Well, what a let down. First some background.....my annual trip between Christmas and NYE is different from the other 3-4 trips I take each year. Since pool time is out of the question, I like to stay somewhere with a terrific spa, robe in the room, etc... I rec'd a Stations offer for $29 rates at RR and GVR. I have stayed at RR several times and absolutely adore it, but paying for a room what a big decison for me...I usually stay comped at Harrah's properties, the Orleans, or Terribles. After struggling to a decision that a spa and relative luxury were most important to me, I attempted to book RR for the nights of Dec 26th and 27th, but they were booked. After reading copious reviews of GVR, I decided to stay there those nights then move to the Flamingo for 2 comped nights on the strip and to meet friends staying at Caesars.

I wanted to use a SW ff ticket due to sky-high airfares, but nothing was available out of STL during the holidays. I "lucked" into a one-way fare from STL to PHX for $150 on US Air, then flew FF on SW from PHX to LV and a direct flight from LV to STL on Dec. 30th. Up at 4:00am CT to catch my flight to PHX, then was delayed in PHX while we waited for the flight crew to arrive on a delayed flight from the East Coast. It was SO DAMN HOT in the Phx airport, I shucked all the clothes I could, including my shoes, but it was miserable. Sat in PHX for 3 hours until we finally took off for the short flight into LV. Finally.

Headed to the rental car center, I had booked a compact car with Dollar for $53 all in for 2 days. My name was on the screen indicating the "space" for my car. This is new to me at Dollar, but I like the system as I'm used to it when traveling on business using Avis. I rec'd a crappy, junky Ford Focus that had seen better days, but it was functional enough and got me where I needed to go for 2 days. Drove the easy drive to GVR, then hit the District day-after-Christmas traffic. The traffic around the property was insane, didn't really like the area for this reason, and couldn't find the hotel valet parking (never did, the entire 2 days).

Arrived at checkin at 3:30pm LV time and found my room wasn't ready. I asked them to put a "rush" on it with housekeeping, dropped my bag at the bell desk, and headed to the buffet, even tho I felt (and I'm sure looked) like dog crap.

I had tons of free buffet coupons on the mystation.com site, but wasn't getting mailers. Prior to the trip I had emailed the players club and asked what I should do about using the coupons. They fixed a problem in their system, and I did rec'd a mailer with (2) free buffet coupons in the mail, and the player's club manager said they would "happily" print the coupons for me when I arrived. I did not need the mailer for the 3x point coupons, those were activiated with a swipe at the kiosk, just needed the buffet coupons.

I used one of the free buffet coupons from my mailer for the brunch buffet and it was excellent. I couldn't believe the HUGE line. Fortunately, I could use the hotel guest line, even tho I wasn't officially checked in. Food was really good and the service was great too.

After the buffet, I returned to the check-in desk, nope, room not yet ready. Again asked for a rush, and ventured into the casino. I decided to head to the players club booth to get my buffet coupons printed, and this is where GVR and I started parting ways. The boothling said there was nothing she could do, they did not print coupons. I had printed the email from the players club manager and also printed all my offers from the website, but she wouldn't even look at them. I then asked for a manger and she said she would call a casino host. The casino host informed me, in no uncertain terms, that GVR was NOT owned by Stations and they would not print coupons that were generated by play at RR. I pointed out the coupons were good for ANY Feast buffet, and I had in fact just used one at the buffet. She also refused to even look at the printout OR the email from the player club manager.

To say I was furious is mild. They made me feel like I was Stealing food from them. Weren't even nice or civil about it, just treated me like trash. I stormed off and headed back to the checkin desk, a plan formulating my my mind to use the in room internet to book the Flamingo for the following night and bail on GVR after one night. My room STILL was not ready. Keep in mind they were only at 50% occupancy that night, I heard one of the other boothlings tell someone that on the phone, plus they were still offering deep discounts on their website.

Headed to the casino, nothing else to do, had been traveling for over 12 hours and was just beat. After playing for awhile (and stewing about the treatment at the players club), they called and said my room was ready. It was 6:30pm, 16 hours after I had left STL. Room was on the 1st floor at the end of the short hallway off the lobby. Room was great, so I decided to stay the 2 nights and enjoy the spa and room, which ended up being a big mistake.

Cleaned up, god that felt good, then treked back to the casino...it is a l-o-n-g way from the lobby and guest rooms. Ended up winning $200 on a nickel RF and $300 on a Cleopatra II penny slot...take that GVR.

Next morning, I slept in until 9am, which is unheard of for me in LV, but I was exhausted. Went to the buffet and paid $4.99 for breakfast, absolutely excellent. Could have paid with points, but was saving them to put towards the hotel bill, another mistake. Gambled after breakfast, no luck. Basically, if I had not gambled in the morning during this trip, I would have won. I won at night and donated all day.

Decided to drive to Terribles to use the $100 freeplay offer. Nice drive, beautiful day, everyday was 60 deg. and sunny during my trip. A wonderful change from 20 deg and 6" of snow in STL. Activated my coupon at the players club and started playing dime triple and five play bonus poker. Switched machines and games looking for some play. Was down to $2 and hit 4 dueces on dueces wild for $100. Decided to play more since I had a safety net and really didn't want to go back to GVR. Lost my hundred after a couple of hours and had the $100 freeplay loaded on my card, was there immediately. Played it through and cashed out $98. Bought $20 worth of soda and snacks for the room using my copious Terribles points and counted the 3-4 hours of gambling entertainment as a win.

Drove back to GVR, traffic was better, but still couldn't find the hotel valet after circling twice. Decided to head to the spa. Had a tough time finding it, didn't realize it wasn't connected to the hotel, it's out by the pool. It was a nice spa, not as nice as RR, and certainly no Qua, but servicable. Very very busy. Soaked in the hot tub and decided not to shower and prep there, just too busy and my room is too nice. Cleaned up in the room and gambled some more, lost. Ate dinner at the dinner buffet using my last free buffet coupon, very good.

Gambled some more, won $100 on nickel VP, then headed to the room to watch the Saints fball game.

Slept until 8am and headed to the breakfast buffet again, paid cash as I'm saving my points to put towards the room. Plan was to checkout about 11am, drive to the Flamingo and either checkin or leave bags with the bellman, then return the rental car by 1pm. Checked with the front desk how to use my points towards the hotel bill, she said she would call and ask. THEN she said...."Your bill is $89 and you only have $63 in points, we don't do partials". WTF? I said that was odd, all the other casino companies would allow you to use points toward the bill...Harrahs, Boyd, Terribles, etc... No, not GVR. So I was stuck with an $89 hotel bill. At this point, all I wanted was to get the hell out of this place. Packed up my toys and immediately left.

Arrived Flamingo at 9:30 am. Went into the Platinum/Diamond checkin (I am a platinum player, no big deal). There was one guy in front of me who was absolutely ripping the checkin guy a new one. He wanted a Go room and there weren't any available and he was HOT. My turn, and I really wanted a GO room, so I nicely asked for one, even tho I had a regular room comped. The guy was really nice, said there weren't any available, but he could give me a mini suite. I know these rooms aren't that great, but not his fault. He checked me in and said it wouldn't be clean for awhile. No problem. I tipped him $10 and thanked him. He said "but you didn't get a GO room?" and I said he had already had a hard day and I appreciated his kindness after the hell of my last hotel.

I played a little and just enjoyed the coconut smell of the Flamingo that I love so much. Returned the rental car to Dollar and asked the checkin guy where the taxi's were at the rental car center. He asked if I was going back to my hotel and said they would be glad to arrange a Dollar courtesy van to take me back. I mention this as I didn't know Dollar had this service and it was awesome. The van was really clean and the driver was awesome...a retired guy who loves to gamble. He said GVR was "snooty" and thought it was insane how I was treated. He spoke highly of Harrahs. Quick trip back as we chatted the whole way back. I tipped him well, nice to not have to pay for a taxi.

Checked on my room and it wasn't clean yet, no problem. Walked the strip, soaking it all in, and gambled awhile. Checked back at 3pm and a checkin lady told me she had just checked on my room and it wasn't ready. Meanwhile, the original checkin guy saw me and said "Miss Bueler, you come right to me and I'll take care of you!". As I approached, he held a finger to his mouth...sshhhh...I'm giving you a GO room..you have waited too long! Yea me! He then said not to tell anyone, he thought it was crazy I had to wait so long (it was only 3pm) and he wanted to take care of me with a NICE go room. I tipped him $20, thanked him, and headed to the room. Wow! FULL view of the fountains on the 26th floor, what a great room! Called the belldesk and my bag arrived within 15 minutes. Great guy, insisted on getting ice for me and offered to get blankets or whatever else I might need. GVR could definately take some service lessons from the Flamingo. Snooty.

Cleaned up and relaxed, the walked to Max Brenner in the Forum shops. I had bought a Groupon for $12 good for $24 worth of food. Pain in the butt to get there, those forum shops go on forever, but good food. I ordered the potato skins and the sliders w/waffle fries, both very good. My waiter said I had enough for a Big Cookie (he wasn't kidding!), so my bill was $.93. Left $6 and returned to my room, getting lost in Caesars twice..LOL.

Mizzou was playing in the bowl game that night, favored my 2.5 points. My son and I had $80 on them to win, they blew it with minutes to go, that sucked. Enjoyed watching the game in my room on the big flat screen. Went back downstairs and won $100 hitting aces w/kicker on nickel DDB. That helped!

Slept in Wednesday morning, my last full day. The crowds for NYE were beginning to pour in and I was glad not to be a part of it. Walked to Harrahs for an excellent breakfast buffet using a $5 coupon and $10 in points. I had also purchased the 24 hr internet for $13 the night before, would be using points to cover that. I came to LV with $110 in Harrahs points, I save them up for my LV trips, really don't use them or need them for anything in STL.

Anyway, gambled some more and lost, the whole morning thing again. Bet $60 on OK State to win by 5, my son and I thought it was a good bet and it was, regained some of the ground lost by Mizzou. I met my friend for some gambling and drinks at 1pm and heard all about her trip. She and hubby were staying at Caesars. I recommended Human Nature, so she picked up daimond tix for the following night (they loved it, by the way, what a fantastic show). We hung out for several hours playing penny slots, breaking even with some fun bonuses.

I ate at Margarittaville (sp?), ate the terraki siroin, garlic mashed, and side salad. It was good, not great, but enjoyed it. Paid with points and left a cash tip. Watched the first half of the OK. State game in my room and relaxed. Decided to watch the last half at the bar, drank a few beers and played quarter BP. Was dealt 4-to-the-royal, needing the 10 of hearts. Would have been very exciting if I didn't need the 10, I can never pull the damn 10, and kept my streak intact by missing it..sigh. Cashed in my winning ticket from OK. state and went to my room, the crowds were just unbelievable. Couldn't hardly walk though the casino. Ick.

Wake up, shower, finish packing, then eat the breakfast buffet at Flamingo using another $5 coupon and points. Not nearly as good as Harrahs, but ok. Played some nickel VP and won $60 before time to leave. Went to the cab line, but one of the workers said a shuttle was loading for the airport around the corner, straight to the airport, no stops, and only $6. Nice savings compared to a cab. Airport was empty, I arrived way too early. Used the free internet and enjoyed an uneventful flight back with noone in the middle seat...yea!

Arrived to 60 deg temps in STL, so nice not to have to scrape my car and worry about it starting. It was a losing trip for me, couldn't protect the early win, but didn't come home broke. My trips are precious to me and I really wish I hadn't wasted valuable vacation time on GVR, but now I know. I should have followed my gut and left early, rather than pay them to treat me like trash, but it won't happen again. My only interest in Stations after this experience is RR, but it will probably be awhile before I venture there again either.

Wishing you all winning trips in 2011!
diane