Sunday, July 31, 2011

Las Vegas: A Review: Part 3 of 3

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly …

The Good …

Here are some other highlights of my trip to Vegas …

My hotel and hotel room were very nice. I was pleased with the cleanliness, the decor, and the view my hotel room had. If I wanted to be picky about a few things I could be, but overall I'd rate my room at the Luxor, which was on the 16th of 31 floors, ★★★★ of 5.

Inside The Luxor Hotel / View of "inclinators"
To reach each room, one has to ride an "inclinator", which is a very unique experience to move diagonally in an elevator ~ when going fast ~ you lean.

The Luxor was very wheelchair friendly. A friend of mine had broken his leg about 45 days before our trip and needed to be in a wheelchair due to the severity of the accident. The bathroom in his room at the Luxor had a shower bench and was very spacious.

It was interesting that most all of the hotels flowed together. This allowed my friend, who was in a wheelchair, to essentially move from hotel to hotel without going out onto the street and needing too much assistance to get around.

My wife & I at the New York New York Hotel in Las Vegas
I really enjoyed looking at and seeing the nearby New York, New York Hotel. It's really an amazing eclectic view of New York City.

I loved walking up and down the Las Vegas strip - I'm a people person and a people observer ~ so is my wife. I had one of the best times of my life just strolling and commenting on different people, places, and things with my wife. We got to do some gimmicky things together that you'd only do on vacation. One of those gimmicky things was go to an "oxygen bar" called Vitality. This was worth it. Vitality consisted of a massage and oxygen pumped through a tube into your nose with soothing scents like mint, eucalyptus, rosemary, and lavender. Another couple that I travelled with tried the Hydro-Massage and they said it was worth the money as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the inside of The Venetian Hotel and the Phantom Of The Opera: Las Vegas Spectacular show that was inside. I've seen the play many times, I'm a big fan of the movie version, and the presentation at The Venetian was unique and memorable.

My favorite line:

"You will curse the day you did not dooooooo allllll that the Phantom asked of youuuuuu"

View of Bodies: The Exhibition inside the Luxor hotel
From my hotel room door on the 16th floor.
The Luxor Hotel Bodies Exibition is very educational and memorable. I highly suggest making this a stop if you're in Vegas. The Vegas monorail magazine and website (called Vegas Vibe) both have $5 discounts.

I love flying - especially in commercial planes. Flying to Vegas is particularly awesome because you get to see so many different types of weather patterns in the clouds. You get to see the perfectly square pieces of property in America's heartland. It's truly stunning and a huge contrast to the way land looks in the South.

Transportation options in Vegas are plentiful. There is a free monorail from the Monte Carlo to the Bellagio hotel. There is a paid monorail on the other side of the street that travels from the MGM Grand to the very back of Harrah's and beyond. Cabs and buses also are practically every 30 seconds or less. Walking isn't nearly as bad or as difficult as you may think. High temperatures in Vegas are not equal to high temperatures in South Carolina due to humidity differences. Just bring good walking shoes.

The MORE buffet in the Luxor hotel was one of the greatest highlights of my trip. Great variety, unique items, and very neat artistic creations and presentation set it apart. The service and staff at the MORE buffet really deserve a lot of credit … they set themselves apart from other parts of the hotel.

Another couple I travelled with went to The Wicked Spoon buffet in the Cosmopolitan Hotel in City Center and had nothing but praise for it as well. It's also highly rated on just about every restaurant rating service such as Yelp.

The Bad …

The Luxor had my reservations wrong. The front desk blamed it on my common last name; "Smith". This caused a problem because I needed to be in adjacent rooms to my party due to one being in a wheelchair. I had promised my best friend that I would attend to him while we were in Vegas.

The Luxor front desk said that they don't assign rooms until check in. That story holds up IF I hadn't called two weeks before and gotten special consideration for my situation. I also called the day before my trip and re-confirmed. They just botched my reservation ~ plain and simple. I suggest you confirm and re-confirm any Vegas reservation because hotels and events fill up fast and without notice due to conventions and popular concerts. I was told it's rather common to overbook. Still, I had made my travel plans 4+ months in advance and confirmed. My whole stay was prepaid. There was no excuse for this blunder by the hotel.

The unique elevator in the Luxor presented a problem. This is somewhat of an attraction. To stop the public from using the elevators as an attraction ~ one has to use their room key to activate the "inclinator". The key will only allow you to go to your floor. If you are with a party and you don't have adjacent rooms and you want to go to their room without them being in the "inclinator", you just have to hope someone else is in the "inclinator" with you or get your room key specially coded.

The "inclinator" also presents another problem … only one "inclinator" of the three in the hotel goes to your floor. You'd think that with a hotel that has a ground level that's perfectly square - this wouldn't be a problem. Well, the "inclinators" aren't exactly in the corners - even though they look like they flow toward the corners. You have to walk through a maze of slot machines, shops, and venues just to get to each "inclinator". You also have to consider the shear size of the hotel … the second largest in Vegas and the third largest in the world. I was only able to figure this out precisely on my last day staying at The Luxor. If you're tired from your flight - it's maddening.

Some access between the hotels was downhill (or uphill going back). Wheelchairs were not allowed on the moving sidewalks … so … while hotels flowed together and it was easy for me to assist my friend in his wheelchair - this is an issue that the hotels didn't put a whole lot of thinking into.

Pool hours at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas
Pool times. Apparently, the Luxor wasn't the only hotel that closed it's pool at 8PM. I don't understand this. I understand 10PM and I understand closing the pool, but not the whole pool area. You're allowed to carry alcohol on the streets and the bar that served you the alcohol is still held responsible, so wouldn't it seem logical that if you drown due to drunkenness in a much safer place that the same rules would apply? This was very disappointing for what's suppose to be a "party all day / party all night" city. Getting to be in a pool is what I consider a major part of any vacation, even Disney World, or Gatlinburg. Getting to be in the pool would seem to be relaxing to guests and make them more likely to spend money. Just sayin' …

Be careful if your cab driver asks if you want to take the freeway. You may not always need to go on the freeway. Going off the strip costs extra - a lot extra. Cab fare is very expensive in Las Vegas.

The Ugly …

Our hotel had people dressed up in coats and ties at all the entrances to the casino floor (which led to other venues in the hotel). These people appeared to be hotel employees and appeared to want to offer you discounted show tickets or "help you find something" ~ the catch was "considering a condo" at the new City Center in Las Vegas. This was annoying and made you feel cheap. I didn't notice these people in any other hotel that I walked into in Vegas.

While the hotel offered wired internet access for free, the speed was VERY SLOW. Luckily, I have an iPhone. It was basically all I needed and it also provides tethering if I need it. I tried getting on the internet at different times during the day just to test the hotel connection ~ it was the same each try.

I've read that Las Vegas has one of the best cell phone infrastructures in the country. It's flat. It's conducive to cell phone signals. Outside on the streets, the signal is perfect.

I had full signal in nearly the whole building of Luxor and the “3G” data indicator was there too. I asked about this and it appears that nearly all of the MGM resorts hotels (which is most) use cellular blockers and blocking paint. This has the effect of blocking voice and data in the modern age.

One way you can test this theory is by going to the MORE buffet at the Luxor. It technically should be the worst place in the hotel to get cell signals – it’s essentially a dungeon below ground. It actually has the best reception in the hotel other than the pool area – it appears as if the area isn’t “painted” and the blockers can’t reach that area. If you think about it – it doesn’t make sense for a cell phone to work outside a door, then not work just inside the door.

This was very disappointing for me as many of the hotel venues had Foursquare check in specials and the Luxor hotel has their own social media manager who encourages you tweet and check in while you're at the hotel.

* All of my friends with me with had different phones and different rooms in different parts of the hotel and experienced the same issues.

Porn poppers. I covered this thoroughly in Part I of this review. For this single reason alone, no matter what tips others tell you about ways to avoid this disgusting annoyance that you are confronted with every 50 feet you walk on the streets of Vegas, I recommend that you either don't go to Vegas at all, especially do not take your children (of any age), or go and stay confined to your hotel and the mostly natural flow of connections and walkways between hotels. I sound like a fuddy duddy to some I'm sure, but it was just that bad to me!

It's also a bit embarrassing to be in a cab going down Las Vegas Boulevard and a big thonged butt on a moving billboard drives up beside you with the words, "Girls, Direct To You In 20 Minutes" scrawled on it.

When you're in Vegas you almost forget that there's a world out there with starving people in it. Although my vacation was almost free and I was comped a lot of things to review them on … I saw lots people spending lots of money that could be going elsewhere - to a church, to a charity, to their children, to someone else's children. I hate to end on a down note … I had a great time … the whole trip just got me to thinking about life ya know?

I had lots of fun … but I also missed my son and my dog. I had just as much fun "toobin'" with the whole family this past weekend.

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