Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

I was listening to a caller on Five Hundy By Midnight talking about 'hitting the buffet' and it got me to thinking that my travel habits for my Vegas trips sure have changed over the years. For those of us that go often, sometimes upwards of ten times a year, I can only assume I'm not alone in this.

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For example, there was a time when I too visited buffets at places like Bellagio and The Mirage on a regular basis but I can't recall the last time I've been to a buffet on a recent trip - one look at even the line pass wait and I quickly move on.

There was also a time when I'd hit pretty much every part of the Strip in a single trip, moving between Central, North and South with ease. I guess I'm getting old because these days I usually hang out in the area of my hotel, much more than before... Some exception to this is when I need to shoot a photo of something or see something to write up on this blog.

Anyway, I thought this would make an interesting post to see how people's habits have changed over time. What's your story?


Comments

Read archived comments (33 so far)
January 29, 2007 6:51 PM Posted by Christian

of course living here, I don't always head down to the strip, but I find myself only traveling between Harmon and DI on LVB. Anything else I seem to ignore anymore.

As for the buffet suggestion, I too have not visited a Vegas buffett in some time.

Hey Hunter...being new at this blog I've been meaning to ask a question: Do you think Las Vegas is going to have too much development that rooms will not fill or will be significantly higher priced? Seems to me everyone is building at least 4,000 room dense complexes in response to CityCenter. Wanted to know your thoughts

January 29, 2007 7:31 PM Posted by Hunter

Well, no one ever got rich betting against Las Vegas.

There have been countless pundits that argued that it was on the decline and couldn't absorb growth. There's a famous clip from a story like that in the 50s. We all know what happened.

As far as too many high end properties being built, as a good capitalist, I'm a believer in the market. Today's high-midrange properties like The Mirage and Paris will be tomorrow's midrange properties if the high end is oversupplied. Prices will adjust and make the supply work, even if some places have to lower rates.

That doesn't mean that some developers won't fail. Look at Aladdin and the Stratosphere... But both have a second lease on life and while the Aladdin's fate is to be seen, the Strat is doing fine these days.

I have no doubts about Las Vegas. The city is good at re-inventing itself and coming up with 'must see' attractions and hotels.

January 29, 2007 8:00 PM Posted by Christian

Okay, thanks for the insight. I'm obviously fairly new at this and I love the job you do keeping us all up to date. If you ever need help let me know.

Thanks again, Christian.

January 29, 2007 8:03 PM Posted by Hunter

Thanks for the offer!

Locals can be extremely helpful as I can't always get out as often as I'd like for photos.

Mike_ch has been extremely helpful in shooting the Strip and reporting on changes - we love minutia here!

If you have materials you'd like to contribute, shoot me a message at editor@ratevegas.com.

Cheers

January 29, 2007 10:21 PM Posted by Mike E

Great topic.

The first time I hit Vegas, I was six years old and in some ways, I like to think I grew up paralleling the city's evolution. When I was nine or ten, Excalibur opened its doors. That place, to me, was the happiest place on earth--I'd take it over Disneyland any day. Can't believe I'm actually saying this, but it's true. Then a couple years later Luxor, MGM, and Treasure Island opened their doors and raised the bar. Obviously, my interests at the time were kid-friendly. When I turned 21, that was when Vegas actively started marketing itself to adults again and I started visiting more frequently.

Some three years ago, I was really interested in attractions and hardly in gambling. I wanted to see it all. Much like Hunter, I'd try to hit every part of the strip. Art galleries, Shark Reef, the Secret Garden, roller coasters--I did it all.

Nowadays, I might and have had trips where I'll spend 90% of my time where I'm staying. I like getting comfortable and becoming a familiar face. I like passing the hours at the pai gow table or in the spa.

Dining is much more important to me. I try to hit a nice restaurant almost every trip. I've only hit a buffet when others in my party want to go and/or it's comped.

It seems the only thing that has stayed consistant over the years is time spent at the pool during the warmer seasons, although now you'll hardly ever catch me actually swimming :-).

January 30, 2007 1:38 PM Posted by Devon

"I have no doubts about Las Vegas. The city is good at re-inventing itself and coming up with 'must see' attractions and hotels."

I'm just not seeing nearly as many 'must see' hotels being built these days. Sure wynn will always contine to build massive attraction hotels, but will the others? Places like Cosmo are all basically the vegas equivalent to a ritz carlton or le meridien. They don't really have an 'it factor' to draw visitors. They're just focussed on the hotel experience. maybe i'm wrong, but i'm not sure...

January 30, 2007 4:46 PM Posted by detroit1051

I've always been a one-property person. After my introduction to Las Vegas at the original MGM Grand in the early-mid 1980's, I made the Las Vegas Hilton my home for a number of years. I always rented a car so I could visit local friends and sightsee, and The Hilton was ideal. I could always find a parking space right outside the back door off Swenson/Joe W. Brown Drive. The Hilton was built with some large rooms, and sometimes I stayed in the third floor Lanai Suites which had sliding glass doors opening to patios on the pool deck. Thinking back, they probably wern't the most secure rooms, but it never entered my mind then. I often entered slot tournaments, some of which were buy-ins. The Hilton set the standard for the prize award banquets, once with the the string section from the LV Philharmonic playing in the middle of elaborate ice sculptures. It was great (if you liked classical music.) One year, I entered a $5,000 buy-in tournament and convinced a friend to join me and enter. It was the first time he had ever been in a casino. Wouldn't you know it, he came in First and left with a check for $250,000. He returned to Vegas once, decided he didn't like casinos and has never set foot in one since. The Hilton began to lose its luster around 1990, and I moved to Golden Nugget for a few years. It was (and still is) a comfortable property. I then went to The Mirage and never felt at home there. The rooms were small with poor soundproofing, but it was my first exposure to California Pizza Kitchen, and I still think of The Mirage when I go to the CPK in Fort Lauderdale.
From there, I moved to MGM Grand. When it opened in December, 1993, shareholders were given one free night, so I tried it and it was my home base on most trips until Bellagio opened in 1998. MGM Grand was gaudy with its Wizard of Oz theme, but we always had good times there, and their casino parties were even better than at The Hilton. From the beginning, MGM Grand was on the cutting edge in some respects. Charlie Trotter, a Chicago restaurateur, was one of the first famous chefs to come to Las Vegas. He opened a room which subsequently became Gatsby's and is now NobHill. Trotter was ahead of his time. I remember some heavy players who were comped, grumbling about the "small portions of weird food." Mark Miller of Santa Fe's Coyote Cafe opened on the Studio Walk even before Emeril came to town. I still miss the Hollywood Brown Derby which is now Craftsteak. The pool area was where they built The Mansion.
I've gone on too long, but a lot of good memories. Bellagio from '98 until Wynn opened, and then I've alternated between the two with a stay at Red Rock, GVR and Caesars. In fact, I'm temporarily burned out on Vegas and have decided to stay home for at least six or seven months. It will be interesting to see the effect of my absence on comp offers.
Getting back to Hunter's original question, my tavel habits have always remained the same. I stay put in one property and don't spend time checking out other places except to see shows or try a new restaurant.

January 30, 2007 4:51 PM Posted by John

Well, the Cosmo will really be the test. I mean, can a hotel that has a large number of its occupants, as residents, need a large number of "street" visitors to keep itself afloat? I guess you need to take into account, the fact that the hotel is on the Strip, and will have a large number of foot traffic. However, that surely didn't work for the Aladdin, so.. That is where it all lies, I guess, Devon. Does a hotel need an attraction, to pull the guest in? History, says yes, but due to the lack of land on the Strip, itself, investors are going to say no. However, maybe all a hotel needs is to a fantastic marketing scheme and time to build a reputation and a luxury operator, and it will do fine. Or not, I guess we'll have to wait until 2008/2009/2010, to see all of these hotel come online.

January 31, 2007 12:18 AM Posted by Mike E

Deroit, that was an awesome post. I really enjoyed it.

January 31, 2007 12:41 AM Posted by Mike E

So awesome in fact that I can't even spell "Detroit".

January 31, 2007 12:45 AM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, I remember the pool area where the Mansion is now - and there was a driveway there too, right? I have this mental picture of the large gates.

I'm trying to find a photo but so far no dice. The LVStripHistory.com site only works with Internet Explorer so I'm not even gonna try that.

January 31, 2007 3:07 AM Posted by motoman

"I've gone on too long...."
Not at all detroit, we love your insights and you probably have the longest perspective here on the changes in Vegas over the years. (Ditto to MikeE.)

"I'm just not seeing nearly as many 'must see' hotels being built these days....."
You're right Devon, as others here have noted, MGM is busily detheming some of Vegas' most iconic resort attractions into as someone said, nice but bland hotels. I suppose as long as the rooms, restaurants, and clubs can make a ton of money, that's going to be the "theme."

January 31, 2007 6:15 AM Posted by detroit1051

Hunter, lvstriphistory is a strange site, but I've used it a lot over the years. I'm on IE, but for some reason, I can't get any of the photos today. I'll try later. I vaguely remember gates. Remember when someone snatched the dog Toto from the Wizard of Oz exhibit and held it for ransom, with photos of Toto sent in from all over the world? At the time, Alexander Haig was on the Board. They should have had him investigate. LOL.

January 31, 2007 12:36 PM Posted by motoman

I love the lvstriphistory guy's excuse that his IT guys tell him "Explorer is the most secure browser." Sounds like more MS shills to me....but I digress....

January 31, 2007 1:06 PM Posted by motoman

This is a great topic. I have to echo Mike E's remarks on the "evolution" of my perception of Las Vegas.

Like Mike, I thought the "theme" resorts were amazing in their day. And like Hunter, I'd cruise the entire Strip every trip over the course of two or three days, just to see what was new. Even Downtown for half a day sometimes (to "slum it" a little ;-), and once, to the top of the Strat.

Actually my first ever visit was a layover at McCarran on the way to Macworld Expo in San Francisco, about 1991. McCarran was still an underutilized hub then, so the cheapest flight stopped there. Just enough time to gaze at the Strip (such as it was then) from the roof of the parking structure. "The castle" at one end, the white towers of CircusCircus and the new blue & red Stardust tower at the other. No Strat, no Luxor spotlight. Nada.

I wouldn't have admitted here until reading MikeE's post but my first stay was CircusCircus, several years later. (One reason for this first-timer was of course price. It was after all a big, full-featured hotel. The old landmarks just seemed, well, old and a little too "Sin City" for this Vegas virgin. I noticed the Travel Lodge in CC's parking lot and wondered, who'd do that when they can have all this, for cheaper? Seriously. Hey, quit laughing....)

I remember the buffet reminded me of a school cafeteria, but the pink dome of the amusement park was open, as was the adjoining mall connecting the towers. There I saw my first instance of "blue sky and cloud" ceiling paint -- a theme that would become cliche by the end of the trip.

Our Strip cruising revealed the fairly recent NewYork NewYork, MGM Grand (in its "Emerald City" incarnation as detroit alluded to), Forum Shops at Caesars and the very new Bellagio and Venetian. Paris was under construction. Boy did I feel bad for those workers in the 114 degree heat! What a time to be a newbie tourist in Vegas.

Bellagio and Venetian both seemed awesome to these uninitiated eyes. A post-retirement age gentleman in the Forum Shops was gushing into his cellphone, "This is a FUN place!" I was pleased the fellow was experiencing such joy, paralleling my own.

Upon touring Luxor, which involved walking around the perimeter on several floors, I made it my goal to "upgrade" to that cool, hollow pyramid. (My favorite non-Vegas hotel chain was Embassy Suites for its open-air atrium design.) The interior had a weird, fake New York City that clashed awfully with the Egyptian theme, and was even more odd with NewYork NewYork just up the Strip.

Later my "ambition" became reality as I twice used Luxor as a Saturday night stopover when going to Macworld Expo NY. The fake New York was replaced with a more theme-appropriate Cairo-like facade. On a "one night stand" there was no time for Strip cruising, so I contented myself with walking the floors, riding the Inclinators and gazing down at the ant-people below. A strange force was causing the entire building to vibrate, and as I worked my way down the floors the vibration turned to thumping, and the thumping to music. It was RA, the nightclub and on the third floor there were rooms adjacent to the club's air vents that could hear the music full volume! Well-heeled young couples could be seen wandering the floors, and occasionally disappearing....

(One note about the view from above: the backs of the structures inside the pyramid, so impressive from below, look unfinished and crude, so I can appreciate the CityCenter plan to make their low buildings look good from the towers. I do believe WLV accomplishes this to some extent.)

Well that's Phase One of my Vegas experience. I'll cut this off before readers turn off....

January 31, 2007 1:42 PM Posted by Mike E

Moto, keep it coming! I'm really enjoying these.

And just because trip reports here often include RFB stays at Bellagio, villas, and Skylofts doesn't mean we have to be embarrassed by where we've stayed in the past.

I'll admit, there have been late nights driving back to Orange County where I've known early on in the drive that I just won't make it and have spent the night at the Gold Strike for $20 (I can see Hunter shuddering right now). For those of you that have never done the southern California to Las Vegas route, that casino is basically the second nicest toilet on the I-15 (Primm is the first nicest). But for the record, it's still nicer than a majority of downtown properties.

February 2, 2007 1:24 AM Posted by motoman

Thanks, Mike. Phase Two began with me missing a couple "opportunities" due to work (what we pre-retirement and non-independently wealthy do to be able to come to Vegas). "Opportunities" is in quotes because those are trips when the others stayed at Excalibur and Boardwalk when there were by then many alternatives. Boardwalk became the source for fun recollections of the Lilliputian craps table and surly staff.

We were debating where to stay next trip (we're into 2005 by now). The others had not liked Luxor which was still my favorite (even though they found Boardwalk "acceptable"), and its room rates had moved significantly downmarket by then. We'd gotten an unexpected offer from Monte Carlo which seemed a *lot* nicer, and that was the inspiration for this trip. My brother had begun developing more expensive tastes and was seriously intrigued by THEHotel, if he could get the others to agree to the cost.

Meanwhile we all were vaguely aware that some guy with a history in Vegas named Steve Wynn was opening a new place -- you could see it taking shape each season on CSI. We were curious but inferred from the marketing (hype) that it was to be an exclusive, perhaps membership only, club. My brother has Hilton Honors points and got a call from them, but at the same time happened to notice WLV listed among the choices on Costco's travel website. He called a Costco travel agent and, schmoozer that he is, got us two packages along with comped tickets to the new show LeReve and an upgrade to the Tower side. (Yeah I know, they were giving away LeReve to fill seats and counter the negative reviews....)

We hadn't believed we could get into "The Wynn" and were looking forward to it. (Sorry Hunter, I know you hate when folks add "The" but uninitiated admirers all call it "The Wynn" so be happy! :-) These guys take cabs whereas I was used to a shuttle, and our cabbie was nice enough not to take the tunnel -- he showed us a direct route up Koval Lane to Sands Ave. (apologizing for the scenery or lack thereof) and the less crowded South Entrance -- so our trip was off to a good start.

Upon entering for the first time we simply could not believe our eyes. That feng shui stuff is for real and has a definite subconscious impact. (See: lack of, re: Venetian.) I was immediately taken by the "smooth jazz" music that has been the subject of debate on this forum. We did get a little turned around coming in the main South door and not the Tower lobby, and ended up at what Mike would call the "Ghetto" registration area but we were guided to a line and checked in with no problem.

The room was amazing for all the reasons many others have written about: comfy beds, extra space so you're not squeezing between bed and an armoire, flat TV with pretty picture playing soothing music, gorgeous floor-to-ceiling golf course view, and that huge bathroom with separate watercloset. We immediately put on the robes and took pictures of each other reclining with feet up on the desk, stemmed water glass in hand. Caption: "Ahh, the good life!" We had arrived. After our first day of Strip crawling, my brother took a long bath in the huge tub -- just because. I loved the lemony hand lotion and glycerin bath soap, and my brother still claims the shaving cream is the best ever.

Gambling mostly consisted of walking up to Slots-A-Fun for their $2 craps table (it was still $1 at times) and low-limit Blackjack with "good" rules. I wasn't a craps player and took a beating at my favored 21 -- on past trips, I'd usually paid for my room or a meal and without joining any Players' Clubs -- but the others did very well, a few $100's on craps even at those low limits. It was a revenge trip for my brother, who commented that the Newcastle beer there was the "Best Ever!" It had to be, because last trip (which I had missed), when figured into a bad run of craps they averaged $75 a pop....

So as we were leaving for home, one of the group who'd stayed at Bellagio for conventions commented that Wynn was even nicer, a common sentiment among early visitors (though apparently, reviews here and elsewhere are currently more even). My brother still expressed interest in THEHotel, but we all knew we had been spoiled for all other places. The others (married) talked of bringing their wives for anniversaries. Silently I cursed Steve Wynn, for there were other properties I'd like to have experienced to broaden my horizons and get the full flavor of Vegas. But alas, that was now pointless. Upon returning home I jumped online and quickly found this blog and other like minded souls who, while they might not all/always prefer Wynn, do at least share an interest in the "behind the curtain" view of things.

So that's Phase Two, the Evolution. Which brings us to the present....

February 3, 2007 11:14 AM Posted by motoman

"...work (what we pre-retirement and non-independently wealthy do....)"

Yipes, that was rather snarky, wasn't it? I apologize....
And Mike, we know you're kidding about the "ghetto" stuff, I mean, you've said so yourself many times! No hard feelings I hope....

Ahem. Quickly on to Phase Three....

February 6, 2007 1:51 AM Posted by motoman

OK, for anyone still reading, back to Hunter's question. Phase Three, the Present.
Well those heady, early trips sure were fun. The rationale for staying at the low to mid properties then was, it's about the gambling & sightseeing, and you're rarely "in" your room. Luxor was an amazing upgrade then, and I'd never have considered Bellagio when it opened. Still can't -- old perceptions die hard.

But in terms of crawling the Strip, eventually the "been there done that" syndrome takes effect and like Hunter and Mike have decided, and detroit has done all along, I'll stick to favorites. (It's not just Vegas; in later years of attending Macworld Expo I'd tired of the commute from the "bargain" hotel and stayed at San Francisco Marriott, closest to the convention. A huge upgrade but worth every penny.)

We stay at Wynn because he sucked us in with its awesomeness (and approachability, quite a balancing act); we've even upped our game play because of the potential for comps and special offers there. We still go to Slots-A-Fun for the $2 craps table, but are no longer afraid to play green (and even black) chip blackjack at Wynn -- which became extremely profitable on a trip last year, for us small rollers anyway. That trip began with a comped room and ended with us earning back all our meals (nothing fancy mind you) and expenses for a total bill of about $12, plus four-figure gains at the tables! (It helped to find tables with "good" rules, which encouraged us to up our antes from our usual red to Wynn's required minimum green.) That trip will be hard for us to top, ever.

There's nothing like the fantasy fulfillment that comes from staying at a top-flight property. It's fun to chat up the staff (we'd always found happy employees throughout Wynn -- this was before the dealers' suit, mind you), and rub elbows at the table with the rich & shameless.... Celeb sightings include LeBron James (positively ID'd by the sports agent sitting next to us, playing black chips like we used to play red), and a member of Destiny's Child.

The fine dining bug hasn't bitten yet -- still out of our league, although I've offered to treat at Country Club or SW -- and they do serve up a decent Denver omelette and biscuits & gravy across the street at Frontier! It's only natural that frequent visitors would evolve their dining tastes, especially with the explosion of fine dining in Vegas, but let's not thumb our noses at the buffet. For many Vegas travelers, especially newbies or once-in-a-lifetimers, it remains an essential part of the Vegas experience. How else to explain those dreadful waiting lines....

For us Left Coast residents, airfares are cheap and flights quick & direct. (Being in the same time zone helps too.) Many others may have to allot a larger chunk of the budget just to get there, and more important, the better part of a whole day of precious vacation time each way.

That's why on the Hooters subject I'd said "It's the casino business so definitely include it!.... Not everything has to involve the megabillion-dollar ´┐Żberresorts and 'amazing' architecture." As Christian noted, the discussion here tends toward the high end. Which is fine, but it's not most people's Vegas. As this thread shows, each traveller finds his or her own Vegas, and tastes evolve over time and with repeated visits and new attractions.

February 6, 2007 12:19 PM Posted by Hunter

Wow, I just came back and read through all this and it is some really awesome stuff. I'm flattered you guys would take the time to write such detailed responses.

I've done my share of slumming it on the Strip as well, though I've never stayed at the Tragic Castle (Excal) or the home of the 'Sixth Reich' (Circus Circus to HST fans) and I don't plan to... Slumming can be fun and hey, at the beginning, who knows better?

My first trip was at 17 (this is going to show how young I am and shred whatever credibility I have left), Bellagio was 9 months from opening and the wind was turning the unfilled lake into a dust bowl. I remember walking past and looking at the unfinished village around the lake thinking that this Las Vegas stuff was pretty interesting - that someone would spend almost $2 billion to create a little mini-city on a hundred acres and that it might actually return something on the investment. That's how it started for me.

February 7, 2007 7:48 PM Posted by MICHAEL MCKAY

I AM A FREQUENT VISITOR TO THE GREAT CITY IF LAS VEGAS. I COME OUT ABOUT 4-5 TIMES A YEAR ALL FOR DIFFERNT OCCASIONS. SOMETIMES WITH FAMILY, SOMETIMES WITH FRIENDS, SOMETIMES BY MYSELF TO ATTEND A CONVENTION. I CAN HONESTLY SAY EACH TIME I GO WHEH I THINK I HAVE BEN EVERYWHERE OR DONE EVERYTHING I CAN THINK OF EACH TRIP HAS BEEN UNIQUE I ITS OWN. I HAVE LOTS OF FUN VEGAS STORIES AS I KNOW MANY PEOPLE DO, VEGAS IS SUCH A SURREAL EXPERIENCE I JUST LOVE THE FACT ITS ONLY A HOUR IN HALF ON A PLANE FROM CALI.

VIVA LAS VEGAS!!

February 8, 2007 6:14 PM Posted by motoman

OK, to wrap this up (for me -- hey c'mon, where's everyone else's stories? :-): Phase Four, the Future....
I've been inspired by Mike E's trip reports (and photos!) to try for a Fairway before the golf course is gone, if we can get our group together before then. Even if not, I'm certain the Fairways will eventually become Lakeviews and not be blocked by new buildings. I've also been anticipating a review/TR here of The Signature at MGM Grand, and if none is forthcoming, I'll just have to get over there myself! (Prices currently are a relative bargain, having gone down a bit it seems, which hints that this undiscovered sanctuary is still....undiscovered.)

Eventually, I'm seriously hoping Encore, Palazzo and other new places will put downward pressure on Wynn (as Hunter indicated about oversupply) so we can continue to stay there. As of this January however, Wynn's table limits were the highest we've seen, so we'll see how much more demand can be created at the high end. If not, well the local Native Americans have been good to me....

Gambling-wise, I'm a bit tapped out for the near term. Last trip was brutal for Blackjack (my original favorite), craps and video poker, taking away from not one but two $200 slot wins. I don't usually play slots unless I'm getting killed elsewhere, but this may mark a transition in my gameplay.

I also finally cut my teeth at Texas Hold 'em and may have found a new favorite. Again we went lowball and found a very pleasant Limit Hold 'em game at of all places, the Riviera. (How'd we end up there? Wandered across the street after taking our lumps at Slots-A-Fun.) I lasted six hours on $100, and for five of those was in the black. It was a fun learning experience just to find that I could actually do it. (Next time, I'll leave while I'm ahead!)

Here's to next time.

February 8, 2007 8:38 PM Posted by mike_ch

Detroit, thank you for the story. It's unfortunate I was not able to meet you a couple months ago, but I had come back from a free room offer at Wynn that cost me money and caught the flu at the same time.

It sounds like you've gotten to see a lot of the stuff I managed to miss out on. I'm unhappy I missed MGM Grand's Brown Derby because I've eaten at another replica of the place at Disney World and wonder how alike/different the two attempts at replicating were.

Motoman, I can't blame you for your "old perceptions." None of the places I've stayed at in Las Vegas have yet to be torn down, and so I maintain all my perceptions of them.

This board does seem to have an unusually high concentration of folks who buy extra-VIP elite cottage style accomodations, to whom the standard room at a Bellagio or Wynn is, well, just standard. I'm one of those guys who went out of his way and once reserved a regular ol' Bellagio room for three nights as a special occasion. I'm not sure if I've stepped into a pit of upper-class folks here or what, but from my experience they've been generous and very friendly! :D

February 8, 2007 8:42 PM Posted by Hunter

I like to splurge and have fun when I'm in Las Vegas and while I like nice things, I certainly don't live like that all the time!

February 8, 2007 8:52 PM Posted by mike_ch

By the way, since I'm so new to town I really have nothing much in the way to share as far as a story. I first came here in December of 2000 and stayed at Mandalay and the Mirage. The trio of Mandalay resorts was enough to keep me occupied for three days or so with one or two visits up to mid-strip to see the Bellagio waters.

Mirage was pre-2001 renovation in the room and looked really bad, plus we had gotten some awful floor that was realistically about 6'1" high as far as ceilings in the hallways and bathroom went. Seriously, I don't know the exact height, but I'm a modest 5'9 and could touch the hallway ceiling on tiptoe. Anyone 6'3 or above would go through hell, and so it left me with a negative opinion of Mirage as a hotel, although since then every time I've told this story nobody has seen the same thing and for all I know this is some one-of-a-kind phantom floor.

After many visits at many hotels in all different seasons, I moved here in the middle of 2005 but nowadays I'm looking forward to affording to leave and be independent somewhere else.

Since I'm a slot gambler who doesn't spend more than $1 on each spin the local industry just kind of doesn't actively seek my level of contribution. With each Wynn and Palazzo that's built someone like me is considered less important. That's probably the biggest changes to my recreational/casino spending in Vegas over the past few years.

Also I don't drink, smoke, or do illegal substances and it seems like so many here, regardless of what industry they're in, does some of those things(I'm not sure if the number of people brings that perception to the city or if the perception of the city makes people take up those habits.) Most of these would probably get the ol' evil eye from the folks in my progressive northern California hometown, but in Las Vegas they're rather common. It was interesting while it was different but now it's become all too familiar.

Sorry if that got a bit personal, but that's my feelings towards the industry and city as a whole. Until I get out of here (or decide not to leave), I'm an occasionally-regular photographer and updater here. So at least somebody gets to enjoy that occasional weekday afternoon visit to the Strip that cost $80. :)

February 9, 2007 4:57 AM Posted by detroit1051

Mike_ch, interesting comments. I used to think I'd like to live in Las Vegas, but I think it was the excitement of my trips. I believe Las Vegas is on the verge of MAJOR infrastructure problems which will only get worse as CityCenter, Echelon, Wynn and other developments come on line. I made more trips to Vegas in '06 than in any previous year. I got burned out and don't have any desire to come back soon. I'm sure that will change before year-end.

February 9, 2007 11:29 AM Posted by Mike E

Thoroughly entertaining and interesting. Moto, I look forward to sharing a drink with you one of these days.

Mike_ch, my home here in Orange County is approximately triple the size of the Fairway Villas and has twice the features of Skylofts. Standard rooms just don't cut it for me.

Joking aside, you should see how modestly I live outside of Las Vegas. It's pretty pathetic. :-)

February 9, 2007 7:30 PM Posted by motoman

By "old perceptions" I meant that Bellagio seemed way too fancy for us at the time. Wynn never felt intimidating, just extremely pleasant. I have no memory of Old Vegas, as I hadn't been there to see it. ("Old Vegas" to me would mean pirates at TI....)

As for fancy folk, some do seem to live well (at least in Vegas!) and yes indeed they do share most generously here of their experiences!

But, I once stumbled onto a blog for American Express "Black" cardmembers and it sounded as if to them, the Mansions at MGM were "standard" accomodations! I boogied out of there before you could say "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!"

February 9, 2007 8:35 PM Posted by eastcoastjane

I've enjoyed reading all your comments and thought I'd throw my 2 cents in(now with inflation thats about 20 bucks I guess)..to motoman- your comment about Wynns table limits were my feelings exactly-I was also there in January and hadn't been at Wynn since the previous January.The difference was amazing.I couldn't even find a $25 black jack table and in fact most were $100 or more. The craps tables were also way out of my comfort range. And while I had enjoyed the buffet the previous year there was no way we were going to stand in line for 2 hours. I played some video poker - won $100 and left.I don't think I will be back to Wynn even though they sent me some nice offers in the mail.I find Bellagio much more friendly to my playing choices if I need to be in an upscale environment.
My habits over the years(30 years of frequent and infrequent visits) have definately changed alot. This past trip lasted 6 days and the only buffet we visited was the Paris Village buffet for breakfast. Commanders Palace at the Desert Passage is a favorite lunch spot for us,excellent food and service.
We were extremely disappointed with the Carnegie Deli at Mirage, the quality was nothing at all like it used to be in our opinion.
It was nice reading about all the old spots that are now gone-we also used to eat at Coyote Cafe at MGM and were sorry to see it gone..we now head over to the Palms for Mexican food..The new Planet Hollywood (Aladdin) reminded me of Borgata in Atlantic City, nice but nothing new..they did have lots of $5 craps tables with very few players the night we were there but it was a slow week and they were still in transition. But I too tend to stay near where my hotel is these days- of the 6 days we were there we had only 1 Mono-rail ride and 1 taxi. Our next trip will be to Lake Tahoe, which we enjoyed alot last year. Maybe it's because I have only just visited there but my feelings for Vegas have changed.. being on the east coast I can appreciate what Atlantic City has to offer just as much with less travel time and enough variety for me. Maybe I will feel differently next year :)

February 9, 2007 10:07 PM Posted by mike_ch

All these Coyote Cafe references. I thought about eating there a number of times but in the last few years it was such a regularly poor performer in the health inspector column that I avoided it.

Then again, I've seen The Mansion's kitchen get a B once.

February 19, 2007 8:23 PM Posted by Donnymac

I've just discovered this page and really enjoy sharing stories of my favourite getaway city. I've bee going there since 86. The first hotel I stayed at was the El Rancho. It was the biggest place I had ever seen. Real southwest themed place with lots of wagon wheels in the decor. A lot of the classics were still in existence then, The Sands, The Desert Inn, The MGM was where Bally's is now, Vegas World and a some small motels. I saw everything I could in the short 2 days we were there. My next trip was 5 years later and we, on a budget stayed at the Golden Gate. Taking a drive down the strip I couldn't believe the changes. The El Rancho was closed and the sign read "Future home of Countryland", it never happened. Again we saw everything we could see in the 3 days we were there. My next trip was in 97, when we stayed at the "new" Stratosphere and another completely different experience. I have gone at least once a year since then and have had many different experiences from watching Robbie Kenevil jump from one building of the jockey club to the other to soaking my feet in Caesars' fountains to tsking the nile river tour at the Luxor. My experience is always changing. In January I went with a couple of "first-timers" and saw things I had not seen in years. I don't think that your habits change as much as evolve. And what better a destination to evolve in. Sorry for the log winded post but I'm really new at this.

February 22, 2007 10:10 PM Posted by motoman

eastcoastjane, I'll qualify my observation of table limits by noting that this was our first stay over a weekend and the Consumer Electronics Expo had just ended. Still, by Thursday most of the convention crowd should've been gone and that was our first day. (We crossed paths with many convention goers at the airport, and room rates were already way down.)

I did notice some $25 Blackjack tables, the good ones over by the Baccarat area, in the late afternoon / early evening timeframe. Ohterwise they were in the $100's. Unfortunately I was headed up to our room for a nap and had already paid my "Vegas tax" over at Slots-A-Fun. (No, wait a minute, that's the day we blew our stake at the machine gun range! Ooh that's another "Only in Vegas" story....) The "bad" BJ tables over by Sports Book and Corsa often have lower limits as well, but they're not as player-friendly.

March 4, 2007 7:23 PM Posted by motoman

I don't love everything about WLV -- I mean, $4 for a Coke and they hand you a 1/2 liter bottle from the fridge?? Any wonder folks hit Walgreens or ABC Store when they go out? If they seriously want to cater exclusively to high rollers, that's fine and as mike_ch noted, they won't miss our nickel/dime action one little bit. (But we'll still stay there....).

As for buffets, I used to hit 'em in the early, cheapskate days. We always avoided crowds by choosing our times to avoid the rush -- not at all hard to do if you're flexible about mealtimes. Only done Wynn's twice (once on the comped trip and once after) and haven't been to Bellagio's or Aladdin's.

BTW it was the sports agent playing black chips last year, not us. I meant that he was playing black as casually as we normally play red. I wish I had that kind of action!