This has always been an interesting question I had when redeeming a comped room offer somewhere. For example, if I play my ass off and get a comped room at the Cosmopolitan and during my stay, stiff them on gambling, how long before I quit receiving offers? I have experienced this with the Orleans this past year. I double booked not knowing where I was going to prefer staying and checked into both Flamingo and the Orleans. Well never going back to Orleans I gave them 0 play. Guess what no more free rooms. Although Gold Coast where I simply have just not been to in a year, is still comping me 2 free nights. But on a higher level, with more layers of marketing can you get away with this longer?
Sionow is a frequent message board poster on LasVegasAdvisor.com. I have followed his extensive trip reports over the years including his most recent ones that was following his quest to get to the seven stars tier which is the highest level for total rewards. Well he achieved it and this year he has decided he is bored with gambling and this will be his farewell tour! I think I am going to find this one the most interesting because I know I will never have enough of a bankroll or desire to go after the seven stars status, I certainly am good at giving properties no play! He only has a couple reports in so far, but his plan is to only redeem free play playing it once and cashing out. He is limiting his gambling to live poker which doesn't do shit for comps but is a great low roller play. He will also begin cashing in his large bank of total rewards credits and b connected comp dollars this year.
Here is a link to his first trip report: http://www.lasvegasadvisor.com/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=17&threadid=324715
I plan to follow this, especially with the uncertain future of Caesars entertainment. Not that I think they will shut down but I think I would feel more comfortable building up a status with a property that is a bit more financially sound. Anyways, I look forward to seeing how long he can go checking into his high level suites, watching his free pay per view movies and not gambling!!
I have no idea if this something I will continue but I am going to play around with podcasting! At this point I do not plan to make any major investments in mixers or microphones, I am simply playing with garageband and my built in microphone on the computer and letting it fly. I am surprised how easy it was to make one and get it into Itunes, so if you are interested you can search comped vegas in Itunes and pull it up. You can also follow this link: http://compedvegas.podomatic.com
which is the site I used to publish this podcast. I want to keep the episodes short and provide tips and insight into getting the most comps for your gambling dollar. So give it a try, if its awful let me know!
So, first of all to even know that you receive a $100 reward for achieving diamond status requires research. This is not something that you are told when you go to pick up your card, no email sent, no offer mailed, nothing. Its buried somewhere in the total rewards site, and if you obsessively read vegas message boards, you will find a discussion on it there.
With Diamond status, you earn 15,000 tier points and then you are diamond level for the remainder of the year it was earned, the next full calendar year and then 3 more months the following year. Reading message boards, I was under the assumption that since I earned diamond in 2014, this "reward dinner" would be eligible to me starting in 2015. The more I read, the more I found where people had been told it expired March 31st. So I had to find out for myself this trip, in case I wouldn't be back before March 31st.
I approach the counter and inquire about the $100 reward. "Yup, do you want it now?" I asked about the expiration and sure enough I was told 3/31/15. I asked for the certificate on 1/1/15. It seems kinda shitty that it wouldn't be valid for the whole year, but even shittier that you have to seek it out. But being a savvy gambler requires homework, at least that is what I tell myself.
Armed with my certificate and less than 24 hours left in vegas I scour the card the total rewards agent handed me to decide where to go. We were in Bally's at the time, so my first thought was BLT steak. Something that I love is when a restaurant will post the menu with prices outside the entrance to help decide if you want to commit. The prices were high but not Gordon Ramsey high. It bothered me that everything was separate. Steak: 60 bucks, want a side? 12 bucks, how about soup or salad? another 16 bucks. Forget the appetizer, I'm going to spend more on this meal out of pocket than we would have making a different dining choice, say....IN N OUT (this was the first trip in 3 years where we didn't eat IN N OUT Burger at least once). So we scratched that, we thought about Bacchanal buffet again, but we just had it 3 days prior and really wanted to try something new. We had been playing at planet hollywood earlier and saw how crazy BURGR was, probably due to the holiday so I decided against that as well. How about KGB? Pulled up the menu, it seemed decent, and we would have to work at getting to $100, thats the frugal way to do it I thought!
We jumped in the car, parked at Harrah's, walked through the newly renovated casino (which looks pretty nice) and passed the new cafeteria style food court. Along with maybe 4 other tables with people, we were quickly seated and handed menus. With $100 to burn we decided whatever burger we ordered, we would upgrade the pattys to KOBE beef and add bacon. We each ordered milk shakes. Give us fried pickles, mac N cheese sticks, oh and throw some popcorn shrimp on the order as well! Of course we wait for 15 minutes, then receive all of our app's and 3 minutes later our burgers show up!
So a quick rundown of what I thought of the food: mac N cheese sticks, very good worth an order. Deep fried pickles, I wish they wouldn't have used such large pickle spears, Ive had deep fried pickle chips at other places that are much more satisfying, so these, just OK. Popcorn shrimp, we actually took most of these with us as we filled up quickly. The dipping sauce was very good and the shrimp was fine, no tails to pull out, but these were not the reason to come to a "gourmet" burger joint. I had the KOBE burger with caramelized red onion jam, some kinda sweet tasting spread they call garlic aioli (throw an accent above the i) cherry tomatoes, and mixed greens. I added bacon just because (money to burn, remember?) and it was just OK. I've had those Waygu sliders from the Bacchanal buffet at Caesars and I guess I was expecting something like that. I honestly couldn't tell what made KOBE so special (maybe once you grind up premium meat it all tastes the same?) but I wasn't blown away. The sweet spread was interesting, but I didn't finish the burger.
Total bill came to $88 so I wasted $12 and still had to throw down a $20 tip for mediocre food. Now I guess If I look at it from the point of view of all the food I ate for $20 its not bad, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt my "reward dinner" was wasted. Vegas is about gambling first, and food second, and I hear they have shows as well. I love how many great dining options we have experienced and how many more we still have to try. Knowing that we wasted a dinner in vegas on that, when I could have put the $100 towards an amazing $200 meal, I feel I made the wrong choice. Would I have decided differently had I been up for the trip? Absolutely! Winners eat steak and lobster, losers eat shitty burgers.
We didn't hit In and Out, we didn't go downtown so no pizza rock, we let Vegas get the best of us and ate for convenience. Trying to plan your meals ahead of time is so hard in Vegas, but after the many food court sessions we had this trip I think I will be putting more effort into planning for the next one.
Had an amazing trip over New Years, and a lot I want to post about on here, so stay tuned as I will be adding more content throughout the coming weeks. Take a look at the hotels section of the site where I posted 2 new reviews of my most recent stays at both the Cosmopolitan and Mandalay Bay.
Following those 2 nights my stay was booked to be in the Jubilee tower at Bally's. Having loved our stay here this past September I was really looking forward to experiencing the room again over New Years. This was not to be as I finally experienced what happens when you are a small fish in the big pond on one of the busiest weeks of the year. I've read countless trip reports and reviews of players who were comped to the nicer towers at Caesars Palace being told upon checkout that the room they booked was no longer available and had to be moved to a lesser quality tower. This of course is bullshit but it usually means players of a higher status booked their stay after you and because your play doesn't match theirs you get the bump.
It didn't help that I was coming from a great room at the Cosmo but when I was told to turn left and go up to my room in the North tower I was pretty bummed. I decided not to say anything yet as I thought I heard some of the rooms in the Indigo tower were renovated as well. Well this could be true, but we certainly didn't get a room that had seen any improvements in a couple decades. I decided against doing a review as I covered the property as a whole during my stay in the Jubilee room, but the room quality is certainly night and day. I walked back down to check-in knowing what they were going to tell me hoping for some sympathy and to get a room change. They apologized and told me for $50/night I could get back into the Jubilee tower. I think this pissed me off more. If you are not putting me in the Jubilee tower because you are sold out, but can then put me back for $50/night what kind of message does that send? I quickly declined that offer, walked past the champagne and cookies in the the Diamond checkin area feeling like a chump.
The little thing like having a mini fridge was something I looked forward to. I tried to make the best of it and called the front desk to have a mini fridge brought up. I later found that upon returning to our room a day later my waters and energy drinks were room temperature. I didn't want to waste precious Vegas time waiting for someone to bring up a new fridge so I used the ice bucket instead.
Before arriving in Las Vegas I received a voice mail and an email of a casino host. I have never played at the level to have a host so have 0 experience in what they can or will do. Because my wife and I play on the same card and we have been playing more concentrated at the places we have been staying we must have hit their radar. Or it could be for achieving Diamond, either way it was interesting to get their info. I decided as a last ditched effort I sent a lengthy email explaining how I was disappointed for not being placed in the room I booked over 3 months ago. I told the host how we left the property and even stayed at Mandalay Bay for the night because of the poor quality of the room. I eagerly watched my email for a response that day, until I received one later in the afternoon:
I contacted Bally's and asked if you could be moved to the Jubilee Tower, and they said that without that $50 a night charge, no one can be moved. I understand how frustrating it is not to get the room you booked. During high volume events like NYE, we never guarantee rooms because we have to accommodate players based on play, which means that while you qualified for a Jubilee room when you made the reservation, you were bumped by higher players. It's very frustrating.
In the future, please do book through me, as my reservations are given a priority."
At least she was honest I guess? Well, like any players club, you have to learn the ins and outs and understand how to make them work for your benefit. This was the first year I really played at Total Rewards properties so I have quite the learning curve to go up against.
We woke up from the hard mattress actually feeling slightly refreshed. Maybe those soft mattresses are not whats best for our backs? I looked at the fact that a few years ago I was thrilled to be comped weekdays in a basic Gold Coast room which was nothing different than the room at Bally's. Now I'm being comped over the busiest time of the year and I'm center strip to watch the fireworks, I need suck it up! We still played our asses off at Ballys and Planet Hollywood so should continue to generate some decent offers. I think staying our next trip on an off-week will be better. I guess using my host to book will help as well. Ill try to post some details on the trip as I can carve it in, as I know must earn a living again to fund the next excursion to the happiest place on earth.