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    • • LV's McCarran International (LAS) is the 8th busiest Airport in the U.S. and number 23 in the world, with 41.7 million passengers
    • • 79 percent of McCarran's departures and 82 percent of arrivals are on time, the average departure delay is 52 minutes and arrival delay is 50 minutes, and cancellations are at 0.6 percent
    • • McCarran Airport is only two to four miles southwest of most Las Vegas Strip hotels
    • • Metered taxi fares to major hotels on the Strip cost approximately $15–$25. A consolidated car-rental center is three miles from the terminal and is accessed by shuttle bus. ScottyVegas always rents a car.
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January 2014 Trip – Reviewed – Old and New Again

With our January 24, 2014 Vegas trip fast approaching I can’t help but find myself getting excited. Leading up to each trip I always try to loosely plan out things I want to see and do. Here’s what I have planned this time around, I guess you could call it, old and new again.

O’Sheas

osheas

The new O’Sheas, after being closed for over a year and a half it has reopened and from the sound of it better than ever. I’m really looking forward to drinking an Irish beer in this dark stained wood casino.

Flamingo

For this trip our new hotel to stay at is the Flamingo, yeah I’ve wrote bad things about this hotel in the past but this time around I have high hopes for their newly updated FAB rooms. They look great from the pictures and for the price at $26 per night just couldn’t be beat. Well not so fast, they now add an $18/night resort fee but overall still a FABulous deal.

Last time we stopped in the Flamingo it was absolutely hopping with a surprisingly younger crowd. Maybe it’s the Jimmy Buffet “casino” that’s doing it, whatever it is I’m looking forward to staying and playing here.

Downtown: Downtown Grand and Container Park

fabulous-downtown-las-vegasThe Downtown Grand  opened in late 2013, noted as the first new hotel to open downtown in 30 years, this off Fremont Street, former part Lady Luck Casino looks great from the pictures. On paper this place sounds like a winner though early reviews suggest otherwise. From what I’ve read gaming is less than stellar with poor video poker and black jack odds and slots tighter than a hungry boa constrictor, never the less I am eager to see for myself.

Downtown Container Park opened in November 2013, personally I’m not a shopper or remotely interested in shopping but this unique idea sparks my curiosity enough to go check it out. Located on Fremont Street, kiddy corner from El Cortez Hotel Casino, is the new 34 outlet style mall made up of all steel prefab shipping containers, some even stacked three tall.

To be honest I’ve never been a fan of downtown, but I’m starting to have a change of heart. With so many improvements going on, better video poker odds and lower table game minimums than the strip plus an overall fun atmosphere I foresee myself spending more time in this forming, much improved, playground.

Cirque du Soleil

ZumanityShow selection for this trip was an easy one, we are seeing Zumanity at New York New York. Simply could not pass up the fantastic deal we got from MyVegas.com, $53 (tax included) + 4k in MyVegas points for TWO tickets. Zumanity will be our 4th Cirque show and I’m sure it won’t disappoint.

Tip: Have a Facebook account? Play MyVegas.com and earn REAL points

We had a GREAT trip, here are my REVIEWS

Zumanity

Best Cirque du Soleil show ever? No, but it was truly enjoyable. I’ve seen KA, Mystere, and Zarkana, all of these share commonality. Zumanity the edgy side of Cirque is well… that. Unlike other Cirque shows where sitting a little farther back is better, Zumanity is intimate so sitting closer is a plus. Nudity, profanity, sexuality, yes all here. In bad taste? Well that’s subjective. Sitting in the front row was an elderly (late 70’s/early 80’s) couple. I kind of watched them to see their reaction and from what I saw they held hands, laughed, and enjoyed the show along with everyone else.  

If you’re easily offended or prudish choose another Cirque show otherwise buy a ticket and enjoy the show.

Tips: The stage was small as was the theater itself. The best seats are definitely surrounding the stage. Get a drink before you enter the theater, but ask for it in a cup, yes they let you bring it in.

Click to EXPAND FULL REVIEW

Ellis Island Steak Special and Other Budget Conscious Dining Options

It’s funny, when many people think of Las Vegas they think of cheap buffets and eats. Unfortunately those days are long gone from the strip. Instead celebrity chef named and other fantastic restaurants dominate Sin City these days. But not all is lost. Here are a couple places and ways to eat well and save some money.

Ellis Island

Looking for a good steak dinner at a fantastic price? If so, then read on because this little gem just might be one of the best deals going. If you rent a car (click for rent a car tips post) while in town then it should be a no brainer. Located just off the strip, on Koval (behind Bally’s/Paris) a block or so south of East Flamingo Rd is Ellis Island Casino and Brewery.

Image

This is a no thrills local’s casino near the big boys. This place offers great black jack and video poker payouts and wide selection of good food.  Okay so here’s the deal, for $9.99 (as of 1/2014) you get a 10 oz steak, choice of potato, vegetable of the day, salad, and a 22 oz Beer or Root Beer! Also, don’t expect to see this special on the menu or advertised anywhere in or around the casino because you won’t find it, just ask for it. I’m not a steak expert or pretend to be so I’m not sure of the cut. But what I do know that of the 4 or so times I’ve had it, it’s been good every time.

Warning Be warned this is not your Bellagio/ Steve Wynn property crowd here. This is a blue-collar working man’s casino that offer’s big bang for the buck.

Idea!: While you’re there why not sample some of their micro brews while playing 3-2 Black Jack or 9/6 Video poker or check out their highly rated karaoke nights?

Like this?: Check out my Mr. Lucky’s $7.77 Gambler’s Steak Special post

Buffets

Craving a buffet? Here’s a few that will satisfy your hunger and budget. All are off strip but offer breakfast and lunch buffets for under $10 with player’s card. Just another reason renting a car in Vegas for me is essential.

  • Palms Hotel and Casino just off the strip on Flamingo.  Besides a fantastic room, you can get a very good buffet and food court offerings.
  • South Point Hotel and Casino, several miles south on Las Vegas Blvd. Good buffet, good sports book, and lots of cheap table games.
  • Green Valley Ranch Hotel and Casino, okay this is a personal favorite all around, I just plain out like this place. Located in Henderson 12 miles from the Strip.
  • Orleans Hotel and Casino just off the strip on Tropicana, solid buffet and not a bad place to stay and play at either.

Tip: You can almost always save a few bucks at Casino buffets/restaurants by showing your players card

More, more, more…

Don’t have a car while in Vegas, no worries, check out these tips.

  • Groupon.com and LivingSocial.com – Possibly the best way to save on meals and entertainment.  I subscribe to both and regularly receive email announcing offerings.  Like with anything, always read the fine print before you buy.

Tip: Start watching a couple months before your trip and purchase deals as they pop up. Usually deals go like, get $40 for $20.

  • Restaurant.com – Many, many, opportunities to save money here. sign-up for email and receive discounts off certificates. Here you buy gift certificates at a discount.

Note: before you buy review the menu and minimum purchase requirements

  • Happy Hours – Nearly all restaurants have some type of happy hour specials that discount food and drinks.  Check out my Get Happier in Las Vegas with Happy Hour Specials! post
  • Casino food courts – Most casinos on the strip offer food courts with your usual fast food fare and some decent offerings for example, Earl of Sandwich (our go-to quick fix place) in Planet Hollywood, delicious!
  • Split a deal! Most portion sizes are huge, instead of stuffing yourself, consider splitting a meal with someone. Besides it’s hard to drink all that “free” booze on a full stomach.
  • Eat a late lunch and save. Lunch is cheaper than dinner and often goes until 4pm.

Why not?

Now that you saved a few dollars why not splurge and treat yourself and that special person to a fabulous meal. Like I said, there are plenty of wonderful, world-class restaurants to choose from in Fabulous Las Vegas!

Bon appetite!

Ice Cream Challenge in Las Vegas

icecreamrmseafoodDo you like a challenge? Consider yourself an ice cream efficiendo? Or just Looking for something fun to do in Vegas that won’t cost you your bankroll?  If you have answered yes to any of these then check this out.

RM Seafood in Mandalay Bay has a fun challenge for you. If you can correctly guess 16 ice cream and sorbet flavors then the cost to you is FREE. If you should fail the challenge, and you most likely will, then you only need to cough up $18 dollars. Flavors vary from your everyday variety to bizarro exotic so prepare to be challenged in a cool fun way!

Play a legend and possibly become a millionaire

Did you know that a slot machine legend still exists in the Las Vegas MGM Grand? It’s called Lion’s Share a lone survivor of a bank of $1.00 progressive slot machines from yesteryears past. Okay I guess “yesteryear” may give the wrong impression, the machine is actually from the 1990’s. Anyway, apparently Nevada gaming laws states it can’t be removed until someone hit’s the $2.2 plus million dollar jackpot.

Now for the best part, theoretically this machine should have hit a long time and therefore “should be” way overdue to hit. Also unlike lottery or other large value progressive jackpots the Lion’s Share jackpot will be paid off in one lump sum not over regular installments. And rumor has it the jackpot winner will even be able to keep the machine!

Watch the Lion’s Share in Action.

 Found on youtube.com (Warning: contains profanity)

This machine has gained in popularity over the last several years. It’s often talked about on several Las Vegas themed Podcasts and has its only twitter feed

Tip: This machine is not ticket in, ticket out its old school hand pay

Tip: I found this on MGM Grand’s website announcing exclusive high payout progressive slot machines.

For even more excitement, try our custom machines that you won’t find anywhere else in Las Vegas. Majestic Lions, our most popular $1 progressive machines, pay out over $750,000 each day. Want more? For a chance to win $1,000,000, take our exclusive Reel Millions and Lion’s Share machines for a spin.

Even though I’ve known about this machine for some time now I’ve never played it. I have asked slot attendants about its location and they have told me it’s in the rear of the casino.  But for some reason or another I’ve never gone to check it out. But it’s a new year my friends and with only 8 days to go until my next trip and from the excitement of writing this post I truly believe I am going to be the Lion’s Share jackpot winner! I plan on playing the machine on January 17, 2012 sometime before noon. Don’t believe me? Follow me on Twitter or watch the news and look for the announcement.

Post Trip Update

As you may have guessed I was not successful in my quest to become the Lion’s Share progressive Jackpot winner. My second spin yielded $30 bucks so I thought I was on my way and at one point I even stood up like Babe Ruth, eyed by opponent, pointed at the jackpot, and swung.. .I mean, pushed the button. But unlike Babe Ruth’s crushing home run I fell back in my chair in defeat as the Lion’s Share machine mocked me by leaving me an empty payline.

Stung, but determined, I pushed on searching out my next opportunity. It didn’t take long as around the corner stood MGM’s Majestic Lion’s. These too are $1.00 progressive machines but after they hit they reset to $1,000. Of the 25 or so machines I don’t think a single one had a jackpot over $1,100. Before diving in I stood and observed the hand full of people playing. It didn’t take long for me to realize these machines had something going on. I put in some money, had a few hits but again fell short. My wife came over and put in a $20, she hit for $300 on her first spin.

The next day we again visited the Majestic Lion’s. We both put in a $10 and on the third or so spin hit for another $300. The short time we were there several other people hit for $300 and while looking around I noticed that several of the machines that had larger amount were reset indicating they were hit. Needless to say these are active machines.

On your next Las Vegas trip plan to stop by the Lion’s Share machine and drop in a few bucks but don’t blow it all, save some for the Majestic Lions as they are some playful cats.

Good Luck and Happy Gaming!

Check out these other related posts:

BLACKJACK – know the odds, know the strategy, maximize your play!

What is a player’s card? What are comps?

Table games? How do you play? You can learn!

East Side Cannery, a Review

This was an interesting experience, I’m glad I stayed here but I’m not certain I’ll return. You see our flight was scheduled to arrive in Las Vegas at night 11pm (2pm Detroit time). Part because I’m frugal and part because I like to experience different Las Vegas Casino Hotels I decided to stay at the Eastside Cannery (A 16 story hotel containing 307 rooms ranging in size from 450 to 900 sq ft) for the first night of our trip. Since we usually take a later flight into Vegas I like staying at a cheaper off strip hotel for that first night. While looking where to stay I saw East Side Cannery had $39 deluxe rooms with a $10 off promotion making the room just $29 per night plus tax and NO RESORT FEES! After consulting with my wife, who had no issues with it, I booked the Cannery.

East Side Cannery is located on Boulder highway next door to Sam’s Town Hotel/Casino and Boulder Station Hotel/Casino is down the street a little further. According to slot statistics Boulder Highway is known to have some of the loosest slots in Las Vegas, Video Poker pay tables are favorable and table games have low minimums.

When we arrived at the hotel it was about midnight so check-in was a breeze. We then headed straight for the room. The elevators were close to the front desk and right off the casino floor. Unlike strip hotels where elevators and hallways always seem to have activity the Cannery was a ghost town. We opened the door to a surprisingly very nice room. We found the room better than the website description:

Standard Queen at 450 sq. ft. is well above standard. Enjoy a plush pillowtop mattress, down pillows and 400 thread count sheets. 42inch plasma TV, writing desk, easy chair and convenient in room refrigerator will make your stay easy.

After admiring our room we quickly dropped off our bags and headed down to the casino floor for a couple of drinks and a little gaming action before going to bed. Being an off strip property it was evident that the majority of the casino’s patrons, though few in numbers, were made up of locals. Security seemed a little heavy for the number of patrons and they definitely were keeping an close eye on a few sketchy looking characters. Though we felt safe this scenario gave us the “keep your heads up” kind of feeling.

The 65,000 square foot casino offered a decent variety of slot machines, video poker, and table games. I recall that penny machines dominated the casino floor. I was surprised to see a band playing in the casinos Marilyn’s Lounge given the number of patrons. Waitress service was extremely slow and when present was served with a bit of attitude. The anticipated gaming action and drink service was an overall disappointment. So off we went through the deserted hallways to our room.

We woke early the next morning and got some breakfast downstairs at Snaps Restaurant. We used a buy one, get one coupon that we received upon check-in. Afterword’s we packed up and checked out. The lady who assisted us had some problems doing this. She called over someone else who assisted her. I don’t know what happened but after I got home and was reviewing my Credit Card statement I noticed they completely refunded our night stay!

After each hotel stay my wife and I like to discuss whether or not we would stay there again, we both said we would pass on the Cannery. Though the room and price was excellent, the casino was just ok. So with all the other hotel/casino options available in Las Vegas I think I will continue to try something new.

Check out these other related posts:

Bill’s Gambling Hall and Saloon Review… I’m serious!

Getting an awesome Las Vegas hotel deal? Don’t forget about the resort fees!

Review: Palazzo Resort Hotel and Casino

Tips on how to find the lowest hotel rates in Las Vegas

Review: Palace Station Hotel and Casino

Pawn Stars Las Vegas Revisited

We first visited Pawn Stars (Gold & Silver Pawn) back in January of 2010 (see original post here). On that visit we parked with ease and just walked right in. We saw everyone from the show except Corey (Big Hoss). Chumlee was just standing there helping customers and the old man was well doing his thing. Items for sale were numerous and wide ranging from video games for a few bucks to Rolex watches and beyond. The Pawn Star TV show souvenir area was very small with only a few items to choose from.

Speed up 18 months and wow have things changed! The parking lot is packed, cabs are lined up to cart curious fans to and from the strip, and there’s a line to enter the shop.

Tip: Long lines form outside the Pawn Shop but don’t worry they move fast

 Once inside more changes are quickly noticeable. The pawn shop has seemed to morph from an everyday working pawn shop to a tourist attraction. Yes there are still “pawn shop” items for sale but they’re limited. The remaining space it occupied with items that were featured on the show and a very large Pawn Stars souvenir area.

Oh, and one more thing that’s changed since our first visit. The pawn shop staff has increased 2 fold but not a single Pawn Star “celebrity” was seen. Since I was traveling with my daughters who were eager to see someone from the show I asked one of the female associates behind the counter the question. I said I’m going to ask you a question I bet you hate. She said, Please don’t. I said I’m gonna with a smile and proceeded to ask the dreaded question, are the Pawn Stars here and when/if they be coming out? Her reply was not surprising, she said, yes they’re here and no way will they be coming out. She continued to say, they can’t come out because the fans get way to crazy.
So there you go, if you’re planning on visiting the Silver & Gold Pawn Shop aka “Pawn Stars” on your next Las Vegas visit. Take your picture by the Gold & Silver Pawnshop sign, go in and look at the items you saw on TV show but don’t expect to see the guys from the show.

Have something interesting you would like to sell or pawn? If so, then you might have a chance to be on the show yourself. Check out this History Channel link or email Pawnstarstvshow@gmail.com with a text description of the item.

Check out these other related posts:

Advice from the Veterans, Las Vegas Traveler Style…

Red Rock Canyon Excursion

Las Vegas Area Thrills by Land and Air


Bill’s Gambling Hall and Saloon Review… I’m serious!

After receiving an email from Caesar’s Entertainment announcing hot deals across all their Las Vegas Properties I quickly booked four nights at Harrah’s for $228. The price was right, location good, and Trip Advisor reviews were decent. But after reading several Harrah’s reviews I noticed many people mentioned favorably about Bill’s Gambling Hall and Saloon So off I went to read reviews about Bill’s and surprisingly they were more favorable than Harrah’s and to top it all off the “hot deal” total price for four nights including a Saturday and taxes came to $165! Not one to pass up a screaming deal I booked Bill’s for the four nights and requested a non-smoking Bellagio fountain view room. Now I have two hotel reservations and one wife to convince Bill’s is the place for us.

Leading up to our trip I must have had the following conversation at least 2 dozen times.

Person: So you’re going to Vegas, where you staying?
Me: Bill’s Gambling Hall and Saloon
Person: Bill’s? Off Strip?
Me: Noooo, it’s right there on the strip, corner of Flamingo between Bally’s and the Flamingo. You know it’s the former Barberry Coast Hotel and Casino?
Person: Oh… you’re staying there?
Me: Yes, actually it gets great reviews. The rooms are a little older but they’re supposed to be really clean. It’s in a great location and you’re supposed to be able to get to the strip from any room in about 5 minutes.
Person: (Doubtful).. hmmmmm… with head nod
Me: I got a great deal, four nights including a Saturday for under $170 taxes included plus no resort fees.
Person: Ohh Okay, have a good time
Me: Yeah, I will let you know how it turns out

I must say I was a little apprehensive myself right before we left if I made the right decision to choose Bill’s. I definitely felt the uncertainly from my wife. In fact I frequently checked reviews at Trip Advisor for reassurance.

With adrenaline running through my veins I had a good feeling about Bill’s as we approached. Parking was a breeze as you enter the parking garage just off the strip on Flamingo Dr. It’s very easy to get in and out from all directions. There were plenty of spots near the elevator which was nice. The garage is older but very clean and there was never any traffic.

We approached the small registration desk which is located in the back of the casino. The host said you must be the ScottyVegas’, I said Yes, and she said, we were her last guests to check in for the night. I inquired about my reservation preferences and she said unfortunately we had a smoking room on the Flamingo hotel side and that was the last available room. She said to call the desk in the morning and they will accommodate our request. Not what you want to hear when you’re already apprehensive about a hotel.

Anyway, tired but eager to hit the strip, we quickly headed to our room on the 3rd floor. The room was large and roomy with a plasma TV hanging on the wall, and thankfully not as smoky as I feared it would be.

Tip: All rooms on the 3rd floor at Bill’s are smoking rooms, Floors 1 & 2 are non-smoking

The next morning I called and we swapped rooms, this time our request was honored for a non-smoking, Bellagio Fountain View room. Both rooms were very clean however the room décor was a bit dated with a western style feel to it. Each bathroom had a stained glass window you could open from the tub/shower. I absolutely loved this and thought it was the best feature of the room, it added a ton of character. It was great taking a shower with the window slightly opened and hearing the sounds of the strip including music from the dancing Bellagio fountains.

Like the reviews I read said, you literally can get to the strip from any room in the hotel in about 5 minutes. Try this at any of the mega resorts.

Entertainment

The casino might be dated and feel like it belongs downtown but it’s definitely NOT dull. The patron demographics varied widely but everyone seemed to be having a great time. The table games were packed nightly with plenty of cheers. The casino stage had nightly entertainment with either karaoke or bands, both drew a crowd of on lookers and fun was had my all.

You should also know this is the home of Big Elvis and from what I hear a great FREE act performed Mondays through Fridays at 3, 5 and 6:30 p.m. right there on Bill’s casino stage. Don’t know how we did it but we failed to see this highly rated popular show!

As far as gaming goes the casino offers a decent variety of slot and video poker games of all monetary denominations. We did not play extensively here. But when I did play, usually when I was waiting for my wife, I had fun and won some money playing Video Poker.

Tip: Bill’s is a Non-Total Rewards casino partner of Caesars Entertainment. So in other words they maintain their own independent players club.

Dining

The hotel has several dining options to choose from. However, we only visited one, Victorian Café and that was for the after 11:00pm steak and eggs breakfast special for $5.99. Let me tell you this special rocked, especially after a long evening of drinks and gaming action.

Note: It looks like the times and prices have changed a bit from when we visited. Here is updated information taken directly from their website “3 egg breakfast for only $4.99 Midnight to 8am and don’t miss our Steak and Eggs Special for $8.99 served from midnight to 8a.m.” Still not a bad deal.

Location

Like I said before the location is the best! If you walk out the door to your right you can easily reach the Wynn properties without much effort. Turn left and Planet Hollywood and City Center is just a short walk. Bill’s sits right on the corner so crossover bridges are right there for you to cross Las Vegas Blvd or Flamingo. Did I mention this was the perfect location?

SPA Services, Exercise and Pool

Looking for prime SPA services or a good workout before your day? If so, then don’t stay here. Bill’s does not offer such services. Bill’s does not have a pool either however, you do get full access to the highly rated Flamingo pool, so not all is lost.

The Bottom Line

If you are new to Vegas, looking to impress or want to be pampered by all the amenities of the mega resorts, Bill’s is not the place for you. If its value you seek or just need a good room to serve as a base for your Vegas Adventure then you should put Bill’s Gambling Hall and Casino towards the top of the list of places to consider.

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