We are two 40 something suburban Seattleites with a penchant for wasting time, money, and brain cells in Las Vegas. That's me Al, and my lovely (and smart) wife, Sal.
Here's the narrative from our April 10-14th trip, in mostly chronological order. It runs about 3100 words over 7 pages for your reading pleasure.
Sunday, April 10th.
Flew our 14th consecutive hassle free flight to McCarran on Southwest airlines, which landed about 10 minutes late. The wait for our bags to arrive in LAS was less than 10 minutes. We were surprised to see so many people coming into Vegas on Sunday.
Dollar Fastlane worked like a charm, from getting off the shuttle to driving out the exit with our signed paperwork was 5mins. Sal picked out a nice sliver Dodge Neon with about 2K miles. Gas was ~2.50/gallon most everywhere we looked around town.
Drove over to the Aladdin, self parked, and walked the mile through the desert passage mall to check in. In all the times we have gone to Vegas I have not done the Valet parking thing. Seems that it would be a good idea, especially at the Aladdin. The only changes I saw in the Desert passage mall are that a couple of new coffee places are open near to the casino, meaning that you can get non-Starbucks in the AM if you want.
That and there is a guy doing a free bird show at 1PM every day... pretty good if trained parakeets are your thing.
There was a short line for check in at noon, and only one person waiting in the VIP line, so I went there with the intention of flashing the 'gold card' and maybe save a little time. For whatever reason, the regular line moved faster than the VIP line, and I waited for about 10 mins to get to the counter, just a minor annoyance, and soon we were on our way to the 30th floor regular room facing out back towards the East. Didn't try the $20 trick and didn't ask for anything special.
Sal and I both love the rooms at the Aladdin, the beds are comfy, and the bathrooms are especially nice. Its too bad they don't have more than one chair to lounge in, but that's a minor issue. The water pressure was phenomenal, one of the absolute best showers I have ever had the pleasure of using anywhere. This has not been our experience during previous stays at the Aladdin so I wonder if there is something special about the plumbing configuration of certain rooms?
As soon as we dropped off our bags, we went straight for the Champaign brunch, and put the gold card to good use, bypassing the long line and walking right in. That single perk makes the Gold card worth it. Honestly, saving 30 to 40 minutes of line time when you are starving is priceless! In no time we were enjoying some delicious roast beef, rotisserie chicken, shrimp, pizza, watermelon, 'exotic' cheeses. I tried most everything at the Middle eastern station, we each made a couple of runs through the dessert section too. They kept the mimosas coming and in an hour or so we were both 'overstuffed', actually a little uncomfortable, .....but just a little....we would get over that quick enough!
We went up to the casino to try our luck on this first day. Our game of choice is quarter video poker, and the Aladdin doesn't excel in this regard. I guess its about as good as any other strip property, which is to say, it sucks.... 7/5 bonus is about as good as it gets at any level. Theoretical payback on that game is something like 98%, but for some odd reason it usually works out closer to 0% for us. The VP seems to have improved over what was there in December. The multi games are multi denomination, and some are the double-up variety that we like to play.
There are some noticeable changes throughout the casino, some new games, some old games gone, rearranged banks of machines etc... There are signs all around that state the new Planet Hollywood is opening in 2006, and they have banks of Planet Hollywood themed slot machines.
But the biggest difference I saw was no more lamp over the lamp bar. The 'lamp' bar has no lamp?! I guess there will be a rotating 'Planet Hollywood globe' up there instead, but for now there is nothing over that bar in the center of the casino. It had been a fixture since the place opened a few years ago and I am sorry to see it gone. No matter for the hookers though, they still sit at the lamp-less bar in the evenings...
So, sitting down to some video poker, first day, first session, just getting into the groove of Vegas and slipping that first twenty into the machine. Hitting the deal button, making decisions, seeing the cards as they tick tick tick along the screen, this is one of the reasons we save and plan and think and pine away for hours during the rest of the year. Is it really worth it? Really? YES of course!
But it's even more worth it when three or four hands into the very first session, I held two cards and up popped the Diamond Royal Flush! Oh YES it is worth it!
Among other things, hitting a royal on the first session of our trip meant; no visit to the ATM, positive expectations for the remainder of the trip, no more guilt over the unpaid bills left at home, the ability to pretend that I'm a higher roller than I am for a few hours, and best of all, its TITO....no extra tipping!
That started the best 36 hours of video poker that I have experienced in my life. Several 4 oaks, including one Aces with a 4 for a 2000 credit win and a straight flush put us up over a thousand dollars by the end of the second day. All from quarter level VP.... Each time we got back to the room we had more money than when we left. Simply amazing. (Don't worry though, I made up for it by the end of the trip, but for those first 36 hours I was definitely in the zone with a VP vibe going on.)
Sal was quite jealous! Man, she was giving me the evil eye, and there was nothing I could complain about without seeing her roll her eyes and say 'uh huh... life must be hard for you and your royal-flush self'. I totally understand, even though you are happy that your partner is doing well, you also want to be doing well. A couple of crisp hundreds calmed her down though, funny how that works...
We took a break at one point and walked across the street to see the Bellagio fountain show, 'luck be a lady' my absolute favorite. Nothing like Frank singing that song...Nothing like Frank singing that song with a grand in my pocket from VP!
Being our travel day we didn't stay up late, but made a point to visit the London Club upstairs in the Aladdin on our way to bed. Sal and I each put in a C-note and talked with the bartender while we plunked away at the dollar VP. How refined it is up there... nothing but top shelf liquor and no one around to drink it except us! Quiet though, kind of creepy with no one there but the bartender and the dealers. We stopped in a couple other times during our trip and there was never anyone there. Must be one of the most boring jobs in town, working the empty tables in an empty room with the 8 other dealers standing at attention, waiting for that high roller to stop by.
I think it was Tess964 or maybe JurrassicJenwho mentioned how nice it was to stop in at the London Club, thanks Tess, or Jen, either way you were right on!
Monday we played VP at the Aladdin for a bit, and then drove out to the Cannery. How I missed Davey Doesmore's Mega Meet I have no idea... a slip of the mind? I had every intention of going, planned for it, had it written down on a card in my wallet, but didn't realize what day it was till later on that night...sorry to have missed it.
We had never been out to the Cannery and didn't know anything other than the address and the general area from the phone book map. We took the exit from the interstate the wrong way on Craig road and ended up driving around, making lefts and u-turn until getting turned back the right way. For whatever reason the road numbering signs are all crazy on E. Craig road, starting at 4000, then going down to 3200 then up to 4100.. all heading East...lunacy!
Once we found it, the Cannery was good to us, and it was 5X points day so we racked up enough credit in a couple of hours to qualify for three $10 gift cards from the Home Depot, a T-Shirt, and some good coupons for free entrees at their 'nice' restaurant. I'm pretty sure the VP vibe was still in effect because we left with more money than we brought. Although only slightly. They have a good selection of games at all levels, and the room is nice and clean.
Had dinner at the Waverly restaurant at the Cannery and it was good. Crab cakes for appetizers (excellent), two entrees, one chicken marsala (very good) one beef with peppercorn sauce thing (OK-passable), two salads (good) and a bottle of Clos Du Bois Cabernet (tasty) came to about 77 after the coupon. Not a bad deal at all. Would I go back? yes if I was at the Cannery. Would I drive out there just to eat... no way.
Got up, lounged by the pool for an hour or so and then decided to drive out to the Blueberry Hill Restaurant on E. Flamingo for Lunch. Its only about a 7 minute drive from the Aladdin parking garage. This is a local chain that is something like a Denny's and has an extensive breakfast/lunch/dinner menu available 24 hours. The service is quick and friendly and we ate plenty for under $20.
Then headed out to the Casino Monte Lago where all previous mojo for VP was lost into the desert. I never got anything going and from that point on I didn't hit a thing at VP. Should have quit playing and just paid for my drinks. Nah! That's crazy talk!
Sal sat down for the first time at the 'nickel' Little Green Men game and had a blast, she actually hit some combination or other for 2200 credits ($112) on her second spin. From then on she was hooked and played the LGM at every opportunity, although never hit that combo again.
Tuesday night I had tickets for Lance Burton at the Monte Carlo, so we drove straight there from Lake Las Vegas and had a bite to eat at the Brew Pub before the show. We had great seats about mid way down the 4th row so we got to see everything up close. I have no idea how he works the sleight of hand, absolutely amazing. I would say the show is a bit dated, (perhaps a bit stale?) but absolutely a fine show of magic. The balcony seats seem pretty far back too, so I would recommend seats as close as possible.
After Lance, we tried our best at the 7/5 bonus poker progressive at the Monte Carlo, which was sitting at over $2100 giving it a theoretical payback of over 100%, almost unheard of for 7/5 bonus poker. With the VP mojo completely gone now, Sal and I each ran $100 into that game and obtained an actual payback of 0%.
Tired of VP finally, we drove over to the Ellis Island for the often cited $4.99 steak dinner. It was very much worth the trip! Quite tasty steak with potato and green beans, salad and two fine beers came to $14- Amazing! Plus as a bonus they have non-stop Karaoke in the bar.... Terrible stuff but entertaining for a short while. They would not accept my 2 for 1 coupon printed from the HeliTours website, saying it was an offer long gone.
We ended up that evening at the Aladdin by stopping by the London Club for a quick session of VP and nightcap... $120 martinis... man they were good!
Got up and checked out of the Aladdin, first stopping by the slot club to see if I could get the buffet comped from my bill. My strategy is to expect nothing and then be pleasantly surprised if I receive anything. I picked up $30 cash back, entirely from this trip, and they sent me downstairs to see 'tony' at the VIP desk to check on any other comps. Tony wasn't there, but the guy who was called him and after speaking for a minute or two in some kind of code, like... '230-S, yes sir'... followed by '410-T... yeah ok no problem'... Tony apparently approved comping one night hotel and the buffet...very nice indeed... Thanks Tony! Basically the Aladdin ended up costing $33 a night, not too shabby.
We drove over to the Orleans and checked in for two nights booked with the Mastercard deal. Checking in at 11:30AM was no problem, and we had a nice strip view room.
After being at the Aladdin for three nights the room at the Orleans did seem a bit shabby. The room itself is fine, and I have no real complaints, its just the direct comparison from one day to the next that makes the Orleans seem run down. In addition, the noises from the hallway invade the room fairly clearly, and the maids have a habit of knocking on all the doors between 8 and 9 AM which is annoying even with the 'do not disturb' sign on our door, as we could hear them tap tap tapping on all the doors near ours. This has happened every time we have stayed at the O.
On the plus side the room is larger overall, has nice couch to sit on, and we were able to park the car so that we could see it from the window, not that it matters really, but it is nice to wake up, look out, and know precisely where you parked the day before. This comes in handy more often than I would like to admit. Getting into and out of the Orleans, getting coffee, a snack, or some dinner is just easier at the Orleans compared to the Aladdin.
All the rest of this trip we played VP and slots at the Orleans, playing at the Piano bar, the Masquerade bar, and throughout the casino. I didn't hit anything at all, just whiled away the time by dropping 20 after 20 into the VP.
We did go for lunch at the Gaylord Indian restaurant at the Rio. I would highly recommend this lunch if you like Indian food. They have a special menu with 5 or 6 combinations that include three dishes, rice, and nan bread for about $15. This is the same Gaylord's franchise that is in Chicago and elsewhere so if you have been, you know its good.
After lunch I watched some of the famous Rio 'bevertainers' do their dance routine. It's a good thing those bevertainers... how can anyone complain? What could possibly be wrong with having a nearly naked and very cute girl dancing on top of your slot machine? Sal disagrees for some unknown reason... (another $100 took care of that)...
Back over at the Orleans we played mostly at the Piano bar up front, where you can watch the band play in the lounge and have nice drinks while you hope to win the progressive. Our bartender there suggested that we try Grey Goose with 7-up and a twist of lemon... that is special... the Bartender suggested quality vodka for a comped drink... its not the first time that has happened at the Orleans and is one of the primary reasons we will be going back again and again. And man that drink was refreshing! Sal and I must have had a dozen or more of those between us. Yes indeed we like the Orleans!
On Thursday we played VP and ate at the Buffet, and played VP and ate at the courtyard café... and played VP and drank at the Piano bar....Eventually we could deny the time no more and checked out, filled the car with $11 of gas and dropped off our Neon at the Dollar counter. No troubles at all with Dollar, and the final bill was exactly what was 'estimated' on our online reservation.
We had no wait at the Southwest ticket counter, only a minor wait at security, and a very pleasant flight home. They did check our boarding documents and IDs three separate times going through security, twice before and once after the metal detector, that's new for me.
The wrap up...
Hands down the best 36 hours of VP I have experienced. Overall the best VP trip ever.
Three nights at the Aladdin, plus one and ½ at the Orleans, came to $190 with all taxes.
The Aladdin still treated us well. Minor changes ongoing in the casino.
No more lamp at the Lamp bar!
The London club is nice, worth a visit, just don't be freaked out by the quietness.
Devil video poker provided ~150 this trip. We are now 4/2/13 (winning/even/loosing) in gambling trips to Vegas.
$4.99 Steak dinner at the Ellis Island is tasty, well worth a trip.
Waverly restaurant at the Cannery is good. Not great but good.
Lance Burton, excellent magic, good show.
The Cannery is worth a visit, just be sure to turn left on Craig road.
Gaylord's Indian Restaurant at the Rio has a very good lunch.
The pool area at the Orleans beats the pool area at the Aladdin by a mile...however... eye candy at the Aladdin is superior... (Dang...another $100 to Sal).
The bartenders at the Orleans remain some of the best in town. These guys know their craft, and are not afraid to give you a good comped drink, or ten.
Bloody Marys at the Orleans are some of the best in town.
Booking an 'extra' night so you can relax on your last day is very much worth it.
Seattle airport is STILL a pit. Someday soon it should be a showcase, but for now, plywood, duct tape, and droplights.
Thanks for your time,