Venetian trip report 11/23-11/29
We love to spend Thanksgiving in LV. We try to go every year. This trip, however, was a little different. Instead of going as cheaply as possible, I surprised my husband and went for the gold.

THE FLIGHT
I booked first class tickets on U.S. Air. Never tried them before and we were pleasantly surprised. The flights were right on time, seats were comfortable and the food was decent. Living in South Florida is good for weather but getting out of here is always a pain. We changed planes in Charlotte, NC and happily, the gate for the next plane was in the same terminal. We normally fly Delta and we have to trek what seems like miles to get to the next plane. The cost for straight through flights is prohibitive. The cost for the two first class tix was about $1100.00.

THE LIMO
I pre-booked LV Limo to take us to the Venetian and Crash (!) was waiting for us in a pretty nice black stretch. It was $44 an hour what with $5 for the airport charge and $1 for something else (don't remember). We got in at 10:00 a.m. LV time. When I called to book the limo, the booking person asked us to please take care of the driver and repeated this several times so I guess the drivers have been stiffed a lot. We gave him $70 and he seemed happy.

THE WEATHER
It was cold (30 degrees) when we got there on 11/23 and it seemed cold to me the whole time. When we left Florida, it was 87 degrees on the Saturday before we left and 90 percent humidity. That was o.k. with me because it gave me an excuse to go shopping for some warmer clothes.

THE VENETIAN
I called the Venetian directly to reserve and the rate was $282 a night (incl. taxes). I reserved 6 nights. We were in a Venezia (the new tower) concierge suite. It had been open only 3 months when we arrived. It was a beautiful room. Three TVs, all flat screens, including an LCD one in the bathroom, two queen beds, a spacious living area with a sofa, desk with a fax machine/copier, two easy chairs, a round table and 3 chairs, TV and coffee table. The sleeping area had upholstered benches at the foot of the beds, a walk-in closet, and a TV. It also had a mini bar in the living room. As usual the prices are outrageous and the bellman told us, "If you touch it, you bought it", so we didn't touch it. You have to request turndown service and every night they left Belgian chocolate, bottles of water and for some reason, a cotton mat between the beds that says Buona Notte and Buon Giorno. They also had two great terry robes and slippers. You can take the slippers home but if you take the robes they will charge you $89 a piece. We tipped housekeeping $10 a day and the turndown service $5 a night. As an aside, we are big tippers because in our earlier years, we both worked in the service industry. I left a note for the turndown person along with the tip for extra water and they left 8 bottles each time I asked.
They guarantee 1 1/2 minute check in these suites. You bypass the check in desk in the lobby and go up to the 12th floor in the Venezia tower and check in. Two reservation people are seated at a regular desk with chairs for personalized service. Off this small lobby is the concierge lounge. They serve a continental breakfast from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. there. They have cold cereal, danish, fruit, coffee, juices, water, etc. At night, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. they have a full bar, cheese and crackers and other hors d'oeuvres. This is all included in the suite price. It was a really nice amenity, I thought. The staff could not have been nicer to us.
The hotel itself is just gorgeous, but the first few times we left our room, we got lost. It is confusing and we constantly ran into people trying to find the way to their rooms. You have to use your room key in the elevator to get into the concierge part.
We didn't run into any surly hostile employees. I had read trip reports and reviews and this seemed to be a major complaint but we didn't experience any problem.

THE GAMBLING
I had read also about how tight the slots were here, but I like to gamble where I stay. I don't think the slots are any tighter than anywhere else on the strip. We take with us $400 each a day for gambling. I saw an Asian man win a black BMW, a woman won $27,000 on the red, white and blue 7s machine and several others win $1000 on the "V" machines there. The most notable thing about the Venetian is the lack of loud machines. The "V" machines (similar to Wheel of Fortune) are almost totally silent. I like the noisy machines but I didn't find any here. My husband won $750 on video poker and I won 1000 quarters four times during our stay. The tables are consistently busy but I didn't play blackjack like I usually do because I couldn't find anything less than $25 a hand. We only gamble at night so maybe that's the reason; didn't check during the day. We walked over to Casino Royale because I like the Elvis machines but didn't care for the casino. Also played at Harrahs, Hard Rock, and the Mirage but no luck at either.

THE CONTROVERSY AND THE BIG ARGUMENT
We heard that President Bush was coming to the Venetian for a fund raising luncheon while we were there. Not to start any kind of political controversy, suffice it to say that we are not big fans of his. I believe it was Tuesday when he came to LV. There was a huge demonstration in front of the Venetian so we went to check it out. Most of the demonstrators had signs protesting the nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mt., but there were signs protesting the Iraq involvement, the lack of help for senior citizens and a smattering of other issues. I was standing watching the protestors and one organizer asked me if I'd like to join them. Once a hippie, always a hippie, I guess. I said yes and the next thing I know I was chanting, "Hey, hey, Ho, ho, President Bush has got to go". My husband was furious with me, I can tell by the "look" he gave me. After about an hour or so, I dropped out of the protest and went in search of him. I work for a judge here in Florida and I am mandated by statute to be non-partisan. We went to our room and had a screaming match. It didn't help matters much when I appeared on TV later that evening, marching, chanting and pumping my sign. I was only one of 1200 protestors and certainly no one back home would see this but for some reason it really agitated him. After all, he knows I'm no shrinking violet. I reallly enjoyed being involved for a change. It really is not fun having to keep your personal opinions to yourself.

THE FOOD
We ate the Grand Lux 3 times, 2 breakfasts and 1 dinner. I know that this is a popular place but for the life of me, I don't know why. While it's true that you get huge portions, the food is just o.k., to me, anyway. It's hard to screw up breakfast and while the continental breakfast is good for me, my husband is a protein freak and he wanted eggs and meat. The first night we went to eat dinner there and he had a mammoth burger and I had crab cakes. It was just o.k., nothing special.
I had made reservations for Monday night at Postrios at the Venetian. It's Wolfgang Puck's restaurant there. It was fabulous. I had lobster bisque, scallops with risotto and creme brulee. He had oysters, New York steak with mashed potates and creme brulee. Service was great, atmosphere was nice and it came to about $140 for two of us, no drinks because of the aforementioned lounge.
We were going to go to the Spice Market buffet on Tues. but because of the argument we both drank a little more than usual at the lounge. We met some really nice folks from New Jersey and after several Manhattans, we started singing a medley of Bruce Springsteen songs and my husband ushered me out of there during "Born in the USA", HISSING at me, "I'm never going anywhere with you again". Not true. I was well enough to gamble, however.
Wenesday was Fremont St. night. I don't like it down there but we hadn't been for several years so. . . I bought some gifts down there, watched the disco light show and we were accosted by 12(!) street people. I don't know whether it was because of the holidays or what, but I felt sorry for the street
people and gave them money. We ate at the Golden Nugget buffet and I was very disappointed. It used to be good. We stayed at the GN one time at it was a really nice hotel but there were only a few choices, no seafood other than mussels, not even shrimp and what we did eat was cold and tasteless, even the bread pudding which is usually outstanding.
It is our tradition to eat at Buccaneer Bay at Treasure Island each year at Thanksgiving. It's always been very good. They have a new chef this year and it was terrible. It was $54 a person for the turkey and fixings. The service and atmosphere were excellent but the food was not up to par. Swansen's frozen turkey dinners are better than this was. Guess we'll start a new tradition.
Friday went to Bellagio buffet. I thought it was great but my husband really didn't care for it. He likes plain food. He did, however, love the Kobe beef and pork roast. The desserts are fabulous and the sushi was outstanding.
We also ate at Kahunaville (ti) which was very good. They have a carload of machines with frozen drinks which looked great but it was really cold so no go for me.
The rest of the time we ate at the two different food courts at the Venetian. We had pizza, deli sandwiches, knishes, Haagen Dazs, Krispy Kremes and, in general, made pigs of ourselves. After all, we're in Las Vegas, where nothing counts.

We didn't go to any shows this time. Booked this trip on short notice so couldn't get Celine tix. I really want to see this show so when next we go, I'll do it 3 months ahead of time. Saw the new ti show, was not that impressed with the sirens or the music. Saw the performers in St. Mark's Square at the Venetian, the living statues, the singers and the musicians, all very good and entertaining. Went to the Fashion Show mall, bought a red leather jacket and emerald earrings, great sales.
Went shopping at Desert Passage, Forum Shoppes, Grand Canal Shoppes, bought jeans for husband (again, great sales). Went to Sephora's next to Venetian and bought $200 worth of makeup. Love Sephora's; don't have one near us.

COMPS
I had read that the Venetian was tight on comps but it never hurts to ask so I did. It turned out that we had become Gold Card guests and we got a slot host, "Sonny's the name, gambling's the game". He comped us 2 nights and we got $66 back in their slot club promotion. We can use the lounge behind the High Limit slot area and line passes to the Grand Luxe restaurant. I was very pleased with their rewards program. We have stayed in many of the strip hotels and never made it to any elevated status. We always take the same amount of $$ to gamble.

ALL IN ALL
Had a fabulous time, found a new home base in the Venetian.
Too many kids!! I cannot understand why someone would bring an infant to LV. Can't count how many times I was hit in the ankle with those giant strollers people schlep around. There were so many cranky, whiny kids around. I saw a woman with toddler on her lap playing slots and letting the kid hit the button. Venetian security, however, was right on it and I saw them several times shoo kids out of the gambling area. I have kids, they're pretty much grown now, but I spent my vacation dollars on Disney, Universal, beaches, family resorts, dude ranches, and other places where you should take your children. Didn't start going to LV until they were teens and I could go without them. (end of rant)
QUOTING ELVIS, VIVA LAS VEGAS!!
Sorry for the length of this. I never tire of talking about LV.