Category: 2009
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Ok, I've been back from Vegas for almost a week now and am beginning to come to terms with not being there any more. I initially thought I would skip the trip report this time because nothing really memorable took place during our Thursday, July 9th to Tuesday July 14th trip. Don't get me wrong, my wife and I had a great time. There just weren't any 'Wow' moments. As a matter of fact, I am not sure I can really do a chronological report as the days we were there all seem to meld together.

The thing that is helping my mental state with not being in Vegas any more is the fact that I already have my next trip on the calendar. We will be back December 5 to 9. I have had the air booked for a month or so using FF miles for me and a good rate of $240 total for my wife. No hotel yet. Waiting for the December offers to start coming in.

We left St. Louis at 6:45 p.m. Thursday. Our SW flight was on time and we had boarding positions A27 and A28 which allowed us to grab a middle and isle seat in row 5 or 6. Perfect.

Landed in Vegas, hopped off the plane with our carry-ons and went straight to the rental car shuttle bus. Car reserved with Dollar using my Dollar Express account, so we skipped the line at the rental counter and went directly to the booth in the garage. We were the only ones at the counter in the garage, so the whole process took about two minutes. We had our compact car and were out on the street in short order. Three right turns and we are on Las Vegas Blvd. heading north.

Checked in to the IP and asked for a quiet room away from Carnival Court. Nothing else was required and that is exactly what we got. Sorry, I love the IP for its location and price. We had an offer of two free nights which I applied to Friday and Saturday. My rate for Thursday night was $15. Sunday was $25 and Monday was $15 again. So, five nights in Vegas, center Strip for a total of $55. Not too bad!

Room 1767 was clean, the king size bed was comfortable, the AC worked fine, the water pressure was good and the tub and sink drains worked great. This was one of the remodeled or 'Deluxe' rooms. This seems to be all I can reserve at the IP when I log into Harrah's site. The dreaded 'Classic' and 'Capri' rooms always show up as Sold Out for me.

Everyone complains about the elevators at the IP. Yes, the main bank by the gift shops and Betty's Diner can be agonizingly slow, but there are other elevators that are much less used and hardly make you wait more than 30 seconds or so. I really don't understand why they are not used more.

There, my marketing pitch for the IP is over.

We also booked a room for Sunday night at the 4 Queens downtown. Never stayed downtown and have always been curious. We found an Expedia offer for July 12 for $17, so we figured we couldn't go wrong. The 4 Queens was ok, with the room being about half the size of the one at the IP. I would stay there again. From our room to the casino was about 30 seconds. We were in room 711 in the north tower. Upon a recommendation, we requested a room not facing Fremont and it was granted. I guess the noise from the light show is quite loud if your room faces that direction.

I purchased an American Casino Guide prior to our trip and organized all of the coupons for 'strip', 'Off Strip' and 'Downtown' before we left. We took advantage of a couple of BOGO offers in the coupons and used all of the match plays that were convenient for us. We won most of the match plays, so the price of the guide was more than compensated for. We still have some coupons left which will probably be used for our trip in December.

Having read about the ACG from other posters, I wanted to give the 'coupon run' thing a try. It was OK, but I don't think I will go through the effort again. I found myself becoming obsessed with making sure we checked our coupons everywhere we went and it almost became a chore. One thing I found was that many of the ACG coupons (except for the match plays) are offers you can find on-site at many of the properties.

I also had purchased certificates for Hash-House-A-Go-Go on Sahara and Hennessey's Downtown. Used both and both places were very good.

We probably had our best meal at the Grand Lux Café in the Palazzo. We went there Friday evening and shared the chicken pot pie and the apple pie for dessert. Huge portions on both and the two of us could not finish the meal or dessert. I can't imagine one person attempting to put all of that food away! The server was very pleasant and suggested we share something. Prices are very reasonable. I will definitely be back.

We signed up for a player's card at the Venetian/Palazzo and each received $15 in free play which I considered very generous.

I spend most of my time at the blackjack and craps tables. Prior to this trip, I have had good luck playing Blackjack Switch. Strategy has to be modified somewhat from traditional BJ, but the odds are actually pretty good for the player on this game. I did not fare so well at BJ Switch this trip and just couldn't get anything going.

Fortunately the craps tables were treating me well and I enjoyed several winning sessions. Dabbled in video poker from time to time and probably broke even there.

Overall we were slightly down gambling for the 6 days we were in town.

We spent a good portion of Saturday downtown as well as Sunday afternoon and night. The gambling conditions are far superior for VP and blackjack downtown. There are also many $3 craps tables available. I find myself spending more time and gambling more downtown each trip.

Downtown also has an ongoing 40th anniversary of the 'summer of Love' I believe until the end of August. The music being played in all of the casinos is from this era and the Fremont Street Experience is themed for this celebration. Pretty cool and not terribly overblown. At 49, my wife and I are old enough to remember this period in history and do enjoy the music.

We went to see Terry Fator at the Mirage Saturday night. He is an incredible talent as an impressionist, singer and comedian. Don't miss it if you have a chance to see him. We bought tickets at a 25 percent discount from the Mirage web site which I thought was a good deal. I did notice tickets for this show at one of the same-day half price outlets, but I believe this show sells out quite often.

Not a terribly detailed report, but as I stated at the start, there were no 'gotcha' moments for this trip, just an enjoyable get away with my wife for a few days to our favorite place.
Now I'll go back to living vicariously through other's reports until we can return in December.