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Two Trips in One Month: A Halloween Story

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Fort Lauderdale...
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Two Trips in One Month: A Halloween Story

So here's a little report from my second trip to Vegas in the same month. Characters include four guys, thirties to early forties, who love Vegas for the gambling, drinking, dining, pools, spas and general debauchery. My impaired memories follow:

Fort Lauderdale...
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1. Re: Two Trips in One Month: A Halloween Story

This was a thank you trip for my favorite Vegas buddy from Miami (RJ); he gave me a nice piece of business this year so I offered to cover the hotel for this trip. Our mutual friend (MD) would be in Vegas over Halloween weekend for a "photo shoot", accompanied by Lucky Louie (LL), whom we had not met before. For me, the timing was a little off: I had already been to Vegas the first week of October, followed by 10 days in Asia, followed by 4 days in bed with some sort of virus (at least I lost 10 pounds right before Vegas!). So it took a little arm twisting, but we all knew that if RJ and MD were in Vegas over Halloween and I was home, I would have regretted not going. In the end, I'm glad I did.

Home Base for RJ and me is Caesars. Rates showed almost the same for a Forum Tower or a Nobu Tower room. Nobu is usually about 50% higher than Forum, so we jumped on it. We have really enjoyed Nobu tower in the past due to its perfect location (right next to Cleopatra's Barge so it's easily located when drunk) and, in the past, access to Qua Spa was included with the room rate ($45 value per day for each person). On this visit, they charged $20 per person per day.

RJ flew in the morning of Halloween, checked in to Nobu and spent the day at the Caesars pool. I wasn't there, but he said it took well over an hour to find a pool waitress (who was very surly), order and receive a drink. Note to staff: do not make RJ wait for a drink. He will not be happy.

I flew in about 5 pm and headed up to the room. It's the same as the one we had before. Two extremely comfortable beds, leather sofa, big TV, dresser with drawers, mini bar, etc., closet with a safe, and a large bath. The Nobu rooms are smaller than the newer towers. They lack a bath tub, dual vanities and a separate WC. Also no view to speak of. It was fine for the 2 of us but if there were 3 in a room or I was travelling with someone I didn't know well, I'd choose one of the newer towers.

MD and LL met us in the room (they were staying at Cosmopolitan) and we put away a few Vodka and RedBulls. We headed over to Cosmo and had dinner at Holsteins. It's a cool burger place; I remember MD had a meatball burger with no bun (still avoiding carbs (alcohol isn't carbs?) for the photo shoot); I don't remember what I had so it must not have been great.

We headed up to their room to check it out. I have wanted to stay at Cosmo since it opened, but we get good deals at Caesars and haven't made the move yet. Their suite was pretty amazing. High floor, true suite, full kitchen, facing the fountains with a big balcony. LL was at the end of a work trip and they extended his conference rate, so they paid less than we did for our little Nobu room. Also, while on the flight to Vegas enjoying the wifi, I received an email offer for two mid-week nights comped at Cosmo from mid-November through Christmas. My poor liver can't take another Vegas trip in the next 4 weeks; I'll have to let this offer go and hope for another.

We headed down to the casino for some BJ. RJ hates gambling at Cosmo. Never had any luck. We play $25/hand up to $100/hand if the table is good. And this is where we were really introduced to Lucky Louie. LL bets $15, loses. Bets $15, loses. Bets $500, BJ! This is his rythym, over and over. His logic is that after 2 losses in a row, what are the odds of losing again? Apparently low enough for him to bet $500 on a hand. And as the night progresses, the drinks have kicked in, and he's really losing and pissed off, he'll bet $1000/hand. And win. Almost every time. It was frightening but entertaining to watch. More to come with LL's gambling.

Now it's about 10 pm and we decide to get dressed for Halloween and head downtown. MD had a Spartan costume and he had told the rest of us to do something similar. I was the only idiot who listened, so I have to spend the evening next to a fitness model who is the subject of some quite famous photography. He's in a tiny skirt thing with a cape, helmet, sword and shield (and nothing else) and I (not a fitness model or subject of famous photography) am in a tunic and helmet, apparently very over exposed. I didn't know what to wear under it, so I went with something small (use your imagination) and apparently gave some grandmas from Omaha quite a show. I'm not accustomed to sitting with my legs closed. So, yeah.

RJ and LL were smart enough to cover themselves completely: LL in a rented Elvis costume and RJ as a zombie. In face paint. More on that later.

Fremont Street was a blast. Great costumes. Of course, MD got a lot of attention. He could have charged for photos. We got a great group shot posing with a vertically-challenged Mr. T! Best $10 spent on the trip.

On our last trip downtown, we had a great time in the VIP area at the D. With $25 minimum tables, you're on an elevated pit behind velvet ropes, dedicated cocktail waitress, and fun and beautiful dealers. We find a table with one player and proceed to take over the table (sorry, nice lady). After a few hands, the pit boss (visibly pregnant) asks me to take off my helmet as it partially covers my face. No problem. A few hands later, RJ is asked to leave the table as his costume makeup covers his face. No problem. For a few minutes. Then RJ starts to become a little bit of a smartass. Some comments about the pit bosses pregnancy may have been made. Possibly a comment about the makeup on women that covered their faces, and that he was being discriminated against (he's a lawyer), and possibly that they should expect a lawsuit (all in good humor). Shockingly, we were soon escorted out of the D by their courteous security staff. We didn't like them anyway.

In a final bit of good judgment for the evening, we pass a liquor store on the way to the cab back to Caesars and I buy a bottle of Grey Goose and some RedBulls. Exactly what I needed at 2 am, right? That's about where the story for that night ends: there are some incriminating photos from later, but if I don't remember it, it didn't happen.

Friday morning we wake up in good spirits (still drunk). RJ thinks he'll get a little breakfast and go to the gym (yeah, right). We head to the closest spot (Central) and have some breakfast. And a Bloody Mary. So much for the gym. We then head to the spa (Qua) to sweat out some toxins. I love Qua. It's so relaxing in contrast to everything else Vegas. RJ gets a massage and heads back to the Caesars casino to meet LL and MD for some BJ. I show up when they're about 10 drinks in and they're at a great table. I was coming from the spa, so I didn't have any money with me, so I just watched in awe. Lucky Louie ("Do you have a Player's Card, Mr. Louie?". "No, what's a Player's Card?") again hitting his rhythm, MD and RJ winning nicely, and some dude at the table having the time of his life. What a riot. He's betting $1000 hands. When he wins, he shouts "Hercules, Hercules!" (think Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor) and hands out $25 chips to all of the players at the table. What a riot.

As the table cooled, we decided to head to the Caesars pool for Dragonberry Mojitos. They're our Vegas tradition. The weather was great, very nice cocktail server, lots of eye candy. I love the Caesars pool. We were a little loud and my have stolen a lounger from a lady from the midwest ("Your stuff was on the ground when we got here!"). Sorry nice lady.

Time for lunch, Milos at Cosmo is so good we headed there. But we decided that the walk was unnecessary when Spago was so close. We love Spago as well. They have the best waitstaff in Vegas. Friendly waiter recommended Moscow Mules which we enjoyed immensely. Pancetta wrapped meatloaf. Mushroom pizza. Love it. These two afternoon events will become important later as well....

We have tickets to see David Copperfield at MGM at 7. A little relax, shower, dress and into a cab. This was Lucky Louie's treat. I liked the idea of an illusionist in Vegas (I like the classics), but I think we're so jaded, that it's impossible to impress anyone anymore. There were some good illusions, some very impressive. But it was also pretty sappy, some things really dragged, and DC seemed like he was phoning it in. I liked the venue (6 people at a table with cocktail service) and I'm glad we went. You could tell the people who were into magic really liked it.

We played a little more BJ at MGM and then headed over to Cosmo for 10 pm reservations at STK. STK is a madhouse. Four people deep at the bar, music impossibly loud, seated 45 minutes after our reservation. We loved it, though. Tons of energy, excellent food, very professional waiter. We shared the bone-in rib steak and some apps and sides. Drunk and full, we headed to the Cosmo casino for some BJ and Roulette. The only evidence I have of this night after that point is a picture in my phone of a $1000 Cosmo chip, so we must have had fun. Also, apparently "Walk" and "Don't Walk" were too difficult for me to comprehend, as I was apprehended by the police for jaywalking on the way back to Caesars. I got the full treatment ("hands out of your pockets, do you have any weapons?") and a written warning citation as a Vegas souvenir. Just doing their jobs, I guess. Every time the light would turn to "Don't Walk" a crowd would form calling for them to let me go. And one drunk idiot would walk right into the crosswalk and be put in line behind me to be processed. Fun for all!

Saturday, we again awoke refreshed and headed to Mon Ami Gabi for breakfast. Great table on the railing (but way too far to walk to the Bloody Mary bar; we just ordered from the waitress). Skirt Steak Eggs Benedict was super tender but unseasoned and they forgot the bleu cheese the waitress raved about. RJ headed back to the spa and I went to Cosmo to play some VP at Book and Stage. I love that place. Great, fun staff. Amazing cocktails (just ask any bartender for their specialty). And I played for hours on $100 and walked with a $50 TITO.

Interesting side note to my morning, there was a pretty loud "lady" at the bar who didn't exactly look at home at Cosmo. Next to her were two other "ladies" who were guests at Cosmo, a little loud for 11 am, but it was a football Saturday and we were all from Michigan, watching the Michigan vs. Michigan State game. When the first "lady" left her spot at the bar to go make out with some strange dude at a table, the others took her barstool to their side of the bar. This pissed off the first one, who then called security to tell them that one of the others had stepped out of her flip flops and was barefoot (classy). Then one of the second girls introduces a guy they met at breakfast, and proceeds to start making out with him. This goes back and forth for a few HOURS. The first one handed the second ones a menu and told them they must be hungry (fat insult). The second ones called her a C**** W**** (rightfully so, probably. And I don't mean Cocktail Waitress). So then the very tough but friendly bartender had enough. She had suggested the first one leave, but she didn't, so security came and professionally relocated her. Only in a Vegas afternoon. This was all done by 2 pm.

I had a slice at Secret Pizza, but then the rest of the guys showed up. They were hungry, so we went to Jaleo for a late lunch. Tomato Bread, croquettas, huge pitcher of Sangria. Love that place. This is when RJ mentions that we should have Dragonberry Mojitos at the Caesars pool. Yes, we all agreed that they were great yesterday. "What are you talking about?", says RJ. "We haven't been to the pool yet." Uh, yes we were. For a few hours. Yesterday. He didn't just forget that we had been there, he couldn't be convinced that we had been there until we found pictures to prove it. That's a serious afternoon blackout.

Back to the rooms to shower and dress, and over to Ballys for Veronic Voices. What a great show. Quickly paced, funny, moving (maybe I was a little emotional due to the alcohol). Great seats, nice intimate venue. Highly recommended. Oh, and it was $2.50. But I would have been happy paying face value.

And then back across to Caesars for dinner at Nobu. I reserved something light for this dinner as we had reservations for Sterling Brunch on Sunday. The waiter recommended a lot of food; I had eaten the Omakase at Nobu in Waikiki recently and it was one of the best meals of my life, but also the most expensive. We stuck with the sashimi platter ($65) which was a great balance of familiar (tuna and salmon) and a little exotic (mackerel with the skin on). Under $100 per person made us all happy. MD ended up with a bowl of soy sauce down his back that we didn't realize until later. Came out with some hand washing in the room.

We must have played more at Caesars. Still no Player's Card for Mr. Louie. I'm sure a good time was had by all; I just don't remember it. At one point at Cosmo, we had a nice run with a dealer I call Silent Bob. He didn't say a word for the entire time we were there. We were winning and he had a good pace, so it was all in fun. The dealer changed and we continued playing. Silent Bob then walks over to us at the players' side of the table and asks us if we complained about him to the pit boss, as he was just sent home. We hadn't, but maybe a little interaction with the players would keep them playing longer.

Sunday morning is our traditional Sterling Brunch. Amazing as always. Lobster tails, lamb chops, caviar and never-ending Perrier Jouet Champagne. A bar at the entrance offers comped Grey Goose and Chopin vodka. We spent a few hours relaxing and eating. About $100 per person plus well deserved tip.

At some point RJ convinced LL to get rated at Caesars and Cosmo. Walked him over to a Host where a nice discount was applied to his bill; I'm sure he will be encouraged to return. LL used his winnings to pay the hotel bill, extensive spa treatments, and lots of food and beverage charged to the room, and still flew back home with a very fat wallet. Lucky Louie indeed. He and MD packed up and headed back to the airport. RJ and I had another 24 hours to kill.

Sunday afternoon was a Champagne-induced blur. I think a nap was involved, then a marathon phone call trying to get tickets to Shania Twain for that night. It turns out tickets can't be bought over the phone. We had to go to the box office. Fine; done.

Good (rear orchestra) last minute tix were $150 each. I only know 2 Shania Twain songs, so I'm not a fair critic. Some good, some a little drawn out. The finale was great. Her horse was pretty.

We didn't have dinner reservations Sunday night but we got lucky and walked right from the theater to Mesa Grill. It was awesome. Tuna Tacos had the most ruby red tuna I've ever seen. The shrimp tamale was amazing. White Peach Margarita delicious. And the Pork Tenderloin was like nothing I've ever eaten. Exactly the same temperature all the way through. I need to find out how to cook pork like that. Excellent.

By this time, I was dragging. I went to the room planning to come back down, but it didn't happen. In bed by 10. Sorry.

Monday we slept in a little and skipped breakfast in favor of an early lunch, as RJ had to leave for the airport about 12:15. We went back to the spa where I was hoping for their midweek special. They only offer a Fall Special which is 20% off a package with a Swedish Massage (I like deep tissue) and some sort of cinnamon sugar body scrub. Pass. Also, they no longer allow non guests to use the spa on weekends without booking treatments.

For lunch, RJ recommends Spago. Great, I say. Our lunch was awesome there on Friday. This is where RJ insists that we haven't been to Spago on this trip. Uh, yes we were. Mushroom Pizza. No, he says I'm remembering a different trip 2 years ago. I don't think so. So we walk into Spago and the same waiter from Friday welcomes us back and offers us another round of Moscow Mules. RJ asks the waiter if we have already been here; of course we have. With 2 other guys. One got the meatloaf. This is where I become a little concerned about RJ's drinking. But he's a big boy. Scallop special was good, but I wish I had my favorite Chinois Chicken Salad. So good.

So as RJ is about to head to the airport, he decides that instead of going back to work in Miami, it would be much easier to just fly to San Francisco to spend a few days with a friend who is there on business. Uh, OK. A few calls, texts and web visits and he's ready to book. Until he gets a less-than-thrilled text back from the friend in SF, who apparently had other plans. OK, Miami it is.

He heads back to the airport ($120 comped off our bill for our play; Caesars has definitely lost their generosity that made us loyal customers); I play for a few more hours and head out as well. Concourse D has an amazing Centurion Lounge, free with AmEx Platinum Card. Nice food and staff, free drinks. So much nicer than waiting it out with the riff raff.

My flight back to FLL is uneventful, except I leave a small bag on the plane in the seat pocket. I return to the airport the next day to retrieve it and text the boys about what an idiot I am for leaving my bag on the plane. RJ responds by saying that he is at the Miami airport retrieving his bag. It seems that he walked right off the plane and to his car without bothering with baggage claim. This is when I recommend either a little rehab or a brain scan to RJ. Hopefully he will take advantage of one or the other.

Dallas
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2. Re: Two Trips in One Month: A Halloween Story

What a great report! Thank you for the information about Qua--I want to make it there one of these days.

Orland Park...
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3. Re: Two Trips in One Month: A Halloween Story

Great Report!!! You know how to do it!!

The Lone Star State
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4. Re: Two Trips in One Month: A Halloween Story

Sounds like a blast - thanks for the report!

Detroit, Michigan
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5. Re: Two Trips in One Month: A Halloween Story

Thanks, your report was very easy to follow. Sounds like you had an awesome time!

NZ
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6. Re: Two Trips in One Month: A Halloween Story

Geesh, I think I agree with you on the RJ prognosis. I have lost shoes, phones and a lot of brain cells whilst drinking but never a whole afternoon at a pool! Really enjoyed your TR, you guys sure did a lot of fun stuff. Might try the LL method next time....

Minnesota
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7. Re: Two Trips in One Month: A Halloween Story

Thanks for sharing this! Great report as always, your contributions are valued.

new york
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8. Re: Two Trips in One Month: A Halloween Story

Loved your TR Mike! Sounds like you guys are a fun bunch!

Inverness, United...
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9. Re: Two Trips in One Month: A Halloween Story

Awesome report!

San Antonio, Texas
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10. Re: Two Trips in One Month: A Halloween Story

Great report! Sounds like you are right to worry about your friend!;)