Coffee rewards to cost more

Tomorrow starts the new Starbucks Coffee rewards program.  I’m not too sure it’s necessarily an improvement on the old program.  Under the old program, you load your gold Starbucks card with either cash or pay from a credit card and use your Starbucks Rewards card whenever you would buy something.  Coffee, pastry, gum, it didn’t matter what you bought because you only had to use it 12 times to get a free drink.
Using Hawaii prices, you pay for a tall house coffee for around $1.94.  Do this 12 times and you spend around $23. 28 to get a reward.  Under the revised plan, you earn 2 stars for every dollar you spend and when you earn 125 stars, you get a free drink. So you have to essentially spend $62.50 to earn a free drink!  It is $39.22 more! I can see some people buying a Venti Frappuccino with 20 extra shots just see if they can get their money’s worth.
With that being said, if your visiting Las  Vegas and need your daily Starbucks fix to get  your day started, you might want to  avoid the locations downtown Las Vegas and the Strip.  The Golden Nugget has two locations, one near the Carson Tower and one next Fremont Street.  I have noticed that the prices there might even be higher than the airports.  Some drinks are almost double your neighborhood Starbucks.
On the Strip, you can find a Starbucks at the Venetian, Planet Hollywood, The Fashion Show Mall , the Linq, New York New York, the Mirage, Caeser’s Palace, Harrah’s and Mandalay Bay.  As you can bet, because of the locations, the prices tend to be higher.
Do yourself a favor and buy your Starbucks at a location outside of the Strip and downtown areas.  If you leave downtown via Paradise road, there is one just past the Las Vegas Boulevard intersection.  Of course, if you want to spend the money so you can qualify for your upcoming free drink, feel free to spend at these locations.

Breaking from the routine

As I have stated in earlier posts, when most people from Hawaii travel to Las Vegas, they will stay at either The California, The Fremont or the Main Street Station.  These three are the most popular.  I have stayed downtown more often than I have stayed on the Strip and I have found out that one of the latest hotel casinos is worth the stay.
I have stayed at the Downtown D recently and I am pleased by what I have experienced.  It used to be the old Fitzgerald’s Hotel and Casino but it was purchased back in 2011 and completely renovated.  640 rooms got made over and two bars were added.  The owners for this property also own the classic up the street, The Golden Gate Hotel and Casino.
As far as the gaming floor, it is smaller than other casinos, especially if you compare it to the Strip properties.  On the ground floor it can flashy and have a nightclub feel at night; music playing with dancers elevated behind the tables and a very long bar not too far away.  The dancers I just mentioned are also dealers for the D too!  The blackjack tables have evolved with the times where payouts our 6 to 5 for a blackjack and the trend of the side bets are at these tables too.
The second floor harkens back to Vegas a couple of generations ago.  There are older slot machines and even a Sigma Derby!  For those of you who don’t know, it’s the classic old horse race game you play against other players.  It always seems to have people playing it no matter when I walk by.  One of these days I will jump on this to see what it’s all about.
More to come….


at The Cal

Most people from Hawaii who travel to Las Vegas love to stay downtown, especially the California Hotel and Casino. There are so many reasons why it is popular with Hawaii people, but some of the most common ones are (not in any particular order):
• This hotel casino, along with the Fremont, Main Street Station and sometimes the Orleans, are part of the package that Vacations Hawaii has included so we have gotten used to staying there
• The airfare, ground transportation, baggage handling, and meals are all taken care of for one price
• The dealers, cocktail servers, cashiers, front desk, all hotel employees seem so nice and accommodating, just people in Hawaii
• The restaurants have the staples of home; rice, shoyu, teriyaki, macaroni salad etc
• You can roam around downtown and between these properties and you seem to always run into someone you know. I ran into my cousin Floyd and his wife Sharon on three separate trips to Las Vegas. I also ran into my cousin Claire and her husband Tok, who live in San Francisco, on two trips.
I will expand on this posting and break it down further in the next few days

Sad but true..

9660112_GI have been reading up that MGM Properties, that own MGM, Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Excalibur, New York New York, Bellagio, Mirage and Circus Circus will start charging for parking starting April 2016.  From what I understand is that this charge will not apply to guests of these hotels, but everyone else who shows up to gamble, shop, dine, attend a show or just roam around.

Those of us who have stayed in Downtown Las Vegas have been used to having to pay for parking in some form or another.  California, Main Street Station , Fremont, Golden Nugget, Four Queens etc.  Most of these we can simply exit by showing our room key.

I read that the MGM properties own over 3000 parking stalls on the Strip so if they were to charge $5.00 per car, that would make a good chunk of change for their profit margin.    I just hope it doesn’t become like the resort fee charge;  one hotel casino starts and everyone else follows.

What I can see happening is someone paying and parking their car in one hotel casino parking garage and walking everywhere else or riding the monorails.

Helps with the pedestrian flow; Regulating Buskers

I recently visited Las Vegas from February 21-26, 2016 and stayed at the The D Downtown.  More on that later.  What I was amazed it was the Fremont Street Experience seems to be less people, but it was more likely a better flow of people.

Those of us who frequent downtown know how the street peddlers have multiplied over the years.   From the guy playing his horns, a couple of rappers and a spray paint artist creating landscapes to MANY peddlers offering anyone an opportunity to take a picture with half naked nuns, Wonder Woman, Bumble Bee from the Transformers, a midget Mr. T and the cast of the Hangover to name a few.  Not to mention the other singers, rappers, dancers, and musicians that began to crowd the streets.  Trying to maneuver around all these people would be tiring and time consuming.

On this trip, I noticed that there are strategically spots on the ground that look like poker chips and the performers have to stay within these boundaries in order to ply their talents.  I found out that as of November 16, 2015 a new city ordinance went into effect.  The performers, or “buskers” as they are called, can register on line or at a booth near the Fremont Street and are randomly assigned one of the spots for 2 hour intervals.

Remember, they cannot charge or demand money for taking pictures with them.  Any money you give them is strictly up to you.

Click below to read more details regarding this.




Why I’m here


I have lived in Hawaii for most of my life and have found that the rest of the world views my home as “paradise”, which it really is.  Sun, pleasant weather, beaches, beautiful people etc.  Which makes it hard to realize that those of us that call Hawaii home vacation away from here and the number 1 vacation destination (at least it seems to me) is Las Vegas, Nevada!! Known in Hawaii as the “9th Island”.

I would visit Las Vegas at a drop of a hat if I could.  I know there are others out there like me who feel the same way.  I wanted to have a spot on the web where I could share what I learn about the 9th Island in my travels, research and, of course, talking story with others who enjoy Las Vegas.

As I write this, I will be quoting other articles that I come across and I will diligently, try as much as I can to give them the credit due.  This not a blog for tips on how to gamble or count cards etc. but more of a place for everything else while on a Las Vegas vacation.