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  • pcg2001
    (Non-gambling) TRIP REPORT:

    Hi guys, returned yesterday from our mini LV-Anaheim-LA tour and wanted first of all to thank everyone for the help in planning . And in return here is our non-gambling LV trip report. Hope I do not bore you to death. I have some boring details of things I would have liked to know beforehand but were difficult to come by.

    Flight: We booked with BMI/ United with Expedia for £537 in early May. This was BMI 4481/ United 959 LHR to ORD Chicago (Boing 777-200/300), and United 1567 from Chicago to LV. We checked in online 24 hours before at the UNITED website, which we did not know. I was trying the BMI website, since our flight was a BMI code, and then I decided to try United, which was lucky, since only there was I able to check in. We upgraded to Premium Economy (can’t remember the price now, will update later). The seats were really comfy, with lots of legroom and we were seating in the 2 seats alone. This was a 2+5+2 seat configuration. We were served a nice lunch and a snack during this 8 hour flight. As soon as we lifted off we got a drink and a small packet of pretzels. There were pillows and a throw in each seat. Water was served regularly. The movie selection was not bad (Smart People, Flawless, Married life etc).
    The connection was not so good. We managed to sit together when checking in online but this was aisle and middle, since all windows had been taken. We had to wait 2 hours inside the plane before leaving. This made the 5 hour trip a bit unbearable. The service aboard TED was a bit like Ryanair, since you had to pay for food, and there were not enough pillows for everyone).

    MGM Grand:
    So much has been said about the MGM Grand, that I will just stick to what I think may be of interest to people like me.

    Check-in: we arrived really late after a delayed connection. This was past midnight!! I had booked a $69 per night rate for a Grand Tower room including $35 dining or entertainment credit, 2 tube rentals for the lazy river. I had planned to do the $20 trick, but then was too tired. The only thing I requested when checking in was a non-smoking room. We were told we would have to wait!!! In a +5000 room hotel?! We said we would be willing to wait, no problems. But she would see what she could do. She went to speak with her manager and offered us a 6th floor Celebrity Spa Suite, but smoking. We would be able to change the following day if we wanted into a non-smoking room. We accepted. I had phoned after the initial reservation with the hotel to ask for the lower price available on the internet (thanks, guys!!) and had been easily accommodated. However the person must have changed the offer and instead of the tube rentals it included 2 club entries for the Tabu or Studio 54, which we did not use, whereas we had been planning on using the lazy river. We ended up not visiting the pool. We used the credit for breakfast buffets. The first day we had breakfast at 10h30 and we already able to have a bit of lunch, before leaving, since they were replacing the stations with lunch food. It was $14.50 per person and included standard hot drinks and orange juice, brought to you by your server.

    Room: The room was very big with a big bathroom, with 1 shower and 1 jacuzzi. I was in love with the big Jacuzzi immediately. Basic toiletries: 2 soaps, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, kit with 2 cotton wools and a shower cap (the maid threw the cap away after the first day and never replaced the kit). The room looked a bit “tired”, even though it was so hard to see. At night there was barely any light inside the room, which made it difficult to find anything. There was a welcome basket with 2 small bottles of water and some sweet and sour snacks. The room was located at the end of a corridor, but this was not the big walk some people have mentioned. Everything was actually very well signaled and the corridors in impeccable state. The room’s view was facing the back (we could seen the monorail station and the back of Planet Hollywood) and this being the 6th floor, it was not breathtaking. I think this is why we got a suite. There were lots of people in our floor, but the room was always sound proof. As for the “smoking”, with hindsight I regret having taken and kept the room. It was not very noticeable at first. But on the 3rd and 4th days our clothes stank. And when we left for another city, the clothes in the suitcases stank of smoke…
    There was wired and wireless internet access for $12.95 per night.

    Hotel: very big casino, but it becomes easier to see the directions on the second day. We went to see Ka (AMAZING!!) and always had breakfast in the hotel. Starbucks was open on the day we did the Grand Canyon Tour and had to leave at 6 in the morning, which was really convenient. We went through the West Wing corridors, but they seemed very dark. Some people have said that the entrance and exit of the West Wing are very convenient for the Strip, but it was just around the corner from the main Strip exit, so not that bit a difference.
    There is a valet service next to the check-in area where they will keep the suitcases. You just pay the tip. (We were taking a bus to Anaheim from the Luxor at 3.30 pm, and with hindsight we should have taken the luggage to the Luxor and left it there with the valet, not at the MGM since we had to collect the bags, go to the Luxor, find the bus stop area (not easy to find at all) and wait there with the bags.).

    Now for our actual trip report:

    Day 1:
    Can’t really remember a lot, except that we had a late breakfast at the MGM buffet. Walked to the Bellagio and roamed around the hotel promising to stay there next time. By this time it was 40ºC outside so we took a taxi to the Fashion Show mall. Air-conditioning and shopping heaven! Pointless to say we went over the allowance on our first day!! We got to see a celebrity. Paris Hilton was presenting her shoe collection at Macys. I woudn’t have changed store to see her, but there she was while I was shopping for handbags.
    Back to the hotel by taxi (we had not discovered the Deuce) to get ready for Zumanity early show.
    We had booked the 7pm show with a 1/3 off offer, so got seats for $50. This was my least favourite show by Cirque du Soleil (have seen Varekai and Alegria, as well as Ka), which does not mean I did not like it. I was curious about the adult theme, but did not really find it very sexy (disclaimer: perhaps because I am a "she"). Just to give you an idea, this is a cabaret style show with a drag queen host going over some fantasies, such as the cheerleader, the dwarf, male gay sex, men and TV, first love, etc. The traditional between-act entertainment was very good. Be advised that the people in the front seats will definitely be asked to help out with a lot of innuendo ("bite this banana" kind of thing). In my humble and personal opinion this would have been a better show if the lady acrobats had kept their tops on. So they do a show full of innuendo with topless women (and for those of you getting ideas… these are acrobats, so there is not a lot there), and it would have been in better taste not to have any topless acts. If people want adult shows, they don’t go and see a cirque show. The innuendo and sensuality were ok, just the topless part did not really fit with the show in my opinion.
    We had dinner at a NewYork deli. I did not know a pastrami sandwich could taste so good.
    And then the NYNY roller coaster at night ($13) was just awesome!!

    Day 2: We discovered the Deuce. The Deuce was a life saver for $5 with air conditioning. We visited Downtown to check out the place. I felt like a place miles away from the Strip. Very quaint.

    We visited the Wynn for our free buffets. We enrolled in the card (the queue was fairly long) and were given $10 credit. You need 25 points to get a spin of the wheel and 150 for 2 free buffets. So we headed the video roulette and made the mistake of betting only red and black forgetting about the 0. As we were getting impatient to get the points we put a bit more money than we should have, so ended up losing $20 of our own money. We got to spin the wheel, at which point I won 2 buffets and my OH won $10 slot credit. If we hadn’t won the buffets we would have continued to play until we got the 150 points. The lunch buffet was really good and the place lovely.
    We popped back into the Fashion Show mall for some air conditioning and extra shopping.
    We had booked the early show of KA for that night. It was $80 over the phone using one of the codes at Travelzoo. And we loved it. The show is staggering.
    Took the Deuce to Downtown and watched the American Pie show. I had seen some videos on You Tube but they had not prepared me for this. What a great show. People were dancing and singing along. I wish we had not been so tired, or I would have gladly waited for the next show. But these were every hour and we just wanted to go back. We still had 1 hour on the Deuce to return.

    Day 3: Grand Canyon

    We booked our GC tour on the internet using
    This was out by Vision Tours.
    We were picked up at 6.30 from our hotel.
    This is what it says on the “brochure”:
    • Complimentary hotel pickup and hotel return will be provided
    • Enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast
    • Air-conditioned luxury motorcoaches provide passenger comfort
    • Guided narrated tour with panoramic windows & restroom onboard
    • See the man-made wonders of the world, Hoover Dam & Lake Mead
    • Travel along historic Route 66 with a brief stop in Kingman, Arizona
    • Enjoy a complimentary buffet lunch served in the Grand Canyon area
    • Spectacular South Rim tour inside the Grand Canyon's National Park
    • Multiple views include Bright Angel Point and Mather Point overlooks
    • Many photo opportunities of a lifetime & time for souvenir shopping
    • Relax and enjoy your return by motorcoach to fabulous Las Vegas
    I loved the GC. The views are breathtaking. And the tour did what it promised, so I can’t really complain here. But there are a lot of points for improvement. The first one is the guide, which is also the driver, this double function seems to be the rule but I was wondering how distracted she might be taking to the people near her. And she was a really obnoxious person. Some comments:

    - we were picked up by a smaller van at the hotel, taken to the company’s headquarters and there separated into bus and plane tours.
    - breakfast was simply a bag with 1 apple, 1 small sugary juice and 1 honey bun. I am glad we stopped by Starbucks at the MGM. We later stopped for a rest at a McDonalds (15 minutes), so we had breakfast then again.
    - We did stop at Hoover Dam, but for me this was a disappointment. Perhaps a specific tour to the Dam gives a better impression. 10 minutes only.

    - We stopped for 15 minutes at Route 66 with a few quaint shops and cafes. This was nice.

    - Buffet lunch was very bad at a Quality Inn just outside the entrance to the CG park. A couple was late 10 minutes, and this was a mistake, since out driver used this as an excuse for not stopping more time at the Canyon.
    This was a blatant lie, since everyone had been before time all the time except for lunch, where the delay was just 10 minutes. Also, as soon as we left the GC, our driver made a stop at a shopping area for us to buy souvenirs and use the restrooms. This stop was supposed to be 20 minutes. This was an old and overpriced souvenir place. Some of the people were complaining that she should have given us the time at the CG to buy the souvenirs and use the bathrooms instead. What is worse was that a couple decided to really buy some souvenirs and this took them almost 40 minutes, with everyone else already in the bus. Then the driver takes an extra 15 minutes to buy herself some souvenirs!! So we could almost have had an extra hour in the Canyon. I know how these things work and that tour guides get a percentage from the souvenirs people buy, but to go all rude when we asked to stay a bit longer in the park, arguing it was our fault and then making a 1 hour stop for shopping was way out of line. Then we had to hear her life story during the tour and all about her, and how our trip was supposed to have been cancelled because our driver was sick, and she filled in at the last minute, so that us “kind folks” were not disappointed, etc, etc. The funny coincidence was that our driver in Anaheim told the exact same story. I really hate “tip-chasers”!

    We made a final stop for diner at Mcdonald’s (15 minutes), went over the Hoover dam again (but it was really badly lit) and back to Vegas.

    Bottom line: Do I regret visiting the GC? No. Was it a tiring day? Yes. If you’re not afraid of small planes, then perhaps it is better not to do a bus tour.

    Day 4: On our way to Anaheim

    Hoped on the Deuce and went to the Venetian and Palazzo (next time!!! ;-) and the Flamingo. I had planned on booking a Flamingo Go room but it was more expensive than the MGM. I do not regret this since the hotel looks its age and is not as glamorous as the MGM. I was extremely happy with the hotel especially for the price we got. Next time we will try something more mid-strip and perhaps more expensive. Especially if it is August again and the temperature is 40ºC. But not the Flamingo.

    As I’ve mentioned we were taking a bus to Anaheim (LuxBus) from the Luxor at 3.30 pm, and with hindsight we should have taken the luggage to the Luxor and left it there with the valet, not at the MGM since we had to collect the bags, go to the Luxor, find the bus stop area (not easy to find at all) and wait there with the bags for about 1 hour. The bus stop area in the Luxor is weird. There is no direct exit from the hotel, and no sign, and you have to walk with the bags outside the hotel there. Only a soda machine to keep you company. We did cross with Criss Angel when trying to find the place. We don’t really know who he is, but had seen the posters for his new Cirque show, as well as the RV parked in the bus area. Then we remembered the CSI show where he starred. So our second celebrity for the trip!!

    Anaheim, LA, Disney, Universal.

    Return flight:
    BMI 4454 United 934 from LAX to LHR. We checked in online 24 hours before at the UNITED website. We upgraded to Premium Economy ($120 each). The seats were really comfy and we were seating in the 2 seats alone. The movie selection was not bad (Narnia, what happens in Vegas, 21, leatherheads, etc).This was again a 2+5+2 seat configuration. There were pillows and a throw in each seat. As soon as we lifted off we got a drink and a small packet of pretzels. We left at 2pm and at about 3 pm were served a nice lunch. Then we were only served breakfast (1 cold sandwich and a fruit salad) about 1,5 hours before landing. This was an 11 hour flight, and personally I though the food was not enough. I was extremely hungry by the time breakfast came. As you can imagine this was a flight during the afternoon and evening, so I was expecting dinner. However they seemed to use local time. There was a point during what was for us the afternoon, where the windows were closed and lights turned off. Other than that no issues.

    Well, loved Las Vegas, the shows, the Freemont Street Experience and the lights. Will definitely return one day, which is not what I can say for LA (total disappointment, but that is another story). Sorry if I’ve bored you. And thanks again for your help.
    Last edited by pcg2001; 10-08-2008 at 11:28 PM. Reason: add photos
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