Category Archives: The Strip

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.

How to get value out your trip to Las Vegas

We all want to have the value filled vacation. It can be hard to determine if you should go cheap or splurge. I don’t have the right or wrong answer for that one because each traveler is different, but I can share with you some tips I found out while vacationing in the 9th Island.   Here is another way I have found to stretch your budget.

When you visit a casino, sign up for their rewards program. It doesn’t cost you anything to signup and sometimes you have the “newbie” specials like $10 free play or 10 percent off a meal if you present the card at the casino restaurant the day you sign up.    I have signed up for many casino rewards programs even if I only pass through. I start to get e-mails for specials such as discounted rooms and shows, VIP invites to events and invitations to participate in a slot, blackjack, craps or bingo tournament. They tend to have a “buy in” but when you think about how much is the buy in to play for almost an hour a day versus how much you could lose in an hour on the gaming floor? These tournaments tend to offer great deals on multi night stays at the properties.

I once got an offer and signed up for a blackjack tournament at Gold Coast Hotel and Casino which included tournament entry fee and three nights for $99. Hard to beat that one. Since then, I have gotten promotions from them all year long, sometimes for complimentary two and three night stays. The irony is, I’m not a high roller. When you hear someone tell you that have comps at a certain hotel whenever they want, most of the time it’s because they have lost a lot of money at that casino. For example: Spend $80 a night for a hotel room for four nights or lose $2000.00 in a night gambling? Economics will easily explain that one.

There are visitors who will gladly tell you about their winnings and comps but they won’t tell you about how much they lost.

I have met people who tell me they only stay at a certain casino, which is fine but a decent, clean and safe room can be found in many of the properties.

MyVegas Rewards; Does it work? Pt. 1

Many of us have a Facebook page and we get inundated with pictures of friends vacations, announcements, opinions, happiness, sadness etc.  There are a lot of fun games to play on Facebook but the one that has my attention is the MyVegas Slots.  I used to play Farmville and it was fun but when MyVegas came along, I haven’t been to the farm in years.

You get virtual cash just for starting the game and as you play it, you also the opportunity to build MLife properties on the Strip.  You start off with some small properties such as a wedding chapel, helicopter tours, restaurant, and a car rental.  As you play, the properties start to build and eventually you end up with properties such as Circus Circus, Mandalay Bay, New York New York, MGM  Grand, Monte Carlo, Aria, and Bellagio.

As you continue playing either the slots, or black jack, you set your betting amount and play.  When you win, you get bonus coins to continue playing and as you continue to play, you earn Loyalty points which can be cashed in for so many things!  You can get 2 for 1 tickets to shows, buffets, free merchandise, spa treatments, meals, drinks, shopping and tours just to get this list started.

MGM Properties and parking; how to ease the pain of paying

I think I have found a way around my personal speed bump, hiccup, detour, however you want to call it. A few weeks back, I wrote about how the MGM properties were going to start charging for parking and how other casinos will probably follow. I have found out that there is a MLife MasterCard that seems like a super deal. The rewards aren’t that impressive; 10k MLife points after spending $1000 in 90 days. 3x the points on each dollar spent at MLife properties, 2x the points on restaurants and grocery stores, and 1x the point on everything else.
What really drives this offer home to me is the following; automatic Pearl status for MLife rewards, free parking at MLife Las Vegas properties and NO Annual fee! This card it totally worth it for someone who visits Sin City often, and frequents these properties.

I will definitely be getting this card before my next trip to Las Vegas because not having to pay for parking is worth a credit inquiry.

 

 

A Different Era Riviera, Sands, Desert Inn Casinos

When you love Las Vegas as much as I do, you might get nostalgic when you hear of icons and landmarks from Sin City’s past being removed. Today, the Riviera Hotel and Casino was imploded. In case you didn’t know, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority bought the property to expand the convention center.
Seeing these old school properties that made Las Vegas what it is today, get moved out is way of life in the 9th island, but the memories will always be there. Casinos such as this one, the Sands, Desert Inn, Flamingo and Tropicana can only have your imagination reeling back to a different era of this city. Only the Flamingo and Tropicana remain today.

A few years ago, I was talking with a couple from California at a blackjack table at the Golden Nugget . They were telling me how it was in the late 60’s when they would hang out at the Desert Inn pool and hear pages over the hotel loudspeaker for Don Rickles, Dean Martin etc.  I was waaay to young to have enjoyed Las Vegas at that time, but I wish I could have enjoyed a part of it.