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First ever TR: 2/15 - 2/19 Aria, Elton, Slots, Food & Drink

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Sarasota, Florida
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First ever TR: 2/15 - 2/19 Aria, Elton, Slots, Food & Drink

Background:

This is my first TR ever, so please be kind. DW and I decided to do an early 25th wedding anniversary celebration in LV. Our actual anniversary date is in the summer but the commitments of work fell into place for a February getaway.

This would be our second trip together in LV. Our inaugural was about 6 years ago when we stayed at the Bellagio and that was both of our first time in LV. I was also in LV last spring with a few of my old high school pals for low budget get away. Neither my wife nor I are high rollers—she exclusively plays slots and I will play some low stake BJ as well as slots.

I really appreciate all of the tips that all of you have provided through my lurking on the forum. The suggestions really helped make this a great trip.

I will post each day as a reply and I apologize in advance as this is all from memory…

Sarasota, Florida
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1. Re: First ever TR: 2/15 - 2/19 Aria, Elton, Slots, Food & Drink

Day 1: Travel, Aria Check-in (and Upgrade!), Downtown, Julian Serrano

My folks came over from the East Coast of FL to watch our 2 teenagers (turned out more the opposite—kids really were watching their grandparents—I guess they’re getting up there in years).

After getting the kids off to school and getting my parents situated, we made the drive to TPA, with plenty of time to spare before our early afternoon direct SW flight. We had sprung for the early boarding passes so we had good A boarding numbers—although interestingly our boarding positions were three numbers apart?). We carried on our luggage and were seated in about the 5th row.

The plane arrived in LV about 30 minutes early (4pm) and we quickly deplaned as we were anxious to check-in at the hotel and then head downtown. It seemed like we had an eternal walk from the gate to the taxi stand. We finally go to the taxi stand and were fortunate that there was no line at all. We did not direct our taxi driver on route as I wanted to see how he would take us-- no tunnel!!!

Check-in at the Aria on a Wednesday afternoon was very quick—no wait at all. When I had booked our reservation, I had noted that we would be celebrating our 25th Anniversary. I reiterated that when the friendly clerk asked what brought us to LV. He congratulated us and excused himself to talk to the desk manager. He came back and said that they would like to upgrade our 1BR suite reservation to a 1BR suite on the 54th floor of their Sky Suites section—a room with an extra 200 sq. feet. I thanked the clerk for his generosity and tipped him $20.

We went up to our room to check it out. It was beautiful and functional—with plenty of space. I was like a little kid playing with all the controls for the curtains and the lights. The master bath was well laid out with dual vanities, separate enclosed automated toilet (heat and washing, a separate generously enclosed shower area and a big jetted bathtub in the middle of the room. Everything that people have been saying about the Aria beds is true—it was the most comfortable bed that DW and I have ever slept in. The front area was functional with a round dining table for 4 and a comfortable couch and large flat screen TV. The furnishings were very tasteful and subtle. About the only drawback was that the powder room did not have its own separate shower. That would have been convenient as I am an early riser and didn’t want to disturb DW while she slept-in.

One huge amenity of the Sky Suites is that they have a separate complementary lounge stocked with beverages and snacks most of the day. On our way downstairs to catch a taxi to head downtown we enjoyed some Pellegrino, Chocolate Covered Strawberries and cheese in the lounge.

We headed downtown for DW’s first time (I had been with my HS friends) around 6pm. We walked up and down Fremont people watching and checking out the various casinos. We tried a fried Twinkie and Oreo at Mermaids—tasty but I could feel my arteries hardening with each bite. We had so much powdered sugar on us that it reminded us of when we ate beignets at Café du Monde in NOLA. We caught the lame Viva Vision show with the aliens—the music videos are so much better. The weather took a turn for the worse and we were a little tired from still being on Eastern Time so we caught a taxi back to Aria.

When we arrived at Aria, we decided to have some Tapas and sangria at Julian Serrano. We had really enjoyed Picasso on our first trip so we were interested to see what the chef could do with a tapas menu. We were not disappointed as every dish that we had was really tasty. Our favorite dishes were the pork belly, dates, mushroom risotto and beef and cheese. The sangria was flavorful and potent. After dinner, we had a couple of glasses of wine and then retired for the evening around midnight as we couldn’t fight the jetlag. When we arrived back at our room there was a nice tray of chocolate macaroons and strawberries with a note from the hotel congratulating us on our anniversary.

All in all, a great transition day!

yourstarla
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2. Re: First ever TR: 2/15 - 2/19 Aria, Elton, Slots, Food & Drink

Enjoying your report! Happy Anniversary!

Sarasota, Florida
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3. Re: First ever TR: 2/15 - 2/19 Aria, Elton, Slots, Food & Drink

Starla,

Thank you. I feel like I practically know you from all of your contributions to the forum.

Sarasota, Florida
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4. Re: First ever TR: 2/15 - 2/19 Aria, Elton, Slots, Food & Drink

Day 2 (part one): Walking the Strip; Slots

As I mentioned earlier, I am an early riser—add in a 3 hour time difference and I am wide awake at 3am—probably about the time that most of you are in prime form when in LV. Not wanting to disturb DW, I boot my computer up in the living area and spend a couple of hours catching up on email. I took a quick shower to fully wake up and decide to check out the Aria casino layout while everything is quiet. It’s really tranquil when wandering around the main area around 5 or 6am—very few people—mostly maintenance. I scope out a favorite slot machine—Invaders from Planet Moolah for later enjoyment. I play some $15 BJ for about 45 minutes. I breakeven but don’t really enjoy playing by myself at a table as the hands come too quick.

I grab a couple of coffees and head back up to the room but DW is still asleep—she seems to have adjusted easily to LV time. I do some more email and make a couple of business calls when DW arises and we can begin our day.

We are off to HHAGG for breakfast armed with a restaurant.com coupon. We walk through Crystals, across the pedestrian bridge, check out the new Walgreens for a few supplies and snake through PH and Paris on our way to IP. When we get to HHAGG we are immediately seated and have the French toast and chicken & waffles. The food is good but way too plentiful—it easily could have fed at least two others. We’re feeling guilty about leaving over so much food but our waitress mentions that it’s trucked over to a pig farm for use. Perhaps in a future life I need to be reincarnated as a pig in LV!

After breakfast, we continue north on the strip heading to V/P and walking around their shops. We finally settle into the smoke free slot section of the Palazzo. I find a Moolah machine and slip $50 into the machine not wanting to start out too fast. DW and I hadn’t really talked about gambling levels and she immediately commented on why I was throwing so much money into a slot! Tried to explain that this really wasn’t that much and that this was what coming to Vegas was all about. She just gave me one of those long quiet stares that I’ve seen quite a few times in our 25 years. I just never know how to interpret them. She slips $20 into another machine and is playing really slow. A CW comes over and takes our order of a Fat Tire and a Cosmo and returns quickly—I tip $5 and continue this pattern 3 or 4 more times. DW is getting a kick out of all of the mooing coming out of my machine. She loses her $20 and I’m up about $100 when we decide to move on. While my DW is in the restroom, I throw some money into the Hangover machine. I had watched the movie on my IPhone on the plane and this game is a lot of fun. DW finds me and I start winning a few bonuses and cash out up another $50.

We head over to Stripburger with another Restaurant.com coupon and have a light lunch. The food was good to absorb some of the beer. IMHO, the burgers were good but not anything exceptional. Still it was refreshing to sit outside even though it was a little cool compared to what we are used to.

All of the walking had caught up to my wife, so we took a cab back to the Aria. We found a couple of slots and placed an order with a friendly CW. Now for all of those that say that there is no cell coverage in the Aria, I am sad to report that this isn’t true. As I am about to press the button on my slot to begin, my phone starts ringing with an urgent call from work. I excuse myself and head to the quiet of the Sky Suites lounge to attend to a mini-firedrill for 40 minutes. I come back to the slots and my wife sheepishly tells me she is down $80. Looks like her playing levels have liberalized quickly from the icy stare that I received in the AM!!!

We go back to the room to take a quick nap and get ready for dinner and to see Elton John. DW is a huge fan and had never had the opportunity to see him in concert so I had surprised her with tickets to see him.

Up next…Dinner at Le Cirque, Elton John, Mandarin Bar

Lexington, Kentucky
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5. Re: First ever TR: 2/15 - 2/19 Aria, Elton, Slots, Food & Drink

Great tr so far! Excellent writing style, can't wait to read more.

Sarasota, Florida
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6. Re: First ever TR: 2/15 - 2/19 Aria, Elton, Slots, Food & Drink

lmmeek,

Thank you. My fingers are getting tired. I really am now starting to appreciate the effort that all of the forum usuals do for us all.

Coral Springs...
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7. Re: First ever TR: 2/15 - 2/19 Aria, Elton, Slots, Food & Drink

Happy Anniversary!! Enjoying your TR and looking forward to the next installment!!

St. Louis, MO
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8. Re: First ever TR: 2/15 - 2/19 Aria, Elton, Slots, Food & Drink

Enjoying your trip report! Can't wait to read the rest.

Winnipeg, Canada
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9. Re: First ever TR: 2/15 - 2/19 Aria, Elton, Slots, Food & Drink

Great report!! Our 25th is next March and we are already planning a Vegas trip with our best man and his wife who are still very good friends of ours and love Vegas too!! Can't wait to hear about Elton, glad he didn't cancel like he recently had to.

Sarasota, Florida
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10. Re: First ever TR: 2/15 - 2/19 Aria, Elton, Slots, Food & Drink

Day 2 (part 2): Dinner at Le Cirque, Elton John, Mandarin Bar

We catch the tram over to the Bellagio and head over to Le Cirque to enjoy their pre-theater dinner. We are promptly seated at a table in front of a window with a spectacular view of the fountain. Service as one would expect is top-notch. Entrée choice on the theater menu is a little disappointing as they are offering sea bass, sea bass or veal sweetbreads. I was hoping for a non-organ beef dish, but evidently not an option that night. I started with a squid ink risotto with chorizo and calamari that was phenomenal. The portion was really substantial and I started feeling like I was hitting a food wall. We both had the sea bass and the dishes were prepared well – the fish was cooked perfectly. Kudos to the pastry chef for their creativity with dessert—DW’s dish was served in a crystal bowl actually made of ice. My dessert was a passion fruit filled chocolate cigar with additional mousse in a container looking like an ashtray. Wine pairings with dinner were fairly priced but somewhat uninspiring.

We headed over to CP to stand in line to get into the auditorium to see Elton John. Before the show, they made an announcement that they would be filming the show so who knows maybe someday we’ll see ourselves. I have to say that I was really pleasantly surprised by the show. EJ is an extraordinary performer who really knows how to engage the audience—he has a way of making you feel that he is playing just for you. Yes his voice isn’t quite what it was in his glory years, but he still has it! He played for a solid two hours on stage—none of the constant off-stage costume changes that we had when we had seen Celine years back. He has a great band with him (especially the expressive percussionist) and his songlist is amazing. It was really great to see DW enjoying herself and dancing throughout the show.

After EJ was done, we hustled out of there trying to beat the lines and took the tram from the Bellagio to City Center and walked over to MO and headed up to the 23rd floor to the Mandarin Bar. Yes the drinks can be expensive, but what a classy place—they really know how to make everyone feel special. The view of the strip was fantastic. We were still riding the high of the EJ show, but this was a perfect nightcap to a fantastic evening. They had a jazz band playing that rally sent out a romantic vibe.

We headed back to the Aria and sat down at a couple of slots—basically treading water with our money.