Breaking from the Routine Part 3; my review of the Golden Nugget

I have written here about staying at a Downtown Las Vegas hotel in previous posts.  I find it convenient to stay Downtown instead of the Strip mostly because I can easily walk from one property to another.   Anyone who has stayed on the Strip will know that a property that states they are “right next door” or “right across the street” from another property is actually a long walk.

Besides staying at the California, Fremont, or Main Street, I have often stayed at the Golden Nugget.  This is another hotel casino that has been around for a very long time.   It is the largest hotel casino property downtown and, in my opinion, the classiest.

The Golden Nugget has three towers; Carson, Gold and Rush Towers.  In the order I listed them according to cost per night.   The rooms have been re-modeled a few times and they are very spacious rooms compared to other downtown properties.

The property has several restaurants, including Vic & Anthony’s Steak House,  Claim Jumper, Lillie’s Asian Cuisine, Red Sushi, the Grotto, and of course, the Buffet to name just a few.

The casino floor was under partial renovation when I was there in February 2016, but what I love about it is very easy to maneuver your way through and the ceilings are very high so that the cigarette smoke can waft way upwards from those of us who don’t smoke.

The casino also exits onto Fremont Street so you are right there in all the action at night.

For the value, I would say that the Golden Nugget is one of the few in Las Vegas that will give you the best experience and value, if you don’t mind staying downtown.  Remember, there are people who will only stay on the Strip.  I would recommend you stay there when you get the chance and sign up for their player’s program.  I always find e-mail promotions from them, more than other casinos.  Promotions for shows, special room rates and events.

 

Reality TV in Sin City Part 2; History Channel Counting Cars

One show that spun off from “Pawn Stars” was “Counting Cars”.  Starring Danny, Kevin, Horny Mike, Rollie.  It started off on “Pawn Stars” with Rick or Corey calling Danny aka “the Count” of “Count’s Kustoms” to give his opinion on a car the shop might be buying.  The car might be a fixer, a kit car, or a restored classic and Danny would be called to see if the car would be worth buying and how much it can be re-sold for.

The History channel eventually gave Danny his own show “Counting Cars” which usually runs in half hour segments, shows Danny acquiring a car and a customer brining a car to the shop to be fixed up.   What amazes me is how much these customers spend to have their cars fixed!  Some pay as much as $40,000.00!1

If you go to the shop on 2714 S Highland Dr, it is just off Sahara Avenue between the Strip and the I-15 freeway.  You travel down less than a mile on Highland Drive and you will see signs directing you to the shop on the east side of the street.  When you arrive, you might find an employee sitting at the parking lot entrance who might let you park if there is space.  The shop shares parking with other businesses.  There is also street parking.

As you walk up to the entrance, you will see the familiar garage door where Danny and the customers usually stand and Danny will eventually  yell “Rollie!! Bring that bad boy out”.

You sign in the same lobby they use in the show and the admission is free.  Your allowed to walk around the shop’s collection, take all the pics you want, but you can’t touch any.  Fine by me.  You will see most from the shows and they are strategically placed so that you can walk around several vehicles.

When you get to the end, there is a gift shop that sells the usual gift items, but the hottest seller there seems to be the t-shirts the cast wears.  I wanted a XL black t-shirt that the cast all wears, but they were out of my size as well as the gray and white.  There was alot of red t-shirts, but not for me.  I feel that since I’m at Count’s Kustoms, the shirt should be black!!

While I didn’t see any of the cast, I was told by another Hawaii resident (remember how I mentioned I will be mentioning tips)  that if you go at lunch time, a lunch wagon will pull up, honk it’s horn and the shop crew will come out to eat and some of the cast from show might be included in the bunch.

Horny Mike's Bus
Horny Mike’s Bus

IMG_3872 IMG_3882

 

 

Sad but true: the follow-up

A little while ago I posted about the Mlife properties will be charging for parking, especially the Strip.  Today I got an e-mail from Mlife explaining it further.  What it says in summary is that the changes will take effect June 6, 2016.  Here is small sample of what’s to come:

  • Hotel guests just scan their room key card to access and exit the parking lot  for no charge
  • Upper level Mlife Rewards members can scan their cards to access and exit with no charge
  • Up to the end of 2016, Nevada residents can just scan their driver’s license to get complimentary parking
  • Most properties are free for the first hour
  • Monte Carlo, Excalibur and Luxor will be $5 for the first 4 hours and 4 – 24 hours is $8.  Any additional days are $8 per day
  • Bellagio, Aria, MGM, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, New York New York will be $7 for the first 4 hours and 4 – 24 hours is $10.  Any additional days are $10 per day.

click here to read it further in detail

Reality TV in Sin City Part 1; History Channel Pawn stars

166318_187238311289480_8087609_n

I admit that I watch a lot of TV and that is mostly reality shows (besides the major sports).   A few years ago I stumbled on “Pawn Stars” and have a fan since!   I know people that will say that Rick, Corey, the Old Man and Chumlee rip off people, but my reply to that has been “who says you have to sell?”  I love watching the items that come in and some that even get sold.

I have probably visited the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop four times since becoming a fan of the show.  It is located north of the Strip on Las Vegas Blvd.  Sometimes there is a line outside but I’ve been lucky so far; each time I went, I could just walk in but just a little disappointed that I couldn’t see any of the stars.  The only one that comes close to being a star that I saw working there was “Travis“.  He is pretty cool to talk to if he’s not too busy.  If I’m not mistaken, a few years ago, I was in the shop to buy a t-shirt and when I gave him (pretty sure it was him) my Hawaiian Airlines credit card, he told me he was born in Hawaii, at Tripler Medical Center, but left with his mom within a few months, so he can claim the 50th State as  his birthplace, but he grew up in Las Vegas.

Breaking from the routine part 2; the Downtown D Casino

I wrote a few days ago about staying at The D Downtown Las Vegas and now I want to  continue on about my experience.  The lobby is small and has only 4-5 stations to check in guests, compared to Strip hotels that  have 3x the amount of stations.

After getting your key, the room elevators are pretty much right behind you.  The elevator system is one I’ve only seen at this hotel, but I’m sure it’s elsewhere.  You go to one central key pad, enter your floor number and the screen tells you which elevator to enter.  You really by pass a bunch of floors this way.   When you enter the elevator, there is no push buttons for which floor because you already entered it on the central keypad.

Once in the rooms, they are clean and comfortable.   Beds were very comfortable and cleaned daily.  The showers have the type of shower head that gives you the rain feeling.

Overall, I say staying here is worth the money and the experience.

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….

http://www.reviewjournal.com/life/low-tech-horse-race-game-has-loyal-following

 

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.

http://vegasexperience.com/fremont-street-performers-can-register-online-or-in-person/#comment-7523