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Only a hour flight away from Las Vegas we visit frequently, sometimes once a month. I'll be sharing our trip reports, tips on making the most of your stay in Vegas, reviews of restaurants and shows we have seen, along with my thoughts related to our favorite place to get away from it all.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December trip report at Encore, Le Reve and Sinatra, Dance with Me

I decided to go back to Las Vegas 2 weeks after my last trip because Wynn and Encore invited me for 3 nights with free play and 2 free tickets to Le Reve, so I made my reservation to stay in a king room at Encore. Unfortunately my offer was only good for weekdays so my husband couldn't join me as he was taking off the last week of December for vacation this month. It was a surprise to receive this comp as the last one I accepted was back in early 2009 and they didn't seem to like my usual play since after that all I got was offers with discounted rates.

My flight on December 7th from San Jose to Las Vegas was smooth and on time. Didn't take long to get my luggage and while there was a line at the taxi stand, it went fast. My driver was a female who did take the shortest route to Encore and was very pleasant.

Checking my luggage, I went in to find no line at all at registration but the lady who took my information seemed determined not to give me my room until 3pm. This was disappointing as I wanted to get settled in and then go over to Palazzo to rack up some points in their chocolate payoff promotion as this was the last day for it.

Walking over to the Wynn box office I tried to get my tickets to Le Reve but learned I couldn't do that until I had my room number, and of course since it would be the same with my free play offer, I just went ahead and started to play some slots until my room was ready.

I've never won at Wynn or Encore in the past, so I was pleasantly surprised when I hit a nice Wolf Run and then after I left that slot I had a lucky hit on Witches Riches. For the next hour I went up and down a bit but by the time my room was ready I was ahead.
Registration never did call to tell me my room was ready so at 3pm I went back, stood in a short line and got checked in.
I didn't request a high floor or a view, my request was for a quiet room where I wouldn't hear noise from the Wynn and Encore nightclubs and that's exactly what I got.
Remember to click on read more to see the rest of this lengthy trip report!

This is the second time I have stayed at Encore and I like the way the room is arranged.
I hurriedly unpacked and walked over to Palazzo where I would be meeting with Socalgirl.
My luck at Palazzo was not good. All my favorite machines there, Kitty Glitter, Wolf Run, $5 Wheel of Fortune, Goldfish, none of them would give me a decent hit and I was down $400 in 30 minutes. I then walked over to Venetian and hit a bonus on the Kitty Glitter that is near the Dukes of Hazard and Green Acre slots.
Since my luck seemed to be gone from my usual favorites I decided to start playing slots I normally don't play like Treasures of Troy which resulted in varying degrees of luck. After a bit more play at Venetian I met up with Socalgirl who had checked in at Palazzo and after playing a few more slots we went to the Venetian player's card area where they had a booth set up to get your chocolate bars at for the Chocolate payoff promotion. It was one chocolate for every 500 points and you could get a maximum of 10 bars a day. I had earned three and opened them up to learn I had won $10 free slot credits and a few thousand player points. Ouch, my luck is turning south quickly, however at least the chocolate was high quality and tasted good!
It's 5:30pm now and time for our meet and greet with some of our friends from the Blonde4ever Vegas board. Socalgirl and I walk in to Laguna Champagne bar at Palazzo and Breanna, her friend Anne Marie and Kydds are already seated with drinks. Shortly after that we are joined by Ian, Kestral, and husband and wife, N&JFRMNJ.
I had a wonderful time at the Meet and it looked like everyone else did too. Socalgirl was generous enough to pick up our tab for the group at Laguna, so thanks again!
Our dinner reservation for the evening was at First Food and Bar at Palazzo. As we were walking to the restaurant Socalgirl pointed out this window display wreath of chef Bobby Flay.
Above is the cotton candy martini I ordered, before they poured the liquor into it.
Unfortunately the drink is so sweet I couldn't get down much of it. Be warned, cool presentation but unless you want to drink pure sugar stay away from this martini. Yeah, I know you all are thinking what did I expect when I ordered a drink with cotton candy in it.
Pretzels and the sauces they serve at First Bar are pictured above. Now the reason we were at First Bar instead of Cut tonight was I wanted to order the Chicken Paillard with pistachio brittle which I thought was a delicious and unique entree when I had it two weeks previously. Imagine our dismay when we found out that for the rest of the month First Bar had gone to a shortened menu due to it being the slow season and had taken it off! Instead they left on the type of dishes I could have eaten at any nice restaurant on the strip. For shame, don't take off the unique entrees which should be the signature dish for the restaurant and leave the ones that we can get almost any place.

I settled for the diver scallops which were excellent but still the presentation and taste was similar to what  I've had at other restaurants on the strip.
Socalgirl ordered the sliders.
Socalgirl was disappointed with the menu too because they had taken off her favorite fries and also the donut dessert she likes. We did order the shoestring fries which ended up being very good, but gave up on dessert as none of the replacements sounded that good.
After dinner we had 40 minutes before we had to walk over to Wynn to see Le Reve and I continued to lose.  Since the chocolate pay off promotion was ending in a few hours we went to collect the last of our chocolate bars and I had earned another three bars. After picking my bars from the box, I found out I had won $10 free slot play, $5 free slot play and $1000 free slot play!!!!

At this point I'm sorry I'm going to Le Reve as I would have liked to have earned my last 4 chocolate bars since I'm thinking that more higher prizes might be left since this is the last night, but instead we did go to Le Reve, which is likely a good thing as I might have just lost more and not gotten anything else good with the chocolate.
The photo above is of the Le Reve stage before the show begins. Socalgirl and I had seats on the aisle which normally we like having except most of our row was late arriving and we constantly had to get up so they could be seated. The last straw was when a guy from the row in front of us didn't want to disturb the people in his row so he vaulted over his seat into our row and instead disturbed us and several others.  This would be the 3rd time I have see Le Reve, but it was still enjoyable to see again and Socalgirl loved the show as it was her first time viewing it.
After Le Reve I went back to Palazzo and Venetian with Socalgirl because I thought my luck was changing there due to winning the $1000 slot credits. I was wrong! Never has $1000 slot credit disappeared so quickly, as with very few exceptions I didn't hit anything decent.
My luck that evening at Wynn and Encore though continued briefly, with a hit on $5 Pinball and then Witches Riches among a few other slots before I retired to go to sleep.
This 2 cent Witches Riches at Encore was kind to me a few times during the trip.
After the above bonus I went back to my room at Encore. Before going to bed I did take photos of the Wynn/Encore room service menus and it's here on the blog if you are interested in it.
The next day Socalgirl and I met up for a late brunch at Grand Lux where she introduced me to one of her friends who also lives in Vegas. Socalgirl and I ordered our usual and since I've posted photos of those dishes in the past, here's what her friend ordered which was a BBQ pork sandwich with coleslaw and carrots. After eating we went to the Venetian Gold Room where we met up with our host for an enjoyable hour of chatting. My host mentioned I had lost, err played enough so far that even though I wasn't staying there that he would give me a comp for dinner for us tonight so we decided on AquaKnox since Socalgirl hadn't eaten there yet.
For the rest of the afternoon we played slots and I think Socalgirl was up, down and breaking even, while I was just mainly losing on anything I played. I did enjoy the new Wizard of Oz community game which is a lot of fun when hitting bonuses and when not, it gets boring quickly.
At 7pm it was time to meet up at Dos Caminos at Palazzo, with friends this time from the Vegas Rex board though with the exception of one of us we are all also members of Blonde4ever too. Socalgirl and I were ready to walk in when we were hailed by Huddler and Shamu who were sitting off to the side of the entrance because Dos Caminos was closed to the public that evening due to a private party. Kydds joined us a few minutes later and our group decided to have drinks at SushiSamba.
Kydds seemed like the most popular man in Las Vegas as we had drinks as several times we had groups of men come up and introduce themselves as his friends who were on a golfing and gambling trip with him. From their conversation it sounded like Kydds had beat them all playing golf that day!
While all the guys are entertaining, if there was a award to be given out for person most likely to have you collapse on the floor and roll around laughing it would be Huddler. In between laughing the guys enjoyed the sushi they ordered.
Honestly, I don't think I've ever laughed more at a meet and greet before, it really was a blast and thanks Kydds for picking up our bar tab that evening!
Our meet broke up at 8:30pm as Socalgirl and I had to make our reservation for AquaKnox. Once there we were seated at a nice booth not far from the restaurant entrance. I've already had good food and service at AquaKnox but tonight the service was a bit off. Not sure why, since the restaurant wasn't that busy. I started out with the seafood trio which is crab, shrimp and lobster served with three different sauces. The seafood trio is delicious and well worth ordering if you enjoy eating shellfish.
Socalgirl ordered the John Dory entree and while I normally don't like John Dory she encouraged me to try hers and this was really good, I would consider ordering it in the future.
My entree was garlic shrimp over Israel couscous and I loved it, very flavorful! To go along with my food I tried their asian pear martini which was a winner as it wasn't too sweet.
The cappuccinos we ordered are pictured here because the biscotti it is served with was phenomenal and the best biscotti I can ever remember eating.
Speaking of outstanding, my chocolate martini mousse dessert with ice cream was that and more. I would go to AquaKnox again just for this dessert.
Socalgirl ordered their chocolate cake which was very close to chocolate souffle in both taste and textured and while not quite as good as the one Wolfgang Puck's restaurant serves it came close.
After dinner and losing a bit more at Palazzo, I walked back to Wynn and Encore where I continued to lose before going back to my room to sleep.
Woke up around 10:30am, got ready and sent a text to Socalgirl letting her know I was on my way to meet her at Palazzo. After exiting the Encore elevators I walked by what I was currently thinking of as my lucky Witches Riches slot at Encore, meaning it had actually paid me a decent hit my first night, put in a hundred and promptly lost it. Walking quickly away I see a man approaching me smiling and it turned out to be Huddler! What a coincidence to run into Huddler since he was staying downtown this trip. For a brief moment I thought I had a stalker (grin) but this was soon put to rest as Huddler explained one of his bucket list items was to have a drink at a bar at every hotel on the strip. Wanting to help him out with this goal we started out drinking at Encore's Eastside Bar with a Marguerite for Huddler and a raspberry Mojita for me. Socalgirl soon joined us and since two of us hadn't eaten yet, the three of us decided to give La Cave the new Tapas restaurant and bar a try at Wynn.
The place setting's at the tables at La Cave.
If you click on menu it should enlarge. At the time I took the photo they didn't have their menu available online but I believe they have posted it recently.
It wasn't very crowded for lunch, which gave us the idea that later that evening we didn't need reservations, however we were wrong it was very crowded when we went back for dinner around 9:30pm.
We ended up having another drink and sharing the artichoke, goat cheese, red pepper flatbread which was a generous portion for a reasonable price for a strip restaurant. It was also very good.
Not sure what we were discussing here, but photo of Huddler and another view of La Cave. In the background that is a room divider made up of different sayings, which I can't recall what they said at this point.

This is above one of the seating areas in the bar when you first walk in the doors.
More views of La Cave at Wynn. They also have outside patio seating but I missed getting photos of that.
Socalgirl and I wanted to use our MGM resort holiday gift points at one of their gift kiosks and Huddler decided to join us so we piled into Socalgirl's card and she drove us to Bellagio. Since the VIP lounge was in front of us as we entered from the parking garage, we decided to stop for another drink.
This is a view of the Bellagio Conservatory taken from a window looking into it from the VIP lounge.
After drinks we went to the gift kiosks set up in front of the player's card desk and I got free play with my points and I believe Socalgirl ordered a couple gifts that are being shipped to her. The three of us then went to play some Crazy4Poker but after losing 4 hands in a row and not liking the dealer, I left Socalgirl and Huddler playing and went to try my luck at the slots.
I quickly lost my free play on my lucky err formerly lucky $5 Pinball machine. I then tried the $5 Top dollar with the same results, then Wolf Run, Sex in the City and ACK, my losing streak is continuing until I found Lord of the Rings and hit a good pay out with 3 wilds.
Cashing out of Lord of the Rings, I went over to Goldfish. I haven't been able to get anything on Goldfish the last couple trips when playing it at Palazzo, Venetian and this trip at Wynn and Encore too. Well, I finally hit a good slot and got the money back I had lost at Bellagio with a few extra dollars to the good before we left.
While I didn't get photos for some reason I hit the fish I call sucky fish where you choose among 10 bubbles or so, twice and both times a small miracle happened for me when I selected AWARD ALL.
Deciding to quit while I'm briefly ahead at least at one casino, I start taking photos of the Bellagio lobby and Conservatory which is decorated for Christmas.

After taking my photos above, Socalgirl and I were ready to leave but couldn't locate Huddler. As we were waiting to see if he would reply back to our texts, Socalgirl mentioned Bellagio had the new American Idol Community Slot so of course I had to play it. I've already uploaded one video of a bonus and will later upload the second one and you can find them in video clips if curious. I enjoyed playing this slot a lot and will look for it next trip.
After my brief fling with American Idol and no word from Huddler who was likely off to the next bar on his bucket list, Socalgirl drove us back to Wynn where I believe she had a run of luck, while mine seemed to have been all used up at Bellagio.

It was close to 7pm when we were getting hungry and about ready to go to dinner and as we were walking by the Wynn High Limit room Socalgirl decided to say hi to her host and introduce me.  Since I was on a unlucky streak I wasn't recycling all that much cash in the Wynn slots, but what the heck. Turned out her host was at the dress rehearsal of Sinatra's Dance with me, which would open officially the next evening and she invited us to attend.
We quickly made our way to the lobby of the theatre where she met us and escorted us to some great seats mid-theatre that were available. The show was terrific, the dancers in the above two displays were fabulous in my opinion and the other dancers were brilliant too. If you like modern dance and Sinatra's music you won't want to miss this show. As a extra halfway through the performance a few of the songs have the cast changing to very skimpy costumes and all of then have beautiful bodies!
Unfortunately Socalgirl's host had to leave half way through the show to take care of someone, but I did get a chance to talk to her briefly and she was very nice.
It was now after 9pm on Thursday my last evening for this trip and I was ready for a drink and something to eat. We enjoyed our lunch at La Cave so much that we decided to eat dinner there thinking we wouldn't need a reservation since it was late and they weren't crowded at lunch. Wrong! La Cave was packed, however it didn't take long until we were seated at a nice booth around the same section we ate at for lunch. I quickly started out with one of their speciality drinks, an Asian Pear Martini which was not too sweet and I liked it enough to order it again.

Perhaps it was because it was so late and we hadn't eaten hardly anything today but everything sounded tasty and we ordered quite a few dishes to sample.  One of the reviews I read last week when La Cave first opened said the portions were small. While they certainly aren't huge portions like you will find at Grand Lux we thought they were reasonably size portions for the price.
Since we had asparagus last evening at AquaKnox, I wasn't too excited when Socalgirl wanted to order it again, but we decided to go with both the asparagus and the salt roasted beets as our salads. Hands down the asparagus dish above was the winner, both in presentation and taste. The chef had me at fried pancetta, though the menu doesn't mention it is fried. The chopped egg and whatever light dressing the asparagus had on it made this the dish I'm most likely to order again at La Cave.

I love beets, I order them a lot and very rarely find a dish that I don't care for with beets in it. I don't have a photo that came out to show you the beet dish, but the presentation wasn't that great anyway, it looked like a bunch of cut up beets in a bowl, sort of a big red blob. The dish is called salt roasted beets, whipped goat cheese with pistachio. What the menu doesn't tell you is that it's a warm dish and while the description sounded wonderful, the recipe in my opinion needs to be more exciting.
The flatbread at lunch was so delicious we ordered the same one for dinner, fiery roasted artichoke, red pepper and cheese. This flatbread was $12.00.
Roasted salmon with pea shoots and a red wine reduction was very good, though a little rare for my taste. Next time I would ask for them to serve it medium. The salmon was $13.00.
I really enjoyed the sliced sirloin steak with mushroom fondue and cippolini onions a lot, personally I would again ask for it to be cooked just a bit more, though I'm sure that for most people it was cooked perfectly. The mushroom fondue by the way is just mushrooms in a sauce, there's nothing fondue at all about it, not sure why they gave it that description. Price of the roasted sirloin was $19.00.
Socalgirl, ordered Beignets with strawberry jam and creme anglaise for dessert and encouraged me to order the Coffee Lollipop with Hazelnut Crunch. I was reluctant to order this because I don't normally like coffee ice cream but this was just a festival of ice cream goodness, very delicious and I'm glad we ate it. Excuse the lollipop on the right which I had already started to eat before I was reminded to take a photo of our desserts. In the background is Socalgirl's beignets. The beignets were good and the strawberry jam outstanding, but in my opinion the winner was the Coffee Lollipops. Each desert was $8 each.
After dinner we drove back to Palazzo since Socalgirl's car was parked at Wynn and she would need it  tomorrow afternoon when she checked out. Back at Palazzo I decided to take a couple photos of the fountain area with its holiday decorations.
It's getting late so I decide to see if my luck has changed but alas it was just teasing me. By that I mean I would sit down at Treasures of Troy and hit a bonus, have it re-trigger then re-trigger again thinking oh boy this is going to be huge payout to have it just fizzle. This happened more then once with several slots, it was just strange to re-trigger and then basically lose.
Giving up on Palazzo and Venetian for the rest of the trip, I returned to Wynn where I did make $100 last for a couple hours, playing Lord of the Rings, Witches Riches and Wolf Run, but could never really get ahead, though the way the previous part of the trip had gone, perhaps I was lucky just not to be losing a lot more.
Have I mentioned I didn't sleep well this trip? It wasn't Encore's fault they did give me a quiet room and it wasn't their fault that last evening the couple next door had a fight for more then an hour, if anything it was sort of entertaining since they eventually did quiet down. So once back at my room I did most of my packing for the next day and again tossed and turned most of the night. 

I woke up late thankful that Wynn and Encore give a noon check out instead of 11am like some other strip hotels. I checked my luggage since I wouldn't be leaving for the airport until around 5pm. 
Upon checking out I didn't ask for any food or beverage comps as I knew my play didn't justify it. However, since I had played again some at Palazzo last night I contacted my Grazie host and he sent me over a comp at Palazzo's Grand Lux for my brunch. Once there I ordered my usual Manhattan salad with chicken and shrimp, but branched out to a new drink for me, a blood orange mojita. I selected this drink because VegasSun or possibly someone else on the Blonde4ever message board had mentioned in the past how good it was and they were right. If you like mojita type drinks please order this one, it's great. 

Before I left Grand Lux, Socalgirl came down and joined me for her lunch while I was finishing up mine.
After lunch, Socalgirl went to finish packing and to check out while I said farewell to Lord of the Rings. 
We then went to pick up my luggage at Encore and since Socalgirl asked where I wanted to end my trip I decided to check out Mandalay Bay. After arriving there I thought my luck was going to continue to be bad, but I hit a decent bonus on 5 cent kitty glitter and then a spin on $5 WOF, however it only hit for $150.00. I then tried Wolf Run and it kept acting or so I thought like it might drop a lot of wolves, but at the end it only jammed my ticket in the machine and the only thing I won was a visit from the slot attendant. 
Socalgirl had been playing VP for the most part and holding her own with it, but I was ready to leave for the airport, just stopping long enough to take the above photo of one of the Mandalay Bay fountains near their restaurants. 

Now Mandalay Bay is fairly close to the airport, but if Socalgirl was a taxi driver I would have to say I was long hauled!! LOL! Yes, due to a slight detour or two it took us 20 minutes to get to the airport. Actually I felt bad for Socalgirl because I'm sure it's not the highlight of her day to give friends rides to the airport, but she was a trooper. Thanks!

My next trip is scheduled for January 10th. At this point I'm actually ready for a break from Las Vegas, yes I hear your gasps over the Internet, and your nods of disbelief, but it's true. However 3 months ago, I promised two of my friends here where I live that I would go with them and since I'm getting one of the ladies a comped room at Harrah's while I stay at Venetian I can't back out. The silver lining is I am looking forward to going into Cosmopolitan for the first time in January and playing at their casino. Also that's the time of Socalgirl's birthday and I did want to celebrate it with her at one of the new Cosmopolitan restaurants, so perhaps I'm not really that over Vegas!


  1. breaks from Vegas.
    It is not allowed!
    LOVED the report!

  2. Thanks Blonde4ever, glad you enjoyed it. I don't think we have to worry about any breaks from Vegas until the March Meet is over. :)

  3. Great Report and cool pictures! Gambler from NC

  4. Thanks Gambler from NC. NC is one of my favorite states, we frequently visit Asheville where our son is currently living. :)

  5. Loved your report. Too bad you didn't win anything with your $1000 in free play. That happened to me in September as well. You would think we would win something with that much free play! Sorry that I will miss joining you in January as Terri and I share the same birthday. Normally I am always in Vegas during that time but my daughter's baby is due January 3 so I couldn't schedule my annual trip during that time and miss welcoming my granddaughter. Great pictures! It is always fun to read about your gambling adventures in our favorite vacation spot. Look forward to seeing you on a trip next year:)

  6. Thanks Ilvegaslover, I'm sure we will get together next year too. Looking forward to hearing the news early next year when your granddaughter is born!

  7. Diana, your report and photos are just charming! Thank you for sharing your great experience with us. I enjoy reading your blog very much. We will stay at Encore next week and plan to visit the new Cosmopolitan.


  8. Thanks Shiny. I know you will love Encore next week, have a wonderful holiday in Vegas. Let me know what you think of Cosmopolitan as I've already booked a room there for next year.