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Archive for February, 2009

Las Vegas Deals So Good You Can’t Stay Home This Spring

Thursday, February 26th, 2009
Book a stay at Caesars Palace in Vegas for just $90 a night this spring.

Book a stay at Caesars Palace in Vegas for just $90 a night this spring.

We’re back….  After a driving trip across the country’s mid-section (and, sadly, no time for stopping at the numerous casinos along the way) we came home to a mailbox full of outstanding Las Vegas deals.

Las Vegas really does represent one of– if not the — best travel values available in the country right now.  Take a look at these rates for the best in Spring getaways:
Enjoy Caesars Palace from $90 a night or
Las Vegas on Sale: Trump Hotel from $89 a night.
and, remarkably,
The luxury of the 5-Star Wynn Las Vegas from just $129 a night!

You can also get great values on things to do while you’re in town by booking your shows and more online at Expedia.  Pick up tickets for less to shows like the highly-recommended KA at MGM Grand (plan on dinner at Nob Hill Tavern before or after) or the fast and funny “V – The Variety Show” at Planet Hollywood.  (While at Planet “Ho,” have a drink at the casino’s Heart Bar or play a couple of hands of blackjack with their “Pleasure Pit” dealers.)

You can also book trips to visit nearby Hoover Dam or explore the breath-taking scenery of the Red Rock Canyon area while on a Pink Jeep Tour. For all the coolest activities at terrific prices check out: Best of Vegas at Expedia.com

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New M Resort Will Focus on Food, Value to Attract Both Locals and Visitors

Thursday, February 19th, 2009
The new M Resort opens March 1 in Las Vegas.  Image courtesy of the resort.

Nine dining venues will be a major draw of the new M Resort which opens March 1 in Las Vegas. (Image courtesy of the resort.)

When the new M Resort, Spa and Casino opens its doors on March 1, Chairman and CEO Anthony Marnell III  will be able to gaze down upon the legendary properties designed in part by his father’s company, Marnell and Corrao Associates.  With a pedigree that includes work on such resort icons as Wynn Las Vegas, Caesars Palace, Bellagio, Mirage and more, the newest generation of the Marnell family is bringing mega-resort luxury, amenities and design innovations to a 90-acre spot on the “South Strip.”

Perched 400 feet above the lights of the Las Vegas Strip, the new $1 billion-plus resort – located about nine miles from Mandalay Bay – uses this vantage point as a key design element in the positioning of the resort’s nine restaurants, 390 guest rooms and suites, as well as the lavish outdoor swim and stage complex called  the Villaggio Del Sole Pool and Entertainment Piazza. (more…)

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Visiting New Orleans, Part II — What to See, What to Do

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France in New Orleans is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States.

If you are planning a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras (or for any time at all,) here’s Part II of our terrific piece on the current state of the town — plus tips on what to do and see — written by one of our most experienced food and travel contributors.

Apart from dining, drinking, gaming and shopping there is a wealth of things to do and see in the area.  You don’t have to be a history buff to be seduced by the unique architecture and centuries of colorful stories and characters that inhabit the streets.  The past lives cozily right alongside the present.

Sure, you can spend a bunch, but the budget conscious will appreciate that New Orleans prices are a relative bargain and there are plenty of free and low cost things to do. (more…)

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Visiting New Orleans — Take a Gamble On Mardi Gras

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Mardi Gras revelers will soon be jamming Royal Street in New Orlean's famed French Quarter.

Beginning this weekend, thousands of revelers will descend upon New Orleans to take in all that the City has to offer for its famous (some would say infamous!) Mardi Gras celebration.  For those of us who enjoy casino gaming, Harrah’s in New Orleans will be high on the list of places to both see and spend some time at during Carnival Week.  If you haven’t made your reservations, there are still lots of hotel rooms available and lots of fun to look forward to in “The Big Easy.”  Book now & save up to 50% on Hotels in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Book by 2/23 for travel from 2/13 to 2/28/09.

If you are planning a trip to New Orleans either for the big party or any time at all, here’s a terrific piece on the current state of the town — plus tips on what to do and where to eat — written by one of our most experienced food and travel contributors. (Look for Part II tomorrow!)

It would be difficult to describe to someone who’d never been there, just what New Orleans was like before Hurricane Katrina.  Historically, culturally, geographically, socio-economically, the city was unlike any other in the United States.

Indolently rooted in the past, but always enthusiastically reveling in the pleasures of the present, New Orleans richly deserves its nickname “The Big Easy”. Hear the words Bourbon Street or French Quarter and the mind conjures up jazz, cocktails, great food and good times. (Although the ostensibly well-named Bourbon Street is an homage to the French ruling dynasty not the American liquor.)

It’s the home of Mardi Gras, the greatest party ever thrown (despite the fact the public cannot gain entrance to the balls and soirees given by the insular carnival Krewes).

But who needs private parties when the streets teem with non-stop action; conventioneers, college kids, tourists and every imaginable kind of pleasure-seeker elbowing convivially through the old quarter.  From Preservation Hall to Pat O’Brien’s, happily clutching to-go cups, they looked for and found excitement, adventure and blinding hangovers.  Retail bustled, casinos were packed, and restaurants like K-Paul’s and Emeril’s only took reservations months in advance.

But Katrina and what happened in the aftermath, or more to the point didn’t happen, changed everything. (more…)

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Truly, Madly, Cheaply — A Valentine’s Day Celebration for Less

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009
Better than a box of chocolates -- a stop at Payard Patisserie at Caesars Palace on Valentine's Day.

Better than a box of chocolates? A stop at Payard Patisserie at Caesars Palace on Valentine's Day.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we were going to run a list of our favorite romantic (read expensive) restaurants in Las Vegas.  However, with all the talk about how Las Vegas has become such a great “frugal” destination for travelers (it is!) plus considering the state of the economy — not to mention our wallets — we’ve decided that in lieu of that list, we’ve come up with this list: Seven inexpensive yet fun and romantic things you and your sweetie can do this coming weekend.  (Lots of these ideas can be used in places other than Las Vegas so take a look even if you won’t be traveling for V-Day.)

1.  One of our favorite stores is Bijoux Terner, otherwise known as the “$10 boutique.”  Everything (and we really mean everything) from purses to watches to bold and brassy necklaces and earrings is just $10.  Why not treat your sweetie to a week’s worth of colorful watches or five new handbags in spring’s brightest shades.  No, not “designer” pieces but who wants to spend a ton on a bright orange watch or a psychedelic pink purse anyways?

2.  Try a “celebrity chef” for less.  Case in point; Tom Colicchio, famous head judge on Bravo TV’s smash-hit “Top Chef” is the brains (and toque) behind ‘wichcraft at MGM Grand.  His fabulous meatloaf sandwich is just $10 and almost as good as the beefy entrees at his high-priced Craftsteak restaurant just down the corridor.  Oh, and make sure you save room for the decadent “Whoopie Pie” — chocolate cake layers filled with vanilla pudding. (more…)

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Video Poker Tournaments A Perk for Players

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009
Video poker machines wait for tourney players at Bally's Las Vegas.

Video poker machines wait for tourney players at Bally's in Las Vegas.

One of the benefits of joining a casino’s players club is getting invitations to free tournaments — slots, video poker, table games, even bingo — along with the free hotel stay and other perks that go with the invite.  (Of course, you have to have past play in the casino to receive these types of invites.)

In a previous post, I mentioned that our last trip to Las Vegas was planned around a video poker tournament that we played in at Bally’s Las Vegas.  The tournament consisted of two 10-minutes sessions (one per day for two days) and it is no exaggeration when I say neither of us could hit anything during the tournament play.  No four-of-a-kinds, no straight flushes and certainly no Royals.  We both held four to the Royal, three aces, three low cards, three high cards — you name it — and still couldn’t hit for anything.  Funny thing though, while playing “for real,” we both did pretty well.  All those hands we couldn’t hit on in the tourney, we did, in several instances, pull off in the casino.

I’m thinking about this because we’re playing later this week in another video poker tournament — this time here in Phoenix — and I’m hoping that our luck will have a change of heart and maybe one of us will end up “in the money” this time out.  But, as always, even if we don’t win it’s always fun to compete, meet and talk with other players and generally just go out and have a good time on the “house’s” dime.

By the way, I’ve been practicing my Double Double Bonus tournament-style “holds” at videopoker.com, a great site for free, non-wagering game play.

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10 Great Tips for Getting the Best Hotel Deals in Las Vegas

Monday, February 9th, 2009
Use our tips to get a great deal at mid-Strip favorite, Bally's Las Vegas.

Use our tips to get a great deal at mid-Strip favorite, Bally's Las Vegas.

How do you get the best hotel deals when you are planning your Las Vegas vacation? A little time, a little effort and some “web-work” will help you get the best rates on Las Vegas hotels.

Here are our favorite ten tips for booking the best rates on your hotel room in Las Vegas (or in any casino resort town) :

1. Be flexible in your dates. Can you stay early in the week or mid-week instead of over the weekend? Also, if you haven’t locked in your dates check the convention schedules for your destination and plan to be in town when they – the conventions – are not!

2. Try a new resort or one that is off the major drag. In Las Vegas, the new Eastside Cannery is offering a $29.95 per night special or check out the new M Resort opening March 1 in Henderson for some great deals. Also, off-Strip favorite, The Orleans Hotel & Casino, is offering nights in March as low as $48 and has a free shuttle to the Strip.

3. Check out the deals at places like hotels.com and Expedia.com for room and package offers and hotel/flight specials. I looked at dates in March and found a deal on Expedia for The Palms for three nights starting March 9 for $53 per night while the hotel’s website showed $89 per night for same the time period.
Book with confidence thanks to the Best Price Guarantee from Expedia.com
Search Here for Hotels.com Best Hotel Deals!

4. Search for promo codes. Offer codes, promo codes, discount codes – hotels issue them either by email, in mailers or right on their own websites and having one can save you lots of money when making reservations. We regularly publish codes here — see the Venetian and Palazzo post for February — on our site and are always on the look-out for ones we can pass on to our readers. (more…)

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Venetian, Palazzo in Las Vegas Offer Sweet Suite Deals in February

Thursday, February 5th, 2009
Treat your Valentine to a gondola ride at The Venetian Las Vegas.

Treat your Valentine to a gondola ride at The Venetian Las Vegas.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes this super offer from both The Venetian and sister property, The Palazzo — one of the top picks on our recent list of “most romantic hotels in Las Vegas.”

Available on select dates and starting at $149 per night at The Palazzo or $129 per night at the neighboring Venetian, both resorts are offering the “Romantic Getaway” package which includes a Luxury Suite plus –

Get $25 off when you book the hotel’s “Elite Romance Package” which includes:
Private gondola ride for 2
– Gondolier performance
– Champagne and strawberries
– One souvenir photo

2-for-1 drinks at Double Helix Wine Bar
Complimentary Internet Access
$50 Slot Credit per stay

You must book by February 16.  Use offer code EPNFEB for The Palazzo or EVNFEB when booking The Venetian.

Be sure to check out our recommended restaurants in Las Vegas list here.

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A Very Vegas Valentine’s Day Weekend

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
A pre-dinner cocktail in this red and gold jewelbox of a lounge at Wynn Encore will start your Valentine's Day off right.

A pre-dinner cocktail in this red and gold jewelbox of a lounge at Wynn Encore is perfect for Valentine's Day.

Romance, NBA basketball —  “Love & Basketball,” anyone? — Friday the 13th and President’s Day all wrapped into one spectacular three-day weekend.  And you, you’re still waiting for a reason to go to Las Vegas?  I don’t even know where to start to tell you about all the cool things you can plan for a Valentine’s Day weekend trip to Las Vegas.

Okay, I lied; I do know where to start. Let’s begin with some romance, Las Vegas-style, and where you might think about staying for this Valentine’s Day with your honey.  (Hey, guys, you had your Super Bowl Sunday so now it’s time to grab your best girl and head back to Vegas for a different kind of fun!)

Top Romantic Hotels in Las Vegas

Wynn Las Vegas
and/or Wynn Encore – We’re putty in Steve Wynn’s hands when it comes to all that glitz and glamour plus all the RED used throughout the new Encore will make you think you’ve landed inside a giant scarlet satin heart.  (If you can walk through that place and not think about romance and Valentine’s Day, we’ll need to check your pulse on the way out.)  Add in some of the best, most indulgent restaurants on the Strip – Alex, Botero, SW, Bartolotta –  luxurious spas, and the hottest new “ultra-club” in town, XS, and you’ve got the makings of a memorable weekend without ever leaving the two adjoining properties.

Bellagio
–  Elegance personified not only in the rooms but throughout the entire hotel.  Yards of jewel-toned silk swags in the casino; an indoor garden that just begs to be strolled while hand-in-hand with your SO; a virtual chocoholic’s wonderland at Jean-Philippe Patisserie plus a shopping gallery full of baubles and bangles perfectly poised for gift-giving  (be sure to check out the heart-shaped charms at Tiffany’s) all contribute to a sophisticated yet utterly romantic atmosphere.

The Palazzo – All brocades and crystal, marble columns and burnished gilt — this younger sister to the flashier Venetian is like the Little Black Dress of Vegas resorts.  Understated, timeless and yet fashionable with enough pizzazz – LAVO Bar and Restaurant, Jersey Boys in the showroom, a Canyon Ranch Spa and Barneys New York in the shopping arcade – to never be boring.  (If your sweetie loves shoes – duh! – let her shop the displays at Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin for a guaranteed winner of a Valentine’s Day gift.)

Paris Las Vegas
–  Huh?  Are we kidding?  Au contraire, mon ami.  We’re suckers for that whole French vibe, fake as it may be.  (Uh, this is Vegas, remember?  Fake is this town’s middle name.)  Give us  steaks at Les Artistes, the Forest Fruits berries and cream concoction at Le Creperie, dinner or simply drinks at the Eiffel Tower restaurant with its magnificent view of the City and, our favorite three-hour lunch spot, Mon Ami Gabi  just off the front entrance, and we are saying merci and beau coup with the best of them.  (And, let’s face it, we’re Harrah’s Total Rewards Club® members and get great deals here!)

Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa
– Nope, not on the Strip, but with its own very hip, very romantic vibe, a “get-away-from-it-all” feeling, and a great selection of restaurants:  the T-Bones Chophouse is a favorite of locals while Cabo Mexican Restaurant offers stunning views of the surrounding red rock landscape.  And bars, particularly the Hollywood- chic Cherry nightclub, one of the most popular clubs in Vegas even without a Strip address.  (Plus, there’s absolutely no reason you can’t call a cab, spend a night enjoying the Strip and then head back to “the Rock” for your own very private celebration.)

Next post, we’ll give you some romantic spots for dinner a deux while you’re in town.

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