Sunday, March 20, 2005

Never Bet More Than You Can Afford To Lose....

Ugh. I'm back. The trade show was good, though definitely too long by at least 1 day. Think I may have picked us up a couple new accounts, including ones in France, Germany, Italy, and Canada. Also made friends with some New Zealanders who make a niceWWII wargame, and might get to do a little painting for them. Our staff painter made friends with the guys from Rackham/Confrontation, who make some of the most amazing figures in the business. She managed to scam me a free t-shirt! It's good to be a hot chick in a guy-dominated industry.

To sum up my trip, I'm going to borrow Jane's "report card" motif. No photos yet; I'll need to trim them down and upload them to flikr. I'll post something when I do.
VEGAS ITSELF: B+ . I had expected it to be loud, bright, and debaucherous, and it didn't disappoint. However, I'd not realized how huge the strip is. I spent nearly the entire weekend walking endless miles just to get from point a to point b. I took the monorail a lot, but you still have to walk about a half mile to get from any monorail through the hotel casino to reach Las Vegas Blvd. My feet and back were killing me at the end of every day. My main goal was to go into as many of the themed casinos as possible just to see what they were like; I managed to hit 20 of them, but I was near death by from exhaustion by Friday morning.
THE RIVIERA (our convention hotel): B . Kudos for retaining the look and feel of an older strip casino (it turns 50 this year!) but low marks for theme decor and general appearance.
THE SAHARA: A- . Still with a slightly seedy overtone of old casino, the Sahara has managed to turn its cheesiness into an asset. Its Faux Moroccan look has a certain charm, and they have less expensive table games with friendly dealers. Plus, I won $30 there on roulette.
CIRCUS CIRCUS: C . The whole place has a slightly grimy patina that's hard to ignore. While the Adventuredome was kind of cool, even it had a sort of "theme park on hard times" feel to it, with empty spaces and missing paint. It is, however, home to Slots-O-Fun and the amazing $1.50 shrimp cocktail. (Not amazing in a good way, either.)
HILTON/STAR TREK: B+ . I wish the casino had had a little more Star Trekiness to it, but it was very entertaining nonetheless. I didn't get to do the "experience" but did go to a party in Quark's Bar on Wednesday, tried a "Warp Core Breach" and some Romulan ale, then soon found myself wondering where my feet were.
TREASURE ISLAND: B- . The outside is incredibly cool. But inside--what a waste of piratey potential! There was very little in the way of arrrr past the doorways. I also missed the show outside where the ship fires its guns; disappointing.
MIRAGE: B . This probably would have gotten a higher mark if I'd been there during the daytime. I didn't get there til around 11 pm on Thursday, so the white tigers weren't out, and the foresty jungle thing in the main lobby was pretty dark. It looked like it could be fairly cool--but again, didn't see a lot of the theme permeating the casino.
CAESAR's PALACE: A . Now THIS is a theme casino. Too cool, we walked around it and the Forum Shops for hours and I'm sure didn't see all that there was. The Celine Dion Store is here, as is the Elton John Store, which led us to an interesting discussion of what might happen if a shipment of Elton's "The Bitch is Back" T-shirts got delivered to Celine's store by mistake.
BELLAGIO: A- . Classy! Not sure what the theme was beyond "classy" but it sure had that. It also has (I'm told) the best buffet in Vegas. I can attest it was pretty damn good, I've never seen anything quite like it! Piles of beautiful food everywhere, it was one of three great meals I had while in LV.
THE VENETIAN: A- . The Italian street scene thing was impressive; I only dinged them a little because I thought Paris and Aladdin were even more striking in this respect. Ate at the Wolfgang Puck place here and it was fabulous.
HARRAH'S: D . Loud, kinda grimy, and even more confusingly laid out than most casinos. I had to walk through it from the monorail twice, and both times it took me about 10 minutes to find the door. No other casino was that difficult to navigate. I wasn't even tempted to play here.
IMPERIAL PALACE: F . Boring. Its vague Chinese theme is unrealized anywhere in the decor. I was in it for less than 5 minutes before my friend and I looked at each other and said "eh" and left. Even the older casinos have more character than that. Maybe we missed something.
BARBARY COAST: B+ . Not much of a theme, but a nice casino ambiance. I played blackjack here. Lost $40, but had fun doing it.
PARIS: A . Owned by Caesar's, and they know how to do ambiance! I loved the faux outdoor French city park look in the actual casino.
ALADDIN: A . Same thing, the casino was cool Arabian Nights style and the mall surrounding it was just neat-looking. Thunderstorm in the middle of the mall? Too cool.
NEW YORK NEW YORK: B . I was there on St. Patrick's eve, and it was horribly crowded. But also, the fakeyness of the exterior/interior seemed a little too fake, more over the top than the previous two. However, they were the only casino I saw that featured a Chuck-a-Luck table.
MGM GRAND: A . I'm a movie buff, and MGM holds mystique for me, so I was just thrilled to be there. But it's also beautiful, stylish and tasteful, and has a lion habitat with two handsome cubs and 2-3 adult lions. What's not to like?
EXCALIBUR: B . What could be a really cool theme is undermined by the cheesiness of some of the decor. It runs the gamut between looking very realistic (in a fantasy kind of way) and looking like someone just threw it together. I liked it, but I'd expected to like it better than I did.
LUXOR: A+ . Like Caesar's, this hotel has the theme thing down perfectly. What gives it that extra plus is the design of the hotel--its pyramid shape is not only cool for the casual visitor to the casino and attractions, but the rooms all look out over the central core of the pyramid. That's just awesome. And they had Donkey Kong in the arcade! I got the high score! Overall, a gratifying visit.

God, I've thought of at least two places I left out, but I've bored you all enough. Suffice it to say I covered a lot of ground and I had a great time. Now it's back to the grind, lots to do before spring break ends in about 24 hours....