Vegas without losing a nickel

My flight to Vegas was interesting. I was impressed with several aspects of Soutwest Airlines. They were friendly and efficient at getting people on the plane. I learned of a new technology as they prepared the plane for departure. The series of announcements went like this:

Turn off all electronics. This includes cell phones, laptops, iPods, iPads, dooDads…. anything that has an on/off switch.

(couple minutes later)

There are still 37 cell phones on this plane that have not been turned off.

(another minute passes)

To the passenger in seat 7E, your iPod is on.

(stewardess comes to seat 7E)

Turn it off now, or you must deplane now.

(plane PA again…)

Ok folks…. time to go. Here we go. Strap in so you don’t fall out.

During the boring safety presentation….

…if we lose pressure, these air masks will drop down. Put it over your face and breathe. The bag won’t inflate but you will. Oh, and if you have a child, you may share it with them if they’ve been good. If you have two….. what were you thinking? Share with the one with the most promise.

From the airport to the hotel. There is everything at the airport from stretch limos….stretch Ford Explorers….stretch Hummers….. and then for normal people there are the taxis and busses. I chose a service that transports in mini busses (kinda like our white buses). There were about 6 people going to three different hotels. All is well until someone pulls up alongside our russian-sounding driver, honks and yells out the window…. “Your back door is open”. The back door is to the area of the bus where luggage is stored.  He parks the bus (right there in the middle of the street) and fixes the back door. When he comes back he asks each passenger how many bags they had. He is relieved when he discovers that we did NOT lose anybody’s luggage out the back of the bus.

Vegas hotels are ginormous. Some have upwards of 5000 rooms. For most of them (I’ve been in several over the years), you must walk through or at least alongside the casino to get from the check in desk to the elevators taking you to the rooms. For the hotel I used this trip, I was on the 12th floor of the 4th Tower.

There are casino/hotels designed for several different audiences. One of the more interesting designs is the Pyramid hotel. There is Circus Circus which has a 3-ring circus going on inside the hotel. The Bellagio has a fountain about the size of the HNHS Fieldhouse where the lights and water are coordinated to music played over an amazing sound system. The Mirage offers a volcano complete with ground trembling and fire. New York New York looks like you’re in downtown Manhattan. The Paris has a 1/3 scale Eiffel Tower, the base of which actually comes into the hotel’s casino floor.

Hotels have deals for every income. There are rooms that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per night. I paid $30 per night this week. Based on the number of times I have done that, I can make the following conclusion. Hotels give amazing pricing to fill rooms if they are very under booked…..but those rooms are in the older part of the hotel in the most inconvenient location with the poorest views and ….. well, you get what you pay for.

Why Vegas? The fundraising trade show organization to which I belong has a show every year where suppliers and distributors get together. They tend to have the show in January at a warm-weather place. Over the years, it has been in Vegas about every second or third year.

I don’t like it here.

I remember the shock of the first time I was walking along a sidewalk with someone and accepted one of those flyers there are hundreds of people handing out. The person I was walking with asked if I knew what I had just done…..No….. and, to my horror, I opened it to find a classified advertisement newspaper full of pictures of prostitutes. Prostitution is legal in Vegas and they advertise. Joan and I brought our boys to Vegas when they were young …. and I remember as we were waiting for the Mirage Volcano to erupt that we had to turn them around from the street when a sign truck promoting “room service” (with complimentary mostly nude picture) passing by. They may have built Circus Circus for family fun…. but take your fun family somewhere else.

In addition to the giant name brand casinos there are several smaller options. They work hard to bring people in. One has a sign that says, “We have 19 more years on our lease.” Another had a dwarf guy in a neon green suit with a microphone and a booming voice enticing people to come in and experience, “Texas-style strip poker”. That one did have a waiting line outside the door …. and additional security. No, I didn’t check it out.

Does anyone do anything without expecting a tip? Baggage comes off the carousel and there are people there offering to carry it. The bus driver wants to load the luggage so he can get a tip. Walk in the door to the hotel and there are the bell hop people who want to help. And, of course, every worker at every restaurant. The cook making ‘by request’ omelets has a tip cup. So does the guy carving the beef and ham. And even though it is a buffet, the person taking the dirty plate off the table now is in line for a tip. Oh yeah, there is the hotel room cleaner too. I must say that, unlike some experiences I’ve had in the big cities out east, nobody actually held out a hand or made a face if they thought the tip was too small.

How’d you do last night? This is the standard morning question. I get sick of it. The assumption is that you spend the night in the casino and the real purpose of the question is to find out how much you lost. My standard answer, “I didn’t lose a nickel!”

That prompts questions like; “Where did YOU go?” or “What is YOUR secret?”

On that first family trip that we took, David, after he saw a casino and had an understanding about what they are, says, “Daddy, promise me you won’t gamble.”

I did. And I haven’t. Haven’t lost a nickel.


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