Another Vegas vacation away from the children is in the books. We get by on other trip reports here when we're not in Vegas, so we'll do our part and share our trip.

K (wife) and I have come to Vegas annually and stayed at Wynn for each of the last three years. We got offered a steal at $99 per night (thank you, lousy Vegas economy) with some resort credit and slot play. But we also got an offer from Monte Carlo for three nights free, a $100 promo chip and $40 in resort credit. An insane offer considering that I haven't gambled at Monte Carlo since 2000. So, we took gluttony to a new level and had TWO hotel rooms.

Our flight from Chicago (where we dumped the kids on the in-laws) was 10 minutes early, but baggage took 40 minutes! Not fun. We also decided to rent a car for the first time, getting an economy car from Alamo for $150 for four days (thru Priceline). As you may have read previously, the rental car center they have in Vegas is a snap, and Alamo was a good choice. Just book your car in advance -- the lines were real long.

K was hungry, so instead of checking in, we hit Burger Bar and Mandalay Place. We love this place as they've always had good food thanks to their fully customizable burgers. As we were new to driving in Vegas, we wound up parking in a lot outside the Four Seasons, which is connected to Mandalay Bay, which is connected to Mandalay Place. Suffice to say, we did a better job finding better parking places for the rest of the trip.

Wynn remains the gem of Las Vegas. We got our usual strip-view room on the 58th floor, loving the look down the entire strip and straight down into the Lake of Dreams. Beds are still super-comfy, room is super-large and the casino itself is clean with a friendly people on staff.

We wasted no time after checking in, hitting the Wynn pool and lounging. We checked into Monte Carlo a little while after, collecting our promo chip and room key. We had no intention of using the room but K wanted to see it. It was nice and worth staying in at a cheap rate, but it definitely was cramped. The ironing board was next to the bed and the furniture in the room made it a little tough to get around. I'm sure the cleaning staff didn't mind us not being there. We won on our promo chip, K bought some clothes with the 'MC bucks' and we peeled out of there.

Dinner was at the new Serendipity 3 at Caesars Palace. It was amazing. The frozen hot chocolate is a MUST! Sooo good. I had the short rib pot pie (excellent) and K had the grilled cheese and chicken soup (good not great). They also have HUGE sundaes which we didn't have. Fun place with fun food that's not too expensive by strip standards.

We finished the night with minimal gambling as we were tired. In bed by like midnight.
We woke up and had the Wynn breakfast buffet, an expensive but good treat. I love their hash browns and California strawberries, K likes the french toast. We split up after that - K lounged at the pool again while I played poker at MGM. Dinner was at the Bellagio buffet, which was good but no one item stands out.

After that we saw The Lion King at Mandalay Bay. I loved it, K liked it but thought the New York version was much better. I never saw it on Broadway, so the one in Vegas was good enough for me.
Off we went to Encore, next door to Wynn. We tried to get dessert at Switch but they were closed, though we did see the restaurant 'switch' once - that was cool. A little Pai Gow poker and some chocolate fondue at Wynn for dessert ended the day.

We slept in the following morning and did some sun tanning and vegging with lunch in-between at ... Serendipity3! The frozen hot chocolate called us back, and it was delicious, but the rest of our food was really heavy. I had the nachos and K ordered the Mac and Cheese pizza (it's exactly what you think). Both were loaded with heavy nacho cheese sauce and it was too much. But dang, that frozen hot chocolate is the best. More relaxing after lunch as we basically took advantage of not having kids around to pester us.

Our pre-dinner trip was to the Rio to see the World Series of Poker live and in action. When we went they were down to four tables and Phil Ivey and Antonio Esfandiari were still live (Ivey made the final table). Even K, who doesn't really like poker, was impressed. I vowed to not return there unless I would be playing, not watching.

Dinner was at Canaletto inside The Venetian. K loves the atmosphere of eating in the Grand Canal, but the place isn't great in my eyes. For whatever reason, I don't love The Venetian or Palazzo compared to Wynn. But dinner was good here even though the service was so-so. I got the chicken cannelloni, K had some bug-shaped pasta thing. She said she liked it. We drove to Monte Carlo to check out, then ended the night getting blitzed playing Pai Gow and Roulette.

We split up again the next morning after breakfast (Wynn buffet). I played a poker tournament at Caesar's Palace (finished 12th) while K continued to soak in rays.

Since this was our last night, we wanted to have our best meal, and Emeril's Delmonico's was a spot we have wanted for a while. If you've read a lot of trip reports, you know this place is revered. I had high expectations, and they were exceeded. Hands down, the steak at Delmonico's was the best I ever had in my life, and I've had my fair share of cow. Additionally, the service is impeccable and everything from the side dishes to the rolls that they hand-deliver to your plate is delicious. They ruined me - I know I'll never find another steak as tender, seasoned and tasty as theirs.

We took our photo with the Las Vegas sign after dinner. We got it at a unique time - days earlier it was vandalized, so some of the remnants from the scribble were on the sign. We closed out the trip gambling at Wynn and having a late-night snack at Zoozacrackers, Wynn's deli. It was good but not worth the money spent.

The saddest day, the last day, was still fun. We checked out of the room with no comps and I drove to somewhere I always wanted to go but never in my six trips to Vegas went before: Downtown. I'll be honest - I wasn't missing much. All of the casinos looked old except for the Golden Nugget, and it sure felt and smelled kind of old when we went inside. We saw the shark tank in person - we liked that - but nothing else about Downtown really appealed to us. We wound up driving back to where our trip began - Burger Bar - for one last meal before returning the car (a breeze) and catching the flight back to Chicago (on time).

Final notes:

*We did not take one cab, did not ride the monorail once and didn't walk great lengths once. If you have any reservations about renting a car in Vegas, forget about them. As long as you pick up where all the side streets that run parallel to the Strip go, you'll love the money-saving experience.

*Along those lines, I'm not sure that saying 'No tunnel' to your cabbie at the airport is a good idea anymore, especially if you are staying on the west side of the strip or north of center strip (so long as it's not rush hour). There are a ton of lights on Koval, Paradise, etc., and more construction. Taking I-15 was a major time saver for us on many occasions.

*And if you do rent a car, you can drive to Walgreens and buy suntan lotion there for $3 instead of $32 at Wynn! And suntan lotion is just the beginning of things you can buy cheaper than at an on-strip property. Heck, the car paid for itself!


*The breed of poker players in Las Vegas is improving. I played with a glut of locals and they were sharp. I'm no Phil Ivey, but I tend to hold my own when the deck is nice to me. The guys I played with were polished.

*As always, getting away with my wife for a few days is just what we need to keep our marriage fresh and fun. I estimate the total cost of the trip to be at $2000 (and that's with two free plane tickets), but like they say in the commercials, to me, my wife is priceless.

See you next year!