TR MAY 2009, MY WIFE WENT TO THE POOL

The pool has always been an important part of our Las Vegas experience. we've been to Las Vegas many times and no longer feel the need to be tourists or see new things. Also gambling is not a major factor in our trips, so we have plenty of time. Some of our trips are very active, but many are just to rest. This was one of those.

It's kind of hard to explain why lounging by the pool in Las Vegas is important to my wife, but then again many may understand.
We live in California, and the weather at home is much better than that in Las Vegas most of the year. In addition to this we have a pool at home.
If you eliminate the days when it is too hot (over 90-95 degrees) or too cold (under 80 degrees) we have a lot more -pool days- at home than they do in Las Vegas. Yet my wife rarely uses the pool at home unless our grandkids are visiting.
But in Las Vegas she considers the pool a retreat and sanctuary.

Because of this the pool is a major factor in our choice of hotel, so there have been many stays at places like Wynn, Mirage and Mandalay Bay.
This time our hotel choice was Four Seasons.

It was not originally planned that way. We knew that we would go to LV for Mothers Day this year, but hadn't chosen a hotel. In February I booked airfare for our usual Sunday-Friday trip. And we were kind of planning on staying at Mandalay Bay ($79 night) or maybe Wynn ($109), depending on our offers. But on March 10th my wife sent me an email:

-Please, Please take this one. This is the change of hotel we could make.-

Following was the Four Seasons offer sent to Mandalay Bay guests, which included rates of $149 through May 14th. By no strange coincidence our flights were already booked for May 10th-15th.
So I checked and our dates were available at that rate, and upon further checking I found the rate included weekends!

So we discussed it for a couple of days and decided this was an opportunity we didn't want to pass up. Who knows when rates in Las Vegas will be this low again, and if we will ever again have this chance-
Of course the legendary service at the Four Seasons pool, and the access to the Mandalay Bay lazy river were major factors in this decision.

So we changed our arrival to Saturday (no difference in rate) and our return to Wednesday. This allowed me to take a trip and only be away from the office for 3 days. And we figured that staying one less day would equalize the cost, over choosing to stay at Wynn or MB.

Saturday May 9th
We arrived at McCarron around 10:30am. The airport was not crowded, but at least it wasn't deserted either. Cab line took about 10 minutes, and we were at Four Seasons by 11. I was a little worried about checking in on a Saturday as room availability might be limited, but all my requests were honored. We were technically upgraded to a superior room, although we couldn't tell the difference. Most importantly, we were given a quiet room near the end of the hall, without a connecting door that was not in the airport flight path. This gave us a mountain view, which was fine with us, as we have stayed at Mandalay Bay many times, and already experienced every view they have to offer.

Even though this was our first stay at Four Seasons we knew what to expect from the room, because the size and floor plan is almost the same as the rooms at MB. Also we regularly stay at Wynn or even occasionally a suite at other hotels. So we probably weren't as WOWED by the room as we should have been. But it was quite comfortable. We were a little disappointed in the bathroom, as it wasn't as nice as those at MB. It only had one sink (MB has a large vanity with 2 sinks) and the tub was not as large as MB's.
But the room did have the highly prized coffee pot, which sat unused during our stay.

First thing to do is walk around and see what has changed since our last visit to Mandalay Bay. We stopped by the Four Seasons pool, and were kind of surprised to find it fairly crowded. We-d walked by many times through the years and had never seen very many people there. Of course we don't normally stay at MB on Saturday.

Then we went over to see what MGM had changed at the MB pool. I think the last time we stayed at MB was either Spring 2007, or maybe even Fall 2006. Since then they have changed the pool area quite a bit, including new entrances, gift shops and restaurant. Unfortunately it's a lot more Disneyesque than it used to be. But knowing MGM, I'm sure it's more profitable. Of course being Saturday and 90 degrees it was a lot more noisy and crowded than we like our pool to be.

Decide on salad or sandwich for lunch, so we head to Red White & Blue at MB for lunch. Hadn't been there in a couple of years, and it has changed. It used to be Blue was a Deli where you walked up and ordered, but now it is all one restaurant with the same table service as Red. And White, the bakery now has fewer options. I hate to say this, but it is now just another overpriced coffee shop/café. I have a chicken sandwich ($13) and my wife decides on nachos ($14). Nachos, at a place like this- We could have gone to Border Grill! Oh well, sometimes you don't know these things in advance.

Then it was over to the race book to watch a couple of races at Hollywood. I always handicap races on our flights, and even though I couldn't really get into it this time I still managed to get a few races done.
I liked a horse in the next race and it is a decent price at 5-2. So with 4 minutes to go I walk up and make a bet. With 3 minutes to go they scratch my horse. Oh well.
The next race was a maiden claiming race, and I had a first-time starter that I though had a chance. It was 12-1, so I bet $10. She ran a pretty good race after a slow start and finished 3rd. She will probably win at 8-5 next time. So I'm in town 3 hours and down a whopping $10.

My wife decides it is now time for a nap. When we fly she takes Dramamine, and a few hours later it sometimes hits her, especially if it is hot. And of course all the walking didn't help.

So it's my job to check out the casinos. We play VP for entertainment, and while I don't expect full pay on the Strip, I'm not going to play crap either. And YES, we will stay at a hotel and not play there at all if they don't have machines I consider playable. We did it for many years at MB. I was able to find a bank of quarter 10 coin 8/5 JOB machines at MB. We will play 8/5 at the quarter level for entertainment, but not for any higher than that.

My wife also likes a nickel video WOF machine, which had practically disappeared in favor of penny machines, which she doesn't enjoy. So I also look for these.

My search then spread to Luxor, where I found her WOF. Good, she-ll have something to play nearby! Luxor also has a number of quarter 8/6 JOB machines, and I even found a few $1 Triple Play machines that paid 9/5.

Something happened while I was out and she was sleeping that bothered my wife. We realize that better hotels provide better service, and sometimes this means coming to your room more often. For instance; when we were checking in the desk clerk, noticing that I required a fridge for medication, asked if they could provide a container to dispose of syringes. I said fine, and while we were out a lunch one was brought up and placed in our room.
While she was sleeping someone came into our room and left a confirmation of her spa appointment for the next day. They didn't slip it under the door, but came in and placed it on the honor bar.
Now she realizes that they probably knocked, and maybe even called out, and she just slept through it. But it still made her uncomfortable.

Dinner was at one of our old-time favorites, The Noodle Shop. I had my favorite BBQ Pork Noodle Soup. My wife decided she wanted Chicken Chow Mien, but she wanted it Hong Kong style. This is not on the menu, but they do have a seafood option that is served that way. So I asked the waitress and at first she said no. But I pointed out the seafood dish and so she relented, but said she would have to charge for the more expensive dish. This kind of pissed off my wife who mentioned that seafood costs a lot more than chicken, but they wouldn't relent. We-re talking all of $3 here folks!
Of course my wife ordered it anyway and we paid the extra $3.
The check was $37.93. Normally I probably would have tipped $7 or $8, but I ended up only leaving $6. So in effect we ended up splitting the difference.

We then went over to Luxor and played a little VP & her WOF, and then called it an early night. After all, the object of this trip was to rest.
Sunday May 10th, Mothers Day
Up early, just couldn't sleep in. Went downstairs to let wife sleep a little longer. Played a little VP at Luxor, walked outside to check the weather. Yes, warm enough to go to the pool at 7:30am.
Picked up coffee at Orchid Lounge, and we had breakfast in our room.

Down to the pool at 9am. Chose chairs in the shade under the trees on the Verandah side of the pool. There was no crowd like on Saturday, with maybe 20 people at the pool while we were there. Including a few small children, but only one that wasn't a baby or toddler, so it was still very quiet. We each enjoyed a Pina Colada ($33 with tip) and spent a couple of hours reading and relaxing. Then it was time to leave as my wife had an appointment for a massage at noon.

My wife was somewhat disappointed with the Four Seasons spa. She wasn't expecting large or high tech, in fact she prefers quiet and intimate. But she is also accustomed to Wynn or THEBathouse, and Four Seasons does not match up well in comparison. She did like the masseur, who had been there 10 years and did a good job. But because the facilities didn't provide much in the way of other options she didn't spend the afternoon there like she normally does. So after her massage, it was back to the pool.

I had the afternoon free, and my plan was to go to Mirage to pick up our Terry Fator tickets and then find a poker game. So I got ready and then went downstairs to catch a cab. Only I forgot it was noon (check-out time) on Sunday. Four Seasons doesn't have a cab line, so they don't handle Sunday checkout well. There were probably only about a dozen people milling about waiting for cabs to the airport, but it seemed like a mob.
Fortunately I am well versed in dealing with the MB property, so I knew what to do. I walked over to THEhotel, where there is never a cab line, and got a cab immediately.

I picked up the tickets and went to the Mirage poker room. My game of preference is limit holdem. But it is getting a little tough to find lately as small no limit games are the current rage. Mirage only had a $3-$6 game (smaller than I like) and a short interest list for $6-$12. So I decided my best chance of finding a decent game would be at Wynn.

Wynn did have a $4-$8 game but there was a list, so I had to wait. This gave me a chance to walk around and verify that Wynn had indeed removed all of the dollar 9/6 JOB machines as I had heard. Too bad! But on the bright side they put a bank of my wife's favorite nickel WOF back in.

Seeing as I still had to wait, I went to ZooZaCrackers for some soup for lunch. Not the best chicken soup, but great matzo balls.

After about an hour I finally get a seat. The table was pretty typical for Wynn, mostly locals with a few tourists, but no first-timers. What was a little unusual was that the big winner on the table was a tourist. He was waiting for his plane home, and on a great roll. He played aggressively, involved in way too many hands, but the cards were just hitting him no matter what he played. I tried to stay out of his way, but it wasn't easy as he played most of the hands. Fortunately I took a large pot from him and only took small losses in return. But he was driving a few of the locals crazy, and finally lost some of his winnings back, leaving about $500-$600 ahead. Nothing exceptional happened to me. I ended up playing around 2 ½ hours winning $140.

I'm a little concerned that it is getting tough for me to find a suitable poker game in Las Vegas again. This is certainly not the 1st time, as LV poker has
gone through many ups and downs. I mostly play on weekday afternoons while my wife is at the spa or pool. And my style of play is best suited to limits between $4-$8 and $10-$20. Right now the most prominent games are $2-$4 or low NL. I don't mind playing with locals or higher caliber players, in fact I prefer they occupy about ½ the table, but right now good afternoon games are getting a little tough to find. I may have to consider other options.

I play a little VP, just to let Wynn know I was there, registering a small win. Then it is back before 6, just like I promised.

The plan tonight was to stay in, order room service, and watch the final episode of The Apprentice. But my wife had mentioned that she was in the mood for Beef Stroganoff, so we decided to go to Red Square instead.
We walked in at 6:30pm, without reservations on the busiest restaurant day of the year, and were immediately seated in the bar area. The restaurant was less than half full, and they were visibly happy to see us. One of the nice things about these bad times is the attitude that your business is appreciated and the level of service.
Of course the restaurant had some excellent specials, but we knew what we wanted: 1 bottle Voss water $10, 1 Natasha's Peach Martini $13, 1 House Salad $13, 1 Czar Salad $16, 2 Stroganoff $72. Total $133.61 without tip.
A very enjoyable, if somewhat non-traditional, Mothers Day meal.

Then it was up to watch The Apprentice. I'm not exactly sure why my wife wanted to watch this. She didn't watch the previous episodes. But she did catch the end of the episode the week before and saw that Annie Duke was a finalist. To my knowledge we don't know Annie. I don't recall playing poker with her or ever meeting her. But for some reason she captured my wife's interest, and it wasn't the 1st time we spent an evening watching TV in Las Vegas. Oh well, at least we got some rest.
Monday May 11th
Breakfast this morning was at Verandah an experience we have enjoyed many times. The menu isn't quite as exotic as Tableau, but the quality is exceptional, and the service and atmosphere is everything you expect from Four Seasons. I had the mini Belgian waffles with bacon, she had ham and eggs with juice and pastries, and of coffees. The bill was $56, $66 with tip.

And then of course it was back to the pool for the rest of the morning. I tried to get my wife to make a trip to the lazy river this morning, but she just didn't want to leave the peace and quiet of Four Seasons.

This afternoon is the TA meet at Planet Hollywood, so for the first time this trip my wife actually leaves the building. The Heart Bar was a good choice for a meet and Kittkitty did an excellent job setting up everything. About 15 participated and it was nice meeting new friends who were willing to listen to some of my old stories.

After the meet we headed to Gold Coast. Gold Coast is our favorite off-strip property, and on many of our trips we spend an evening there, for the better gambling and dinner at the Cortez Room.

We started with some Pai Gow Poker. Things went well for us at PGP and I ended up over $300 after more than an hour's play, without ever betting more than $40, and my wife also made a profit.

Dinner at the Cortez Room is one of the few constants in Las Vegas. Like Hugo's Cellar it almost never changes and is one of Las Vegas- better values. This time I had the small Prime Rib and my wife had a steak. All meals come with soup/salad, potato and veggies. In addition we had a side of sautéed mushrooms & onions, and Iced Teas. Excellent food and friendly service, all for a total of $39.87 before tip.

After dinner we played some full pay VP, where again nothing exciting occurred, but with the good paytable I made a small profit. My wife also played a few slots, as she has always had good success here.
The one thing she did try was the Wizard of Oz machine. After hearing about these at the meet she wanted to see what everyone was talking about. She not only got to meet Glinda but also got to experience the bonus round (flying monkeys-). She loved that the music came from the back of the seats.
I don't think she won that much, after all it is a penny machine. But it didn't matter as she put it all back trying to get the bonus again, lol. At least now she knows why everyone thinks they are so much fun.

Tuesday May 12th
Up early again. I just couldn't seem to sleep this trip. It wasn't Four Seasons fault, the room was quiet and comfortable, this just happens to me sometimes. So I went to the lobby again for some coffee. Went to MB and played a little VP so my wife could sleep a little longer.

This probably won't come as much of a surprise, but it was back to the pool again this morning. Once again I tried to get my wife to wander over to MB to use the river, but she just wasn't interested. The pool was very quiet this morning, and would stay that way all day.

We had breakfast at the pool. You can order from the full Verandah menu. And your meal is served on one of those breakfast in bed type trays, so you can eat without leaving your lounge chair. This morning my wife had the mini Belgian waffles and I had bagel, lox, cream cheese. And it was already too hot for coffee, so breakfast was only $38.40.

I left the pool when the sun started to move a little around noon, but of course my wife wasn't ready to face the day yet. The afternoon was pretty much wasted for me. My only job was to print out our boarding passes at 1:45pm. I did this at the computer terminal on the mezzanine at Four Seasons, which allows 10 minutes of free access and use of the printer. We were going to leave around 4:30, so I didn't really have time to go find a poker game. So I spent some time just wandering around in the MB & Luxor casinos. I did hit one nice 4OK on a BP machine, so I ended up making a $100 profit during the day.

Dinner was at Kokomo's and I had been looking forward to it for a month. When the Prix Fixe menus were posted for the MGM restaurants Kokomo's was the one that caught my attention. And I knew we would go see Terry Fator so this would be the perfect opportunity. Kokomo's isn't really our type of LV restaurant, as we prefer quiet and intimate to hip and trendy, but we were pleased with our meal.

We had to eat a 6pm as our show was at 7:30, and there were obviously others there in the same situation as the restaurant was half full. We had to specifically request the prix fixe menu as it was not provided. And looking around we could see that very few knew of this. Of course knowing what I wanted I wasn't going to settle for anything else.
I had the Wild Mushroom Pot Pie (the reason we were there) as my appetizer, Surf & Turf, and Butterscotch Custard for dessert. The Mushroom Pot Pie was very good and worth the trip. A nice small steak was just right for an early dinner, and the dessert completed the meal well. This menu is an incredible bargain. My wife ordered the special of the evening off the regular menu (Halibut) and also enjoyed her meal. She did not like any of the normal dessert choices, but was allowed to order the 12 layer chocolate cake off the special menu. The total bill: My meal, Surf & Turf $29.99, 1 Crab Cake appetizer $16, Halibut $35, Chocolate Cake $8, 2 coffees $6, total $102.97.

An interesting thing happened during our meal. Our table was on an aisle, with about 6 feet between it and the booth on our right. Of course, the aisle was used as a walkway by waiters and customers. In this booth was a party of four, obviously having a good time enjoying their drinks and appetizers. As their entrees are being delivered the aisle became crowded. A couple of patrons were heading to their table, a cart of food was going by, a bus boy was bringing back empty plates. Quarters were tight, and one of the waiters tripped. Just like in the movies, the plate goes in one direction and the HUGE piece of Prime Rib goes flying through the air. Fortunately both plate and meat ended up on the carpet.

There was stunned silence and then we all started to laugh. Instead of being angry, for some reason this event seemed to put all of us in a more jovial mood. The group stated they weren't in any rush. They wanted to see Terry Fator but couldn't get tickets as the show was sold out, so they had nowhere to go. This gave us something in common and was the basis for a conversation. Some would have let this ruin their meal, but when you-re having fun in Vegas, this just gives you another story to bring home.

Terry Fator was everything we expected. Numerous characters and voices, and a show that is very suitable for Las Vegas. we've seen some very fine shows or productions that were successful elsewhere that did not work in LV, because they didn't understand what LV audiences are looking for in entertainment. I have no doubt that this show is here for a long run. The one thing that did surprise us was that he could go 90 minutes without a break.

As we are leaving the theatre and walking towards the casino my wife says -Look it's them- and starts walking very fast. Naturally I follow.
-Look it's the people from the restaurant.- So we catch up and say hello.
-We thought you couldn't get tickets--
-We were so lucky. We went back to the box office as the show was starting, and they got a few more tickets, so we got to see the show. We loved it!-
-We-re very happy for you. Enjoy the rest of your trip-.

I don't know if there is a message to that story. But would like to think that it's 'nice things happen to nice people-.

We spent a couple of hours playing at Luxor and then MB. We both registered small wins at MB to end things on a high note.

Wednesday May 13th
Breakfast this morning was at the Mandalay Bay buffet. We are not big buffet fans, but will often go to a breakfast buffet the morning we leave, to tide us over until we get home. And MB is one of our favorites. The menu isn't overly exotic but everything is well-prepared and fresh. And the room in the morning is absolutely beautiful with a lot of sunlight. We got there a little after 9am and walked right up, no line at all. We asked for a table by the window, and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. Plenty of fresh fruit this time of year. And I know this will seem sacrilegious to some, but neither of us even stopped by the dessert station. Buffets are wasted on us, lol.

Noon came much too quickly, and it was time to head to the airport. We really prefer our trips to be 5 nights to give a better chance to relax, but every once in a while 4 nights works out better at home.

Thoughts and Impressions of Four Seasons
This was our first visit to Four Seasons, obviously one of the premier hotels in Las Vegas. It pretty much lived up to our expectations. The room didn't blow us away, but was certainly comfortable enough, and the service was exceptional in all departments.

The amenities were what you would expect. Toiletries were of top quality, as were the towels and bedding. The robes in the bathroom looked very nice, although we don't use them. The slippers seemed pretty standard, my wife uses them I don't. As mentioned the room had a coffee maker which we did not use. We received both the USA Today and the Wall Street Journal delivered to our room each day. But I also went to the lobby and picked up the Review-Journal and NY Times.

The maids were exceptional. And we all knew what we were supposed to do. We would go to the pool in the morning, and the maid would come in while we were gone. Then we would go to dinner and the evening maid would come in. If we left the room a little later she would wait until we were gone.
I did feel sorry that we created more work for the evening maid than normal. Because we didn't shower until after returning from the pool each day, it was the evening maid who had to clean the bathroom. I tipped both of them $5 each day, but still I felt bad about this, as I knew our room took longer to service.
The evening maid and I also played a game. I bring my own slippers, so I didn't use theirs. But every night the maid would place the slippers (still wrapped) on my side of the bed. And every morning I would take the slippers and put them back on the same shelf in the closet so she could find them. We also did the same thing with the evening tray. We would come in after dinner and the tray would be on the bed. I would place the tray next to the TV. The morning maid would then put the tray in the same drawer in the bed stand, so the evening maid would know where to find it. Who would then put the tray back on the bed. And we would start all over again. We all knew the rules of the game, lol.

The pool is everything we had heard. My wife has never felt so pampered at a pool. You walk into the pool area and go to the stand where there are complimentary magazines and copies of all 4 newspapers. You decide where you want to sit, and are escorted to your lounger. Towels are laid out and an extra one is left for swimming. Every lounger has a table, and you are set up with a pitcher of Ice Water. This pitcher will never be empty. While many employees walk by and provide service, we also had one person who came by to check on us every 20-30 minutes. I'm not sure if he was assigned to us, or just did this on his own. There was no need for a cocktail waitress, he would take care of your needs. And of course after the 1st day he knew that my drink of choice was Pina Colada. The food at the pool was provided by Verandah, and much better than normal pool fare.
All day attendants would walk by offering amenities, small samples of fresh fruit juices, smoothies, frozen melons and Popsicles. And yes, a couple of times a day they come around and spray you with water, and even offer to clean your sunglasses.
Very simply, my wife went to the pool and didn't want to leave.

Going to Four Seasons is not like going to Las Vegas, it is like going on VACATION. We-d heard this before, but I don't think it can truly be understood until you have experienced it.
Will we go back again- Maybe. But it's not what we want every time we go to Las Vegas.

The weather was great. Of course we go almost every May so we were not surprised. High of 95 every day, but there was a breeze most of the time, which kept thing bearable.

Gambling was not a major factor this trip. We played some VP but all at the quarter level, as the pay tables didn't justify risking more. I ended up $400-$500 ahead, and I think my wife had a small loss. But of course, as usual this did not cover our expenses.

We like Las Vegas on the quiet side, but this week was extreme. There were no crowds, no lines, no waiting anywhere. Tuesday afternoon I went to get my wife at the pool, there were 5 people there. Sure, but that's Four Seasons you think. But when we got upstairs and looked at the Mandalay Bay pool, half the chairs on the beach were empty.
Wednesday morning I walked down our hall before 7am, and there were three rooms with newspapers and one with a DND sign. Maybe half of a dozen rooms occupied, out of almost 40.
We haven't seen it this quiet since October 2001.
There are signs of cost cutting everywhere. We can only hope things pick up soon.

With rare exception, we only go to Las Vegas during Spring and Fall. So our next trip is scheduled for October. It will be very different than this one, as we already have many activities planned. And may even spend the entire trip staying at off-strip hotels.

For us, another trip and a few more memories. Hopefully others will also find some enjoyment or possibly some useful information from this report.