boymimbo
boymimbo
Joined: Nov 12, 2009
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June 5th, 2017 at 11:18:03 PM permalink
Trip report for Las Vegas for a three night stay at the Mandalay Bay. My brother who lives in Vancouver and I have a meet up every year in Las Vegas. This was our second rendition.

Arrived Sunday around 1:30 at LAS and took a cab from the airport to the Mandalay Bay. I wasn't monitoring the forum at the time and might have attended Mike's wake for Dan. Nonetheless the cab fare which is normally $18 was a horrendous $23 by the time we got to the driveway, and the valet was so backed up that it cost an extra $5 to get up the driveway. I left a $5 tip and the taxi driver who was fairly nice up until that point got angry with my tip saying it should be at least $6 and that "he only makes 20% of the fare!". I told him to back off and that I knew what I was doing. I suspect that his meter was "fixed" as it was the normal routing to the hotel down Tropicana and should be no more than $21. Not a good start.

Neither was the check-in line, which was an hour long, but I found the MGM Gold check-in line which was only a 20 minute wait and still unacceptably wrong. No, I didn't get Gold through gambling. I got it though a hotel matching program via Marriott. Hyatt matches hotel status through a diamond challenge for a year and then MGM matches the Hyatt Platinum status with a Gold Card which was good until this September. MGM also offered on their mlife site two nights free in a resort queen and I paid for the first night at $140 including tax. When I printed out my reservations I noticed that there was no resort fees on the reservation which would come in handy.

Check in came, did the $20 trick (no need for a sandwich anymore, they pull the money out in plain view anyway) to put the two reservations together in the same room class and the agent worked through putting the reservations together, made a call to housekeeping and got me a two queen strip view on the 34th floor. She told me to put my credit card through for a $100 fee + the resort fee. Wait a second! I showed her the paperwork that I had printed and she typed in a few remarks and off came the fees, saving $119 bucks over three nights. No room changes necessary, an automatic check-out/check-in process and away I went. But the room wasn't ready. They would call me when it was.

I like Mandalay Bay for many reasons. Generally, it seems to be fairly low key (dead) most of the time and is a good place to hang out on Memorial Day. I love the pools and the sheer size of the wave pool makes it not seem crowded (though it was a challenge this weekend). As well, the wave pool is restricted from kidlets under 4' so it is just good to float near the deep end. The restaurants are not terrifically overpriced and there is a decent selection of food. Beds are comfortable and rooms are quiet (generally).

But the table games conditions at Mandalay Bay is not good. Too much 6:5 BJ. Pai Gow at $25 (should be $15) even on weekdays, and not many tables open at all.

So with the bags at the bell desk, I headed across the street to get vodka, mixer, beer and water. I had just crossed the street when the phone rang with the room ready. So procuring my liquor we headed up to the room. Mandalay Bay's rooms are nice, about 400sf with two queen beds, a dresser, LCD TV, mini-bar (don't touch), a couple of chairs and a table. A/C was very quiet and was very efficient. The bathroom featured two sinks, which was great for one sinking holding ice and beer while the other sink you use for hygiene. Shower was very nice and had a separate tub. Bathroom was in its own closet which meant you could use the facilities while someone else was mulling around the bathroom. Not that it matters much when you are married but comes in handy when you are rooming with friends.

I met up with my brother and we hung out for drinks and then made our way to Excalibur for the Camelot Steakhouse where we did the $100 for $50 on MyVegas. We spent between the two of us about $105 including tax and tip, which included two big steaks, salads, potatoes and a side of asparagus. With a good bottle of wine we could have done the $200 for $100 deal but my brother doesn't drink wine. Nonetheless I would not recommend Camelot. Frankly the steak was decent (not great), the salad had too much dressing and it just was not a good deal even with the discount.

We did a bit of gambling (Pai Gow Poker) at NYNY before dinner and managed to lose $100. After my brother left I found the one Big Split Poker VP machine which you have to rearrange an eight card hand for the biggest payout. I was playing $2 DW and was down about $200 when I hit 4 deuces (750) with a Straight Flush bottom (9x) for $675. I cashed out for the night up $375 for the day. Not a bad start. Apparently Ludicrous was at the nightclub at Mandalay Bay and there was plenty of younger good looking women wearing very little clothing walking through the hotel. I hate that.

Monday featured a trip to Ellis Island for the Steak and Eggs special, cabbing it for $14. We played some Video Poker and $5 3-2 blackjack and I left down $55 (+ breakfast @ $10 including coffee). I completely recommend making the trip to Ellis Island if you are staying mid-strip. After that, we hit the Stage Door for some bar drinks and Video Poker where I managed have 3 very quick drinks and finished up about $10 from there (after drinks). After that we took the long way back to the hotel via the Bellagio + Tram, walk through Monte Carlo and NYNY to the tram at Excalibur to the sportsbook (where my brother made some bad bets) and back to the room.

Mandalay Bay's Sportsbook by the way has a very stingy drink policy where you get a free drink for each $200 bet. That's a bit ridiculous. We then hit the pool which was incredibly crowded on Memorial day. We found two chairs together but to me it was not relaxing at all. I managed to find the deeper end of the wave pool. Unfortunately, MB pool staff have taken away access to the deep end of the pool and away from the sides and the shallow part as well, I guess for safety concerns. This makes for me the most desirable part of the pool (the deep end) unavailable. The only thing I admired about the pool was the cultural norm where women seem to find it perfectly acceptable to wear as little clothing as possible when there is a body of water nearby. And no, I didn't venture to the topless pool. I figure that if I wasn't comfortable enough to flaunt my boobs I wasn't going to gawk at someone else's. I feel old enough as it is.

After a quick nap, we headed on the SDX to the Fremont Experience where we had the $13.99 rack of ribs at Binion's which came with corn, slaw, corn bread, and beans. The ribs were very good, better than expected for $13.99. The bus ride is long, way too long by the way. My brother wanted to show me the discovery of the commission-free Pai Gow at the Nugget. I asked him "what the catch" was and he said, "nothing - there's no commission".

Sure enough, I sat down, and there was no commission, but there was a weird 9 high bet that paid 30-1 that I never saw. I asked the dealer what the catch was with the no commission. He said there is no catch. And then I hit 4 aces for $125 (Fortune bonus), and the dealer had a crappy hand that included a 9 high in the top. Push. That was the catch. I realized that it was a variation on Dan's game and told my brother "there's the commission". It works out that when you factor in the 9-high the normal 5% commission cancels out.

Anyway, my brother was actually staying at the Fremont so I took the bus down to the Mandalay Bay (yes, I know, cold, but you haven't heard him snore. You haven't heard me snore!). I found some VP at the Mandalay Bay, a stinky MultiStrike DBDW game that sucked the life out of me to the tune of many hundreds of dollars. That's the addict in me.

Time for a new day.

Tuesday was more low key. I had breakfast early at Citizen's (used up some ExpressComps - coffee and a huge fruit salad cost $11) I did a bit of work in the morning (I work from anywhere) and met up with my brother early afternoon. We both made some Sportsbet and found the pool. Nothing was working for me today gambling. Lost at VP. Lost at Pai Gow. Lost at Craps. Just terrible. By the end of day I was down $1,000 for the trip and was not feeling good about my gambling budget which was down to its last $200.

We found the pool again a little bit earlier in the afternoon and much less crowded. We spent a couple of hours in the heat and did quite a bit of swimming which was nice. Lunch was poolside and the prices at the bar were not outrageous -- $15 for a sandwich and fries, $6 for a large basket of chips and Salsa, $8 for a craft beer.

Dinner was a 2 for 1 at the Bellagio buffet (MyVegas) which turned out to be $42 for the two of us. Now I like buffets, and the Bellagio has a very good selection of good food which a strong push towards the asian audience and it has the Freestyle self-serve machines where you can get pretty much whatever soft drink you want. However I would never pay full price for the buffet. It is decent - not great.

I took a cab back to the hotel with my brother ($15), said goodbye to my brother (he had an early flight the next day) and took off.

Wednesday morning was spent working - pretty much straight from 7am to 1:30pm with no break (I did not book the day off). I got a late checkout at 3pm ($20). My flight from LAS was supposed to leave at 9:15pm so as of 1:45pm. I had about 5.5 hours to play with. I had a quick shower, packed up and left my stuff at the bell desk. I did a free buffet at Mandalay Bay (MyVegas) and filled up. The Mandalay Bay lunch buffet is pretty ordinary and servicable, not worth the $24 but filling with a variety of hot selections and dessert. and a good comp via MyVegas. Then I decided to make my way up the strip and play a little bit at each casino until I ran out of time. It started off well - $70 at Mandalay Bay, $200 at Luxor (3 card 3 of a kind quick hit), $20 at Excalibur (Craps), $10 at NYNY (Pai Gow), $20 at Let it Ride (Aria). But I hit a bad run at Craps at Cosmopolitan ($80) and Pai Gow at Bellagio ($100) to wrap up the day about $120 up. Then I picked up a gift for my mom at Ballys and took a cab back. Pai Gow at Bellagio was a highlight as I had the table to myself, was banking every other hand, and got to slam down the dice cup which is something that I always wanted to do, even at $25 a hand.

The cab driver was a old lady who was fantastic. She suggested that I pick up my bag at Mandalay Bay and just stay with her. She stopped the meter for the wait time. I gave her a large tip as Ballys to Mandalay Bay to the Airport including the 5-6 minute wait time was $23.

My flight was leaving 30 minutes late back home and I decided to play $100 of BDW at the airport. The stinky airport, where nobody wins.



I broke even for the trip.
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beachbumbabs
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beachbumbabs
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June 6th, 2017 at 2:24:34 AM permalink
Great TR, boymimbo! You made me laugh half a dozen times. We've missed you.
"If the house lost every hand, they wouldn't deal the game."
Romes
Romes
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June 6th, 2017 at 9:49:21 AM permalink
Ha, the 'ol Vegas Airport Royal to push on the trip =P. Great TR thanks for sharing.

One thing I have to mention is you should basically NEVER take a cab in Vegas... UBER! Uber is literally half the price with the tip worked in. This trip alone it sounds like you would have saved $50-$75 just in cab fare. I also HATE the cabbies because they used to ALWAYS try to rip me off, like every damn time. I'd get a cab from the airport to mid-strip, which is supposed to be a set rate, they'd try to charge more, I'd call BS, they'd say okay... I forget the fare (only uber for a while now) but basically I paid with a 20 or a 20+10 and was supposed to get like $8 in change... he says "I don't have change" trying to steal my money for himself. I still had it in my hand so I said "Well, you can either wait for me to go inside and get change or I'm underpaying you since you can't accept it." Suddenly he found some smaller bills in the middle of his car (BS). I then tipped $0 as he tried to rip me off 3 separate times in 1 trip. I hate the regular cabbies in Vegas.
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
boymimbo
boymimbo
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June 6th, 2017 at 10:11:31 AM permalink
You are right, but I have no rating on UBER only because I don't use Uber or a cab anywhere else. I took four cab trips and paid $35 + $28 + $14 + $16 = $93. I'm thinking with Uber I would have paid $55 - $60.

I generally do not support Uber as I am old school. Essentially the entire transport-for-hire industry needs to be revamped such that Uber, Lyft and Cabs can work on the same tax, insurance and licensing platforms. Taxi companies have a lot of regulation and has old infrastructure that hasn't changed to support old technology and regulation which is why it costs more. Uber and Lyft get around regulations that local governments haven't been able to reign in but provide the same exact service. They need to be on the same footing, whatever that is.
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klimate10
klimate10
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June 6th, 2017 at 10:17:43 AM permalink
Vegas cab drivers give cab drivers, in general, a bad name.
boymimbo
boymimbo
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June 6th, 2017 at 10:24:46 AM permalink
Most cab drivers in most cities give the city a bad name. It's not exactly like cab drivers are city ambassadors. They generally feel ripped off by their parent company scraping out a living working long shifts behind a wheel with customers who also feel like they are being ripped off.
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beachbumbabs
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beachbumbabs
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June 6th, 2017 at 2:07:55 PM permalink
I had great cab drivers in London and Paris. The last time in London, I hired a private car service round trip from Heathrow. Both legs the guys sucked. Plan to go back to London cabs.

In Vegas, I've been renting my own car the last few visits. Before that, I alternate between the shuttle and cabs. The shuttle sucked. Depending on where my Strip hotel was, it could take more than an hour traveling, and depending on the timing, up to 1/2 hour waiting in the shuttle for them to put people in it.

Taxis there have been a mixed bag. I've been in the cab 3 times over the years where the transit police pulled the cab for a medallion and fare audit. Kind of startling and uncomfortable, but probably good that they're enforcing the regs.

I've been involuntarily long hauled a couple of times, overcharged a couple more, but also gone mid-strip to departure curb in 10 minutes when I really needed to run for it. You also get a wild selection of people driving, anything from surly - stinky silence to bright witty and informative.

Have never used an uber, bit have a new friend driving Lyft there, so I expect I'll be using his services next time.
"If the house lost every hand, they wouldn't deal the game."
Romes
Romes
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June 6th, 2017 at 2:27:58 PM permalink
Quote: boymimbo

Most cab drivers in most cities give the city a bad name. It's not exactly like cab drivers are city ambassadors. They generally feel ripped off by their parent company scraping out a living working long shifts behind a wheel with customers who also feel like they are being ripped off.

Which is why with Uber they keep the main portion of the fair and uber just takes a cut for setting up the transaction. I've ridden with tons of "former cabbies" that are now Uber drivers.

p.s. You don't need a rating on Uber to get a ride.
Playing it correctly means you've already won.

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