With NS caught in the throes of winters icey grip, a mid Vegas winter getaway to warm things was just what the Doctor ordered.
The Flight Out
A return trip on Continental was the cheapest fare going though it came with a 6:30a departure which made the flight out feel like jet lag had already set in even though I haven't left yet.
I'm not a big fan of hunting for my luggage after landing or at the customs checkpoints so I decided this trip to try for all carry on. This seemed to work out great. Four days of clothes fit nicely into the carry ons and it streamlined the whole disembarkment process immeasurably.
The flights were smooth and uneventful, though the leg from EWR to LAS was full to overflowing and it felt a little cramped.
Arrived in Vegas around noon and purchased a return shuttle ticket. I find the airport shuttle buses are a great way to go if you're not objectionable to a couple stops enroute to or from and the price is definitely right.
Driver dropped off at Mandalay Bay and I scooted through the casino to TheHotel.
I'd read a lot about the property and after seeing some pictures I just had to check it out. I signed up for their e-mail newsletter a few weeks prior to departure and was gifted with a two night $139/night offer a few days later.
The hotel was amazing. Being a big fan of modern design this place was right up my alley. 15ft ceilings, glass and dark rich wood accents all around. Very nice!
Upon check in I received two $50 flight vouchers, Mama Mia discount coupon, two gym passes and a few other goodies. I requested a high floor with a strip view, and was granted a 35th floor room overlooking the Luxor (no greasing the palm required).
The pictures on the hotels website do not do the suites justice. Perfectly matched color schemes, padded head board, *three* plasma televisions and a very large bathroom. Very impressive! The bed was very comfortable, the toiletries were a step up from anything I'd had previously at other hotels and the suite itself was clean, and quiet. Though the room I had had an joining door to the suite next door. If your neighbors were at all boisterous that could be a problem.
Some nice touches were a doorbell to announce visitors and a fax machine (neither of which I really took advantage of)
The only negative thing I can say about the suites at TheHotel are that they're lacking overhead lighting. With all the lamps and light sources turned on, I found the space a little dark, which if you needed task lighting for something in particular could be problematic.
Did an end to end strip tour. Noticed as others have pointed out that 6:5 tables had made some inroads along the strip, but 3:2 games were not hard to find. Also noted some strange variations that I hadn't seen before - Blackjack Switch and some bizarre hybrid of blackjack and a "bonus wheel" Didn't play either version.
Played a bit of BJ and lost.
Noticed also that trying to find a table where the dealer is willing to interact with the players was a loosing proposition. The exception was the DealerTainers tables, sadly those games were all 6:5.
Once exception was NYNY where everyone seemed super friendly and engaged the players in back and forth banter.
I found out after the fact that We Will Rock You at Paris is half price on Sundays. Note to self for next time.
Next day, more gambling, more losses. Switched from BJ to PaiGow and made some gains back.
Saw Ka at the MGM Grand.
What "O" is water, Ka is to gravity (and hydraulics :-) An amazing show! While I did enjoy "O" more, Ka is still worth seeing. The former EFX theater has been transformed into a set piece out of MadMax's Return to ThunderDome. The theater alone is worth seeing.
Rode the Mono rail from the Sahara to center strip. It would be nice if it extended the entire length of the strip and ran downtown, but all in all it beats fighting traffic on the bus or in a cab with the meter running.
The next time it was off to the south strip outlet mall. A bus ride and a transfer later and I was at my destination. Not bad shopping, but the mall seems the be geared towards people who like to shoe shop.
The second last night of my stay I switched hotels to the Luxor which is one of my favorite strip hotels. The price is usually right ($69 this time 'round), the casino is bright and well lit (though I *always* get lost in there when I'm looking for the escalator to the food court) and the Pai Gow tables are slow paced and fun (though the asian dealers never talk to the players unless you talk to them first - is this a cultural thing I wonder?). I wound up ahead playing PG for a few hours.
Saw Mystere that night. If you've never seen a Cirque show, I can recommend giving it a go, but as a bit of a Cirque vetern, Mystere to me really showed it age. The stunts were all things I've seen in other shows, the pacing of the show was a little off I thought due to the "comedic interludes" which I didn't find overly funny. And without a major center piece such as "O"'s pool, or Ka's platforms, the show just lacked razzle dazzle in my opinion. On the plus side, Mystere has passed the break even money point and tickets aren't as expensive as they are with the other shows. They also offer a 48 hour before showtime refund policy which I thought was a nice touch.
Sat beside a really personable older Italian couple, the fairer of which pegged me 13 years below my actual age - hilight of my trip ;-)
Went downtown for the first time. Played BJ for three hours at the Four Queens. Wound up down, but had a lot of fun getting there. As stated in other reports, BJ downtown is a little more favorable than strip side.
The last day was spent souvenir shopping and sending a few e-mails and IM's to folks back home (one of the Forum Shoppes has free internet access :-)
Grade: B- (as a three time Cirque vetern)
Grade: B (as a first timer)
Shuttled it from the Luxor to the airport. Noticed that the shuttle bus folks are always on time which is appreciated. Chap driving was a character and chatted all the way to the airport.
Flight home was quick and painless. The carry on luggage trick again saved me a fair amount of time. The only minus was the fact I had only 18 minutes after my flight touched down in EWR to get to my connecting flight to Halifax - and the gate marked on my boarding pass had changed after I landed. Good thing I asked an agent why my original gate looked awful dark :-)
Overall a great trip. Great weather. Loved TheHotel. Luxor was dependable as always. Ka was great. Mystere was disappointing. Gambling was a mixed bag.
I'll probably wait until the new cirque show opens at the Mirage before making my next trip.