Reader CorgiMom shares her Last Minute Super Bowl Trip…
A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine invited me and three others to spend Super Bowl Weekend in Vegas. Did I mention how wonderful my friend is?
This trip was a first for me – I planned nothing! It was a luxury and an almost a point of anxiety since I am the ultimate planner. My friend booked everything for us, and I was just a happy tagalong.
We arrived at a subdued McCarran, a surprise for Super Bowl weekend. No taxi line, very few people in line to check-in at Flamingo. We tried the check-in kiosk, and Flamingo’s Patrick stepped up to help us since we had four rooms on one receipt. We didn’t notice that they had moved Diamond check-in out to the lobby for the weekend for faster service, but Patrick had us on our way in a matter of moments.
We had four Fab rooms on the 4th floor. The elevators worked well all weekend, and we never had a long wait. The carpet on the 4th floor was brand new, along with some new paint and doors. Not a bad start. I love that they’ve replaced the old carpet with fresh faux-wood (tile). Very cool and clean. Love the new leather bench near the window – great place to sit and watch the high roller change colors. My window overlooked the rooftop of the casino, the Flamingo Gardens, and the High Roller. The room was very quiet. Bathroom still very small and the only update is a marble vanity, but everything worked, and water pressure was good. The Flamingo isn’t the Aria, but I would give it at least 3.5 stars for comfort, access, and value. Things have improved considerably since my last stay here eight years ago.
Friday night, we had a chance to see a legend – Willie Nelson! A quick dinner at Canonita in the Venetian prepped us for the show. Try the Santa Rosa BBQ pork dish, which is a specialty of the house.
The Venetian theater is smallish and ornate, but they haven’t made any changes since they used to host Phantom. The view was good, but my seat was uncomfortable and worn – the cushion was shot. Willie came out on time (what?) with no warm up act. He and his band started off the same way that every Willie concert through the year has started off – with Whiskey River. Willie, God Bless him, is 80. He still looks and sounds like Willie, and can play the guitar as well as ever. But those golden vocal cords can only manage to recite his hits these days. So he chose songs that played well with mostly spoken words. No “Blue Eyes Cryin’ In The Rain,” or “You Were Always On My Mind.” He is still a national treasure, and I’m glad we went.
Saturday, we tried out the new Gordon Ramsey Fish and Chips at the Linq Promenade. This tiny joint is behind the London phone booth red doors right outside the Flamingo doors. Freshly fried fish and chips, with your choice of one of six sauces. You can order your “chips” with different seasonings as well. Yummy, but pretty heavy before a long, long, strip stroll.
For some reason, we ended up at the Bazaar Shops at Bally’s several times this trip. I guess it is because the escalators from Cromwell dump you out there now. These shops are so underwhelming and unappealing – like cheap mall kiosks. Most are empty. At the back, there is a Starbuck’s and Walhburger’s (long, long lines, there!), but not much else to see here. I don’t see how this area helps Bally’s at all –it is harder to get to the casino. We did so much walking this trip, but isn’t that one of the best things to do in Vegas? We hit the Bellagio to check out the conservatory (Year of the Fire Rooster). Then, we went through the shops at Caesar’s, where I took a photo of a lovely dragon made out of lights. I always wonder “who in the world ever buys anything in these shops?” when I walk through here or Crystal’s. And then my friend promptly went into Tom Baker and found an adorable dress on sale for half price. Question answered! We wandered through Treasure Island (bland) and Mirage to pick up our tickets for the evening. Saturday afternoon was just perfect weather – sunny and 65 degrees.
The gambling? It sucked. There is no sugar coating it. I only saw two hand pays on slots the whole weekend. The paytables on VP are horrible on the strip, and the payback percentages on the slots are awful. My friend won two $300 hits on $5 machines. I won $200 on a dollar Deuces machine in the high limit area at Harrah’s, and I believe that was the only time I was able to cash out more than I put in all weekend. We saw some lower limit tables at Harrah’s, Cromwell and Bally’s but never saw an empty seat available.
Dinner on Saturday was at Samba Brazilian Steakhouse at Mirage. What a delightful meal – this place is located right on the casino floor, so it isn’t a romantic or cozy experience, but we still loved it. A nice creamy salad starts the meal, along with delicious garlic cheesy bread. They then start bringing out the meats on long skewers. I can’t say this meal is a good value, since I got full after three or four small portions were served, but it is a treat for the eyes. We went to the early showing of The Beatles Love afterward. This is my second time to see it, and they have really changed it up to keep it fresh. We were enthralled throughout the whole show –just lovely. My only complaint is the logjam trying to get out of the theater. Seriously, if there was ever a fire…
I found this adorable little Italian coffee and gelato shop at The Linq, called Amorino. They craft beautiful coffees and gelatos, even sculpting cones into roses. It was never crowded, so I hope they can stay open. A great spot for people watching. The Flamingo, Cromwell, and Linq have so few food choices these days that the Linq has become a go-to spot for dining and quick snacks.
Sunday, we grabbed a cab and headed downtown to enjoy some Video Poker (OK, so I could enjoy some VP) and take in Slotzilla! Yay! I bought the $40 upper line for us ahead of time, although I noticed there was no line to buy tickets during the day. We stopped by old-school Magnolia’s Café at the Four Queens for a late breakfast. Yummy, although the service was a little slow since it was so crowded. I just love downtown during the day (not so much at night when the scary drunks come out). The gambling is better, and you don’t have to worry about the busy car/taxi/bus traffic like you do on the strip. We walked through the D, Fremont and a few other joints, then the group indulged me while I put in an hour session of VP at a bank of Deuces machines at the Plaza, which let me play but inevitably took my $100. I had made notes about good paytables from VPFree2, but I had trouble finding the machines they mentioned. Full pay machines are really only available now at Stations, and I expect those will be gone before long.
Slotzilla is a blast. You suit up in a harness at the bottom and then ride an elevator to the top. The view from the platform seems much higher than when you look at it from the ground. We soared like Superman for the 45 seconds, or so it takes to get to the other end of Fremont Street. So much fun!
I took my friends on a quick tour of the Golden Nugget, which I think is the prettiest hotel downtown. Love all the upgrades here, including the pretty chandelier treatment in the Rush lobby.
Stopped for a Starbucks in the casino, then we grabbed a cab here and went back to the Flamingo to get dressed for dinner.
Tonight was a treat especially for my friend who was celebrating a birthday. She loves all things French, so we naturally went to Eiffel Tower Restaurant in Paris. You enter through the casino and go up a tiny little triangle shaped elevator, which deposits you into the busy kitchen of the restaurant. A little inelegant for such a fancy place, but interesting. We had a banquette for four on the second row, overlooking the fountains. You can’t see all of the fountains below, but it is still a spectacular view. This restaurant is a bit over the top with fancy food and superior service. Everything was delicious – salads, steak, lobster, bread. We got a tiny amuse bouche of Vichyssoise and also a dreamy chocolate mousse cake that said Happy Birthday! This meal set our host back $500 or more. Not something I’d repeat very often, but we truly enjoyed it for a special occasion.
We skipped super bowl for this treat, and I’m glad we did (NOT a Patriot fan). The crowds on the strip after the game were a bit dense and rowdy. It was a hilarious mix of groups of scantily dressed 20s/30s women and wobbly, obviously drunk middle-aged men vying for spots at the tables, machines or bars. We tried in vain to win some money back but finally gave up sometime after midnight.
Sunday morning was cloudy and cool. We tried to eat breakfast at Hash House in the Linq, but the line was crazy. We instead veered 50 feet to Off The Strip at The Linq and had a decently sized breakfast burrito and chicken with waffles dish. We had an hour to enjoy before leaving for the airport, so we grabbed a delicious gelato chocolate rose at Amorino.