Warning: Very Long Trip Report.
I set off on this trip with a lot of doubts - having read so many negatives regarding the Tropicana on this forum and elsewhere - all I can say to anyone who is staying there in the near future is - read on:
I should also warn some of you that MrTrax an I are NOT fancy people when it comes to bars/restaurants etc, we prefer to be with fun, friendly, no pretence, get down to it types in spit n sawdust saloons, than with a bunch of wannabes who are in a flashy place just to name drop and look beautiful - ( not implying there's anything wrong with that - it's just not our way! )
I flew from LHR ( london heathrow) to JFK on BA in business class on the upper deck of the 747 . On arrival at JFK I went to the America West counter to try and get Mr Trax and I seated together on our flight to Vegas the next day. We had booked separately as his company paid for his trip but not for mine, we had been told we were seated together then at the last minute found out we were seven rows apart on what was a full flight! Ewww. Now I accept that rules are rules - and I now understand that they don't release emergency exit seats until four hours before the flight departs - but there are ways of saying no that don't have to be rude. I was tired and I was emotional but I have to say the AW check in agent was unacceptably ignorant, rude and uninterested to the point that I burst into tears as soon as I was out of her view. The thought of starting our NAB(him)/vacation(me) trip to Vegas seated apart was just too much for me - call me a baby if you want.
Mr Trax and I checked in for America West 139 to Vegas THREE HOURS EARLY and got the emergency exit seats. ( We used the self check in puter thingies ) We go through to the gate and chat with the gate supervisor - I mention I work for an airline and wooohoooo our luck changes - we get our seats changed to 1a and 1b as we boarded - the front two seats in first class.
The AW crew were fantastic - they served non stop drinks to us throughout the flight - they were chatty- fun and excellent all round. I am embarrassed to say that I complemented a male attendant called Rick on his watch and to my surprise he insisted I take it and keep it!!!! Seriously!
So before we even landed in Vegas I had gained a watch!
Landed at Macarran about 15 mins early - bags came out onto carousel in record time and the taxi line was fairly short and moving fast. Of course, as we were at The Trop, the taxi ride was relatively short - I got out at the Trop with a nicely bruised left thigh thanks to Mr Trax pinching me hard for being a twit when I asked our driver if he happened to be Dear Cabbie ( doh - I guess all the jack and diets I had on the flight were still in effect lol ).
I was really dubious about the Trop and was expecting the worst. I have been to Vegas four times previously - 3 with NAB where I stayed at Riv twice and Hilton once - and one time with a diversion on a flight where we were put up at Circus Circus. Wasn't keen on Circus, felt Hilton was nice but kind of personality-less, LOVED Riv.
As soon as we walked into the Trop I noticed the smell - however I didn't think it was as strong or unpleasant as some people have posted. To me it was just like walking behind someone smothered in suntan lotion. I only ever smelt it when we walked into lobby from outside - and it certainly wasn't overpowering.
My first impression of the casino was that I was going to like it! I am a fan of the Riviera and that old school feel with no fancy gimmicks or rides or noticeable theme.
Can tell you now that by the end of my stay I felt the slots were tight, but there was a fun atmosphere at the tables and in the poker room, and the cocktail waitresses would win no prizes in a glamour competition but they were around pretty frequently.
It took less than ten mins to get through the line and checked in - and the $20 trick worked !!! We were checked in by a guy who kindly upgraded us from a garden room to a room at the very front of the paradise tower. So I was all smiles as we made our way to the lifts (elevators), which were very close to the front door of the casino.
The 8th floor hallways were a little humid and stuffy ( ok sweaty and stinky ) but I was pleasantly surprised when we opened the door to our room- it was fresh, clean and airy, adequately spacious and with a view of the MGM. I stay in sheratons, hiltons, intercons, holiday inns, crowne plazas etc etc worldwide every week and can honestly say this room was of the same kind of standard. We had a king bed as well as a small sofa, chair and coffee table and the air con was good, though it would have been nice to have been able to open the window. ( To be fair, we didn't ask if the window could be unlocked so it is possible this actually was an option. )
Now, understand that Mr Trax and I had not seen each other for three weeks before this trip - so appetites were healthy! We christened the bed and were delighted to find there were no squeaky springs or banging headboards! ( not half as delighted as the folks next door were though I guess )
Then we showered and he went off to register for his PBS conference and I went to find the pool.
The trop pool
The pool area deserves its reputation. It's spacious, beautifully landscaped with plenty of beds even on the busiest of days. There are spaces to shield from the breeze and to get shade if you want - plenty of palm trees and waterfalls- and despite the music that wasn't really to my taste (current pop) was very peaceful and relaxing.
In our 7 night stay there was only one day that I felt uncomfortable by the pool and that was Saturday (the hottest and busiest day ) when I was surrounded by college kids getting drunk and generally being rowdy and loud - I just wanted peace and quiet and to be able to nap as I wasn't sleeping much at nights - every other day I was able to achieve this.
While I was alone I also managed to catch one version of the AirPlay free show that takes place in the casino at the Trop. I wasn't that impressed with one of the girl acts as she was doing something I had seen cirque do - only not as well - but the two guys who fly back and forth on the tracks/ropes above the slots were great - especially the one in tight pants, with those bulging muscles, long hair and yummy smile - well I could watch him every day and not get bored and I sure would have liked to have seen him swinging from my ceiling! In all seriousness it's a pretty good show for a freebie and well worth seeing.
Wednesday night we bought a ten journey monorail ticket ( a great deal as you can share the rides on the ticket ) and went down to The
Riviera to meet up with friends - It's become a tradition to drink at the Splash bar during our nights in town. I am always impressed at the start of the evening that the bar men always remember our names from the previous year, however, looking back, we always get so rowdy and have such a good time that it would be hard to forget us - not least because of the size of our bar bills!
We got talking to a bunch of union delegates from down south ( can't remember what industry ) and had a blast. We had intended to go eat at the plaza downtown and watch the Fremont street experience tonight but somehow one jack blended into another and we never made it.
I do remember flashing my very private tattoo for a stranger - and having a Mexican guy about 25 years my junior flirt with me much to MrTrax's amusement. I do NOT remember very much about getting home to bed 'though I know we paused outside The Bellagio and watched the fountains and had a soppy, romantic moment - lets just say the loss of memory is down to jetlag shall we!!!
(As every year, I intended to get my naked butt up alongside the bronze crazy girls outside the Riv and have a pic taken - and yes you guessed it - just as every year previously - I forgot again! Doh.)
Woke up at 4 am on Thursday with the hangover from hell - and as that was 8 pm for me as I had spent the previous week in Tokyo - I was awake for the day.
I let MrT sleep and went to soak in the tub.
Trop bathroom had a good sized tub and plentiful towels of decent size. They also were happy to give us even more towels when we asked the maid in the hallway. The soaps and little bottles weren't great for me as I am fussy and have sensitive skin anyway, but MrT said they were fine and plentiful in supply.
That morning we ate in the coffee shop - Calypsos. It took them forever to take our order but then the food arrived very quickly. I wasn't over impressed with my biscuits and gravy but my stomach was in a bad way so I shouldn't really judge.
He had conference stuff to do all day so I went to Walgreens for some supplies (losing $60 on the slots at the trop and mgm on the way ) then came back and lay by the pool for a while.
This sun session was not great - I had not picked a good spot and within 15 mins of lying down the sun moved over and plunged me into the shade of a palm tree.
I moved several times and the same thing kept happening so after an hour and half I went back inside and took a nap which took the edge off the head ache and upset stomach I was suffering from.
Thursday night we attended a cocktail and nibbles party at the MGM. It was ok - nice finger food ( GREAT salsa and guacamole ), free flowing bar and pleasant company but I made a huge mistake and wore new high heels. Was glad when it was over and we could walk across the foot bridge back to the Trop and change into more casual close and my mephistos.
We stayed in Trop casino that night and watched Airplay ( a different show this time ) and played some. Mr Trax played craps and I played the slots - I found a jackpot party quarter machine and won/lost/won/lost another $40 before giving up and calling it a night. There was a wedding porty drinking and dancing at the bar we sat at and it turned out to be very entertaining. The brides face was a classic picture of embarrassment when her mother starting doing the bump and grind on the dance floor.
Woke up at 5 am this morning but managed to keep my eyes closed till around 8am.
We walked back to the SanRemo to try their breakfast buffet and I have to say I liked it. The biscuits and gravy were better, MrT says the bacon was much crisper and there was a nice variety of foods. I am not a great breccy eater and never do buffets justice but I would definitely go back to SanRemo again. In case you haven't noticed I am not a hotel,casino or restaurant snob.
I managed to pick a sunbed that was up on the grass in front of some garden room patios today and this proved to be a great spot - shielded from the breeze and in full sun shine from about 11-2 - perfect for me. The pool garden was looking lovely with some beautiful roses of all colours and there were lots of birds flying and hopping about making whoopee - I had a great morning of sunny relaxation.
I have to say that the water in the pool was VERY cold and that the swim up BJ was not open yet.
Went indoors around 2 and showered/played my Jackpot Party machine ( and lost some more ) , MrT came home , showered and we headed down to the Riv again. Had a few drinks at splash with some pro wrestlers who were in town to see the ultimate fighting championship that was on at MGM. Then we headed down to Fremont Street.
We took what the monorail people had nicely referred to as - the Fremont street shuttle - ahem - excuse me but it was a public bus - slow and nasty!
Fremont was heaving with people and all very good humoured. There was a lot of dancing in the street going on in front of the stages, everyone was in a party mood. We went into Mermaids and I was very tempted to try the twinkies - I was a little tiddly by now and told MrT that there was definitely a fish bowl there with some real life mermaids in it!! He asked me where did I hear that and for the zillionth time that trip I proudly announced - Someone on the forum told me. - He sure as hell got sick of hearing that phrase - and I am sure that on this occasion I had imagined it anyway way lol.
As is now becoming a habit we forgot to eat - then ended up desperate - tonight we found ourselves downstairs in one of the casinos, cannot remember if it was Binions /Four Queens? it wasn't half bad to be honest. I had Singapore noodles and he had fish and chips. Exotic or what!!! ( lol )
Then it was back to the Riv for a couple more drinks with our new friends, where I went and played my favourite machine in the whole of Vegas - a STAMPEDE machine out near the front entrance, and won my way back up to even. I always win on this particular slot.
Finally a taxi back to The Trop - yet again our driver had never heard of this forum and denied being Dear Cabbie !! All week we used cabs about 8 times I think, and they were all fine and polite and helpful - except one. More on him later.
Today was a lazy day trying to catch a few zzzzzzz's by the pool in the morning. However it turned out to be useless .. the pool area was full of drunken college kids doing what college kids do. I doubt half of them were even guests at the Trop as there was no key checking or wrist bands or any such thing needed to gain entry to the pool area.
Anyway it was noisy and not peaceful at all and so around midday I gave up and went back to the room to change and go hit the shops.
On my way back I walked along one of the garden room corridors that the maid was cleaning and peeped inside a few. While not as nice as the paradise tower, I would not have minded staying in the garden rooms at all. They looked fairly light and airy and clean although obviously older. I did get the impression it could get very noisy down there though with so many young people ( there for the ultimate fighting championship it seems ) having private room parties.
Saturday afternoon I took a cab to Fashion Show Mall. I love this mall but cannot believe that it only has one small book store inside it. There again, I guess reading isn't the main thing people do when in Vegas.
Sat up in the food court for a while drinking Starbuck's, looking out over the new Wynne and wondering what was going on underneath all that greenery.
Bought some new sneakers and wandered every major stores beauty department looking for Armani foundation but no one had it - not even Neiman Marcus. Oh well - saved myself $50 or so I guess.
I was all shopped out when MrT called my cell and we arranged to meet outside the Mirage. We, ended up inside Treasure Island for a couple of Corona's then walked to the other side of the street.
We played in Casino Royale for an hour or so, a game that was new to both of us called Black Jack Switch. You play two $5 min. hands, 8 decks, face up, and the top two dealt cards you can switch from hand to hand before playing the hand. It's entertaining and something different and there was a great atmosphere at the table.
Finally we walked through the Flamingo and caught the monorail back to the MGM. The walk from the MGM station to the Trop is a p.i.t.a. Why is it that when YOU want to walk somewhere directly and at speed, there is always at least one obese person, one wheelchair person and a group of Japanese who wont separate up, blocking the pathway in front of you?? GRRR. ( That's not meant to be offensive - I'm just making a point that dawdling seems to be the norm in Vegas)
Saturday night we dressed up in LBD ( me - not him lol ) and formal suit for a sit down dinner hosted by PBS at the MGM. Food wasn't great ( the thing I hate about catering for such huge numbers of people is that your meal never seems particularly warm by the time its served and their imagination never seems to stretch beyond chicken, chicken and more chicken) but they had a few Cirque artists there as entertainment and that was pretty good - especially two strength/balance guys who had the whole room silent in open mouthed awe.
The cirque stage was set up with a frame that looked like two stripper poles - when it came to be time for prize giving speeches it got very funny and rowdy with the guys all calling for everyone up there to 'work the pole' etc.... you had to be there to appreciate it but we did laugh till we ached.
The dinner ended fairly early so we ran back to the room, changed and headed out to The Greendoor.
Please don't judge us on this - we are adults and know what we are doing - and had been there before. It is clean, we like the staff and the clientele were all very respectful toward one another.
This time we didn't hook up with anyone, but, without going into any more details, I think we put on a pretty good show and entertained the locals for a couple of hours lol.
There was a girl there with her boyfriend who was all out to impress and didn't have a shy bone in her - she was glued ( in more ways that one lol ) to the pole on the stage in one room and was a pretty decent dancer but was so drunk she kept hiccupping and every time her dance finished she more or less fell off the platform. It was very funny to watch.
We were both exhausted by the time we left around 2 am, the late nights, drinking etc catching up with us.
( I didn't ask either cab driver to or from the door if he was DC - for some reason I felt all too embarrassed lol )
Today was MrT's rest day before starting to walk the halls at NAB. So we lay in late and actually didn't have breakfast at all. We lay in the sun for some time in the morning and generally took it easy during the day.
We walked through to the Excaliber and took the tram to Luxor and Mandalay Bay just strolling and looking around. The pool at the bay looked like a zoo that day it was so crowded and busy.
Had a nap and snuggle in the afternoon and then headed out for our evening. The monorail took us down to the Hilton where we were looking forward to sushi at the place joined up with Benihana's - and we learned a lesson - ALWAYS CALL AHEAD!! The sushi place was closed as were two of the other nice looking restaurants at the Hilton. Grrr. So finally we ate at Quark ( is that what its called? ) - I felt bad that I have never ever seen a single start trek episode and did not even known who the character was who came to chat at our table. Still, I thought the food was nice. I was really wanting to try some of the HUGE, 'to share' exotic cocktails but decided against it as I needed to remain a little bit compus mentis for the rest of the evening.
Once again we headed over to GreenDoor as it was an invite only couples appreciation night. This was somewhat disappointing according to the staff, not a huge number of couples showed up and there wasn't a lot of action but once again MrT and I had a good time. Normally there is no alcohol here but as it was a private party the JD flowed freely.
It was around 3 am when we left and cabbed it back to the trop.
Today I was free to do whatever I wished during the day. Sat around at the pool for most of the morning and really relaxed and enjoyed it. Was starving by lunch time and so walked to La Salsa Cantina just down the strip past MGM for a couple of REAL margharitas and quesadillas. I really do love this place for casual but authentic Mexican food. Its pleasant to sit near the front door and watch the world go by, or quieter and more relaxed out back. The range of hot sauces is too much for me... I want them all at once ! Managed to resist the temptation of 'one more margharita' and forced myself away. One more quick stop at cvs and walgreens ( we don't have these stores in the uk and I love them both!! ) looking for twinkies - ok so they weren't deep fried, but twinkies became my obsession this trip.
Unfortunately, by the time I got them back to the room the carrier bag had shifted around and they were flattened under two litre bottles of water and some diet cokes. Not sure what I must have looked like trying to lick twinkies out of the wrapper.
Played the slots a short while at MGM - commited the cardinal sin - put everything I won back in the same machine again - then MrT called my cell so went to meet him in the bar at the Trop.
Watched him play poker in the trops new poker room for a couple of hours - $20 buy in then it's a 1-3 game. The young guys round the table were good fun and there was a nice atmosphere but a NAB wife who was betting all her hubbys money was really irritating me. All low cut top and fluttering eyelashes. So after a while I went to play the slots. Saw a woman win a jackpot on the nickel machines, and FINALLY I hit a jackpot party bonus round ( only hit about four of these in all my time playing at Trop- found their machines really tight).
We sauntered down the strip and back to Casino Royale where there were two seats at the BJ Switch tables - BIG mistake. I am a very low roller but had such fun with the dealers and the crowd at this table tonight that we ended up playing for around 5 hours I think and walking away $300 each down. But as I said, we had a blast, good laughs and the cocktail waitresses were frequent visitors to the table to we had no complaints.
Walked outside at around 2am realizing that yet again, we had forgotten to eat. Cab driver tried to persuade us to go to a 24 hour Dennys- I have no idea why - but we ended up back at the Trop coffee shop and actually had a pretty decent burger.
By now I was starting to get depressed that the trip was almost over. The weather was cooler and breezier today and definitely not for sunbathing. MrT was over at NAB so I decided to do my souvenir and gift shopping. Started off over at NYNY as I love some of the apparel at the zumanity store - but didn't feel inspired today and my twinkie phase had left me feeling pudgy so nothing looked nice on me.
Walked over to the mgm shops and lost $40 on the slots before deciding to head over to the Hard Rock.
There was no cab line at MGM so the valet called one over for me ( yes I tipped him ) - told the driver where I wanted to go and he responded 'Hard Rock Hotel' Jesus F***ing Christ!!?
I asked him what the problem was and he said - 'what problem'? I asked him what the language was for and he said I wasn't supposed to hear it. I said that quite clearly it was intended for me so did he want to take me or should I get out now? I was furious.
He took me to Hard Rock and had to get out to let me out of the locked back door, stood there with his hand out for a tip but no way was he going to get one. Asshole.
At Hard Rock I won $100 on a Wild Thing slot then won a free Starbucks by filling out a shopping survey . Didn't buy a thing though - the range of ladies tshirts seemed really limited compared to other years.
Cabbed it back to Trop and lay in the tub, shaved my bits, put a face mask on and bugger- the fire alarm went off. If you could have seen me hopping about my room looking for panties or pyjamas to escape in you would have laughed. Of course it turned out to be just a test.
Tuesday early evening was the party we were looking forward to. It was in a private suite at the Hilton and is always VERY relaxed, liberal with the booze and nice food. This year was no exception. The bar man was a company manager who poured the biggest measures of spirits I have ever seen. There was a decent amount of food but the room was very full and every time I tried to get something in my mouth I got elbowed and ended up wearing it so I gave up.
We had to leave around 8 as MrT was taking part in a private poker tournament down town at Binions. I couldn't sit at the table to watch so I sat at a line of Wheel of Fortune machines along the wall and played for an hour or two. It was a really fun time, very sociable, a bunch of strangers all in the spirit of things and just being nice and friendly. We all lost. Lol.
By now I was starving and VERY thirsty as we hadn't seen a cocktail waitress once at the slots. I went to look for MrT and apparently he was out of the competition and was looking for me so we circled each other for 30 mins or so and missed each other at every corner of the casino. I was starting to panic as he had my money in his pocket and I didn't have a room key or my cell with me - was almost going to ask if they would page him when we finally found one another.
We knew this was our last night in Vegas so didn't want to sleep just yet as it was only around midnight.
We took a cab back and contemplated stopping off at Orleans as we have never made it into that place yet, but somehow ended up eating pizza outside the duelling piano bar in NYNY and peeking in through the windows. Some woman was having a blast but was not very stable on her feet ( note I did not say she was falling over from drink lol ) and managed to bump into a table and knock drinks over everyone sitting at it - the security guys basically had to ask her friends to keep her sitting down or leave. But she was instantly replaced by a guy who was equally wobbly - everyone seemed to be having a great time but MrT and I save our duelling piano nights for Howl at the moon in Baltimore and so we moved on.
We played some more at Trops slots and poker tables - once again we lost each other at some point and hunted round and round the casino till we bumped back into each other - as always I had left my cell phone and key in the room and MrT had my money - I don't do purses !!
Woke up feeling miserable today as I knew it was going home time.
We lay around in bed for a little while then monorailed it - him to the convention floors, me back to the Hilton for a latte and a nice slot that paid me $60 - cant remember its name but its bonus round and theme was texas oil.
We met up an hour later and had a sit down presentation lunch in the Barran room at the Hilton - chicken- again- and we left before the presentation started lol.
We walked the NAB expo floor briefly and said bye to some friends then went out back where we signed a giant chess board which was being sent out to the troops in Iraq.
Then it was a final monorail ride back to the Trop and an hour in the sun before facing huge heap of worn clothes that threatened to bury our room and the task of repacking. Uggghhh I HATE this so much.
I felt really tearful as we packed, I have to start flying again and my schedule means I am not going to make it back to see MrT in the USA for a couple of weeks, so this wasn't just a goodbye to Vegas but also leading up to a - love you, see you soon - farewell for us.
Packing done, all showered etc we headed down to the casino for a last hour of BJ. I lost $100 in no time at all despite playing good strategy, the cards were just not on my side. MrT managed to stay even.
We checked out at 8 and cabbed it back to the airport. I was so miserable I didn't even ask this driver if he was Dear Cabbie.
We got through security quickly but half naked lol - then ate at Cheers before going to the gate.
Luckily we had once again checked in very early and were in the emergency exit rows on a very full flight - even all the seats in First were sold so I guess some people had won at the tables/slots.
I couldn't even look out of the window as we left Vegas- it felt so sad to be saying goodbye probably for another year. I am contemplating coming back for the pbr finals in late October/early November but MrT won't be able to join me so it would be a different kind of 'time for me' trip ( and time for a few cowboys!! Woohoo)
Must Do's We Didn't Do
In the months before this year's trip I had picked up lots of tips on this forum and elsewhere.
Our list of must do's had included:
Drinks on the patio that face the fountains at Bellagio ( ty for the tip Moi)
Canyon trip with scenic airlines who would have taken us ( on my airline employee discount ) for just $20 to cover fuel!
Dinner on the Patio at Mon Ami Gabi
Sushi at Orleans.
Dinner at center stage in the plaza with a table overlooking the fremont light show.
Unfortunately Uncle Jack made us forget half of this lol but we still had a great time and there are no regrets- there's always next year.