My wife and I always keep an on-going travel log and record as much about our vacations as possible. Just the important things like costs, where reservations are made, where we ate, where we won money, where we got waxed, etc., etc. Most of this report comes from our travel log entries.
We fly out of Milwaukee via Midwest Express. If you ever have to choose between airlines and ME is one of them, spend the extra $20.00-$30.00 and fly with ME. They really do offer the best care in the air. Wide isles, comfy leather seats, GREAT meals, and awesome service. What a nice way to start off a vacation in our favorite city. Like last Sept. there are four of us going on this trip. My wife and I and another couple. The flight was great, a wee bumby during dinner of all times, but it seemed a fast three and a half hours. In no time The Strip appeared out of nowhere. Why am I always on the wrong side of the plane when we approach the airport? How rare is this? Our baggage was already on the carousel when we got down to the baggage claim. While G., S., and M. picked up our bags, I ran over to the Thrifty car rental kiosk in the airport. I had made reservations through for a mid-sized car but being Saturday night, Thrifty did not have any cars available. The rental agent called the Thrifty base to see what else was available and before I knew it we were on the shuttle on our way to pick up our Mercury Marquee...a three car upgrade at no extra cost. Things went so well with Thrifty, they have got a customer for good.
In our cool red Merc., we drove off to the Excalibur for the first nights stay. This vacation is from a time-share exchange that will start on Sunday. Finding a room for Sat. night proved to be a bit of a chalange, but the Internet came through once again. Once at the Excal. we split up, G and M left to check our luggage into the Polo Towers, while S and I went to check us in. It was nice to have our bigger bags already at Polo Towers so we didnt have to drag them around on Sunday. Check-in took about 5min. at the Excal. I asked for a room as high up as possible with a Strip view and got a room on the 29th floor facing the MGM, Trop and San Remo. We didnt come here to look out the windows, but it was still a nice extra. The traffic on The Strip was so heavy it took G and M over an hour to meet back up with us. We all walked over to the MGM and took the shuttle to Ballys. We were all a little hungry and there is no better quick snack than the $2.49 eggs or pancake special at the Barbary Coast. Great coffee, great eggs, and of course great toast. Sounds fuuny but the toast is perfect. Only one problem though, word has apparently gotten out on the Victorian Room at the BC. We waited a half hour on this day and skipped a hour-and-a-half wait midweek. This was the start of an observation that I will get to later. After the meal we walked back to the Excal. The girls retired to the room while S and I stayed in the casino until about 2:30. We had some luck here and there but nothing much to speak of. We were not really tired at 2:30 but couldnt take much more of the casino anymore. It was really smoky and there were children running around everywhere. There were young children sleeping on the stairs, sleeping in the 24hr cafe and sleeping next to their parents while they played slots. This led to another observation I will talk about later. I dont care if people smoke or not but the casino was super smoky, way more smoke than I can handle so, up to the room.
Sunday 9/12/99...95 degrees afternoon....83 with rain pm.
Up at 7:30 and out by 8:15. We are heading to the Draft House to watch the first regular season Packers game. If you are a GB Packer fan and you are looking for a spot to catch a game, go to the Draft House....its a really great time. The Draft House is the NV home of the GB Packers fan's insane during the game(in a good way). The Draft House is tied into Holy Cow on The Strip(another place we never miss when we are here) and has pretty much the same menu along with a full line of micro-brews. We had a blast as the Pack pulled it out with under a minute to play. After the game we drove to Texas Station right down the road. Nice wide-open casino. Lots of new games and lots of room for them. I play viedo BJ and go up over $80.00 in about an hours time. G plays viedo BJ and is up about $10. S and M dont do well here but we have killed enough time that we can now go back and check into the Polo Towers. Our luggage is already there, its now just a matter of going up to our condo and waiting for it. We are owners at the Polo Towers and we had an extra week built up so what better place to use that extra week? It is really nice having your own kitchen and the quiet of no casino to walk thru on your way to your room. It gives you a great change of pace when casino life starts to be too much. Check-in took awhile and now we are all hungry again. We decide that we will walk accross the street and eat at the Monte Carlo buffet. While standing in line a 3or4 yr. old girl came running out into the casino. 15min later a frantic mom came looking for her young daughter. This was the second time in less than 24hrs that we have seen young children running around in a casino without any real supervision. As for the buffet, it was really bad. It turned me off of buffet food for the rest of the week. Food choices were too basic and the "hot" foods were ice cold. Not good in anyway except for the great service. Dishes never piled up and beverages never reached their bottoms. From the MC we took the tram over to Mandalay Bay and gambled here for awhile. We all walked back to the Polo Towers and then split up there. S and I jumped into the car to cruise The Strip. We ended up at Harrahs. I like the self park at Harrahs, its easy to get to right off The Strip and it lets you explore a large area. We played at Imperial Palace, O'Sheas, and Harrahs. We were up a bit and than decided to call it a night at 3:00. At 2:00am Harrahs and the IMP were PACKED! It was really elbow-to-elbow in some places.
Monday...89 degrees am....99 during the day...rain and 79 at night
Up at 9:30 up by the pool until 11:30. Great way to get some r&r, this is a vacation after all. Head out the the Stage Deli in the Caesars Forum Shops. What a great lunch! Great service, very clean and no kidding, 3inch sandwiches. $7-10 you cant go wrong. Walked over to the Venetian to check out the second of four new places. Can you believe this place!? Can you believe they are going to build more!? We didnt play here, the casino was packed. Drove to Boulder Station and played here awhile. Nice place but older looking. Figured we may as well hit another Station casino while were out so we drove to Sunset Station. We played here for a few hours and then drove to Sams Town. Sunset Station is G's favorite Station Casino,(I think its because on the .99 margs.) Very open and bright casino. We dont win, we dont loose, we did rack up alot of points on our casino cards. At Sams we all split up again and we all had pretty good luck. S had the best luck, hitting 1800 credits on a .05 Monopoly machine. It took over 40min for his payout though and we were about to miss the buffet we had heard so much about. We ended up at Smoky Joes at Sams. Great food, great service. $6.99 prime-rib special includes salad bar. Drove back to the Polo and hung out at the lounge for awhile with G. S and I left for a return trip to Texas Station. Its amazing, without the traffic on The Strip, we made it out there in 15 min. This trip to TX Station is only good for putting more points on our Boarding Passes. Before we left we had to pick up a dozen Krispy Kremes....mmm yummy. I will say this, going out after midnight to do some serious gambling is really the way to go. Not very crowded, not too smoky, and the casino staff is freindly and talkitive. At 3:00am we call it a night a drive back to the Polo.
9/14...83am 55 DEWPOINT...97 afternoon...a little toasty with the high dewpoint.
Up at 10:30 at the pool until Noon. Drove to Rio for buffet but we still havent recovered from the buffet at the Monte Carlo and this trip to the Carnival World Buffet just doesnt seem the same as in the past. I would say it is still #1 though. we play at the Rio for awhile and then drive back to the Polo to change. G has good luck at the Rio. She is still p.o.'ed that we made her leave(the rest of us were getting killed here). We take a cab up to the IMP for their Hot Hawian Luau. Luau is nice but I think we will go back to going on the Lake Mead cruise next year. Again the IMP and Harrahs are packed, this time at 5:00pm. We play at the IMP for a few hours after the Luau and then drive down to check out the newly opened Paris and then across the street to check out Bellagio. WOW. These four new places are all awesome! We check out a few of the fountain shows adn then head back to the condo.
9/15...97 degrees afternoon...77 at night...PERFECT DAY!!
Again we are at the Polo pool until about noon. We walk down to NYNY and have lunch at the Central Park restaurants. Very basic pizzas and burgers but a nice change of pace. Girls want to do some shopping so we drive to the Fashion Show Mall. S and I walk over to the New Frontier. Kind of on the old side but alot of cool slots. S and I play .25 viedo craps and .25 viedo roulette for about three hours. $10.00 lasted the entire 3 hrs. I cashed out with up .75! We walked back to the FS Mall and meet up with the girls. Dinner this night was decided on buy those taxi cab bilboard signs. We went to Francescos in Treasure Island. Rating...Five out of five stars. Easily the best restaurant we have ever been to in Vegas. Service from three servers was outstanding! S ordered veal parm. and got half the cow! It was a bone-in piece of veal that was breaded and cooked with a little cheese and some sauce. It was something like 29.95 but it was one of the best things I have ever tasted. From dinner we walked over to the IMP to see Legands. Always a good show. We saw; Tina Turner, Richie Valens, Modonna, Prince, The Four Tops, Liberace, and Elvis. They were all great and we will rteurn again. A little hint, dont valet at TI during a Cirque show. It took us almost 40min to get our car back. Drive to Polo and drop off M. G, S and I are going out to do some serious gambling! Same story, didnt loose, didnt win. Turned in around 3am.
9/16...97 afternoon...78pm and drizzle
Woke up at 10:00 and spent some time at the pool. Had lunch and then seperated from S and M. G and I had tickets to see Wayne Newton. Truly one of the last great Vegas performers. What a show. You really get a sense of what Vegas was like when Vegas WAS Vegas. Sang many well known songs, goofed around with the crowd and played 6 different instruments. We meet up with S and M for a late bite to eat at the Barbary Coast. We ended up going to the 24hr coffee shop at the Flamingo. We waited an hour there anyway. After we ate, S and I dropped the girls off at the Polo and walked across the street to the Boardwalk casino. They fixed up this place a litte and got rid of that mothball smell. We gamble here a few hours. S has good luck and is set back on track.
Friday 9/17...96 afternoon...75 evening...another perfect day
After pool r&r time, we eat at Chin-Chins in the NYNY. Good food, a little on the $$$ side. After lunch we drove out to Jean NV and gambled at Navada Landing for a few hours. Same story here too. All of us break even. We are going downtown to hit the $11.99 Friday Night Seafood Buffet at Main Street Station. A must do!. All-you-can-eat snow crab legs, mussels, clams, oysters, way more food than I could ever list. What a disgusting display S,G and M put on with all those snow crab legs. We must have eaten 20#. We decided we would go to The Beach for drinks and dancing. We dropped S off at the Boardwalk casino and G, M and I headed for the Beach. Friday night at about 11:30 and the place is packed and there are more people waiting to get in. This place is crazy. It is easily one of the best clubs in Vegas. M takes a cab home at about 1:00. G and I stay until about 3:00am....people are still waiting to get in. Get back to the Polo around 3:30 and S is still at the Boardwalk. He had real good luck that night. I dont know what time he came back to the condo.
9/18...98afternoon...a little toasty but nice
Last full day. Of course, we are up at the pool for awhile and then back to the FS Mall to return some of the earlier purchases. We have lunch at Dive! O.K. place but not fantastic. Hang out at the New Frontier for a few hours playing all kinds of different games. Horse racing table game to viedo roulette. We drove to the Stratosphere to watch the sunset from the observation deck. *Vegas Moment* Sun setting over the mountains as The Strip comes to life with a blaze of lights and neon. $7.00 to go to the top. Do it just before sunset, its awesome! What an ironic time as the sun sets on the last day of our vacation.
Sunday 9/19/99...94 and beautiful.
We have a late flight back to MKE so we check our bags at the Polo and head out to pick up some gifts and see some more sights. We drove to Harrahs and hung around this section of The Strip. *Vegas Moment* Elvis in full dress going up the moving sidewalk into the Venetian waving and well, just being Elvis. Before we knew it it was time to drive to Thrifty and end yet another great vacation in Vagas.
A few observations.....
Kids in Las Vegas. There is so much to do in Las Vegas now that kids will have a great time no matter what age. If you commit to making a Vegas trip for the whole family, than do just that. Kids dont belong in casinos let alone at 2am or 3am. We saw kids everywhere, in every casino. I saw a boy no older than 8, sleeping on a stool next to his mom while she played VP at 2 in the morning. I;m not saying DONT bring your kids to Vegas, just remember that its a family vacation. Sahara...Do they check IDs here at all? We saw two dozen kids that could not have been older than 19 and a half dozen that didnt even look 17. There was no one checking IDs in this place. I know they draw a young crowd because of their $1.00 table games but they need to really watch what they have playing at those tables.
Smoke. It was very smoky everywhere we went. Its everyones choice to smoke or not to smoke and its my choice to just avoid it. I am talking about those times when there is no avoiding it. When you sit down to a $40-50.00/person dinner and ask for non-smoking, you should be kept away from the table of eight that lights up half way through their dinner and than again after dinner. At one time all eight were smoking. Again, I dont care if people smoke because I can usually avoid it. It just seems like there were an excess of smokers everywhere this trip. I couldnt escape and I was sick for a week after because of the reaction.
Car Traffic/Foot traffic...
WOW! I have heard rumblings that Atlantic City was becoming more popular than Vegas. I dont see it. When it takes 45 min to drive from Tropicana to Flamingo on a Tuesday afternoon, you know there are alot of people here. This was our fourth trip to Vegas and our third in September. There were twice the people this year. In this case, I believe, the more the better. Vegas has got to be the capital of people watching. People from all over the country and all over the world. I love when you are walking The Strip and all the people pile up at the crosswalk...I love that ther are people in the casinos at 4am...I love that there are 40 people waiting to get into Utopia(dance club) at 5am...its a blast! If you are trying to decide if you are going to rent a car or not, let me put this on the table; if you are only going for a few days,dont even bother it will only frustrate you. There are times when you need to have a car but we hardly used our car during the weekends, we couldnt, it was too busy. When you walk into Imperial Palace at 4pm on a Tuesday and everyone is packed in like cattle, you know its busy in Vegas. This town is not dying out but it IS getting more popular(at least that is the way I see it). The first weekend we were there it was unbelievably busy. The second weekend there was a fight at Mandalay was three times busier. We heard that people were coming in for the fight, finding no rooms anywhere, and just staying up for two days straight.
Service... I have been reading alot of complaints about the service people are getting in Vegas. Just about everywhere we went on this trip we had nothing but great service. The check-in at the Excal. was quick and easy. The staff at Main Street Station was outstanding. Places like The Orleans, Sunset Station and the Rio povided above average service. Restaurants like Stage Deli, Francescos, and Smoky Joes had great service people. Trust me, please and thank-you go a long way. The four of us have a total of about 55 years in retail/foodservice experiance and we treat all service people with the same respect that we demand from them.
My advice for anyone going to Vegas is to have fun. There is so much to do you could spend weeks in Vegas and have to start all over because there is someting new in one of the hotels. Above all, dont ever forget that its a vacation and as always.........