This trip had been in the works for months, as we were heading out to Vegas with a group of 10-12 for my 30th B-Day. After all the e-mails, phone calls, and anticipating.... the trip was finally upon us! One of my friends was able to get us a great rate on several timeshare units at the Flamingo Hilton Grand Vacation Club (HGVC) & the units were all ours from Sunday October 23-30. Several of us were flying out together on Sunday the 23rd, & the rest of the group would all be in Vegas by Thursday.
7 nights is a long time in Vegas & more than anyone would want to read in a Trip Report.... but I promised to try! I'll separate this into two or three parts & rather than give a blow by blow account, hit the highlights!
FLIGHT: We always fly Southwest Airlines from Baltimore to Las Vegas for under $200 roundtrip & this time was no different. The flight was smooth & a few pre-Vegas cocktails were enjoyed. Have to love the southwest drink coupons & Ebay!
HGVC @ FLAMINGO: Hmm... what to say about the HGVC. Well, it's not WYNN, it's not Bellagio, but the units are large, (2 bedroom units hold up to we were out in Vegas for a week & the units have full kitchens & washers/dryers (definite PLUS), the price was great ($850 for a 2 bedroom or $450 for a 1 bedroom), and the jacuzzi in the Master Bedroom is QUITE large. If those are the positives, then the negatives would be the units are NOT directly on the STRIP (you have to walk forever & travel through the smoke filled Flamingo to get to the STRIP), there is no room service, there is no daily maid service (only once mid-week), and the HGVC @ Flamingo is part of the Flamingo. Why is that bad? Well the Flamingo has suddenly come down with a case of inflated ego (which I like to call the "Harrahs Syndrome) The Flamingo used to be a fun lower end casino to drop by & hit some cheap tables at.... to our surprise, the limits most nights were $15. UNREAL! If Margaritaville wasn't part of Flamingo I don't think we'd have a reason to ever go back anymore! One more bitter note about the Flamingo & then it's time to move on. The weather was in the mid 70s & the pool was open. But, for some uknown reason the Flamingo did not have the poolside waterfalls or the waterslides working the entire trip. To us that lowers the Flamingo pool from a B+ to a D! Needless to say there wasn't much pool usage this trip. At any rate... time to move on!
DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS:
Lunch at Margaritaville - Great as always! A tip for everyone here - when the wait downstairs is an hour or more, go wait on the 3rd level for a patio table. Much quicker & IMO nicer.
Dinner @ Red 8 @ WYNN - Nice atmosphere & good food, but be warned that the portions are big enough for 2. I would put this place on par w/PF Changs, which is high praise except that PF Changs is much less expensive. However if 2 people split a meal, the pricing becomes much better!
LURE - After dinner a couple of us stopped in for a drink at LURE since I had free passes. The word on LURE is much improved. Really nice inside & there is an outdoor patio area with available seating. LURE was about 60% full at 11PM on a Sunday night... which is honestly a big improvement from the last time we were at WYNN where there were maybe only a dozen or so there even on a Friday night!
GAMBLING - No luck today for my wife or I... Combined we were down a quick $200 to start the trip.... no big deal. One of our friend's did start the trip off right by winning about $350 on an airport slot while waiting for our flight to get in. He'd never been to Vegas, so that was a great first impression!
That's all for now... stay tuned for Days 2 through 4 later or tomorrow.
I know I'm moving slow w/the report this time, but 7 nights in Vegas takes its toll, as will become evident as the Trip Report rolls on to the good stuff!
WOW, am I slow getting this posted or what! Let's jump right into this & try to knock out Days 2 & 3:
My wife & I were flying solo today until the evening. We had tossed around the idea of heading to the Grand Canyon... a week in Vegas so we figured we may be willing to part with one day. But as always we figured the GC wasn't going anywhere so R&R won out. Got a late start (about 11AM) and headed over to Mon Ami Gabi for lunch around 11:30AM. We've always wanted to do lunch there on the patio, and we finally got the chance! This was probably the best lunch we've ever had! The weather was perfect, the fountains at the "B" (by the way, who else has heard of Bellagio referred to as the "B") were going, and both of our meals were incredible. I chose the Quiche Lorraine & my wife had the Croque Monsieur. My wife's sandwich was perhaps the best I have ever tasted... I believe it's basically gourmet ham & cheese on a sourdough bread that has melted cheese in the dough w/genuine french fries on the side! Service was great & the prices were reasonable... about $30 for 2 meals, 2 sodas, tax & tip (for those that care) Just a quick side note here... there was a drunken older woman sitting w/a large party across from us who would stand up and clap every time the Bellagio fountains would go off...every TIME! Now I'm all for getting drunk in Vegas...any time of the day is fine.... but if you are ever drunk in Vegas, acting like this lady was, and wondering to yourself whether other people think you look stupid.... I'm hear to tell you the answer is YES!
After lunch it was off to Aladdin for some gambling. I'll note here that the construction has finally begun! There was a large wall over towards the Sports book that was not there our last visit. Within the walled off area we were told the transition to Planet Hollywood had begun. I have to say if you don't know the Aladdin well you may not even realize it's going on & it really is not terribly disruptive. From what I understand this is how they are going to slowly transition...one walled off area at a time. Found $5 craps at Aladdin & had quickly donated $100 to the Planet Hollywood Renovation fund! We left Aladdin & headed to the "B".... you can always count on Bellagio to have a few $5 BJ tables & since the trip was just starting, $5 was good enough for us! Quickly donated some money to Bellagio @ the BJ table & then some more @ the slots! By about 4PM I was already down about $250 for the trip & we decided to head back towards the room. Had dinner & drinking plans in the evening w/friends so we got back to the room around 5 to freshen up & get ready for the night.
Met up with 4 of our friends around 7:30PM and persuaded a taxi driver to RISK it & violate the stupid 5 person/cab rule & take all 6 of us. We were off to Cafe Giorgio at Mandalay Place. Cafe Giorgio is a spin off of Valentino & was a nice enough place...but it was EMPTY. Definitely didn't need that 8PM reservation! An appetizer, 2 drinks, & 2 meals was about $75. The food was good, but not great....about the same as IL FORNAIO @ NYNY IMO. Best Italian meal I've had in Vegas is still Canaletto @ Venetian. After dinner we had planned to check out Foundation Room since Monday night is the only night it's open to the public. We headed over there around 10PM to find no line & a $30 cover. We quickly decided against it & headed to NYNY for some yards! When we got to NYNY the guys decided to check out Coyote Ugly & use our free passes. The women opted to get yards & play slots.... fair enough. Coyote Ugly was about 70% full... which was a nice change from the usual 95% packed like sardines full. We stayed for a couple of rounds & then headed out to meet the ladies. By this time it was about 11:30, we had several drinks in us, and I was feeling a slight buzz. I figured the timing was perfect for the rollercoaster. Two of us left the group & rode right in front. Great ride as always! Back to the group about 20 minutes later & it was off to Times Square Bar! Lucked out...no cover & 1 table free in the back! Several hours & drinks later we were all fairly drunk & it was time to head back to the tobacco factory I like to call the Flamingo. Won about $50 on the Monte Carlo slot & called it a night around 3AM to ensure a few hours sleep before hitting the PARIS buffet in the AM.
After briefly deliberating whether we were hungry enough to justify a buffet, we decided to head over to the PARIS buffet around 10:00AM so that we could get brunch. Getting seated by about 10:30AM is perfect because you can do breakfast & then lunch once they switch over at 11AM. Unfortunately after a couple of Eggs Benedict & a Crepe I was too full to touch anything else.... guess I wasn't that hungry after all. While I think the PARIS buffet is the best buffet in Vegas, it's still a buffet. What I mean by that is with all the drinking & eating in Vegas, I often wonder if the Creperie or Pastry shop would be a better bet?! After breakfast the women decided to do some shopping & the guys went off to gamble & play poker. Actually won some $ at poker & was wondering if the comeback had started. The answer to that became obvious later! Met back up with the women later in the afternoon & by about 8PM we were on our way to the PALMS. Dinner was at Gardunos & it was good. Good Mexican food & good drinks. On par with Gonzalez Y Gonzalez & Don Pablos.... but Pink Taco is still my favorite! One of the couples with us had never been to Ghostbar, so after dinner we decided to see what kind of scene Ghostbar had on its "Tuesdays on Top" night! Cover was only $10 & we weren't in the mood to get bottle service, so we went on up for a few rounds. All I have to say is WOW is GHOSTBAR DIFFERENT on a TUESDAY! Average age must have been 45 & they were letting ANYONE in! I think the dress code is supposed to be casual elegant or something like that, but there were people there dressed like they were going to Dennys. Certainly not the GHOSTBAR of old... although I'm sure (or at least hope) that the weekend crowd is different. After a few drinks at Ghostbar we headed back to the Flamingo around 12:30AM (starting to realize how important the BASE casino really is & how bad the Flamingo is as a Base Casino) Table limits were ridiculously high so we had to (GULP) hit the Barbary Coast. If the Flamingo is a tobacco factory, the Barbary Coast is that little closed off Smoking Room @ the airport.... it really does smell that bad to us! After proving that my comeback was NOT LEGITIMATE we turned in for the night around 2AM. At this point I am down about $400 for the trip & my wife is about EVEN. Has to turn around sometime right? After all.... still 4 Days to go! Went to bed figuring that if my luck didn't turn around I would end up getting drunk even more than usual this trip.... and if that happened, would it really be that bad?
That's all the writing I can muster for now... if you have any questions, as always post or PM me. The next 4 days were the busiest & thus will take at least 2 or 3 more posts to get through. Sorry for the sluggish reporting this time around!
Picking up where I left off... FINALLY... time for days 4 & 5!
Got in late last night...were a bit drunk... but HEY.. NO HANGOVER
We skipped right over breakfast (slept in) and decided to hit up good old GRAND LUX for lunch! 2 friends were leaving today & 1 was arriving. At the end of the day we'd have a party of 6 (3 couples) with the final 2 couples arriving tomorrow & bringing our party to a Grand Total of 10! Enough with the digression... what to say about Grand Lux? Well, we love to eat at new places each time we're in Vegas, but isn't it nice to have that standby that never disappoints? That's the Lux! It's a Cheesecake Factory & then SOME... everything you love about Cheesecake factory with a better ambiance, better service, and an expanded menu. The Grand Lux melt is one of the best sandwiches anywhere! I also recommend the Caramel Chicken, BBQ Chicken Pizza, fresh baked cookies.... well I could go on & on. Stop by Venetian & try it next trip... you won't be disappointed! Is everyone ready for what we did next? It's a little hole in the wall. It's next to Venetian. It's like that bad tv show that you are embarrassed to admit you love watching. YEP... it's the CASINO ROYALE! Can't have a trip to Vegas w/out a bit of $2 craps w/100x odds! (Not that any of us ever take 100x) My friend & I played for about 2 hours... and he must have had a roll that lasted 30 minutes! I have never seen so many 7s on a come out roll before! There were honestly about 12 sevens with a few elevens mixed in! After a couple of hours we had each made about $50 & were ready to walk away. How did we only end up $50 ahead? Well for one it's a $2 table... and unfortunately other than my buddies roll, the table wasn't great. From Royale it was back to Philip Morris... aka the Flamingo. It was late afternoon & instead of heading up to the room to relax & freshen up for the night my friend & I decided to hit the poker room. 30 minutes later I had lost my $100 Buy In on a Pair of Pocket Queens to someone's 3rd 5 that they caught on the river....ahh poker, you have to love it! So much for being up $50 for the day... I was now down $50 & down $450 for the trip. Not used to losing in Vegas, but the town wasn't built on winners Headed up to the room around 6PM to meet my wife as my friend was still alive at the table. Around 8:30 (who can really be sure what the exact time was) four of us headed over for dinner @ cafe Spago @ Caesars. To be direct...save your money. Decent food... Decent Drinks... Decent Service... but for 2-3x the price of Grand Lux or California Pizza Kitchen it's not worth it. After dinner, our other friend had arrived, so we were meeting he & his wife. It back at the Cancer Institute to inhale some more fumes. (I know... Flamingo is taking a beating from me....but I can't say the kind words aren't deserved) After walking around the Flamingo 3 times and realizing all they had were $15 BJ tables (still can't believe that) we headed over to the Barbary Coast to finish off our lungs & clean out our wallets. About an hour later we were all down...myself another $100... so we headed back to Flamingo, played a few slots, & called it an early night (by Vegas standards) around 1:30AM. We knew the next few days would be taxing on our minds & bodies, as Hofbrau & PURE were on the schedule and all 10 of us would finally be together. Little did we know just how crazy the next day would be!
Day 5 started off as any normal Vegas day would... sleeping in! The rest of our party would be arriving around 1PM, so we got a late start & then headed to the Caribe Cafe @ Flamingo (formerly Lindys) Average cafe style food, but the price is right. We didn't want to venture too far because we had the other couple's room keys. Around 1:30PM I got the call & headed over to meet the rest of the group. We had a 4:30 reservation @ Hofbrau (why so early? Who the hell knows what we were thinking!) so the rest of the afternoon consisted of some brief gambling & then up to the room to get ready. At 4:15 we all met up & headed over to Hofbrau. This is where things got CRAZY! The plan was to be at Hofbrau until 7:30PM when the H2 Limo that I had reserved would be picking us up for a 1 hour cruise down and around the STRIP & then be dropping us off at the Monte Carlo Brew Pub around 8:30PM for dinner. After a light lunch, we knew that a meal would be needed by then! WELL AT LEAST WE HAD A PLAN... AND YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT THE BEST LAID PLANS! Everyone knows where this is going... so I will try to give the short account of it all if possible. By 6:30PM everyone was DRUNK! I use the term DRUNK because that can't begin to describe our condition later that night! It was also about 6:30PM, and after 3-4 rounds of STEINS, when our one friend (just for the visual he is about 7 feet tall) jumped up from the table & ran up to the stage. He would proceed to dance with some random old women up front while the rest of us cheered him on. At the same time, little did we know our other friend had stumbled from the bathroom into a private party in the back room & was raiding their VIP buffet. Ahh Vegas... moving along to about 7PM. I knew the Limo would be arriving soon & wanted to purchase some alcohol to stock it from the convenience store across from Hofbrau (AS IF WE NEEDED MORE ALCOHOL). I look across at my one friend (she's about 5 ft tall) who had challenged our 7 ft friend to a drinking contest (and to be honest did a pretty good job of beating him) and I know that if she has that last beer her night would end WAY TOO SOON. So, the two of us head over to the convenience store while everyone else has yet another round. We purchase the equivalent of a case - 12 Mikes Hard Lemonades & a 12 pack of some beer (can't even remember what it was). The H2 arrives right on time... and I have to say if any of you ever have a large party out in Vegas...book an H2. It is worth every CENT of the $125/Hour! This thing was loaded! Mirrored Ceilings, optical lights, strobe lights, fog machine, small plasma tvs, incredible sound system. We knew immediately it was going to be an hour for the ages! Just like that, we were off. Before I get into further stories of drunken debauchery, let me give this driver of ours all the credit in the world. The Company was Starlight Limo & his name was... HA...as if any of us could remember his name! Whoever he was though... AWESOME! Had every song we requested & put up with all the drunken BS we threw at him. Getting back to the ride now... about 20 minutes in, several of us realized we had to go to the bathroom... 5 minutes later the need was so urgent we thought we were going to let loose right there in the Limo. Just when we couldn't hold out any longer... THE STRAT! We open the door & several of us stumble out on top of eachother. We begin to run towards the bathroom & make it just in time (those of you that have been that drunk & have had to go as badly as we did at that moment... you know exactly how we felt) We stumble back from the bathroom & realize we & the H2 are being videotaped... some tourists (as if we're not tourists too) thought we were celebrities & had filmed everything. At least they'll have a good story.... only wish we could see that tape! Back in the Limo & about 30 minutes left! We are having so much fun that we decide HELL we NEED another HOUR! About 1 hour into the Limo Ride we also realized HEY we're out of alcohol again! Time to stop at another convenience store & re-load... and our one friend (the 5 ft one I mentioned earlier) well she needed a bathroom at this point in a BAD WAY anyhow. So the driver stopped at another convenience store (who knows where the heck we were at this point) and several of us hop out!
Sorry everyone... this is taking longer than expected to write (definitely because at this point I have diarrhea of the mouth & need to be more concise), so I'll have to pick up at this point a bit later. I'll definitely finish up Day 4 & start Day 5 by the end of the night. Hopefully I can wrap up this MAMMOTH trip report in the AM & start planning the next pilgrimage to Vegas!
OK... on 2nd thought I had better finish Day 5 now, because Day 6 was PURE & that... well that was like a Trip in itself! The H2 rolled up to the convenience store & several of us hop out... well to be more accurate we kind of fall out. I help our one friend get the bathroom key (she was in real bad shape at this point) and another of our friend's bought what I think was another 12 pack for the remainder of the ride! What seemed like an eternity went by while I was waiting for my friend to get out of the bathroom. Finally I knock... only to discover that she had locked herself in. To make a long story short, the door wasn't locked..she was drunk & confused...and my one friend & I literally carried her back to the Limo & we were back on our way....or so we thought. After about 5 minutes back in the Limo, our friend decides she has to throw up! The Limo Driver quickly yells something about $500 if it happens in the Limo & pulls over. I help her out of the Limo and the next thing we know OFF goes the Limo w/the two of us left on the side of the road. My cell rings & my buddy tells me the Limo driver was going to circle back around.... to stay put. Unfortunately, my friend saw the HGVC sign & thought it was our timeshare....problem is, it was the wrong HGVC (the one by Wet & Wild) and she kept trying to cross the street to get to it. Finally, about 10 minutes later the Limo pulls back up & say you are running out of time...get in now! So we pile into the car & next thing we know one of our friend's calmly asks someone to re-open the Limo door. One of my buddies & I look over & see a hand bent in directions it should not be, stuck in the door....but our friend's face was completely calm because he was so absolutely hammered! Somehow his hand is not broken & the driver asks us to put on our gas masks as we are arriving at the Flamingo...well not really, but it fits with the smoke stench theme! We pull up to Flamingo about 9:30 & everyone is ABSOLUTELY WASTED! As we are getting out, one of our friends starts running for the door to Flamingo. Then suddenly she stops. As soon as she turned around we knew the deal... it was as if she went swimming! You guessed it... the entire front of her pants...soaked with piss! Since we were at Flamingo, one who guess that she then went immediately to her room & changed.... but that would be an incorrect guess. To our astonishment, she insisted that she, her husband, & 2 of our friends go eat something at Caribe Cafe...and that's exactly what they did....piss covered pants & all! What a trip so far! We were all WAY TOO DRUNK to gamble... so a couple of us stumbled to Grand Lux for a burger around 10:30, others sat down outside at a table by the Penguins & hung out, and a few went to bed. By about 12:30AM we had all succumb to the alcohol and gone to bed....only to wake up the next day & do it all over again...but in a very different way!
We're now heading into Day 6 of the trip... Friday! I'm down about $550, only one person in our group of 10 is actually winning, but what can I say...WOW what a Great Trip so far! That's all I can muster for now...and I'm pretty sure people are as sick of reading as I am of typing. So, I'll sign off for now & hopefully get through the rest of the trip tomorrow! Needless to say, Hofbrau & Starlight Limo get TWO THUMBS WAY UP from us.
DAY 6 -
To our surprise, nobody was really that hungover... which was good since tonight was bottle service at PURE.
BRUNCH - We all went to cafe St. Louis @ PARIS. Good food as usual. About a 30 minute wait to get in though.
GAMBLING - No luck all afternoon other than the Star Wars Penny Slots... by the end of the day I was down a total of $650 for the trip & my wife was about even. Everyone else was down except one of our friends.
DINNER - Since the vegas trip was for my 30th B-Day, I had planned on taking everyone out for the night. Dinner @ Margaritaville followed by a VIP table at PURE. It would be a little pricey, but well worth it!
Line at Margaritaville was out of control. At 7PM we were told the wait for a table was 2 1/2 hours. F That... so I went up to the 3rd floor and stood in line. About 45 minutes later two tables opened up & all 10 of us were seated. Great Food & Drinks as always... Cheeseburger in Paradise is one of the best burgers around. LIVE entertainment (guitar player) was also good. Hung out till about 9:30PM and then headed to PURE.
PURE - To make a long story short...there's a reason this is the #1 Club in the Country. It opens at 10PM and when I made the table reservation ahead of time, they guy told me to get there by 10, so we did. We arrived to find a general admission line that was so long it was broken into several groups! Then the VIP line... was several hundred deep. Ridiculous! I slid down the side & as luck would have it, we were in & on the way to our table in about 10 minutes! Side note... a couple of our friends left around 2AM & there was still a long line (general admission) to get in! PURE is 3 levels...well more like 2 1/2. We were taken in the elevator up to the 3rd level (PATIO) and escorted into a roped off section of the patio where our table was. We had our own security guard named Shawn who introduced himself to all of us when we sat down... the guy who reserved the table for us had definitely hooked us up! Unfortunately the bottle limit was 4 since it was a Friday instead of 3... and bottles start at $375 for those who are curious. Rather than continuing on like yesterday and upsetting poor Bridget, I'll be brief. We did a lot of drinking & partying. It's a great venue. Bottle service is great because you have a reserved section, a reserved table within the section, a personal waitress, and a security guard to boot anyone that tries to sit at your table...even when you are not there! We thought the Patio was the best part of PURE, as the dance floor was so crowded downstairs you could barely move! The Pussy Cat Lounge is interesting...but I think the Burlesque show at Tangerine is better! To make a long story short, we all stumbled back to the room at about 4AM after another great night in Vegas! Normally not gambling much 2 nights in a row would bother us more...but since everyone was down & we still had Saturday to gamble, we cared a lot less!
There...that was much shorter & contained less drunken stories (even though there were plenty to tell) I'll cover the last Days sometime over the weekend, but won't make them long accounts either.
I'll cover the last portion of the trip in Highlight mode & will separate by categories.
Cafe St. Il Louis & Grand Lux - Great as always... 2nd time to both this trip so I won't say anything more.
PRIME - Very nice place. Good Service. Crappy salad. OK sides. Good steak. The Highlight was the private room we were given since we had a large party, the $60 of fantastic Red Wine (wish I remembered the name of it), and seeing Jewel dining across the room. Overall PRIME was good but not great. Definitely not as good as SW Steakhouse or ALIZE, but on par with Delmonico & Mon Ami Gabi.
Going into Saturday (Day 7), I was down $650... fortunately for me I sat down at a $15 BJ table at WYNN prior to Avenue Q. 45 minutes worth of progressive BJ & I was UP $350! Left the table now only down $300 for the trip! What a difference a day makes... WYNN has been good to us! My wife won $125 at Video poker. She was now up about $150 for the trip.
Avenue Q was very good. Entertaining throughout. Favorite skit was "The Internet is for Porn"...although there were several good skits. For those of you who are wondering, tickets are about $100 each (not bad for Vegas) and the theatre is small enough that there are very few bad seats (if any) I would recommend this show, as it's different than any other Vegas show we've been too!
DRINKING/PARTYING: After Thursday & Friday did anyone actually expect to read something here?
Times Square Bar on Monday Night
Lunch at Mon Ami Gabi
Hofbrauhaus & the H2 Limo ride
VIP Table @ PURE
Dinner at PRIME
BJ @ WYNN & AVENUE Q @ WYNN
Eating at Margaritaville & Grand Lux (As Always)
That concludes another Vegas trip for us.... till next time