‘Tis the season for many of us to look back on the year that was and look forward to the year coming up. 2013 was a unique year for me, in that I was able to travel to Las Vegas twice, allowing me twice as many experiences in my favorite city. Below is a list of my personal highlights from my July and October trips. (I’m trying to keep the word count down, so follow the links to my full reviews where applicable.)
Best Overheard Quote:
“The best adventures start with the phrase ‘Don’t tell Mom.’”
I’m not a morning person, so I’m rarely ever awake for sunrise on vacation. But I woke up early on my first morning at Planet Hollywood and happened to look out the window and see this:
In Las Vegas, comps (“complimentaries” or freebies) are handed out to those gambling a certain amount (a lot) of money. Depending on how much you spend, you could be comped a free meal, a show ticket, or even your room for the length of your stay. Even low rollers like me can score free drinks while playing the penny slots. This is part of what makes gambling fun. I mean, who doesn’t like free stuff?
Except this is just one of the many ways Vegas psychs people out. Because in this case, “free” isn’t really free. It’s more like the casino version of a cashback credit card or an airline rewards card. You’re being rewarded for spending money by getting something in return that is worth a fraction of what you spent. If you’re playing max bet at bartop video poker, you’ll get a free drink, all right, but if you’re not winning, you can run through $60 in 30 minutes of play or less. That’s a pretty expensive “free” drink.
But it’s not just money that can lose its value in the chasing of comps. You’ve heard the expression “Time is money”? You have to consider what your time is worth, too. Which brings me to the reason why I am writing today’s post: The online game called myVEGAS.
More and more Vegas visitors are chasing comps via a Facebook game called myVEGAS. This is a free game, so it costs you no money (in theory), but you can rack up points that can be exchanged for real-world comps in Vegas, like meals, shows, drinks and even rooms. Sounds like a screaming deal, right? Continue reading →
Just a quick recap today, since I’m still freshly back from my Vegas trip and trying to readjust to East Coast time. I’ll post full reviews of everything later on, but for now, the quick-and-dirty recap. This was a trip of “firsts” for me.
First time staying at the Luxor. I have heard so many bad reviews of this place, I expected it to be a dump, and it certainly was not. In fact, my room (in the Tower) was nicer than my room at the Monte Carlo last year and you know how much I love the Monte Carlo. So I was pleasantly surprised. I’ll post a full review later, but the upshot is there’s no reason to avoid staying here.
I only regret that I didn’t get a chance to ride the Inclinator, because my room wasn’t in the Pyramid.
First time using myVEGAS comps. I used 3 comps on this trip at the Luxor: One comped Saturday night stay, one breakfast buffet at MORE buffet, and a free margarita at Tacos & Tequila. Only one of these comps was worth the amount of time I spent on this stupid game to earn it. I’ll let you guess which one that was. Continue reading →
One of my readers, Tracey from New Zealand, will be visiting Las Vegas soon and contacted me to express a little nervousness about our tipping practices in the U.S. I totally feel your pain, Tracey—and I live here. Figuring out tipping in the U.S. is complicated enough; figuring out tipping in Las Vegas feels like cramming for an exam. No wonder so many people prefer all-inclusive vacations.
But don’t worry, even if you screw up, the world won’t end. I have accidentally stiffed a waiter because I was in a hurry to get to a show, and a valet because I neglected to have any small bills on me. I have double-tipped at times when I didn’t realize the gratuity was already included in the bill. These things happen. You just don’t want them to happen consistently.
Be sure to tip your bartender.
So who do you need to tip and how much should you tip? I’ve listed my (loose) guidelines for tipping in Las Vegas below. I don’t claim my tipping practices are perfect—sometimes I’m probably a bit too frugal, and sometimes, I’m probably a bit too generous. I’ve never gotten attitude from anyone about my tips, though, so either they’re all remarkably polite or I’m at least in the ballpark.
Get yourself a cup of coffee, this is a long one. Basically, it’s all my random musings from my trip that won’t be fitting into a future blog post. (Probably.)
In the coming weeks and months, I’ll have posts for you about Cirque’s Michael Jackson ONE, Rock of Ages, the Goretorium, the Richard Petty Experience, Carnevale at the Venetian/Palazzo, the National Geographic Photo Exhibit, my spa experience at Canyon Ranch, the Aria Buffet, Bonnie Springs, tons of restaurants (including the oldest Mexican restaurant in Las Vegas) and more.
Gondolas at night, Venetian Las Vegas
But today, you get my random thoughts and photos of the changes going on in Las Vegas. One thing that keeps me coming back to Las Vegas is how much it changes from year to year. Every time I am here, it’s like visiting a new city, but with that comforting familiarity of an old favorite place. This year was full of changes, which I hope means Vegas is on an upswing again. Continue reading →