Las Vegas Little Black Book Blog
Little Black Book Trip Report 
11/16/06, 2:45 AM - Vegas Trip Reports

A Las Vegas Little Black Book Trip Report from Dan. I thought you all would enjoy this….

David deMontmollin and the Little Black Book truly can make, as the book claims, a good trip great. My name is Dan and five of my friends and I decided to skip our yearly football trip for our soon to be annual pilgrimage to Vegas. Our “football” group ranges in ages 31 to 62 [Don’t let their ages fool you, 60 is the new 40 and 50 is the new 30] and three of us had never been to Vegas before. We all are happily married and we went with the full knowledge and consent of our lovely wives. The Little Black Book played a big part in the planning and execution of the trip and David was top notch with his advice and counsel. He was like our own Vegas Concierge, telling us where to go and what to do. Thanks for everything David.

Nick P., Quayle, C. Lou, Kingwood, Crabman, and I flew from Washington, D.C. to Vegas on Friday morning. First of all, the Little Black Book saved us well over an hour at the airport. We all packed a carry-on and we were able to head straight to the check-in desk at the airport. We had reservations to set up camp at the MGM Grand and the airport check-in was the bomb. There was no line and we used a little LBB advice and tipped the check-in girl and we were able to get our three rooms all on the same floor, all with views of the strip and all within a short walk of the elevator; and, it wasn’t even 11:00 a.m.! I had made a prior reservation for a limo to pick us up at the airport and the group was very impressed when we found the driver waiting for us with all our names on a sign. A limo at the airport for a big group of guys is a must. Not only was it a money saver, but it saved us from having to wait in a seemingly endless taxi line, when all we wanted to do was start our weekend. We had our bags, were checked into our hotel, and were in a limo on the way to the strip within 35 to 45 minutes. We couldn’t ask for a better start to the weekend.

By now, the buzz from the screwdrivers on the airplane had worn off and we were all thirsty and hungry. Our driver pulled over so we could buy a 12 pack of beer. We each downed two in about five minutes as we made our way up the strip. When we arrived at the MGM we were ravenous and went straight to a sandwich shop called “’Wichcraft.” The meatloaf and bacon sandwich was the perfect meal after not eating for eight hours. After lunch we went up to our rooms and dropped off our bags before heading down to check out the casino. Quayle took off to explore, Crabman took a nap, and Nick and I found a $10 black jack table and sat down. C. Lou and Kingwood joined up with us later. An hour and a half passed in what seemed like a matter of minutes, and Vegas had hooked me in. I don’t know if it was the free drinks, the bright lights, or the excitement of winning a few hands of black jack; whatever it was I was drinking the Vegas Kool-Aid. By the time we were finished I was even, C. Lou was up a little and Nick P was down a little. Considering all the free drinks, I think we were all ahead. We caught up with Kingwood and he was up $200 after playing slots and was feeling pretty good about himself.

We met for celebratory drinks in the center bar named Zuri. It had a great vantage point of the casino for ogling and everyone dug the garter belts the barmaids had own. The one thing that I noticed is that time slips by so fast while in Vegas. If you blink the weekend’s over. Now I know why people don’t want to sleep while there. We decided to make our first night Old School Vegas Night. I arranged for another limo to take us downtown to eat at LBB recommended Hugo’s Cellar. Let me just say that it did not disappoint. Upon arrival we ordered martinis and gimlets. They brought our drinks out in a carafe chilled in a bucket of ice. We each got three drinks out of our carafe. The salad cart was awesome as was the between course sorbet. But the highlight of the meal was when they brought out Nick P.’s Hugo’s cut of prime rib. It was both beautiful and disgusting at the same time. We all got a big laugh watching him tear into a piece of meat the size of a small animal. After dinner we split up with three of the group exploring Freemont Street and Crabman, C. Lou and I heading upstairs to the Chicago Brewery Cigar Bar for a Fuente and a glass of port. We had fun relaxing and taking in the whole experience.

After we finished the port we headed across the street to the Golden Nugget and the three of us got in on some low stakes blackjack. We played for about 45 minutes, with the first part cleaning house with a novice dealer. When the dealers switched, we quickly gave all our winnings back to the house. However, I think C. Lou was up $75. We met back up with the group and booked a limo to take us to Scores. I have to say I was a little disappointed with Scores. Four of us went inside, while the older members of our crew elected to take the limo back to the MGM. At the door the cute receptionists informed us that David had arranged for us to have free drinks at the bar, which was sweet. Hats off to you David; however, the bouncers at the door said they didn’t see our name on any list and that we weren’t getting any free drinks. They also wouldn’t negotiate with us on the $30 cover charge, nor could they find us a seat. Clearly they wanted us to grease their pockets and we clearly weren’t going to do that after they pissed us off. Kingwood and C Lou left and Nick P and I hung around for a while. Once we got away from the bouncers we had a good time. When we got back to the hotel we walked around and checked out NY-NY and then called it a night.

My body was still on East Coast time and I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep. With less than three hours sleep I took a shower and stumbled down stairs into the casino. I couldn’t believe the activity. Vegas truly is the town that never sleeps. The night before we placed some bets on numerous college football games and the group met at 8:30 at the ESPNZone to watch the Noon EST college football games. We were able to get a big booth with our own TV. After two Rock Star and SKYY Vodka energy drinks I was ready to go. Thanks to a little LBB advice we ordered one appetizer at a time and stretched it out for over three hours. (If you go, you got to get the sliders.) After the early games, Nick P and I walked over to LBB recommended Tickets2Nite and we were able to get good seats for the Motley Crue and Aerosmith concert later that night at the MGM.

Most of us decided to go check out the strip, Crabman stayed behind but the rest of us took the monorail up to Harrah’s and did some exploring. The event turned into a mini daiquiri dash as outlined in David’s book. We grabbed one at Harrah’s and drank it as we walked up to Casino Royale. Next we grabbed $1 margaritas at the bar in Casino Royale and walked through the Venetian. We headed back to Casino Royale and played some switch black jack and had some great luck. We crossed the street and explored Caesar’s Palace. We were all thoroughly impressed. Next we crossed the street again and went to Margaritaville and had another round of margaritas. These were easily the best margaritas we had. We caught the monorail at the Flamingo back to the MGM. We finished with hurricanes and jello shots back at Fat Tuesdays when we got off the monorail at the MGM. We originally had reservations at ISLA located in TI as the LBB had recommended, but since we had tickets to the concert at the MGM, we changed the reservation to the Mexican restaurant Diego located in our hotel.

After a much needed power nap we met back at Zuri Center bar and had a few more rounds before supper. Diego was outstanding. We drank sangria and had fresh guacamole made from the roving guacamole cart. After dinner we split up with Nick P and me heading to the concert and the older guys skipping the concert to find trouble somewhere else. The concert rocked. It makes for a cool story to tell friends that I saw the Crue and Aerosmith while I was out in Vegas. It sure beats saying I went to Celine Dion or Howie Mandel.

Nick P. and I were jacked after the concert and headed over to NY-NY to check out the LBB recommended dueling piano bar. After a short wait and a reasonable $10 cover charge we were in. When we got there is was mostly a sausage factory and Nick P. said he wanted to file a complaint with the LBB for leading us astray, but out of nowhere a bachelorette party of six mingled our way and to our amazement they were mostly ignored as they stood there checking out the scene. Nick P bought them a round of shots and we were in. We told them how wonderful married life was and they ate it up. We danced and sang along until we had had enough. After wishing the bride-to-be good luck we stumbled back to the MGM and played some black jack before crashing for the night.

Sunday morning I woke up refreshed and ready to enjoy my last day on the strip. I went downstairs and stood in line to make my picks for Sunday’s games. Our group met again at the ESPNZone, but we got there late and the line was too long. However, NY-NY put the games on several big screens in their cabaret theatre, which actually made a perfect place to watch the games. It was a good crowd with a lot of Washington and Dallas fans. It was wild watching the Redskins win by blocking a kick and then kicking the game winning field goal on an un-timed down. The place went nuts. I bet $11 on the game and it was the most fun $10 that I ever won.

We paid to keep one of the rooms until 6 p.m., which was another great piece of advice from David. After we made arrangements and moved all of our stuff into one room, Kingwood, C Lou, Nick P and I walked around the casino until we found the elusive $5 table. It was in the back next the KA theatre if any of you are at the MGM. Nick P bought a strategy card in the hotel and we used it to our advantage. We were splitting and doubling down all over the place and we were all winning. It was also pretty cool when the pit boss came over and asked to examine the card. He gave it back to us a few minutes later and watched us like a hawk the entire time we were playing. Two and half hours later we were all drunk and happy. We checked out of our room at six and dogged some Chinese food at the food court to soak up some of the alcohol in our stomach.

We spent our last hours in Vegas watching the football game at the center bar, having a few more drinks and playing a couple of slots. We caught a limo back to the airport while we watched everyone else standing in the taxi line. Again, money well spent. We made it through security and we were all on the plane sleeping before we knew it with visions of the next trip swirling in our heads. I tried to incorporate as many of David’s suggestions as I could. The Little Black Book was a hit.

I regret not making it to Hooters to say hello and to thank David for helping elevate our trip to one for the record books. As anyone who has been to Vegas knows, there is much more to the trip than can be memorialized in any recap. There are many more memorable tales that didn’t and couldn’t make it into this report, and when our “football” group gets together we will always have tons of laughs and stories to recount with each other about our trip and for that Mr. David deMontollin, I salute you. . . .


Thanks Dan, this is a great trip report. I will be sure to talk to Scores and get them in line. Thanks!

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Will the Palms Crack the Guys Top Ten Hotels? 
11/8/06, 7:03 AM
Since the Las Vegas Little Black Book was published, the Palms has made some big expansions and changes.

First, there was the remodel and relaunch of their 24 Hour Cafe, which has big menu and facility improvements. A good 24 Hour cafe is very important to groups of guys, because it is the only option for drunk late night meals and serves as the defacto place to eat breakfast and lunch.

Second, the new fantasy tower has plenty of new suites. While the suites seem to be higher priced than a typical suite, the collection of different suites together have made for a "block party", which has interesting implications for bachelor and bachelorette parties "merging" together. It also adds more people in general to the hotel, primarily of the younger, more fun type. The Palms has always been a strange place during the day, when all the slot playing locals take over the floor.

Third, the pool remodel and expansion. During the summer time, the pool is the defacto daytime activity. The old pool was nothing to write home about, so any improvement helps out.

Fourth, while the Playboy Club and Moon are going to be tough to get into for men, it does provide a good story to tell the boys back home that your played blackjack with a playboy bunny.

Finally, the Palms announced that in February they will open a 2,500 person concert venue. It is similar to the intimacy of Hard Rock's Joint and Mandalay's House of Blues. You can find the story here in the the LV Business Press. A concert venue will provide more options for groups of guys to meet women, other than the nightclubs and average center bar.

While the location will always be a challenge (taxis or a rental car is a must, you can't walk anywhere) and there is no great "party bar" for groups of guys to meet available women, the Palms is getting better.

It is not ready to crack the top ten yet, but I think all it needs is a "carnival court" type bar and a lounge with a cheesy Vegas band, and I think it will be right up there.
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The Closing of the Stardust 
11/2/06, 5:53 AM
I went to the closing night of the Stardust. For some reason, I like the closing nights. A bunch of strange people flock to the casino making for an interesting night.

While driving from the Stardust down the Strip, you can see the new wave of Vegas emerging. Trump's Tower is getting huge, Palazzo at the Venetian is taking shape, Encore at Wynn has the foundation set, Planet Hollywood is almost done, Project City Center is underway, and Palms Place is underway. I am always excited by Vegas. I call the Vegas Strip my home, rarely ever leaving it anymore.

With all these new changes, it just makes me more excited.
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The Future of Laughlin 
10/17/06, 10:18 PM
Usually the sale of two casinos in Laughlin does not cause a blip on my radar screen. But coupled with some other news out there, it makes me ponder, what is the future of Laughlin?

Of the nine casino resorts in Laughlin, five have been sold recently, all at good prices.

Recent Purchases
- Tony Marnell's group purchased the Colorado Bell and the Edgewater from MGM Mirage.
- Columbia Sussex purchased the River Palms
- Landry's Restaurants bought the Golden Nugget Laughlin
- American Real Estate Partners purchased the Flamingo Laughlin

That leaves...are they next?
- Harrah's Laughlin
- Ramada Express
- Pioneer
- Riverside

Why the purchases?

Laughlin has been falling year after year in visitors. From a recent LVRJ Article on Oct 13th....

"Visitor volume fell in Laughlin during August with 275,608 visitors coming to the Colorado River community, an 18.1 percent drop compared to 336,679 a year ago".

18%? Both the power of the Las Vegas destination and the growth of Native American casinos have brought rough times to Laughlin resorts.

It's not about visitors

Then it hit me with an news story today about the 300,000,000 US resident. The local news followed up with a segment about the Nevada population growth. Currently at 2.5 million, it will grow to 3.5 million in the next twenty years, most of it in Southern Nevada.

With Las Vegas already going through growth pains, the valley's land is constricted by the mountains. That means more people will move to the surrounding towns of Mesquite, Pahrump, Prim, and of course Laughlin.

Laughlin should be considered part of Arizona

But Laughlin is unique, because it is actually one part of a dual city. Directly across the Colorado River is Bullhead City, Arizona. Everything from Kingman, Arizona to Bullhead, City is booming. Del Webb and others are building huge developments in the area. Land speculators believe that the new Hoover Dam Bypass will cause more commerce for the area.

So Laughlin casinos will be "local" casinos? Yes.

Expect more focus on the local residents, rather than the visitors, as Laughlin grows. Local gamblers are very profitable, especially the retirees (which will make up the entire Del Webb community) with the free time and the disposable income. Locals will be the gaming driver of the Laughlin Resorts.
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The Future of Las Vegas 
10/16/06, 1:27 AM
An interesting article in the LVRJ about the next wave of resorts in Las Vegas.

Here is a round up from the article....

"A transformational project for Las Vegas."

"A quality developer with experience in this marketplace. Looking forward to seeing (former Mandalay Resort Group President) Glenn (Schaeffer) again."

"Many investors underestimate the brilliance and execution capability of Boyd Gaming. Management talent will get the job done, and the city needs a midmarket project of this magnitude."

"Highly speculative as currently planned given the site configuration."

"Executive turnover in previous months suggests there may be some difficulties, but the project is likely to move forward."

"There needs to be a little more time for that part of the valley to comfortably absorb this supply."

"This will be a success for both Trump and Las Vegas."

"The timing is uncertain. Will Trump enter the picture at some point?"

"Las Vegas Sands needs this additional room capacity. It's clearly moving as planned; sufficient capital and a great location."

"The Encore is an important second tower for Wynn Resorts that will enable the company to leverage its cost structure."

"A solid residential location."

"While we believe the W project is experiencing delays, we do believe that it will ultimately be built, unlike other notable projects."

"A great location."

"Harrah's (Entertainment) has the ability to successfully integrate its Strip properties and it will represent a powerful alternative for consumers."

Click Here for the Full Story from the LVRJ
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The irony of taking Harrahs private: To go IPO 
10/10/06, 6:58 AM
Good article in the Las Vegas Business Press about Harrahs and the buyout offer.

The ultimate goal of the private offer to buyout Harrahs: to go IPO in a couple of years after the company is higher valued. The article explains a couple of ways to get there.

Click Here for the Story from the LV Business Press
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Expect the Playboy Club to be tough to get into 
10/8/06, 3:09 AM
The long awaited Playboy Club opens today on the top of the Palm's new Fantasy Tower. The Playboy club is a mix between an ultralounge and a small casino. It will be "more intimate, more exclusive" than the traditional night time venue. It will prove to be very successful and it is a great addition to Las Vegas.

But for a group of guys, the Playboy Club will be as hard to get into as a top nightclub. Expect to fight your way to the front of the line and expect to have to tip the door man to get in.

Give it a couple of months, and try to hit it midweek for your best chance of making through the door. Also, be sure to dress to impress. An easier way to make it in is to dine at Nove, the new italian resturant, and then head to the club from there.

Click Here for the Article from the LVRJ

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What is the real reason that Harrahs pulled out of Singapore? 
10/7/06, 2:58 AM
Harrah's accounced today that it is pulling out their bid for Singapore. Las Vegas Sands (Venetian) won the first casino project, Harrah's and four other lesser know companies were up the second bid. All design concepts were to be submitted by October 10.

According to the Taipei Times, all bids must be "feng shui", irregular or sharp angles should be avoided, and a round, semi-circle or an ellipse design will probably win the 2nd casino bid.

The Las Vegas Sands is planning on building a $3.2 billion dollar complex. A design with three slanting hotel towers overlooking three low-rise waterfront domes and roofs resembling waves.

The Taipei Times also stated that a pavilion or memorial, from WWII regarding a massacre from the Japanese occuption, should be erected, or a multi-religious service held, before construction starts to avert accidents, suicides or a loss-making venture.

As you can see, the culture in Singapore is much much different than what American companies are used to. With the scope of this project and the different culture, was Harrah's in over their heads?

Consider This
Could it be possible that Harrah's knew that their design concept was not going to win? Maybe the takeover bid was just an excuse to pull out while saving face. If they lost the bid straight out, it would be a huge blow to any thoughts of big international developments. No casinos in the two huge markets of Macau and Signapore?

If the submittal was Oct 10, then the bid already had to be completed. Why not just submit the bid? If you do win it a couple months down the road and you can't move forward, then pull out. It is not like Harrah's needs to appease the Signapore government, this is a one shot deal.

To me, using the takeover bid as a excuse is an easy way out.

Click Here for more about the Singapore pullout from the AP

If Harrah's dosn't take the buyout offer, what will it do?

Geoffrey Davis, an analyst with Citigroup, said in a Monday client note that if Harrah's doesn't take a buyout, it could make an attempt to reduce capex and repurchase its stock as a public company. In a scenario of debt-to-EBITDA of 5.5 times, the company could buy back 60 million to 65 million shares, raising its 2008 earnings per share estimate to $5.13 from $4.74.

Click Here for the Story from the AP
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Crazy Horse will probably open again soon 
10/6/06, 5:17 AM
But will it be too late?

As each day goes by, the club loses its brand as customers, who don't know its closed, go there and find a dark building. Taxi driver are talking down the club, using it as another reason to sway people to Sheri's Caberet or Diamonds. (If you are new to this blog, don't ever go to Sheri's or Diamonds, better yet, don't ever listen to the advice of a Vegas taxi driver).

But more importantly, Crazy Horse Too is a club that has a large group of "regular" dancers. Year after year, the same girls work there and many customers keep going back to revisit their favorite ones. But as each day goes by, these dancers are getting more comfortable working at other clubs.

So, if the Horse re-opens, how many of the regular girls are going to make there way back? There are two new clubs opening in the upcoming weeks: Minxx and The Men's Club. If Crazy Horse does not open in a month, their best dancers will be working elsewhere.

Click Here for an update on the Crazy Horse drama (from the LVRJ)
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Scores Las Vegas: Now 24 Hours 
10/5/06, 7:22 AM
The #1 gentlemen's club since it open last year. The club is now open 24 hours a day.

What does this mean for you? It means an excellent place to watch college and pro football games on Saturday and Sunday. The sportsbooks gets filled quickly. Most of them have less than adequate tvs. Scores has tons of plasmas and three large digital projection screens. They show all the games.
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