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This month’s casino offers

What better way to start the weekend than with a batch of casino mail to wade through?

I know some of the stuff is a couple of weeks out of date by the time it arrives but having a big parcel of offers forwarded from a mailbox whenever it fills up is surely more exciting than just having odd flyers arrive every few days.

It’s still a little early to be getting offers I can use when it’s 5 weeks until my trip begins, but there’s starting to be some that will be useful.

Claire and I both got letters for a summer-long offer at Harrah’s Laughlin.  Hers said:

However mine was considerably better:

Free nights in Laughlin aren’t hard to come by (Claire’s “calendar rates” on the back of the letter show free for almost any weeknight).  But cold, hard cash and free food just for turning up is always very nice.

Actually the $50 food credit is not quite what it seems as it’s a one-time use coupon – even though it comes with a three-night stay.  So if you just use if for a buffet for two, you blow about $30 of value.  Then again, you’re not going to feed two people at the Range Steakhouse for $50 (here’s the menu).

Still, it’s worth the drive just for this, and we’re likely to get other Laughlin offers too.  Today’s mail contained June offers for River Palms (2 free nights and $5 free play) and Colorado Belle (2 x 3 free nights and $10 free play).

Back in Las Vegas there’s still some deals.  This time Claire had the upper hand at Gold Coast with this:

Compared to my measly offer:

To be honest I can’t complain at this as I haven’t played at Gold Coast on my card at all recently, whereas we still have about $600 of unused comp on Claire’s card after caning the Super Times Pay machines (99.8% payback) on a 6x points day (1% added value).

Chances are we’ll be booking Claire’s offer but not using the room, just to get the $20 free play and at least one free meal at Ping Pang Pong.

The other Boyd properties had a little something to give too.  Claire got another good offer from Sam’s Town:

In fact, make that two offers.  This mailer had the same coupons twice, once for July and once for August.  However, it’s not clear whether the free food is for one person or two.  Usually it’s two, but that information is notably absent from these coupons.

Whereas I got a freebie from the Fremont, which isn’t bad when the only action they’ve ever had from us was one session on Pick’em Poker:

As the food credit is listed as “$20 in FREE dining certificates” – plural – I suspect it will be a couple of dollars here and $5 there.  If I could be sure there’d be something for Dunkin’ Donuts I’d be all over this one, but I just don’t feel it.  So as we don’t need the room, I think we’ll pass on this one and hope it comes again when it’s actually worthwhile staying there.

The final one was a bit of a surprise.  Green Valley Ranch apparently wants me to come and stay for free:

I can’t remember the last time we went to GVR.  It must have been for a promotion of some kind, maybe a blackjack matchplay or some kind of swipe-and-win.  I remember being there, and vaguely recognising some of the places from American Casino, but I know that of all the Station Casinos this one is probably the one we’ve played at least.

Not sure if I’ll use this.  As absolutely-not-VIPs at a hotel that thinks it’s something special, there must be a catch.  My guess is that they would still want to charge Station’s usual ”resort fee” stealth tax on this comped stay.  How much?  Only $24.99 per night (see the very bottom of this page).  Probably not worth it just to use the pool…

Factoid!

The brightest man-made place you can see from space?  The answer is unquestionable when it’s a factoid on Steve Wright in the Afternoon

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“Think America”… “Is it Paris?”.  Well I guess it actually could be…

Swine flu linked to Imperial Palace hotel and casino

Imperial Palace, the Asian-decorated Las Vegas hotel which hosts a regular Hawaiian Luau, dresses its dealers to look a bit like random American superstars and whose only themed restaurant is Italian, might be able to add one more culture to its haphazardly cosmopolitan theming.

Maybe – just maybe – the IP gives you The Swine Flu.  So I guess that just about ticks the “Mexican” box.

It’s not clear from this regional BBC News story whether they think Las Vegas is to blame for a group of British tourists getting infected, but there are two notable details reported.

First is the fact that the group stayed at the “Imperial” hotel (apparently not worthy of being called a Palace any more).  I’m not sure whether this detail is just colour added by the reporter, or if the implication is that the winner of Harrah’s “Would Most Like to Implode” award is in fact a disease-ridden hell hole.

Insert your own IP gag here.  Come on, it’s an easy target.  My attempt would probably include the word fluertainers.  Or dealerfectious.

Secondly, this was a group of 17 who were in Las Vegas for a stag week.  Who’s to say they didn’t actually take the party bus down to Tijuana (it’s only about 6 hours away) and either swore that what happened there wouldn’t even make it back to Vegas, or they simply don’t even remember.

Insert TJ Hooker gag here?

 

Did they do this for Sinatra?

GANS-DEAD.jpg.  All caps.

That’s the name of the image that accompanies the headline story on the Las Vegas Review Journal web site to break the news that entertainer Danny Gans died last night.

The LVRJ announced the somber news of his sad and unexpected passing with this picture of him doing jazz hands, and a lolcat-style caption.

UPDATE: Since writing this, it looks like the bad taste police have stepped in and replaced it with a shot of the tribute on the Wynn sign:

http://media.lvrj.com/images/Gans-marquee.jpg

Have a look at what you could have Wynn

When Claire booked our completely undeserved three-night comp at the Wynn, they told her check-in was at 4pm.

So we figured that when a pair of freeloaders turned up at midday, hoping to get to our room early, it was pretty much a long shot with very little chance of success.  We were already prepared to dump the bags with the bell desk while we went gambling elsewhere.

Amazingly, there were no problems at all.  There was a room waiting for us, as well as a letter explaining how to claim the free $200 slot play (which, clearly, is also undeserved).  Smooth as clockwork and very impressive.

I don’t know quite how many guests in the hotel right now are paying in the region of $300 per night, but I guess if you are this is the kind of service you expect and, techincally, there’s no reason why we should be treated any differently.

It just all seemed too good to be true until we actually got the key.  This unbelievable offer is actually for real.

I’ve taken a hideous number of pictures (because, let’s face it, this is the only chance I’ll ever have) so stand by to be bombarded. 

How this curvy building looks from the inside:

Our room on the 24th floor (about half way up; floor numbers go to 60 but 4, 13 and 40-49 are omitted for superstitious reasons):

No strip view (come on, the room is totally free…) but we have a view of the golf course and Paradise Road.  You can see the Convention Center in the middle of the photo, and the Las Vegas Hilton is just to the left of the frame:

Bedside stuff, including an alarm clock with ipod dock.  The switches on the wall are for lights and curtains.

The cordless phone on the bedside is one of three in the room (plus a separate fax machine at $8/min to send and $2/min to receive).  There’s another phone in the toilet (of course) and one on the desk with a fancy colour menu display.  At the top it shows “Warran John Buchard” – it’s either greeting a previous guest or you press there to call up a celebrity chef I’ve never heard of.

The scary minibar, which lets you pick stuff up to see what it is, but not for very long because it automatically charges it to your bill after 60 seconds:

Minibar prices.  $8 cookie, anyone?

Bar kit.  No plastic cups here.  We have BYOB’d, of course:

While many hotels have remodelled rooms with a widescreen plasma TV, the Wynn is the first I’ve seen to actually carry TV channels in proper high definition, not just standard definition channels stretched to fit a widescreen picture.  This is obviously a bigger deal to me than it should be, but stretch-o-vision is one of my pet hates.

The TV also has its own Wynn remote control:

And a Wynn-branded EPG:

You can even keep an eye on the poker waiting lists from the room:

The bathroom has two sinks and a shower separate to the bathtub:

As well as the usual soap and shampoo, they provide stuff like cotton buds and shoe polish:

There’s also a set of bathroom scales – which is the last thing you want to see after an all-you-can-eat buffet – and no bathroom would be complete without its own television:

Monkeying around in Las Vegas

Here are my (let’s not say fake, how about visually creative?) pictures of the PokerStars monkey "in" Las Vegas.

The idea I had was simply to capture a reflection of neon in his eyes.  I started off with an extreme close up (this is the full frame from the camera):

This one fell out of contention pretty quickly.  I can tell what the sign is, but I doubt anyone else would recognise it.  It’s actually one of my favourite signs, which is from the side of the Golden Gate.  It simply states the three key selling points of the hotel: "Restaurant, Bar, Jackpots."

However, if you can’t tell what it is, the concept fails.

So for the second try, I picked Sassy Sally.  She’s not quite the icon that Vegas Vic is, but I thought she would still be recognisable – and sitting with her legs outstretched she is much better suited to the orientation of a monkey’s eyes than a standing cowboy.

So, tell me, if you squint really hard, can you see what’s going on here?

It’s not as clear as I’d have liked and you pretty much have to know what you’re looking for, but I think there’s enough of her reflected to recognise what’s going on.  However, I love how the picture turned out anyway.  It’s a decent portrait of my beloved Monkey, and the little bit of Vegas in his eye is just a bonus.

Here’s a close-up, in case you still don’t get it.

Eventually I realised it was going to be impossible to get something that was obviously Las Vegas to reflect recognisably in his tiny eyes.

The solution: sunglasses, of course!  The first pair I ordered online smothered the poor thing, but I dropped on some tiny mirror shades at Build-a-Bear workshop just in time.

You would not believe how difficult it was to get anything resembling a pink glow on his face using the equipment I had to hand (a pink light of some kind would obviously have been useful…), but persistence paid off and a few hundred exposures later I had one I was happy with.

Anyway, right now Monkey and I are in transit to actual Las Vegas.  Stay tuned for the usual ramblings.

Dun Roman

I must really have more hotel rooms than I know what to do with if I’m actually cancelling a reservation at Caesars Palace that cost me nothing.

It’s a reluctant cancelation.  I’m sure it’s a fine room, and I already know the toiletries are worth swiping.  Caesars lemon grass shampoo was one of my favourites from the big bag of stolen soap-n-stuff, and sadly I’ve now run out.  But it just doesn’t fit well into the trip when other freebies will work much better.

T-3, by the way.  We fly on Saturday on a route that seemed a great idea at the time (MAN-PHL-PHX-LAS) but I’m sure we’ll end up regretting.

 

Four Queens had sent Claire a flyer for a special Chinese New Year promotion, with a great 3-night deal valid until March 31st.  In addition to a jeweled ox (which would go nicely with the jeweled rat we got with the same deal last year).  They’d feed us the whole time, including one meal in Hugo’s Cellar, and give her some free money.

 

Then we also had a letter addressed to us both offering the same kind of deal for the weekend after we leave town (click image to view full letter).

This is both good and bad.  It’s a great package – free room, unlimited free food and free gambling money is better than anything we’ve ever had before – but this letter does show that they’ve figured out that our accounts are connected and are offering us a joint package.

We deliberately never ask for a joint player’s club account and we’ve already had some mailers twice.  It looks like that might not last now though.

Anyway, if you don’t ask you don’t get.  So Claire emailled a random host to ask whether they could be flexible on the dates for either deal.  In fact, there was no need because apparently a mailer has gone missing somewhere along the way:

Hi Claire,
 
You did receive a mailer that gives you 3 free nights with room and food at Magnolia’s ($30/day), the Deli ($15/day), Chicago Brewery ($40/day), Room Service ($20/day), and at Hugo’s ($150 one time only) plus $250 in Free Slot Play for the dates of April 1- May 31, 2009.

Thanks,
Sara

With $250 free play, it’s actually an even better offer than the other two!  Not only that, but she spells out exactly how the food allowances work, which is very handy to know.

It’s definitely going to be a challenge to eat my way through four different daily food allowances and one meal in their gourmet restuarant.  You can tell Hugo’s Cellar is a classy joint when the menu writes out the prices in words.  Steak with extra crab legs on the side?  Yes please.

Then there’s the Wynn.  We’re accepting their invitation for 3 free nights and $200 in slot play.  We really won’t appreciate a 5-diamond hotel, and the choice between this Wynn offer or using a comp at Casino Royale was closer than anyone could ever expect, but $200 in free play just about swung it.

Finally we have 5 free nights lined up at the Rio, which I booked before Christmas.  At least I hope we still do.  I received an email this morning, following up one that had apparently been sent last month that I missed:

Dear Mr. Newman,

This is in regard to your reservations for Las Vegas. Currently you have 8 future reservations at Paris, Caesar’s Palace, Rio and Harrah’s. Unfortunately you can only have 5 future reservations in the Las Vegas area. You will need to cancel at least 3 reservations . I will be happy to assist you I will need the dates of the reservations you want to cancel. I look forward to your prompt response regarding this matter.

Thank you,

Kathleen Carroll
Harrah’s Entertainment
Internet Auditor

Firstly, if you work for Harrah’s you should know there’s no apostrophe in Caesars Palace.  I know these things matter way too much to me, but get it right, please.

Secondly, "Internet Auditor"?  What a waste of a job.  Why not just block me from making more than 5 advance bookings?  The system can tell whether I make a booking within 2 days of an existing reservation and tells me to go screw myself if I try it.  It wouldn’t be hard to prevent the 6th booking.

That’s if they actually wanted to do it.  However, I very much doubt that this is a blanket policy.  If the reservations were for rooms I was paying for, I’m sure there’d be no issue.

As I somehow missed her first email, Kathleen has threatened to cancel my latest 3 reservations if I don’t sort it out by the end of the week.  It’s not like I need the rooms, but it’s definitely not good that a human has noticed my "excessive" (her words, and I can’t really argue) reservations.  I’m sure you’ll hear more about this if it ends in tears.

Spot the difference

See if you can spot the subtle (but quite valuable) difference between these two invitations from the Wynn that Claire and I both received in the mail today.

You can click to enlarge the whole flyer, but to make things a little easier I’ve zoomed in on the relevant section.

I can’t believe I’m complaining about three free nights at the Wynn.  Well, I’m not really, because I should actually be able to use these offers next month.

But why does Claire get $200 in free slot play and I don’t?  We’ve both exploited the same signup offer, and nothing more.  That room is a serious freebie for someone who has never given them any real action, but another $200 on top is incredible.

Just think of all the free soap

It’s better to have a hotel room and not need one, than to need a room and not have one.

Or something like that.

I thought it would be difficult to get room offers from Harrah’s this year, now that they should have started to realise I make every effort to not lose any money to them.

My plan was to make sure I booked up as much as possible as early as possible for maximum value, so before last year was over I’d already nabbed 27 free nights.  Then when January came around I was amazed to find I could still make comped reservations for Christmas, which took the total to 35.

I even decided to book a couple of weeks during the World Series of Poker, which I probably won’t use, but you never know.  The Rio was up for grabs, so it seemed daft not to – just in case.

However, it seems I needn’t have bothered being quite so eager.  Harrah’s are apparently so desparate to fill their hotels at the moment that they are giving away rooms to almost anyone.

We’d heard they had become more generous, so Claire decided to check her Total Rewards account and see what rates she was being offered.

I should point out that her players card is not linked to mine, and that all our play over the past year has been concentrated solely on my account.  Claire’s total action amounts to about $12 of poker comp from Imperial Palace (which wasn’t even earned on that card, it was transferred over to Total Rewards from the IP’s old poker system) and literally a handful of spins on Megabucks – just enough to earn a base reward credit and keep the comp dollars from expiring.

So there is no reason that the top secret magic marketing formula would assign Claire any value at all for the casino.

Nevertheless, she can currently book five nights free, almost any time of the year!

So she has.  Six times.  Anything less would have just been insulting.

An extra 30 nights added onto my number makes our combined total comp booked for 2009 (so far) an astounding 74 nights.

Of course most of the stays overlap, but that’s the beauty of it.

The maximum free stay you can ever book is 5 nights.  You can check out and back in again but there has to be a 2 day gap between trips. 

For example, I had booked the Rio – for free – for 8 nights at the start and end of a 10 night trip in December, and Claire booked Imperial Palace for five nights in the middle.

So we have to move hotels twice – but when we actually do that is pretty flexible.  There’ll be no check out before 11am, then check in after 3pm hassles.  Although with the middle hotel being Imperial Palace, I can’t imagine we’ll stay there much longer than we have to.

It is a Luv Tub room though at least.  I could have had one of these when I stayed there last year, it just seemed a little creepy to have one to myself.

The IP is only involved at all because the nights we needed to overlap had to include a weekend.  Neither of us were offered much for Friday or Saturday nights elsewhere, otherwise our comp dates were almost identical.

Apart from one option to stay at Paris, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the room offers which one of us cycled $110,000 through their casinos last year, and which one gave them action to the tune of $30.

So suddenly I don’t feel quite so special, but I’ll cope.  You know what?  Free stuff is always good, even if it truly is more hotel rooms than we could ever possibly use.  We’ll have a damn good go at using it, and I’ll expand my soap collection considerably.

Anyhow, if you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas this year and you already have a Total Rewards card, go check your rates.  It doesn’t seem to matter how much you’ve played there lately, there’s a good chance you’re in for some freebies.

Ignore that the web site will probably say "You have 0 offers".  The offers don’t matter.  After logging in, select "reservations", then "Las Vegas" and find the availability calendar.  There are bargains to be had.

Grate rates

This is what I saw when I opened a mailshot from Circus Circus today before pressing "load images".  Sorry, but I had to get my red pen out.