Trip Report January 12th - January 17th

I tried to develop a standard format (which I will use) for a Vegas Trip Report but after a five night stay, I've found that Vegas can't be truly itemized - there are always new things that pop up. Our Vegas vacation was wonderful! We had reservations at the Mirage for MLK Weekend and my wife managed (since she is VPer at the platinum level) to get invited for a free night at the (Harrah's) Flamingo. We had great weather for January; highs into the-60s, while it did get windy enough to shut down the Eifel Tower and Bellagio Fountains for 2 days. B/T/W, any negatives in this report are purely subjective and listed only for constructive purposes. We had a great time!

Flights and Other Transportation: Southwest Air does a good Job. We were delayed due to a fuel spillage on the tarmac for about an hour, but any 'safety' delay is to be overlooked. Shopping for flights from the NY area, really have to be lucky to catch a sale. SWA seats on 'first come' basis, so you have to get that "A" Boarding pass on line the night before and still arrive early to get place fairly up front the A line. For return trip from Vegas, some hotels (e.g. Flamingo) have kiosks that let you print your return Boarding passes for a $5.00 minimum fee. Taxis seemed very reasonable, about $15 including airport fee to Mirage. Don't let them take you I-15, about 3-4 dollars extra. As stated in another recent thread, Taxi/Minivan passenger limit is 5. We had to split up into two taxis which usually was no big deal.

Hotel: Mirage: Nice size regular room, pool view (Partial view of strip) Since we arrived early and wanted our rooms right away, we settled for a Twin-Bed room that was about two miles away from the elevator. Next time will ask for close to elevator. As noted elsewhere, bathrooms were small. Hotel was busy (Celeb Hold'em Tournament that weekend) but public areas were always free of crowding. Unlike Paris Hotel passage way to Elevators and Bally's, whenever show or convention lets out, is a disaster waiting to happen. Fire Department should close them down. Flamingo room was also nice size, close to elevator and had true strip view (I guess my wife has the pull in the family). The Bathroom is about the same size as Mirage and showing some wear. Harrah's influence very evident at Bally's, Flamingo, and Caesar's with Rio Shuttle at all three.

Gaming: Unlike some other Strip Hotels (Flamingo), Mirage has some liberal Blackjack rules, Re-splitting of aces and Stand on soft 17. Like most of the strip hotels, Three Card Poker only pays 3-1 for a Flush. I had luck on the Craps Tables here- don't know why. I "set' the dice but they fly all over. 3-4-5 Times odds as is usual on the strip. Nice selection of Slots for wife but don't know the VP Pays.

Comp Experience: Mirage: We had two nights room comp up-front with casino rate the other two nights. Upon departure, they would not extend any other additional comp or cash for our table or slot play. Seems kind of cheap to me, but hey, they did give us two free nights. The Harrah's Comp system (very little for table player) is now completely phased in at Flamingo. You must use new card at Flamingo. Old Connection card had very liberal Table Player formula especially at Paris. With wife's room comp at Flamingo, quite surprised we were awarded additional comps for our play. This is a Plus for Harrah's. During stop over at Mandalay Bay, had run-in with Ms. CE-NO (Casino Executive) "NO Comps for you".

Food: Gourmet. Top of the World at the Stratosphere.,, does not need any additional accolades because the view of the strip from the tower is priceless. The food here excellent also. We had the 'Price Fixed' menu, $115 per person which included a three course dinner Soup or salad, Chateau Briand with three 'wine' flight selections, tax and tip. For the last drink, the waiter gave us our choice of any after dinner liquor or brandy. The final dessert course was sumptuous. Steakhouse -46 at the Flamingo - Approaching the quality of Harrah's Ranch, Excellent Filet Mignon (Not burned/seared - but cooked evenly), Fair priced Wine List, though no Shiraz. $100 per/person with wine-tax-tip.
Andre's French at Monte Carlo. Now rated # 2 in Vegas by AAA. Excellent service, waiters and bus personnel swarming all over us. Good Filet, Tuna, but my lamb was fatty. I always order it and get 'burned'. Ordered wine by glass here (wine overpriced), they only fill it 1/3 (one-third) of the glass. When I questioned waiter, 'that's the way we pour it”. We poured it back to him. Total cost per person: $100 - without the wine. **** Hint. Person assigned to make the reservation for our party of 8, accidentally made it for Andre's Downtown version. Correct Strip number is 702-798-7151. Maitre 'D accommodated us after short wait.
Buffets-Coffee Shops: Mirage 'Cravings' Buffet excellent, nice big room (Some say this largeness is a negative) roomy without the big crowd feeling. Their Sunday 'Brunch' probably is one of best kept secrets (Only $22.09 including tax) comparing the price with the Bally 'Sterling' brunch at two-three times the cost. Regular Breakfast Buffet(inc tax) at Mirage: $13 as opposed to $15 at inferior Mandalay Bay. Mirage Coffee Shop: had some small portions for listed entrée specials. Paris Coffee Shop, St. Louis, food well prepared and nice portions. Flamingo Buffet and Coffee shops now have preferred (Harrah's) seating (Cut in line) for their Platinum and Diamond players.

Shows & Entertainment: We made reservations about 8 weeks in advance using direct numbers. We did not pay any additional charges as the case with the DOT com sites or ticketshafter. Barry Manilow: Our New York Group loved him like chicken soup. We heard of some shows with over zealous standees ruining view for guests behind them. Lance Burton: Second row seats but was lured to sleep by monotony of each trick being essentially the same: Now you see it; now you don't. Lance has no Pizaz, but makes nice use of appreciative kids in audience. Where was Lance when the kids were growing up? Jubilee: Don Ardens' Classic Vegas show experience. We suggested show for newbie couple who loved it. Exceeded expectitions.

Side Trips: One couple in our group rented a car and traveled 400 miles R/T to favorite, Death Valley. We finally visited Freemont Street Experience (OK) - saw last show and went back to strip. Vegas Tram: Another first time for us; we thought it was delightful. Almost a Disney ride in the middle of Vegas. Took free Wynn shuttle to Convention 'Stop'. Finding entrance a little confusing at first but security at each station very helpful. Bought $9 discount two trip ticket good for the two of us in one direction or for one round-trip. Minimal wait for frequentTrams in each direction. Walk back from Tram to Bally's a bit LONG. Indoor Gondola Ride at the Venetian: Only $15 without tip and a great experience with singing troubadour. We had plenty of time walking up only one hour in advance. May call for wait times 702-414-1000. 'Viva Las Vegas' (Show) at the Stratosphere. They pulled 'ol bait and switch with our discount coupons obtained from the net, saying they don't honor them any more. (Sahara did this last year for the Drifter Show) Offered us $9.15 rate (includes one drink), which we reluctantly took. Good Show including show stopper - patriotic 'Big John'. Mandalay Bay has special price at Shark tanks: See Sharks AND IMAX show at Luxor for big discount. Flamingo Free Nature Show including famous mini Penguins, Flamingos and other exotic animals and birds another 'best kept secret'. The Wedding Chapel and Gardens is an excellent picture taking opportunity. Don't forget to see the Bugsy Siegel memorial tribute.

People: We traveled with 3 other couples; one couple who made the trip for the first time; and this was a big plus. The thought of ensuring that the newbie couple saw everything that was important to us, in addition to THEIR choices, which stretched our exposure to this fun city.

Other: In addition to using this site for helpful information planning trip, pick up a copy of the Las Vegas Review Journal (Newspaper.) Only 50 cents and filled with the latest and greatest news and show schedules and other Vegas events.