Background:

This will be our (Myself and my Significant Other(SO)) 7th trip within the past 5 yrs. We are not big gamblers,SO plays roulette, I like the machines. We are avid travelers; Asia, Europe, Australia, Carribean, but also love LV.

Day 1
Air was on AA and was a 'free' flight for volunteering to be bumped on our last trip to LV during '01 Christmas holiday. We received a $300 voucher, and we still ended up with $65 remaining credit after this flight. We had a 7am flight from LGA, connecting in ORD. I took advantage of AA's new online check-in service, and printed out our boarding passes at home. Even though we had only carry-ons we wanted to check them in so we didn't have to run with them for our 1/2 hr connecting flight.

Alert for you NY'ers: We hailed a cab from the Upper West Side @ 5:40am; thought he was going to take the Triborough, but instead since it was so early, he went via 59th st bridge & Queens Blvd; we were at LGA in 20 mins and the fare was only $16 before tip !!! I have NEVER paid so little for a cab to LGA!
That was the good news. The bad news was that at 6am, the airport was PACKED; for online check-in, you can use ccurbside or inside to check your bags; well, the line was about 15 people at curbside, and the gguys said if you have connecting flights, you better checkin inside, cause your bags will never make it via curbside. Lines weere too long inside, so we just decided to carry-on our bags. Qued up for security; it took 35 mins. When we got to the gate, they were boarding already.

Rest of the flight was a nonevent; actually got to LV 15 mins early. We went to the Park Place Airport Check-in, which had about a 15 min wait. We checked into Bally's for 3 nts ( Had 3 separate reserves due to getting the best price per day, but was able to be checked in all at the same time;would have to go down to the front desk, though, for each day's package of coupons). Our 3 day stay averaged $50/nt, which included 2 FREE tkts to the Jubilee show and other coupons. We requested a King, no smoking on a High Floor in the North Tower, and was given a room on the 24th flr, although it wasn't ready yet.

Then went to Thrifty for our car rental; got a rate of $88 including all taxes for 5 days for a compact. Used their Blue Chip Service, had to go to the counter to pickup the contract, but no waiting. Got a Neon; awful car.

It was about noon, so we decided to eat lunch before going to our room. Went to Ellis Island for their $4.99 steak dinner. IT was EXCELLENT; mine was rare as requested, and came with salad, a great baked potato, and vegatable. Had one of their own brew beers,$1.50, and it was very good. We both enjoyed our meal very much.

Went to our room, and I was VERY impressed. It faced South, with a view of MGM , the airport, and the mountans beyond. The 24th to the 26th flloor, which is the top, juts out about 5 feet beyond the rest of the tower, so the rooms are about 5 ft longer. We had a renovated that was in great condition, and was almost the size of a Room in the Venetian (Which we stayed in on our last trip). The room is very business friendly; there are 2 desks, one which has high speed internet access. The other is set-up with a nice highback desk chair, and is also set-up with a pullout writing desk on the OTHER side, so you and a business collegue can both be writing at the same time. The room also had a loveseat, club chair and coffee table. TV cabinet with drawers, 25/27 inch TV with many channels and even web TV access. Bathroom was also very nicely renovated with granite counter, marble floors and walls and BRIGHT lighting. Overall, for an older hotel, we were VERY impressed and pleased with our room. The same could not be said for the Big Kitchen Buffet. We received 2-4-1 coupons, and used it for dinner the 1st night. Big mistake! The food was horrible, the iced tea and lemonade was watered down, and the desserts were awful. IT wasn't worth the half price, and at $16.95 full price it is truely a rip-off. I would not eat there if you comped me!

We had fun at the machines and tables at Ballys and Paris that evening.

Headup for all you Hilton Honors members - Ballys gives you FREE admission to the Health Club/Spa!

Day 2
On our last trip, we had enjoyed the buffet at Gold Coast, so we decided to go there for breakfast. The Gold Coast had completed thier renovations, and has added a 2nd floor to one of their parking garages, and has also completed there main building expansion. The casino looked great inside, and breakfast was $4.95/person. Now this is truley a great buffet; the food was fresh and plentyfull, and I had one of the best made-to order omelets I have had in a long time.

Took a drive out to Lake Las Vegas to see progress on the new Ritz Carlton ( or is it the 4 Seasons; I always get those 2 chains mixed up) hotel. Seems like they have ALOT more construction to finish before their opening next month, but it looks like it will be real nice. Went into the Fiesta Henderson, thought it was ok. Our next stop was Green Vally Ranch. NOW this is a NICE casino! We had lunch at the Fatburger there in the foodcourt area, and played a little in the casino. I was very impressed with the design and decor of the place - large, airy and spacious.

Our FREE tickets to Jubilee were for tonight's late show, so we decided to have dinner at Wolfgang Puck's Cafe at MGM (For you discount seekers; the restaurant is on the I-Dine discount program). The restaurant is open to the casino, and both of our meals were good, but not too memorable.

We had great seats for Jubilee; as for the show, lets say that's it's very glitzy and what you'd expect when you think of an old fashioned Vegas production show. The performers were OK but quite frankly looked bored; the filler acts between production numbers were actually more entertaining.
We had free tickets so I enjoyed that; I would not want to pay more than 2-4-1 for the show if I have to pay( Our tickets were $53/person).

Day 3
Stated off the day with breakfast at Gold Coast again. Went shopping at Belz Outlet; no good sales so we bought nothing. We then wanted to check out the brand new Fry's Electronic Store on LV Blvd near Vacation Village; it was noon and they were'nt open yet; some time today is what they said. So we decided to look for a place for lunch.

Decided on our favorite fish & chips place; Fulton Fish Fry @ NYNY . As a native NY'er, I must admit that the casino REALLY reminds me of the city;especially the Greenwich Village food court area where the fish place is located. If you haven't tried this place, you Must! Big portions, very fresh, and crispy!

After lunch we decided to checkout the new half price tkts booth at the Showcase mall. I REALLY wanted Gladys Knight tkts, didn't really think they would be there. It was 1:40, they open @ 2, and there was a line of about 30 people already. Good thing is they post on a marquee inside what is available; mostly the 3rd rate shows, 'V' @ the Venetian, the Harrahs shows, etc. So we skipped the tkts line. Went on to Cesars to persue the casino. Theere was some slot pull promo going on, 1 pull per day for members. My SO won 2 fee tkts to the Ride to Atlantis! We've been on that ride before, but enjoyed it alot, so we were looking forward to free rides again!

We decided to spend the evening downtown. Parked at Binons, and checked out all the casinos on Freemont. Saw two versions of the light show; one featured disco music, the other featured classic rock. Both were enjoyable, if a bit short. Checked out Neonopolis, nothing much going on there.

Then proceeded to the Strat, where we had a late meal at the Luckys Cafe. The decor of the place was very nice; reminded me of the Palms. Food was good, service was ok.

Day 4
Our next 2 nights were at Harrahs, (we got a great rate of $39/nt, right before & during CES) so we decided to skip breakfast and get ready to checkout. My SO had played roulette several times @ Ballys, and lost about $450 in total. We went to the Players desk to see about some comps. (Normally neither of us play enough to qualify for comps; the most we get are non-peak free room offers from Harrahs) They said not enough for $ off room, but maybe a free buffet. Didn't want the buffet since we had such an awful meal there before, so I suggested the Sidewalk Cafe, their 24 hr coffee shop. Ended up with a $15 voucher for the Sidewalk Cafe. Better than nothing. Went to checkout (video checkout was down) and loaded car to check-in at Harrahs.

Harrahs check-in was good - no lines. We asked for and got a King, no smoking in the Carnaval Tower, although it was only the 8th floor. Moved the luggage to the room. Our room was as expected from our previous stays there; neat,clean, no wear/tear, but SMALL. Our room at Ballys was twice the size of our Harrahs room. The thing I'm most annoyed at is the lack of desks in Harrah's rooms. There is space for a small desk, but instead they give you 2 chairs (not even club chairs) and a side table.

The TV is also smaller and has fewer channels than those at Ballys.
The bathroom was a decent size, but it was dimmer than at Ballys.
We then went back to Bally's to use our $15 voucher at the Sidewalk Cafe. Both the food and service were good there, FAR superior to The Big Kitchen Buffet.
We then went shopping at the Venetian. Played a bit there too.
For dinner, we ate at Harrah's Coffee shop/cafe. They had a dinner special for $9.99, all-you-can-eat. Choice of Prime Rib, Fried Chicken, or Spaghetti & Meatballs. We both thought the food was good and worth the price.
That evening, we played at Mirage & Harrahs.

Day 5
We were ready to spend some time at the CES show. We decided to eat right in Harrahs for breakfast, rather than take the car out to The Gold Coast Buffet. As we had thought, the show brought lines for breakfast; we waited about 20 mins for a table.

Although there were shuttles from Harrahs to the convention center, they stoped @ 10:30am, so we decided to take the strip trolly and get off @ the Hilton. 1st time using the service; it was ok, but still prefer my own car if I wasn't driving to a large convention at the center.

We stayed about 3 hours at the show. There were TONS of people, and the noise level was disorienting. Although we enjoyed see all the new Flat screen TV's and such, we were glad this was for pleasure, and not a required business trip. After 3 hours, we decided to leave, so we hoped onto a free shuttle bus and got off at The Mirage. Had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. The pizza was OK (NYC pizza is better) the pasta was better. Took a walk to Ballys and used my Hilton Honors membership for free spa admisson.

Decided to use our 2 free passes to the Ride to Atlantis @ the Forum Shops. NO line (this was about 7 pm), and when we were seated for the ride, there were only 4 other people with us! It was a great, but short ride.

Walked around Cesears a bit, and then wanted to have some food. We remembered about the nice food court at Cesears from our last trip, but walking around, we realized that it has been closed off. Further inqury revealed the food court was under renovation.

Not looking for a big meal, we went back to Harrahs cafe and had a small bite to eat. Again spend the remainder of the evening between Harrahs and Mirage. Mirage was really hopping tonight; I enjoyed the lively atmosphere. Listened to some music and singing there.

Day 6
We were leaving on a 1:30 flight, so we kind of took it easy this morning. Had breakfast at Harrahs, waited about 15 mins. Checked out via video with no problems. I then realized that we had to go back to the Gold Coast, since I had one of those slot machine paper receipts to cash in. It was only for $10, but the tickets expire in 60 days, and we weren't planning to come back within 2 months . Since we had time, we went over to cash the ticket in.

I had wanted to check-out Frys again, but due to our check-in experience @ LGA, we decided to go to the airport early. Returned the car @ Thrifty, they checked for new damage; no problems.

We took the shuttle bus to the AA terminal, and guess what; only 2 people waiting at curbside checkin! So we qued up, and had our boarding passes within 7 mins.

We then proceeded to the gate. The lines for security check-in were not long at all; it only took 10 mins to pass security. So proceeding to the gate, we had 2.25 hrs before our flight.

So you see, you can never be sure about airport lines - sometimes there are none. Our flights back home were non-eventfull.

Observations:

Highlights -
* $4.99 Ellis Island steak dinner
* $4.99 Gold Coast Breakfast Buffet
* Great spacious, newly renovated room at Ballys
* Free Ballys Spa admission for Hilton Honors members
* Free Tkts to the Ride to Atlantis
* Fish & Chips @ Fulton Fish Fry in NYNY
* Shopping at The Forum Shops & the Venetian
* Green Valley Ranch - A really nice place
* The weather - It was sunny most of the time, mid 60's during the day, so didn't need a jacket/coat.

Low Points -
* Long Lines at LGA
* Crappy Neon from Thrifty
* AWFUL & Horrible food at The Big Kitchen Buffet
* Mirage does not rate low $ players at table games.(I will have to get the exact amount from my SO)

General Comments -
* Noticed new marquee sign @ Harrahs with a big video screen
* Cesears putting up a new Marquee sign, similar looking to Bellagio's sign in size and style.
* Continued constrution outside & inside Cesears.
* The new convention center at MandalayBay is HUGE, at least from the outside.
* While driving on Paradise Rd., we passed one stretch that has the new LV monorail tracks. It felt very strange with the tracks running down the middle of the road.
* The half price tkts booth @ the Showcase Mall seems only to have 3rd-rate shows.

Gambling Points -
* As I had said, we are not big gamblers at all. I did enjoy, though, the I Love Lucy, and Run for Your Money Slot Machines. I used to enjoy the Oddessy video screen machines, especially the Top Hat blackjack game on them. Those machines are not to be found on the strip anymore; only several of the downtown casinos still had the Oddessy machines, and I played those while downtown.

I ended up even for the trip as far as gambling is concerned; I usually only spend about $80/day on the machines.

MY SO fared worse on this trip; lost about $500 total, all from playing roulette in the various casinos. But that was from 4 days of gambling.