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    Viva Las Vegas!!May 12, 2016
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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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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!

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

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.

Las Vegas Area Thrills by Land and Air

For most, the Las Vegas strip itself offers enough excitement with all its gambling and entertainment possibilities. Plus if you factor in all the colorful characters that inhabit the area, well, do you really need more excitement? But if you’re looking to kick it up a notch and go beyond the usual, you just might find the following off-strip thrills right for you.

Fremont Street Flightlinez

Looking to sample zip-lining? If so, then why not head down to Fremont Street where you can glide 800 feet down Fremont Street, 67 feet in the air, while reaching speeds up to 30 mph. Don’t let the short ride fool you, trust me, it’s a blast. After harnessing up, the leap off the platform takes a little nerve after you realize you’re placing your life in the hands of some nylon straps and a cable!  But once in flight you’ll appreciate this smooth and easy ride, you’ll be glad you did it.

Flightlinez is open daily with rates as low as $15, see website for details.

Tip: While downtown, take a walk around. You’ll find lower table minimums, better blackjack odds, and a variety dining options.

Tip: The American Casino Guide has many coupons for downtown properties. Coupons include food discounts, free Play (slots) and match play (tables) offers

Bootleg Canyon Flightlines

Looking for the ultimate zip-line adventure? Then head 25 miles southeast to Boulder City where you will find multi-run, multi-line series of zip-lines that range in length from 1150 to 2550 feet and speeds that reach 50 mph! The total length of zip-lining fun is 1.56 miles. The cost is $149 (as of this writing) and lasts approximately 2.5 hours.

See Bootleg Canyon Flightlines website for details

Tip: Hoover Dam is only 7 miles from Bootleg Canyon Flightlines or 35 miles from the Las Vegas strip.  Not in a hurry? do a Dam drive by. Have more time? Take the Dam Tour!

Land Sailing

Looking to try something totally different? Well here’s your chance to sail a land yacht (think 3 wheeled cart with a sail) across 6 miles of wide open smooth desert space and reach speeds of 60 mph!! The website claims its “fast, fun, easy & safe – anyone can do it”.

The cost is $125 (as of this writing) for 2 hour regattas. It’s located just 40 miles south of Las vegas (all highway), see the website for details

Tip: Find Go Land Sailing money saving coupons here

I first saw Go Land Sailing advertised on Groupon. After looking it up I instantly became interested as something I would love to try.

Tip: Check out Primm Valley Casino Resorts and Outlet Mall

Primm Valley

If you decide to go land sailing, then why not plan to spend some time at Primm Valley Casinos and the Outlet Mall. After all, the meet up point for the Land Sailing Regatta begins in the outlet mall parking lot.

Primm Valley Casino Resorts and Outlet Mall is located 40 miles south of Las Vegas right off the highway. Though I wouldn’t make a special trip again, the area does offer a variety of attractions to warrant a stop if passing through. Three casino’s make up this area, Buffalo Bill’s, Primm Valley, and Whiskey Pete’s. These locals style casinos do offer lower table minimums with better odds then the Las Vegas strip and buffet food prices are very reasonable.  Surprisingly some quality entertainment visits this complex (check schedule here) and the recently updated room rates are very low.

Primm Valley Area Attractions:

  • Desperado Roller Coaster, Adventure Canyon Log Flume Ride, and other theme park style rides
  • Carolee Movie Theatre
  • 3 Casinos with monorail service to all properties.
  • Famous Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas in Primm. Over 100 Designer Outlets including Polo, Coach, Kenneth Cole and more.
  • Two Golf Courses designed by renowned golf architect Tom Fazio.

As a frequent Las Vegas visitor I always rent a car to do some off strip exploring, usually in the mornings. Rental cars are very reasonable in Las Vegas and once off the strip navigation is rather easy. So if you’re up for a little adventure, get out and explore the other side of Las Vegas!

Check out these other related posts:

Las Vegas Rent A Car Tips
Up, Up and Away! Stratosphere Las Vegas
Pawn Stars in Las Vegas?
Red Rock Canyon Excursion
What is a player’s card? What are comps?

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

No Resort Fees

It seems these days all Vegas hotels have screaming deals going on. It’s almost daily that I receive emails announcing incredibly low room rates at some of the strips best properties. But as you sit down to compare all the room offers be warned, all deals are not equal.

As the economy started to sputter in 2008 so did Vegas tourism and room rates. To help boost profits many Las Vegas properties started instituting “resort fees”. Though not necessarily new to the hotel business, they are new to Vegas and they range from a buck or two to over 24 dollars per night! The fee is mandatory and surprisingly enough the fee is even taxed at some places.

Note: Some hotels charge tax on resort fees!

So what does the resort fee cover? Well it varies by hotel but usually it covers such things as internet, newspaper, and local phone service. Some offer things such as free bottles of water while others offer fitness center or spa access (limited), so it all varies. But as a general rule higher resort fees usually include more stuff.

Tip: As a general rule higher resort fees usually include more stuff.

Tip: Las Vegas hotel tax is 12%.

When comparing hotels offers you should do a little homework and find out what, if any, resort fees apply and what it covers. That’s where http://www.vegas.com/incl/resortfees.html comes in. This site clearly lists every casino hotel in Vegas with resort fee amount, if any, plus what the fee includes.

For instance, you might be surprised to learn that all Vegas MGM Resort International properties have the mandatory resort fee (as of this writing, fee varies by property) where Caesars Entertainment (formally Harrah’s Entertainment) properties do not. Once you know this you can make a fare comparison. let’s take a look at an example, Say you’re comparing two offers, one from Planet Hollywood (Caesars) for $62/nt and one from Monte Carlo (MGM) for $49/nt,. For many unaware price conscious people, this may seem like a no brainer and choose Monte Carlo, but is it really the better deal? Let’s break it down with what we now know, we said Planet Hollywood was $64 (room rate per night) + $0 (resort fee) x 12% (hotel tax) = $69.44 per night. Now let’s look at the Monte Carlo offer, $49 (room rate per night) + $15 (resort fee) x 12% (hotel tax) = $71.68 per night, almost $2.00 more per night.

Note: All Vegas MGM properties have a mandatory resort fee (as of this writing, fee varies by property).

Tip: None of the Caesars Entertainment (formally Harrah’s Entertainment) properties charge resort fees.

Don’t disregard an offer just because the hotel charges a resort fee. Here are some things to also consider when deciding where to stay:

  • Will you use what the resort fee includes
  • Location
  • Reputation of hotel/reviews
  • Ease of access from room to casino floor/strip/parking garage
  • Free self parking/valet services
  • Pool(s)
  • Clubs
  • Spa services
  • Complementary shuttle service
  • Freeplay/Show offerings
  • Restaurants in your price range/taste near by

Tip: Many hotels charge resort fees even on Complementary rooms, this policy varies by hotel.

I guess it will remain to be seen whether or not resort fees survive after Vegas room rates return to normal levels or if negative press and complaints cause them to be discontinued.

In the mean time do your homework when deciding where to stay, compare offers and hotel amenities before making your decision, then relax.

Here are some other posts you might find helpful:

Free Room Upgrade? Let me introduce you to “The $20 Trick”
Plan on using a cab while in Vegas? Read this first!
Las Vegas Rent A Car Tips
Tips on how to find the lowest hotel rates in Las Vegas
YES drinks are FREE in Las Vegas!
 Advice from the Veterans, Las Vegas Traveler Style…
What would you NEVER do again in Las Vegas?

Get Happier in Las Vegas with Happy Hour Specials!

I always consider every hour I spend in Las Vegas Happy Hour but believe it or not it gets better! Especially, with this great tip.

I just recently found this cool website I think you just might be interested in. It’s a site that keeps track of Happy Hour Specials all over Vegas. They break down the specials by location in the following categories for easy navigation: On Strip, Off Strip, Downtown, Hotels & Casinos, and Shopping Malls.

The site does a good job of providing you with all the information you need to know such as, location, happy hour times, description of specials, and much more. As I looked around I was pleasantly surprised with some of the offerings. As you can imagine the common special is ½ drinks and ½ appetizers but some places get more creative and specific.

To be truthful I actually never really realized happy hour specials were as common as they are in Vegas. Maybe it’s an economy thing but you can bet that before my next Vegas trip I will certainly review this site and take some notes, as I’m usually ready for a break mid to late afternoon.

So whether you need a break from a losing streak, feel like taking a load off from nonstop walking or you’re simply watching your budget. I see taking advantage of a little happy hour happiness nothing short of a pure win!

Have a Happy Hour tip/experience to share? Post away in the comments below.

Don’t forget to check out these other posts:

Make a Drink List!

YES drinks are FREE in Las Vegas!

Mr. Lucky’s $7.77 Steak & Shrimp Deal

Sports, Drink, Food…

Plan on using a cab while in Vegas? Read this first!

I can honestly say I’ve only used a cab in Vegas a hand full of times. My preferred method of transportation is by renting a car (see post on Rent a Car Tips). But with that said, using a cab can come in handy. One invaluable time was just a couple of years ago when we found ourselves on the far south end of the strip while we were staying on the far north end and it was after 2:00am. It was cold, we were tired, plus we had our fair share of adult beverages. Then the idea came to mind to use a cab. Hmmmm, walk 30-40 minutes or take an 8 or so minute cab ride? The decision didn’t take long… even though it’s typically against my frugal way to use cabs, I will certainly say that was the BEST $15 spent on that trip.

If you plan on using cabs for your transportation needs, especially if you are new to Vegas or visit infrequently, there are things you should familiarize yourself with, for instance:

Did you know?

  • Most taxicabs in southern Nevada DO NOT accept credit cards as payment
  • Las Vegas Taxi drivers cannot pick up passengers off of the street (flag or hailed ride).
  • Every casino hotel has designated cab pickup/drop-off areas
  • Taxi passengers can only be charged the amount shown on the taxi meter.
  • By law, each cab can only take 5 people, including infants and children.

These are just a few examples from Did You Know, a tip sheet published by the State of Nevada Taxicab Authority. I strongly recommend that you read through it before your next trip, I bet some of them will surprise you.

Taximeter Charges

Here’s a nice quick summary of how the taximeter charges you. (Also taken directly from the Did You Know tip sheet)

When you enter a taxicab, the driver will start the taximeter (referred to as the “drop”) and an initial charge of $3.30 will register. If a taxi ride originates at McCarran international Airport, an additional airport surcharge of $1.80 per trip is added to the taximeter. After the initial “drop”, the taximeter will assess a fare of $2.40 per mile ($.20 for each 1/12th of a mile traveled). If the taximeter senses that the taxicab is moving less than 8-12 MPH, the taximeter will assess a charge of $.20 every 24 seconds ($30.00 per hour waiting time). That is why the taximeter continues to accumulate charges even when the taxicab is not moving. Once the taximeter senses that the taxicab is moving at a speed greater than 8-12 MPH the fare calculates on the actual distance traveled.

Distance Chart

Another page you might find handy, is this chart with approximate minimum fares to various Southern Nevada locations. Use it when planning for your next trip or in helping you decide whether or not to rent a car or other mode of transportation. It covers Taxicab fares and fees along with a chart of approximate charges to/from common destinations.

Tunneling

Every city seems to have cabby scams. One popular scam in Las Vegas is “Getting Tunneled” or “Tunneling” these names refer to when a cabbie picks you up from the airport and takes you “Long Hauls” through a tunnel to I-15 (expressway) to your hotel on the strip. In most cases this is NOT the most direct, quickest, or most cost effective route to take. This practice is actually against the law, which, if caught (and they do), the cab driver will get fined.

So if the cab driver risks getting fined, why do they continue to do it? Simply put the reward outweighs the risk. At about $6 -7 more per trip and the fact that the Taxi Cab Authority has limited staffing the odds quickly jump in the cabbies favor.

Action

So what can you do to avoid being tunneled? Well if you are staying on the strip simply say “No Tunnel” or ask the driver to take the most direct route to your hotel. Feel you been violated? You can file a complaint with the Taxicab Authority at (702) 486-6532 (Staffed 24 hrs.) or online taxi.state.nv.us.

Note: In order for the Taxicab Authority to investigate a complaint, you must include in your statement: Your name, date and time of incident, where it occurred, the cab company and cab number. It is also helpful to include the driver’s name and driver’s Taxicab Authority Permit number if you can get it.

Take a look at this interesting Las Vegas Review Journal Article titled “ILLEGAL CAB PRACTICE” from 2004

REMEMBER: Las Vegas may be called sin city but it is still illegal to drink and drive. So even if you are renting a car don’t be stupid and ruin your trip by taking unnecessary chances, leave those for the tables, walk or better yet take a cab!

Don’t forget to check out these other posts:

Las Vegas Rent A Car Tips


 

Advice from the Veterans, Las Vegas Traveler Style…

South End Las Vegas Strip

If you have never been to Las Vegas or haven’t been in decades you undoubtedly have some questions or at least have searched the web for some tips. I can see how a Vegas trip might stress some people out. After all, Las Vegas has tons to offer and has a reputation of being wildly expensive.

Now this isn’t an end-all guide but when I came across this forum topic I immediately thought it would be a worthwhile post. Here’s some good practical advice from well seasoned Las Vegas travelers pulled from the Trip Advisor Las Vegas Forums. I’ve added my two cents worth noted in blue text.

“Drink a bottle of water for every 2 alcoholic drinks- Nothing kills a Vegas adrenaline rush faster than a nasty hangover.” – Remember, water is your friend!

“Distances are farther than they look” – Hotels are huge and sprawling, depending on your abilities you might want to break up the strip in chunks and visit each chunk at a time.

“Set a gambling budget and stick to it!” – Play it smart and set a budget, especially if you have limited funds. Takes breaks if you’re on a losing streak, people watch, hit the pool, window shop, or partake in free entertainment. Remember there’s a ton to do in LV. Return to the game later with better luck.

“Realize the odds are against you winning, expect to lose, and consider it entertainment. But while gambling enjoy the sites, drinks, and freedom. Abiding to this will ensure a better time.” – See above

“Always sign up for players cards – you never know what you’ll get in terms of offers.” – First timers often receive freeplay or other gifts for signing up. Always give them your email address (sometimes worth an extra bonus), I enjoy reading all the email offers they send me and find them valuable when planning my next trip to wonderful LV.

“NEVER chase comps” – just 500 points for a free buffet or every 250 points gets you T-shirt, oh wait just another 100 points get me $5 bucks in “pointplay” (like freeplay) . Not always, but many comp programs, 1 point = $1.00 cycled through a slot machine. If you happen to reach that point amount fine, but don’t chase it because it might just cost you much more than it’s true value.

“Don’t plan any really big event (show, dinner, etc.) for your first night.” – traveling is much more involved these days, especially if you’re flying. Arrive two hours before departure, time to fly, transportation to your hotel, check-in process, and now finally getting to your room. All this can be exhausting. The last thing you need is to be somewhere at a set time. Remember delays happen when traveling. So on your first day/night chill out and just enjoy where you’re at and play it by ear.

“Go to Fontana Bar at Bellagio and ask to sit outside. Have at least one drink (they are expensive) and enjoy the fountains close up. It’s breathtaking.” – This one’s on my to-do list I’ve heard it is fantastic. Also I believe specials can be had after lunch but before dinner.

“Believe it or not I’d say bring comfortable shoes. You’ll be amazed on how much walking you’ll do” – Casino Hotels are large, sidewalk are not straight, escalators to overpasses fail frequently. Walking the strip in high heels or dress shoes at 3:00pm is stupid. Do yourself a favor and WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES!

“Wear comfortable clothes” – Similar to above. If you are going out for a nice dinner, show, or club, fine, dress to impress. Just walking the strip? Who cares! Wear nice, clean comfortable clothes. Remember summers are HOT and winter can be cold, dress appropriate!

“The girls on the front of the slapper’s cards are NOT the ones that actually come to your room” – Hmmm… I have no experience with this one… so I’ll take this persons word for it.

“If it’s your first time to LV, don’t try and do everything because you’ll be back!” – Oh how true, realize there is a ton to see and do. Do a little research before you arrive so you get an idea of what’s available, pick a couple then play the rest by ear. It won’t be long before you’ll want your next LV fix then rinse and repeat.

“Don’t arrive with a plan or agenda to see or do something every minute of every day. Book a show or two, maybe a special meal or two. But leave some time for things to just “happen” depending on what you feel like doing at the moment” – Wish I would have read this before I typed the comment above… yep well said

“Don’t be afraid to try a table game or ask a dealer how to play if they aren’t too busy. They are usually happy to help.” – There are many online and retail casino game simulators to learn and practice on. Also many casino’s offer FREE lessons. Dealer quality varies but many are more than willing to help. Don’t forget to throw your dealer a chip every once in awhile if they’re doing a good job.

“Don’t feel you need to pull all-nighters just because you’re in Vegas. Vegas is 24 hours, your body is not” – The only place time exists in Vegas is on your watch. Be wise and get some sleep because if you don’t it won’t take long before you’ll be walking the strip looking and feeling like a zombie. Now if I could only get my wife to understand this.

“Leave the babies/kids, non-gamblers, naysayers, people without money, and duds at home. If you don’t your fun is in jeopardy.” – Vegas has little to nothing to offer these types, follow this one closely

I hope this post provided some useful advice or at least a bit of entertainment. Anyway, like always feel free to share your own advice in the comments below.

Review: Palazzo Resort Hotel and Casino

luggage

When I plan a trip the dates we go are usually dictated by when I receive the cheapest airfare. Once airfare is secured I go looking for a hotel, car, etc.. Well for our January 7-12, 2010 trip I booked airfare in May of 2009! (Round trip ticket, including taxes and fees, $100 each).

When I started to look for a hotel I quickly realized we were going during the largest convention in Las Vegas, CES (Consumer Electronic Show). Because of the convention hotel rates usually go through the roof. So when I received a great deal from Excalibur I jumped on it. A couple months before our trip I received a post card from Palazzo/Venetian for $49/night, Sunday – Thursday and slightly more for the weekend. I called and inquired about the deal, they said the room was available for $49 that Sun and Mon. But then the person said that I had an offer available for 2 to 4 nights complimentary and he wanted to know if I was interested. Interested? Hell yes! I said. I then asked about that Friday and Saturday he told me that they were booked because of the convention, of course I thought. The only charge was the mandatory resort fee of about $15 per night. This covered internet, gym access and a few other things. Also I had the choice between either The Palazzo or Venetian properties. I selected the Palazzo because it’s newer and I prefer that casino. Further research confirmed I made the right choice as The Palazzo continuously receives better review ratings.

Sunday, January 10 just after noon we drove to valet to try to check-in early (normally check-in is at 3:00pm). As soon as we drove up we were treated like VIP’s, even though we were driving a rented bright blue Ford Focus. The valet personnel were very friendly as several of them greeted us even before we reached the doors. The registration desk was close by the entrance. The line was kind of long but there were plenty of registration staff on hand to move the line quickly. No surprise that the entire process was a breeze and everyone, and I mean everyone, greeted us like royalty. Elevators were across the casino but were directly off the casino floor. This is always a definite plus in my book. Security is located just before the elevators and they request to see your room key before allowing you to pass. This was a minor inconvenience but worth it I guess as there are some shady characters in Vegas.

Our room 47-727 was on the 47th floor overlooking the Northeast side of the valley and the Wynn golf course.

Check out this walk through VIDEO!!

Both my wife and I thought the room was outstanding. The decor and layout gave it a real “homey” feeling and not that of a hotel room. They did a great job dividing the room into sections without using walls. When you first walk in the spacious bathroom was on the left and included a nicely sized and conveniently located LED TV. As you enter the main room the king size bed was on the left and a 40 some inch LED on the right. Separating the bed area from a sitting area was a thigh high bench partition. The sitting area included a comfy wrap around couch with a good sized coffee table with another LED TV sitting on top of the snack station. In the same area was a small table with a couple of chairs and a desk for working which included an Ethernet cable for internet access, telephone, pen and paper, and a multi-function printer with USB hookup for continence.

Both the Palazzo and Venetian are upscale properties in a great area of the strip they are next store to the Wynn and across the street from TI (Treasure Island). Between the two properties are many dinning and shopping choices to choose from and browse.

The Palazzo and Venetian casinos are among my favorite places to gamble on the strip as they offer and wide variety of slot, VP, and table games. Their slot selection is a good mix of new and classic style machines. I always seem to be able to play here and consider it a good value for my dollar.

I rarely have problems with drink service here. Top shelf drinks are available and cocktail waitress ratio to patrons is good. Another plus is I find that their waitresses engaged and very friendly which is always a plus in my book.

Club Grazie is the name of the player’s card. Their comp program is competitive.

Tip: American Casino Guide – 2010 Edition, the annual guide to casinos across the United States, has many valuable coupons in the back of the book. One of the coupons is good for $25 in free slot play at either the Palazzo or Venetian for new club members. Even though I was already a Club Grazie member I inquired about the coupon and the hostess gave it to me AND my wife, that’s $50 just for the asking! Combined with the other coupons we used the cost of the guide was well worth the $13 we paid.

Tip: I am not a “High Roller” when it comes to gambling. But the Palazzo treated me like I was. It’s my understanding that if you cycle $50 through their machines you will start receiving 2-4 night complementary stays. I have received several, very tempting, postcards announcing this promotion since my trip.

In summary, our stay at the Palazzo was fantastic! We didn’t have a single complaint. Because of this we believe the Palazzo deserves 5 out of 5 Scotty Vegas Chips.