This trip brought me here for the celebration of my son's 21st birthday. I really wanted to do this for him and always told him I would take him here when he turned 21. It just seemed like the thing to do for this occasion and I was curious to see what he thought of Sin City.... See, he doesn't drink or gamble. There I was, shaking my finger at him, saying, "And you're going to drink and gamble!"
Once, when he turned 19 (the legal drinking age here), I stayed over at a friends for the night. I came home in the morning to find him cleaning a bunch of booze bottles up. Then I discovered he had a hickey on his neck! That was his first and only time of letting it loose like that (that I know about. lol). We went to a show at a casino here (Dog the Bounty Hunter) and he brought $40 to try gambling with (also when he was 19). He was playing Wheel of Fortune slots and he was UP but he didn't quit. Then he lost it all. Then he was soooooooo mad and said he would never go to a casino again! I, on the other hand, had won $100 and taken the winnings and walked away...
Well, there was talks of his friends meeting him there, but it didn't work out in the end. I just decided to take him to stuff he enjoys, like comedy shows...and he trusts me with all the dining choices I make on each trip. I'm a food nerd. :-)
My son's birthday was at the end of April but I got the best deal at the MGM Grand for May 1 - 5th. My son said he did not mind if we were not there exactly on his birth date. We just went to Hawaii in February so I didn't mind waiting til May either. We got the Grand Tower and I was happy with the $59 per night rate for our 4 night stay. I booked this waaaaay back in September. I phoned the MGM to confirm my $10 per night resort fee was grandfathered in, hoping it had not increased to $18 and they confirmed it was. The resort fee was also stated in my email confirmation and I'm glad I didn't have to argue it! We had about a 450 sq. ft. room with two queen beds as I requested. I booked our airfare with Airmiles. After insurance & taxes, it was $440 so it wasn't exactly free, but it was cheap(er)...and I like flying WestJet (no luggage charge)...and I like flying out of Vancouver more, as opposed to Bellingham or Seattle which we often do, due to cost and those dang Canadian taxes.
Pics from Expedia website (Our room looked exactly like this minus the treat on the bed...and the flowers!)
Back in planning stage, I asked my son if he wanted to see Criss Angel and he did. I knew he liked Mindfreak when it was on A&E. I booked front row centre and two tickets cost me just about $400! Then I decided to look at reviews (after!). Well, I was shocked! Every single site I visited basically said, "Don't waste your money!" One review I still remember is, "I wouldn't go if I got free tickets. It was the worst show I have ever seen in my life!". Normally I take all reviews with a grain of salt, however, this was almost every review on every site saying the same thing. I have never seen so many poor reviews!!!
I was beside myself. I had booked the tickets on a Saturday night and the box office wasn't open. Long story short, I was able to get the tickets refunded the next day minus the Ticketmaster fee I had paid for both tickets. I was relieved! I usually research before booking things, but I just assumed his show would be good! I booked Carrot Top front row centre instead and for just over $100...I told my son we could play Criss Angel by ear when we got there and see if we could get cheap tickets, but I was not going to pay full price to see him. By the time the trip came around, Criss wouldn't even get consideration because I booked shows for all our 4 nights in advance...
I also considered changing our flights to adding an extra day. I found out that Tom Colicchio was hosting an event for Uncork'd at Craftsteak on May 5th. It was $125pp. Top Chef is my fave t.v. show ever, and I would have loved to go to this more than anything! Adding a night was another $100 and changing the flights was $150. In the end, I was just mad I hadn't known this in the first place when I booked our flights! I didn't change it because I didn't really have the $500 to do it. I have never eaten at a Tom Colicchio restaurant yet either. I don't get excited over the menu and the prices seem too high for me to go when I'm not thrilled about the menu. It didn't make it on my goto list for Vegas either though I would have gladly paid the $250 for the Uncork'd event...so...a trip to 'wichcraft @ the MGM would be in store, instead. :-)
Sunday, May 1st:
We had an easy flight. Departed at 10:30am, arrived at just after 12:30pm. Sure was nice to have an easy flight for a change, normally they are a lot longer! We were checked in and in our room by 1:30pm! Nice, and unexpected...21st floor, non-smoking floor. Room faced Mandalay Bay and Excalibur. NYNY too, if you looked right...
I booked return shuttle through Belltrans for two for $23 on Expedia. I was still reluctant to use a cab after my last visit in 2000. We actually had a couple of ugly cab experiences that trip, but I'll only tell one. We stayed at Hard Rock that trip. We only had carry on so driver had to do nothing for our luggage - not even open the trunk. When we got to the airport our fare was $5. It was my turn to pay as she paid the first one. I had literally spent all my money and had $6 left on me. When I gave that to him, he yelled at my friend and I, saying, "WHAT? That's it for the tip? You're giving me a buck? GET OUT OF MY CAB NOW!!!!!!!!". I couldn't believe it! My friend put a big smile on her face, moved her face up to the front and said sweetly, "Have a nice day". I still remember this like it was yesterday. Vegas left me "once bitten, twice shy" where cabs were concerned...
I wanted to find an ABC store for wine, water, etc. but I didn't really get an opportunity to ask anyone so we just wandered out. Crossed over to Excalibur, then back. The first store we came to was called "Grand Canyon" I think...after all that walking, we were still at the MGM. :-) Anyway, the wine wasn't cheap and they didn't have water in the cases which we were looking for but we improvised. Bought enough to last a day or two. Son only had 3 hours sleep. I had more, but was feeling very tired today for some reason.
Dropped stuff off and went to the casino. Got our mlife cards and tried our luck. I did ok and didn't lose, was up double but my son ate my winnings away. He ran out of money twice. After he lost, he said he really did need a nap. I stayed in the casino and lost my winnings, then went up so we could get ready for dinner at StripSteak at Mandalay Bay. This was to be his 21st b-day celebration. He loves steakhouses. I was guessing we should walk to Excalibur and take the tram...which worked out perfectly!
Dinner was fabulous. Really, really enjoyed the steak! Had the Wagyu rib cap and it was seasoned perfectly and was melt in your mouth tender. Service was great. It was expensive and we had the $50 restaurant.com coupon. After all was said and done, my portion was $260. I rounded the tip up to 20%. We each had 2 drinks. . Here's some pictures.
Complimentary duck fat fries
Bacon wrapped lobster fritters with creme fraiche ($27) - yummy!
8 oz American Kobe rib cap ($67)
Truffled mac & cheese ($12)
Bacon creamed spinach ($10)
Opera cake ($12) I thought my son was going to lick the plate!
Complimentary chocolate corn they give you with the bill
From there we trammed back to Excalibur and walked down to Planet Hollywood for the Marc Savard show. We had to queue for an hour before the 10pm show. They have a cocktail waitress who patrols the line though. The theatre is small and our seats were fine for general admission. It was really funny and my son really enjoyed it which is what mattered. We walked back after with a snack stop at Earl of Sandwich. Then a stop at an ABC store to get reasonably priced wine. We are very used to these stores in Hawaii. My son said walking the strip was like Times Square in NYC.
Back to the MGM and finally up to the room. It was just after midnight. I was totally exhausted and dropped to the bed with a big thud in great relief!!!!!
Monday, May 2nd:
I awoke to the news about Bin Laden. Quite a week of history, this & the Royal wedding. Wrote a bit of this report up and got ready to make our way to Bouchon for lunch. I was quite pleased with my planning when I saw that the Venetian and Treasure Island were so close to each other. I had booked my son a spa massage today @ the O Spa at Treasure Island for 2 pm. I was pretty happy they were so close together. So, as we were happily strolling along, I realized I had left the groupon for the massage in the hotel room. When I booked, they were very clear that you needed to bring the groupon with you. So then I start to panic...then I think we'll just go to the spa first and see if they can print out my groupon. It was a little bit of a hike from MGM to TI. Nice and sunshiney though!
This place looks nice at night lit up - Veer Towers
Treasure Island is coming soon - right?
We finally made it!
The O Spa is on the third floor of TI. The front desk staff was helpful and tried to print out my groupon but for whatever reason, he couldn't get it to print. He said it was fine since he saw it, and just wrote down my groupon number again. The appointment wasn't til 2pm, so we said we'd be back and I can't tell you how relieved I was that I didn't have to make my way back to the MGM!
Now it was off to the Venetian. I am not doing too badly with figuring out how to walk to places with all the bridges and stuff. Not doing great, but we are managing...
Wow, it was big and confusing in there. We asked three different people how to get to Bouchon and all pointed us in different ways - it's in the Palazzo, it's on the 3rd floor, it's in the Canal shops. It was actually on the 11th floor, I think. I could tell my son was frustrated with me and he was not a happy camper at this point. He says vacationing with me is a constant power walk...and wouldn't you know it, Vegas is a perfect place for this. :-) We find a security guard who kindly walks us to the proper elevators and we finally find Bouchon. I honestly don't know if I could find it again!
We had great service and the meal was pleasant. I wished we could have had breakfast but it stops at 10:30. They serve express lunch after that. The wedge salad was my fave part of the meal. Such good vinaigrette and bacon and blue cheese! I had a French margarita, son had coffee & the cupcake for dessert. After 20% tip, bill was $70.
Wedge salad ($12.50)
Grilled cheese ($8.95) - we both had this
Frites were wonderful! ($2.50 with entree)
Red velvet cupcake ($4.95)
Next, a friend of mine had asked me to pick up a T-shirt for her daughter from David & Goliath store in the Canal shops. So, off we headed through the maze again. One store lady had a map and gave us good directions. We accomplished the task in little time and we were headed back to TI.
Dropped son off, paid the balance $33 gratuity & tax. He got a 50 minute Swedish massage for $59 with the groupon. Good deal, I was happy. Told him I'd come back at 3pm. I headed for the casino. On my first twenty, I won $120 so I wanted to stop...but I couldn't because I had nothing else to do, so I kept playing and only managed to lose another $20. Cocktail service was good and very frequent unlike the MGM where we haven't had service yet!
I went at 3pm to pick him up. The massage therapist came out and asked if I was Christine? Panic immediately starts. "Yes, is everything ok?". She says it is, but he was very tight & stiff and she had to give him a heavy duty massage. She told him to spend an hour and a half in the steam room and jacuzzi before he leaves. So, I compromise and ask her to have him leave at 4pm. So....back down I go...I lose another $60...at least I wasn't down...I can't complain.
Son is very happy when I see him and looks amazingly refreshed! Said it was a great experience. His first spa treatment. Tells me the therapist recommends he only drinks water for the next 7 hours so it's his way of telling me I'll be drinking by myself! :-) We walk back to the MGM.
I am exhausted, but there was only time for refreshing (glass of wine for me) before we had to head out for dinner. We had tickets for Carrot Top tonight at the Luxor. I had planned to eat at Hubert Keller's Burger Bar. But, I forgot it was at Mandalay Bay and thought it was at the Luxor. So we walked to Excalibur, trammed to MB, trammed back to Luxor, then realized it wasn't there. So I said we'd tram back to MB...but...it goes back to Excalibur then you have to get off and walk all the way around. Time was ticking and I was tired so we just went into NYNY and went to Nine Fine Irishmen.
Dinner was good. I didn't take any pictures because it was dark in there and I was mad at myself for screwing up again! We shared the seafood chowder. Son had chicken pot pie and I had shepherd's pie. Son of course had water, and I had a glass of wine. $75 with tip. I had a blister now on my 4th toe and this was wearing my tried and true walking runners! It's still painful as I sit here the next morning now typing this up.
So, back to the tram, back to MB, back to transfer tram to Luxor. And we arrive...again...
Luxor from the Tram
Show was hysterical. Well worth seeing! He summed up Vegas perfectly and tears were running down my face. He described our stay in Vegas so far to the T! Front row was a nice treat! We had a great time. We got a free dvd for booking online so picked that up after the show and then made our way back to NYNY. We quickly lost $120 and decided to retire for the night. Son stopped and got a Haagen Dazs shake at NYNY ($8!). We stopped and got a snack at Stage Deli in the MGM and then we went back to the room. I was down...heard son watching Scarface on t.v. as I drifted off to sleep....
Tuesday, May 3rd:
I awoke about 8am. Son said he wanted to sleep in today so I typed up the report and started getting ready about 10:30. I cancelled my reservation for dinner tonight at RM Seafood because I am determined to get to Burger Bar!
We were going to Hash House A-Go-Go, but I decided I'd rather to go to the Wicked Spoon buffet at Cosmo. Plus, I just didn't feel like walking to Imperial Palace. It seemed very hot today but looking at the weather channel, it said it was 88 degrees. Felt hotter to me. Inside the Cosmo is beautiful and it's a windy (wine-dee) walk to the buffet. I wore brand new Skechers sandals and they were quite comfortable. Didn't aggravate the blister and they looked nicer than my runners too. Plus I could show off my pedicure (that matched my manicure) if anyone looked at my feet. :-)
Seeing this, means you're on the right way to the buffet
Finally made it!
Lunch with me having unlimited house wine for an extra $10 cost $56. I tipped our server too. He was very good at refilling glasses, taking plates, etc. Food was impressive. Only thing I didn't like was the roast lamb, it was cold - so cold it was inedible and it was tough too. Everything else we sampled was good. I loved the pot roast! I didn't take any pics of the desserts but there are tons on the internet. Go to Yelp and you'll see dozens...
My appy plate. Great tomato soup, BLT salad, shrimp cocktail
Pot roast and cold lamb. Mashed taters were very good!
I said to my son that I hoped he was lucky today! He has had no luck at all on the machines. I felt sorry for him. An old timer from Utah was sitting beside us. He chimed in telling us about his winnings, reel slots and the Wynn hotel where he was staying. Had a nice chat before we headed out...stopping for a pic of the Chandelier bar...the pic below doesn't do it justice...beautiful...
A friend at work made me promise her that we would go see "Big Elvis" at Bill's saloon. We wandered over there and it was about 2:15. His show is at 3pm. We got a table at the wall in the very front and it was the last one left. Two drinks only cost $5. Then we waited.. At 3pm, a guy named "Bill" said Big Elvis would not be on. They hadn't heard from him and assumed he was under the weather. I was a little ticked off that they didn't announce this before but what can you do? Then Bill started singing - karaoke really. Launched into "Little Sister". By the second song of Neil Diamond, I told my son to stand up and exit - there was standing room only all the way around and the crowd was definitely old timer. :-) We escaped!!! So....no Big Elvis for us. Hope he's ok and well...
So, I told my son it was time to play some slots and see if he was lucky. We found a pair of WOZ machines side by side so sat down. Well, putting in $20 each, I soon got the bonus and was up over $100. My son was basically finished so just watched me play the bonus round. I felt soooo bad for him. I cashed out at $80. I gave him another $20. He wanted to play WOF now so we sat down there. I lost my twenty but he cashed out at $30 and called that his first win!
Stopped at the Sugar Factory at front of Paris hotel for a Happy Hour drink (2 for 1). Son had a "rootbeer float". I had a Napa merlot. Was only $14 but I tipped her $6 because my son said the bartender was "hot". ;-) She chatted him up when she asked him for ID and he was quite happy...lol. She was really happy her with her tip too, she even came back and said she was sorry she was so busy and wished she could have talked with us more...
Walked back to MGM to freshen up before dinner. My feet were sore! New blisters on my baby toes from the straps. I left these on the whole night though as EVERY shoe was uncomfortable now! After a short rest (glass of wine for me), we started walking to the tram at Excalibur. The stairwell was blocked off with a crew working on it but no signs or anything. I decided to just a grab a cab to Manadalay Bay from Tropicana. The first cab experience. He was a grumpy fellow and deaf too it seemed. Asked me 3 times where we going. I finally yelled, "MANADALAY BAY". Fare was $6 and I gave him $10. He didn't say thank you, didn't say anything.
Found our way to Burger Bar after another hike. My poor feetsies.... Dinner was good. We both had Kobe burgers, I had cheddar and bacon with mine (About $22 each after added toppings). I also had zucchini fries. Service was good. Enjoyed our meal. Dinner was $72 after tip.
After that, I told him it was time to put his $30 back in the machines. We sat down at a couple of machines called Dragon something. Soon after, I hit a bonus and doubled my money. His face was sooo dejected. His money was soon gone. We tried a couple of other machines, got a drink and I handed twenty after twenty....nothing....we cabbed back to MGM. This cab driver was nice, same fare and he thanked me.
Back at MGM we actually got served a drink with a cocktail waitress that was pretty snotty and had trouble finding his birthday on his ID. She finally did and said, "1990 eh? You look MUCH younger than that"...implying that it was fake? I said to her, "I'm his mom and he's 21, it was just his birthday" with a smile. She said back with no smile, "Yeah, well, I'm serving him so I have to make sure". She got only $1 for her tip! Every other cocktail waitress was so nice to him after they saw his ID, all wishing him a happy birthday.
I will say that the MGM is also the smokiest casino too. I don't think their ventilation works as well as some of the other casinos. You can even see a smoke haze at times. Well, another $100 later we packed it in. Son said he felt so guilty, like he was reaching into my wallet throwing $20's away. I agreed. We laughed. We went to the food court for a snack and went up. It was about 1am and I couldn't wait to get those damn shoes off my feet. I fell to the comfy bed and was out cold...again!
Wednesday, May 4th aka Last Day:
I awoke early, feet still sore and decided it would be back to my runners today. Typed report up and told son we would have to leave early because he wanted to shop. We were a bit late and ended up just going to Ross and ABC for T-shirts and stuff. Found some good deals/stuff at Ross though! We had to be back by 12pm as were doing the Scoot City tour today. Had a groupon for 50% off so was $125 for two. Great deal! Shopping took us til about 11:15.
Walking back we saw a street performer (man) dressed in a sparkly bra and underwear. As I was walking by, he yelled out at me to keep smiling and to quit walking so fast. Told me to slow down and enjoy life. My son burst out laughing and said, "See, I told you so"...he said when I walk, I seem to slither into gaps (I'm impatient and I'm used to it, is why). Then he said, the gap would close and he would have to run beside people to try and catch up with me... :-)
I suggested using our 2 for 1 buffet deal at MGM. Ugh, wish I wouldn't have! Came to $44 after tax. They said they will credit me on check out. I declined to take pictures because it was just gross. All the food was luke warm and really lousy tasting. The spicy crab sushi was ok and the pork ribs were well seasoned but not hot. It was just filler anyway because the tour was a few hours long and we just had to get some food down. I do not recommend it at all and it was no where near as good as the Wicked Spoon, not even in the same league actually.
At 12:30 we went to the shuttle area to wait for Scoot City. Our guide Curtis arrived. Was very nice and we were off! They drive to the scooters and give you the lesson. I was a little nervous so he gave me a practice run. All good, though I was nervous about driving with cars in these little things. Our other guide Nick was good though and I followed him. I was comfortable being 2nd behind him. We stayed in the same formation the entire trip. Nick in the front, Curtis in the back. We had three scooters inbetween them this go round. It is so worth getting off the Strip for this trip. Red Rock Canyon is beautiful! Really, really enjoyed this trip and the guides are great too.
Our guide Nick.
At 6pm we walked back down the strip and headed to the Cosmo to have dinner at Jaleo. This would end up being my fave meal of the trip!
Last look at the Strip in daylight.
The signature Gin & Tonic ($17). It was fantastic and very pretty to look at. I liked the spherical ice ball.
Special lobster paella ($28). I could have eaten 2 or 3 plates!
Shrimp sauteed with garlic ($9).
Boneless chicken wings. ($12).
Serrano ham fritters ($9) We ordered two of these - they were just that good! Try them!
Chorizo wrapped in crispy potato ($8).
Apple & fennel salad with Manchego cheese, walnuts & sherry dressing ($9).
Cafe con leche ($6).
Hazelnut something or other with salted caramel ($9).
After tip the bill was $200 which I found reasonable. We were not stuffed by any means but we were full and it was the right amount to eat. This ran us up to 8:15 and we had to get to the Rio to see Penn & Teller whose show started at 9pm. I flagged a cab on Las Vegas Blvd and the cab driver was really paranoid because he said he's not allowed to pick up on the strip and he could be fined. I just didn't know where to get a cab from the Cosmo. We arrived in time. Fare was $12 with tip.
Penn and Teller were my fave of all the shows we saw. The theatre seats were comfy. They interacted with the audience and I really enjoyed their performance. My son says Carrot Top was his fave show of the trip though he liked P & T too.
Queued for taxi at the Rio and went to Bellagio. Got there just in time for fountain show.
From there we carried on to go see Caesar's Palace. Paris looked nice at night too.
We strolled around Caesar's until we were tired of touring. On the way out, we were watching these group machines of Wheel of Fortune and it was really loud with a huge screen up top and interesting. I said to my son that there were seats on the other side so I said, "Let's put in twenty each" and we sat down. He didn't look like he wanted to play. The flip side turned out to be American Idol. It was quite fun and the chairs were part of the experience too, i.e. music & vibrating built in the chairs. Well, we ended up sitting there for a couple of hours. Son walked out $130 ahead but was up over $200 at one point. I got to $150 at my highest. I ended up losing my $20 in the end, but I played on that same twenty for the whole time. We had the whole team playing and we all had a lot of fun. Best gambling fun we had! I will always remember how much fun we had this night...
Cabbed back to MGM. Son went to Lord of the Rings as he had a MGM $25 ticket still. I went to WOZ. He lost and said he was going to bed. I said I'd stay for a bit. Well, I quickly lost $60. Decided I should get some sleep too because I was in party mode now and was chatting away with my neighbours and I knew it was not a good idea to be up since we had to leave in the morning. It was already after 2:30am.
I went back to the room and my son wasn't there! I was immediately worried and had to keep telling myself that he's an adult and he's fine. But, it just wasn't like him not to be there. He had told me in the cab that he was dead tired and only wanted to play until his voucher was used up. I wondered if he saw an American Idol machine somewhere and stopped to play. He had quit drinking a few hours earlier so I knew he wasn't drunk or anything. I was trying to figure out how I could text him from my laptop. Then he came in....
He had got lost! He said he didn't know the elevators all went to different places and he kept trying them and he'd go to our room and the key wouldn't work, over and over. Then he finally came back down and looked at the elevators and realized what he had done. He said the floors all looked the same, exactly like ours and he got confused. He said he doesn't know many room 409's he tried! I was glad he was back and he immediately went to sleep. I finished my wine and went down and out about 3:30...
Thursday, May 5th:
Arghhhhh. That wake up call came early at 8am. I re-did it for 8:30 and then got up because we needed to pack and had bought a bunch of stuff and it was all still in bags all over the room. I decided to let my son sleep and I went and slowly started moving stuff. Ah, what the hell, then I sat down and had a glass of wine. That helped my hurting head actually. I wanted to get to 'wichcraft for sandwiches to take but that wasn't going to happen today. We were in the room right til our checkout of 10:30. Shuttle was to be there at 10:50am. Went down, checked out and made it to the shuttle right on time.
Had a great, great time! Too fast, too much, too hurried though. I'd like a more relaxing pace next time. We never even got to see the pool. If I knew, I would have made it a week rather than 4 days so we could have let up some! I see more trips for me in the future. My son said he's unlucky and doesn't think gambling is his forte. :-) Said he'll stick to trying new places to visit though he enjoyed Vegas. I let him keep his winnings so he can take it to L.A. when he goes soon.
So, alas, what happened in Vegas, didn't stay in Vegas! ;-)