Back from Vegas

Irene and I arrived home last night after our Las Vegas vacation. I have spent most of today perched here on a chair going through our photos and posting them to the gallery. Here is one of my favorite photos:


I took this picture Saturday evening: that is the Paris Hotel and Casino, with its half-scale version of the Eiffel tower.

During our three full days in Vegas, we did the following:

  • Day 1:
    • to the strip during daylight hours, rode the monorail, saw the Eiffel tower and went to the top, visited the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton, watched part of the Bellagio fountain exhibit
    • returned at night, saw the Eiffel tower again, watched the Bellagio fountain show

  • Day 2:
    • drove to Hoover Dam, took full tour
    • continued drive around Lake Mead to Valley of Fire

  • Day 3:
    • back to the strip again, went to Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden at the Mirage
    • shopped at Caesar’s Palace mall
    • explored MGM Grande and Excalibur on our way to the Las Vegas Luxor, where we saw the Tutankhamun exhibit

By the end of Day 3, my feet were killing me- every hotel in Vegas is at least a mile long, or so it seems, and to get from one monorail entrance to a particular hotel/casino usually involves walking through two or three of these massive structures. The monorail was great, by the way: $9 a person for a 24 hour ticket- ride as much as you want. My favorite parts of the trip were the times when we were able to get away from the casinos themselves. Which leads to my opinions about Las Vegas.

What did I think about Vegas? Well, it is definitely worth seeing- Irene and I had a great time, getting a real mental break from the normal day to day. There is a tremendous amount of entertainment compressed in a small area, and there is always something going on. Would I go again? Probably, but I don’t think I’d make Vegas itself my primary “hub” for touring. It is too loud, too bright, and too tiring. I don’t drink or gamble to excess, so a big chunk of the appeal of Vegas is lost on me.

It is probably worth noting that the drinks may still be cheap in Vegas, but everything else is pretty expensive these days. Expect buffet prices to start at $15 per person for breakfast, and about $20 a person for supper. Don’t get me wrong, that isn’t a bad price at all: but if you expect to eat for $10 a day in Vegas in the 21st century, you are out of touch. If you want to attend a show, the prices start at about $45 per person and climb based on the fame of the show’s star and the seating location. Bette Midler or Cher command $150+ a person, with really good seats going for $900 a person: note that most of the tickets for the “name star” shows are sold out months in advance. Cirque de Soleil shows (of which there are several: Zumanity, Ka, O… ) are $75-$125 per seat. Some magician I’ve never heard of before costs about $45 a seat. Budget accordingly.

The casinos in Vegas are still all “smoking permitted”, and I found that to be a lot tougher for me to deal with than I expected. All of the public spaces *other than* casinos are non-smoking. However, all the buildings are structured to herd you right through the gaming floor, often several times as you make your way from one attraction to the next. I noticed that I was rushing, almost running through the casino floors in order to get to clear air again. And invariably some guy wearing far too much gold for someone with so much grey hair and belly flab would come around the corner with a $50 cigar blowing smoke in my face just when I thought the air was breathable again. It was worse for Irene, but she put up with it far more stoically than I expected.

When we go back to Vegas, and I’m sure we will one day, I think we’ll focus more on going to a few shows or exhibits over several days instead of trying to see several per day. Without long rests sitting in front of a slot machine or gaming table, the walking is just too much- like I said, my feet were literally killing me. I also think we’ll probably pick a more centrally located hotel like Caesar’s Palace or Bellagio.

Did we gamble at all while in Vegas? I put $1 into a slot machine at Ballys and came away with $2: I briefly had $5. We also plugged a twenty into one of our favorite machines (Hexbreaker), and came away with $35. That was pretty much it for our gambling. And despite the miles and miles of walking, and the fact that I missed quite a few meals, I actually somehow gained weight while on vacation.

Apropos of nothing, here is a video I shot of the dolphins while we were at Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden…

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6 thoughts on “Back from Vegas”

  1. Dude! What are you doing posting this? Donchya know that “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas”?

    *re-reads post*

    Oh, wait never mind… nothing happened in Vegas 😉 😀

  2. If you only count getting drunk, ending up in bed with someone you don’t know, getting married to someone you don’t know, or losing all your money as “something”, then yes, nothing happened 🙂

  3. I want to see Zoomanity and that is a good price for tickets. Hmmm something to consider after I hit New York next month.

  4. Zumanity is at the New York New York Casino/hotel/resort in Vegas, and you can book tickets through their official site here=> I was amazed to see that my recollection of the price range of their tickets wasn’t too far off the mark 🙂

    If you are only in Vegas for a day or two, I’d suggest pre-booking tickets well in advance. If you go through a ticket provider the day you arrive, you’ll likely pay a significant premium: double or triple the normal price. On the other hand, if you aren’t as worried about when you go and have several days, there are some “day of event” ticket sellers that sell tickets at discounted prices for shows that aren’t sold out… assuming Zumanity isn’t always sold out.

    One other thing I should mention. If you gamble a lot, you can often get “comp’d” shows, dinners, even rooms. If you sign up the various resorts “frequent gambler” programs, you can get other benefits like special entrances to the shows so you can skip the lines and such. What defines “a lot” in terms of gambling? I’m not sure, but I’d speculate based on other people I’ve talked to that it is on the order of a thousand a day or thereabouts. Plus of course there are lots of vacation and gambling “packages” you can get, if you check with a travel agent or do your own research, that can significantly reduce your costs. These packages might have requirements like “gamble $1,000 while on the premises” or something, and in return you’ll get reduced room rates or discounted food.

    Irene and I put less than $40 into machines the entire time we were in Vegas, partly because we aren’t big gamblers and partly because the gaming floors are so smoky, so I didn’t see any of the “frequent gambler” benefits. One other thing to note is that Vegas is a town that seems to live on tips. No one pressures you for a tip, but everywhere I looked I saw service people getting a few bucks from travelers. The folks driving the shuttles, the dealers on the tables, the servers at the buffets, the cleaning staff in the hotel room- everyone gets a tip. Some restaurants will add an automatic 15 or 18% gratuity if serving a large table (E.G. > 6 people). It isn’t a problem, but it pays to be aware.

  5. Enjoyed the report. Las Vegas is very much aimed at people to want to take things to excess 18 hours a day but glad to hear you had a good time.

    The players cards you sign up for may net the average visitor a couple of free buffets during their stay, but that is about it. You are right… it takes thousands and thousands of dollars in “coin through” to get nice meals, shows, and rooms. (Coin through means how much you played, not how much you won or lost. If you are playing $2 per pull on a slot machine and you do 200 plays, that is $400 coin through).

    It also depends on where you are staying or playing. Some of the mid-level casinos with mid-level shows and dining will usually garner quicker/easier comps.

    Many people forget trying to get comps the old fashioned way (if playing a table game). If you’ve been playing for 2-3 hours and giving them some decent play (above the lowest table limit in the building), signal for the attention of the “pit boss” and tell him:

    Hey, I’ve been playing $X amount a hand (or per roll of the dice) for the past three hours. Any chance you could take care of me for a bite at the buffet or coffee shop?

    Worst they can say is no, but they want to keep you in the building. If they say no, cash out and take your action elsewhere. If they say yes, cash out but note you’ll be back after you eat.

    Thanks again for sharing the report!

    Ted Newkirk
    Managing Editor

  6. Thanks for your comment, Ted!

    If I’m ever playing the tables extensively (not likely 🙂 ), I’ll keep your advice re: asking for compensation in mind. One thing that I found a little irritating: as soon as my wife joined me (and we were walking as a couple) there were all of these people jumping up in the casinos and saying “Hey, want a free meal?” They were trying to get us to attend one of those hard sell sales sessions for resort time shares, or at least that was what I gathered from their sales patter. I hate those things… and these sales people seemed to be in every casino. To my thinking, this kind of hard sell/misdirection selling is bad for Vegas, but I’m sure the casino owners know what they are doing.

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