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Detroit Does Vegas - VT10 Weekend

Started by detroit1051 on Saturday, 10th May 2014 6:55 am
Last response by jinx73 12th May 8:19am

Thoughts upon returning from second trip to Vegas this year after seven year absence:
Wynn: Was there six times in '05 and '06. Toward end of '06, I thought service had really slipped. Stayed there both times this year, and Wynn is back at the top of its game. Service was excellent. Wynn is a fantasy world for me, totally different from my life at home. However, superior service by all employees seems almost scripted and slightly phony compared to the genuine people at both Bellagio and The D Las Vegas. In March, Wynn had turn-down service; not this time. The hotel was packed with fight attendees, so I suspect extras like turn-down are limited to guests much higher on the pecking order. I'd love to see the criteria they use for comps, extras, etc.
Bellagio: After reading Mike_E's editorial on VegasTripping, I got nostalgic and went back to check it out. It was my home in Vegas from its 1998 opening until Wynn opened in '05. I didn't like the changes MGM had initially made and so haven't stayed there in nine years. I spent three hours walking through the entire property and was impressed by the attention MGM has paid to it. It had its old luster back. Employees were all helpful and genuine, seemingly more so than at Wynn. If I can get an offer from Bellagio, I'd like to go back for a stay. Wynn sent me quarterly offers all through my seven year absence. Once I switched from Bellagio to Wynn in '05, I never heard another word from Bellagio. The only disappointment with Bellagio is the absence of Fontana. The entrance wall to Hyde just looks monolithic. As nice as Wynn is, the quality of its marble and mosaic flooring doesn't compare to that at Bellagio. There will never be another Bellagio (unless it's the new Wynn Palace in Macau.)
Cosmopolitan: First time in the property. I wasn't blown away. Yes, it was before noon, so I didn't try any of the bars or restaurants. I knew the casino was shoehorned into a very small plot of land, but I couldn't believe how long and narrow the casino was running west from the Strip. I tried to take the elevator to a guest floor, but a room key is required. Even Wynn doesn't do that any more. I need to go back and try the bars and restaurants.
MGM Grand: Another property I used to haunt. Was there for the first time in either January or February '94 when it was totally themed Wizard of Oz and stopped going there ten years ago. I was impressed with what MGM has done with it. It looked more upscale. I liked it until I saw the hotel registration area. Remember, this was Mayfield-Maidana fight weekend. Beyond comprehension, the number of people lined up to either check-out or check-in. There was a separate line of at least 100 people waiting to check their bags at the bell desk since they couldn't get into their rooms. What a zoo. I self-parked, and the garage is just as unappealing as it has always been; dark, narrow spaces, long walk through the "Underground" to the hotel. In the old days, the Valet pick-up area had a chalkboard for the employees which was updated every day with the total occupancy, number of check-ins and check-outs. They may not still use such an archaic system, but it was always interesting (to probably only me) to see the thousands and thousands of guests coming in and out every day. Unfortunately, I forgot to look this time.
Walking by Crush brought back memories of the great, under-appreciated Charlie Trotter's in '94 or '95. It was ahead of its time on the Strip. Replaced by Gatsby's, and now Crush.
I tried to walk into the long, gated hallway behind the Mansion Casino to see how the beautiful people live, but Security told me I was not worthy :-)
Downtown: I hadn't been downtown since the year the original Fremont Street Experience opened in '95 or '96. I'm still more of a Strip guy, but I was impressed with the changes. Saturday afternoon, there was a country music atmosphere with tables of crawfish set up under the canopy. Now, I wouldn't eat crawfish sitting on tables in 90 degree temperatures, but the people there didn't look any worse for wear.
First stop was Golden Gate for VT10. It's unbelievable what Derek Stevens has done with both Golden Gate and The D Las Vegas. The music was a little loud for me, but there certainly is an old Vegas atmosphere. The recording of VegasGang was done in Chuckmonster's suite. The hotel hallway and suite really proved how much care (and money) Derek and his team invested in the property. First class. Not Wynn or Bellagio, but it's not supposed to be. It was here that I decided to extend my trip by one day and book a D Suite at The D Las Vegas. I moved from Wynn to The D on Monday morning and was given a D Suite on the 11th floor, right across from and above the Four Queens sign.
Like Golden Gate, the money spent on renovation at The D was well worth it. The D Suite was more than I needed and very nice. No point in trying to equal Misnomer's review of it last year. Misnomer covered everything....except for one thing that is testimony to my clumsiness. The bed is in a wooden frame with sharp edges. Twice, my big toe made contact. Maybe after two times, I would have learned how to walk around the bed. Speaking of the bed, the mattress is more to my liking than the one at Wynn. Much firmer at The D. The room was spotless other than one tell-tale sign on the living room sofa that a romantic (or at least sexual) interlude had taken place there.
Being on the 11th floor, the music coming from Fremont Street Experience was a little loud, but it didn't stop me from sleeping. Next time, I'd try to get on one of the top floors. That brings me to the old Courthouse property. I have no idea what Derek has planned, but since The D is a first class property downtown, he might consider adding convention space and high-end suites. The suites would be further insulated from the noise of FSE and could offer amenities (spa? restaurant?) to attract more high-end casino guests as well as business guests.
Lunch and breakfast at the D Grill, dinner at Andiamo. No complaints at all. If I were a Vegas local, I could see myself at the Andiamo bar on a regular basis. Quiet, intimate, good service and full menu at the bar. I've always had a soft spot for Joe Vicari's restaurants, and even though this one is 2,000 miles from metro Detroit, it was like coming home.
Dr. Dave did a report on the decline of the total number of slot machines over the years. Part of the reason has to be the advent of multi-denominational machines. The D had a lot of newer machines that could be played at different amounts. This seems especially valuable to smaller properties with limited casino space. Now that I'm a D Club member, we'll see if I get any offers to come back.
The D is in a perfect location. It's not trapped under the canopy but right next to it. It was a very smart idea to install the outside Up escalator from Fremont to The D's Vue Bar. I liked the quieter atmosphere of Vue plus its outside balcony.
Mob Museum: Huge thanks to @dustinofholland who enthusiastically told me about the Mob Museum. I walked from the D on Monday and thoroughly enjoyed it. Anyone interested in organized crime, the Kefauver Hearings, Vegas casinos in the old days, etc really should spend a couple of hours here.
Downtown Grand: Walking to the Mob Museum, I looked for Downtown Grand. Although I could see the hotel tower, I thought, where's the casino? It was not until I got to the corner that I realized I had walked right by it. There's something wrong when a casino in Vegas looks like a non-descript (but nice) office building. I made a U Turn and walked through the casino. Granted, it was Monday afternoon, but the place was empty. Even worse, there was no energy; nothing that told me to spend some time there.
I keep thinking of the visibility of Derek and Nicole, and how they interact with their guests. It's a welcome touch you won't find anywhere else. Can you imagine chatting with Steve, Sheldon or Jimbo at one of their bars? No, neither can I.
Conclusion: Too many words, but I've got my Vegas back and can't wait to return for #VIMFP in October. See ya'll there.

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 donnymac66 responded on Saturday, 10th May 2014

Great write up as usual. I always enjoy reading your thoughts on Vegas, very insightful. We stayed at Bellagio 3 times in the past year and agree with both yours and MikeE's assessment. Was nice to finally meet you at VT10. See you in October.

 Chuckmonster responded on Saturday, 10th May 2014

Funny thing about Downtown Grand, MissMonkay had the same reaction to the building... "where is it? is that it?" She's still crowing about it a week later. DTG definitely needs to take the massive DOWNTOWN GRAND sign that is hiding over by the porte cochere and put it on an arch above 3rd street facing Fremont. I actually had fun gambling there even though it was quiet, perhaps because it was.

It was/is great to meet you FINALLY after all of these years. i'm so glad that you are back in the Vegas groove again... great post as always. #VIMFP!

 level42 replied on Saturday, 10th May 2014

I completely agree about the Downtown Grand casino. I enjoyed the music selection and volume...and playing there. Overall, I really like the place...and will play there again. I'm betting that this time next year, dumpster alley is cleaned up, a sign of some sort is above 3rd street, and Mob Bar is gone.

 jinx73 responded on Monday, 12th May 2014

Great write up, I can completely relate to your thoughts on the D and Gate, I still find myself longing for some of the creature comforts of the strip (i.e a spa at the D would be high on my wish list for the courthouse upgrade).

I'm also a fan of the D beds, one of the better ones I've experienced in town.

I still continue to be impressed by the service at the D as well, I've not run into one dealer that gives me the vibe that they don't want to be there, and as much as I've been playing when I've been there, I consider that a strong positive. I swear that dealer surliness was a big reason for my move to slots, that and the fact that strip properties ignored my level of play at lower levels, two things that don't seem to be the case at the D.

I'm unlikely to make it to VIMFP this year, but I am expecting my fall trip to be partially at the D, which will make 4-5 trips in the row with at least one night there.