This is our first trip in 15 months (because of a pregnancy) so we have been beyond excited as we planned and imagined traveling to the most exciting adult playground in the world!!
As the final 48 hour countdown began, we found ourselves in the midst of a winter storm warning. K's parents were scheduled to take care of our 3 boys and they live 9 hours away in Illinois. Needless to say, we were worried!
They did arrive safely and so things seemed to be in place for the most anticipated trip we have ever taken.
We were up at 4:30 a.m. making final preparations - i.e. who could sleep with Vegas around the corner!! It has been hard to sleep for the last 2 weeks.
We dropped our kids at school and daycare and headed over to our best friend's house to pick her up. The three of us are excellent Vegas traveling companions and we have a blast just planning the trip!!!
We left town around 8:50 a.m. and headed toward our favorite Native American casino (right on the way to the airport - Mystic Lake) to have some pre-Vegas fun. We had NO LUCK and decided that Vegas would bring it!!!
K had to pump (she is breastfeeding) and when we got in the car, she discovered that the car adapter for the pump was not working - the first major snag in our trip.
We stopped at a Mongolian BBQ place to eat and then went to the airport. Our luck kicked in and we got seats together with 15 minutes to spare before boarding our Sun Country.
K and D had planned a special surprise for A in Vegas and it included a new flask, which promptly caused security problems. Evidently, you cannot bring a full flask onto an airplane. So with the alcohol dumped, we made it through security and headed for the plane.
The airplane ride was uneventful. It wasn't completely full which was great and we landed 30 minutes ahead of schedule which was even better.
Grabbed our 'fastbreak' car from Budget and drove down the strip to the Bellagio. AHHH - we were finally here!!
Checked into our lake view room at the Bellagio (11004) - not the high floor we were hoping for but the silver lining was no extra charge for the lake view as the floor level was low and the view was partially obstructed.
Got a line pass from Club Bellagio and headed to the Buffet. By this time is was 4:45PM.
Since we hadn't been to Vegas in a long time and we usually visit 2 or 3 times per year, we were grateful that Bellagio had given us casino rate for our stay.
Played some Keno (no luck) during another great Bellagio Buffet dinner and then went in search of our favorite $1 VP (BP & JB) machines near Carmel. K and A had 8 full houses and 4 quads while D had beginning bad luck (that would soon change for her).
Up to the room to pump at 6:45 p.m. and catch a couple of fountain shows. We LOVE watching the fountain shows so it was a treat to take a few minutes to again view the water splendor from our room.
Went back downstairs and D kicked some tail on a .25 JB VP machine at the Fontana Bar (3 Quads and walked up).
K and A tried some fun nickel machines and lost $60 fairly quickly.
Grabbed D and headed to the $1 Million Dollar Pyramid where K had 5 bonus rounds and played a long time. Continued playing on other nickel machines (Hollywood Squares and 5 play poker with minor luck).
Back up to pump and catch some fountain shows and then we each invested $20 in a Flaming 7's machine near the elevators. The Flaming 7's would continue to be a fun group play experience and this time we each walked up $40.
Went to the Fontana Lounge and got an amazing table right by the windows. Thoroughly enjoyed Hopper's Band (especially the lead female vocalist - Diane). We caught a few fountain shows from the veranda and enjoyed some peach bellini's. Total bill was $44 + tip and well worth it. We will definitely go back to the Fontana Lounge in the future!!
Left Fontana at 10:50 and walked to the Aladdin to see our favorite 'boy band' - Jonathon and Music Magic. The Aladdin always seems so weird and disjointed. The band was playing upstairs and was a bit of a letdown after the Fontana experience. We each played some .25 VP and then decided to call it a night. But before calling it a night we played a bit more - nickel Jeannie & nickel Beverly Hillbillies.
On the way back, we all felt the need for a snack (specifically a hot dog - don't ask). We discovered that there wasn't a snack bar option anywhere close to the Bellagio. The hot dog quest would become somewhat of a joke during the rest of the trip!!
We settled on some expensive chips and dip from the Bellagio gift shop called Tutto (although not as expensive as the mini-bar snacks would have been) and then went to bed around 12:30 p.m.
All and All, we had an excellent first day with great food, fun play, excellent music, and good togetherness.
Tomorrow . . . Check in at the Golden Nugget, a limo ride, some out of the way casinos, and a great Cuban experience!!
Day 1 Totals:
Food and Beverage: -$169 (Lunch, Dinner, Fontana, and snacks)
Gaming: -$445 ( K and A only)
VEGAS WILL BRING IT!!! - January 27-30, 2004 DAY 2-Wednesday
Up at 6:00 a.m. and down to the Bellagio casino to play nickels - Sinatra, 5 play VP and Hollywood Squares. Left even and drove down (an empty strip) to the Golden Nugget. We each had free rooms and $50 in cash waiting for us at the Golden Nugget. Even though we were not going to stay downtown, we love to play there and it was another room available for a pumping stop.
Rooms in the North tower were not available at this time so we got one room in the South tower (12120?) and then opted to wait for the other in the North tower.
We checked our room out, called home to find out our 8 1/2 month old baby is refusing all liquids, and then made our plan for the day. Cocktails??!!
Comparing rooms at the Bellagio and the Golden Nugget: first of all, there really is no comparison. While the GN rooms are very nice, the Bellagio rooms are luxurious and the lake view is the cherry on top! With either hotel, the first thing that comes to mind is NOT ' 'gee, these rooms are clean!' Both hotels offer VERY nice accommodations.
Headed to our favorite $1 8/5 JB progressive machines (near the escalator by the change booth) and promptly lost $100.
D played .25 JB for a long time at the bar near the cage and A and K checked out a .25 Wheel of Fortune machine on the Fremont street wall of the casino. We don't usually play WOF but we thought we would give it a try. Wouldn't you know that on the 4th pull we got to spin and hit 1000 quarters for a quick $250 win!!! What a blast and a great surprise to begin the day!!
Played some more fun nickel slots (including the new monopoly & video screen WOF) and then checked D into the North tower (608) - we were glad we waited for the North tower room just for the convenient location.
Grabbed a breakfast at Carson Street (we love the atmosphere and the food is better than Perkins) at around 9AM. This is when we realized we would have to alter our
After breakfast, we each threw $20 into a blazing 7's machine and hit mixed 7's 3 times for a quick $40 profit (each).
We decided it was time for blackjack and much to our surprise, there was not a $5 table in sight on a Wednesday morning at the GN. We walked down Freemont Street to the Golden Gate and played the 2-cent MASH machines and some $3 minimum Caribbean Stud Poker. Had some luck at CSP - K & D both walked a bit up. Found no BJ games available &/or 'to our liking'.
K put $5 into a .02 Twilight Zone machine (strange game) and turned that into $30. What is the deal with slot machines that have no coin return or TITO? Why would they design a machine that is only a handpay? It seems to me they either expect you will not wait for a small pay or that you will not ever win enough to be paid??? Mmmmm
Walked to the Plaza (for our once per trip obligatory walk through) and threw away some money into 'fun' nickel machines. D did manage to make $80 on Money Storm!
Back to the GN and to our favorite Flaming 7's. This time - those 7's would let us down and we would walk away without turning our $20 (each) into a profit.
Now it was time to retrieve our car and turn to the work portion of the trip (for D & K). Our task at hand was to explore the UNLV campus, talk to some students and staff, and hopefully bring back some interesting ideas. We all work in higher education and we have been interested in an idea exchange opportunity with UNLV - particularly focusing on services for non-traditional and commuter students. We visited the campus on both Wednesday and Thursday - more on that later.
Post work: We went in search for a Radio Shack to look for a car adaptor for K's breast pump (no luck!!). Then we realized, we had not eaten lunch and we were nearing the surprise (for A) portion of the trip. Still interested in a hot dog, we ended up at Terrible's and settled on a quick bite at McDonalds since they said they had no snack bar. At this point we are saying, 'I can't believe we are in Las Vegas eating at McDonalds ' ugh!?
Back to the Bellagio (side valet) where a stretch limousine from LVL greeted us with a smiling driver, ice, and empty glasses. K & D had decided to book the limo so that we could all visit some off-strip casinos without having to worry about directions or ultimately driving while imbibing. This was a thank you to A who is the major planner of every detail of our LV trips.
We opened a bottle of red wine, popped in a Fabulous Baker Boys soundtrack CD, and headed for Green Valley Ranch. We have been interested in visiting this casino for some time and it was a treat to be driven there with no worries other than, 'what cocktail should we order and what game will we play'?
Green Valley Ranch was pretty unique. Beautiful setting and grounds. There seemed to be a good number of people playing for late afternoon on a Wednesday We ran into the TV crew that was filming the reality show at GVR. We all signed up for their slot club (each receiving $5 in Free Play and triple points thanks to a POV coupon).
We played .25 JB VP and some 'fun' 2 cent machines (Super Cherry & Munsters). Our biggest win was A on the Super Cherry machine with a $48 profit.
We each collected a nice photo album for reaching 300 points. We then went in search of our limo.
Headed through loads of traffic to the Cannery. With the help of a beautiful sunset, a few Bacardi/Coke's and some good tunes, the ride was very enjoyable. We took advantage of the POV coupons for a 50 coin bonus on a 4 of a kind (twice) as we enjoyed some good luck on a .25 bonus VP machine (one of the quads was 2's). D enjoyed drawing a straight flush at the same bank of machines!!
Dinner time (7PM) was upon us and so we said goodbye to our limo driver as he dropped us off at the Florida Café. What a treat!! If you like Cuban Food, you should definitely check this place out. It is located on the Strip's East side inside the Howard Johnson's just North of the Stratosphere. The food was amazing and very reasonably priced. About the one criticism we could share is that they only sell wine and beer so there were no Mohitos to be had. The atmosphere is VERY casual and relaxed and the service was excellent. We ordered a LOT of food (3 appetizers, 3 main courses, and 3 beverages - $50).
Took a cab back to Bellagio - as you might expect - it was an interesting ride. We heard about the 'string' (2) of cab robberies, which apparently had been executed by the same individual. The cabbie was clear with us that he doesn't let 'that kind' into his cab. Then, he went on to elaborate what 'that kind' was which included a description of a non-white male. In any case, we learned that there are around 1400 cabs on the street in LV on weekdays and about double that on weekends.
Tired but still wired and so we went to 'our' $1 JB VP machine and promptly lost $200. Over to the 'fun' nickel machines where A turned $20 into $120 on a family feud machine. A little more losing and it was time to catch a fountain show and turn in for the night (all 4 1/2 hours of it). A and K were asleep by midnight
D kept playing and had endless luck on $1 JB VP & Flaming 7's ending way up. She turned in before 1AM
Tomorrow . . Flaming 7's bring it, the MGM, Border Grill, Aqua, Fun BJ
Day 2 Totals:
Food and Beverage: -$100
Gaming: -$173 ( K and A only)
K and A in MN
VEGAS WILL BRING IT!!! - January 27-30, 2004 DAY 3-Thursday
K was up & in the Bellagio casino by 5AM. She had little luck on .25 BP by the sports book but caught back up a bit on a .05 Double Diamond machine. Then K came back upstairs to get D & A who were ready to go before 7AM.
Breakfast at Café Bellagio which is always one of our favorites. The prices aren't low but we can often get this meal comped & the food is always very good. Played a little keno & had little to no luck (as was the case for us with keno throughout this trip). The only time we play keno is during meals when it is available. On the way to & from the restaurant we marveled at the Chinese/Asian New Year display in the Conservatory. Amazing. They must be increasing the budget for each new display.
To the Flaming 7's by the Bellagio guest room elevators. We each invested $40 for a total of $120. Played quite a while before losing the investment. To the $1 BP with a $6600 progressive at the Fontana bar machines. It was early enough that there was no bartender there. K & A had very good luck playing together (as we usually do). Played for a long time (hitting 3 quads along the way) & ending +$60. Played a little bit of .05 $1 Million Pyramid & some .25 BP before heading up to the room for K to pump & to call home to see how the kids were.
To valet at about 10:15AM. K & D dropped A in front of the Harley Café so he could walk & play while they went to work a bit at UNLV. A walked down to the MGM (5 minutes walking fast) to check it out for the first time in several years, & to put more points on the MGM card. Looked around a bit trying to get my bearings in this huge casino & hotel. Played .25 & .05 Haywire & I Dream of Jeannie machines for quite a while. Finally got drink service when I moved to the nickel machines (ironic?). Had a very nice server who remarked on how loud my Jeannie machine was & said, 'The loudest ones always pay best!'.
K & D called to say they would meet me at the MGM valet. We then played for a while longer at the MGM (with little luck) & then got our car. We had planned a late lunch at the Border Grill at Mandalay Bay.
After valet parking we took the long walk through the casino looking for Border Grill. This is a place A had been wanting to try for quite a while. While the restaurant is architecturally interesting the service was underwhelming and our reactions to the food were mixed. D loved it & almost certainly would try it again. A was not thrilled and would vote against returning. The total bill was somewhere around $60 + tip including one expensive drink (which K said was good!) & an amazing side of guacamole.
Found our way to the MB valet pick up (one floor below drop off). Got our car & drove the Strip to the Sahara. Used our POV coupons (2) for the $50 in chips for the price of $40 deal. Had little to no luck at BJ & roulette tables. Played $20 in .05 Cops & Donuts machine - lost but it was fun. Had heard about this machine but this was the first time we had played it.
Drove to the Golden Nugget valet. K & A went upstairs for K to pump. D went to play $1 9/6 JB poker by the escalators. When K & A came down to the casino we all headed over to our favorite Flaming 7's machines right by the sports book. We each invested $60 (180 total) & took turns spinning the reels. We cashed out at $810 for a $210 profit for each of us. That was a lot of fun! And great drink service with a few comped smokes from the server along the way!
K & A headed to the $1 8/5 JB machines by the escalator. The progressive was above $5300 I believe. We invested $100 & after lots of play walked +270! Over to $5 BJ tables. A joined D at a pitch table with a great dealer (the kind you want to sit with even when you are losing). K went to a shoe game with another nice dealer. Luckily she started winning because A was certainly loosing.
Got our cash back from 24 Karat & headed to the Valet. Drove to Bellagio (still little to no traffic on the Strip) & hung out in the room. Got ready for dinner as we watched fountain shows from our window. After the 8:15PM fountain show we headed for our 8:30PM reservation at Aqua.
Aqua was amazing. We chose the 5 course tasting menu along with the corresponding wine menu. It included a cold scallop dish, crab cakes, Chilean Sea Bass, & Ahi Tuna that was very rare. The desert course was served with port & a huge array of cute little desert items. All of the food was excellent. Our table was by the windows looking out over the Bellagio pools as we had requested when we made reservations. The room was crowded with the beautiful people & rather loud. The service was superb.
All in all I think we each enjoyed our experience at Aqua. I am not certain if we would return anytime soon. The bill, as expected, was around $500 + tip.
By now it was 10:30PM. D headed off to play more $1 JB 9/6 VP by the Carmel Lounge & then $1 Flaming 7's by the elevators. She was up substantially by the time she went to bed at 12:30AM. A & K went straight from dinner up to the room. We watched several fountain shows & were in bed before midnight.
Tomorrow......more Nugget, checking out new casinos, the sad farewell!
Day 3 Totals:
:Food and Beverage: $600 (+ tips)
Gaming: +150 (K and A only)
VEGAS WILL BRING IT!!! - January 27-30, 2004 - DAY 4-Friday
K & A were up & playing at 5AM. Little luck on our favorite $1 BP machines by Carmel. Off to nickels. A bit more play & luck.
Met D at the side valet at 6AM. Got our car & took the quick & easy drive DT via the Wells Fargo ATM. Valeted at the GN.
BJ at the GN
8AM - Breakfast comped at Carson Street through 24 Karat. Good service (a guys we have had on previous trips & earlier this trip) & good food, but still no luck on Keno. Back to Flaming by 9AM. We each walked +40 after a bit of luck (a few mixed 7s) & some OK play. A waited for a fill while D & K checked out of the rooms & got the car.
Drove back to Bellagio through the growing traffic (Super Bowl weekend was beginning). Parked at the side valet. Asked at the slot club desk for a late check out (if at all possible) & were very impressed with the friendliest, least snooty Bellagio representative we had ever talked with at that desk. She got us a 2PM check out!
What did I forget about what we did at Bellagio in here before we went up to the room at 11:45AM?
Back down to the casino. Each put in $20 for one final group session with the Flaming 7s & quickly lost the 60. A headed for the valet & K & D stayed to play at Bellagio.
A was on a mission to see & get chips from a couple of new casinos. Drove straight to the Westin Casaurina. Quick valet service in & out. Not an impressive casino (& I hadn't expected it to be impressive) but was particularly unimpressed with the fact that all 8 or 10 tables in the casino were empty & had $10 minimums. I never get that, but then it seems to work OK for the casinos. Sat down at a $10 table. Quickly pocketed the chips (2 $5 ones - regular & David Brenner) that I had come for. Playing one-on-one with a nice dealer who was rooting for me. Up & down but in 10 minutes I walked -$50. But at least I had a G & T in my hand as I walkedto the valet.......
Out of the valet area & flipped a U to get to Tuscany. The place was quiet & reminded me of a new San Remo with both the pluses & minuses . Did quickly find a $5 table here with some characters & a dealer being trained in. Inexperienced players who were friendly enough. Bought in for a hundred, pocketed the regular $5 chip (kind of cool looking) & proceeded to have several good double down opportunites. Not mach panned out & walked even (plus the chip) after 20 minutes of play. Then proceeded to stand in a long line (the only cage in the casino) to cash in.
Back to the valet & in the car pretty quickly. Not exactly busy at the Tuscany valet. Trying to decide where to go next with the 60 minutes I have available before meeting & K & D back at the room at 2PM. Finally decide on ti after considering NYNY (too hard to get in & out of from here) & the Boardwalk. Get ti ti quite quickly even with the growing traffic. The place pretty much looks the same & feels the same to me. Sure the big sign outside if completely different (I like the new one a lot actually) but I saw little else different in my quick over view.
Sat down at a $1 9/6 JB machine to put a few points on the Old MGM card. And it ended up being just a few because I no luck on my $100. Back to the valet & as we have experienced bafoe at Treasure Island the valet service is slow even when it is not at all busy.
Drove back to Bellagio. K & D had had mixed luck (K bad & D breaking even) while I was gone.
We all did our final packing & A headed to valet while K & D checked out. Club Bellagio comped our Buffet & Café Bellagio meals. And they tried to comp the room but since we were there on business we declined that. They also found a $150 charge from Olives on our room. We disputed it & they will investigate. We weren't charged at this time but they reserve the right to charge us later based apon how the investigation goes. K & D found out that the reason we had now been charged additionally for lake view was because the lower floors on the lakeview side that are partially obstructed have no extra charge. And they also said that the lakeview charge (when it applies) is now only $25? This was confusing because we distinctly remembered being told it was going up to $50 not too long ago.
Our flight was scheduled for 4:40PM so we figured we needed to drop the car at Budget at 3PM. We headed to Hard Rock to spend the intervening 40 minutes. Luckily found a self-park spot RIGHT in front. Turned in coupons from POV for $5 free slot play (2) & also a double point coupon. No luck for any of us on .05 Jeannie. A went to BJ to use a 'play $10 & get paid for a $20 bet if you win' coupon. Bought in for 100 on a $10 table. Lost the coupon bet but hit several other things including a decent sized natural before I got up +50. K & D had no luck to speak of on the machines. Cashed out & left.
Smooth as silk at Budget & to the terminal & checked in before 3:20PM. Long line at security. Probably waited 40 minutes. Rushed through food at Ruby's (including D not getting her food until K & A were done with their's). Uneventful flight that was nearing full. The Sun Country plane, although the same model (737?), seemed to have much less leg room than the plane we flew West on. Into the Humphrey terminal in the Twin Cites on time. Air temperature was about -10 F. Home by midnight.
Final numbers for the trip:
Total comped meals for 3 3 (two at Bellagio & 1 at GN)
Food and Beverage: -869 before tips ($500 of which was one meal - Aqua)
Gaming: -1800 (K and A only)
We came up with more places we don't need to go to again this time around. For example, baring major innovations or a quick trip just for a restaurant or to see a headliner, we never need to go back to Tuscany, Westin Casaurina, ti, Mandalay Bay, Venetian, Paris, Aladdin, Bally's, Flamingo, Tropicana, Hard Rock, Caesar's, Sahara, & Excaliber. This is kind of good to be conscious of (in our opinion) because it makes us really focus on where we DO want to be.
We will certainly go back to the Florida Café again.
We had more gambling luck than we sometimes have on our trips. No that we wouldn't be open to walking ahead & hitting a royal or a hand job or two, but we were within budget.
Our next trip will be mid-summer & we can't wait!
Thank you for reading. We hope it was fun &/or helpful!
K and A in MN