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.

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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.

Shopping for Trader Joe’s; a Must Stop when traveling

When people from Hawaii travel to Las Vegas, a must (absolute must) stop is Trader Joe’s! You know that you have to bring something back from this market to the gang at the office, the neighbor that watched your house while you were on the trip, the babysitter, and other people who are close to you.

The most frequented branch is located on 2101 South Decatur Blvd. , north of West Sahara Avenue. I remember a few years ago, walking into this location and right in front, taped onto a support pole was a list titled: “Most popular items for our shoppers from Hawaii”. Which tells you how many of us shop at this certain location because it really close to Downtown Las Vegas.

There are other branches within Las Vegas but not frequented as much as the Decatur Blvd. According to the Trader Joe’s web page, there are two locations in Summerlin and two locations in Henderson.

I can’t confirm this but because the other locations are as frequented by Hawaii people, the stock of Cookie Butter is left on the shelf, not behind the customer service counter like it is at the Decatur Blvd. branch. If you were to vacation elsewhere and come across a Trader Joe’s anywhere else in the country, the Cookie Butter is also left on the shelf or on an end display.

Whenever I shop there, my favorites have been dried figs, trail mix, energy bars, cranberry dunkers, blueberry bars, pumpkin bars etc. I can’t help but envy (sometimes) the locals who can shop there and take home some of the frozen or refrigerated specialty items I see on display; marinated lamb rack, various cheeses, marinated fish and chicken and so many it makes almost anyone look like a gourmet chef.

 

Kahuku vs Bishop Gorman; Las Vegas and Hawaii game of the year

What has happened this weekend in Las Vegas has got to be something out of the ordinary. I’m not talking about Megabucks hitting twice in day but a huge football game. It’s not a professional game or even a NCAA FBS game but a high school football game between Kahuku High School and the number one team in the country, Bishop Gorman. The pride of the North Shore, Kahuku High School is ranked number 18 out of 20 according to the USA Today . It is really awesome considering that it is a public school which has to work with the student body that number barely over 1400 students.

Bishop Gorman also has a student body about the same size, but they don’t have community boundaries to operate within. It also helps that they have a long list of distinguished alumni with money.

On my Facebook page are a couple of videos of the Kahuku football team on Fremont Street attending a pep rally, which was huge! Located between the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino , Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel, The Fremont Hotel and Casino, and the Four Queens Hotel and Casino, a stage was set up and all I could see was red all the way down the Fremont Street Experience.

I was told informally that the game sold out within hours and Kahuku High School depleted their allotment of 2000 tickets, which goes to show the support the people of Hawaii can have for the home team. I know a few people from Hawaii made the trip (like it is hard to convince people from Hawaii to travel to Las Vegas) and thousands living on the mainland, I imagine the crowd will not be one sided in cheering.

I know this is early, but I wish the players from the North Shore the best of luck and to play hard, play with pride, and stay safe.

Container Park; Different Experience but so close to the action

While vacationing in Las Vegas last year, my friend Marc told me about a new attraction, so close to Downtown Las Vegas called “Container Park“.  He assured me that it was just across Las Vegas Boulevard from the Fremont Street Experience and that it would be worth checking out.

So one late afternoon I took a walk east on Fremont Street, crossed Las Vegas Boulevard and a couple of blocks later, I was walking up to gigantic metal praying mantis.  It is made of recycled metal parts and can move up and down. Also just outside of Container Park is large metal heart shaped sculpture with wire mesh covering it.  There are dozens, if not over a hundred padlocks attached to this heart.  This is a take off from the social media concept of couples locking a padlock onto a fence near a scenic point and throwing the key away as a symbolism to their loved having a lock on their heart.

There was a group of about 20 young children sitting a half circle near this metal giant, waiting anxiously.  I stood there long enough to see that they were about to start drum lessons from a instructor who appeared to be very relaxed in his teaching.

Walking into Container Park, you find that it laid out in a large circle, two and three stories high of recycled shipping containers that have been converted to shops, restaurants, art galleries and offices. My favorite has become the the BluMarble which is unique in that it takes used alcohol bottles and transforms them into serving trays, shot glasses, drinking glasses and other useful items that have the product labeling on it.

The restaurants appear to be very popular as I observed four members of the North Las Vegas Police Department stopping in for a bite to eat and it is no secret that cops know the good places to eat!

I make it a point to always stop by this attraction whenever I’m staying in Las Vegas because the business have changed out a couple of times already and there might be something new or just something I missed.

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.

Olympics in Las Vegas; Anything is possible

These past few days I have been glued to the TV and other news website concerning the coverage of the 2016 Olympics in Rio.  I will start off by saying I am extremely proud of our athletes for what they have accomplished and really wish they could win them all.  Every four years are the only time I get into watching swimming, water polo, track and field etc.

So far in my lifetime I have seen the summer games twice within the USA and it got me thinking about the possibility of the Olympics being in Las Vegas?  Hear me out before you start with the reasons why it couldn’t happen.

Since hotels and mega malls seem to get built in record time in Las Vegas, I’m certain an Olympic sized arena could be built and in record time. The city of Las Vegas is toying with the idea of bringing the Oakland Raiders or another professional football team to the city and the arena, complete with football field and surrounded by a track could be the perfect solution.

An Olympic pool would have to be built, but with the heat in Las Vegas, it wouldn’t be hard to have people using it for a long time after the Olympics.

Other venues could be built or are currently in place to host most events.  We all know that hotels rooms would not be a problem there.

 

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.

Walking to exercise and take in the sights of Las Vegas

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I love to visit Las Vegas as much as the next person, but there are times when I visit that I want to slow down and see what’s around. An energetic couple in my neighborhood of Mililani Mauka told me about an activity they do when they travel. Dennis and Carol Romig belong to a local walking club named “Menehune Marchers“. They have walked in all 50 states and have passed on some information for this blog.
Whenever they visit Las Vegas, not only do they gamble, shop, eat and sightsee, they do long walks. Their club is in a network of other walking clubs across the country and when they visit the 9th Island, they take time from the usual to work off the awesome food they have been consuming.

Have you noticed that you tend to see a lot more things when you walk vs riding a vehicle?  I know I do.  You find LOTS of small, hole in the wall places to shop and eat.  You get to really appreciate what a business has to offer, and the food can really taste good because you have worked up an appetite by walking.

Most of these clubs walk most of the year except the summer months because, as we all know, it can be super hot!  I have enclosed some pics of the route these walkers have taken and will be following up on this blog entry in the near future.

Losing Mermaids, Fried Twinkies, coin slot machines

This past Monday, 6-27-16, marked another passing in Las Vegas.  Not the funeral type, but the passing of another mainstay in Downtown Las Vegas.  This date was the last day of operation for Mermaids Casino, Glitter Gulch and La Bayou.  The trio were purchased by Derek Stevens, co-owner of The D Las Vegas and Golden Gate Hotel and Casino.  He plans to renovate them but is quiet on what that will be.

What I will miss about these two casinos is that they are a throwback to when Downtown casinos were just that, casinos.  I know that was many years ago, but many years ago, a trip to Sin City meant staying at one of the surrounding motels and going to the casinos to gamble. Eventually most evolved to becoming hotel and casinos properties, but not Mermaids and La Bayou.  The latter was also the only all coin slot machine casino left.  Remember the days of the slot girls walking around with their apron full of rolls of quarters and dollars?  Looking back, that must have been punishing work.

From a gastro point of view, I will miss the deep fried twinkies and oreos, even though I only had them once, as I always thought “I get one on the next trip”.

It must have been nostalgic in the hours before closing and really wish I could have been there to take part in it.

http://news3lv.com/news/local/three-longtime-properties-along-fremont-street-sold-to-make-room-for-future-developments