I had a nice two-night trip with the parents recently. Rather than give a full play-by-play as I usually do, I just thought I�d throw out some thoughts, highlights, and even some not-so-pleasant times.
I was over at Bellagio this trip. After eight stays at Wynn and having not stayed at Bellagio in six years, I was definitely due to give Wynn�s closest competitor another shot. Sorry to beat a dead horse, but I�ll be making natural comparisons to Wynn LV here and there. In short, Bellagio impressed me in ways I had forgotten, but Wynn will remain my home.
(more after the jump)
Bellagio�s detailing is exquisite and walking the public areas several times a day made me appreciate it even more. Forget the flowers in the conservatory�the highlight for me is the completely mosaic-tiled floor carving your path through the display. Wynn LV had to use glass mosaics to achieve its vivid colors, but Bellagio�s subtle shades allowed for a higher quality marble. Another great example of stunning detail is the guest elevators. No other hotel in Vegas can match the main towers elevators or elevator foyer; one look and it�s obvious no expense was spared. The spa tower, while it tries hard to match the original Wynn product in these details, simply falls short.
Service at Bellagio was good�or at least the megaresort definition of �good service� it seems�efficient but completely impersonal. Everything was done quickly and with a half-smile. Only once was I asked how my day was going and never did a random employee greet me after making eye contact. While it�s probably only a subtle change in employee training, it makes a huge difference in how welcome you feel. The best boutique hotels do it, Wynn LV makes an effort to do it. No matter how big a resort, it should be standard practice.
While standing at the entrance of Jasmine, Bellagio�s high-end Chinese restaurant, you have a completely unobstructed view down a long path to the Baccarat Bar and baccarat high-limit room. Knowing that baccarat is predominantly favored by Asians, that spacial relationship between the restaurant and gaming is no coincidence. Genius casino design.
Lounges: Bellagio�s got �em covered in spades. Encore, Palazzo: take notes.
I took my parents to Fontana for drinks on the patio. We all loved it. I have always been curious about the stairway that leads down to the patio literally on the water. I�ve never seen anyone on there, but it�s obviously more than just aesthetic. I asked the waitress if I could go down and she said the only person who was allowed down there was Celine Dion for a private dinner. Somehow I feel that that�s a generic answer they give to anyone who asks. Anyone know what the real story is on that patio?
I rave about Wynn LV�s convenient, guest-oriented design again and again. Staying at Bellagio confirmed my ravings even more. At Wynn, I�ve forgotten the sunscreen while at the pool or my camera while in the lobby. It�s usually a quick trip back up whether you�re staying on Resort or Tower side. While I was waiting at Bellagio�s valet to leave town, I realized that I either left my Mont Blanc pen on the desk in the room or in one of my pants� pockets stuffed in my luggage. To put it bluntly, I was so sick of all the walking (and in all fairness, our room was nearly at the end of the hallway), I just said I�d take my chances and hope my pen will be in my luggage when I get home. Fortunately, I found it unpacking. The spa tower is only slightly better with this distance issue, but then you�d be closer to a casino in Reno than Bellagio�s own.
I finally visited Red Rock Station. Stunning, beautiful, classy�the adjectives can go on and on. Bar none the best vibe a local joint can have, which unfortunately, still falls short of a good strip casino vibe. It�s not an �I�m in Vegas, baby!� kind of feeling; it leans more to the air of �My nine to five shift is done so let�s go blow off some steam at the local joint.� I had heard mixed reviews on the buffet, but I tried it anyway. Don�t mean to keep spurting out the superlatives, but this was the best buffet I�ve had and I�ve tried all but the Sterling Brunch. I liked that it wasn�t row after row presenting 800 different ways to cook a salmon as most other high-end buffets tend to be. Some really creative dishes, phenomenal dessert selection, and only $17 for dinner with a Station card. Minimums were surprisingly low as well. Maybe the floor doesn�t see tips too often because I bought in at a $10 pai gow table, immediately tipped a buck, and placed another buck for the dealer which won. He was surprised and told me that he doesn�t see that often around here. I was really glad to see it made someone�s day.
Did a quick visit to Wynn. The Caf� and Drugstore are now separated by a mosaic wall that looks great. It�s nice to see that some of the best dealers I�ve had have been promoted to floor�guess not everyone�s complaining about the new tipping policy.
I always thought coupon runs were kind of stupid, but I did a mini-one at Barbary Coast. Drank plenty, got my souvenirs, and hit all my matchplays. Low-limits, high fun. I joked with my parents that the Coast will go bankrupt with all the free crap they were giving me.
Lake Las Vegas: I didn�t think it was worth the trip. Am I missing something? I thought that maybe if I were 30 years older I�d appreciate it, but my parents didn�t like it either. Those press photos do the place way too much justice.
Hunter, David F., and Tim and Michele Dressen of Five Hundy by Midnight hung out for a bit at Flamingo and then later at Bellagio. Good times. I later ran into my friends Matt and Jeff at Bellagio and we headed towards Caramel. I remember the good old days when you could get a seat here on a packed Saturday night. Now even on a dead Sunday night, you either pay for a bottle or don�t sit down at all. Some of us split while Hunter, David, and I enjoyed cocktails at Petrossian until 3am�besides gambling, this is really what Vegas is all about to me. Too bad my next night wasn�t nearly as fun�
Gambling was awful this trip. My ritual was to walk across the street to Barbary Coast and milk them for every drink I could on the $5 pai gow. Once I was thoroughly hammered, I�d walk back over to Bellagio, Caesars, or Mirage and play big table baccarat. Talk about extremes.
Of the three baccarat rooms I played, I think I had the most fun at Caesars. Great players and some of the best dealers around. Worst was The Mirage. While I�ve spent plenty of time gawking at the gorgeous d�cor in their new high limit and baccarat lounges, I was left cold when I finally played there. First of all, they don�t even open a big table except for on busy weekends so I played some mini-baccarat and got whooped. I didn�t win a single hand; it was almost embarrassing. Mind you, I don�t mind losing within my means at all so long as I�m having a blast socializing, drinking, and giving a good fight. Definitely not this time around. I walked off the table angry with myself, completely sober, and humbled with nothing more than a single dollar left in my wallet.
I knew what would fix me right up so I walked into the gift shop and [over]paid $7 for an Arturo Fuente Exquisito I could smoke on my walk back to Bellagio. Stepped outside, lit the stogie, and for a moment, life was good. Just a couple steps later I tripped on a crack and the newly lit cigar fell out of my hand and into a puddle.
So then I thought to myself that a nice martini at the Baccarat Bar inside Bellagio would make for a pleasant nightcap. I order the martini only to have the world�s loudest jackass sit next to me. I left, but here�s where it gets really pathetic�
I knew I�d have a hangover the next day, so I took that last dollar out and put it in a freakin� penny slot and played one penny at a time in hopes that a cocktail waitress would walk by and I could get some water before heading to bed. Money gone and no water. At that point, I just thought the best way to end such a crappy night was to go to bed. Easily one of the worst nights I�ve had in Vegas
But despite its ups and downs, it was an enjoyable trip. I don�t get to spend as much time with my parents as I�d like so it�s always a treat to take them to Vegas. Bellagio is awesome. Having stayed at Wynn so much, I�ve really forgotten the joys of a center-strip location. Nevertheless, it�s size and unwillingness to go the extra step in service knocked it down a couple notches in my book. Can�t wait for December when I�m back in Tower Suites.