Monday, January 11, 2010

Vegas Baby

It’s Monday, the universal I-hate-work-day, and normally, I would be among the first to complain, but being that I just stepped off a plane from Las Vegas, it would seem a little facetious to whine about a company that sent me on a work-play business trip.

It was a crazy, hectic, but really fun week and I did learn some things. If you’re planning a trip to Sin City, here’s my not-so-complete list of tips:

Food
(Ok, so the diet went out the window for a week.)

Best Cheap Vegetarian Dinner
Portobello Sandwich with Fries at Margaritaville (approx. $9)

Best Vegetarian Dinner Budget-Be-Damned
Mushroom Tortellini at Wolfgang Pucks (second floor of the Venetian, approx. $22)

Worst Vegetarian Meal
Veggie Garden Burger with Fries at Harrah’s Casino Café (approx. $12)

Best Dessert
Hot Fudge Sundae at Ghirardelli’s (approx. $7 with 20% coupon available from Harrah’s)

Is there such a thing as a worst dessert?

Tips on Chain Restaurants
  • Some of the chain restaurants in Vegas do not accept gift cards or coupons and their prices are much higher than they are outside of the city (e.g. Starbucks).
  • If you’re really on a budget Casino Royale boasts a Denny’s and a Subway inside

Transportation

Best Method of Transit to/from Airport
Taxi

  • Trust me, the shuttles are NOT worth waiting for. The average cost of a shuttle from the airport to the casinos on The Strip is about $6.50-$7.50 per passenger and the wait time can be upwards of 1 hour. The average cost of a taxi from the strip is more like $10-$20 (depending on distance and traffic).

Best Method of Transit on The Strip
Monorail - Long-Distances
Hoofing-It - Short Distances
  • Be careful of the Monorail. It’s fairly expensive ($14/day pass) and if you only want to go 1 or 2 stops, you’ll find it easier, quicker and more efficient to walk. Save the Monorail trips for the places that are more than two Monorail stops apart, except if you are going to the Las Vegas Convention Center from Harrah’s - way too far to walk.
  • Avoid the taxis on The Strip unless you have money to burn. Even though Vegas is small and laid out in a long line, congestion is unbelievable. You’ll spend more than half of your fare on just wait time.
Having Fun

Favorite Budget Bar with a Dance Floor
The outside bar between Harrah’s and The Imperial Palace (beer approx. $6)

  • By non-Vegas standards $6 is a lot to spend on a Bud Light, but take into consideration live music, a DJ, a dance floor, no cover and bartenders willing to give you tap-water for free, and this bar is extremely budget friendly. Apart from the budget factor, I had an awesome time at this place!
Recommended Nightclub Budget-Be-Damned
Tao or The Ghost Bar

  • This recommendation comes from some of my co-workers who opted for the more expensive higher-class experience. I personally hate places like this but from what I was told, Tao and The Ghost Bar were fairly cool, but expensive and difficult to get into on a Friday night.
Where I won the most: Harrah’s Penny Slots

Where I lost the most: Paris Penny Slots

Favorite casino: The Venetian (classy, clean, interesting sights)

Least favorite casino: Treasure Island (smelled awful, very dirty)

Random Tips

  • Be prepared to tip everyone for everything! Everyone from the guy that calls your taxi to the woman who hands out keno slips in the casino diner lives off of tips.
  • As long as you’re gambling, free drinks in casinos are still possible, even when you’re playing the penny slots.
  • Expect inflated prices for everything that does not involve gambling.
  • Some hotels, like Harrah’s, do not have coffee pots or amenities in the rooms, even for business class suites. Also, don’t expect the wireless internet connection in the casino hotel to work. (I wonder if that has something to do with time in your room versus the time you could be spending on the casino floor.)
  • Even though the prices are higher on the weekends, Las Vegas really is much more fun on a Friday night than it is on a Wednesday. Spend the extra cash to stay Friday and Saturday night.
  • Penny slots may sound cheap, but be careful not to burn serious cash. Some of the machines are set up to dupe you into making $3.00 bets (e.g. 30 lines, 10 credits each).
  • Wear COMFORTABLE shoes. On my second day in Sin City, my shoes hurt so bad that I hobbled into a casino store, threw myself down on a couch, peeled off my shoes and was forced to buy overpriced flats.
  • On the second floor of The Venetian, there is an amazing indoor courtyard. Check it out!

Obviously this list is not all inclusive. Because I was there on business, unfortunately, I didn’t get much of a chance to explore the shows and extras.

If you have any Vegas experiences to share, I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment (hopefully, the comment feature is fixed).