13 November 2012

In spite of a few hiccups—like the less than ideal hotel and the ethereal client—we had a great time in Vegas. We did a lot of walking—just a tad under 40 miles—and a little gambling (slots still hate me), and we saw almost everything we wanted to see. There are some things on the north end of the Strip we didn’t get to, but I doubt those things will vanish anytime soon and we can see them another time.

The not so good: the writer I was supposed to meet never showed. Never contacted me. Never answered messages. Now, this would almost be forgivable if it wasn’t the first time…but it’s the second time and in this game there’s no third strike. My rules; you’re out at the second strike. If we hadn’t turned this into a family vacation, I’d probably be going after her to recover expenses (and then wishing we’d stayed in a much nicer hotel…)

Never again...
The hotel sucked, too. We weren’t looking for anything 5-star and expensive, just something centrally located, comfortable, and fun. Harrah’s in Las Vegas is centrally located on the Strip, but that’s about it. Our irritations began from the time we tried to check in until the night before we left.

On check-in…look, they know people are traveling to get there, and sometimes the travel arrangements have them arriving before the 4 pm check-in time. But instead of being accommodating to people who spent a not-so-tiny sum of money to stay there, they give you three choices: pay $28 for each room to get early check-in, get a Player’s Card (which thereby gives them a lot of your personal info, like an email address to spam the ever-loving frakk out of), or stand there in the lobby and wait until 4 o’clock.

The rooms were ready. They were obviously ready. But let us in? Not without cash or info. We opted for the Player’s Cards, because those at least had the small benefit of minute discounts on food and drinks in the casino. But we were not happy, not in the least. Harrah’s in Reno? They let us check in early, no questions asked, no extra cash required.

I don’t get the logic behind that. Hell, people are there early and the rooms are ready? Let them in, then entice them to the casino where they’ll blow far more than that $28. Don’t tick off the customers from them moment they arrive.

The rooms were all right. Older, but not in a bad way. They were clean, and the beds were reasonably comfortable…right up to the point where we realized that the bar wedged between Harrah’s and next-door Imperial Palace has a live band every night. And that live band plays loudly until well after 2 a.m. which made sleeping a damn near impossibility.

I don’t even hold that against the hotel. It is what it is, and unless they remodel with some better sound proofing, it’ll be an ongoing problem.

What I do hold against them, in addition to the check-in extortion… Thursday night we got back to the hotel late and decided to eat in The Café, a restaurant in the casino that doesn’t even open until 11 pm. It was 11:15 when we got there and there were already a few other people there eating, and we were shown a table right off the bat.

This was a fun place...that's a 64 oz drink
But then? We sat there until 11:40, having never even seen a server. Not even so much as one going by to say she would be right with us. We gave up, and on the way out let the manager (I’m guessing…he was wearing a suit) that we’d never seen “Marjorie,” our supposed server, and we were leaving. An apology? Phhfft. Kind of a halfhearted “sorry” but barely even that.

The next night we decided to give KGB Burgers in the hotel a try…but we stood there at the entrance next to the Please Wait To Be Seated sign, and never saw a hostess. We didn’t wait as long this time…we bailed and went elsewhere.

To top it all off, the dealers on the floor were rude; the Boy decided to give a new game a try and mentioned to the dealer he was unfamiliar with it. Instead of getting even a cursory explanation of the rules—something he’s gotten every other place he’s played—he pretty much just got “Tough.” He took his money to the Bellagio instead, where they were more than happy to be nice.

All in all, we felt like we were intruders there and not guests…we won’t be going back. There are a dozen other options in Vegas on the Strip, and I think next time we’ll avail ourselves of something a little better, even if it costs a bit more.

White tiger at the Mirage
Still, we had a good time. Out of the hotel, it was awesome. We walked up and down the Strip, spent a little too much in the M&M Store, saw a Monet exhibit in the Bellagio’s Fine Art Gallery, saw tigers and lions and dolphins at the Mirage’s Secret Garden, and wandered through 3 malls. Having a river with gondolas on it in a mall, pretty cool, even if the stores are so high-end you don’t really want to set foot in them.

Highlights had to be going to see Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles tribute LOVE—that show was jaw-dropping amazing—and Lewis Black. Black was funny as hell, but LOVE was one of those extravaganzas that you pretty much have to see more than once to take it all in. And it’s a show that makes you want to see all the other Cirque du Soleil shows…all nine of them.

In front of the Bellagio Fountains...yep, with my back toward them

I did have some issues with fatigue—Thursday afternoon was spent sleeping instead of wandering around—and once home it’s taken me until today to feel even halfway human. But the fatigue didn’t take away from the fun, and my feet and back held up for all the walking. (Oddly enough, 40 miles over 4 days, when you’re doing a lot of meandering and not just walking, is about as tough as 60 over 3 days.)

Now, I was not drinking on this trip and the Boy said he would drink my share, but I don’t think that happened. None of us drank our way across Vegas, and we didn’t even eat our way across it…which means we have to go back, because there’s booze still to be consumed, and I’m pretty sure there’s a few desserts I missed.


Victoria Henderson said...

I've never heard of such behavior from any Harrahs, Reno & Tahoe have bent over backward for me before, often, and Vegas was at least decent. Ah, well, live and learn from friend's reviews!
Desserts AND drinks left? No worries, when I can travel again and pass through Vegas, I'll pick up any slack you may have left.
I'm selfless that way.

Anonymous said...

The client that never showed-you were nice to give her a second chance, most people would not. Glad you had some fun anyway. The shows sound awesome.

caircair said...

It's not in the middle of the Strip, but I can highly recommend the Stratosphere. It's smack dab between the Strip and the Downtown area, and I've found the local transit - bus, trolley and monorail - are great! Inexpensive (compared to cabs), and they'll get you where you want to go.

Angel and Kirby said...

Sounds like a fun trip for the most part.