Sunday, August 1, 2010

Excalibur and Luxor Hotels

I include this in one post because these aren’t the same property but they are connected by a moving walkway.

The Excalibur is an older property; the ceiling in the casino isn’t as low as at Harrah’s but the air cleaning system isn’t working too well. It smells of stale cigarettes and desperation. I walked through the lobby late around midnight if not later and watched a woman pushing a stroller w/her baby asleep w/the bottle hanging out of her mouth. Her mother was visibly upset but wandering around a casino. Go figure.

There is a fairy tale theme to Excalibur, obviously. Princesses and knights in shining armor abound. But it is another large property just crawling with people.

But I checked out the Luxor and took a moving walkway that was an overpass bridge between the two hotels.

The Luxor was much better, the ceilings higher, the air better and more maintained.  They also had a really good breakfast buffet there.

City Center Las Vegas

Coffee Bar

The cabbies told me that the City Center just opened about a month before I got there, so sometime in June. Not everything is done, but the Aria Resort and Casino and the mall were open.

We came in through an overpass walk way. The mall inside was like every other high end mall. Their motto was, win it at the casinos, then come there to spend it. The only thing that really catches the eye is Mastro’s Ocean Club, a restaurant that has two seating areas, one gives the illusion that it is dangling in the middle of the mall.

The Aria casino was all dark wood that gave me the illusion that we were walking in the woods, I joke about calling it Hobbit town. It had plenty of slots, high ceilings so breathing was easy. 

I won money at the ‘Amazing Race’ slots, don’t laugh, it’s an interactive slot machine that lets you paw and pound on the touch screen so you can ‘run’ around the world and accumulate money. I won $145, so I’d play the game again. The trick to playing any of the slots is to ignore the dollar amount, but make sure you look at the points instead.

But what I noticed more than anything was the retail stores and restaurants that ringed the main floor. There were so much more temptations in this casino than just the gambling tables and slots.
Jean Philippe Patisserie

Caesars Palace Las Vegas Casino and Resort

If you are walking down the strip, on the west side, make sure you don’t follow the cars as they drive into the circular drive way. It’s like playing Frogger with your life. Instead make sure you stop at the replica of the David statue, behind him is an innocuous brass door that is the actual pedestrian entrance to Caesars. 

View from the moving walkway.
Follow along, just getting out of direct sunlight and into the darkness and step unto the moving walkway to the casino.

The casino has tall ceilings and the slots are placed far enough from each other that you don’t feel like you’re sitting on top of each other. If there is a show, I would suggest you hang out at the slots by the auditorium entrance. Then before the show starts, the headliner will pass by to get in. That’s how I got the chance to watch Jerry Seinfeld strolling by as he walked in for his stand up show.

Caesars is the home of the Pussycat Dolls. I can’t see how focused a gambler could be with one of those girls shimmying in front of them. But then again, isn’t that the purpose?

At night they have Caesar & Cleopatra walking by and it’s my new favorite casino simply because the margaritas are really good. If you are pacing yourself, you can get 3 free drinks within a span of 30mins, now if you lose $60 on slots, that’s pretty bad. Your drinks just cost you $20 a pop.

The Cher store, where all things Cher can be bought.

Sunset: Take the bridge to cross to Caesars. 

Bellagio Las Vegas

I did a little walking around the strip before I crossed the street and wandered around the Bellagio. It is a very pretty property. As magnificent as the inside was, the outside was an even prettier sight.

The Bellagio is a sprawling property that commands attention on the strip. Not just because it is a huge building, but it has the famous Fountains of Bellagio. In the afternoon the fountains start dancing with some great music synchronized to the water. The best show I personally saw was the fountains dancing to a medley of Frank Sinatra singing standards. At night there are beautiful colored lights that join the water to create ‘ohs and ahs’. 

This morning, the fountain was silent but the fantasy of standing in the Mediterranean remained intact. It was a beautiful, blue sky day and the only thing missing were some chairs on the promenade so I can sit under the shade and enjoy the world walking by.

Planet Hollywood Casino & Resort

I went over to greet another member of our group who was staying at the Planet Hollywood Casino & Resort. Now that was a nice room.

His room was a shrine to the movie “Sleepless in Seattle”. It included the teddy bear the little boy was carrying in the movie!

He had a view of the southern part of the strip and this beautiful view of the Bellagio.

We had snacks at the Diamond Players Club where I was first introduced to a Tokyo Tea. A potent little drink, it’s a Long Island Tea, but substitute Coke with Midori. I walked around with the thing in my hand because I knew it would have been lethal to drink the whole drink. I think it was just amazing that you can walk away from your table with a drink in your hand and wander around.

The casino floor is spacious with high ceilings so I really didn’t feel the smoky air. There was an area called the Pleasure Pit, it is a circle of tables surrounding a table with a two dancing poles and since it was a Wednesday night, there was only one girl. As the time I wasn’t too sure I was allowed to take pictures, otherwise I would have been an absolute dingbat. As it is, I’ll have to leave it to the imagination.

The Venetian Casino & Resort

The Venetian is large and full of ambition, a canal in the middle of Las Vegas? You can ride a gondola on the outside and in the inside. Walking inside, you have to look up at the ceilings. Take the moving sideway that takes you up past Madame Tussaud’s museum. The walkway moves you past the bridge, grab the railing the tilts (both up and down) will startle you if you aren’t paying attention, which I wasn’t, so I almost fell over.
Follow the crowd and you’ll walk into the main entrance, stop and look up; there is a ceiling fresco the tries to challenge Michaelangelo, but fails. Stay on this floor; follow the signs for the retail stores and the “Grand Canal”. As you walk through you’ll notice how pricey the stores are, then when you walk out to the courtyard, look up at the bright blue ‘sky’ and the seemingly moving clouds. The ceiling is sloped to make the effect.

The gondoliers do sing, but in the mad crush of the crowd, you have to find a nice spot to hear them. And although they look very expert with the tiller, it’s a motorized gondola, they work it with their feet.

The resort is just crowded with people, but the suites are opulent. The suite my friend stayed in was 1,500 square feet. It was bigger than some apartments in Chicago! The photos are a bit dark because we couldn’t figure out how to work some of the lights. It was like that.

As if it weren't enough, there's a flat screen TV in the sitting area, in the bedroom, but do you really need on in the bathroom as well? Just in case you do, they put one in there.

The Venetian is the hotel Michael Jackson made famous because he liked shopping at the Regis Galerie. They have a flat screen TV on the front window, showing the famous interview when MJ walked the interviewer around the store.

July 22, 2010

Harrah’s Las Vegas

I arrived 2 hours later than I hoped for, but luck turned when after standing for close to 20mins in the registration line, I at least had my room available. So I ran upstairs to check out the room. I’ve never really been a fan of Harrah’s. But you can’t pass up free accommodations.

The casino has a lower ceiling, which doesn’t help with the air quality. It feels like everything is crammed in. But the one thing Harrah’s has going for it is Flavor’s their enormous buffet. You have to eat at least one buffet while in Vegas.

 The rooms are old, but spacious, nothing to be inspired by, but if the whole idea of being in Vegas is to get you gambling, being in an unattractive room is tantamount to being forced out to the casino. I sure didn’t spend a lot of time in the room.

I was in the Carnaval Tower but when you walk out to the elevators, you can see a bit of the pool area and a separate sunbathing area. There weren't a lot of people sunbathing on a 107ºF/41ºC.

The hallway had these giant mirrors. To have an infinity mirror when people who could be inebriated stumble upon it just seemed cruel and unusual.

July 22, 2010