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Trip Report Jan 2017

Last edit: hugeheed63 on Sunday, 5th February 2017 3:10 pm
Last response by wpsteel66 19th February 7:23pm

Just returned from a quick trip that I'll call "Trip #30". I've actually been calling the past several jaunts #30 because I've lost count.....I know they're all somewhere around that number, give or take a few.
We arrived on Wednesday morning and flew out Saturday morning, giving us 3 days of fun and debauchery (well, as much debauchery as this old guy can stand).
No shows this trip, so the agenda mostly consisted of bars and restaurant visits. Dinner on Wednesday night was at Oscar's downtown. I had been before and like the atmosphere...the food was good but I don't know if I would write home about it, and the service was just ok. The server was clearly assigned too many tables and was doing his best, but for Vegas food prices that's just not good enough.
I was there with the wife while she attended a conference, so she went to the room after dinner, leaving me time to have drinks with a buddy whose wife was also attending the conference. We met at the Linq and had a drink at Tilted Kilt and then Tag at the VP bar. Upon sitting at the bar we were immediately (and in a friendly way) informed that our play would dictate comped drinks-my first experience with the dreaded computer green or red light. Since it was late we only had one each so there wasn't much of an issue with trying to keep up my play for a second beer. By the way, had a good IPA draft....while I appreciate a good cold draft Miller Lite as much as the next guy it's nice to have better choices.
My buddy and I joined back up the next morning for breakfast and then a day of bar hopping since the wives had meetings to attend all day. Breakfast was at Mon Ami Gabi, my favorite place to start the day. Next we hit the Crowell VP bar and were once again schooled on how the new drink system works. Bartender was very cool and told us to drink the first beer quickly because the green light would stay on long enough for another without an additional $20, which worked. Next was the VP bar near the party pit at Harrah's....same explanation from the bartender.
Afterwards was the obligatory stop at Casino Royale for a $1 Mich (and somehow I had missed reading about the bar overhaul.....seems like they may be slowly erasing the crappiness out of there? Say it ain't so, there's so little dive left on the Strip).
Next we shifted gears to catch Sinatra Smashes at Parasol Down, one of my very favorite spots in Vegas. We got to talking to the bartenders about the various whiskeys-they were very knowledgeable and we ended up having Old Fashions as well. I'm a little scared to read about an overhaul of that place-the bartenders said they really didn't think it would be very different though.
Another shift took us to the Fireside Lounge (after a 24 ounce when passing by a 7-11 on the way) and then an Uber to Atomic Liquors, with a finish at the new VP bar at the El Cortez.
We should have been down for the count at this point but actually weren't too bad off-as this all occurred over a six hour time period-I guess the walking helped out a little too.
That night the wife and I went with some of her co-workers to try the fried chicken at Brooklyn Bowl, which has been on my list for awhile. It was funny that there was a metal band performing there that night, and as such the music in the restaurant/bar area was very loud and very heavy. I actually appreciate that kind of noise but the wife and her friends not so much, but they were great sports about it. The friend chicken? Eh, was just ok.
Friday we met up with another couple and went for late lunch at Top of the World. It was out 3rd or 4th time to do that and I gotta say the price fixed menu was outstanding as always, along with the service and the good presentation. I joked with everyone about how I would have taken pictures of the plates but didn't want to be that Facebook person who posted pics of their food, however it would have been worth the razzing!
After lunch the wives wanted to hit Parasol Down since they had missed the day before, so we made a stop and then finished out the evening at Zefferino's at the Venetian. That place, to me, is one of the best kept secrets in Vegas-love the atmosphere of the bar and they have a cheap Happy Hour.
As for the accommodations......stayed at Bellagio. Love the casino floor there but gotta say the rooms are not as awesome as I remember from a 3 or 4 years ago-probably going back to Aria or Vdara after this.
Hope I haven't bored, and by the way my wife just made fun of me for writing this.....called me a Vegas nerd. She's got that right!

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 jimmybond responded on Monday, 6th February 2017

good tip on red light green light for drinking 1st beer quickly. Also have never heard of Zefferino's, will have to check it out.

Did Bellagio have the casino awnings down, and if so how did the place look???

 hugeheed63 replied on Tuesday, 7th February 2017

Zefferino's is a restaurant/bar in the Canal Shops just down from Tao. We ambled into the bar area a few years back and have ended up making it a stop most trips. It's nothing special, but again, check out Happy Hour and see what you think.
The awnings at Bellagio were down in a couple of places and still up in others. Looked very plain to me-I personally hate to see them go. This made me remember that I had walked through Flamingo just for nostalgia's sake; occasional guys trips over the years have been stays there because it's cheap. I noticed the remodel of Bugsy's Bar....neon gone leaving nothing but.....well, nothing but a sign. Either I had been over served or they've only changed one side of the bar-I'm sure there are plans to "modernize" the whole thing. Sigh.

 Drake responded on Monday, 6th February 2017

"Bartender was very cool and told us to drink the first beer quickly because the green light would stay on long enough for another without an additional $20, which worked. Next was the VP bar near the party pit at Harrah's....same explanation from the bartender."

Excellent; subversion in the ranks. Good to see.

Thanks for that tip for sure. Granted, the first ones go down awfully fast anyway, but still good to know!

Nice job, too, with the "Atomic to El Cortez" swing. Brings much-needed balance to a Bellagio stay!

 hugeheed63 replied on Tuesday, 7th February 2017

Yep, I'm an equal opportunity bar-hopper. While the Chandelier, Vesper, and Parasol Down are some of my favorite spots in Vegas, so are Fireside Lounge, Atomic (ventured off there the first time before Container Park and the closure/remodel....scary!), Hogs and Heifers, etc. Love a good Irish bar as well.
Have hit Dino's, Frankie's and Double Down over the years-living near New Orleans has put the dive bar gene in me!

 Drake replied on Wednesday, 8th February 2017

My buddy and I loved swinging by El Cortez back before that area was cleaned up. What a revelation! Single-deck pitch BJ, the heaviest cloud of smoke ever, and a cast of characters straight out of central casting. Best LV memories of all.

We wandered up to the now-closed Western once, daytime, but that was just a step too far. Some real whack jobs in there, that day.

That brown-bag story is funny. It's good your wife understands the mindset!

 anawas responded on Monday, 6th February 2017

So... the first "beer" at a red light/green light bar actually should be a shot? And *THEN* a beer before the green light turns off? I think I can manage that.

Nice to see the bartenders explain the system, and the workarounds. That is GREAT service. I would tip well for that information, which probably is why they share it.

Anyway, thanks for your trip report. It is cool to see someone move between the finest Vegas hotels, dive bars, old Vegas, Downtown Vegas and New Vegas.

I still like Bellagio's rooms (stayed there again during my wife's conference in November), but the room no longer seemed as exclusive and upscale. Wonder if it's the MGMification of Bellagio amenities or just that I'm spoiled.

Also, I love the energy of Bellagio's casino floor but quickly lose patience with the aimless mass of people in the lobby and the main walkway to the craps pit(s).

Like others have said, thanks for presenting new (to us) restaurants to try (and avoid).

 hugeheed63 replied on Tuesday, 7th February 2017

A shot and a beer? I like the way you think!
See my reply above regarding a mix of worlds while in Vegas.....I definitely liker to mix it up. Funny story-as we were walking from Wynn to Fireside my buddy asked how much further. I really didn't even look ahead before saying that I thought it was on the other side of what use to be the Riviera, so we had a ways to go. That's when he suggested a detour into the 7-11 for a 24 oz. As we were walking out I then realized Fireside was, um, right next door.....forcing us to drink beers out of paper bags in the parking lot of a bar, just to get into the bar. One of my friends called about right then and asked what we were doing.....her comment after learning of our predicament was "Wow, this just might be a new low". That's why I love Vegas Fantasy World, when else can you do that in real life??
As far as Bellagio: I think I love the idea of Bellagio more than the actual Bellagio itself. I don't want to sound negative to you all reading these comments but I kind of have an attitude about the pricier properties-charge a premium price for the room, drinks, food, entertainment, and tighten up the machines (although I did have good luck this trip and ended up only spending $50 a day due to my winnings)....well, after all that expense the room and property better be just about perfect. Seems like a small thing, but I had to iron a shirt while in the room. The ironing board leg had been damaged and it wouldn't hold itself up-so I called for a new one. I managed with the one I had and left it by the door-and found the new one left in the same spot when returning for the evening. Picky I know, but they couldn't put the new one up in the cabinet for all the luxury they present? Also, there was some type of light under the desk that was flickering-I never looked to see what it was but again, half burned out lights? One more thing-the decorative pillow for the bed was not once placed back on the bed when it was made. Huh.
Again, sorry for the negativity. I guess I may have become a hotel snob!
And you're right about the main walkway and lobby-always, always busy-but I still enjoy the casino floor.

 motoman replied on Wednesday, 8th February 2017

Yay Vegas Nerd! (Properly capitalized. You deserve it!)

You certainly did mix it up. But as for your expectations for Bellagio and other high-end properties: Chuck gave a very excellent explanation of turn-down service in his Macao review of Encore Grand Salon Suite. (Page 15 of 16, FYI.) Those "little things" really do matter, in a not so little way.

I do think the removal of the canopies represents PGP gone wild. As do your service notes. Vegas will soon reach a tipping point, despite current record visitor numbers. (Or so we can hope....) There is no longer any hope of help in the form of regulations on fee disclosure, but the market will eventually have its revenge on this insane penny-pinching.

 skyyontherocks responded on Sunday, 12th February 2017

Thank you for this report!
In regards to Bellagio, I come out to Las Vegas 3-5 time per year and one of those stays is usually at Bellagio. While I agree that it is more about the feel then the reality, I believe Bellagio rates have come down to the point where the property should not be viewed as high-end luxury. Pound for pound, I think Aria has a better room offering, but the experience on Bellagio's floor with a great sports book, sports book bar staff, Petrossian, and exciting, (and even sometimes affordable), craps tables easily surpasses Aria and others in my opinion. Also, I find the variety of slot machines to be the best on the strip and I don't know if I can agree with any "tightening". VP tables are better than what you usually find on the strip and like your experience, I always have a fair amount of luck with the games at Bellagio. Similar to the feeling of nostalgia that comes with the Parlour Bar at EL Cortez, that is what the feeling has been for me at Bellagio which is why the removal of the awnings is so disappointing.
At least for me, the room rates are on par with Paris so I have come to expect less from the room experience. It seems like the new luxury on the strip will be defined by the suite experience, or the hotels within the hotels.
Your report added to the anticipation of my upcoming trip...thanks!

 wpsteel66 responded on Sunday, 19th February 2017

Thanks for the report...good info presented.

Sounds like you had a great time...bummer to hear about you also saying the Bellagio gaming floor becoming plain...but I agree that the crowd from the front desk to the craps tables is insane...I find walking the perimeter of the casino (towards Lago) a more tolerable route.