A little background: I am a 46 year old female and have gone to Vegas with my folks, friends, alone & met friends and solo. Normally I always go to Vegas middle of August for my birthday and the week before Christmas. The Christmas trip has not happened for the last 2 years due to being laid off after 9 years and getting an in-between job in retail (not sales). After 2 years with holidays and Inventory, I am ready to start job hunting again. My parents had made some noise about the 3 of us going in the spring, but once I start job hunting, I don't want to make travel plans, so I decided the time was right for a solo trip. Had to wait until the holidays and Inventory were over.
Booked the trip in October, found airfare on Frontier round trip for $138, then needed to book a room. We are 99.9% of the time Mirage people. In August though we stayed at the Wynn (due to both a semi-decent offer and lack of customer service at the Mirage).
At this point (October) the rooms at Mirage were $208 and $199 at TI. I knew there was time for the rates to come down and also hoped for some good e-mail offers. Booked both hotels.
Since my parents were helping me financially I felt bad about the rates and looked around for something cheaper. Found a GO room at the Flamingo for less, than found out that the go rooms don't have a mini bar and the coffee shop is only open 24 hours a day on the weekend (this was a Sun to Thur trip). Those are deal breakers.
On the same day I received an e-mail offer from the Wynn. 3 nights at $119 and 1 night at their standard rate of $359, PLUS $100 in free play. Even though I am not crazy about their location, I do love their rooms and called immediately and booked it. Couldn't believe their rate was lower than even the Flamingo. Cancelled Mirage, TI & Flamingo. Although I told no one, I really wanted to stay at the Mirage, mainly for their location. If only the Wynn room could be moved to the Mirage.
Kept checking rates at the Mirage and even though they had dropped some, Wynn still beat them all.
About 3 weeks before the trip, I found $488 for all 4 nights at the Mirage. Cancelled the Wynn.
Finally the day of the trip is here.
Flight was supposed to leave Denver at 9:30 AM. When I got to curbside check-in, I was told the flight was now leaving at 10:40, reason given was FAA. Got to the gate, time still said 9:30, every 10 minutes or so they would announce that the flight was due to leave at 10:40, reason now was the weather in Vegas. Light rain & heavy wind. They said there was a chance it could leave before that time or later, but for everyone to be in the area by 10:00.
It did not leave earlier. Around 10:15 they started to board the plane. Full flight, not one empty seat. The pilot came on and said we would be ready to taxi in about 5 minutes, but wouldn't be cleared to take off until 11:00 (it was now about 10:40). Flight attendants had announced that all electrical devices had to be turned off as they were doing their final check prior to taking off, as they made one last walk through 2 people had to be asked to please end their calls. One man had to be asked TWICE!
The flight took off at 11:00. Flight was okay, when we boarded the A/C wasn't on, and by the time it did come on, it never really cooled down the plane. This seemed to be more of a problem as we got closer to Vegas. Lots of passengers were fanning themselves plus the last 10-15 minutes of the flight was pretty bumpy. A warm cabin & turbulence are not a good combination. You also couldn't see the ground until a few minutes before landing due to the clouds, so you were never sure where you were. Except for a short message at the beginning of the flight and for telling the flight attendants to prepare for take off & landing, we never heard a peep from the captain or co-pilot. Nothing about the reason for the delay, the local time & weather, nothing.
When we landed ½ the plan clapped!
It was about 15 minutes later when I got down to baggage claim, and another 30 minutes before the bags arrived (I've waited as long as an hour). I have traveled all over the world, but the worse place for baggage is Vegas.
Went out to get a cab, it was cool (you could see your breath), and dry, although everything was wet. Cab wait was very short - but even when it's miles long, it moves very fast & efficiently. (Should have the cab people be in charge of the luggage).
Mirage please no tunnel. No problem. Very nice cab driver. I think the fare was about $14.50; I gave him a $20.
Checked my bags with a bellman and went to check in. This was going to be my 1st time trying the $20 trick. Put the folded $20 between my driver's license & credit card. Not much of a line to check in (this would be a recurring theme for the trip). She took everything but the cash (what made me a little uncomfortable doing this was behind the check-in people there were numerous people watching. Don't know if they are supervisors or people waiting for a shift change but it was a little like big brother was watching you.
I asked about any complimentary upgrades (with the $20 bill sitting there alone); she said the best she had was a volcano view. I said that would be fine, then I asked about a line pass. She gave me 2 (each good for 1 meal per day). I told her the $20 was hers. In the blink of an eye she took it and it almost flew into her blazer pocket (I'm thinking this was not the 1st time for that). It took her longer to say thank you than to pocket the money.
Off to the room. First thing that I noticed when I walked in was that the room looked old and in need of a renovation. This is the 1st time that I have ever thought that about their rooms. It never bothered me the rest of my stay, just that one time. I wonder if it's because when I was there in August I stayed at the Wynn. The Mirage is planning to renovate all of their rooms (there are pics on their web site). My room did overlook the volcano and I could see TI, Wynn, Palazzo, Venetian & Harrah's.
Thought I'd hit the slots before getting something to eat. It has been a while since I've been pleased with the selection of slots at the Mirage. Because of this I wasn't able to put a lot of points on my card. Managed to make my money last a little while and decided to hit the coffee shop for a late lunch. Only about 6-8 people in line so no need to use my line pass. Only waited 5 minutes (at most), I was shocked to see that the menu has changed and ¾ of the items are now gone. Very limited menu. Decided on the French onion soup and cheeseburger. Good but not great. Lunch came to about $21 before tip.
Played some 3 card poker, lost $140 just waiting for my drink. Tried another couple of slots, nothing was working and decided to go upstairs.
Fell asleep about 5 PM, woke up 3 ½ hours later. I never made it out of the room until the next morning. Thought about getting up, fell back to sleep, played this game until 11 that night and just gave up and went to sleep. That was a first for me.
Monday - 1/28
Was up early since I got so much rest. Was able to get a $5 BJ table around 8ish in the morning. Wandered over to Cravings for the buffet. Again, only 2 people in front of me, so no line pass. It was quiet which was nice but because it was so early some of the stations weren't open yet (and wouldn't open until 11:00). Price was $15, and with the food I ate, it was still a bargain compared to going to a coffee shop.
Walked over to Bill's, tried BJ, and slots, but couldn't hit anything. Found a new slot (only saw it at Bill's & Flamingo) Wizard of Oz
Each casino only had 4 of them and it was impossible to get a seat, which just made me want to try it even more.
Walked over to Harrah's (this is my favorite casino, they have a lot of penny slots). An employee came by to see if I would like a slot card. I don't know if I would ever stay there as I've heard mixed reviews about their room & food, but ok, I do give them a lot of play. She asked if I had a card there already? I said no. (Actually I do, but it's very old and I haven't used it in YEARS, so I figured it had been de-activated.) Gave her all of my information, she explained since I was new I was eligible for a stadium blanket, 2 free tixs for Mac King, free buffet. To check with the rewards desk and they will give me my freebies and a card with my name, but she gave me a card to start using.
Not 5 minutes later she was back, she found my other card and even though it was over 10 years old it was still good, she promptly pulled the new card out of the slot machine, but told me I could still get my freebies. I couldn't believe it. If she found my old information, why didn't she give me a replacement card instead of doing what she did. I think she thought I was scamming her. Needless to say I passed on the freebies since I really wasn't interested in them to begin with.
Since I was bleeding cash, I decided it was enough.
Walked back to the Mirage and ended up in my room (after a stop at Coconuts) and a stroll through the shops. Thought about going to the mall, but it was cold with a cold wind. I was sorry many times during my trip that I didn't have a coat & gloves. I have had trips where I took a coat, only to never once need it. Boy, was I sorry.
I had lots of time to kill if I wanted to save my money for that night. Lots of reading & TV watching and a short nap.
That night I walked over to Bellagio. When I was there in August I had planned to go there my last night, then caught a cold, so never made it. I thought the conservatory was very peaceful & relaxing, but a little less done up than usual. I think once you have seen their Christmas display, it's hard to compete with that. Off to the coffee shop for dinner - shrimp cocktail and a BLTA, which was actually enough bacon for 4 sandwiches. This must have been â€œbring your screaming childâ€ night, because there were at least 4 of them. Too full for the gelato and none of the tables or slots were calling to me.
Did catch a fountain show. Got there just as one was ending, so had to wait 15 minutes and it was cold & windy, but well worth it. That was the only fountain show I caught.
Off to Bally's, downstairs they have a great chocolate shop, every time I go there I'm surprised to see it's still there. So many of the shops either are gone or are always new that I'm afraid it's just a matter of time until that shop is also gone. They have (among all kinds of candy) awesome truffles and huge turtles. YUM!!!! This is a must do every trip. Played some after and a new trend began to happen, I was hanging on to my money. If I got above my initial $20 buy in, I stopped when I got back to that amount. If I was going to lose it, I was at least going to try some other slots in the process. Didn't walk away with any money, but at least it was around long enough to try different games. Bally's was also one of the busier casinos I had seen so far.
On my way to Bill's, still not a winner, but the money was making it's rounds this time. Couldn't win (still) at 3 card poker - for my entire trip the best hand I had was a flush...and that was against the dealer's straight! Not my game this trip.
Stopped in O'Shea's, was so smoky and congested that I almost ran for the door. Either I had to leave immediately or they would have been calling 911.
Now to Harrah's, cashed out some small wins, but at least it was something.
Tuesday - 1/29
Less wind today, still cold, but without the wind, it was so much nicer. Took a cab to Planet Hollywood, lunch today was at PF Chang's. Wonderful as usual. About $25 before tip. Didn't gamble at all there.
Went to Bill's, bypassed Paris & Bally's (had planned to take a walk through the shops at PH, but forgot). Damn!
Tried some BJ - nothing, back to slots, again no huge wins, but felt good just getting back my initial $20.
Back to flamingo and hey, is that someone leaving Wizard of Oz - yep! I started with $20 and before I had even gone through $5 (.01 slots, 30 lines), I hit a great bonus round which netted me $144. Cashed out that ticket and put in another $20, had a lot of play and finally cashed out $44. Still way down for the trip, but at least I took some money out of it.
That night went to TI, dinner was at the coffee shop. Great bowl of French onion soup!! Did some gambling there, but nothing big. Back to Harrah's, about the same. I didn't know it yet, but the next morning would bring some big drama and a potential trip killer.
Wednesday - 1/30
I constantly made sure I always had my wallet (w/ driver's license, cash & cc's), my palm pilot, my cell phone and my ipod. It was exhausting keeping track of everything. I should have left my palm pilot in the room, and I thought I would use my ipod more on the trip than I did, but ended up only using it at the Denver & Vegas airports.
Before I left my room that morning for a hair appt I discovered my ipod was missing. Checked & rechecked and nothing. I thought I was going to be sick, I only had it a few weeks and was not in a position to buy another one. After my hair appt, I came back up to my room; luckily housekeeping hadn't been there yet. I ran my foot along the bottom of the bed, nothing, I moved the sheets around on the bed and thank god there it was. How it fell out when nothing else did I don't know. I was so happy!
Went for lunch to the CA Pizza Kitchen. I ordered a ½ Caesar's salad with grilled shrimp because I didn't think I was hungry enough for a whole salad. This was the best meal I had my whole time there. The shrimp were big and grilled with lots of spices and they were warm and the salad was cool. I practically licked the plate. I so wish I had ordered a large. There's a CA Pizza Kitchen where I work, so one day I may go there and get that salad to go. It was wonderful! Salad with strawberry lemonade and desert was about $18. No one was in line, so again no reason to use my line pass (now dust covered).
Went back to the Flamingo and was fortunate enough to get a chair at Wizard of Oz. Won again. Went to Harrah's and won some there. Glad my wins were coming the day before I left town.
For dinner that night I went to the Carnegie Deli - yep, no one else in line. I know how big their sandwiches are, so I opted for a lox & bagel sandwich. Very good. About $15.
Wanted to go back to the Flamingo, but it was too cold, so back to Harrah's, right before I was about to leave, I hit a good spin and cashed out $50 (from one spin).
Played some at the Mirage, broke about even.
Thursday - 1/31 - last day
I wanted to be sure I had time for whatever I wanted to do, and in so doing, ended up giving myself too much time.
I was down in the Casino about 9:15 (flight was scheduled to leave at 3:55). Apparently before 10:00 AM, you can get $5 BJ tables. Bought in with $100, and played about 60 or so minutes, cashed out with $250. Of course, went back to Flamingo to the Wizard of Oz slot, I didn't win, but had fun. Back to the Mirage to put some points on my card. In the end, I lost, and didn't put enough points on my card to get anything taken off my bill.
I had lost as much money as I was going to lose. I went to the Roasted Bean (again no one in line), bought some chocolate croissants to take home for me and some bear claws for my parents and I was off to the airport, about an hour before I had planned to. Oh well, rather do that, than give them more money. Checked in, cleared security, got a sandwich and listened as they announced the flight that we were to take back to Denver was late coming in from Denver. No idea why, weather was fine. We ended up taking off at 5:05. Thank god for my ipod! Again, every seat was full.
Again, the only time we heard from the pilot was to tell the flight attendants to prepare for take-off and arrival. No word on why we were late, the local time & weather, nothing.
I brought back about 1/3 of the money I went out there with. By the 2nd day of the trip I was considering changing my flight to early Thursday morning, that way the money that I had put away for that day could be used earlier in the trip. As bad as things got I never had to go into the next day's budget or take a trip to the ATM (although I did think about it). Of course, now I'm thrilled that I only thought about it.
Saw a guy playing craps and talking on his cell phone. Saw the cigar/cigarette girl at Harrah's texting messages while hawking her wares.
One guy at Bill's had to be told 3 times by the dealer that he couldn't use his phone at the table. THREE TIMES in five minutes.
Definitely saw more people out & about Thursday. The cab driver told me he had several pick-ups from the airport. Not only for the Super Bowl, but the 2nd was some fight.
Monte Carlo as of the 31st was scheduled (according to that morning's local news) to re-open in another week. The same cabbie told me they were putting up guests wherever there was room, he picked up a guy earlier that day from a condo where the Monte Carlo had put him. Saw a sign outside the front entrance to Bellagio that welcomed all of the Monte Carlo guests and telling them to check in at the VIP check-in. The inside of the MC was fine & safe, but the façade that suffered the fire damage had pieces falling off (especially as windy as it was) and they were closed to be sure no one got hit by flying debris. They couldn't re-open until the top portion of the building was all cleaned up. Heard they were bringing in another 100 construction workers, they had lost time earlier in the week due to the wind - it made it hard to set up the scaffolding.
Finally winning some money.
Only took 3 cabs and had very nice drivers each time.
No crowds - the longest line I ever waited in (prior to security at McCarran) was checking in and that was about 7 minutes. Some places there wasn't even 1 person in line in front of me. Never had to use my line passes. I even checked how many conventions/conventioneers would be in town during the time I was and the number was approx 100,000. There were a few on my flight out with me and I was playing 21 with them one night at TI, the rest of the time, no idea.
Had wonderful service from almost everyone I came into contact with. One dealer however was a tad cranky. I sat down to play 21 and didn't have my money out yet when he was ready to deal. I told him to skip me that round (not fair for the table to wait for me), he replied snottily, â€œAre you sure?â€ I picked up my bat & ball and left. Too many other places to gamble.
Only 1 Bellagio fountain show
Not having a coat
Both flights late
That's it, according to my notes and the notes inside my head.
No idea of when my next trip will be, a lot will depend on how the job hunt goes; however, my dad will be 80 this June and my mother has been making noise about the 3 of us celebrating it in Vegas.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, please keep the reports coming as I look forward to each one (especially the longer ones).