This trip was a long awaited one with our son (Jeremy) and his wife (Celena) who live in Oklahoma and our son (Jason) and his close friend (Amanda) to spend Thanksgiving together in a place that Jeff and I love to vacation 3 times a year.
We made our airline reservations last May with Midwest Express and Southwest Airlines. We had been checking airfares for several months before and were happy with the fares we ended up with. We rented a full size SUV (Dodge Durango-which will seat 7) from Dollar also checking rates periodically (and changing reservations frequently) when we were happy with the rates.
Our hotel of choice is, of course as anyone who knows me, Luxor. Our host, Debbie, was able to reserve 3 rooms in my name at the players rate. Jeff and I were also invited to the Luxor's "Thanksgiving Givaway" on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, in which $60,000 or a Mercedes, as well as several raffle prizes would be given away. Our room (pyramid jacuzzi suite) was also comped for two of the four nights. The "Thanksgiving Giveaway" was for invited guests who, during the entire month of November, used their players card and for every 500 points, were given a ticket to be included in the Mercedes drawing and raffle. Debbie suggested that everyone in our party use my player's card when they gambled at Luxor to ensure the most points for the drawing. I will give more details on this later in my report.
Here is my report (longer than I intended, of course):
Day 1 Wednesday, November 26., 2003
Jeff, Jason, Amanda and I left Milwaukee on Midwest Express promptly on time at 10:30 a.m., due to arrive in LV at 12:15. The flight was uneventful and seemed to take forever. We arrived right on time. Being the day before Thanksgiving, we had been forewarned to get to the airport even earlier than the 2 hours normally suggested. We were there 3 hours before and the airlines and security had everything under control. We were each given Ziploc plastic bags to put our keys, jewelry and anything else metal that may set off the security alarm in when we checked it. We were also told to take off our jackets and shoes (if not tennis shoes) before we got to security. The whole process moved along very quickly and we found ourselves at our gate with 2 hours to spare.
Jeremy and Celena left Tulsa on Southwest promptly at 7:30 and arriving LV at 8:30 a.m. They took a cab to Luxor and since it was too early to check in, they checked their luggage with the bellman and headed over to Mandalay Bay to see Shark Reef. Now Jeremy and Celena have not been to LV since 1996 and we were anxious to see their reaction to how much the city had changed since then. They were overwhelmed and couldn't wait for us to arrive 4 hours later to start our adventure.
We waited a while for our luggage at McCarran since there were a lot of arriving flights that morning but once we got them, we headed out the door to find the Dollar shuttle bus just arriving. We quickly got to the Dollar lot and since we are Fastlane members, we just picked out the SUV we wanted, drove up to the check in window to sign the paperwork and we were on our way. We arrived at Luxor at 1:15 to the waiting open arms of Jeremy and Celena whom we haven't seen in 2 years. We were all so excited to be together as a family in Las Vegas. We checked into our rooms and then headed to the Pyramid Café for some lunch. I then stopped over to our host Debbie's office to say hello and deliver the 3 Danish Kringle pastries we brought from home for the slot hosts, visited with her for quite a while, and then found Jeff showing the kids our favorite video poker machines. They played for a while and Jeff hit the progressive on his quarter VP for $1,463. Not a bad start! He signs the W2-G and we decided to unpack and meet up at 6:00 to head over to the Sahara as Jeremy wanted to check out the Nascar shop. As we returned to our rooms to freshen up, Debbie had sent pyramid snack baskets and bottles of water to each of the kids' rooms as well as a larger pyramid snack basket, a plate of chocolate covered strawberries, bottles of water, Diet Pepsi and Mountain Dew and a bouquet of balloons for Jeff's birthday to our room. She is so thoughtful and such a sweetheart!
We picked up our SUV from valet at Luxor and headed over to the Nascar Café and shops. Jeremy and Celena, who are big race car fans, enjoyed the visit and purchased some goodies in the shop. We then went to the Stratosphere tower. We saw the new Xscream in action and there was no way any one of us, including Celena who is an adventurer at heart, was going on that ride. Looked very scary! Celena wanted to ride the Big Shot but since no one else wanted to ride with her, she didn't get her chance.
We drove over to Rio, hoping to get there in time for the last Masquerade in the Sky show but it was already in progress when we arrived. We did get to see some of it tho. We walked around the shops at Rio and decided then to head back to Luxor. Jeff and I did some gambling while the kids got a table at Nefertitti's Lounge and enjoyed the live entertainment and a few drinks.
Day 2 Thursday, November 27, 2003 (Thanksgiving Day)
Jeff and I were up by 6:30 and went to the Luxor buffet at 8:30. Jeff, Jeremy and Jason were going to meet at the Mandalay Bay sportsbook to watch the Packer game on the big screen. Celena and Amanda slept in while I went to MB with the men to play my favorite I Love Jeannie 3 reel slot machine. There are very few of these reel slots around town and although I didn't win anything I had some fun playing it. After the game (Packers lost) we went back to Luxor and Debbie found us and asked where we planned to eat Thanksgiving dinner. We hadn't decided yet and she suggested the Luxor buffet as they were having some special offerings at a special price from 2 until 11 p.m. It was close to 2:30 by that time and we wanted to roam the strip later on and so we went to the buffet then. The buffet offerings were wonderful-the usual Thanksgiving fare as well as a lot of other foods, and the price was great-$16.49 per person. We were seated in a section of the buffet set up for families and had a very nice Thanksgiving dinner together.
I showed Celena the Triple Double Diamond quarter progressive slot machine that my friend Anne and I play all the time. Anne and I have been playing this machine for 3 years and have never seen the progressive over $1,300 and have seen it hit several times. Well couldn't believe my eyes-the progressive was just over $4,000. I decided that that is where I was going to be sitting a good chunk of my gambling time. Celena and I sit down to play and I had to giggle with Celena as each time she would win 10 quarters she would giggle with glee for winning. All of a sudden she stops playing and looks at me and says she won something. I looked and she hit two triples with a red 7 for $360. Now she was really excited-and got her first handpay! I called Anne on my cell phone from the machine to tell her about the progressive amount. She would be arriving in LV from Boston just 2 days after we check out. So I told her that if I don't hit the jackpot, she better hit it. But I was really hoping that I would hit it first!!!
We all grabbed our SUV from valet and started our adventure ride north up the strip to Paris. The traffic was bumper to bumper. We have never seen so many people on the strip like this before. And this was only the beginning of the long holiday weekend. Traffic was so bad we couldn't even make our way into the right lane to turn into Paris so we decided to valet park at Bellagio and walk to Paris. We spent some time walking around Bellagio, and the conservatory was beautiful, decorated for Fall. They would be changing over the decor to Christmas the next day. We all walked over to Paris where Celena and I wanted to see the Bellagio fountains from the Eifel tower. The view from the tower is breathtaking but even though it wasn't that cold out, the wind is so strong up there we were freezing and so we didn't spend much time there. A word to the wise, if your intention is to watch the fountain shows from the Eifel tower, stake out your spot as soon as you exit the elevator or you won't get a spot. As soon as the elevator door opened, a large crowd of people went directly in front of the area overlooking the fountains and wouldn't budge. We got to see a fountain show but had to crane our necks from the side.
Our next stop was the Venetian so Celena and Jeremy could ride the gondola and go to the wax museum. The crowds were ridiculous. You couldn't move, let alone walk without stepping or bumping into some one. They decided to forego the gongola and museum but were happy to see the beautiful Venetian.
We headed back to Luxor where Jeff and I did some gambling and the kids were going to the Big Apple Bar at NYNY (Jason and Amanda's favorite) and to MGM.
They didn't give us many details about their night out except that they had a great time.
Jeff and I weren't getting much action on the casino floor and we headed to bed around 12:30.
Day 3 Friday, November 29, 2003
Jeff and I were up early (as we usually are) as we were having breakfast with Debbie at 9:30 in the Pyramid Café. This has been so great being able to spend some extra time with Debbie. Since Jeff and I usually schedule our trips around Luxor invitational slot tournaments, Debbie is usually so busy making preparations with the tournament we don't get to spend a lot of time with her. She is not only our host at Luxor but has been a good friend since we first met in 1998. So we have breakfast with Debbie for an hour and a half and I have a gift for her. Debbie loves purple and I bought her a purple sweater like one I have that she commented before how much she loved. She was delighted with the sweater. She picked up the tab for our breakfast and gave me all the info about the Thanksgiving Giveaway party at RA the next night.
Jeff and Jeremy had plans to take a ride out to the Las Vegas Speedway, Jason and Amanda wanted to sleep in and Celena and I wanted to go to the Forum Shops. Are we nuts-doing the Forum Shops the day after Thanksgiving?!? Yes!!! So Jeff and Jeremy dropped us off at the Forum Shops on their way to the race track and the first thing we wanted was a piece of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. We didn't go inside to eat but rather just got our cheesecake and sat outside of the restaurant by the aquarium and ate and talked and talked and talked. We had a wonderful Mom/daughter-in-law bonding time! We looked in a couple of shops but the crowds were huge and we had just gotten a call from Jeff and Jeremy that they were on their way to pick us up. Just as we walked out the valet parking by the Forum Shops they came and we took some back roads back to Luxor as driving the strip would have taken 3 hours.
Jason and Amanda had been over to NYNY, ate at America and played some of their favorite slot machines. They have been to LV several times before and once stayed at NYNY. They feel the atmosphere there is geared more towards young adults and love it there.
Upon our return to Luxor Jeremy, Celena and I walked to NYNY via the Excalibur walkway. We walked along the 9/11 memorial which was very touching. NYNY was crazy with people and so we didn't stay long. Since Jason and Amanda had already eaten, Jeff, Jeremy, Celena and I went to the Luxor buffet for dinner.
Celena absolutely loves Cirque Du Soleil and has never seen a live performance. Tonight she would get her wish and she was excited. We had tickets to see the 10:30 p.m. performance of "O" at Bellagio. Unfortunately I had waited to purchase the tickets until September and all that was left were limited view seats or balcony seats. I took the balcony seats and had hoped that the show would be enjoyable from way up there, although I had been told there isn't a bad seat in the place. But first we all planned on spending some time watching several fountain shows and decided, because of the holiday crowds and traffic, to leave at 6:30 for Bellagio. As we looked out our Luxor window at the strip, traffic was backed up bumper to bumper south of Mandalay Bay heading north. It looked like it would take us 3 hours to get to Bellagio via the strip but Jeff had found some short cuts via back roads and he got us there within 30 minutes.
We watched 6 fountains shows and Celena was in awe. She wanted to purchase a video of the shows which isn't available but I have a video tape that I put together of fountain shows that I've seen over the past several trips and I promised to make her a copy (which I did and she loves).
Jason and Amanda were going to the Voodoo Lounge at Rio for the night and Jeff and Jeremy were going to do some gambling at Bellagio while Celena and I were at "O". We got a bottle of water and a small bag of caramel corn at the box office of "O" to the tune of $11. We were directed to our seats and we couldn't get any higher in the theater-we were in the center of the top row in the balcony (Section 303, Row EE, seats 26 and 27). I was just hoping that the view would be good. The show started and Celena was in such a trance throughout the show I don't think she blinked even once. There is so much going on to watch and it is a spectacular show. The seats were great and we were not disappointed a bit. It was over at 10 minutes after midnight and we found Jeff and Jeremy and headed back to Luxor (via the back roads). We pull up to Luxor's valet parking and there is a sign that says "valet full." This can't be-we are guests. Sorry, the valet attendant says. We would have to park in the parking garage. This is a first-the attendant said that no one in town was prepared for all the visitors this weekend. They did expect more than normal but this was way more than they expected. So for the first time we parked in the Luxor garage-top floor, parking space way in the back. There were probably only 4 more places to park in the whole place!
We headed up to our rooms as we were exhausted.
Day 4 Saturday, November 29, 2003
Today would be our last full day together in LV. Celena and Jeremy would be heading home later tonight and we would be going home late tomorrow morning. Jeff and I weren't hungry and we just decided to do some gambling. We hadn't done a lot this trip and I still needed to do three things-play my $1 video poker, play my $1 Wild Cherry slot that I hit the jackpot on last August for $2,500 and put some time in on that Triple Double Diamond machine. Well I put my time in but my money wasn't going very far. Jeff wasn't doing much better, although at least he still had $1,400 he was going home with.
Jeremy and Celena opted to grab breakfast at the food court from McDonalds and then pack up. Jeff and I ate at the Pyramid Café. Amanda and Jason came down and they had a great time at the Voodoo Lounge the night before.. They had the drink "Witchdoctor" and said it was awesome. The cab driver they got at Bellagio to take them to Rio had given them passes to get in for free. We all finally met up together and I was determined to get a nice family photo taken to use as this year's Christmas cards. We took several shots in front of the Luxor sphinx and yes, they are this year's Christmas cards. We haven't had a family photo taken in years and now we have a daughter-in-law in our family!
Jeremy and Celena's flight was scheduled for 6:05 p.m. and again it was suggested that since it was the biggest flying weekend of the year, that they get there more than 2 hours before their flight. We took them to the airport at 3:00 and by 3:30 they called saying they had already checked in and were at their gate, only to find out that now their flight was delayed an hour. So once again, airport personnel had everything under control and things were ever so smooth.
The Luxor "Thanksgiving Giveaway" party at RA was at 6:00. This was for Luxor invited (or VIP) guests. For every 500 points a VIP guest put on his players card in the month of November, he earned one raffle ticket for the drawing of $60,000 or a Mercedes. You got a bonus raffle ticket for every 3,000 points and bonus ticket for every hand pay on a $1 or more slot. I ended up with just a little over 3,000 points (thanks to my family also using my card) and got 7 raffle tickets in the drum. The drawing at RA included a buffet and drinks. There were also several other gifts to be raffled off. Debbie was kind enough to have Jason and Amanda go with us and everyone who went in got another ticket for the drawings. She said almost everyone present would go home with a gift.
I had never been inside RA (although Jason and Amanda have) and was surprised at how small it is. Of course the lights were on and so it was not presented as the nightclub it is at night. But it is pretty cool looking. Debbie was there as well as all the other slot hosts we have come to know over the last 5 years. We got to spend some extra time again with Debbie and Doree (another host and good friend). The drawing for extra prizes began and they had some awesome gifts. Diamond jewelry, designer purses, tv's stereo equipment, digital cameras.... My ticket is drawn and I win a 3 stone diamond necklace (value of $300). Jeff's ticket is drawn and he wins diamond hoop earrings (value of $300). The earrings didn't match Jeff's outfit and so he gave them to me LOL!!!! Amanda won a CD stereo player but the prizes were gone and there were only about 12 tickets left in the drum and unfortunately Jason's ticket was one of them.
A gentleman who wasn't present, but whom we know from the slot tournaments won the Mercedes. We had a great time and were happy that we were included in this special event. The necklace and earrings are beautiful!
Debbie was headed home after the party and I spent her last few minutes with her in her office saying goodbye. This is always the hardest for me-saying goodbye to her. We have been blessed with her friendship and all that she does for us. But the arrangements for our visit in May for the slot tournament are already underway and we will see her again in 5 short months.
I packed up our stuff to go home the next morning and then Doree (the other slot host we are good friends with) called me and said she had some time before she headed home for a visit and so I spent almost an hour with her in her office chatting. We have made so many friends at Luxor and so there is no need to wonder why we love Luxor so much. It was hard to say goodbye as well to Doree.
Jeff and I spent some more time in the casino and I finally found a machine that my money was lasting on but I was exhausted and we headed to bed at 1 a.m. Jeremy and Celena called saying they got home safely and that their flight delay won them some money at the airport playing video poker. That was good news!
Day 5 Sunday, November 30, 2003
We all checked out of Luxor by 9:15 , dropped our SUV off at the Dollar lot and got checked in and to our gate by 10:30 for our 1:00 p.m. flight. Of course we wanted to be to the airport early because of the holiday travel horror stories (although I wouldn't mind being delayed on my way HOME from LV) but we also like to eat breakfast at Ruby's Diner at the D gates and we have a couple of favorite machines we like to play at the airport. I managed to hit a $50 spin on Wheel of Fortune but lost it in the video poker. I wouldn't be going home with any monetary winnings this trip but it was a trip right up there with a winning one as we had such a wonderful time with our complete family.
Our flight took off a half hour late but we had some pretty good tail winds and got home right on time. At baggage, all our luggage came out together except for Jason's. He had a bag that he intended on carrying on but got so heavy while packing that he decided to check it. Unfortunately that one never came out. There were 4 pieces of luggage left on the carousel and everyone was gone. None of those 4 pieces of luggage were his. He reported his bag missing and
was upset as he had stuff in it that was important (a gift for me!). They told him they would trace it and get it to him as soon as possible. He grumbled that his missing bag was par for the trip, he hadn't won anything at all this trip (including the raffle) and it was the first trip he hadn't. His bag was found later that night in New Jersey and returned to him on Monday afternoon-completely intact.
We had a wonderful family Thanksgiving in Las Vegas. This trip was a Christmas gift to our kids and the memories we have are eternal. Thanks for allowing me to share with you and by doing that, I am able to reflect on those memories.
Carol WI T-139