Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Seared and Smoking in Las Vegas: 2012 Trip Report Part 6 (Wednesday)

Part 1: The Plan
Part 2: Baker
Part 3: The Buffet
Part 4: Monday (arrival)
Part 5: Tuesday
Part 6: Wednesday
Part 7: Thursday
Part 8: Friday (departure)

Wednesday morning, we had cereal for breakfast in the room.

The Mrs. had her massage appointment at "La Riva Spa," which is a small massage studio that sublets some massage rooms from the Tuscany in the fitness center building.  There is no other spa facility to speak of.  Meanwhile I hung out with the kids at the pool in the hotel.  I purchased an iced coffee poolside from the waitress for the surprisingly affordable price of $2.25.

Nancy said she enjoyed the massage, although apparently her therapist had some negative things to say about the guy running La Riva.  Hearing this second hand, it sounds like they haven't been paid for their work, and particularly for any of their groupon / Living Social deals, of which Nancy's massage was one, and she said they are threatening to walk out if they are not paid within the week.  Also, she said (and this was also posted by someone on Yelp) that the owner is extremely hard to work with.  In particular, if someone calls to change appointment times, the guy makes a federal case of it.  Again, this is hearsay, albeit from multiple sources.  The upshot is that La Riva Spa may not be long for the world.


For lunch, we made our annual pilgrimage to the Bellagio Buffet.  We hadn't taken the kids for the last few years, since it seemed ridiculous to pay $20 for lunch for our daughter, who wouldn't usually eat more than about $5 worth of food.  But the alternative is to pay for a babysitter, which would be more.  Also, our son is small enough to pass for a 3-year-old, and 3-and-unders are free.  Anyone 4 and over pays full price.

The buffet was fabulous, as it always is, and the kids loved it as much as the parents.  I especially liked the smoked trout, and had several helpings thereof.  The highlights of the Bellagio's weekday lunch buffet, which in my opinion is a good deal at $20 per person, are cold items.  I had only one hot item (a kobe slider) and pretty much otherwise focused on the aforementioned trout, sushi, salads, etc. They did have carved meats and other hot items, which I skipped that day.  Another good thing about the buffet is that I can get both iced tea and hot coffee, without paying extra.

By the end of lunch we were all √©touff√©, as they say in New Orleans, and waddled over to the conservatory area for pictures.  It was crowded, as it always is.

Later we went back to the hotel to take it easy and avoid the heat.

Date Night #2

We finally found a sitter we liked through, and she came over to the hotel room.  We were still too full from lunch to go out for dinner, so we went directly to the Riviera.  I used the ACG coupon for comedy show tickets (see below) and we made it just in time for the show.

I had a job in college producing a standup comedy show, and became something of a comedy snob in the process.  I couldn't even go watch comedy for years after that, since I eventually realized I could anticipate punch lines.  On the other hand, I was able to understand why some comics did better than others - the most successful ones could make the manager of the comedy club laugh.  After a break of about 10 years, I was able to appreciate it again, although only occasionally.

The first act was Carla Ray, who was very funny.  The headliner was Don Barnhart, who was so-so.  He occasionally started to get a bit philosophical - and I'd take interesting over only moderately funny any day of the week, even in a comedy club while on vacation in Las Vegas - but he always seemed to stop himself, as if he thought it would get him into trouble, and then veered back to the more predictable material, which I didn't care much for.

After the show, we gambled at the Riviera.  I was interested in their big signup bonus of $1000 loss match, and I was just in time, as it was to end 2 days later.  Being with my wife, and being somewhat tired anyway, I only gambled away $60, which entitled me to $25 match play refund that day, and $25 later.  I was able to cash out the $25 by playing my low-risk strategy.

Used a match play coupon from the American Casino Guide.  Lost $10.

Nancy didn't do very well that night at the craps table.

Later, we were starving, so we went back to the Tuscany and went to Marilyn's cafe for a late night snack.   Nancy had a quesadilla, and I had a bowl of chili, which was excellent.  In fact our very courteous and friendly server thought that chili was such a good idea, he said he was going to have some for his own lunch when he went on break.  I used my second 2-for-1 coupon that I got at check-in.  Also used another match play at the 21 table.  Won $10 on a $5 bet!

Went up to the room and paid the sitter a very reasonable amount of money, went to bed.

Around 2 am, my throat was very dry and scratchy and I couldn't sleep.  Drinking water wasn't helping.   I put on a filthy t-shirt and shorts I had worn earlier that day, got in the car and drove to a CVS to buy cough drops.

Walking back into my hotel building, I heard a female voice shouting at me.  Turned around and saw there were 2 women in the front seats of an Escalade.  One of them said:  "Hey!  I just want to tell you, we really love men."   Interestingly, I seem to get approached by women in Vegas late at night pretty much every time I visit.   I'm quite certain this says more about them than it says about my sartorial splendor or magnetic personality.   Women don't normally strike up conversations with me elsewhere.

"No thanks," I called to them, and went inside and up to the room.

Maybe I should have said, "Really?  You might like my wife and kids too.  They're terrific people.  Would you like to come up and say hello?"  Then again, maybe not.


La Riva Massage:  Knowing we were going to stay at the Tuscany Suites, it was a no-brainer when I got the Living Social offer for a massage at La Riva Massage, right in our hotel.  Their internal issues notwithstanding, it was a bargain at $39.  They seem to offer deals on Living Social and Groupon regularly, so sign up and wait.  If they are still in business, that is.

Bellagio Buffet:  No finagle per se, and technically involves petty theft. The $20 weekday lunch is not a bad deal for a splurge for adults.  Snuck 4-year-old son in by saying he was 3, which he can pass for this last time.  On the other hand, paying $20 for our 7-year-old daughter, they got even.  But as I said, it is altogether cheaper than babysitting.  Net cost for family of 4:  $60 + tax and tip.

Riviera Comedy:  The American Casino Guide includes a coupon for two completely free tickets to the Riviera comedy club, no purchase necessary, as far as I could tell.  Thanks, Riviera and ACG!  We did buy two drinks, for about $6 each.

Riviera Match Play:  ACG also has a $10 match play coupon for the Riviera casino.

Riviera Slot Club Promo:  This is now discontinued as of 7/13/2012.  They offered up to $1000 promo play rebate of video poker or slots losses in one day.  Half you get the same day, half you can use the following month up to a year later.  I didn't optimize, and got $25 back from $60 in losses (since it is in increments), with a coupon for another $25 which I probably won't get around to using.  Playing my safe strategy, I was able to cash out all $25.

Marilyn's Cafe 2-for-1 Coupon and Tuscany Match Play:  At check-in at Tuscany Suites, you get a coupon booklet. The coupon book includes a coupon for either Marilyn's or the Cantina (Mexican restaurant), $20 off at Tuscany Gardens, and two $5 casino match play coupons.  The desk clerk gave me an extra coupon booklet.  Apparently the normal policy is to give 1 per stay, but since we were staying 4 nights and I asked, he gave me a second one.  Using the coupon, our late-night snack/dinner of chili and a quesadilla and one soft drink was about $7 including tax.

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