicago / Excalibur from $276 per person

Indianapolis / Bellagio from $378 per person

Houston / Excalibur from $248 per person

Sacremento / MGM Grand from $254 per person

Sachet to Vegas and save with these deals. Typically, the above and all listed fares at the linked site do not include those spurious taxes and fees. A subtle yet important plus associated with Southwest is that they don't charge any baggage fees for the first and second bags if the bags fall within 50 pound max weight and linear dimension specifications.That alone will cost most fliers an additional $35 - 40 at most other airlines if they check two bags. This is an important savings consideration with Southwest. Enjoy!


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nevada bankruptcies increased 71% in 2008

The economic downturn has resulted in hard times nationwide and particularly in the the Silver State. Bankruptcy petitions in Nevada for 2008 increased 71% while the national average rose by 31%. The gaming, tourism, and real estate entities have always driven the Vegas economy and all these have been particularly hard hit during the crash. Real estate values have plummeted and tighter credit policies have placed a stranglehold on many tourism - based businesses , including the casino conglomerates which have the additional problem of massive debt loads. Even the casino moguls are having to scramble to avoid debt default and / or bankruptcy. MGM Mirage is shucking, jiving, and pleading to avoid filing due to massive debt associated with completion of the City Center project and attempt to stay afloat amidst reduced visitation and occupancy rates. Harrah's and Station Casinos are on the cusp of default and bankruptcy as well though both have made recent moves to extend their positions for approximately 30 days. Terribles has already filed and is meandering through the bankruptcy reorganization process.

I wonder what the time frame is for becoming a bankruptcy lawyer? Worth considering....


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Farecast weekend and last minute flight specials

Farecast predicts when airfares fluctuate down for subscribed e-mail alert participants. It is an excellent site to obtain info on hot airfare deals. Their most recent fares and predicted dates to Vegas include the following.


Newark to Las Vegas (4/13 - 4/21) $220
Minneapolis to Las Vegas (4/21 - 4/28) $151


Chicago to Vegas (6/20 - 6/22) $219
New York JFK to Vegas (6/6 - 6/8) $239
Minneapolis to Vegas (5/28 - 5/30) $179


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New Las Vegas air-hotel 3 night package deals from United Vacations

During the next two weeks some more air-hotel packages from United Vacations have been announced and , again, significant discounts are available. The gist of the sale follows but visit the website for specifics.

Save up to $375 on 3 night air hotel packages to these assorted 4.5 star and higher hotels :
Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, MGM Grand, The Signature, THEHotel, Encore & Wynn, Venetian, Palazzo, Caesar's Palace, Four Seasons, Trump, and Vdara.

Save up to $195 on 3 night packages at these 4 star hotels:
Luxor, Monte Carlo, New Yorl, New York, TI, Paris, Planet Hollywood, Golden Nugget, Palms, and Hard Rock.

Save up to $155 on 3 night deals at the following 3 star locales :
Excalibur, Circus Circus, Stratosphere, Riviera, Four Queens, and Hooters.

Without question, more deals to follow.

Chuck 60

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Vegas visitor profiles for 2008

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has released it's annual visitor profile report which depicts expenditures and behavior of Vegas travelers. These reported results may not be totally reflective of the actual situation because a significant proportion of the economic downturn hit the fan in roughly the last quarter of 2008 . Regardless, here are a few of the more important indicators and demographics from the report.

- Average visitors stayed 3.5 nights and 4.5 days in Vegas
- 75% of visitors stayed on the strip vs other locales
- 57% arrived via ground transportation, 43% by air
- Average cost of flight/ accommodation packages = $746.69
- Average lodging cost for an average of 2.1 occupants per room was $101.68
- Average trip expenditure for food and drink was $273.39
- Average cost for local transportation = $59.26
- Average cost for shopping = $121.90
- Average cost for shows = $51.64
- Average cost for sightseeing - $7.12
- Proportion of visitors who gambled = 85%
- Average number hours per day gambling = 3.3
- Average gambling budget = $531.98
- Gender proportions were 51% male and 49% female
- 80% of visitors were married, 66% were employed, 28% were retired, and 45% were college graduates
- mean age of visitors = 50.6 yrs
- Proportion of visitors attending any show = 72%
- Proportion seeing big-name headliner shows = 18%
- Proportion seeing lounge acts = 74%
- Proportion from Western US states = 52%
- Proportion from California = 28%
- Proportion from foreign countries = 15%
- Proportion claiming they were "very satisfied" with their trip = 93%

The total number of visitors comprising the sample size for 2008 results was approximately 3600 visitors. Noticeable changes
form the previous year indicated vistors were spending less , were a tad older , and were more apt to drive than fly to Vegas.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Project City Center in Las Vegas hires major bankruptcy firm

We've been seeing the signs / numbers and most have been awaiting the announcement of bankruptcy filing by Project City Center. This information was published online by KLAS TV in an online breaking news alert. Their anonymous source for this was from someone within MGM Mirage, which of course serves as the parent company of Project City Center, LLC. The source and the alert indicated that City center may file bankruptcy as soon as tomorrow.

With the recent suit filed by Dubai World, a massive debt load (13 billion plus), and reduced revenue from gaming and most other tourism activities during a poor economy, it's surprising that this hasn't happened earlier. In reality, it may be their only logical survival ticket. It's likely that business will continue as usual if in fact this bankruptcy filing actually occurs. We'll see.


Monday, March 23, 2009

MGM Mirage getting thumped like a red-headed stepchild

The massive economic woes of MGM Mirage continued today as their partner in the City Center project sued them for "breach of the joint venture pact" that was agreed to in August, 2007. Dubai World's suit against the Vegas based company is asking to be relieved of it's agreement obligations and also seeks unspecified damages. The suit alleges that MGM Mirage mismanaged the City Center project which led to large cost overruns ; the alleged budget at the time of the signed agreement was roughly 7.5 billion and now cost estimates approach 9 billion. Additionally, the suit alleges that MGM MIrage has fallen short on it's total raised financing quota for the project. The casino company's total listed outstanding long term debt has been estimated at 13.5 billion.

In addition to it's debt load, the new lawsuit, and the generally sour tourism and gaming economy, MGM has had to fend off media questions regarding phone calls made by Senator Harry Reid (democratic senator from Nevada and House Majority leader ) to banks for purposes of raising financing for the company. The Republican senator from Nevada also made some calls for the same purpose. Why wouldn't they? MGM Mirage is one of the largest employers in their state and has contributed billions of dollars to the general economy and billions to the state in the form of tax revenue. It appears very reasonable that the elected representatives should make attempts to support companies such as MGM Mirage. Sometimes, the media can't look beyond their noses and take an opportunity to simply shut up.

Regarding MGM- Mirage solutions? I'm no economist or financial analyst but what option besides debt restructuring under bankruptcy filing and protection do they have? I can't see any alternative. Without a huge cash infusion I question the logic of City Center's completion in the current economy anyway. The numbers are just too large to consider anything besides a bankruptcy filing barring some massive cash infusion by an unknown sugar-daddy. Once debt is restructured the business might be able to retain current employees and dig their way out of the quagmire with some time and the eventual recovery of our general economy. I wish them good cards and an eventual return to normality.


Monday, March 16, 2009

iMagine Players Club at M Resort has enlisted 50,000+ members since opening

They must be doing a few things right at M Resort in light of the crowds and number of iMagine Player's Club signups since their grand opening. Line waits for signups are at least 30 minutes ,usually. As of 3/13/2009, they've enlisted over 50,000 new members to the club. The promoted restaurants which includes the buffet have received rave reviews as well . Thus, to date it appears that Mr. Marnell's professed management philosophies regarding player-friendly conditions and service are en force. Kudos to the M Resort..and continued success.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Las Vegas and national economies (or lack thereof) : Will Rogers would have a field day

Will Rogers , the Okie American humorist and showman, would have a ton of material to work with these days. Record depressed numbers of all sorts everywhere , divergent economic forecasters, rampant gloom and doom - isms , politicians on all sides of the spectrum trying to outlie his "colleagues"...Will would have some inspirational and humorous anecdotes to prop us up. Here's a few of his quips, some of which are still very applicable for our present state.


- A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries.
- An economist's guess is liable to be just as good as anybody else's.
- Calvin Coolidge didn't say much , and when he did he didn't say much.
- Comedians haven't improved. Nothing has improved but taxes.
- Diplomacy is the art of saying "Nice doggie.." until you can find a rock.
- Diplomats are just as essential to starting a war as soldiers are for finishing it.
- Don't gamble ; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it til it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it.
- Don't squat with your spurs on.
- Everybody is ignorant, only in different subjects.
- Good judgement comes from experience, and that comes from bad judgement.
- I don't care how little your country is, you got a right to run it like you want to. When the big nations quit meddling, the world will have peace.
- If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?
- If you get to thinkin you're a person of some influence, try orderin around someone else's dog.
- Income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.
- Never miss a good chance to shutup.
- Nothing you can't spell will ever work.
- Outside of traffic, there is nothing that has held this country back as much as committees.
- So live that you wouldn't be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip.
- Take diplomacy out of a war and the thing would fall flat in a week.
- The more you read and observe about this politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other.
- The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.
- There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
- There is nothing so stupid as an educated man, if you get off the thing he was educated in.
- There's two theories to arguin with a woman. Neither one works.
- This country is not where it is today on account of any one man . It is here on account of the real common sense of the Big Normal Majority.
- What the country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds.
- Never kick a cowchip on a hot day.


Monday, March 9, 2009

M Resort professed management philosophy is encouraging

The new M Resort in Henderson recently opened it's doors amid the customary media hoopla typical of new Vegas casino-resorts.
For me personally, the most intriguing and encouraging facet of this event is the professed intent of M management to cater their
services to patrons. They intend to provide player-friendly comp programs, keep drink and dining venue costs at a reasonable level, offer some casino games with reasonable odds, and attempt to offer personal service to even the low-rollers. Unique! As I've read through many of the news releases and press articles enumerating these vocalized promises from Mr. Marnell, I just kept silently saying to myself.."Go for it!". If this group manages to accomplish a portion of their stated intents while surviving the current economic downturn in the local community, it will be a noteworthy achievement.

On recent trips to Vegas, I've noticed that staff at many of the hotels we've stayed at (MGM Grand, Venetian, Paris) were very accommodating relative to say ..a year ago. The personal service levels appeared improved to me on these recent trips. This approach is partially what Mr. Marnell is talking about. Here's hoping M can attain at least some of their goals in these tough times. Good luck to M.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The prevalent "gloom and doom" Las Vegas economy (or lack thereof)

If you follow Las Vegas news feeds at all, you've likely been exposed to the continual onslaught of the media's implied impending implosion of Sin City... the entire immoral and gluttonous community. We're all routinely inundated with Vegas home foreclosure rates and cheap real estate values, imminent casino-hotel bankruptcies and loan defaults, dipping visitor counts and McCarran traffic levels, historic lows in gaming revenues, 10% local unemployment rates..on and on ad nauseum. It's not that I have any problems with free speech or that the economic indicators are in fact in the toilet, but rather I'm just fed up with hearing about it. Granted, I might perhaps be in the throes of skewed denial, but criminy my ears are bleeding profusely. We know that, fiscally speaking, Las Vegas sucks it does in most other national communities. I'm also sick of it because I like Vegas and I'm tired of all the ongoing repetitive kicking of the Vegas dead horse. I was semi-outraged when our president jumped up and down on the Vegas carcass , verbally deriding the business convention trade while promoting an economic stimulus plan that has some earmark (blatant pork, actually) elements that have little to do with jump-starting any real people's economies. We can't undo all the assorted errors we personally made or the ones anyone else made, either ; we have to hang in and arrive at solutions by working at it. I'm convinced that this economy we live in is cyclic in nature and times have to be problematic occasionally ; this is obviously one of those times. I'm also convinced that we're all involved in the problem as are our esteemed elected congressional members. We all occasionally suffer from the "I want everything for nothing" syndrome . I'm also undeniably certain that Las Vegas will recover (even if some of the gaming conglomerates do file Chapter 11 tenets) and that the majority of the pool of potential visitors will also swim to safety eventually. I suggest we all try to consider the importance of and value in small favors and small perks that we humanly take for granted when times are good. All I have to do is observe a smile from my granddaughter..thereafter all is not necessarily well but it's better. Now I feel like perusing my numerous Vegas room offers, don't you? We're better off accentuating the positive elements of the Vegas econocrash (like room offers,etc.) , ehh? Hang in there.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Recent Trip Stay At Terrible's

The wife and I roomed here during part of our recent (Feb. 15th -18th) Vegas trip. We stayed in a relatively new tower room that overlooked the pool and the bed , bathroom, and furnishings were quite adequate. We enjoy staying and playing at Mr Herbst's property because it truly is a common man's joint. One only has to yell at the assorted staff a couple times to get a response. There's something endearing about staying and playing at Terrible's because it's a place that keeps your feet and mental approach on the ground. We enjoy it because almost everything is less expensive here. The newer tower room we stayed in was quite comfy and functional.

We always do reasonably well at slots play here usually on a previously scouted,select, and specific number of machines. Video poker games here fall squarely in the middle of the mediocre classification; as does their 6-deck and 2-deck blackjack games
because of rule sets and penetration levels. Their player's club is quite popular and they have many point multiplier days options and almost always have an ongoing slot tournament if you can hack and slice your way through the smoke blanket and find the machines. There is a particularly helpful and endearing female host here named Tanya that offers good service to players. It's difficult to attain speedy service at their player's club desk which is always crowded ; try and visit it during the early morning hours to avoid a sometimes lengthy wait.

The buffet is small and nothing special as it's a lower -tier "filler" buffet. There was one female staff member within the buffet's cashier area that could likely beat me at arm wrestling . The Bougainville Cafe has some very decent dishes for a coffee shop venue and their prices are very affordable. We particularly like their old-fashioned breakfast offerings (my wife is a fan of the sourdough toast).

Another plus for this locale is the proximity of the parking lot to the's not far at all because it's simply a small, no frills place. At times this element takes on enhanced value when compared to most other Vegas casinos.

Again, most everything at Terrible's is less expensive comparatively speaking. We have so many accumulated points on our player's cards that we can't afford to not visit again. It's a truly frugal locale that offers common man perks that will bring us back again and again.


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Nevada legislature hikes hotel room tax by 3%

The hotel / gaming industry drives the Las Vegas and Nevada economy ,right? The hotel-casinos have been attempting to entice patronage by offering reduced rate / free room deals, right? Now we glean that Nevada lawmakers have hiked the hotel room tax in Las Vegas by 3% (which amounts to an additional 3 bucks on a hundred dollar hotel room per day). Does anyone else think that these political soothsayers are essentially biting the hand that feeds them? This small increase in room stay taxation won't keep anybody from visiting Sin City..those that are worried about 3 bucks per hundred likely shouldn't go to Vegas in the first place (note that did not include any comments about political principle). There is something subtle and sinister about the lawmakers
increasing this tax as if they know and realize it's not enough to reduce visitor counts ; like.."let's enact this because they'll pay it without noticing much". It ires me, but I promised not to make any more political comments on this blog. Thus, I will refrain from denigrating those nitwit politicians.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Recent Stay at Paris Las Vegas

The room itself (comped) was fine..comfy beds, decent bathroom amenities and the front desk service was accommodating.We did not receive a strip view room ; we got a good look at the roof and AC vents on some lower Paris floors, though. Still, the room was free..whattya gonna do?

The blackjack games here have poor rules ; I don't recommend it (nor did I play). The wife and I did play some slots and managed to end up in the black after a few hours play. The visual spectacles at Paris are intriguing and pleasant..the sky facade in the casino, etc. There is some interesting interior architecture as well.

We did not visit any eateries here, so we can't comment on their service or quality. My son stayed here one night and said the room service food they ordered was quite good for the cost (2 dined for about $25.00).

On departure day, we were all harried and hectic in our attempts to get the family crew gathered up and out of town. In my haste, I left two shirts in the room armoire and didn't discover this until arriving home. I made one phone call to the Lost and Found Department and they made all arrangements to Fed-Ex the items to us. That is truly good, efficient service and frankly was unexpected on my part. I'm taking them a box of chocolates personally on the next trip.

The front desk staff and the above mentioned Lost and Found experience were perhaps the most positive memories of Paris ..they were quite good. I do have very positive comments about the speed and service of their valet parking was excellent. We'd stay here again..if the rooms are comped. The regular room rates (even though they're reduced compared to last fall) are too pricey for us on a routine basis.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Recent Stay at MGM Grand

MGM Grand served as our functional home base hotel - casino on the recent trip (Feb. 15th - 18th). This is where our daughter and her husband ( and our pistol granddaughter) were attending a photography trade show and competition (WPPI). They stayed in a strip-view Grand Tower room (comped) and the room amenities and comfort were superb. Housekeeping services were very accommodating of us and the granddaughter; they were very nice and completely thorough on daily room cleanup.

I was able to find some fairly decent blackjack games in terms of acceptable rule sets (though, at 10$ minimums they were all H17 but allowed late surrender option). I ended up in the black about 200.00 after all was said and done (won just shy of 60% of all sessions). I was able to locate a few apparent high payback slots near the high limit table games pit and made a few bucks there as well. I was able to obtain 6 comped buffets at the Grand Buffet with the gambling effort ; everyone spoke well above average regarding the buffets offerings. There were no lines at 12 noon on Wednesday..another plus.

I processed my check-in at the MGM Grand airport check-in facility at McCarran . Essentially everything I experienced there
was quite positive ; speedy, efficient, staff was informed of our reservation requests, and we obtained a specific comped room by phoning VIP services the day prior to arrival. I have nothing but good things to say about their airport check-in facility. Completely professional, no lines (partially due to luck, perhaps), and it all required less than 5 minutes. Shocking! (but true).
I rented a sedan through an MGM contracted shuttle service to transport part of the family and the lovely granddaughter on
to the hotel while I secured and picked up our rental van. All these elements ran smoothly.

Upon checkout , I utilized a courtesy VIP checkout partially because we were traveling with the infant. An extremely nice and professional female staff member adjusted all the comp numbers and checked us out in about 7 or 8 minutes. Again, a very positive experience.

The evening crowds at MGM were monstrous and voluminous (there was a bunch of em). I was admittedly a little surprised at the number of people at this and all the other hotels we patronized because of my constant reading of how crowd levels are less during this depressed economic era in Vegas. I had to perform assorted "duck and weave" maneuvers to avoid toe mashes and other typical crowd hazards. There were a lot of people in Vegas while we were there ; I assume that fact may be partially due to all the reduced rate / free room offers that have been rampant recently. I saw rampant activity within MGM at both the food courts and the upper tier eateries. The gaming tables and slots , however, only appeared moderately occupied relative to my last visit in October ; it was difficult to find a seat at a decent blackjack game last fall due to crowd numbers.

You've likely surmised by now that I highly recommend MGM Grand and it's overall offerings. I particularly noticed a heightened verbal accommodative pleasantness from the staff in all areas on this trip. They're trying to make patrons happy and want to return to their digs. We certainly will.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Recent Trip Notes

Back and ..exhausted. We returned from our trip to Vegas last evening after 3.5 days of whirlwind activity and adherence to a somewhat unintended itinerary of hotel-casino room changes , blackjack, dining options, and...babysitting. My granddaughter was one of the highlights of this trip as I had expected. Unfortunately, she picked up some sort of intestinal virus bug from which she's now recovering from gradually. Obviously she was exposed to a completely new and varied set of pathological sources that she'd never encountered before. I guess Vegas always has some new pathology to offer all of us, ehh?

I'll be posting some of the actual experiences and our version of a trip report over the course of the next few days. Summarily, most of it was good at all locales. And none of the family members went to jail...and we're happy about that.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Short Political Comment : Bail this out!

I purposely refrain from political opinion and comments here. I have to comment on this because it peripherally (some would say
directly) involves Las Vegas and just inherently pisses me off.

It seems Machavellian to me that President Obama would chastise businesses receiving taxpayer funded bailout money who had planned (eg Wells Fargo bank) or are planning retreats to Vegas when it can be justifiably argued that multi-billions (also taxpayer funded) targeted within the economic stimulus plan have no foreseeable hope of jump starting the short term economy
whatsoever. Isn't the bill supposedly intended to offer rapid relief and debt reduction initiatives for the PEOPLE? I agree that those businesses who had planned Vegas parties after receiving taxpayer bailout funds should be chastised ; however, these so-called non-"earmarks" and their introducers and potential benefactors need some criticism as well. I just did. Take your whippin, Harry Reid.

Chuck 60

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Harrah's Offering Free Airfare Certificates With Room Purchases

Harrah's Entertainment has added yet another huge savings offer to entice visitors. Book their "Get Your Wings" promotion offer
from now through May 31, 2009. Booking two night stays will provide you with a $200.00 airfare voucher for a return trip ;
purchasing a three night room stay will result in a $300.00 voucher for a subsequent trip. The vouchers are valid for any two
round - trip coach tickets from any major airline. The offer is valid from Caesar's Palace, Bally's, Paris, the Rio, Flamingo, Harrah's,
or Imperial Palace. The only kicker here might be the actual booking rates for the rooms which you won't know until you actually
decide on some dates and do the research . Absolutely worth checking out! Geeze, it's as if they want us to show up and spend money..or something.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Our Upcoming Vegas Trip

I'm taking my family to Las Vegas next week (15th through 18th) and thought I'd share some of the "good deals" we obtained by applying some of the methods we spew about on this blog. There will be seven in our party ..6 adults (sometimes) and 1 gorgeous (always) infant , my 5-month old granddaughter.

We took advantage of the Southwest Airlines half-price airfare special to Vegas that was offered in late December. The total cost for airfare for 6 adults was $705.00 ( 5 actual purchased RT's and I had a free ticket myself from Rapid Rewards redemption). That's roughly 140.00 per adult (the lovely infant flies free on SW) and represents essentially half the normal fare costs and an obvious huge savings. The Southwest Ding service paid off again.

We are rooming at 4 different Las Vegas hotels and due to player's club and casino e-mail memberships along with a low - midlevel gambling history, all the rooms are comped. MGM Grand, Venetian , Paris, and Terrible's will be happy to see this crew check out , I'm sure. They'll want to keep the granddaughter , though..she's truly a superbly natured pistol.

We expended a lot of effort at securing a decent car rental rate even though we began planning for this trip over four months ago. Car rental rates for these particular dates never dipped into the "excellent savings" category despite multiple visits to multiple sites . We rented an Advantage ( secured through an Orbitz special) minivan in order to accommodate the entire family and ended up with a $32 daily rate and a total cost of just under $135.00 after adding in all the exorbitant airport fees and taxes.We attempted to locate a significantly lower rate at several off-airport rental facilities but none were as good overall as this when considering the additional headaches associated with logistics of traveling with an infant. After much effort, we were moderately pleased at the comparative final cost of our car rental deal ( recently, Advantage minivans were renting for $99.00 per day for these particular days on their site). I can't overemphasize how important it is to revisit multiple sites several times ( and regularly) and to sign up for their special offer memberships in order to obtain a really good car rental pays off.

We acquired multiple Vegas coupons from both the Las Vegas Advisor ( 2 Members Rewards booklets / online memberships costing a total of $74.00) and the American Casino Guide ( 3 copies for a total cost of $42.00 with shipping). Additionally, we have a plethora of free coupons from What's On Magazine , Vegas Values , and
Vegas 4 Locals sources. These coupons will save / earn us significant bucks over the course of the trip, partially depending on the success of all the blackjack matchplay / free ace coupons plus multiple dining 2 for 1's and freebies.

We've made tentative plans to attend two Vegas bargain shows on the trip ; the Mac King comedy magic show at Harrah's will cost approximately $60.00 for the 6 adults (we have the free promotion that involves only the $9.95 drink purchase price per person ). Additionally, we plan on obtaining tickets for the Fab Four Live Beatle's impersonators at Planet Hollywood for $24 each from the Half Price Shows website (you can obtain many low to mid-tier show tickets at half price here up to seven days
in advance ). This will save approximately $120.00 for an entertaining bargain show on the trip.

The Excalibur is offering an all-day buffet special for $25.00 per person ; it includes all you can eat all day long for breakfast, lunch , and / or dinner. We'll do this on one of the days for the whole crew. We have some additional dining offers that were attached to our comped room offers as well. The wife and I have a penchant for those "graveyard breakfast specials" as well and we'll do two or three of these. If negative variance ( some call that bad luck) doesn't bite me at the blackjack tables there'll be some more as yet unknown meal comps as well. We won't lack for cheap eats on this trip.

Despite all the already accrued and expected additional cost savings associated with this trip, I think the highlight of it for me will be some enjoyable family time and experiencing my granddaughter's first trip to Vegas. I look forward to strolling her
(along with her hot grandma ) through all the kitschy, overdone , opulent views of exorbitant insanity in this great town. Now if I can just keep the other family members outta jail....

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Suggestions for Vegas Hotel - Casino Management To Increase Patronage.

The Las Vegas gaming and tourism industry is in the throes of a disparaging economic situation. It's why they're jumping through their collective asses to offer all those often mentioned room deal offers and attached freebie incentives to encourage us to show up and spend some money. I've personally noticed an increased level of accommodation and better verbal attitude from the reservation reps on my recent phone calls to book our upcoming's a 'sweeter' version of communication with them these days. I truly hope things improve for all of us...both visitors and the Vegas tourism industry as a whole.

The casino-hotels are in deep doo-doo financially..yet, so are a lot of potential customers. Still, the biggest draw in Vegas is , as always , gambling. Here's some thoughts / opinions on how the resorts could potentially maintain or perhaps enhance their customer base . Routinely, it's mostly about 'us' defined as the potential patrons but in my opinion would also add to the
casino-hotel's bottom lines.

1. Loosen up slots/ video poker paybacks on a small percentage of machines at all denominations , but particularly the penny,
nickel, and / or quarter machines ; revenue from slot play has been the real proportionate bread winner (vs. table games ) for several years now. Offering us free or reduced rate rooms is lovely and appreciated but if we can't hit a bonus payout / experience higher payback on these machines with a little higher frequency then we're less apt to return without a sour taste in our mouths . A small yet significant portion might not return at all. Empty rows of tight slots can't help the casino's plight.

2. Offer a higher percentage of better blackjack games (those with better rules and 3 : 2 natural payouts) . I think the average
table games player would run to those casinos who offer games that lower house edge percentages during these difficult financial times.

3. Increase short-term gaming promotion offers and player's club member contacts (mailers, e-mails, etc.)

4. Increased coupon offers from the upper - tier resorts. If Steve Wynn and / or the gurus at MGM Mirage and Harrah's
properties offered a few more table games matchplay / free slot play coupons more people would be drawn to their castles.

5. Offer more accommodating meal comps for gambling play in progress. Again, I think the strip properties would generate
some significant patron goodwill if they'd loosen this aspect up a tad.

6. In general, reduce the greed- mongering tactics. The industry has made some recent progress in this area..they can continue to work for their customer base by enticing us with a "fair shake" at the gaming venues. It's the biggest reason
Vegas exists obviously.

Good luck, spins, and cards to us all.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Tip for acquiring small room refrigerator in Vegas hotels

Most Vegas casino-hotels charge $10-$20 dollars per day for a small volume (4 -6 cubic feet) refrigerator for room use. You can
get around this charge if you request one for medicinal storage purposes; eg.. "My spouse is taking medicine that requires storage in a refrigerator". Of course , medicine can be defined 400 ways..from buttermilk to Dom Perignon. These little refrigerators are handy to store other useful "medicines" such as sodas, baby formula, Ethel M's chocolates, Coors Light, and countless other items for convenient access in your hotel room. On the other hand, maybe your wife really is taking real meds that require cold storage. Check it out.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Harrah's Total Rewards "Hot Deals" Tip

Just a heads up for Total Rewards (TR) members. If you have a membership / player's card , check the online prompt for
"Hot Deals" on the upper right side of the header section options on the TR website. You might be shocked at the depth of these room offer incentives that span throughout the rest of the year even for low-midlevel gamblers , depending on your point totals and tier levels. My wife and I are Gold Tier level players (the lowest end) and it was shocking to see how badly they need us to
sachet out there to spend some bucks as based on their extensive room offers in this "Hot Deals" section. Note that these offers are above and beyond the regular e-mail / mailer offers that we've received. Check these out for yourself and your situation
if you're already a member (you'll need your player's card number and a pin number to access your offers page ) ; if you're not a member, what are you waiting for ?

These current massive offers from Harrah's forces me to amend my position on and judgement of their comp system vs MGM Mirage as the latter has always been more player-friendly in the past . We realize that the economic picture in Vegas is forcing
the gaming companies to be quite gratuitous towards players in order to entice patronage. Regardless, I give TR some kudos
here as the offer list on our account is completely unprecedented toward the positive. Check your situation might be as shocked and pleased as we were. If you're not a member, change that (if you gamble at all). :)


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Our Top 15 Las Vegas Values

It's assumed that most Vegas visitors have their own list of cost or time saving factors that they personally enjoy and it should be. Here's ours.. (and we reserve the right to change these as our experiences and Vegas itself continues to evolve.)

In our experience, you can't beat this airline for average lowest fares to Vegas. Sign up for their e-mail and "Ding" services for online special offers. ( link)

Even though presently car rental rates are trending upwards (perhaps partially due to reduced fuel prices) , we still feel that car rental provides for greater flexibility and freedom while in Sin City. With a modicum of research time and effort, it's possible to
find a decent deal in spite of the exorbitant taxes and fees associated with on-airport rentals (it can represent as much as 30 -
50% of overall rental costs). There are some off-airport sites that can potentially offer reduced daily rates but renters have to consider the added headaches of some of these options ; additionally, some off-airport rates ( eg strip motel site rentals) are actually higher than what can be obtained at the McCarran airport facility. When comparing car rental costs vs fees for taxis and shuttles, most times you'll find that you'll be ahead with the car , particularly if you consider the value and freedom to make spontaneous dashes somewhere when you want.

This is still a bargain at $6.95 (recently increased from $4.95). It's not on the menu..just request it. Ellis Island is located on
Koval Lane which parallels the strip a few blocks to the east.

Still just 99 cents for player's club members ( $1.99 for nonmembers) . My wife considers this a must I tag along (worth it).

There's bunches of available free coupons and a few excellent purchasable bulk coupon sources for use in Vegas (refer to
Jan. 11, 2009 post here). These collectively can make a huge difference in your Vegas savings quest with a little invested
time and effort . We always purchase at least two bulk coupon sets from both the Las Vegas Advisor (now the Members Rewards Book, formerly Pocketbook Of Values) and the American Casino Guide . Two orders of each of these sources saves / produces about 4 -6 times their cost on average for us.

If you literally "play your cards right" (or play high-payback slots / VP properly and with sound money management) , comp accrual can add very real dollars to your Vegas budget. I play $5 - $25 minimum blackjack (only those with good rule sets!)
and both the wife and I play high-payback slots / VP at 40 cents - $2.00 per spin denominations. We haven't paid for a room in Vegas for more than 2 years (8 trips lasting 4 - 9 days each ). There are ways to work the system (refer to articles
regarding gambling comps and some Las Vegas casinos offering recent player favorable blackjack rule sets
for 6 deck shoe and 2 deck pitch games with 3 : 2 natural payoffs.

These obviously vary in price, service, culinary variety, and quality . We try to hit the upper end buffets (eg Bellagio's) at a shift / meal type changeover ; ie we buy in toward the end of the lunch buffet price at 30 -45 minutes before they switch to the
dinner offerings and sample both which results in a cost -savings of about 16 bucks. You have to identify the buffet locales
that do not close between shifts (some do ; refer to info regarding Vegas buffets that stay open between meal type changeovers) . We also load up at some of the cheaper buffets such as Terrible's
(mediocre quality) and Orleans (very good) and also utilize many 2 for 1 buffet coupons to save bucks at several off-strip
locales. We seldom experience more than one buffet a day while in Vegas but we take full advantage of it . If you load up properly (and actually survive it) , the calorie intake can sustain you for most of the day.

Hands down, this club has provided us with the best overall comp rewards (mostly reflected in free room offers). Harrah's TR
club hasn't come close and we've given them ample play and opportunity. Additionally , there are generally better blackjack
games (player-favorable rule sets at $25 minimums) at MGM properties vs Harrah's. ( link )

**POST UPDATE 2/1/09 : I have to give Harrah's Total Rewards player's program some credit / kudos for the recent onslaught
of comp offers for us personally. It's completely unprecedented and great..I give them their due. See above post dated today
entitled "Harrah's Total Rewards 'Hot Deals ' Tip ". And then check their website yourself. :)

Particularly now (due to economic situation) , the value of this effort can't be overemphasized. Classic no-brainer value here.

We've always located discount tickets for this show (eg @ Goldstar , Tix4Tonight ,etc.) and found it to be comparatively worth the full price ticket. These guys have the Beatle's vocals, music, and mannerisms nailed ; it's a good show for fans of their
music ..or not.

This funbook has had a good relative reputation in Vegas for years. There's some great gambling and dining goodies here.
You can pick it up for free at the Stratosphere player's club desk .

Bellagio's fountains, Mirage's Volcano, Luxor's pyramid beam, the visual of several converged casinos at the corner of
Tropicana Ave. and Las Vegas Boulevard (New York New York, MGM Grand, Excalibur, etc) , The Eiffel Tower at Paris, and the melded, skewed, and occasionally drunken, entertaining behavior of humans and a few monkeys along this iconic locale.

The choices are truly endless. There's value in this fact as long as your cash and ability to remain standing hold out.

Take advantage of accumulating player's club points during 2 - 10X point multiplier days at many of the off-strip locales .
Refer to the Vegas Values Report at the American Casino Guide website for weekly updated casino promotion offers prior to your trip.

This factor pays off multiplicatively at times. Car rental rates, airfare, room offer Vegas they change often. Visitors can accomplish this without turning it into a PhD level academic research event. If you enjoy Vegas, you'll enjoy spending time
planning / updating your cost-savings efforts at trip preparation ; it can provide a means to placate your daily routines until you can get there in person. *quivers*


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Renting A Car In Vegas : Part I - Reasons and General Planning

We always rent a car for transportation while in Las Vegas. Our personal key reasons are ..

- Flexibility and freedom in navigating the town ; having a rental car at your disposal can enhance time efficiency and can accommodate those last minute , spontaneous (and kinda fun) decisions to sachet wherever desired at your pace ( depending on traffic volume, of course). We visit many off-strip locales for coupon redemption.

- Aversion to walking long distances ; We like the strip but don't care to hoof up and down it on foot anymore . There's considerable walking already involved in navigating within the casino-hotel we're staying at
to access the casino, the buffet or other dining venues, and to and from the hotel room itself. Of course all undesirable elements associated with walking are amplified when temperatures in Vegas are elevated ( eg mid - April through September).

- Limits line standing for alternate public transportation ; (eg CAT , Deuce,trams etc.). We accept that some standing in line for assorted Vegas things is unavoidable but it costs time.

- Comparatively inexpensive vs taxis ,etc when considering flexibility and convenience factors. There are tons of car rental companies in Las Vegas which makes for a competitive marketplace and reasonable rates when compared to other metro areas.

It's necessary to reemphasize some time and effort for Las vegas trip planning to attain lower costs and that includes the best car rental deals should that be your choice for local transportation. You have to shop around a multitude of online sites (car rental companies, aggregator / major booking engines , airline travel partner sites , coupon / promotion code sites, Vegas hotel car rental rate promos, ad infinitum) and then recheck for rate reductions with some degree of regularity before the trip. Car rental rates fluctuate somewhat dramatically at times for unknown reasons (other than laws of supply and demand) .

In Part II of this series, we'll describe on and off airport rental options, some key online sites for car rental booking and research, and discuss some sometimes subtle, hidden costs of car rental in Las Vegas ( can you say "Reimbursement of Registration and License Fee" and "Consumer Facility Charge" without slapping yourself or kicking the cat ?), and some
general assorted tips.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ten Common Mistakes Of Vegas Visitors (some costly)

I've personally made some of the following Vegas visitor errors. You too ? :

- Underestimating the scale / size of hotel-casinos on the strip : I once rounded the corner of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard in front of MGM Grand on foot with my significant other. This was our initial trip to Las Vegas and we were in awe of the kitschy visual spectacle Vegas is famous for . As we walked north in front of MGM, I spotted Caesar's Palace which appeared to be on the not-so-distant architectural horizon. Heh. It was a long damned ways to Caesar's, to make a long story short. The sheer size of the monstrous concrete monoliths we call casino-hotels can often make us error-prone in judging distance. Needless to say, on every subsequent trip we have rented a car.

- Staying too long at a blackjack table : Don't overstay a single gambling table or
slot / VP machine in an attempt to recoup losses ; change venues , hit a buffet or show (these other options are most always cheaper).

- Not signing up for or not using player's club cards / memberships : Big no-brainer if you gamble at all.

- Driving like an inebriated idiot on Vegas roads : Most of us have.

- Not using alternate access routes to the hotel - casinos : refer to blog post here entitled "Las Vegas Parking Garage Tips" .

- Gambling at games that have an insurmountable house edge : Can you say keno?
Now I've upset all those grandmothers at the keno pits. Sorry..

- Poor or inadequate planning of Vegas trips : That said, it's fun to leave a little
time slot for some unplanned , spontaneous activities as well (see next entry) .

- Overplanning Vegas trips : You'll wear yourself and your whole crew out if you plan every last detail .

- Not bringing comfortable walking shoes : Even if you rent a car, just navigating within a single casino seems like a Trail of Tears at times . Ever roam the several miles around/ within MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay ?

- Failing to utilize valet parking services at the hotel on arrival day : This applies more appropriately for those locales which have parking garages which are a county away from the hotel check-in desk. It's a hike at some of these (eg MGM Grand) even WITHOUT bags. Consider valet services on any day you're toting luggage ; the minimal cost is worth avoiding dehydration , leg exhaustion , family fist fights, or divorce.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Major Vegas Changes in 2008

Las Vegas began to morph back into a bargain destination city in the last quarter of 2008 (and this trend is ongoing indefinitely
in 2009) . The severity and depth of the economic downturn prompted many of the gaming properties to send out enticing
offers to encourage patronage in late 2008 and into this year . The depressed economy ranks as the most notable and felt
change for Vegas and it's visitors in 2008. Other notable changes follow.

- Massive and extensive delays in assorted corporate property expansion / construction projects due to..well..less cash.

- Criss Angel's "Believe" Cirque show debuted at Luxor ; I haven't seen it but most reviews are less than sterling.

- Other new / opening show venues included Bette Midler and Cher at Caesar's, Donny and Marie at Flamingo, Jersey Boys at
Palazzo, and Terry Fator (a ventriloquist) at Mirage; long-time Vegas performer Danny Gans announced he was moving to the
Encore (buddy Steve Wynn's new spectacle) from the long-standing Mirage venue.

- New hotel - casinos that opened in 2008 include Palazzo, Encore, Palms Place, Trump International, Alliante Station , and
the Eastside Cannery.

- The old Frontier hotel was imploded in November.

- The Monte Carlo Hotel caught fire and was closed for two weeks .

- Newly opened restaurants include AGO, Sinatra's , Restaurant Charlie, Carnevino by Mario Batali, Table 10 by Emeril, Botero
Steak, and Simon.

- Shows and attractions that closed were the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton (now scheduled to reopen at the downtown
Neonopolis site ), Spamalot, and the Departure of Trent Carlini as a headlining Elvis impersonator at the Sahara.

- Pool clubs became hot commodities in 2008 ; there was a hefty increase in the adults-only pool venues where patrons lounged and swam ..well..naked. I'm attempting to schedule some on - site analysis of these during one of my seasonally appropriate trips in 2009 if I can find the means to distract the wife long enough.

- New and improved pools opened at Flamingo, Palms, and MGM Grand.

- Celebrity hair stylist salons increased significantly in 2008 ; I'm not sure why.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Las Vegas Strip Casino-Hotel Parking Garage Tips

Access to and navigation of Vegas strip casino-hotel parking garages can at times resemble swimming upstream depending on traffic volume , security levels, and varying driver patience. Individual hotel garages have varying capacities, distances to casino-hotel entrances, access from surrounding roadways, and ease of navigation once inside them.

Some people enjoy driving down Las Vegas Blvd. (the main "strip" road) to access their intended hotel. All of them are accessible from this main route and most are reasonably well-marked with "self-parking" signs for direction. During high traffic volume periods, it can be quite time-consuming to drive down Las Vegas Blvd. to access hotels and..anything else. During crowded traffic conditions, this road is analogous to the world's longest parking lot. First-time or limited experience Vegas drivers should have an easily readable strip map and an approach plan worked out prior to diving into the traffic mix. GPS systems are also an option ( personal or available on some rental cars).

There are some back-door / alternate routes available that can ease and speed up access to the garages ; busy weekends sometimes even clog these roads with drivers, most of whom have frustrating adrenaline and patience levels. There are some
roads that roughly parallel Las Vegas Blvd on both the east ( Paradise, Koval, and Audrie) and west ( Frank Sinatra and Industrial aka Dean Martin roads) and these optional thoroughfares can at times provide for speedier and more efficient access. The following offers a brief description of parking garage access routes for the strip hotels with a few comments.

BELLAGIO - Flamingo Rd. (runs east and west and at times can be at a standstill itself) ; Las Vegas Blvd. ; Frank Sinatra Rd.
from the west side of the strip. Bellagio's garage is well marked and comparatively very easy to navigate once
drivers get there.

CAESAR'S PALACE - Frank Sinatra from the west side, turn on Jay Sarno Way or Empire Drive ; two entrances off Las Vegas

CASINO ROYALE - From east side of the strip, access their parking facility from Koval Lane by turning on Winnick or Ida
Avenues; this casino lies between Harrah's and the Venetian; Las Vegas Blvd access as well.

CIRCUS CIRCUS - Industrial / Dean Martin Rd from the west side of strip by turning on Circus Circus Drive ; Las Vegas Blvd

EXCALIBUR - From the west side , turn onto Excalibur Way from Frank Sinatra ; From the east side from Koval Lane which
transitions into Reno Avenue, cross Las Vegas Blvd at light ; Tropicana Road runs east to west just north of
Excalibur and you can access from it, if it's not swamped with traffic.

FLAMINGO - From east side of the strip, access from Koval Lane to Audrie (via Albert or Ida from Koval) ; Audrie is also
accessible from Flamingo Road (runs east and west) but it may be packed with traffic; Las Vegas Blvd.

HARRAH'S - Use Koval to Audrie routes (via Ida or Albert from Koval) ; Las Vegas Blvd.

HILTON - Located on Paradise Road (just east of the strip) and can be accessed here; Joe Brown Way runs north and south
behind (immediately west) this hotel

IMPERIAL PALACE - Use Koval to Audrie route from east side of strip (via Ida, Albert, or Winnick roads) ; Las Vegas Blvd

LUXOR - Use Frank Sinatra Rd from west side of strip and turn on Luxor Way ; From east side of strip, use Koval to Reno
route, cross Las Vegas Blvd. at light ; Las Vegas Blvd.

MANDALAY BAY - Two routes from west side , Frank Sinatra to Mandalay Bay Rd (east side of I-15) or Hacienda Road loop
from Industrial aka Dean Martin Road (west side of I-15); from east side of strip use Koval to Reno route or Koval
to Reno to Giles roads and cross Las Vegas Blvd at lights ; access from Las Vegas Blvd as well

MGM GRAND - Tropicana direct access (runs east and west adjacent to MGM on south side) ; access from Koval lane from east
side of strip to Audrie, lots of directional signs ; it's a marathon walk from the parking garage to the hotel ; we
always valet park here..ugh; no direct access from Las Vegas Blvd.

MIRAGE - From west side of strip use Industrial Road to Pershing Ave. or use Spring Mountain Road to Vegas Plaza Drive
(just north of the Mirage); Las Vegas Blvd access

MONTE CARLO - From west side of strip, turn onto Rue De Monte Carlo from Frank Sinatra ; Las Vegas Blvd access as well

NEW YORK , NEW YORK - From west side of strip, turn onto Rue De Monte Carlo (runs east and west between Monte Carlo
and New York, New York ) from Frank Sinatra and turn south , follow signs; access from Tropicana which runs
adjacent to and just south of hotel

PARIS - From east side of strip, use Koval to Audrie route and turn on Paris Drive ; Las Vegas Blvd access as well

PLANET HOLLYWOOD - Use Koval to Harmon and/or Audrie routes from east side of strip ; Las Vegas Blvd access

RIVIERA - From Paradise Road on east side of strip, turn west onto Riviera Blvd; Las Vegas Blvd access

SAHARA - From Paradise Road on east side of strip, direct access to garage; no access from Las Vegas Blvd.

STRATOSPHERE - Access from Las Vegas Blvd by turning west onto Baltimore Avenue ; it's well marked for self-parking

TI (TREASURE ISLAND) - From Spring Mountain Road to Vegas Plaza Drive (just north and west of TI); Las Vegas Blvd. access

TROPICANA - Access from Tropicana Road ( hotel is adjacent to and just south ) or from Las Vegas Blvd.

VENETIAN - Use Koval to Audrie routes (via Ida, Albert, or Winnick from Koval) on east side of strip ; Las Vegas Blvd. access

WYNN - Fasion show drive (west side of Las Vegas Blvd) , cross Las Vegas Blvd and take quick left to garage; can also access
from Sands Avenue which runs just south of hotel and extends to Koval and / or Paradise to the east of the strip;
Las Vegas Blvd access as well.

General Parking Garage Tips;
1. Plan ahead /' develop routes / use maps / take a pistol?
2. Be certain to WRITE DOWN the floor level and accessory indicators (eg 3 A, B, or C, etc.) as you leave the parked vehicle;
it's very easy to forget specifically where you parked when you return from the casino-hotel, partially because some of
these garages are monstrous in size; look over your shoulder at some visual landmarks such as the general direction
toward the elevators / stairs from your vehicle and even some of the other vehicles in the general vicinity of your parking
spot. Nowadays, almost all rental cars have key remotes that open the car and flash the lights from a distance and this can be a huge plus even if you did write down where the hell you parked.
3. Make certain all lights/ accessories are off inside the car..dead batteries suck .
4. Where's your keys? If you rent a car, request 2 keys and keep one in your pocket or your wife's purse (hopefully she won't
run off and leave you when she can't pry you away from the blackjack pits).
5. We suggest you park away from corner parking spaces so some overanxious gambler or inebriated grandmother doesn't
smack your ride with their vehicle as they're navigating the loops/ turns in these huge concrete caves.
6. We suggest that the ladies (chivalry is not dead ) do not park in these garages at night when traveling alone ; valet parking
is much safer plus you'll feel like a VIP..this approach is well worth a $2 tip vs a potential nightmare; be safe
7. Don't leave valuables in plain sight within the vehicle..use the trunk or toss something over them. Out of sight..out of mind.
8. Park the car well ; within those lines, etc.; might avoid a door scraping from adjacent parkers
9. "Self - Parking " signs are the signs to track for these parking monoliths
10. Watch the road/ traffic ; it's easy to become distracted when you're looking at / for directive signs, etc. and a lot of other
drivers are being distracted as well ; drive defensively.
11. It's intended that more efficient and safe parking options will ultimately result in savings of time, frustration, and a few
dollars when visiting Vegas.

Other generalities to consider include parking in a semi-centrally located garage that lends itself to relatively easy access to several casino-hotels from one parking spot. For example, parking at the Luxor garage on the south strip provides for tolerable access to Mandalay Bay, Excalibur, New York, New York, Tropicana, and MGM Grand due to presence of monorails
and / or walkways. At midstrip, consider parking at the Paris garage to access Bally's, Planet Hollywood, and Bellagio ; also
consider parking at Venetian to get to Harrah's, Mirage, TI, and Casino Royale.

If we stay in Vegas for several days, most of us exhaust ourselves due to endogenous adrenaline , too much alcohol consumption, constant activity, and / or lack of sleep. If you just simply can't stand another parking garage hike to and from
your vehicle, there's always valet parking. We highly recommend's not that expensive and almost always lends itself to
easier hotel - casino access.

A decent source of parking garage info (including off-strip hotels) on the web is at


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Las Vegas Coupon Sources

Coupons are available for Las Vegas gambling, dining (buffets , restaurants, fast food), shows, attractions, spa treatments, drinks, car rentals, nightclub cover charges, transportation..pick a legal activity in Vegas and you can likely find a coupon for it. As you'd expect, the best (defined as the most valuable) coupon sources require varying yet modest levels of investment. If you Google "Las Vegas Coupons", you'll be inundated with sources that may or may not provide you with a legitimate coupon source. Some of the results will direct you to sites that only offer hotel promo codes for room rates ; these can still be worthwhile or potentially valuable but there might not be one coupon offered on the entire site. Ohh, Eureka. Can you say "dam!" ? Some general tips about potential coupons and coupon sources are :

1. Make certain of exactly what you're getting ; inquire and ask.

2. Check expiration dates ; there's some internet sites that are still offering coupons that expired in 2005 (really)

3. Try and have the coupons in your hands earlier than you think you'll need them; this goes back to trip planning which we've
emphasized as one key to a fun , value-conscious Vegas trip ; order them at least 3-4 weeks before any intended trip and
follow up on your order with e-mails / phone calls just to make sure you get them as promised / needed.

4. Once you receive the coupons, organize them so you can access them easily while you're sprinting in the parking garage of
casino X in Vegas; we always have a ton of them and I've found a good way to efficiently organize them is to make a log
of the entire mass of coupons (by property and specific held coupons for gambling, dining, etc.; a "master " list, if you will ).
Subsequently, we place all the coupons for a particular property into a legal size envelope that's labeled for that property
and specifically list what those coupons are for right on the exterior envelope surface. This approach allows you to grab
a single envelope containing all the coupons and the specific coupon savings you're about to enjoy at that specific property.
It does require a little effort and time ; it will save you at least a few bucks.

5. If you have more than one coupon for the same specific use and from the same source, many of these indicate that you can
only use one coupon per person per year. I've had 6 identical matchplay coupons for blackjack from the same source that
I've used at the specified locale over a three to four day period; sometimes you can use up identical gambling coupons on
the same day if you wait until the next personnel shift change and be savvy enough to not try and redeem them at a gaming
table with the same dealer / pit crew. Common sense applies here.

6. Select your coupon sources / coupons for the activities you enjoy most (dining, gambling, attractions,etc.); bulk coupon
sources have varying numbers of these..there's that planning thing again.

7. You'll discover that very few coupons are available from the so-called "high - roller" properties or for upper end shows and
most coupons are offered from off-strip locales; coupons are a means for those casinos with less "kitsch" or demand to
attract patrons and thereby attempt to compete with the big dogs. The economic situation might skew this traditional
situation regarding coupons ; we'll see

8. If you're a player's club member or signed up on casino website e-mail lists (there's that factor again) you might receive
some coupons from those sources. Join..:)

9. You can order multiple copies of most if not all of the following coupon sources..we do routinely. You just have to redeem
them with a well-planned approach.

The following are sources for either free print or downloadable Las Vegas coupons (most common but certainly not all available sources) ; many of the free coupons from the following sources are available in most casino - hotel lobbies , rooms, and/or in taxis after you arrive in Vegas but there's an obvious planning / time efficiency plus in obtaining these before you travel. Note that you'll have to pay for a subscription to some of these sources ( annual or single -issues, etc.) before you can obtain their coupons (did I say "free" coupons? know..).

1. What's On Magazine ; likely the largest single source of printed free coupons. They have a page within their website that allows you to download assorted free coupons for use in Vegas. It's being updated as I write this and is not functional presently. You can subscribe to the magazine ( for a fee) and receive it through the US mail and collect the coupons before your trip which is an advantage for time -savings .

2. 24/7 Magazine ; lots of second tier show coupons and tour coupons plus
a plethora of advertisements and assorted guides for shows,buffets, gaming,etc. Publishers are the same bunch that publishes
Vegas Values below. You can get a free subscription to the Vegas Values coupon book through the 24/7 site.

3. Vegas Values ; this booklet is actually the true "coupon book" offered from 24/7 Magazine above. The link is a part of their website. You can request a free current copy of Vegas Values by sending an e-mail on the above subscription page. Good free coupon source.

4. Las Vegas Leisure Guide ; You can download some
discount coupons here ; as of this writing, they're updating / renewing their coupon page and there's a statement on the site
inviting us back in 1-2 weeks to download/ print their new coupons for 2009. Worth a return visit, likely.

5. Las Vegas Insider ; very limited listing of coupons presently so maybe they're updating / renewing their coupon page as well, though there's no reference to that. There is a link to the Casino Perks
coupon offering (listed below under "pay-for" coupons).

6.; decent downloadable/printable free coupon source ; particularly strong for mid and low-level show coupon discounts but skinny on gambling coupons. Check these out.

7. Las Vegas Funbook ; most if not all of the "free" coupons you can select and order from this site can be found in free sources once you arrive in Vegas. The kicker is that they charge 19.95 for shipping and handling to get them ahead of time, even though they're referred to as "free". Again, decide if you want to pay for a set of coupons by pre-ordering them or do the grunt work yourself once in Vegas. Be aware that this coupon site was last updated in April 2008; contact and check expiration dates!

8. Today In Las Vegas Magazine; printable free coupons..even one for $5 off a fully automatic machine gun could get your name in the local papers or find a seat at a blackjack table right quick with that little item. Ugh! There are some more common, usable coupons, though. Jesus...

9. Las Vegas Newspapers ; Las Vegas Review Journal and Las Vegas Sun; sometimes these local newspapers have free coupons or promotions ; you'll likely have to subscribe, though. Access the Friday "Neon" section at the Review Journal.

Las Vegas Coupon Sources for purchase ;:

1. Las Vegas Advisor; In our opinion, the best single source of bulk Vegas coupons because you can receive more than just coupons. You're required to sign up as a member of LVA and you receive
the 2009 Members Rewards Book (formerly the Pocketbook of Values) which has a grand collection of assorted coupons for
dining, gambling, shows, tours, drinks..on and on. Cost is $50 for full membership with which you receive a printed monthly
newsletter in the mail and online member access or you can pay $37 for an online membership and still receive the coupon book. There's a plethora of current info on this site which you will have access to with membership ; Vegas news, forums, polls, gaming and hotel - casino guides,just a massive Vegas info site, etc. If you purchase one source of coupons
for your trip, this is our recommendation due to all the added perks and coupon variety and quality. NOTE: Don't remove the coupons from the book! ; you have to tear them out at time of use in view of the personnel / staff where you plan to redeem them.

2. American Casino Guide by Steve Bourie ; if you gamble (in and outside Las Vegas), there's some good coupons from this source and there's more than gambling coupons here. This annually updated book has been around for several years and is a staple for us for Vegas trips. It has a casino game guide and sections on gambling in general. I recently found a huge purchase cost savings for this guide / coupon source at Discount Book for less than 8 dollars! can't pass this up! The guide is also available at the American Casino Guide website which also has nationwide gambling info and specifically a section called Vegas Values Report that lists regularly updated Vegas casino promotions and
discounts (the guide costs 12.95 here plus shipping). Great source. Within the guide there is an ID card that you can cut out
and use as proof of purchase when redeeming the'll need this so put it in a safe place. Note that some casino
personnel are unaware of this..don't allow them to tell you that you have to tear the coupon out of the book in their presence to redeem / use them; ask for a pit crew member or someone with authority that should know what the agreed upon policy is with this coupon source. Check the American Casino Guide website for coupon changes that sometimes take place during the year; especially this year due to economic conditions in Vegas (and everywhere else).

3. Casino Perks; there's some coupon book options here for separate
dining,show,attraction,gambling, or the deluxe version coupon booklets with all their available coupons (deluxe version booklet costs 49.95 plus shipping). It's an OK source but some of the coupons are standard Vegas coupons that you can obtain for free , plus there aren't many gambling coupons here. Your choice.

4. Las Vegas Entertainment Discount Book; for 16.95 you can order this somewhat offbeat coupon source ; it doesn't have very many strip coupons and no gambling coupons that I could see. Some attraction coupons might make it worthwhile for some or those who like to dine off-strip ; check coupon expiration

5. Casino Player Magazine Funbook* By subscribing to Casino Player Magazine, you'll receive a casino funbook (not restricted to Las Vegas) with several different types of coupons. The link provides a description of all the available Las Vegas coupons in the funbook; note that the site is just depicting the 2008
version of the funbook..again, make sure of what you're getting by e-mailing / phoning the source. This is a good source for
Las Vegas coupons..or has been for us in the past. A year's subscription is about $24. Worthwhile source.

* Updated info on Casino Player's Funbook : This source is NOT offered any longer ; they are going to offer some coupons at
the Casino Center site in the near future, apparently. Updated info as of 1/27/09.

6. e-bay coupons ; tons of Vegas coupons up for bid; some good, some mediocre, and some...? Check all sources and verify what you're potentially buying;
some of these are available for free from prementioned sources.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Recent Southwest Airlines Vegas Fare Value : 5 RT Tickets Cost Savings

You likely heard of the recent Southwest Airlines Vegas fare sale ; a 2-day only offering that's now obviously expired. I purchased 5 RT tickets to Vegas for my family with reservations in February ; total cost was approximately $600.00. The normal web-only (WANNA GET AWAY) fares would have normally cost $1150.00 to $1200.00. The sale was essentially a 50% off sale from our locale (El Paso, TX). Southwest management rides again! Their forte has always been "low fares" ; an additional current plus with Southwest is that there are no additional baggage fees for the first two pieces per person as long as they don't exceed weight limits per piece (50 pounds). This little perk is very atypical from the great majority of other available airlines as most charge for the first bag these days. Of course , it's possible some of you don't have access (or easy access) to Southwest at your home airport. Also, some flyers may not appreciate the no-frills,
simple, non-assigned seating approach that Southwest employs. Plus, there are some who have extensive frequent flyer miles
accumulated with other airlines and could care less about cheaper retail airfares. However, during our course of several years worth of Vegas flights, no other airline comes close to matching Southwest's cheaper overall fares from our local airport. Has anyone else ever wondered why Southwest Airlines has never (to my knowledge) filed for bankruptcy that is so common amongst it's competitors? I think it boils down to customer costs and satisfaction. Though Southwest doesn't claim to have a "hub" city, Las Vegas in effect has become one for them. Look to this airline for generally cheaper airfares from
most departure cities to Las Vegas.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Received 4 night Bellagio Comp Offer

As related in the past, my wife and I are low-mid level gamblers. We've received many room offers in the past, but just
yesterday we received an offer indicative of how the casinos are currently enticing patronage. Bellagio offered us 4 free
nights plus 75$ in slot play. For us, that's an unprecedented comp offer. I expect many of you are receiving some goodies
above and beyond your normal gambling levels. This new year has some bright spots. Enjoy..


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Mostly Useless (and approximate) Las Vegas Facts

1. Number of Las Vegas citizens   500,000
2. Number of Clark County residents   1,500,000
3. Year first casino licensed   1931
4. Number of slot machines in Vegas   200,000
5. Number of annual Vegas visitors   40,000,000 (and dropping)
6. Number of licensed gambling entities   1700
7. Hours per day average visitor gambles   4
8. Annual state gaming revenue   9 billion (and dropping)
9. Average gambling budget per trip   560  (and dropping)
10. Mean price per acre in valley   161,000.00
11. Price per acre on the Strip   11,000,000.00
12. Number of  hotel rooms   137,000 +
13. Number of pillowcases washed at MGM daily   15,000
14. Number of doors at MGM  18,000 
15. Annual no. toilet paper rolls used at Bally's   1 million
16. Lucky The Clown marquee sign at Circus Circus has
      1232 fluorescent bulbs, 14,498 incandescent bulbs, and
      3/4 mile of neon tubing light  (no wonder they're replacing
17. In good times, Excalibur goes through over 44,000 
      Cornish game hens, 15 thousand pounds of hamburger
      meat, and 4200 pounds of prime rib monthly
18. Caesar's Palace has used 2 million plus maraschino 
      cherries, 11 thousand ounces of caviar, 2 million ounces
      of tomato juice, and close to 600 thousand ounces of
      vodka yearly (bloody mary winner?)
19. Mandalay Bay has 5,300 palm trees and their wave pool
      has a capacity of 1,640,270 gallons of water
20. Average nightly room rate  119.00 (and dropping)
21. Average number of Vegas weddings per day   300+
22. Number of golf courses  37
23. Miles of neon tubing on the Strip and Downtown  15,000
24. State's nationwide rank in gold production  1st
25. Cost of Nevada marriage license   35.00
26. Average cost of filing for divorce  450.00
27. Average length of stay for visitors    3.7 days
28. Number of hosted conventions annually  3750
29. The electric bill to operate the Luxor pyramid beam is
      approximately 55.00 per hour.
30. Las Vegas has 17 of the world's 20 largest hotels   


Just a cautionary tip when in Vegas.. there are active
pickpockets all over town. I experienced this first-hand
and came within 10 seconds of losing my cash stash last July
while visiting one of those upper end joints on the strip.

I was gambling significantly at a video poker machine, unabashedly slipping C-notes in them. Somebody had been
observing my wagering behavior. I was happily winning at the time and my cautionary tendencies regarding my bankroll
money went south and out the window.

A lady approached me from behind as I played and was all aglow with my run of good luck. She initiated a conversation about nothing and anything . I was concentrating on proper VP strategy and responding to her comments with a lot of "yeah-yeahs". I was fortunate enough to get ahead on the machine again and I cashed out. I had a satchel (I normally never gamble under those conditions) with me that had assorted trip stuff in it. The satchel presence and the relatively high denomination coin-in amount collectively screamed " please rob me!" I placed my wallet in the satchel along with the machine cash-out tickets and proceeded to reconnect with my family and head to our room.

I had developed a sense of cautionary unease as I mulled over the contact with the effusively talkative woman at the VP machine. My senses told me that something about that encounter was skewed, although at the time I didn't know what it was and I wasn't bleeding profusely..yet. My group then proceeded to meander through a very crowded slot machine aisle and some other 6th, 7th, or 8th sense that vaguely detected an impersonal yet succinct encroachment into my personal space kicked in. Instinctively, I immediately dug into the satchel to locate my wallet and it was gone. I then immediately turned around and backtracked about ten feet (a matter of maybe 3 seconds, tops) as my endogenous adrenaline kicked in. I'm not sure that my hair wasn't on fire briefly.

I then spotted my wallet (and life) in a woman's hand who was playing a slot machine. I walked straight at her and demanded it post-haste in a tone that screamed seriousness. I immediately grabbed the wallet and called for security. The woman claimed she picked it up off the floor and so did the man (her accomplice) behind her, both vowing that they were planning to remit it to the security desk. My svelte ass they were.

This team of thieves including the woman who was all goony-googoo at the VP machine were pros. I have to claim part of the blame for the openly careless manner I had displayed with my money. They were held by security and the eye-in-the-sky tapes were to be reviewed.

The good thing is I didn't lose a cent because my peripheral senses kicked in immediately and they didn't have time to bury the evidence ( perhaps they weren't the best of pros?). Take heed folks..these people are everywhere in Vegas. Know where your cash is at all times; take precautions to protect it, don't flaunt it around carelessly as I did, and if you sense something is awry while gambling trust your instincts.

Distractions from one member of a team of thieves is a common MO. Store your gambling session monies in a front pants pocket or in one of those god-awful front-loaded fanny packs (pride be damned). The lesson I learned here after several years of Vegas gambling experiences turned out to be one of the most valuable for me personally.