Travel Answers: Las Vegas!

Travel Answers: Las Vegas!

NOTE: These answers were originally posted on another site, and some may have been posted in previous blogs. I am posting them again here for easy access for my readers.

Welcome to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Welcome to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Free Stuff to do in Vegas?

Q: Are there free things to do in Vegas?

A: Lots of Free Things to do in Las Vegas!

Walk the The Strip and the Fremont Street Experience downtown. Lots of “Only in Las Vegas” things to see day or night!

Visit Circus Circus Hotel & Casino (great for kids).

Watch the Fountains of Bellagio (and visit the Bellagio Gardens) and catch the Volcano eruption at The Mirage. Walk around the The Venetian, the MGM Grand Las Vegas, The Cosmopolitan or any of the other large resorts.

Most of the Casino lounges still have live entertainment. The Carnaval Court at Harrah’s is happening. The Rio Hotel & Casino has live music in the Masquerade Bar on Friday and Saturdays.

Art and architecture at City Center, the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign, Wildlife habitat (flamingos) at the Flamingo Las Vegas, Auto collection at The Quad Resort & Casino (get free tickets on the website), the Downtown Container Park giant treehouse, and visit the Ethel M Chocolate Factory & Cactus Garden.

Window shop at Forum Shops at Caesars, The Grand Canal Shoppes or the Fashion Show mall.

Visit the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, Red Rock Canyon or The Valley of Fire.


ACES! Video Poker at the MGM Grand Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

4 ACES! Video Poker Win! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Best tips and casinos for first time gambler?

Q: First trip to Vegas, and I have some money set aside to gamble. I’m fairly new to gambling, so what’s a good overall strategy for a first timer? Best casino’s and games to play? Any tips to help my luck? Thanks!

A: Most of the Casinos in Las Vegas have programs where they will teach you how to play the table games and basic strategy. Just ask at the “Player’s Card” desk and always get a Player’s Card at the casino to earn “Comps” and other freebies while gambling.

Read a few good books, watch a DVD or two, go online and learn from the pros via youtube, etc. before you go!

Craps!

Craps!

Best games to play: Blackjack, Craps and Baccarat have the best odds for the player with basic strategy. Keno, Slots and Video Poker will give you the longest play for your money. Again read a book or watch a tutorial to learn about finding the best odds on the games!

Worst games to play: Roulette, Spin the Wheel/Wheel of Fortune and all the other weird table games. And any game where you don’t know the rules, basic strategy and the odds against you.

Best advice for the first time gambler: set a budget for how much you are willing and can afford to lose! Leave your ATM card at home and win or lose just have fun. (Losing sucks)

NOTE: The Big Las Vegas Strip casinos require larger minimum bets for table games, and the table minimum will increase depending on time/day/crowd/event. Find lower table minimums Downtown on Fremont Street and at the smaller “off-strip” casinos. Your money and your play time will last longer!

The Race & Sports Book at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas

The Race & Sports Book at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas

GOOD LUCK!


Las Vegas Blvd "The Strip" at night

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

Birthday weekend in Vegas- where to stay?

Q: My friends and I going to Vegas for my birthday over Labor Day weekend! We need a place to stay that isn’t outrageously expensive, but has a lot going on. We’d like to stay in a hotel that has daytime pool parties. There are 5 of us and we’re open to getting two rooms or a suite, if it’s worth it. Any suggestions?

A: Las Vegas on Labor Day Weekend?

Try The Cromwell, the newest boutique hotel on the strip. It used to be Wild Bill’s and before that it was the Barbary Coast. Located center strip at Flamingo and Las Vegas Blvd. Drai’s is located in the hotel, so you get your choice of pool party, club night or after-hours. Hotel guests get VIP line access.

Just fully renovated! Everything is fresh and new.

Las Vegas Blvd "The Strip" at night

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

You’re across Las Vegas Blvd from Caesars Palace Hotel & Casino and The Mirage Hotel & Casino and the volcano. Next door to Harrah’s Las Vegas, Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, The Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino, The Quad Resort & Casino soon to be renamed The LINQ after the giant ferris wheel. Across Flamingo is Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, Paris Hotel And Casino, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, the Bellagio Hotel and fountain, and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

There’s lots to see and do within “walking distance”, which will save you on cab fare and waiting. Great restaurants, spas, clubs, shows and other diversions at any of the above resorts. you can also access the monorail at Bally’s or the Flamingo.

Las Vegas Blvd "The Strip" at night - The Flamingo

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – The Flamingo

Make reservations in advance (and do it by telephone rather than online and always get the name of the person you talk to!) because everything will be crowded!

NOTE: Bring sneakers for walking and then switch to heels when you arrive at your destination. Use a Big purse and plastic bag.

Avoid the MGM, it’s too big and the service is only ok.


Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

The Bar at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Bachelor party venues

Q: One of my best buddies is getting married next year and as a groomsman, I’ve been tasked being one of the organizers for his bachelor party.  Here’s the thing: none of us groomsman are really party animals, so we really have no idea where to start, but we just know that we want our buddy to have a good time and that we want to go to Vegas, just for the experience. Any ideas on which venues to start looking at and/or bachelor party-type activities?

A: Bachelor Party in Las Vegas! Do you want the full blown “Hangover, part 4” or just a good time?

First, how many people will be attending? Do you have hotel reservations? Do you want to have dinner, go clubbing, go drinking, go strip clubbing, hit an ultra-lounge or three, see a show, do some gambling, ride a roller coaster, or maybe shoot automatic weapons?

Or do you want to really get wild?

You can get a nice package deal with the hotels if you have a large group (sometimes, all you need is a block of five rooms). Hotel rooms, dinner, and entertainment can all be arranged, contact the group sales manager.

Rent a limo or party bus if you want to travel around, beyond walking distance. There are companies that can arrange the whole evening, just know that they are probably getting “kickbacks” from the party venues. NOTE: Be sure to shop around, negotiate for the best deal and extras, and always check safety and consumer reports before booking with any company!

You are on your own for strippers, escorts & hookers.

Good luck and be safe.


Las Vegas Blvd "The Strip" at night

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

All photos copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 JoshWillTravel

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Las Vegas Blvd "The Strip" at night

“Vegas Baby! Vegas!” Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

 

 

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Answers: Places to eat near Chateau Marmont? Things to do near LAX? Where is the Walk of Fame? Best views in Los Angeles?

Answers to more Travel Questions:

Q: Interesting places to eat near Chateau Marmont? (in West Hollywood, CA)

A: YES. In any direction, you have your choice of restaurants! What cuisine and price range are you seeking? West Hollywood has a few restaurants to choose from…

all along the Sunset Strip and Sunset Boulevard: Rainbow Bar & Grill, BOA Steakhouse, Katana, The Standard, Hollywood, Skybar, Mel’s Drive-In, Greenblatt’s Deli, Carney’s, the London West Hollywood Hotel, the restaurants at Sunset Plaza and many more.

Sunset Boulevard at Sunset Plaza - West Hollywood, California (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sunset Boulevard at Sunset Plaza – West Hollywood, California (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

all along Santa Monica Blvd (“Boy’s Town”): Hamburger Mary’s, HAMBURGER HAVEN, Dan Tana’s,The Abbey, and east towards Hollywood: Barney’s Beanery, Formosa Cafe, Jones Hollywood and many more.

all along LaCienega (RESTAURANT ROW): Matsuhisa, The Stinking Rose, Lawry’s the Prime Rib and many more.

There are cafes and restaurants all along West 3rd Street and Robertson, The Ivy, the Four Seasons Hotel on Doheny, Canter’s Deli and Little Ethiopia on Fairfax, Urth Caffe and all along Melrose too.

And then there’s alway’s the world famous restaurants in Beverly Hills, the Century City Mall, any number of eateries and chain restaurants in Hollywood, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Yamashiro, Roscoe’s House Of Chicken & Waffles, In-N-Out Burger, Chick-fil-A @and many, many more.

There are great restaurants in hotels and “hole in the wall” joints, strip malls and taco/food trucks. If you want “dinner and a show”, there are Supperclubs (nightclubs that have dinner service – admission to the club is usually included with dinner) and Comedy clubs (the Comedy Store, the Laugh Factory and the Improv all have food service). There are good websites and dining guides (Zagat’s, ChowHound, Yelp, etc.) that can help you determine menu and price range for most places in Los Angeles, just do the research.


LAX - Theme Building (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

LAX – Theme Building (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Q: 6 hour layover in Los Angeles, what is there to do? I’m going to have a layover in LA for 6 hours and was planning on going to Hollywood Blvd.

A: Places to visit and eat near Los Angeles International Airport

You probably don’t have the required time to visit Hollywood, with travel time to and from the airport and current security procedures.

(see my previous answer BELOW for Hollywood-LAX travel time)

These places are all close to LAX:

Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX

Encounter Restaurant at LAX -CLOSED. but it’s a cool building

Randy’s Donuts on Manchester blvd

In-N-Out Burger on Sepulveda blvd

Roscoes House of Chicken and Waffles

The Proud Bird  on Aviation blvd

Trader Joe’s on Sepulveda blvd

Hollywood Park Casino on Century blvd

Custom Hotel on Lincoln blvd

There’s a lot of great restaurants, shopping and entertainment in Culver City, Venice Beach and Santa Monica but these areas are farther away.


LAX - Welcome to Los Angeles!

LAX – Welcome to Los Angeles! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Where is the walk of fame and how far is it from the airport in L.A.? This is my first time to LA and I was wondering where the walk of fame is and how far is it from the airport?

A: Where is the “Walk of Fame”? Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood!

The Walk of Fame runs from LaBrea to Gower and up Vine to the Capitol Records Building. You can see the stars’ hands and feet in concrete in the courtyard of (Grauman’s) Mann’s Chinese Theater, visit the Kodak Theatre and shop at Hollywood & Highland. Also in the immediate vicinity are Ripley’s, Madame Tussaud’s, Max Factor and the Hollywood Wax Museums. The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the El Capitan Theatre and the Jimmy Kimmel Live studio/offices are just across the boulevard. There are also many restaurants, clubs, bars, retail and tourist gift shops in the neighborhood. The Musso and Frank Grill, Frolic Room, AVALON Hollywood (the old Hollywood Palace Theater), Pantages Theatre and The Egyptian Theatre are all very historic spots along the Walk of Fame.

A: How far is it from the airport?

Los Angeles International Airport in Inglewood is far away. And depending on the time of day, traffic and your chosen route, it can take 20 minutes or two hours. The LA Flyaway recently started a Hollywood Shuttle, but it’s timeliness because of traffic has been problematic.

Bob Hope Airport in Burbank is closer and the 170 and 101 freeways provide a direct route which can take 20 minutes or an hour depending on time of day, traffic or an event in Hollywood or at the Hollywood Bowl.

Hollywood and Highland

Hollywood & Highland on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)


Q: Best views in Los Angeles? We’ll be visiting and want to take in the views! Ocean views, city views from restaurants, hotels, parks, etc. Where are the best places to take some photos in LA?

A: Great views of Los Angeles day or night?

The Standard and Skybar on Sunset Blvd and the Rooftop Bars/Pool Decks at the London West Hollywood Hotel, Montage Beverly Hills and Luxe Hotel Rodeo Drive all have great views along with cocktails and food.

Nice views of Downtown at WP24 from the 24th floor bar and 25th floor restaurant (the WP stands for Wolfgang Puck), both the Elevate Lounge and the Rooftop at The Standard Downtown LA have excellent views.

Downtown Los Angeles from up high!

Downtown Los Angeles from up high at WP24! (copyright 2103 JoshWillTravel)

If you can get into City Club on Bunker Hill (a private club on the top of the Wells Fargo building) there’s a men’s restroom with the best view!

The Music Center plaza has great views of DTLA, Cityhall and the DWP Building. The dancing fountains, the PEACE statue, and the architecture of Disney Hall, the Ahmanson, Mark Taper Forum and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion provide great scenery.

Los Angeles Music Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Music Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

There’s a picnic area at the top of the Hollywood Bowl that has great views and it’s open during the day as a city park. You might also catch a (free) rehearsal if it’s the musical season.

Visit the Getty Museum for amazing views and amazing art. FREE just pay $10 for parking. Open late on Fridays.

Take a slow drive along Mulholland Drive for great views of the San Fernando Valley and West L.A. day or night. There are numerous turnouts and vista points between Hayvenhurst and Runyon Canyon Park.

San Fernando Valley #1 (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

San Fernando Valley #1 (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

San Fernando Valley at night (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

San Fernando Valley at night (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

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9039 Sunset Blvd on the Strip

9039 Sunset Blvd on the Strip – A Brief Photographic History:

If those walls could talk! This address was the home of Cafe LaMaze in the 30’s (with a lounge called the Key Club), Sherry’s in the 40’s (where Mickey Cohen was shot), the Plymouth House in the 50’s, Gazzarri’s in the 60’s-80’s, Billboard Live and the Key Club in the 90s until last December 2013 when it became 1 Oak Nightclub.

Exterior-view-of-the-Cafe-Lamaze-restaurant-West-Hollywood-1937

9039 Sunset Blvd – Cafe LaMaze 1930’s

mickey_cohen_sherrys_1949_0721_will

9039 Sunset Blvd – Sherry’s 1940’s (Mickey Cohen was shot here!)

9039 Sunset Blvd

9039 Sunset Blvd – The Plymouth House 1958

9039 Sunset - Gazzarri's Supper Club 1960's

9039 Sunset – Gazzarri’s Supper Club 1960’s

9039 Sunset Blvd

9039 Sunset Blvd – Gazzari’s 1970’s

9039 Sunset Blvd

9039 Sunset Blvd – Gazzarri’s 1980’s  Bill Gazzarri “See Ya Pal”

9039 Sunset Blvd

9039 Sunset Blvd – Billboard Live and then the KeyClub 1990’s- 2013 RIP

I used to promote club nights as Joshua 13 with Stephen Aquarius and Luis Q NightKing Productions at the KeyClub! “Cloud 9” on Wednesday and Friday nights, “The Indepen-Dance 1998”, “Midsummers Night Dream 1998”, “Saturday Nights in the Plush Room” and “The Resolution!” on New Years Eve 1998-1999.

MidSummers Night Dream Party at the KeyClub 1998

MidSummers Night Dream Party at the KeyClub 1998

Saturday Nights in the Plush Room at the KeyClub

Saturday Nights in the Plush Room at the KeyClub

"The Resolution" New Years Eve 1998-1999! at the KeyClub

“The Resolution” New Years Eve 1998-1999! at the KeyClub

 Now it’s the new 1 Oak Nightclub. (but for how long?)

9039 Sunset Blvd - 1 Oak Nightclub 2014

9039 Sunset Blvd – 1 Oak Nightclub 2014

UPDATE: Not too long after this Blog was posted, rap mogul/convicted felon Suge Knight was shot “six times” at a pre-VMA party at 1Oak nightclub. Lucky mo-fo will survive the shooting. Weird parallel to the Mickey Cohen shooting in the 40’s!

“And it’s all just a little bit of History repeating!”

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I Posted These Travel Answers About Las Vegas!

Las Vegas: Great food, not outrageous price, near Aria Casino?

Aria Resort - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Aria Resort – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Q: We will be traveling to Las Vegas this summer, looking for great places to eat within walking distance of the Aria Casino that are under $30 a plate. Looking for a tasty meal that doesn’t break the bank.

Late lunch spot for a couple, near the Wynn Hotel?

Q: My wife and I are landing in Vegas around 1:30 and want to stop for a late lunch on our way to the hotel. I normally would just go to Joe’s for some stone crab, but thought there might be a new place for us to try. We are staying at the Wynn, but any recommendations are welcome. We are fine (and might prefer) eating at the bar.

A: There are so many restaurants and places to eat, and they change constantly in Vegas.

Here are five options for great food at a reasonable price near (but not walking distance to) the Aria Resort and Wynn Hotel:

Grand Lux Cafe, Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Grand Lux Cafe, Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

A reasonably inexpensive meal can be found at the Grand Lux Café (inside the Venetian and Palazzo Resorts). I like the hand tossed, wood-fired pizzas and you can get them “to go” in a pizza box. (~$16.00 per pizza) http://www.grandluxcafe.com/locations.htm

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Pizza from Grand Lux Cafe –  Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Go off-strip to this “hole-in-the-wall” #1 in the USA rated Thai Restaurant, the Lotus of Siam. Not really a secret, because the the locals and most “foodies” know about this amazing restaurant! (~$9.00-21.00 per dish and they have lunch & dinner specials) http://www.saipinchutima.com

Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill is at Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. Opened in 2004, the southwestern cuisine is truly fantastic (but it’s not inexpensive). From the Mesa Grill website: “Bobby developed his signature style of American cookery, marrying the flavors of southwest with his love of grilling at Mesa Grill. Bobby presents dishes like New Mexican Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon-Ancho Chile Sauce, Sweet Potato Tamale, and Crushed Pecan Butter. In a nod to the West, he also includes a Chiptole Glazed Rib-Eye with Red and Green Chile Sauce. Las Vegas’ proximity to Mexico gives the restaurant access to some of that country’s highest-quality tequila and mezcal offerings, and the expansive wine list has a global reach yet maintains an emphasis on top American wines. The combination of Mesa Grill’s magnificent decor, the exciting vibe of the casino atmosphere and Bobby Flay’s stunning range of textures, flavors and colors incorporated into his menu continue to electrify diners year after year.”  http://www.mesagrill.com/las-vegas-restaurant/index.php

or have too much amazing Bavarian (German) food and beer at the Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas. Sausages, sauerkraut, spaetzel, pork shanks, and all kinds of other Bavarian specials. A lot of food, so bring friends! (Daily specials start at $9.99) http://www.hofbrauhauslasvegas.com 

And of course, the Peppermill Restaurant is great anytime day or night (open 24/7 with a secret off-menu locals’ late night special Steak & Shrimp for cheap) and they have great cocktails too! http://www.peppermilllasvegas.com

NOTE: Do not eat at the MGM Buffet! (read my other blog)

Bon cha’nce! Bon appétit! Good luck & Good eating!

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Is it true if you eat at Tao Restaurant, you get into Tao Nightclub free and skip the line?

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Is it true if you eat at Tao Restaurant, you get into Tao Nightclub for free & skip the line?

A: TAO Asian Bistro, TAO Nightclub and Tao Beach inside the The Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

From the Tao website: “Dinner and Nightlife Packages – As low as $82.50 per person (excluding tax and gratuity). Enjoy an evening at TAO Asian Bistro and Nightclub! Package Includes Three Course Dinner, Nightclub Admission and a VIP Table with One Bottle and Mixers. Available on dinner reservations before 6:30pm and after 10:30pm.”

http://taorestaurantlv.com/reservations/

The menu with this package and bottle service seems a to be a pretty good deal!

I’ve heard that admission was included if you have dinner at the restaurant, but I’m sure it depends on the night of the week and the event at the club. Contact the restaurant directly for reservations and questions.

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

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Bachelor party venues?

Welcome to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Welcome to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Q: One of my best buddies is getting married next year and as a groomsman, I’ve been tasked being one of the organizers for his bachelor party. Here’s the thing: none of us groomsman are really party animals, so we really have no idea where to start, but we just know that we want our buddy to have a good time and that we want to go to Vegas, just for the experience. Any ideas on which venues to start looking at and/or bachelor party-type activities?

A: Bachelor Party in Las Vegas!

Do you want the full blown “Hangover, part 4” or just a good time?

First, how many people will be attending? Do you have hotel reservations? Do you want to have dinner, go clubbing, go drinking, go strip clubbing, hit an ultra-lounge or three, see a show, do some gambling, ride a roller coaster, or maybe shoot automatic weapons?

Or do you want to really get wild?

You can get a nice package deal with the hotels if you have a large group (sometimes, all you need is a block of five rooms). Hotel rooms, dinner, and entertainment can all be arranged, contact the group sales manager.

Rent a limo or party bus if you want to travel around, beyond walking distance. There are companies that can arrange the whole evening, just know that they are probably getting “kickbacks” from the party venues. NOTE: Be sure to shop around, negotiate for the best deal and extras, and always check safety and consumer reports before booking with any company!

You are on your own for strippers, escorts, hookers and “party favors”.

Good luck and be safe!

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MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Vegas Sunset Through a Green Metal Screen at the MGM Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

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Signature Sales Meeting and Trade Show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas!

The Signature Sales Meeting and Trade Show 2013 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. (See other peoples posts and pictures at #Signaturesales2013 on facebook)

NOTE: This Blog post is currently UNDER CONSTRUCTION!  I want to put it up now, but please come back and check it out again when I finish it!  You can get updates if you “LIKE” my facebook travel page: http://www.facebook.com/joshwilltravel

Wednesday 1pm:  Road Trip!  Off to Las Vegas, Nevada for the annual Signature Sales Meeting and Trade Show! Finished my last minute work and ran a few errands, packed up the car and hit the highway. 101 south to the 134 east to the 210 east to the 10 east to the 215 east to the 15 north.  Other people from my office chose to fly but I prefer to drive.

Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The Right Time to Road Trip to Las Vegas! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Going east to Nevada, with the setting sun in the mirror (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Going east to Nevada, setting sun in the mirror (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Stopped in Barstow for gas and a Double-Double burger at In-N-Out.

In-N-Out Burger, Barstow, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

In-N-Out Burger, Barstow, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Weird rainbow and purple desert skies at sunset and the approaching lights of Stateline:

Sunset! Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sunset Behind Us! Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Road Trip to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Stateline - Primm, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Stateline – Primm, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

“Vegas Baby, Vegas!”

MGM Grand, Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand, Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

New York-New York and the MGM Grand Hotels in Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The first thing you notice about the MGM Grand is it’s money green color.  The second thing you notice is that it’s HUGE!  You’ll notice this as you drive around the self parking structure and as you try to navigate your way to the registration desk, and as you stand in the long line to check in.  You’ll be reminded during your stay of how huge it is just trying to get from point A to point B, in particular the distance from your room to the Conference Center where your sales meeting and trade show is being held.

It truly is a “mega-resort” and has something for just about everyone.  It also has the two biggest problem of a “mega-resort” operation: nobody is directly in charge and the important details get missed and/or overlooked!

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lobby of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Wednesday 6pm: Standing for 30 minutes in line at Check In until an “on the ball” Manager came and helped speed things up.  You can see your tweets on the big screen while you wait…

The line at Check In at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The line at Check In at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

There was a good Group Rate offered to our convention with substantial savings on the Friday and Saturday rate, but the Casino Rate was better for Wednesday and Thursday night. Be sure to get your “M Life” Players Card to take full advantage if you’re a gambler!

Lobby at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lobby at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

After finally checking in, I checked out my Grand King room (with a view) on the 24th floor. It was down a very long mega-hallway.  I had requested a refrigerator with my reservation, which was promptly delivered, as were the extra towels and pillows when I called down to Housekeeping.  The room was very clean and comfortable, but the bathroom was a little small.  I was also comparing it to my recent stay at the Venetian in an Executive King in September for LTX (the Luxury Travel Exchange) which was great.  See the Blog!

I want to compliment everyone at the MGM Grand.  Everyone I talked to in person or on the phone was friendly, courteous and professional.  When I complained about a problem they were quick to apologize, tried to correct it or offered a F&B Credit.  Eventually, my F&B was comped by my “M-Life” Casino VIP Card, so I made the request and they comped one night of my stay instead.

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Hallway at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand, Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

I went to get my luggage and when I got back to the room, a Welcome Amenity was waiting!  Snacks and bottled water from the “on the ball” Manager at Check In, very well done!

MGM Grand Welcome Amenity (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Welcome Amenity (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

I had a $50 Food and Beverage Credit so I decided to try the MGM Grand Buffet $30 plus tip paid in advance. I was left wondering who oversees the food quality.

(IMPORTANT NOTE: BAD FOOD ALERT!!!)

The worst buffet ever!  Everything was overcooked and under seasoned!  I really didn’t eat that much, but I tried to taste most of the food and ended up feeling sick to my stomach for all three days I was there.  When I say everything was bad, I mean EVERYTHING WAS BAD except the fried chicken.  Here are pics, the food looks okay but it had little to no taste and wasn’t prepared well (mostly overcooked or cold).  How do you ruin crab legs?

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi and Crab Legs at MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Mexican chicken and rice, pepperoni pizza, pineapple, and a roll at the MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Baby back ribs, macaroni and cheese, oriental chicken, corn on the cob, and mashed potato at the MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Steak w/peppercorn sauce, chicken potstickers, and one crab leg at the MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Fried chicken, mashed potato with brown gravy, turkey with gravy, and mashed potato at the MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Desserts: various types of flavored plastic cup desserts, baked goods (brownies, cupcakes, muffins all overbaked, hard and tasteless), shortcake, and ice cream.

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Quite a selection, and I love dessert, but I tried a lot of different things and was amazed that even the deserts were mediocre to just plain bad.  As I told my friends, there are great buffets in Las Vegas, this isn’t one of them.

MGM Grand Buffet (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Leaving the MGM Grand Buffet! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

After dinner I explored the hotel and casino, went across the street to the Tropicana and eventually ended up “working” back in my room.

Tropicana Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Tropicana Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

New York-New York Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

New York-New York Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Yes, I did a little gambling. Played some video poker and had some fun winning:

ACES! Video Poker at the MGM Grand Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

ACES! Video Poker at the MGM Grand Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Working in the Room at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

NOTE: The pillow stuck in the bedframe!  I banged my shin on the sharp corner twice, the second time drawing blood!  So, I was forced to improvise and used the pillow to prevent further injury.  When the room service waiter came she laughed when she saw it…because she and everyone she works with have banged their shins too.

Must Prevent Further Injury! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

DANGER! Sharp Corner! Must Prevent Further Injury! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Day One – Thursday – Signature Sales Meeting and Networking Session #1

Woke up to find out the TV and WiFi wasn’t working hotel wide.  No internet makes my work as a travel agent very difficult.  I got ready for the first day and walked the mile to the Conference Center and arrived at Registration at 8am.  There was a continental breakfast buffet and coffee service for attendees.

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Breakfast was hosted by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and offered muffins, danish, fruit, and fruit juice served on carts in the event lobby. Coffee and tea was also available all day long.

Thursday 8:30am: Workshop #1 – The Inside Track on Signature’s 2014 Hotels and Resorts Program.  Industry trends, recent hotel additions to our consortium, updates regarding to our hotel programs, and special offers and amenities for our clients were the topic of the seminar. After the first session there was a break with refreshments hosted by Hertz (baked goods, soft drinks, bottled water, and coffee/tea service).

Thursday 9:45am: Workshop #2 – Mexico: Grow Your Business with Destination Expertise presented by the Mexico Tourism Board.  More Americans travel to Mexico than any other destination! After the session there was another break with refreshments hosted by Hertz.

Thursday 11am: General Session (welcome) and Lunch hosted by Classic Vacations.  There was a general update, a tribute to Michelle Morgan the past President who recently died from cancer, and a keynote address by Shawn Achor “The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance”.   

Lunch: Cheddar cheese, ham, swiss cheese, and turkey slices; bread and butter, lettuce, a quarter hard boiled egg and tiny tomatoes with an iced tea. Red velvet cheesecake (made with cheesecake flavored whipped topping not cream cheese).

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Networking Session

Thursday 1:45pm: Networking Session #1 with our Vendor suppliers.  I was assigned Blue Table 172 and was seated with three other agents.  We stayed seated and the vendors moved from table to table and gave a short 8 minute presentation and then answered questions before moving on.  At 4:15pm the session ended and there was another break.

Thursday 4:30pm: Workshop #3 – Selling Travel to the Millennial Generation.  A panel discussion moderated by Paul Wiseman the President of Trafalgar

MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sunset View from my room at the MGM Grand – the mesh is the colored green screen over the window (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Welcome Reception on Thursday night hosted by Mexico Tourism:

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Open Bar!

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Mexican Food Buffet!

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Mexican Dancing and Live Musical Entertainment!

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Day Two – Friday – Sales Meeting and Networking Session #2

Breakfast, Sales Seminars,

Lunch

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Networking Session

Cocktail Party hosted by Tauck and Switzerland Tourism

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Cocktails and Appetizers for invited guests.  Cheese, crackers, crudite’ (carrots, celery and dip) and an open bar. Networking, short host company presentations and someone won a trip to Switzerland, but it wasn’t me.

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

They took all the chairs out of the room, so it was a standing event after a long day and lots of walking.  There were two food tables and two bar stations, but the lines for food and drink got long very fast as the guests arrived.  It quickly became a lot of people in too small a space.

There was a guy blowing a Swiss horn for entertainment and he let a couple agents try to play it.

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Swiss Horn at the Party hosted by Tauck and Switzerland Tourism at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas  (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner hosted by Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara Cruises

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Presentations by the Host Companies and Dinner

Dinner at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Two offensive cruise comedians and the BeatleManiacs entertained us!  The travel agents went wild, rushed the stage, and danced to the (almost) Beatles!  The guys were good musicians and the tunes were catchy, but their resemblance to the actual Beatles was questionable.  Great wigs and costumes!  Go ahead sing along, they know you want to.

BeatleManiacs! at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

BeatleManiacs! at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Room Service!

Bacon Cheeseburger and fries for breakfast! $18 plus tax and $4 room service fee and a $5 tip = $29 Craving for good food at 5:30am.

Room Service Cheeseburger and Fries at the MGM Grand (copyright 203 JoshWillTravel)

Room Service Cheeseburger and Fries at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Day Three – Saturday – Sales Meeting and Trade Show

7:30am Breakfast Session

Breakfast Seminars at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Breakfast Seminars at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Breakfast Seminar at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Breakfast Seminar with Lindblad Expeditions at the MGM Grand (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Trade Show

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lunch

Late Check Out at 2pm done by telephone with Guest Services, long walk back to the car and so looking forward to Saturday night in Las Vegas!

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

MGM Grand in Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Off to the Rio! COMING SOON: the next blog – the Rio All-Suites Hotel Saturday night and Sunday afternoon adventures in Las Vegas.

Business Cards, Collateral and SWAG from the Signature 2013 Sales Meeting and Trade Show (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Business Cards, Collateral and SWAG from the Signature 2013 Sales Meeting and Trade Show (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

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Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Venetian Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

 

more to come…

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“Let’s Do Lunch” at the Standard Hotel on Sunset

“Let’s Do Lunch”

Friday at the Standard Hotel on Sunset Boulevard – West Hollywood, California

You know it’s not your “standard” hotel when you first pull in!

Standard Hotel on Sunset - West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Standard Hotel on Sunset – West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Valet park your car.  Celebrity sighting in the driveway: Danny Masterson from “That 70’s Show” valet parking his car in front of me.

Here’s the view of the Lobby as you enter:

Standard Hotel on Sunset - West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Standard Hotel on Sunset – West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The “Belly-Button” art and the reverse view of the Lobby:

Standard Hotel on Sunset - West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Standard Hotel on Sunset – West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

I didn’t want to sit in the low couch seating in the Lobby, so I waited in The Cactus Bar (this pic is from the other night).

Standard Hotel on Sunset - West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Standard Hotel on Sunset – West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

People were having Lunch on the Patio (it’s a beautiful day!) and other people were laying out and enjoying the sun by the pool.  And they have two TeePee Tents (cabanas that are available for rent) and a ping pong table for extra fun.

Standard Hotel on Sunset - West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Standard Hotel on Sunset – West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

At night the patio is a popular spot for cocktails and the restaurant is always busy late night. (this next pic is also from the other night)

Standard Hotel on Sunset - West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Standard Hotel on Sunset – West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

While I was waiting I did a quick recon.  I knew she was from the valley, because she had “818” tattooed on her exposed thigh:

Standard Hotel on Sunset - West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Standard Hotel on Sunset – West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

I met and had lunch with three of the hotel managers.  We decided to lunch inside at the Standard Restaurant (OPEN 24/7), which serves very good, simple comfort food.  It’s a great menu and the kitchen services the restaurant, the patio and the 24 hour room service.

We shared delicious BBQ Pork Sliders and (HOT) Shrimp Egg Rolls appetizers to start.

Standard Hotel on Sunset - West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Standard Hotel on Sunset – West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Standard Hotel on Sunset - West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Standard Hotel on Sunset – West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

I had a coke and half of the Pizza of the Day: BBQ Chicken and it was VERY GOOD!  I had the other half packed to go.

Standard Hotel on Sunset - West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Standard Hotel on Sunset – West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

They had salads and offered me coffee and dessert, but I decided to be good and skipped the caffeine and sugar.  We had a great conversation and they told me all about the hotel.  After lunch we took a tour of the property and I looked at the different rooms.  I didn’t take pictures of the rooms so go to the Standard Hotel’s website to see them and the restaurant interior.

The panoramic view of Los Angeles from a Large Pool Room balcony is one of the most requested features:

Standard Hotel on Sunset - West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Standard Hotel on Sunset – West Hollywood, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

It’s a beautiful and unique property, in a great location, with a great view and great service.  The food was excellent and the management showed me their stuff!  It’s an Andre Belazs Hotel and the design is simple, clean and minimalist.  I would definitely recommend this hotel if you’re young, hip and and want to stay, eat or drink on the legendary Sunset Strip.  (Just not this weekend, because they’re sold out and overbooked!)

Standard Hotel on Sunset in West Hollywood: 8300 W Sunset Blvd  Los Angeles, CA 90069  (contact me at joshwilltravel@yahoo.com if you want to have lunch!)

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17-APR-13: Sunset Boulevard at Sunset Plaza

Sunset Boulevard at Sunset Plaza – West Hollywood, California

Sunset Boulevard at Sunset Plaza - West Hollywood, California (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sunset Boulevard at Sunset Plaza – West Hollywood, California (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

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I am a Certified MGM Resorts International Master Specialist!

I’m a Certified MGM Resorts International Master Specialist.

The Mirage Hotel and Volcano - Las Vegas, Nevada

The Mirage Hotel and Volcano – Las Vegas, Nevada

The Mirage is a 3,044 room hotel and casino resort located on the Las Vegas Strip.

Built by developer Steve Wynn, considered to be the father of modern Las Vegas, and designed by Joel Bergman, it opened in November 1989 and was the first resort built with Wall Street junk bonds. It was built on the site formerly occupied by the Castaways and the Red Rooster Nite Club.  The Mirage was the most expensive hotel-casino in history, with a construction cost of US $630 million. The hotel’s distinctive gold windows get their color from actual gold dust used in the tinting process. The Volcano underwent an elaborate renovation in 2008.  A new soundtrack, complete with the sounds of actual volcanoes erupting and Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, now provides an even more enhanced experience.

Contact me at joshwilltravel@yahoo.com

Any of these MGM Resorts Las Vegas properties: Aria, Vdara, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Signature by MGM, The Mirage, Monte Carlo, Mandalay Bay, THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, New York-New York, Luxor, Excalibur, and Circus Circus. And outside Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Detroit, Beau Rivage-Biloxi, and MGM Macau!

Let me assist you with Weddings, Honeymoons, Bachelor Parties, Hens’ Nights, Wild Weekends, Business Trips, Trade Shows, Conventions, Corporate and Incentive Travel.