Category Archives: The Strip

Loss for Words

What can I say?  It would be hard to come up with something exciting and worthwhile to do and see in Las Vegas after hearing of this tragedy that has affected all of us, one way or another.

So many of us have attended a concert, sporting event or party,  either on Fremont Street, UNLV, T-Mobile Arena or some other venue there and probably have never even given it a second thought about a sniper taking out so many innocent people.

The people who get he biggest thanks and standing ovation should be the police, fire and ambulance personnel that had to respond to this situation.  While others ran away, they all ran toward it, especially the police.  There were others and I apologize for not acknowledging the countless people who put themselves in harms way to protect others.

I will make this entry short and just hope and pray for quick healing, physically, mentally and spiritually for everyone involved.

FAMILY FUN IN LAS VEGAS PT. 2

Sticking with the Bellagio, it is probably the one of the few hotel casinos that could provide family entertainment and still be inexpensive to do.

Besides the fountains out front, there is also the Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.  It is something to see!  Located right off the hotel lobby check in desk, it has plants and flowers, real and faux, designed to look like  animals, other plants, and objects, depending on the theme.

The theme will change almost every other month if not sooner to keep in line with the season.  You have Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Chinese New Year, Summer, etc.   You could drop in almost every month to see something different.

Tip:  Because this is free and in a convenient location, it gets very crowded in the early evening.  Taking pictures can be a challenge as there are so many people, but most are courteous to stop to let you snap your memories.  Later in the evening and late night will have a smaller crowd.

And to top it off with a dessert and something else to look at in awe, there is “the world’s largest chocolate fountain” in Jean-Philippe Patisserie located in the Spa Tower of the Bellagio.

You could watch as a continuous flow of light, medium and dark liquid chocolate flows from the upper level down to the lower levels.  All of which prompts you to turn around and buy an ice cream cone or piece of chocolate candy from the adjoining store.

Fading (or gone) icons Part 2

Time is undefeated and it will move on.  Nothing stays the same, sadly.   Another icon of Las Vegas has been the neon.  Hard to imagine Downtown Las Vegas or the Strip without neon.  Nowadays, the “neon” is actually a gigantic LED TV screen.  It looks sharp and can be updated with a few keyboard entries and a click of a mouse.  Neon itself is a dying art and there is not much of it left.  If you take a walk down the Fremont Street Experience, you will find several old neon signs still up, even though they have nothing to do with the business below or within the building.

You can still see the famous “Vegas Vic” the neon cowboy but his sidekick (companion?) Vegas Vickie was removed back in June 2017 as well as the Las Vegas Club sign to make room for the renovations coming to Fremont Street.  According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, she is supposed to be restored and put back up for all to see in another location, but no one seems to know where.

Family fun in Las Vegas Part 1

Whew! I realize it’s been a while since I been on here and I apologize.  I recently found out my sister-in-law and her husband are coming up to their 10th wedding anniversary and they want to celebrate it in….Las Vegas!!  They won’t be able to do the stuff they were able to do 10 years ago, now that they have 3 boys ages 6 and 3 (twins).  So I would imagine the fine dining, clubbing, gambling etc. is probably going to be a lot less than when they were first married.

Twenty years ago, Las Vegas tried to re-brand itself as a family vacation destination which ushered in the amusement parks, strip shows such as the Pirates at Treasure Island, lions in a glass cage at MGM,  it worked to the point that families were drawn to Las Vegas and they were spending, but not in the casinos.  The gaming was not doing as well as projected because families were not hanging around casinos because they had children who weren’t allowed into gaming areas.

I won’t be able to list every thing on this entry or even this site, but there are MANY things to do that are family friendly and don’t involve gambling, drinking and staying out all night.

I will begin by looking at the Strip.  If you walk up and down the Strip, (which can be sometimes faster than driving it), you could stop to watch the volcano eruption at the Mirage or the dancing waters in front of the Bellagio.  On Monday-Thursday the volcano only erupts at 8:00pm and 9:00pm but on Friday-Sunday, there is a 10:00pm eruption.

The fountains at Bellagio are a little bit more complicated so I posted them here:

Monday – Friday  3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  show every 1/2 hour

8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. show every 15 minutes

Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays  12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.   every half  hour

8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.   show every 15 minutes

*Schedule may vary

**Shows are subject to cancellation due to high winds

 

Events in Las Vegas

The activity and action from the Strip seems to be really heating up lately, in a good way.  With the addition of the new T-Mobile Arena behind New York New York Hotel and Casino, it seems like everyone and everything is being booked there.  Just looking at the upcoming schedule of concerts alone are; Barbara Streisand, Drake, Gwen Stefani, George Strait, Slipknot.

Some of the sporting events listed are; USA Basketball, UFC 202, LA Kings vs Colorado Avalance, and Los Angeles Lakers!

If you go to the T-Mobile Arena site, it is very user friendly and lists events, directions and parking, how to book the arena, seating configurations and even a link for a newsletter.

Not too far in the future should be a pretty spectacular domed stadium for the soon to be Las Vegas Raiders.  I read that Tom Hanks is a die hard Raiders fan and he stated that he can’t imagine the Raiders playing in a domed stadium, in the desert, on artificial turf, not far from a Roman palace, Egyptian pyramid and the Eiffel Tower!!  Some things are going take getting used to.

Top Golf at the MGM; First time golf experience

On my last trip to Las Vegas, my friend Brian wanted to check out the Top Golf at the Mgm Grand.  I remember seeing it on my trip in October, but I never got around to checking out, most likely because I don’t golf.

Best way to enter, drive north on Koval Lane from Tropicana Boulevard and you will see the towering building on the left.  They have an open parking lot, valet parking and shuttle buses from the area hotels that drop off right in front.  We made the mistake of parking in the MGM Grand parking garage and walking!.  It is over a mile walk through the parking garage, through the hotel lobby, through the casino and past the shops.  Then, you exit out to a couple of pools, past the convention center then you will find it.

Once we got in, I was surprised to find that it was inexpensive to play.  There was a five dollar initial charge for a membership and $45 an hour, no matter how large the party.  We given a bay that had three couches, a coffee table, and table service for food or drinks.  The hostess explained to us how the system works;  you enter in the type of program you want, ie just practice hitting, competition, etc.  Enter in the names of the participants and the screen will guide you when to begin.

You wave your club in front of a sensor and the golf ball is spit out at you.  Each ball is microchipped so when you hit it, the distance and spot where it lands are all recorded.  Comes in real handy when someone’s competitive nature kicks in.

Overall, it is a fun experience, especially for someone like me who has never hit a golf ball in their life.   Will definitely be back again and I was told by the employees there that there are plans for a Top Golf here in Hawaii!

Just in case; a medical anxiety when visiting Las Vegas

My biggest fear of traveling to Las Vegas is needing medical attention. If you have a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan such as HMSA, your good but I have Kaiser Permanente and believe it or not, Kaiser Permanente has no facilities in the State of Nevada! I always thought that Las Vegas has everything, but I later found out that Kaiser Permanente is not one of them. Several years ago, co-worker told me that her brother had Kaiser Permanente, but when he was visiting Las Vegas, a situation came up where he had to see a doctor and the closest facility to Las Vegas was in California. He had to make a two hour drive, one way, to see a doctor! Just that story alone made me worried every trip I took to the 9th Island.

I know that it were an emergency that would be taken care just like any other person would be taken care of. What I was dreading was getting sick or injured, but not bad enough for an emergency room visit. The drawbacks to an emergency room visit are:

  • It can be depressing because every sort of illness and injury comes in
  • If it’s busy and your not that bad off, every severe case that comes in pushes you to the back of the line to be seen
  • You could be there for hours because even if the doctor has seen you, the rest of the emergency room staff is busy with other patients and they will get to you when they get to you
  • Lastly, it is very expensive compared to a regular doctor visit

My anxiety would soon change. Here’s what I found out by accident: I had to go for a doctor’s visit the other day and while waiting in the examining room, I see a flyer with the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, (which will always catch my eye). I opened it up to find out that Kaiser Permanente has now contracted with Concentra Urgent Care and Walgreens Healthcare to treat their patients when traveling.

I started to read the flyer and found that Concentra Urgent Care might be the best bet. There only four locations and three of them are open Monday-Friday 8:00 am to 5 or 6:00 pm. The fourth location at 5850 Polaris Avenue near McCarren International is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Concentra Urgent Care is staffed by board certified physicians and clinicians. Most of the centers also have X-ray and lab facilties.

Walgreens Healthcare has 13 locations with two right on the Strip, one near the Venetian and the other near MGM Grand. They are staffed by either a board certified nurse practitioner or physician assistant, but all locations have a pharmacy.

Hopefully you or me will never need to use these facilities, but it’s nice knowing that there are options.

Merry Christmas!!

Now that Christmas is here, I look back and realize that Las Vegas can be a fun place to spend the Christmas season.  Believe it or not, the crowds are not that bad until after Christmas Day.  If you check the hotel sites and other travel sites, the room rates are really good leading up to December 25th but will spike the closer you get to December 31st, but we all know that it’s a big party on that date.

Up till today, I would get e-mails almost daily inviting me to stay somewhere for anywhere from $39 to $299 a night.  I’m sure the Aria at $299 a night can be a bargain versus New Year’s Eve or Superbowl Sunday.

Let’s not forget about dining.  Because most of the occupancy is low for the weeks leading up to Christmas, you can get a table at almost any restaurant in town and we know some of them can be excellent and beyond excellent!  The best part, someone else does the cooking and cleaning up!

Christmas is all about spending time with family and I have met many families from Hawaii that have spent Christmas many times in Las Vegas.  While it may exclude the family members that can’t make the trip, it makes for great memories later.

Update: Parking at MLife Properties and how to navigate at no cost

My take on the new parking procedure at the Mlife properties. I had the chance to recently visit Las Vegas and got to see first-hand how this works. I arrived early morning after the red eye flight on Hawaiian Airlines to the MGM. I pulled into the self-park garage and removed a parking ticket.

There are clear instructions for you to take the ticket to one of the pre-pay kiosk as there is no attendant at the exit and it is fully automated. After parking my rental car, I went straight to the Mlife desk to exchange my Sapphire card for a Pearl membership card. I presented my card to be exchanged and after confirming I met the minimum for an upgrade, it was easily changed to Pearl status, which means I’m entitled to the benefits that come with it, but the main focus of this entry is the parking.

On this specific visit to upgrade my membership card, I decided to see if it works. I went back to my car and drove out toward the exit. At the exit, I inserted my membership card and I was let out of the parking garage.

During this trip to Las Vegas, I had stayed at the MGM and Excalibur because I cashed in my MyVegas rewards virtual cash for comp rooms and I got to use this benefit several times, even after I checked out of each property.

On other occasions, I returned to the properties and as I pulled up to the parking kiosk, all I had to do was insert my Pearl status card and within a few seconds, I was let in. Exiting was even easier as my license plate was scanned, which meant I didn’t even have to roll my window down to insert the card!

My opinion is that it is totally worth it to upgrade to Pearl status and the fastest, easiest way to do it is by getting the Mlife credit card.

mlife-parking

Las Vegas Underworld; How illegal money is made fast

I was watching the National Geographic channel’s “Underworld, Inc. Las Vegas Hustle”. I wasn’t too surprised by what I saw when a card counter, a prostitute and the Aria Hotel and Casino security was featured. I found a couple of the features entertaining. Each of the persons featured in the show were wearing masks while they were telling their stories. The card counter was wearing a mask that covered his mouth and nose, but you could clearly see his eyes and the bridge of his nose. Other TV shows that featured Las Vegas casino security technology has publicly stated that they have facial recognition software that can ID someone just off the eyes and nose area because that is the one facial area that can’t be changed or altered. I can just picture it: security professionals, as soon as they saw this feature, began inputting this person’s facial features to match what they have.

The card counter not only demonstrated his card counting, but his slight of hand display. He practiced in his hotel room how he would slip a $25 or $100 chip under another chip after he won the hand and just prior to being paid by the dealer. Now that is really risky as that could get you jail time as well as banned from most casinos.

This card counter closed out his segment by saying that he played at one casino and won $300 from one and $800 from another for a total of $1100. He closes by saying “Not a bad night”. I agree, not a bad night, but hardly worth it to get banned from a casino.

The show also featured a person makes a living robbing casinos, armored cars and couriers throughout Las Vegas for a living.  Those are some dangerous and desperate people because they have no regard for person safety and others.

No thanks, I will just take my chances and have good memories of every trip I take to my favorite vacation spot without having to look over my shoulder.  It wouldn’t be much fun if I was always worried about being caught.