Access Vegas Insider Vibe – August 15, 2001

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HOTEL MESSAGE BOARDS – Help others and share your Las Vegas hotel opinions! Our boards are brand new so let’s fill them up with the good, bad, and just general comments on your last visit. Plus, we now have a section for trip reports. New boards at

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THIS ISSUE: Letters and Complaints

EDITOR NOTES: I am calling this our “complaint” issue. Although rare, sometimes things don’t go perfectly in Las Vegas. Thus we are devoting this issue to “How To Complain and Be Heard.” We are also publishing a backlog of reader feedback.

You might note a common “rent a car” theme in this issue. Yes, we make $1-2 a day when you rent a car through us. Yes, we feel we have the best service because we let you compare all major companies for the best deal, and let you use your rental club card number (if applicable). However, we want your business long term, and giving you bad advice to make a few dollars isn’t worth it. In the situations I recommend it, I truly feel car rental it is your smartest move.

Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Scenic Southwest Tours – by plane, bus, or even helicopter! You’ve seen the glossy ads in the tourist brochures. You’ve thought about it. You come all the way to Las Vegas — why not see one of the some of the most famous landmarks in the world! Don’t by tricked by web sites & magazines that offer discount tours. Taxes, park fees, permits can almost double the price. Our prices are inclusive – no hidden charges! Best Las Vegas Tours

LAS VEGAS NEWS – of interest to tourists:FLAMINGO POOL PARTY – The Flamingo Hotel is hosting a free pool party with live music from 5-9 PM every evening. Specials include 2-1 drinks, as well as live barbecue cooking. As a bonus, you get to walk through a “best kept secret”: The Flamingo’s gardens which include live penguins and flamingos. Just head toward the back by the buffet and head out the doors that lead outside (between the casino and buffet).

NOT JUST GAMBLING – Studies by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) show that most potential visitors perceive Vegas as an entertainment destination rather than a gambling venue. That’s a very significant development, said Rob Powers of the LVCVA, a Las Vegan for 24 years. We’re more of a complete resort destination, and we’re able to go after every prospective leisure traveler. Story at

CAB DRIVERS – If you think the cab drivers in this city don’t care about servicing the tourists, this will add more fuel to your fire. The Taxicab Authority recently changed the shifts serving McCarran airport to put more cabs at the airport later in the evening for tourists. The cab companies have balked in a big way, citing the inconvenience to their employees. (Guess they forgot who they are serving — the casinos don’t balk at having employees on around the clock to service their customers.) Full story at Spend the cab fares on a rental car so you don’t have to be at the mercy of these guys.

NY VS. LV – Las Vegas Weekly writer Max Jacobson took a recent visit to New York, and dined at many of the New York City counterparts to some of the newer Las Vegas restaurants at

SUPERCONTEST – If you think you know football, The Hilton is again running their SuperContest. $1,500 secures your spot and allows you to pick five games against the spread each week during the regular NFL season. A $10,000 aggregate bonus will be awarded to anyone who selects over 67 percent winners and a $10,000 early sign up bonus contest will be offered to those who enter before 5:00 p.m. on August 26. Sign up begins August 3 and ends at 1:00 p.m. on September 7. First place will win up to $150,000 based on 250 entries.

$100 REBATE SPECTACULAR! Our partners at Hotel Reservations Network are giving you up to $100 back on any stay in Las Vegas or any major city they reserve. (Full details and list of all eligible cities at ). Claiming your cash is simple:

1. Print out:
2. Book a room online at
3. Send in for your rebate when you get home.

It doesn’t get any easier than that, and you get their low price guarantee
to boot!


PERSONAL ENDORSEMENT – Instead of a paid ad here, I (Ted) want to tell you about our web host Virtual Spaces at Every penny I make is online. If my tourism sites go down, I’m out of business and even a couple of hours can be costly. Virtual Spaces are reliable and quick. They don’t overload their servers to save a buck, and yet they are consistently among the least expensive hosts in the business.

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SHOW REVIEWS – Recent reviews appearing in the media:

* Rat Pack is Back (Sahara)

* SHOW TICKETS – See which shows are playing during your stay and book reservations EVEN if the tickets aren’t on sale yet. Search by date at
* GOLF RESERVATIONS – Grab that tee time GUARANTEED before you get to town! Search by date, see prices at
* DINING RESERVATIONS – For a small service fee, you can now guarantee reservations for that “special night out” during your visit at


* SHOWS – listings available at
* HEADLINERS – listings available at
* CONCERT – listings available at

RESTAURANT REVIEWS – Recent reviews appearing in the media:

* Les Artistes Steakhouse (Paris) –

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FEATURE STORY: Hotel Complaints

HOTEL COMPLAINTS – Unfortunately, unpleasant experiences sometimes happen on vacation. To compound matters, the person in charge often doesn’t care and you aren’t in a position to spend vacation time hunting down top management. Every month we get email from people frustrated by poor service and lack of attention to complaints by hotel or restaurant personnel.

Let me suggest the following course of action: Post a note about your unpleasant experience on our new Comment Las Vegas board at This way, you will help warn others. Then, print out your post and include it with a letter to the hotel manager, noting the problems. (Hotel addresses can be found at ).

It helps to note the exact time, place, and employee name or description(s) if possible. By including a copy of a post to a well-read message board, they now know you are not only serious about your problem, but telling others as well.

One note of caution: Do make sure the complaint is reasonable. They can sniff out someone who came to town, drank too much, got a bad sunburn, lost all of their money, and is just looking for someone to yell at. Honest, specific complaints with surrounding facts get you a much better chance at not only an apology but possibly compensation ranging from a free dinner to free rooms next time you visit.

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Jack Singiser wrote:

>We spent three days at MGM grand this week, Mom, Dad, a girl
>11 and a boy 7. I heard MGM had an amusement park for children but at
>arrival found it was closed. The pool & river was fun. The front
>desk was polite but not friendly or helpful. With their amusement
>park being closed, they had no other ideas for us. With the heat
>being in the three digits they had no idea of what busses ran through
>the area. I had to pry details of the check in & out. There are no
>brochures of the strip area in the lobby but there is a magazine in
>the hotel room. Be sure to research out the area and transportation
>before going, using the internet. The MGM front desk does not offer
>up much information; like the amusement park will be closed during
>your 3 day stay. The people at NY NY were just across the street and
>much friendlier & open. We spent a lot of time there.

As someone who enjoys travel myself (besides selling it online), I always strongly suggest doing research before you travel somewhere. As reported here, The MGM closed the theme park well over a year ago. For those newer to the list, we have all our back issues (through May 2001) archived at

The entire goal of a hotel / casino is to keep you on their property. That is why every hotel has a steakhouse, Italian restaurant, Asian restaurant, shops, shows, and the rest. In fact, the MGM has a child care center ($6 an hour last I checked, child must be 3-12 in age and potty trained) where parents may leave their children for up to five hours, and you don’t have to be a hotel guest to use it. This is to get you to stay there and gamble.

I’m not defending the practice, but letting you know why they do what they do. Next time, you certainly have the option of doing your homework and staying at a more child friendly hotel like Circus Circus. With a family or any smaller group, you might think about renting a car. When you add up the bus or cab fare, and the convenience, it might turn out to be one of your better vacation investments.

Robert Brinin wrote:

>The Good: Aladdin Buffet – Lunch – $12.99 +tax Well worth the money.
>To us, Aladdin and Bellagio were the 2 best buffets that we’ve tried.
>Mystere – expensive but Spectacular!
>Tropicana Comedy Stop – We saw 3 terrific comedians on 7/19/01. Cheap
>- using a 2/1.
>Sahara Hotel afternoon comedy show. I think his name was Halley –
>comedy/magic — free — must buy 1 drink. $6.95 for a diet Coke kinda
>rich — but the show was terrific. We’re returning in December.
>The Bad: The New Frontier. David Darkstone Non-magic non-show.
>TERRIBLE – AMATEURISH – A DISGRACE. Don’t go even if free — with
>drinks and buffet thrown in! The juggler wasn’t good enough to work
>in a mall — maybe sweeping or mopping.
>New Frontier Buffet – What a dump!!! So bad it makes Lady Luck look
>good. The Orleans is 10X better!
>Traffic or no traffic – Las Vegas is still the best!

Thanks for the input. We gave Darkstone kind words, which are archived at However, this is a perfect time to note how we review shows. None of this A – F grade or “2.5 stars.” Why? Everybody has different tastes and a different budget. We judge a show based on value: Is it worth the money? Then we also note who is more or less inclined to enjoy the show.

Do we think Darkstone is worth the $12.99 (one drink included with price)? Yes. Also good to bring kids to, especially since a family budget can usually handle that price. Does the intimate setting put you close to the action, letting you see it up close and not seeing any “funny business” that a big stage can hide? Absolutely. Is it one of the huge magic shows with large sets, tons of assistants, and larger than life illusions? Not at all.

Please keep in mind, most Las Vegas shows are priced in line with what you can expect (the basic price … not some VIP package that puts you so close you are craning your neck). If we tell you that an inexpensive show is a good value, good for people on a budget, or affordable for a family, you can’t expect the bang that a $75 show is going to give you. We enjoy catering to a wide variety of readers!

Mark E. Leslein of Warner Robins, GA wrote:

>Dear Editor, I was reading in your latest newsletter about an upcoming
>article on the Vegas Buffets. My family and I spent our vacation in
>Vegas last week and I want to thank you for the information in your
>last several newsletters. It played a key part in our vacation
>strategy planning we laid out before we arrived. This is the second
>year in a row we spent our vacation in Vegas. While we enjoy the
>activities and entertainment Vegas offers, the restaurant selection
>continues to be the downside of our stay.
>A serious insider’s guide
>to dining in Vegas would be a plus. On our first night we dined at
>the Rain Forest Cafe at the MGM. The food was fine and the service
>was acceptable, but the $100+ bill for food, drink (nonalcoholic) and
>tip was very disappointing for a family of four. We tried the
>luncheon buffet at Circus Circus on Thursday and while the price was
>right, the food was straight out of the can. I thought these Casino’s
>had chefs on staff. No self respecting chef would have even
>considered serving that garbage. The “oriental like” food was barely
>edible and the only decent item on the hot-food bar was the fried
>chicken, which traditionally is difficult to screw-up.
>On Tuesday
>morning we did the breakfast buffet at the MGM and found the price to
>be reasonable considering we had two for one coupons. The food was
>very good. The coffee and juice were fresh and the dessert bar was
>filled with a wide selection of delectable goodies that even a gourmet
>would appreciate. The service could use some improvements, but
>overall our experience at the MGM buffet was enjoyable. The highlight
>of our trip was the California Pizza Kitchen at the Mirage. The food
>was great. The service was excellent and the price was acceptable.
>I would also recommend that family’s looking for a dinner show
>appropriate for kids and adults, try the Tournament of Kings show at
>the Excalibur. The food was good, the service was efficient, the
>drinks were very reasonable, and the show was most enjoyable. It was
>one of the few times last week I felt like there was not a money
>vacuum sucking my billfold clean.

Zagat publishes a very serious guide to Las Vegas dining. It is under $10 and available at

Most restaurants have a menu posted out front. If they don’t, the hostess will always be happy to let you look at one. We strongly suggest doing so to avoid any surprises when the bill comes. Even if you sit down and find the prices beyond what you are prepared to pay for the surroundings, you can always excuse yourself. Anything from “I’m sorry but it turns out this isn’t want we had in mind” to “One of our group members doesn’t feel well and we need to cut our visit short” will do.

I’m not sure how you ended up at Circus Circus buffet, but every few months we note that it and Holiday Inn Boardwalk are the two worst in town. For lunch or dinner, we strongly suggest the buffets at Bellagio, Aladdin, Mirage, Harrah’s and the evening seafood buffet at Flamingo (every night for $14.95).

We have archived reviews on some of these at (I just realize we have not actually reviewed the Aladdin dinner buffet even though I probably talk it up once every two months. Do yourself a favor and enjoy it). On the flip side, the buffets I just listed run 2-3 times the price of Circus buffet. You tend to get what you pay for.

We agree with our assessment of Tournament of Kings. We reviewed it here about four months ago, and you can read our archived review at

Keith and Sandra Crider of Medford, OR wrote:

>We’d like to recommend the dinner buffet at the Hotel San Remo. Pat
>Hine, the food/beverage/catering manager, does a great job with this
>excellent mid-priced buffet. The foods are fresh, the wait staff
>quick and polite and they have great desserts, like chocolate eclairs
>with chocolate, not cream, filling. You really get your money’s

I have not had the buffet there, but the $5.99 Prime Rib special served 24/7 in the coffee shop is a good value! For those unfamiliar with San Remo, it is just east of The Tropicana hotel on Tropicana Ave. and is a good place for those looking for a nice, but more intimate and friendly casino.

Linda & John Ward wrote:

>We are musicians and live in Northampton, England. Every time we read
>about Vegas we suffer withdrawal symptoms. How we love it! We were
>there during June this year having visited last November. Although we
>are not gamblers, we love the atmosphere and the entertainment – Earl
>Turner at the Rio is the “tops.” Also, there are so many wonderful
>places to visit outside Vegas – Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Red Rock
>Canyon, Lake Mohave, Cottonwood and a wonderful unspoiled little place
>called Nipton! This time we stayed at Harrah’s, Laughlin for part of
>our holiday where we met up with some lovely American friends from
>Flagstaff. The jet boat ride to Lake Havasu and London Bridge is easy
>to spot (I remember it in London and it looks a lot better now!)- we
>had a wonderful day.
>Thank you for your newsletter, we look forward to receiving the latest
>news from one of our favorite places in the world (and we have been to

You certainly traveled around this entire region, and I’m very glad to hear you enjoy it. I was talking about this newsletter with a friend recently, noting what a wonder the internet is. I can publish this to readers in any country with internet access with a punch of a button. I know that many of you from other parts of the world have to spend some serious money to get here, saving up, getting significant time off work, flying 10, 15, 20 hours … and I’m happy that we help you make the most out of your Las Vegas trips!

Patti wrote:

>Hi Ted Love your newsletter. I am coming to Las Vegas in August and
>on some of the hotel web sites they now have links to a service called
>CAPS ( ). I searched through your archives
>but could not find any information on it. I was wondering if you have
>had much feedback on the service since it sounds too good to be true
>(i.e., check in to your flight at the hotel and not have to sit around
>the airport for hours).

We’ve mentioned it — I’ll check why our newsletter archive search engine isn’t picking it up. For those who have not heard of CAPS, many hotels let you check in to your airline and check your bags directly at your hotel. All you do is head to the airport, take your boarding pass to the gate, and get on the plane! The charge is $6 a person, but not a bad price for peace of mind and buying yourself more time having fun in Las Vegas.

Has anyone used it? What did you think? Help everyone out by writing us at (click) Also, we have a transportation section on our Comment Las Vegas boards. Please also post your experience with CAPS to the “Flying To Vegas” board at

Ruby Stout wrote:

>I visited Vegas on July 6-10 with my daughter.. Was pleased to find
>the Elvis Museum. I don’t know if many people are aware of it but it
>has a very nice collection. We were treated to a private concert by a
>very good Elvis impersonator (there weren’t any other people in museum
>at the time). I think his name was Justin and he also appears at The
>New Frontier. Although we were the only ones in the audience, he
>performed as if the room was full. As one who saw Elvis as a Teen
>when he had just started, I can say Justin is a ringer, I asked him if
>he was Elvis’ illegitimate son but since he is only 17 that is not
>possible unless the rumors that Elvis is alive are true.

If you like Elvis, the Elvis Museum is a “must see.” We reviewed it here a little more than a year ago, and you can read that review archived (with photos) at

Tom Bain wrote:

>Found your service really useful in planning our visit to Las Vegas
>and identifying the resorts, activities and restaurants to take in
>during our stay with our eleven year old daughter.
>As a first visitor, it would have been useful to have had a directory
>purely for traveling around the Strip showing the tram/trolley/bus
>routes and stops, and the resorts that interconnect by monorail, as
>walking the street in temperatures of over 100F is tiring, and in some
>of the resorts, car park areas for free parking require a long hike
>from the back to the front of the resort. Your latest review with
>information about car parking at the Casino Royale has come too late
>for us to benefit, but we will pass it to a nephew who is visiting in

Long time readers might remember that I was going to put together a list of good parking spots and the like a LONG time ago. It got shoved to the bottom of the “to do” pile, but I will make it a point to get on it. As most of our readers (based on feedback) rent a car to maximize the ability to get around and see everything, I’m sure it will be of value. For you who have yet to visit town, the Las Vegas Strip is 4 miles long, and the Fremont Street Experience (downtown) is another two miles past the North end of The Strip. Thus, the interest in transportation.

I will also include the monorails / trams. For those curious, free monorails / trams run between:

1. Excalibur, Luxor, and Mandalay Bay
2. Monte Carlo and Bellagio
2. Bally’s and MGM
4. Mirage and Treasure Island

As far as the city bus and “Strip Trolley” (a private run bus that looks like a trolley car), I get more complaints about those than almost anything else. People come to town, wanting to save a couple bucks, and they ride the bus ($2 per person) or the Trolley (about the same fare … have not checked lately) up and down The Strip.

Often, especially at peak times, these are crowded beyond belief. The city buses that run The Strip get so full they will blow by stops with people waiting because they have no room on board. As it is, they not only wind their way through Strip traffic, but make stops every couple blocks which can make a 10 minute car ride take 30 minutes.

Unless you really booze it up, or have a fear of driving on roads you aren’t used to, rent a car. We hope you compare our rates, but regardless of where you rent, consider this: Your vacation time is valuable when you look at the cost of airfare, food, and hotel. The time you save between destinations and the convenience of not standing in the weather only to have bus after bus pass you up makes the car well worth it.

Walter Nehls wrote:

>Every year my wife and I purchase airline tickets and a room at
>Bally’s 8 months in advance. We take cash with us for the gambling
>and one credit card for our meals and extras. This is the second year
>we have had problems with Bally’s putting a large hold on our credit
>card when no money is due them. The rooms were paid in advance.

Walter went on to note the rest of the major inconveniences related to having a hold put on his credit card. It is getting more common for hotels to ask you if you want a hold put on your card for incidentals. If you have plenty of room left on your credit limit, no big deal. But if not, it can really cause problems because the hold eats up your available credit.

However, policies are NOT standard between hotels so this is a great thing to be aware of. Some will put no hold on, but you can’t even make local calls until you OK the hold. Others will put it on without asking you. Word to the wise: When you check in, ask “Is there a hold being put on my credit card for incidentals, and if so, how much”?

If your credit limit is an issue, and you plan to use your credit card to charge expenses during your vacation, make sure they don’t put a hold on it. You might forfeit your right to make phone calls from your room, but it beats the alternative.

Speaking of phone calls, with most hotels charging $1 or more for local calls, and dollars per minute for long distance, bring your cell phone if it has roaming or buy a calling card and make your calls from a pay phone. Our advertiser Cognigen has a great 8.9 cents a minute, no surcharge card available at

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Your input is welcome. Because of limited space here, we encourage you to post comments about specific Las Vegas hotels, shows, attractions, and general trip reports to our Comment Las Vegas message board at

For comments or questions regarding topics in the newsletter, write us a “letter to the editor” at (click) While space doesn’t permit publishing every letter, we do certainly read them all and they help shape our content. Please include your name if you wish to have it published (stating your city is optional).

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FREE UNLV TICKETS – Fans 12 years old and younger can receive a free ticket to UNLV football’s home opener vs. Big 10 Conference favorite Northwestern, the school announced Monday. As part of the NCAA’s national Take a Kid to the Game Program, children 12 and under will receive a complimentary ticket for every adult ticket purchased for the Sept. 7 game between the Rebels and Wildcats. The tickets must be acquired in person and the specially marked free kids tickets are available only at the time the adult ticket is purchased and are subject to availability. Info at

RADIO UPDATE — As speculated here last week, KBYE 105.7 FM has indeed launched as a smooth jazz station. 100.1 FM is now “K-Hits” (general Top 40 from the past couple decades). 89.1 FM is Christian Hit Radio “Air 1.” An updated list of Las Vegas radio and TV stations is available at

Rental Cars – Don’t pay top dollar! Enter the dates of your visit and compare prices from virtually every major rental car agency (most US cities). Book the lowest price company or your regular agency. Save the hassle and some money – Car Rental Savings Search. Few regret renting a car. Free shuttles and city bus rides can be slow and smelly. Taxis can cost what a rental car costs. Your vacation time is valuable — make the most out of it!

ONLINE POLL – “How long do you usually stay in Las Vegas?” Let’s hear your opinion at — results will be published next week!FREE CONTEST:

GUIDE TO LAS VEGAS 2001 – We have one copy of this comprehensive guide perfect for those looking to move to Las Vegas, or are already on their way to making the move. Enter by sending a blank email to (click) One entry per person, you must be a newsletter subscriber to win. Deadline for entries: Sunday, August 19, 2001. Winner will be chosen in a random drawing from all eligible entries received before deadline and be notified by email.

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Book these specials at

Las Vegas – The Excalibur, Aug 19 through Oct 4 from $69!
Las Vegas – Treasure Island, Aug 19 through Sept 6 from $105
Las Vegas – Nefertiti’s Dream Package is now at the Luxor!
Las Vegas – The Sahara Hotel, Aug 19 through Sept 13 from $42
Las Vegas – Stay at the MGM Aug 19 through Sept 6 from $79!
Las Vegas – The Flamingo Hilton Aug 19 through Sept 6 from $75
Las Vegas – Rendezvous in the Monte Carlo Aug 12 – Sept 6!
Las Vegas – Bellagio Hotel and Casino Sept 9 – 27 from $195
Las Vegas – Spring into Summer with San Remo Magic today!
Las Vegas – Suncoast, Aug 12 through September 6 $49!

Book any above specials at

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Have a request for a review? Confused when you come to town and see the hundreds of dining, attraction, and show opportunities? Let us know what you’d like to hear about! Unlike the tourist magazines where all of the “articles” are really paid ads, we give you the honest scoop.

If you appreciate this service, please consider booking your rooms and rental cars for ALL destinations with us using the travel links listed at the top of each issue. You get secure ordering with the convenience and savings of booking online!

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Have a request for a review? Boggled when you come to town and see the hundreds of dining, attraction, and show opportunities? Let us know what you’d like to hear about! Unlike the tourist magazines where all of the “articles” are really paid ads, we give you the honest scoop. If you appreciate this service, please consider booking your rooms and rental cars for ALL destinations with us at You get secure ordering with the convenience and savings of booking online!

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New to the list? Back issues and subscription info can be found on the web at:

Don’t hesitate to forward this newsletter to friends and associates, or better yet click here: to recommend it to friends with a chance to win $10,000!

All contents copyright 2001 Ted Newkirk. All Rights Reserved.
August 15, 2001 ISSN: 1529-2770

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