Lake Tahoe TripThe wife and I just finished a five day trip to Lake Tahoe after a nice five day trip to Portland and the Oregon Wine Country. Getting to Portland and Tahoe from the east coast is a bit of a pain, unlike the easy non-stops from BWI to Vegas everyday. We stayed at Harvey's Lake Tahoe from Thursday to Tuesday. For full disclosure I am a Harrahs diamond card holder and was able to get five free nights at Harvey's. Apparantly the rooms are a little nicer at Harrahs, but we had a premium room with an outstanding view of the lake and mountains. Also, I have a bad back and when i requested a more comfortable chair than the dining room chairs we had, they brought one up to me at no charge for the duration of my stay. In Vegas, I have tried to get one with the premium room at Harrahs and they have never come through in this area. The room was big with a refridgerator and the bathroom huge with seperate shower and tub and two sinks and the bed was comfortable. Our tv though was from the 1990's not that we were planning on watching much tv. No resort fees either which was nice although they got me for a one time $11 booking fee.
Our first day we were a bit tired we flew in to Reno and took the SOuth Tahoe Express, a shuttle bus to the Lake which cost $48 round trip for each of us. I was talking to another passanger for a while and this very odd older couple turned and shushed us saying we were too loud. Very odd. I was half tempted to really go off on them but it was an hour and fifteen minute drive and I was tired so I let it slide. We got there our room was ready and it was as I described earlier. We took a tour of the casino it is was nice. It did have a huge sports and race book with giant flat screens and a large number of them as well. The casino is pretty big(I didnt ask for actual size but I would say a little smaller than Harras Las Vegas) but it had about 100 table games give or take a few and a large amount of VP and slots and a decent size Keno area. My wife and I played some Pai Gow Poker, lost our couple hundred and went to the diamond lounge. Now, at Harveys, and we never made it to the Harrahs daimond lounge, you have to call up and someone comes in a private elevator to get you. It had a great view of the Lake and mountains and a small spread of soups, cold cuts, chips, veggies etc... We had a couple of drinks and went down to go to the Sage steak house at Harveys. The food was very, very good, on par with very good steak houses. My wife got a wonderful crab cocktail and I got the seared Ahi Tuna and then she got filet and Prawns and I got the biggest rack of lamb. A 22oz. rack that was cooked perfectly and tasted grate. I am Greek and very picky about my lamb and this measured up very well. They have table side service for everything and they bring all meals out on a cart. Dinner for two with a nice bottle of Orgon Pinot was $220. We were both tired so we went to bed with four more days to go.
The second day, I got Starbucks(like every other harrahs it had a Starbucks in the lobby as did Harrahs accross the street), and then we headed out walking up and down their "strip". Harveys and Harrahs are also connected by an underground passway which is very easy to go back and forth in less than 5 minutes. Its also funny that both casinos are literally five steps from California and all the Tahoe activity is on the California side. We did some shopping had lunch took a nap and off to dinner. They had a Cabo Wabo at Harveys and even though its a chain and we are somewhat "allergic" to chain restaurants especially on vacation, it looked like fun ao we ate there. The waiter was awesome. He steered us away from the more expensive "premium flavored" margaritas and he was right. The basic one was excellent. Also he recommended two very nice dishes, overuling me on what I thought I wanted and he was spot on. They were both very good. The chicken and the skirt steak. Plentiful and very tasty. Dinner for two with five margarities was $76. The place becomes more of night club with live music after ten. We heard a bit of the band but I wasn't too impressed. We headed up played aome Pai Gow and craps and just got our asses handed to us. In craps, I have never seen more sevens. Before anybody says well why not play the don't, sevens were coming out on come out rolls two and three at a time and then as soon as the poiint was established. I tried the come craps out and never hit a point. When I rolled I hit two sevens on the come out got a point of 5 next, went all in on the inside numbers, and immediately threw a seven!! Then it was back to bed.
The third day we rented a car and drove around the lake and it was spectacular. If you have never been to Lake Tahoe it is a must see. I am a city guy and live in the city but this was amazing. It is 72 miles around and you go up and own cliffs and mountains, at times with no guard rails, and it is breath taking. We passed through many small or tiny communities and the views were spectacular. We ate in North Lake Tahoe at a sports bar and the food was average. We did pass four little casinos in North Tahoe but they didnt look like anything exciting, so we did not stop. later taht night, I found out one of the casinos was one Sinatra used to own. had I known that, we would have stopped to see it. It cost us $82 to rent the car for the day and another $17 in gas. It was worth it. We went to Edgewood restaurant for dinner, which is part of the very nice golf course where the celebrity tournament is this weekend and which normally gets $220 per round in season, and it was awesome. We sat with a view of the lake and our waiter was great. Again he steered us away and to excellent choices. My wife got these artichokes cover in guyere cheese that were very tasty and the bread crumb crusted sea bass which was also very tasty. I got the prawns to start and the swordfish special and both were excellent. We got the bananas foster for desert it was pre made in a vaniila torte and it was good but not great. Dinner for two with a bottle of wine was $178 and well worth it. We went back and I played some VP. All of their machines and the ones at Harrahs in the regular casino were 8/5 JoB. Thats really the only game I play. I did notice the dueces wild was 4/4. Of course there are four VP machines by the Hard Rock cafe at Harveys and they pay 6/5. Of course a mere ten steps away they are back to 8/5!!. The high limit room had 10/7 but it was $25 a credit, too rich for me. As usual, I lost again and went to bed.
The fourth day we went to the Harrahs Buffet for brunch. It included all u can drink champagne and it was $19 a person. It was good it had the usual breakfast stuff and omelette bar, but no smoked salmon. It also had crab legs and prime rib, which were both good. It had the chinese and italian stations. Service was very slow and they were busy but not slammed. For $19 it was worth it with the champagne, but not without it. We actually won some money playing four card poker(we were out of things to play that we had not lost at and we had lost at BJ earlier that day but they had the typical terrible Harrahs rules 6/5 BJ H17 No Surrender etc...). We had a free cruise on the Tahoe Star since we were diamond members, but I think the cruise is about $35 per persone and it was supposed to include two free drinks. We got shuttled to the place and it was an hour and a half cruis through the lake to Emerald Bay and again this was just amazing. the views the frsh water hitting you the Lake, awesome. Also, it was unlimited drinks and they had top shelf Vodka as the wife and I had many Belveders and cranberry bfore departing. We went back and drank a bunch more as we sort of broke even at Pai Gow Poker(No tiles anywhere in the city). We seemed to "only" lose about $250 a piece bfore heading to this pizza place in Harveys for dinner. Pizzas were very good but too expensive for what you got. A large one topping, which wasn't that large was $22. They also had a nice salad bar for $5.95 extra. But we were tired and drunk so we ate there and the food was good just overpriced.
The last day I got up and walked down to the Montblue casino. The only casinos in South Tahoe are Harrahs, Harveys( the two biggest by far), Montblue, and Lake Shore. Lake Shore stopped table games and is now only a slots parlor and the Horizon, which is next to it, serves as a feeder hotel but has no gaming to my knowledge. So the only other casin with tables is Montblue. From talking to people, the Indian Casinos in Northern Cal have destroyed a lot of Tahoes business and I met someone who used to frequent tahoe regularly but only goes occasionally due to an Indian Casino 20 minutes from his house. I did not go to to Lkae Shore so I can not comment on that. Montblue was smaller than both Harrahs and Harveys. It had a sportsbook. It had 22 table games(yes I counted). 16 BJ 1 3 card, i pia gow poker, 1 texas holdem bonus, 2 craps and 2 roulette and 1 let it ride. Only two tables were open both single deck but I did not notice the rules. When I walked in, I saw the the VP and it was 6/5 JoB. Ugh. I look up and there is a huge sign above the next bank of Vp saying play 9/6 VP. I went over and 6 machines were all 9/6. I went to the high limit room 8/5!! I did not get that at all. i needed breakfast so I went to the cafe and asked for a bham egg and tomato. They claim they didnt have sandwiches. Finally a waitress came over and said she would make somethin up for me. i get the bill its $8 with tip and I thought thats a lot for a breakfast sandwich. I wait for my to go box, I get it og sit at the 9/6 machines, I open it up and it is the biggest brakfast sandwich I have see. A triple decker of real ham steak, huge tomatoes and at leat 3-4 eggs. It might have been the best breakfast sandwich I have eaten! I won $20 on the VP machines and went back to my room. We took the gondela ride to the top of the mountain, almost 10 thousand feet above sea level and again this was spectacular, a must see and do. We had a good but very overpriced lunch at the top of the mountain. My wife and I then had a snowball fight which was cool for July 11th!! We came back very tired from our five days and nights of it all. Played some more pai gow poker lost our last couple of hundred bucks, got some to go sandwiches and called it a night. We flew out the next day. We left the hotel at 7:30am and got home around 8:30pm. Tahoe, to me, is a must see at least once. Is it Las Vegas, NO. But it is different. I still prefer the action and everything of Vegas, but if I lived closer, i would go back to Lake Taho, and still would at some point. There a lot of regulars there that all the dealers and managers seem to know on a first name basis. Most dealers were friendly and nice, some a little strange, but all almost from around there, which I found intereting. There seem to be very few high rollers and even the $50 tables were in the high limit room. They also draw an older clientel who likes the relaxed way of Tahoe more than the fast pace of Vegas. Overall it was a fantastic experience, except for the fact we lost and were the coldest we have been in all of our 20 years of gambling.
teddys Jul 15, 2011
Very thorough and detailed report, thanks. I miss the Lake.
hook3670 Jul 15, 2011
Were you a frequent visitor?
TIMSPEED Jul 18, 2011
Where is Lake Shore? I know LakeSIDE, but that's nowhere near "The Strip"...
hook3670 Jul 22, 2011
Sorry Tim I miswrote, I meant lakeside.