Friday, December 21, 2007

Las Vegas Hotel Review: The Rio

The Rio has a Carnivale fun theme that really
rocks. Its almost like a city unto itself. You might want
to leave, but why? You've got great food, entertainment,
a casino, a spa, a wedding chapel, shopping, hot lounges,
nightlife and even the Lucky Strike lanes!

The Rio used to bill itself as the only all suite
hotel in Las Vegas. To be fair, they weren't
really suites. They were just huge living room
bedroom combinations with a bath. But in 1990,
this place was revolutionary.

The Rio was a big, friendly, rocking, fun place with some
of the best video poker around. It basically was a locals
casino since there wasn't easy access to the strip at the time.
The same employees were there from the beginning and
remembered your name. It had great food at low prices
and the buffet was legendary. Rio Rita was running
around the casino with a fruit basket on her head
conducting impromptu casino contests and giving
out prizes.

Harrah's took over and messed with something good.
They Harrahized the place. Gone is the good video
poker. Gone are the employees who remembered
your name. The food prices skyrocketed. The buffet
declined and is slowly regaining some of its former
glory. Its just not the same. Sadly. Its Harrah's.

The rooms in the Masquerade Tower are easy to
access and the hallways are wider and brighter.
If you self park, you can walk into the casino, take an
escalator and be at your hotel elevator in a minute.

The rooms, er, suites, are a huge room with a sofa,
chair, cocktail table, eating table with two chairs and
your bed or beds. The bathrooms have a shower tub combo
a little bit of marble. The sink and vanity are outside in a dressing
area so someone can shower while others have access to the
mirror area and sink. Regardless of what tower you are in,
the rooms have awesome floor to ceiling windows.

They used to have coffee pots and refrigerators in this dressing
area, the last time we stayed the coffee pots were history.
When we asked about it, they mumbled some lame answer
about 9/11 and against code. I think they just wanted me to
head down to Starbucks and get some high priced high
octane caffeine.

The rooms are comfortable, clean and the toiletries are
basic. The towels are average. Its not high end here, but
its really spacious and comfy. Its a great room to relax
from the casino and the nightlife.

The pool here is an experience. There is not one but
four pools and one has a sand bottom. How fun!

The Rio has so many dining choices from the cafe, buffet to
Indian, Italian, seafood and Mexican restaurants, its hard
to decide where you want to eat. If you want to club and
party, hit the Voo Doo Lounge. Its 51 stories above the strip
and the view is freaking amazing!

Don't miss the free Masquerade Parade in the Sky show
in the Masquerade village. Its a song, dance review with
a twist: the floats are on the ceiling. If you are lucky,
you can catch some mardi gras beads they throw from
the floats. Or you can pay and be on the float in costume.

Harrah's may have changed the place, but its still a fun
place to stay AND play.

Las Vegas Hotel Review: New York New York

New York New York Hotel & Casino has the huge
statue of the Statue of Liberty marking its front,
along with a tug boat spewing water, a bridge and
the famous NYNY roller coaster speeding around
the property. There's a lot going on here!

I remember watching them assemble the
Statue of Liberty. I watched as they put the arm and torch
on the statue. I've seen Miss Liberty dressed in a huge
tee shirt. And who could ever forget the 9/11 tribute
that was on the grounds?

I had heard a lot of negatives about NYNY, but since
they invited me to stay, and it was comped, oh, hell yes.
I heard the rooms were small. Yes, they are. But they
are comfortable and well appointed. They have sort of
a cool cosmopolitan vibe. They remind me of a
midtown NY hotel. As my husband said, DUH...that's what
its supposed to look like! Nice sized bathroom with the
usual toiletries, the requisite marble and shower.
The room has a safe, tv, desk, everything you need, AND
its really clean. Oh, nice thick towels, too.

I heard that the noise from the roller coaster can blast
you awake and keep you from sleeping. So I requested
a room away from the roller coaster and they obliged.
I asked people whose rooms were near the coaster about
the noise. One said it was horrible,
the others said it wasn't that much of a problem since it stops
running at 11pm during the week and midnight on weekends.
I'm not in bed that early in Vegas, so I wouldn't notice it. ;)

The hotel rooms are in the towers and you have to zigzag
down the halls from building to building to get to your room.
The buildings are connected by corridors. It wouldn't have
been that difficult if I wasn't dragging my suitcase and running
my mouth and not paying attention to the hall. I ran smack
into one of the walls. I just pretended
to be tipsy instead of a total ditzy blonde.

The hotel has a food court area that looks like a
New York city street. Their cafe is called America
and has the coolest 3 D map on the wall.
Decent food, large sized portions, good service.

Husband loves the ESPN Zone. Its a huge sports bar
with tv's everywhere blasting out sports. It used to be
the Motown Cafe. It has the usual man bar food, sliders,
subs, cheese fries and stuff that you eat when watching
sports. All you need is a sofa and a remote. Its a good place
to park the men while the women go shopping.

One of my favorite restaurants is here. Il Fornaio has great
Italian food. Problem is the service sucked all five times I was
there. Last time the waiter said they were out of
bolognese sauce. Come on, no Italian restaurant is EVER
out of bolognese sauce. Couple came in after us, had a
different waiter, got bolognese sauce.
Damn! Their home made bread is to die for, and its
baked there. You can dine inside or outside which is
actually a faux garden area in the casino. My hope is to
sometime get a good waiter. I know they
have them, I've seen them. I just always get the guy
on his first day.

The casino is a bit difficult to maneuver. The casino looks like
its set in central park. It really has the feel of being in a city.
They have some faux rock boulders near the bridge and
I always manage to trip because I don't always watch
where I'm going. They annoy me!

The machines are tight here. I did see a big jackpot the last
time we were there. We got up from a machine, a woman
sat down, put in a $20 bill and hit for 8 grand on the first pull.
It was oh, so painful. The video poker is just so so. Not great
pay tables. Lots and lots of penny games, including those
annoying 20 line million reel spinners that make
way too much noise.

If you like nightlife and bars, this place has Coyote Ugly and
9 Fine Irishmen as well as the Times Square bar. Lots of
partying goes on here!

Interesting hotel, fun casino and it can get really loud.
If you like loud and boisterous, this is your happy place.

Las Vegas Hotel Review: The Luxor

Pyramid power, baby. The the MGM group took
over Luxor Las Vegas, they want to change its theme,
but when its already shaped like a pyramid,
what changes can you do? I personally love
the Egyptian theme, the Obelisk, the Sphinx and
the giant light. Don't change it! It stand out.
What I hate is the huge liquor bottle
advertisement plastered on the side of
the pyramid.

They are revamping the inside to take out a
lot of Egyptian decor. They've jumped onto
the hot night club bandwagon by introducing
LAX nightclub. They are adding a lot of new
bars and clubs. What they need to do is
improve the food at the buffet.

Rooms in the pyramid are Egyptian inspired,
sort of basic. Beds are not comfy like the new
ones they are introducing at the other MGM
properties. The rooms DON'T have safes which is
a pain when you want to leave stuff in your room.
You have to rent a safe deposit box downstairs
for your valuables.The windows in the pyramid
slant inward so when you go to look out you'll
smack your forehead on the glass.
Why don't the maids see the
spots on the windows and clean them?

Bathrooms are basic, they have Bath and Body
works products which ups them in my estimation.
The towels are thin. Thin and hard. They
need new towels, those fluffy ones that
they have at the other MGM properties.

The tower rooms are nicer, brighter and larger
but a pain to get to because they are off
the main area and you have to go down a maze
(supposed to be like a Pyrmaid maze) to get
to the elevators. If you are in the tower,
check in at the East valet and desk, it will
be so much easier to maneuver. Its still a bit
of a walk to the casino.

The suites in the towers are nice. They are
two rooms, a living room with a wet bar, TV,
sofa, refrigerator and small eating table and foyer.
You have your bedroom with another TV.
You'll have a large marble bathroom with a big vanity,
robes, slippers, double sinks and another room
with a shower and a jacuzzi tub.

Bedroom of tower suite

Living room of tower suite.

The plus of the Luxor is the staff. They
are awesome, friendly and helpful. They
do their best to help you figure out the
Luxor. Lets face it, this place is confusing.
There is construction going on in the casino
and it should be nice when its done.

The Pyramid Cafe serves decent food in huge
portions. I've seen celebs eating in there.
Its your basic hotel coffee shop fronting
the casino. If you want to get away from
the noise of the casino, ask to be seated
in the back.

There is a free tram that will connect
you to Mandalay Bay or the Excalibur. From
the Excalibur, its a short walk to NY NY
and the MGM. There are also walkways
if you feel like walking and they have
shops and restaurants.

The Luxor is the home of Criss Angel, the
Mindfreak illusionist, who will be opening next
year in their Cirque production. You might
cross paths with him in the hotel as he lives
in the penthouse of the pyramid. You
can check his shooting schedule at his
production office located at the end of
the Giza shops on the main floor. His fans
will love his cars sprinkled around the property
at the main valet and the east valet. His
bikes are inside near his production office
and his retail shop.

The Luxor is a decent place to stay in
an easy to navigate location. I stay here
when I get a great slot club offer and I
can't say I'm disappointed. If they would
just get better towels!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Las Vegas Hotel Review: MGM Grand

The MGM Grand has 5,034 rooms and bills itself as the"City Of Entertainment." I can always count on having
the farthest room in the entire gi-normous complex.
If you book here, plan to walk...a lot.

You'll see a lot of marble and brass lions. In fact, the
lion in the front of the hotel is the largest bronze statue
in the USA. Its the mascot of the MGM studios.

The MGM is supposed to show the glory of old Hollywood
and the MGM studio. I find it to be way too big to
easily navigate and too freaking loud at night when the
nightclubs are pulsating.

The rooms are OK. Nothing special. The bathrooms have
a lot of marble, a tub, shower, marble vanity and the
usual assortment of toiletries. in fact the bathrooms
are a bit Hollywood glam. One room even had a vanity.
The rooms sport a desk, tv, phone, and
are very comfortable and clean.

The standard rooms are nicer than the Hollywood
suites. I didn't like the Hollywood suites,
they seemed dingy and dated and a tad dirty.
I got a free suite upgrade twice and would rather
have been in a standard room. Both times they had
the "ick" factor. It looked like there were icky
stains on the velvet sofa and
I refused to sit on it.

I also found the ventilation systems in the hotel
to cause a lot of sinus problems in the room.
I had a constant headache and sinus problems in
a non smoking room, husband had sinus and sneezing
that stopped once we left the room.

There is a difference between the standard rooms in
the main hotel and the west wing. The west wing used
to be the old Marina hotel and they built the MGM
around the property. The rooms are ultra small but
have just been redone to have an upscale and funky
feel to them and a small window. Some like them,
some hate them. I need a room with a big window
and space to spread out my stuff.

All the rooms have photos of old movie stars staring
down at you. You'll even see the pics in the public
restroom stalls, which can be startling to see an old
Hollywood leading man locking eyes with you when
you enter the bathroom stall.

There is a row of high end restaurants and shops on the
way to the monorail station. Very chichi. The coffee shop
is expensive and the food is just so so. The buffet here
is pretty good with a lot of offerings. Its tucked away in
a corner across from the lion habitat.

If you park your car, use the valet. The parking garage is
totally confusing and a long long walk to your hotel room.
I always say we've parked in Arizona and walked. If they
have the valet is full sign out, tell them you are a hotel
guest and tip them and they'll take your car.

The casino is large, really large and confusing. I found that
if you pick markers in the casino, like restrooms, Starbucks
and hotel elevators, it makes it a lot easier to navigate.
You can't leave a trail of breadcrumbs to mark your path,
they clean the place constantly. And don't forget about
ATM's, they are everywhere. You'll need it in this casino.
The slots are tight!

Didn't see many jackpots or good video poker anyplace.
We did see a whale in the high roller area that was
surrounded with a possee of black suits from the hotel.
In the few minutes we watched this guy play we know
he lost a half a million smackers. Later on, he was
winning. He was an older man with some young "nieces".
Wink, wink.

The pool complex is huge. There are 5 pools and a lot
of lounging areas. It is always crowded, so arrive early.

Not my favorite place to stay, but definitely not the
worst place to stay on the strip. If you love night
life and clubbing, you'll love the MGM. If you
want a quieter place to hang out, you'll do better
to book elsewhere.

Station Casinos, Good Gamble, Good Food!

Green Valley Ranch

The locals play at the Station Casinos and for
good reason. You get a good gamble and a lot of
perks and freebies. The food is really good and
reasonable. The casinos are clean, well attended
and the locals are just so much fun. Some have
movie theaters and Kids Quest, a place for kids
to play while the parents hit the casino. Most also
have food courts with a lot of different choices.

The casinos are spread around the Las Vegas
area. Boulder Station is on Boulder Highway.
Palace Station is near the strip. Ask for a tour
of the OJ room.;) Texas Station is in north
Las Vegas, Santa Fe Station is out to the west,
Sunset Station and Green Valley Ranch are in Henderson.
Red Rock is in Summerlin near Red Rock Canyon.

Green Valley (known as GVR or just the Ranch to locals )
and Red Rock are their upscale properties. The hotel rooms
rival those of the poshest rooms on the strip.

The Station group have a slot club called the
Boarding Pass. Use your boarding pass in the
machine like you would any other slot card.
This month they are offering random bonuses on
any machine INCLUDING pennies. You hear a tone
on your machine, play is suspended and you get
a mystery bonus of $ 5 to $20.00. Press a button
and the money is deposited into your machine.
It happened to me a lot at Green Valley Ranch,
in a day span I got over a hundred dollars in bonus
cash, much to the chagrin of the players around
me. Maybe its was because I parked myself and
didn't move, maybe it was just my lucky day.
But the tones keep whistling and everyone wins.

In addition, there is the Jumbo Jackpot bonus that
randomly hits by $150.000 to one lucky player.
It resets at $100,000. Everyone with their boarding
pass in the machine when it hits gets $50. My local
friends will keep their card in the machine even if they
leave to go to the restroom. You never know, baby!

I discovered the most fun new Mr. Cashman game
at GVR. Its called Tequila Sunrise. In addition to the
Cashman bonus, if you hit two cacti on the first
two reels, you get three free games. Since the cacti
are the scatter pay, the first two reels don't spin and
you are guaranteed the scatter pay on the next three
spins. If you are lucky, you'll hit more cacti on the
other reels.

Station Casinos have more new penny games than
any other casinos in LV. They also have less of the
multi reel spinning penny slots that seem to have
taken over the strip casinos. They don't get played
at the Station Casinos as much. I take my lead
from the locals. They'll tell you NOT to play a certain
type of machine or to play a certain type of machine
because of the bonus. I listen because I see them

If you love video poker, this place is nirvana.
Some of the game makers have double triple poker.
I saw a lot of quad aces with kickers and who doesn't
love THAT payout? They have every denomination
starting with nickels and a lot of progressives.

And lets talk food: Every Station Casino has a buffet
with good reasonable food and a coffee shop that serves
different fare, including ham and cabbage, a local favorite.
Add a few upscale restaurants and a food court, and you
can eat and gamble on the cheap and have a blast
doing it!

Las Vegas Hotel review: Treasure Island

TI as it is now known, has the location going
for it. Its connected to the Mirage by a tram,
across the street from the Venetian and a short
walk to Harrah's and Wynn's. Its in the center
of all things and the prices for the rooms
are affordable

If you are a shopper, Treasure Island is located
next to the Fashion Show Mall. You don' t even
need to go outside, you can cross the street
to the mall via the sky walk from the casino.

Treasure Island has upscaled its image from
a family friendly pirate theme to an adult playground.
Gone is the pirate skull sign, in its place is a new
electronic TI sign. TI is the way the hip refer to
this hotel, it will always be Treasure Island to me.
TI has hot pulsating ultra lounges like Tangerine and
the Social House an upscale restaurant/night spot
frequented by celebrities.

While it hasn't instituted a no children rule,
the changes to adult hotel are evident.
The child friendly pirate show out front has changed
to The Sirens of TI, a more adult pirate show. it features
the sexy Sirens of TI. The ship still sinks and the
cannons still fire and the kids still get a kick out of it.

Treasure Island remains a friendly, intimate
hotel and casino. Its easy to navigate and easy
to reach your room from the casino floor.

The rooms have all have new comfy beds. They
are as comfortable as those at the Bellagio.
The pillows are both feather and poly.
The rooms are fairly identical, all done in shades
of gold, the latest addition besides the
new beds are flat screen televisions.
The new TV's have a sleep timer which sends
my husband into pure happiness.

The bathroom has a large marble vanity, a hair dryer,
tub and shower combination. Not luxe, but very
usable. Toiletries are from their spa Wet and
include two different kinds of soap, body lotion
shampoo and conditioner. The rooms are comfortable
and clean. I personally think its time for a total redo
of the decorating scheme, but it works.

The rooms have a safe in the closet as well as
extra pillows. We've also found the hair dryer
there on the top shelf instead of in the baskets
they used to have on the bathroom counter.

TI's greatest asset is their friendly staff. They
go above and beyond to make your stay pleasant
and fun.

TI is building a new high rollers area that should
be open in late December. Its going to feature
a buffet for the players. How cool is that?

TI has some great restaurants. Francesco's is one
of my favorite Italian restaurants in the city. Service
is sometimes a pain in the rear, either they are fawning
over you or you are waving your hand for service.
The food is excellent.

TI has a great Mexican restaurant called Isla Mexican
Kitchen with a tequila goddess that will mix your
drink at your table.

Kahunaville is the most fun restaurant/bar. The restaurant
is separate from the party bar and features polynesian
inspired food. Its EXCELLENT and very well priced!
The restaurant also has a really cheesy and fun fountain show.
The real fun is in the bar area where they have
world famous flairtenders, bartenders that put on
shows flipping bottles and pouring drinks into pyramids
of glasses.

TI also has the Steak House and the Social House
for sushi and saki. You'll find a Starbucks, a Coffee
Shop and a Ben and Jerry's.

TI just redid their suites in an ultra modern almost
Jetson like manner. Done in shades of red, black,
earth tones and chrome, they are modern in a retro
sort of way. You have a desk, sofa and two bathrooms.
Yes, a his and her bathroom with a jacuzzi tub in one, a large shower
in the other, large marble vanities, robes, slippers, luxe toiletries,
a refrigerator, a safe, and damn, a scale.

The pool area has a lot of palm trees and loungers Its not
as sophisticated as a lot of the other MGM properties,
but its a decent pool area in the summer.

Las Vegas Hotel Review: The Bellagio

The Bellagio sits on the hallowed grounds that
one was home to the Dunes Hotel Casino Country club
and golf course. I remember flying in
at night and the first thing I saw was from the airplane window
was the neon Dunes sign. Even though the Dunes was on its last
breath, we were sad to see it go and wondered if Steve Wynn
would be able pull off this huge undertaking. I remember
watching the hotel going up and seeing the huge hole that
would become its lake and fountain show. Could he do it?
Yup! He did it with his usual flair and style.
The hotel is now under the MGM group, and they've
managed to keep it upscale and unique.

The hotel rooms are done in shades of
and earth tones. The bed is probably the most
comfortable bed you've ever slept in. If it weren't
in Las Vegas, you couldn't get me out of it.
The pillows are both feather and poly, the linens have to
have a huge thread count, they are like buttah.

The bathrooms have a large garden tub, a separate
shower and a large vanity full of upscale toiletries.
You'll find body lotion, shampoo, conditioner,
mouthwash, a small vanity pack full of q-tips,
cotton balls and a nail file,
a shower cap and depending on the mood of your maid,
other stuff like a lint brush, a shoe buffer and
other fun surprises.Oh, the towels are think and
fluffy and have big B's on them. And besides having a
hair dryer,you'll find a scale.
After chowing down and going one buffet over the line,
you don't want to face THE SCALE. Just kick it under the
vanity and pretend it doesn't exist.

Expect turn down service and chocolate on your bed stand.
You have your high priced mini bar that operates on a sensor.
you don't want it, don't pick it up because it will show up on
your bill. By the way, the chocolates in it are to die for,
but they'll cost you.

The unique feature of their rooms are the automatic drapes.
They operate by touch buttons on the foyer wall and by the
bed. Fun to play with, very useful to wake up your sleepy
partner. Your room has a safe and a TV. If you are lucky
enough to score an free upgrade to a view room or pay extra
for the fountain view, you can watch the fountains from
your window and tune your TV to the Bellagio fountain
music station and hear the music in your room.
Very cool!

The pool complex is like walking into a Tuscan garden.
There are individual pools, way out of everyone's price
cabanas, fountains, topiaries, flowers and cedar trees.
There's a pool side restaurant and drink service so
you can lounge all day long either in the sun or the shade.
The landscaping has nooks and crannies where you can lounge
without being bothered.

The Bellagio Pool Complex

The hotel is spotless. Spotless. The rooms in the original
tower of the hotel have all been updated to match the
rooms in the new tower. This hotel is amazing, if you get
the chance to stay here,don't hesitate!

The staff is helpful and accommodating.There is nothing
snooty about this place despite what you may have heard.
Everyone is all about you having a great time.

The Bellagio has an under 18
child policy. Some people are ticked off by it. Others
like me applaud the idea of no strollers except for hotel
guests. I've been rammed by so many strollers in Las Vegas
that I just want to tell the parent...go to Disney for
gawd's sake. Or what are you doing with that kid at
2am walking around? Get a brain. I'm in favor of keeping
the Bellagio an adult oasis. Directly from the web site,
here's their policy:

Under 18 Policy - Bellagio

You must be 18 years of age or a registered hotel guest to
enter Bellagio Casino.

The following exceptions apply to
minors who are at least 5 years of age and accompanied
by an adult at least 18 years of age:

  • Restaurant reservations for Michael Mina, FIX, Sensi, Circo,
  • Jasmine,
  • Le Cirque, Picasso, Shintaro or Prime
  • Attending a wedding in our Wedding Chapels
  • Attending a convention function
  • Attending a performance of "O"
  • Gallery of Fine Art
  • Children of hotel guests and non-hotel guests are allowed
  • if accompanied
  • by an adult. Non-hotel guests with children must have
  • their tickets in hand prior to arriving to Bellagio.
  • Visiting a Via Bellagio shop by appointment only

Strollers are allowed for hotel guests only.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Contact Phone Numbers for the Casino & Slot Clubs Las Vegas

You absolutely must make your Las Vegas hotel reservations through the slot club or through VIP. Not only will you get a better hotel rate known as the casino rate, you'll also get to check in at either VIP or the invited guest line. You won't have to stand in an endless line like a regular tourist. Your wait will be minimal. My theory is the longer time I spend waiting in line, the more money the casino loses. Its to their advantage to get me checked in. ;)

And, if you make your reservations DIRECTLY through the slot clubs or VIP, you have a better chance of getting your room comped...another word for complimentary which is free or a dramatically reduced rate. If you buy through another source, like Travelocity or your airline or through a package plan, you aren't going to get comped because you've already paid for your room.

Heres the phone numbers you need to contact the slot clubs to make reservations or to request a slot host. If the phone goes to the general hotel operator and not directly to the slot club, ask to be transferred to the slot club or a slot host.

Bellagio 1-888-987-7887
MGM Grand Las Vegas 1-800-929-9410
Mandalay Bay 1-877-632-7500
The Mirage 1-800-777-6533
Treasure Island 1-800-944-3777
Monte Carlo 1-800-822-8276
New York New York 1-888-469-6958
Luxor 1-800-956-0289
Excalibur 1-800-633-7777

For all Harrah's group casinos: Use this number 1-800-4-REWARD or use the direct numbers below:
Bally's (877) 603-4390
Caesars (866) 227-5938
Flamingo (888) 902-9929
Imperial Palace (800) 634-6441
Paris (877) 603-4386
Harrah's (800) 214-9110
Rio (866) 746-7671
Bill's Gambling Hall (formerly the Barbary Coast)(866) 245-5745

The Venetian (877) 314-1500
Wynn's (888) 320-7123
Planet Hollywood (formerly the Aladdin) 866-919-7472
The Riviera 1-800-637-5687
The Stratosphere & Arizona Charlie's 1-800-998-6937
Tropicana 1-800-826-8767 or email
Circus Circus 800-634-3450
Sahara 888-696-2121

Downtown Casinos:

Golden Nugget: 702-385-7111 or 800-846-5336
Golden Gate 800-426-1906
Plaza 800-634-6575 or email
Four Queens 800-634-6045
Fremont 800-634-6182
Main Street Station 800-634-6045
Binion's 800-937-6537
Fitzgerald's 800-274-5825
The Vegas Club 800-634-6532
El Cortez (800) 634-6703
California Hotel 1-800-634-6505
Gold Spike 877-467-7453

Off Strip:

The Palms 1-866-725-6773
Hard Rock Hotel 800-693-7625
Hooter's hosts: Faye Able 702-597-6032; Mauricio Velasco 702-597-6064; Brandon Manill 702-597-6047
Gold Coast 800-331-5334
Suncoast 877-677-7111
The Orleans 800-675-3267
Terrible's Hotel & Casino (yup, its a real place) 800-640-9777
Sam's Town 800-634-6371
Nevada Palace 800-634-6283
Arizona Charlie's East on Boulder Hwy. 800-362-4040
JW Marriot Rampart Casino 877-869-8777
The Cannery 866-999-4899
Ritz-Carlton / Casino MonteLago 800-241-3333

Station Casinos:

Boulder Station 800-683-7777
Texas Station 800-654-8888
Palace Station (ask for a tour of the OJ room) 800-631-3101
Santa Fe Station 800-767-7711
Sunset Station 888-786-7389
Green Valley Ranch (one of my favorites!) 866-782-9487
Red Rock Station (another favorite) 866-767-7773
Fiesta Henderson 888-899-7770
Fiesta Rancho 888-899-7770

Secret Car Rental Tips for Las Vegas Cha Ching!

I always rent a car in Las Vegas. Driving in Las Vegas is not that difficult as long as you can ignore the cabbies, the boom boxes, the gawking tourists and you can deal with the thousands of people walking on the strip. If I can do it, you can do it. Las Vegas isn't that hard to navigate and there are parallel roads to the strip, like Paradise that can help you avoid the congestion on the strip.

Renting a car has its benefits. I like to travel around the city and I love driving out to Henderson to the Station Casino's. A taxi will cost a bundle back and forth to the strip. If you are planning to see Red Rock Canyon, rent a car.

All the hotels and even the Fashion Show mall have free valet parking. Just tip your valet. And if you are planning an evening of drinking, get a taxi.

I consider getting the best car at the lowest price hitting the lottery. Rental cars in Las Vegas are not that expensive, its the taxes added on at the end that are budget busters.

Here's how I always score a good price. Check out sites like Cheap Rental Cars at Kayak, Orbitz Car Rentals Tab or Travelocity to get an idea of car prices when you'll be in town. Expect prices to fluctuate if a big convention is in town. Prices change all the time, so keep at it.

has rental desks in all the MGM properties: The Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Excalibur, NY NY, Bellagio, MGM, Mirage and Treasure Island. If you want to rent a car for the day, this is the way to go. Daily prices may be higher than at the airport, but renting off premises will have lower taxes since you won't have to pay the airport taxes.

Once you've found the lowest rates for your trip, check the rental car site directly to see if it is really the lowest rate. Sometimes the lowest rate is on their web site.

Now here is the fun part: Go to or Samsclub and print out the coupons for car rental discounts. Don't book directly through their sites, because you will have to show that you are actually a member when you pick up your car. Use the discount code when you book and you'll get a corporate discount. Plus, you can use an additional coupon you've printed for an upgrade, a free day or a dollar amount off the rental. I've never had anyone ask me for a membership card to either warehouse club, only the printed coupon. Input the coupon number to see if they will accept the coupon. Most times they will and you end up with a DOUBLE discount! Woo Hoo!! The exception is Thrifty's Wild rate, you don't get to use a coupon, but they'll accept the corporate discount.

Last week I scored a Chrysler Pacifica for $116.32 including all taxes from the airport for an entire week. Now that's a real deal. Cha Ching!!

This is really important: Before you leave home, check with your car insurance or your credit card to find out about rental car coverage. Some credit cards include it in your card agreement. If you have complete coverage, you won't have to buy the additional rental insurance that the agents will insist you purchase with the car rental. There is no reason to pay twice if you are covered. If you aren't covered, buy the insurance.

The agents are trained for a hard sell. The last agent I used was a master at selling. He lowered his eyes, he muttered under his breath about how car damage would bankrupt me and he wouldn't want to be in my shoes if there was an accident. It didn't work on me, I KNOW I'm covered. Check BEFORE you leave home.

Tips and Tokes in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a city that runs on tips. Once you hit the ground in Las Vegas, you start tipping. Love it or hate it, that's the way it works. Since its the best way to get good service, and these are real hardworking people, you tip for service. Most of the people giving you service depend on your tips to make a decent living. They have families, just like you. If you get good service, tip the person.

Here's my TIP: Get $20 in one dollar bills before you leave home and you'll be ready for any situation.

The proper amount to tips: Bartenders or cocktail waitresses, $1.00 per round for one or two people. If you want your cocktail waitress to keep coming back regularly, tip more and they'll come around and even beat on your machine for good luck.

Bellmen: One or two dollars per bag. Tip more if they are really heavy or give you extra special treatment.

Taxi drivers: Minimum of $2.00 or 15% whichever is more. Tip more if its a longer route or they give you information pn good restaurants or directions.

Change people or Keno runners: A dollar or more, tip more if you get a jackpot and they spend time paying you off.

Valets: A dollar or two each time you park or pick up your car. If you want up front service, tip a LOT more and you'll get special handling.

Limo drivers: $5.00 minimum.

Hotel maids: A few dollars a night to clean up your mess. I tip every day so the person doing the work gets the tip. If you request extra shampoo or soap, put the request on the bathroom sink with a couple of dollars and you'll find a lot of extra products. The maid can also be your best source of information about the hotel. I was staying at the Bellagio with one of my employees for a convention. I was in the casino, she was napping. The maid gave her a tour of a high roller suite and gossip on the celebs staying there. Turns out Brad Pitt was spotted there while they were filming Oceans. The maid told her that celebs use different entrances than we do and we'd never see him. We didn't. Wahhhhhhhh.

Room service: Sometimes it will be added to your bill. If not, 15 to 20% of the bill.

Housekeeping for extra service: If you request a refrigerator or extra pillows, tip a couple of dollars for their efforts.

Shuttle service to the rental car building: Since they will handle your bags for you and put them on and off the bus, I tip a dollar or two per bag.

Airport check in porters, curbside check in: $1.00 per bag will insure your bag gets on the right flight.

Restaurants: 15 to 20% of the bill. Large parties of 8 or more may have the gratuity added to the bill.

Buffets: Minimum of $1.00 per person to your waitress who brings you drinks and extra napkins.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Flying to Las Vegas, Its Such a Joy!

Flying is such a joy. I fly to Las Vegas about 5 times a year, two or three times for business, the other times for fun. And I always have to fly since I live in Ohio. OK, we could drive, but its not going to happen.

There are certain unalienable truths that follow me on every flight:

My flight will either be canceled or delayed causing a long layover.
If I have a connecting flight, it will be three gates away and will require a long walk, a tram ride and more walking.
I will always end up in the middle seat, no matter that I've chosen an aisle seat and was assigned an aisle seat. The airline will change the aircraft and give me a middle seat.
The person in front of me will be sick and cough and sneeze the entire flight. I will be sick by the time I get home.
The person in front of me will also recline their seat just to make sure that the germs hit me.
The person next to me will have long legs and will crowd my space and he or she will make sure they read all night long with the light on during a red eye or night flight.
There will always be a kid behind me who cries and kicks my seat until the plane lands.

I had all of the above on both of my flights to and from Las Vegas last week. I had an added bonus. There was a teen age girl who refused to get on the plane. She had a panic attack to top all panic attacks. She screamed and screamed and even the pilot came out to discuss the her not getting on the plane. Then she kicked and she screamed and her mother laughed. But she got ON the plane and continued to panic. Of course, she was in front of us AND she was sick, coughing and sneezing when she wasn't crying or breathing into a paper bag. Her mom started drinking and ignored her. The girl finally shut up two hours into the flight. When the flight landed, she asked her mom if she could sit by the window on the next flight.

And there is more. I flew on Delta. My connecting flight was canceled and we had a long long layover.
To quote Carrot Top, Delta stands for:
D Don't
E Expect your
L Luggage
T To
A Arrive

So we are standing at the baggage carousel, and everyone has their luggage but me. My husband's suitcase came off in the first wave of cases. I'm standing there like an idiot thinking about my makeup being in my suitcase since the airlines have the 3 ounce rule. I NEED my makeup. I can buy a tee shirts and wear my jeans, but to replace my makeup is going to cost some serious cash. Nearly ready to panic, my suitcase finally arrives. It was the last one off the plane. So what else is new? But our driver was getting ancy from waiting, he grabbed my suitcase and we were off. He kept saying there was something wrong with my wheels....when we got to the car, we saw one of the wheels was pulled off, the side was scraped and it reeked of wine. Since I didn't have wine in my suitcase, something spilled on it. And since we were three hours late, we left before I could go back into the airport to have a hissy fit.

I called Delta the next morning, and of course, they aren't responsible for wheels. I wouldn't have cared except it was my new suitcase and it had spinner wheels. My husband pulled on the other wheels and couldn't budge them. So, Delta isn't responsible. The suitcase company isn't responsible for carrier damage, so I'm screwed. I arrive in Las Vegas already down $300 bucks for a suitcase. Just my luck!! Oh, yeah, flying is such a joy!

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Rodeo is in Vegas

The Wrangler National Finals rodeo has galloped into Las Vegas. Its held at the UNLV Thomas and Mack center. 5.5 million dollars are on the line for the winners, so this is major. Tickets are hard to come by, they are usually sold out way in advance. Unless you want to buy from a broker or take your chances from a scalper, you can contact your hotel concierge to see if they can get you tickets. The rodeo offers mad dash tickets at $39.50 each, if someone isn't in a balcony seat 30 minutes into the event, you get to dash into a seat. Otherwise, its standing room, baby. This is a huge national event and people come from all over the world to see the finals in action. it features both men and women's events. Note that parking can be a nightmare, so if a shuttle is available, consider taking the shuttle.

Not only do you have the major events going on, but there is also the Cowboy Christmas. Its a huge shopping extravaganza that sells everything for the cowboy fan from trailer hitches to tee shirts. And the hats, its all hats all the time. They'll clean them for you, shape them and even help you pick out your signature hat.

Even non cowboys and cowgirls can find great stuff to take home. Last year I found a pair of purple flowered boots that I know can only be found in Las Vegas. And when I wear them, I get a lot of comments. I love them, they're so comfortable and they work in the snow. My husband found a pair of the most comfy and good looking shoes he's ever worn. Back to the original train of thought, this is a fun place to do some Christmas shopping for everyone on your list. Not everyone takes credit cards, but most do. Plan to spend a couple of hours shopping and you won't see a fraction of what is being offered....its HUGE.

There are concerts around town. A lot of the rodeo cowboys stay at South Pointe, south of the airport on Las Vegas Blvd. Its got an equestrian center and a place to keep their horses.
Ever notice they don't bring them INTO the hotel? ;)

I love cowboys. Cowboys come in all sizes, shapes and colors. You see them in the morning, you see them later in the day with a black eye or limping. What they do takes a lot of athletic power and guts. I was at a local rodeo where a cowboy got killed and it freaked me out. These guys are true athletes, its dangerous, its thrilling and they can get seriously hurt or killed.

But I want to know how they get their shirts so crisp and wrinkle free, even after wearing them all day long. I also want to know how they manage to get their name embroidered down the sleeve without the sleeve being taken apart. And do those huge silver award buckles hurt their stomach? My next trip during rodeo time, I'm going to ask.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Traveling to Vegas with the 9/11 Terrorists: True Story!

I'm packing to head to Vegas and every time I pack, I think of my trip to Las Vegas months before before 9/11. I was heading to a work related event and was accompanied by my parents. I go to at least two conventions in Las Vegas every year. This time we were flying on American West, formerly known as America Worst because of their lousy on time schedule.

We were meeting up with my cousin/sister at Phoenix Sky Harbor. Deb was going to be my roomie since my husband had to work. Our flight was late. Oh, surprise! The plane was at the next gate but even though Deb was at the gate, they closed the door and wouldn't let us board.

Her friend Dave was there to see her off. Yup, you could actually be IN the airport if you weren't traveling. He rushed us to an American West office so we could be reticketed on another flight. He was an elite traveler and we were like the 800th person in line, he called the airline, made our arrangements to get us switched to Delta. So like crazy people, he grabs a wheelchair for my father, grabs our carry ons and runs us to a bus to get us to another terminal where our tickets were waiting. And they were!

The plane was a 767. Pretty weird flying from Phoenix to Vegas because there were only like 40 people onboard, but it was late at night. Deb and I were in the first cabin after first class. My parents were in the next cabin.

In strolls a group of 7 men who had no luggage, no carryons and appeared to be speaking Arabic. They got on the plane and started going through the overhead bins. When they found a bin that had plane stuff in it they started "messing" with it. The flight attendant stopped them, told them to sit down. And they did, for about a minute. And then they started wandering into first class and toward the cockpit. The flight attendants from the back came up front and told them to sit down so we could take off. Now remember, this was the time when security was relaxed, the cockpit door would sometimes stay open during the flight and you could watch the takeoff.

Deb and I and the 7 men were the only ones in our cabin. The men acted like they didn't understand. Back they went rifling through the overhead bins in the next cabin. Weird considering they came with nothing except for the clothes on their back. Two flight attendants escorted them back into the cabin and they insisted they wanted to sit where Deb and I were sitting. There were seats everywhere, but they wanted to look out our window.

Deb is not known for her finesse. She tells it like it is. She said "Get the f--- out of my face camel breath and go sit down." The flight attendant laughed and said "Amen". Three of them kept leaning over us and we decided to move up a few seats. They followed us. The flight attendants finally stood in between the doors to the cabins to keep them seated. They also locked the cockpit door. As soon as we were in the air, they blocked the exits and entrances to our cabin with the carts.

Since no one was in the back of the plane, the attendants called the back and sent the attendants up to our cabin. These guys didn't quit. They were in and out of the bathrooms, moved a cart and tried to get into first class . They were totally enthralled with the mechanics of the plane, especially the wing flaps. They spent all 50 minutes of the flight trying to keep this group who PRETENDED not to understand English to sit down.

A flight attendant asked one of them why they were going to Vegas and where they were staying. One guy said he was going to take pictures. The flight attendant asked him where was his camera. He said he didn't have one. WTF? Where are you staying? They didn't know. Do you gamble? No. We were like wondering why these young Arab men were going to Vegas when they were not gamblers, had no luggage, didn't know where they were staying and seemed interested in keeping me and Deb in our seats and messing with the plane.

As we started to descend, they got out and headed to watch the wing flaps again. The attendants called the pilot, the pilot told them to sit down now. They pretended not to understand, but they understood EVERYTHING when the flight attendants were talking to them behind us. They escaped into the back cabins and the flight crew went back to get them. They were in the back galley. By this time, all 40 of us on this cavernous flight were wondering what was up with them.

They made them come back and sit down and they got up again and leaned over me and Deb. There were windows everywhere, why our window? She screamed this time "Get the f--- away from me and sit the hell down." The co pilot had to come back and sit them down so we could land.

Now here's the weirdest part, they didn't want to get off the plane. Of course, they weren't at baggage pickup. Everyone on the plane waiting for our luggage was talking about how weird they were and why were they messing with the plane.

Fast forward a year. Its 9/11 and I just returned the night before from a business trip to Las Vegas. The news starts to unfold. Deb and I get a sick feeling when we see the pictures of the terrorists on TV. We call each other, is that Camel Breath? We recognized those guys...they were on that flight with us! We called each other, called my parents. My parents recognized them also. Mom cries and cries. Then comes the news that the terrorists had been flying between Phoenix and Las Vegas on a 767s to learn the workings of that aircraft. They'd been taking flight lessons in Phoenix. OMG, it really was the terrorists on that flight!!

So we call the FBI. And since I'm totally anal about keeping receipts from business trips, I had all the flight information. And I never was so scared in my life while I gave the FBI agent the information of our flight and our statements. And then we all freaked out. Big time. And Mom cried some more.

A few months later, James Woods the actor, is on Jay Leno's Tonight Show and he's talking about how he was on a flight with the terrorists and how he had to file a report with the FBI. And he talked about how it shook him up to think of what could have happened. Hey, I know the feeling.

So as I get ready to go to Las Vegas again, instead of bitching that I have to take off my shoes at security and I can't bring on a lighter or more than 3 ounces of liquids, I think of THAT flight, and I shut my mouth. I think of how lucky we were and I pray for the ones who weren't as lucky as we were. And I wish that someone on the crew would have reported them to the police. And that might have changed history.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Don't Go To Vegas Without....

There are certain things I always bring to Las Vegas.

I never leave home without:

Eye Drops The smoke, late hours and lack of sleep plus the dry air equal dry eyes.

Comfortable shoes For nonstop walking.

A clip or a snap clothespin to keep the black out drapes closed.
Who wants to see the sun at the crack of dawn streaming in through the drapes?

Dollar bills, At least $25 in dollar bills in an envelope for tipping. And some $5 and $10 bills for tips and taxi's at the airport.

Slot cards. Gotta get those points!

Program your hotel, local car rental office and any other local Vegas numbers into your cell phone.
If you get delayed, you can call and let them know you are still on your way.

Antacids, cold pills and whatever over the counter medication you might need. It will save you tons of cash if you have it in your suitcase rather than buying it at the hotel.

A fold up zip travel bag. I throw it in my suitcase to put in my dirty clothes and any I can use the space for stuff I manage to buy or accumulate on my trip. Make sure you have your ID on the case so you can check it if you are flying.

Zip plastic baggies. Sometimes you just HAVE to snatch an extra cookie from the buffet. Sometimes you buy a bag of snacks and want to keep the rest of them fresh in your hotel room. They come in handy if you have wet stuff or if you have bottles that might leak in your suitcase. Or, if you are like my mom who totes all the bathroom toiletries home, you'll need 'em.

PUREL to get rid of germs so you don't get sick.


Hot and Fluffy Gabriel Iglesias

When my husband scored tickets to see Gabriel Iglesias in Las Vegas back in September, I was like WHO? Don't tell me its one of Julio's sons. I don't like his music.

As soon as I saw the billboard, I recognized him as one of the funniest guys I've ever seen on TV. He's on Comedy Central and was on the Last Comic Standing. The man is huge and wears hawaiian shirts and shorts on stage. He always has a huge grin on his face. The voices that comes out of this man will make you fall on the floor in tears. How did that kids voice come out of that person?

It just happened that we were there for his debut in Las Vegas at the Monte Carlo. He strolls out on the stage and starts talking about everything from his childhood to becoming a parent. He spent a lot of time talking about his mother, who it turned out she was sitting just behind us. That woman is a really good sport AND she laughs at all his jokes.

Gabriel is funny. Side splitting funny. While he does get a tad gross, he never crosses the line and the kids can see his show. There were a few Latino references I didn't quite get, but once I figured it out, I couldn't stop laughing.

What impressed me was that after the show, he didn't go offstage. He went down the steps of the stage and greeted his fans, posed for pictures and signed autographs until the last fan left the theater. His mother was proudly standing back grinning from ear to ear with a group of family.

If you get a chance to catch this self proclaimed "hot and fluffy" comedian in person, just go! You'll laugh until you can't laugh anymore. And you'll get to see a comedy star as it rises.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Beatles "Love" at the Mirage, Hated It

I am a huge Beatles fan. I have original Beatles dolls safely encased in a glass hutch. I have original framed magazines from the 60's. I have all their music digitally remastered. I have them on all my playlists. I have the tee shirt. I even flew from Ohio to Vegas to see Ringo and his All Starr Band at the Hard Rock some years back. I've made the pilgrimage to see the John Lennon exhibit when it was at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I love their music. I SHOULD have loved "Love".

My husband surprised me with tickets to see "Love", the Cirque du Soelil show at the Mirage for my birthday. I had a choice between seeing Elton John live at Caesars or "Love". The reviews for "Love" were all positive, for me it was a no brainer.

We sat down and the first thing that happened was some strange character from the show was walking on the back of the chairs. He approached me and I was surrounded from characters from the show. He mumbled some jibberish and put a lavender purple vinyl heart on my forehead. They all stared at me and talked more jibberish. It freaked me out.

The show had technical problems and didn't start on time. The natives in the audience were restless. The announcer welcomed some Z minus celebs in the audience, when the spotlight hit them, they weren't in their seats. The guy in front of us took all 4 kids out for popcorn and drinks. We figured he'd spent like a hundred bucks snacking up his kids. Then his wife took each kid one by one to the restroom. Hey, you have to get your entertainment where you can!

The show started like 45 minutes late. The music was amazing. The sound system was amazing, you could hear the music from the speakers in the back of your headrest. The seats are comfortable. I sat there and kept thinking WTF does this have to do with the Beatles and love? First of all, I don't get Cirque shows. None of them. I am fairly intelligent, but I seem to be missing something. They remind me of a bad acid trip from the 60's, not that I'd know. I loved parts of it, the skaters, the acrobats, but some of the characters just creeped me out.

I was prepared for the exploding yellow Volkswagen simulating John Lennon's mother getting hit and killed by a car, but what does that have to do with entertainment? I found it depressing. My husband wasn't enjoying it much, either. Probably for the only time in our entire marriage, we agreed. He didn't get it either. Neither were the 4 kids in front of us.

I wanted to love "Love". I tried. I really tried. But after awhile I was wishing that we'd gone to see Elton John in concert. As we left the showroom, I watched everyone's puzzled faces as some tried to do a philosophical analysis of the show. I heard about the Tao of the show. Another said it brought the Zen of the Beatles full circle. I don't have a clue what they were talking about, but it sounded better than what I said "I just didn't like it".

What I did like was the "Love" gift shop. I dropped a lot of cash buying more tunes. And then we dropped more money in the casino right by the showroom where they play non stop Beatles music. And I love love love their music!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How I made 25 grand in 5 hours with two dollars

Yes, I really did. Two years ago in Vegas. Lady Luck embraced me and didn't let go. It was the ride of my life!

I was in Las Vegas for a convention. My parents were along for the fun. We were staying at the Bellagio. My husband was at home working and dog sitting our 4 legged kids.

I'd spent a long day at the convention and was ready to rock and roll in the casino. My work friends decided to go see Thunder From Down Under at the Excalibur.
I did my best to ditch my parents who were freaking out that I was alone in the casino. Yeah, I was alone with thousands of cameras trained on me, I'll be fine.

I lost all the money I had except for two bucks. I couldn't hit up the cash machine for another 12 or so hours so I had nothing to do but go to bed. As I was wandering through the casino, I decided to go to bed flat broke. I put my two bucks into a Venice nickel machine and son of a gun, I got free games, then more free games, then more until I was up to like $250. Whoo hoo.

So off to bed, I think, but the $5 Top Dollar machines called my name. Put in a twenty. First pull, top dollar...for $3200! OMG! So while I was sitting there with my hands shaking waiting for my payoff, I put a $20 in the next dollar again, $1450 another tax form. And so it went. $1200 here, a thousand there.
OMG..this can't really be happening to ME. Am I a shill?

One of the slot hosts from the high roller lounge started following me around. He was a cutie, early 20's eager to please and kept offering me food or drinks. Since it was like 3AM and I'm a lousy drinker, I declined. His name was Jason and he kept telling me to enjoy the ride, because it won't happen like this next time. ( hasn't!)

So I grab my loot and decide to head to my room, when one of the floor slot staff said to me to put a $20 in the $5 pinball machine because its been paying off all night long. So I did. Pinball on the first pull for $500. Pinball on the third pull for $750. I figured I'd play a few more dollars when the symbols on the machine lined up. Double Diamond, Double Diamond, Double Diamond for $8000. This was too much, I totally freaked out. I've never hit a jackpot across, ever. I was shaking, called my husband who thought I was joking. I put Jason on the phone to confirm my win. All my husband cared about was what I was doing calling him in the middle of the night with a guy. Bruce is not a jealous man, he just couldn't wake up enough to figure it out. He heard the 8 grand part!! This time the casino brought me champagne. I tipped everyone lavishly and had a security guard escort me upstairs. I've never had so much cash in my life at one time that was MINE.

I was so excited I couldn't sleep! I counted and counted the money...I had more than 25 grand in cash. Then I added up my tax forms and found out that I had blown about 4 grand to get the 25 grand, but what the heck?

I didn't sleep a wink. I kept checking the safe to see if it had really happened. I was meeting the parents for breakfast, I was bouncing around and ready to burst. I wasn't in the mood to hit the convention that early. I gave each of them a thousand dollars and we hit the $5 machines. And a weird thing happened, the machines that were so good to me just hours before wouldn't give up a nickel. The ride was over! But what a ride!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New Frontier Hotel Goes Out With A Bang!

The Frontier Hotel was reduced to a pile of rubble after a fireworks display in Las Vegas on 11-13. RIP The fireworks added to the farewell, don't you think?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Las Vegas Local wins 1.9 million at Wynn's

A 39 year old Las Vegas headed to Wynn's to check on the status of his job application.
While he was there, he decided to play the Wheel of Fortune slot machine.
He hit for 1.9 million dollars! He says he'll pay off his house.
No word on his job application, but with that amount of loot,
do you really need a job?

Culinary workers face strike deadline in Las Vegas

Culinary Union Local 226 and Mission Industries faced a Tuesday deadline set by the union last week amid talks on a union health care plan. At stake is clean sheets and towels for all Las Vegas hotel guests. Almost 50 hotel-casinos use the company’s six local plants for sheets, towels and other services.

The company has says it is trying to renegotiate with some of its customers to help pay for a health plan it says is now double its current amount.

“The casinos have all been willing to listen and talk with us. They’ve been receptive,” David Spurlock Jr., general counsel for Mission Industries, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The company has said it will continue all of its services if workers strike.

Let me know if I need to pack my own towels and sheets...this won't keep me at home!

UPDATE: The union announced a tentative contract that will be presented for union ratification on Tuesday.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What's the Best Slot Machine To Play?

Well, the one that wins, of course. If I knew, I'd sit there day and night until the casino was mine!

But seriously.....don't spend your money on books to beat the slots and subscribe to theories. Slot hits are random. There is a random number generator (RNG) which is a computer chip that comes up with numbers that correspond to the reels on the slot. The second you pull the handle or push the spin button, the machine spins and shows you what the computer picked for you. The spin is just part of the razzle dazzle. If you pull or push a nano second later, you'll have a different result.

There are all sorts of theories about the best place to play. The casinos plot the slot machine placement with the precision of an army general. The best paying slots are usually on the high traffic aisles. Makes sense, you are walking by and see a lot of winners, you just have to stop and play. Well, maybe not you, but I sure get sucked in.

Other good places to play are near restaurants or snack bars, round carousels that are elevated so everyone can see them from any angle and by the old change booths. (There's not many around anymore!) I've also had luck near showrooms where the crowd is either lined up to see the show or exiting from the showroom. I've also had a lot of luck at end machines.

The higher the denomination, the better the payback. Its a fact. But on the opposite end, I've seen wins in the thousands on pennies. Hmmmmmm. I've got a real life friend who hit 50 grand on Zorro which is a penny progressive.

You will also get a higher hit frequency in casinos that are off the strip. I like the Station Casinos, but I really enjoy playing at the local casinos. Sit down and within minutes there will be some local who will give you all the casino tips including what is paying and what sucks.

The best machine to play is the one you enjoy playing. If you enjoy playing it, go for it. Slots are computers and we all know how computers behave.....sometimes they are good, but when they are bad, they are soooo evil!

OJ in Court In Vegas Today

OJ Simpson is in court in Las Vegas today following his media circus arrest for armed robbery at the Palace Station hotel. One man was outside the court house wearing a chicken suit and a woman in a bunny costume. WTF? What is the point? I know its Vegas, but even I can't connect the dots on that one.

OJ arrived in a black Hummer "looking stoic". He should have that look down pat after all the crap he's been in the past decade or so. You know, the court face, the golf face, the I beat the rap face. What I don't understand are his "groupies" who still see him as a football hero.

Here's my question...what hotel would host OJ? His last Vegas digs were the very basic cell at the Clark Co. jail. "Hello, I'd like to make a reservation, the name is OJ Simpson." " One moment please, Mr. Simpson". Click...dial tone. Match, set, game.

Or if he walks into a restaurant, does the server quickly remove the knife from his place setting and run into the kitchen?

On the Vegas golf courses, is he dodging golf carts that want to ram his rear into a cactus? heheheeee (evil grin)

If OJ had devoted his life to finding the "real killer" he might not be in this mess. Look in the mirror, OJ, your search is complete. Maybe justice will finally be served. In the mean time, someone please explain the chicken suit.

RIP, The New Frontier, Implosion Nov 13

October 30, 1942- July 16, 2007

The New Frontier Hotel is going to be imploded on November 13th at 2:30 AM. RIP, Frontier. You were a grand dame in your day. The place reeked of cigar smoke and had an old west atmosphere. It was sort of cool in that old Vegas way, but its newer competition made it seem dated and out of the loop.

The New Frontier hotel was the longest continuously run casino on the strip and the only Bingo parlor on the Las Vegas strip. In its heyday, the New Frontier was a place to see and be seen. In 1956, Elvis' first strip appearance was right here. Other headliners were Judy Garland, Juliet Prowse, Foster Brooks, Frankie Valli, Sigfried & Roy and Diana Ross & the Supremes final performance as a group. A lot of colorful characters hung out here. Lots of memories, and you can't implode memories.

Howard Hughes bought the hotel in 1976 for 14 million bucks. It has had a succession of owners, the last is Phil Ruffin. He purchased the hotel in 1998 and ended the longest culinary strike in history. I didn't visit the Frontier during those years, I have a thing about crossing picket lines.

The Atrium tower is the only part of the hotel to be imploded. The other two towers and casino will come down with heavy equipment. No word on what will happen to the sign.

Gilley's mechanical bull is long gone. It was sad to see the chain link fence go up and windows out of the building. Piles of debris were scattered about when I was there in Sept and the grounds looked dead and unkempt. The sign looked sad, I was sad. Another Las Vegas landmark gone but not forgotten. Sigh....

But in Vegas, one place implodes and a newer one takes its place. Wonder what will be imploded next?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Cheap Flights To Las Vegas, They Are Out There!

I spend hours looking for the best deal on airfare to get to Las Vegas. Its a game, the more I save, the more I can spend in Las Vegas. I search for convenient flight times, short layovers and good seats at the lowest price I can find without traveling in the baggage compartment or strapped to a wing.

Yesterday, I scored and I scored big! Woooo Hoo....I'm going to Vegas, baby! OK, so I was just there 6 weeks ago, but I managed to blow a disc in my back and we didn't get to do everything we wanted to do. When you can't walk, are tethered to a heating pad and under the influence of pain killers, it keeps you from having the quintessential Vegas experience. I spent a lot of time in a jacuzzi and not in the casino. My husband had to push me around in a wheel chair and that wasn't much fun. He left me in a gift shop when he got distracted by a candy display and I was surrounded by a tour group. I'm claustrophobic! He forgot where he parked me and couldn't see me. He had to pay big time for that! This trip is my do over. OK, so I held that over his head and we are both getting a do over.

I fly a lot. I hit Vegas at least 5 times a year or more, if I can figure out a way or an excuse to go. I use Kayak to find my flights. Find Cheap Flights from 100+ Sites with One Click. They will search hundreds of sites to find the very best rates. This is such a cool free service, it literally saves hours and days of searching. It hits all the major sites like Travelocity, Orbitz and Expedia. Kayak also hits the airline sites. Its amazing how much the same seat on the same plane can vary on the different sites. Sometimes the airline sites are less, sometimes not. This is such a cool site and it WILL save you a lot of green.

I have no more free vouchers from taking a voluntary bump, so I make it my mission to find a great flight AND try to get bumped. I will sit for hours at an airport, if I can get to my destination and get a free voucher for a round trip, to Las Vegas, of course! If you want more information on how to get bumped to get a free airline voucher for a free trip, check out this awesome site. Gadling's Guide to Getting Bumped.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

My First Time, The Stupidity Begins

The early 80's were a different time. I was young, newly single and ready for a change of pace. "Cuz" and I were raised together like sisters. Cuz is also newly single, her husband was tragically killed. Both of us are miserable over the holidays, our parents decided we need a trip to Las Vegas.

I fly to Phoenix and we drive through the desert. We pick up a couple of big cowboy hats at an outdoor market to shade us from the desert sun and we're off.

We've packed a list made up by our parents:

The strip is one way, lock up your parking spot early and walk.

Don't drink and drive.

Don't talk to strange men.

Play slot machines with bars on them.

Armed with our words of wisdom, maps, extra water for the car, a cocktail dress and some cash, we arrive at twilight just in time to see the neon.

My heart is pounding...I've never seen anything like this! I've lived in a pastoral farm community and this is amazing! I literally could feel the heat of the lightbulbs.

Then it happened...within minutes I became stupid. Yup, here I am, educated, sensible, managing a business..and I become stupid.
And, I'm having the time of my life.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Las Vegas Show Guide

Here is a web site that has all the Las Vegas shows. You can even search by the type of show you want to see. Its all here at Vegas. Com

Getting Around in Las Vegas

Getting around Las Vegas is easy. You can rent a car, hire a limousine, take a taxi, take a shuttle bus, ride the Deuce bus, ride the monorail or walk.

If you fly into McCarren airport, you need transportation from the airport to the hotel. Most people take a taxi or rent a car. Some hire limousines. Here is something you need to know: Some limousines are nothing but a shuttle bus that stops at every hotel. It takes FOREVER to get to your destination. Its called limousine service, but if you want to rent a real stretch limo and hit the strip like a high roller, you can do it in the area near baggage pickup.

I like to rent a car. Its not hard to drive in Las Vegas. You need to drive like a cab driver, ignore the cabs honking at you, don't gawk at everything on the strip, watch for the pedestrians who insist upon jaywalking and drive sober. You also need to watch for the other idiots on the roads who have been drinking, are gawking and blasting their boom boxes, and others who are just plain lost and scared. Otherwise, its a go. I've never had problems driving in Las Vegas. I like to go all over the valley and taxi's are way too expensive if you want to go to Summerlin or Henderson. Valet parking is free at every hotel. Just tip the valet a dollar or two and they take care of parking and retrieving your vehicle.

The Deuce bus is a double decker bus that goes up and down the strip. Its $2.00 per ride of $5.00 for a 24 hour pass. The bus holds 97 passengers and they are really popular as an inexpensive way to get around town.

The monorail is a fun ride. There are 7 stations, the stations are behind the hotels. The monorail runs from the MGM Grand to the Las Vegas Hilton with stops in between. If you are going to a convention at the convention center, its an easy way to get there as there is a stop at the convention center. They are having a special one day pass for $9.00.

And if you are going to walk, wear comfy walking shoes. The strip is like an optical illusion, it looks like the buildings are close, but they are a long walk.

Dollar has low car rental rates

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Celebrity Sightings In Las Vegas

Vegas Virgins expect to see celebrities on their first trip. Sometimes you do, most times you don't. Sometimes you just stumble across one. They don't do Vegas like mere mortals, they have entourages. If you are clubbing, they're in private areas. You'll KNOW they are there, you may not see them. Just follow the flashbulbs and read about it the next day on the net.

My first trip to LV, I was in an elevator with Richard Pryor. I realized who he was the minute he said hello and I became mute. I couldn't open my mouth. I stood there like an idiot. All I remember is that he was very polite, totally unlike his on stage persona.

I've seen a variety of celebs and sometimes didn't recognize them. One day I was playing the slots at the Rio and had a great time bantering with the guy next to me. He was hilarious and we played for hours. When he got up to leave, I realized there was a group of people behind us. One man came up to me and kept you realize who that was? No, I didn't and I still don't know who he was. He was a golfer, he wasn't Tiger Woods. He was just a really fun person.

I was at Caesar's the night they opened Planet Hollywood in the Forum Shops. I was there with family and was totally oblivious to all the celebs milling about until Sylvester Stallone's body guards came by. They made us move from the machines we were playing so he could walk down the center of the aisle. Gimmeabreak! We were winning! Everytime I see a Rocky pic, I still get pissed off by his arrogance.

I had an encounter with Mike Tyson at the Venetian. I waved at him and he thought he knew me and came over to talk. I freaked. He was really polite and his face tattoo isn't as noticable in person. The same night I was chatting with some rappers who were sitting next to me in the Grand Luxe Cafe. Since I'm not into rap, I had no clue who they were, but they had a line of fans. They were fun, they let me wear their bling, they rapped for us and offered me and my husband back stage passes to their show. We would have gone if we were in town!

We've seen celebs like Doogie Houser, Kenny Rogers, Daisy Fuentes, Steven Tyler, Lou Gossett, and Senator John McCain on different trips. And you know what? They're just like us, only with more $$$$.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In Search of Criss Angel

I wasn't stalking Criss Angel from Mindfreak. It hadn't crossed my mind that he'd actually be walking amongst us at Luxor. I was 10 paces behind him on the last two trips to the Luxor.

I will stay at any hotel that will give me a free room. The Luxor gave us an offer we couldn't refuse including checking in at the VIP at the east valet. There were three sports cars covered and surrounded by posts so you couldn't touch them.

Me to valet: "What's under the covers?"

Valet: "Those belong to Criss Angel. One is a Ferrari, One is a Lambo, the other is...."

I stopped listening because my husband had a glazed over slack jawed look on his face of pure nirvana. Nothing like a hot car or a hot woman to get a man to smile and command his total attention.

Valet: "You just missed Criss".

My husband had no idea who Criss Angel is because he's always watching ESPN. I dragged him into the official Criss store and he got a look of recognition until he saw one of Criss' bikes on display. He was smitten. Criss was just there talking to his fans, we'd just missed him.

A couple of weeks ago, we're back at the Luxor. The same valet remembered me because I'd say to him "Get the key and we'll go for a spin". As we pulled in, the valet said "I'm going to get the key and we're going for a spin. You just missed Criss." At check in: "Criss just walked by."

Later, we headed back to valet to get out car. Criss just brought the Lambo back from a spin. Lambo is cool for Lamborghini, which makes my car a Grambo, short for granny mobile. I wanted to see Criss up close, hubby wanted to see the Lambo being driven.

Back in the casino, a gal sits down next to me. "You'll never guess what just happened to my husband. He was just in the elevator with Criss Angel and three gorgeous blondes. And the dumb ass didn't say a word to him. He said he was really cool but I know he was checking out the blondes." She said she was going to stand by the elevators all day because if he went up, he's going to have to come down. She didn't have to move, because the cocktail waitress said "There goes Criss". The dude is such a good illusionist, he disappeared into thin air.

Is Criss Angel really walking around the Luxor? Is the staff just mentioning him to keep you in the hotel and casino? Can Criss stand upright wearing all his silver bling and chains? Are his nails really painted black? And why in God's name are some women getting his logo tattooed on their body? OMG! I'll just be content to be 10 paces behind him.

Monday, October 22, 2007

RIP Joey Bishop, the last member of the Rat Pack

Joey Bishop was the last living member of Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack died at age 89. Joey was a stone faced comedian who made the phrase "Son of a Gun" famous. Frank called him the hub of the wheel in the Rat Pack that ruled Vegas in the 60's.

Things I didn't know about the Rat Pack:

The Rat Pack was a social group that originally revolved around Humphery Bogart.
The Rat Pack appeared at the Sands Hotel in Vegas and was a singing and comedy act that changed every day depending on the whims of the performers. It could get really crazy and the craziness is what drew the crowds.
The group consisted of Frank Sinatra, Joey, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford.
The group made two movies together: "Ocean's Eleven" and "Sergeants 3"
The group made President John F Kennedy an honorary member.

To read more about Joey's life, click here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Las Vegas Makes Me Stupid!

Yes, its true. I've been known to become very stupid in Las Vegas. Maybe its the time change. Maybe its because I don't sleep very much. Maybe its the nonstop excitement. Maybe I've stepped one buffet over the line. Whatever it is, Las Vegas makes me stupid.

I hit the cash machine when I know I shouldn't because I'm sure I'm going to win a jackpot. Yes, I've actually hit jackpots. But most of the time the only jackpot is the payout at the cash machine.

I've been known to buy stuff that when I get home I wonder what I was thinking. It seemed like such a good idea at the time. I came home with three overpriced sparkly handbags. I LOVED them in LV. Back at the hometown grocery store, I get some strange looks.

I've bought makeup that looks ridiculous. Sephora is nirvana to me. Wall to wall cosmetics, I get stupid and fill up my basket. I'd never spend $50 on a lipstick at home, but in Vegas, I gotta have it. It made sense at the time. It was a good thing I had cash from a win, because if I had charged it, I would have been sick when the bill arrived. Another time my cousin who lives in LV convinced me I needed this thing that paints purple highlights in your hair. I've only used it on Halloween. At the time, it was wooo hoooo....purple highlights!

I've bought another suitcase in Vegas to haul home cheap junk that the casinos were handing out free and they sit in my basement. My husband went right along with it even though he knew I was toting home useless junk. Guess he figured it was easier than arguing with Stupid. But it was FREE!!

I went hiking in the desert. STUPID! It was nearly triple digits and I am deathly afraid of snakes. DUH.

I've gone to the pool without sunscreen. Dumb, stupid. I paid for it.

I let a hotel bartender mix me a special ladies drink at a slot tournament. I have very little alcohol tolerance, but this was so tropical and fruity. I ended up sitting in the elevator to go to my room. STUPID! I bet the people in the elevator thought I was a lush. I still had half of the drink in my hand.

I am the poster child for stupidity in Vegas. Don't be like me. Pack your brain when you travel. Oh, and by the way, I'm only stupid in Vegas. ;)