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 casino..it'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.

Cheers..
Chuck60

Top Ten Tools For "Cheaper" Las vegas,NV trips

Top 10 Tools for "Cheaper" Las Vegas, NV Trips
Seldom are trips to Las Vegas, NV truly economical. Yet there are some attitudes, methods, and tools that can be utilized to accrue very significant overall trip cost savings without crippling the potential enjoyment level of Sin City escapes.


http://www.associatedcontent.comarticle/1508534/top_10_tools_for_cheaper_las_vegas.html

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.


Cheers...
Chuck60

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 services..it 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.

Cheers..
Chuck60

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.


Cheers..
Chuck60

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.


Cheers..
Chuck60

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.

Cheers..
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.

Cheers..
Chuck60

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 deal..it 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 trip..it'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.

Cheers...
Chuck60

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.


Cheers..
Chuck60

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 out..you might be as shocked and pleased as we were. If you're not a member, change that (if you gamble at all). :)

Cheers..
Chuck60

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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
      it!)
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   

"WHERE'S MY WALLET , ETHEL!? "

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.


Cheers..
Chuck60