Reference Points - I hit Vegas 3 to 4 times a year, usually with a group of 4-6 guys. This time, two of us were able to bring our wives, so the agendas were a bit different. Air travel - Arranged for two first class tickets on American from Miami, with a change of planes in Dallas. Even with the free upgrades/miles/etc. this will be the last time I make a connection. Just takes too long when there are nonstop alternatives (America West and National). Nice plane rides, got fed well, and got to sit in American's First Class suites to/from MIA/DFW. Arrived in Vegas about half hour late, only had carry on, went directly to my only disappointment of the trip.

Las Vegas Limo - I have recommended this service before, but never will again. Used to be for $4.50 per person, you would share a limo (a real semi-stretch limo) with up to 4 more people and head off to your hotel. I purchased my tokens and to my major surprise, was herded onto a big van. Before I got on the van, I asked how many stops to the Bellagio. Of course, the guy said, "You will be the second stop". So we sit and wait till the damned thing fills up. Then we head off (in order) to the MGM Grand, Trop, Luxor, Excalibur, Aladdin, then the Bellagio. When we got off the bus, the driver had the nerve to ask for a tip (we even loaded our own bags at the airport) I said "I left it at the second stop..." Over an hour and a half since we got off the plane. Big waste of time. All future trips will either have a rental car or just take a taxi from the airport.

Bellagio - I have played here before ($20-50/hand at Blackjack) each time I came to Vegas, but now that the wife was with me, we actually stayed here. Could have had rooms free (or nearly free) at the Trop (my "dive" hangout) but paid the $129/night for a lakeview room. Got room 21016, and it was terrific. The room was beautifully appointed, and had a great view of the strip and of course, those fountains. The elevator groupings were 28+, 27-21, 20-13, 4-12 so keep this in mind if short elevator rides matter to you. Never waited more than one minute for an elevator. July 13th was the wife's birthday, so I called ahead and asked for a little something to be brought to our room while we were there, asked the concierge for something in the $40-70 range. On the second day, a beautiful box of chocolates were sent to the room, along with a short message wishing her a happy birthday. Never appeared on the bill. Purchased "O" tickets two months before the show, sat in the "hotel guest" seats, which this time turned out to be section 102, row "G". Wonderful show, seen it twice, and would even go again. Had dinner at the Prime restaurant before the show. Very eloquent, unobtrusive service, however, a few small errors were made, such as the ladies were not served first (we were a party of 8, so that may have had something to do with it) but otherwise impeccable.
Slipped the matre'd a twenty and got a lakeside table for all of us. Would certainly eat here again, even at a hundred bucks a head (only 3 bottles of wine for the 8 of us).

Bellagio buffet - Wide variety of food, excellent peeled shrimp and smoked salmon. Buffalo meat was too tough (perhaps it always is, I don't really know) the Venison was perfect. Sushi was some of the freshest I have ever had (makes sense if they are trying to attract an Asian clientele) and the desserts were the same $15 desserts served at Le Cirque (ate there on business last trip to Vegas). So all in all, worth every penny I paid (see below) but would have gladly paid full fare.

Gambling - Usually I will play blackjack at a $25 table, however, my brother was not comfortable at this level. We approached a table in the shoe delt pit at the Bellagio and asked if they would allow my brother to play $10 if we all played $25. Pit boss seeing 5 drunks and one cheapskate said "sure, you can all play for ten..." Ended up plus $100 for this night. Next morning, played $25 double deck fully exposed (some double deck games deal the cards face down) and lost about $200. Last night played craps. Found a FIVE dollar table open on Wednesday night at about 10pm. Wife had 5 dollar pass line plus 6 dollars on the 6 and 8. I had 10-20 pass line plus backing with 2 to 3 times odds. Won over $400 in two hours. Nice way to end the trip.

Comps - First night (at the 10/25 table) didn't have enough sobriety to ask for comps properly, got shot down. Second night went to eat at Prime, knew they weren't going to comp that....Third night went to eat at the Bellagio buffet. Figured I would just stand in line until I saw that the line went around the corner, and then had at least a hundred more people!! I said to my group of 6, no way are we waiting in this line (meaning we would either just go to the Cafe or to Aladdin or somewhere else) when my buddy suggested we go ask for a line pass. Went to the casino offices and asked for a line pass for 6, the host behind the desk, asked for our rating cards, and actually comped us for 4 of the 6 buffets!! This was before our craps session. Too cool. Should have seen my brother's fiancee's eyes when we came back and told them to "come on down..."

When we went to check out, I went down to the casino office to ask if they could take some of the other charges off the bill (breakfast, pool drinks, etc.) and was told "you need to play $100 per hand for 4-6 hours a day for us to consider anything like that" Well, I knew that was crap since even pit bosses can comp dinner/breakfast for less than that. Went back to the room and called casino marketing on the phone, and after 10 minutes, they took another $48 off the bill (not tips, just the meal/drink service). So for a total of about 8 hours of blackjack at $25-35/hand, and two hours of craps at (combined) $20 pass line, $12 place bets, and backing odds we got nearly $100 in comps. I think that's pretty good!

Tropicana - Saw the Follies (comped) the show is aging, but aging well. Cocktail service is aging too, but this is still a fun place to play, and I can't argue with the comps/value ratio.

If I ever get the wife to Vegas again (we have a three year old and a one year old), I will stay at the Bellagio again. Worth every dime. Otherwise, it is the Trop for me.

Hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing. Good Luck!