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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.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Aria, Bellagio and Palazzo, July trip report (part 2 of 3)

Check out when smoothly at Aria on the TV screen in the bedroom since of course the one in the living room wasn't going to be repaired by my request until after I checked out. I was eager to move to Bellagio  for my slot tournament because I was sure I was due for a change of luck.  Terri who lives in Las Vegas checked out at the same time and drove me to Bellagio. Since we were going to eat at Bellagio Cafe she came in with me while I tried to check in.  The desk clerk claimed that Bellagio was full and my host was not working so I ended up with a room with a pool view. The first room they wanted to give me was on the 9th floor which I refused so when we went off to brunch I was still waiting for a room and couldn't charge food yet. This wasn't a problem since Terri had a lot of express comps and wanted to treat me to brunch, however when it came time to pay our bill it turned out that their computer system was down and she couldn't pay using comps and had to use her charge card. So be warned you may be enjoying what you are expecting to be a comped meal at a M-Life restaurant only to find at the end of the meal you can't use your express comps due to computer issues.
For brunch I ordered my usual at Bellagio cafe which is the crab salad. Terri ordered the eggs which looked fine but when you cut into it the cheese wasn't melted and frankly wasn't a very good omelet so she ended up not eating much. Due to the problem with the express comps we asked to speak to the manager to find out if this was a ongoing problem and he did admit this wasn't the first time they had computer issues and couldn't express comp meals. The manager did the best he could though and since Terri's eggs were mainly uneaten he comped that part of the meal off.
Terri and I said goodbye after brunch as she was going back home to get some rest before meeting another friend that weekend for a slot tournament they were in at M Resort. We would see each other again for my birthday celebration on Monday.
While waiting for my room to be ready, I admired the 4th of July theme at the Bellagio Conservatory.

Around 1:30pm my room was ready and was on the 20th floor. Since I have fountain view rooms a lot it wasn't a disappointment for me especially since we weren't in our room that much.
I quickly unpacked, putting most of my cash in the safe, sadly my bank roll was suffering from Aria and I was hoping to get lucky at the All Star Classic Slot Tournament to turn this trip from a losing one to a big win or even a break even trip.
It was time for me to register for the slot tournament which is held in one of the ballrooms. The top prize of this $250k tournament was $75,000 cash, it also had a extra inning round for anyone who made 10,000 points by Saturday morning and the prize for the extra inning round was $15k free play. The highest amount of my previous tournaments were $150k and the last 2 tournaments I had been in I had done fairly well at coming in 15th place last year at Aria's, so I was hoping my steady improvement in slot tournament scores over the last couple years would hold true and I might do better then 15th place.
When you register they give you a card with your name to put in the basket for the drawing for holiday gift points, they also ask if you want one of their welcoming gifts, or free play and then the computer randomly assigns you machines for each round. If you don't like your machine numbers you can go again until you like them. This year I was assigned the last playing times of each of the 3 main rounds and you can see the numbers of my machines above. I also took the free play as I didn't need any of the gift items.
After that it was time to gamble and see if my luck was changing. I started out on a better note having some decent wins on 25 cent DaVinci Diamonds and enjoying a Bellini. In the past I wasn't that thrilled with the Bellini's but I discovered that now they serve them frozen on the casino floor and I really like the frozen version and it would end up being my go to drink at Bellagio this trip. I also had a bit of luck on 2 cent Michelangelo.
I decided to up my bet and try my luck on $5 Top Dollar at 2 credits. I was happy to hit the symbol but I wimped out and accepted the second offer of $200.00.
I then went to the Hitchcock Theatre slot and hit the movie bonus. I started filming this bonus and it looked like it might turn out to be one of my luckiest bonuses with the slasher feature hitting and getting the movies several times. Unfortunately about 15 seconds into the bonus the woman sitting next to me playing Goldfish seeing me win and filming said that's illegal. I continue to watch my bonus filming it, and she repeats, it's illegal to film that, again I ignore her, well she said it a 3rd and 4th time so I shut down my filming, I turn to her and said thanks for ruining the video. Her reply was it's illegal. My reply to her was I do this all the time here and the slot attendants don't say a word to me, just because you are losing, don't try to ruin my fun. I then ignored her and a few minutes later a friend of hers came over, said how are you doing and of course her reply was she was losing. They then walked off, but by then my Hitchcock had turned cold and I left it. The bonus turned out to be okay but my picking the movies didn't turn out so great and I missed picking the big pay offs.
For the record unlike Aria the Bellagio slot attendants would walk right by me while I was filming or even stop to see if I was going to get a big win and not once did they tell me to stop. From Hitchcock I went over to Bamboozled, a WMS spinning streak slot and hit a nice bonus for $358.00. I was able to film the complete bonus and it's now on my you tube channel.
After that it really seemed my luck was returning and I was currently ahead for the day, not the trip as I had lost a good amount of money at Aria and it was going to take a bigger win then I was currently seeing to recover those losses and be ahead. I continued played a variety of slots, and really had some good times with the new Dirty Dancing slot machine, which is a fun time if the bonuses come around frequently.
I played a bit of Sex in the City and hit a bonus for $192.00 before the slot went cold on me. I was wandering over to play 25 cent Stonehenge when I noticed a lot of excitement by the progressive bank of $5 reel slots like double and triple diamonds and it turned out someone had just won the progressive of $473,244.56! I took this photo of the of the machines on my iphone, so it might take a few minutes to load. Later that day it was reset to about $75,000.
Playing 25cent Stonehenge worked out well when I hit the bonus and it paid $462.00.
The 25 cent Stonehenge slot was near the Bellagio buffet and I hadn't eaten there in years so I decided to have a early dinner at 5:30 and give it a try. I didn't really like their offerings so I ended up eating some shrimp, salmon and salad and finishing up with the above desserts which I did enjoy.
I continue to play after dinner as Randy wouldn't be arriving in until around 10:30pm and my luck seemed to still be with me with the above win on 5 cent Wolf Run. I was also making lots of points both for express comps and more importantly in my mind at the time for the extra inning slot session.
By the time Randy arrived I was still up for the day and had been having lots of fun for the first time on the trip for about 7 hours! After Randy dropped his luggage off at our room around 11pm, he wanted to have his delayed dinner so we went to Cafe Bellagio, where I had ice tea and Randy had a chef type salad.
After Randy's late dinner, we found our play had turned a bit sour. We actually hit a DaVinci bonus that paid zero, ouch! We continued to play and luck started to return a bit keeping us barely ahead for the day.  Around 1pm, I was tired and went up to bed  while Randy continued to play until about 4am. From what Randy told me the next morning,  he started out winning then it went south and by the time he retired for the night we were a few hundred down for what was a very long day of gambling.
The next morning we slept in late, deciding to skip eating until we went down to the slot tournament. Our first session wasn't until 2:20pm but we had made plants to meet Kathy (KLVegas on the Blonde4ever Vegas message board)who was also a participate in the tournament around 1:30pm.
We ended up at the tournament early around 1pm and while we were looking around met up with Kathy who recognized me from photos.
We were just in time to cheer her on at her 1:20pm session where she did quite well with over 10,000 points.
After Kathy's session we all decided to get some drinks and food and sit down and chat.
Above is one of the menus for one of the good stations. The other main food station had hot dogs, sliders,salads, sandwiches and other items.
There were some large displays near the bar that originally held redvines, candy bars, bags of peanut and other ball park type food, but as we were first entering the tournament area we saw folks grabbing for that stuff like it was the last snack food they would ever see. Some ladies were just opening their bags and pushing everything they could reach off the shelves into their purses.
While the food stations were replenished constantly they sort of gave up refilling those displays given the greediness of some of the participants. They still had plenty of non-prepackaged snacks like popcorn available.
In addition to the food already described there were tables of desserts and pastries. I thought I had some photos of them but they seem to be missing. After eating it was time for my first slot round and Kathy stayed to cheer me on.
Alas, I had a very poor showing of only 7823 points and could only hope to have a really big score in the next round at 4:20pm.
After leaving the ballroom where the tournament was held and saying a temporary goodbye to Kathy, we played a few slots but no outstanding wins, just sort of holding our own.

Randy decided to play the second round which was the last session and round for Friday. It was just a bit better then my first at over 8,000 points but with 2 poor scores for the first 2 rounds it was looking bleak for us to win anything at the All Stars Classic Slot Tournament.
We needed a pick me up or something after out poor tournament results and we had a couple hours before dinner so we walked over to Cosmopolitan to take advantage of their $100 of free play if you lost a hundred. I ended up losing a hundred on DaVinci diamonds but Randy on his card hit a bonus for $530.00 and had a few other good hits so no free play for him! Yes, I did get my free play but would have preferred to walk away a winner for at least a couple hours like Randy did.
At this point we both had put more then a 100 points on our Identity cards so we entered the daily tournament. There were 6 participants and Randy won first place for a prize of $50 free play and I came in 3rd for a prize of $10 free play.  It was almost time to walk back to Bellagio for dinner but I wanted to see what the new Cosmopolitan platinum lounge looked like.
It's on the 16th floor in what was formally a hospitality suite so it was a big disappointment to both of us who thought the previous Platinum club was one of the best VIP lounges on the strip. Unfortunately for us the former Platinum club is being made into a high limit gambling lounge.
You can still have drinks made for you in the Platinum lounge and they have desserts from the Cosmo buffet sat out to eat along, with snacks like potato chips, but they no longer provide the hot and cold appetizers like previously.
Dinner was at Bellagio's Sensi restaurant which is one of our favorites. We adore their naan and the condiments that come with it, such as cucumber raita, tamarind, soy and a spicy tomato based sauce. The papadum on the other hand was not crispy and a bit stale. We ended up eating way too much naan so this meal did not end with dessert!
I used to love the tempura asparagus at Sensi but it's been replaced by tempura vegetables and they were a bit too greasy for our taste.
We both ordered the tandoori surf and turf and the halibut, shrimp, chicken and filet were cooked to perfection along with the accompaniments hidden below them.
After dinner we strolled around Bellagio admiring the conservatory and looking at some shoppes before playing some more slots like Dirty Dancing.
We had a bit of luck with Goldfish and Rockin Olives. We had a lot of play and fun with these slots and some others and found we had passed the 10,000 points needed for the extra inning tournament so we retired about 1am.
The next morning we again slept in late and made it to the tournament around 11:30am which gave us plenty of time to eat and drink before our 12:50pm session.
We met up with Kathy again who is a really fun lady. Today the final day of the tournament they were making root beer floats. The photo above is the man who was making them.
Here's Kathy's root beer float but I forgot to take a photo until she was halfway through drinking it.
There was trays of pastries available, I love the chocolate croissants.
Popcorn anyone?
One of the several food stations where they make food in front of you in addition to bringing in some pre-made items.
Sorry for the blurry photo but in the center there is one of 2 displays around the bar area where they had the candy, nuts and other ball park fast food items that some people grabbed so quickly yesterday and stuffed their bags full.
Another food station, they each have different offerings.
I took a photo of one of today's menus but now can't read it. I do recall there was 3 different types of pasta out in one of the areas along with these tasty sandwiches.
They had a lot of different type of tarts today for desserts, some were sugar free.
The item wrapped in foil was some sort of egg sandwich my husband ate. The waffles fries were good to. Yes that's my chocolate croissant, resistance was futile. ;)

Here's a very short video of some of the action during one of the sessions. When it came time for my final session for the main tournament prizes, I did much better finally with a score of 12,028, but of course it was too late at that point to do much for me.
We had a couple hours to wait until the awards reception so we played some slots and basically stayed about even for those hours. We met up with Kathy again at the reception and I had a Cosmo, Randy had a green apple martini and Kathy a beer while we sat through the drawing of the winners of the holiday gift shopping points and then the announcements and photographs of the lucky winners of the first 5 places. After that they announce those who would in the extra inning round for the 15k free play prize and I was one of the participants but in the last session of the day. I actually make a decent showing in this round, but all of us playing in the last session as all playing in previous sessions except for the first knew we didn't win because during the first session a lady had a fantastic 16,000 plus points and we knew starting our session the points we needed to beat. The lady ended up sitting through all the sessions to see if anyone would beat her and had the thrill of knowing at the end of my session she was the winner. During the extra innings round I was surprised to see they still had snacks available along with cookie ice cream sandwiches they were making to order. The All Stars Tournament was fun and it was great to hang out with Kathy, of course it would have been more fun if we had been one of the top winners. We ended up with $200 free play for coming in somewhere between 151 and 200 places, Kathy did better and won $500 free play.
After the tournament results we passed Bellagio's only $5 Pinball slot which has been kind to us on past trips and decided to give it one last try. We tried it a few times during this stay but couldn't hit Pinball but finally we had a bit of luck and hit it for $475.00.
We played more slots until it was time for dinner but the Pinball hit was turning out to be the high point for tonight. Dinner was again at Sensi, because my husband wanted to return for the surf and turf tandoori he had enjoyed so much last evening. I decided to go for their prix fix meal and for my first course ordered the seasonal salad of organic lettuces, seasonal fruits and vegetables with a white balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  There was also some truffled parmesan that was on it and the salad was scrumptious. I also had the wine pairing which started out with Louis Roederer brut champagne that I gave to Randy because the Ceretto which is a white wine from Piedmont, Italy followed so quickly.
If you want to see what Randy's entree looked like go back to last night's dinner it was the same and he still loved it. My entree was the miso glazed alaskan halibut and it was delectable.  The Austria riesling they served with it matched very well.
For dessert I selected the chocolate temptation which I of course shared with Randy and since I was there celebrating my birthday they stuck a candle in it. The Toro Albala dessert wine from Spain was very enjoyable with this delicious chocolate dessert that had nuts & praline with 2 small scoops of salted caramel ice cream.
After we finished the chocolate temptation, our server brought out compliments of the chef a dessert for my birthday, for obvious reasons the candle wasn't something they wanted to place on this wonderful selection of sorbet and gelato (pistachio, passion fruit and coffee gelato) in a ice encased shell.
After dinner our luck was still not very good so we went over to our favorite Wolf Run bank of slots near Caramel Lounge where they had a crowd of people waiting in line to get inside. While we're playing we notice a small commotion and 2 guys were standing in line in their briefs and collecting a bit of interest in the way of laughs from the ladies.
This went on for about 5 minutes until security finally arrived and escorted the two men somewhere.
After that brief bit of excitement we continued to lose though we did have some fun again briefly with Goldfish, Rockin Olives and a few other slots. We ran into Kathy at the Goldfish slots and said goodbye and hopefully we might have a chance to see her again the end of August in Vegas. We ended up retiring for the evening around 1pm again with hopes that our luck would really change for the better when we check into Palazzo for 3 nights.

The end of this report and my 3 nights/4 days at Palazzo will be uploaded in a few more days.


  1. First off, REALLY enjoy reading your blog, looking at pics, and watching your videos. You have given me many hours of enjoyment. Thanks!

    Now a couple of questions, if you don't mind. Since you have just been to Bellagio, I hope you can help me with this. I know it's a long shot! When we were there last fall played a slot that had dragons. I believe it had 4 or 5 different ones (a diamond, emerald, ruby, and sapphire maybe). The reels had a dragon that would take up 3 or 4 spots diagonally on the reel (so that you could see the top or top and middle, or top middle and bottom). We don't believe it was Asian dragon, more like knights and dragons, but not sure. At that time it was located near where the Hitchcock/Goldfish alternating machines were. Did you by chance see this?

    Also, is it really "illegal" to film? Or is it just against the casino rules? If find this interesting. BTW, what a spoil-sport that lady was!!!


  2. Thanks, I'm glad you enjoy them. I'm been a bit slow finishing up the end of this trip report but hope to have it done by the end of next week.

    Sorry, I don't recall a slot with a lot of dragons near there but that doesn't mean they aren't still aren't at Bellagio. In my experience Bellagio doesn't take out slots that frequently compared to some of the other strip hotels, so while they might have moved it to another location in the casino there's a good chance it's still there.

    I believe it's illegal to film table games, though I did see what appeared to be a Japanese tourist walking down the center aisle of the Bellagio casino openly filming the casino and security did not come running.

    WMS on youtube has congratulated me on some of my video wins and hasn't told youtube to take them down due to being illegal so I don't think on the part of the slot manufacturer's there's a problem with taking them. I think some of the casinos might have that rule but later in my trip there was a slot attendant watching me while I was filming a bonus at Bellagio and she never said a word to me about don't do that, while the one at Aria told me to stop, so it's a confusing issue.

  3. Which hotel did you think was the nicest/best out out of Bellagio, Aria, Wynn and Palazzo?

  4. Anon, you can't go wrong with any of those hotels, it really depends on what you might be doing the most during your trip.

    Palazzo has the largest standard room as all their rooms are suites. We stay here a lot due to a lot of personal preferences.

    Bellagio rooms except for their suites are showing their age, but they are currently in the process of renovating said older rooms.

    Wynn renovated recently and both it and it's sister property Encore have lovely rooms.

    Some of my friends have found the standard room at Aria a bit on the small side, but I liked the standard room enough and loved the corner suite. Aria itself is not my favorite place to stay unless I'm in one of those corner suites or above, but again personal preferences.

    Personally I've never had bad service at any of them, but milage and luck with that can vary for others according to what I've read in other people's trip reports.