Seven Stars Insider – October 2012 Edition

Here’s the latest edition of Seven Stars Insider. This is an easy read and an excellent resource for Caesars Total Rewards players. It’s long, but chock full of information. Head over to Seven Stars Insider to sign up for the newsletter.

Harrah’s Rincon (San Diego)

Power Down, Service Up
When the power went out last month, the staff at Fiore jumped into action so diners wouldn’t be disappointed. Small battery-powered candles were brought to the tables, but, even with emergency power, entrées were limited to salads or prime rib. “Fiore’s management, chefs and servers really stepped up to the challenge and gave us a wonderful experience,” according to one Seven Stars cardholder who was dining there that evening with four friends. “We were also impressed by the staff people who brought hundreds of bottles of water to the casino floor and handed them out to customers. All the staff people in the casino were exceptionally helpful during the power outage.”

Las Vegas

Great Gift Wrap Up Primer
It’s time again for the annual Great Gift Wrap Up, November 8-12 at the Flamingo and November 29 to December 3 at Caesars Palace. The most frequent question I get is, “Do I have to be staying at a Caesars property in Las Vegas to participate?” The answer is “no”. If you’ve earned the points, all you have to do is be there physically to cash them in. However, a little homework is in order before you get to there. First, check your point balance at www.greatgiftwrapup.com.

Then, decide if you want to use your points for free play, gift cards or specific products. In some cases, it may be more convenient to “purchase” gift cards, and buy the products locally or online (taking advantage of sales and other discounts), rather than waiting for the items to be delivered. (Don’t forget to factor in state and local taxes, and delivery charges.) Whatever you do, take the time to compare items with their retail prices (check out the manufacturer’s Web site or go to a price comparison site like www.pricegrabber.com).

Then, divide the number of required points by the purchase price to see which offer the best values. For example, a $100 gift card “costs” 35,000 points, or 350 points per dollar. A nine-speed Cuisinart handheld mixer with case generally retails for about $80 and requires 25,500 points or about 319 points per dollar; however, by doing a little online pricing, I found it on sale at Radio Shack for as low as $70 (or 364 points per dollar).

The good news – at least as far as gift cards are concerned – “prices” have not gone up. That $10 Shell card you got last year for 3,500 points is still 3,500. If you feel there’s been some sort of mistake in your points, ask to have someone review your account. Apparently, for at least the last three years, there have been dedicated representatives who will work with you. Be sure to bring any documentation, if you have it.

One word of caution: Last year I was told that, while points earned at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon were eligible for Great Gift Wrap Up points, if you had play at Bill’s your points might not be part of the total shown on the Web site, and may have to be added manually.

Thinking Outside The Box [Office]
Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Mike Weatherford writes, “Customers may be the ones paying higher service charges on tickets to shows on Caesars Entertainment properties, but producers are the ones complaining about it.” According to Weatherford, “Caesars is now staffing its physical box offices with its own employees. . . .But the new jobs are part time, and producers claim many of the experienced workers left when the job benefits disappeared. ‘Try to pick up a phone and call the box office and see how long you have to wait,’ one said.” Weatherford adds, “Box office fees and customer service are among the issues resulting from a shift of Caesars Entertainment box office operations to Ticketmaster, one that producers say has made their sales drop 30 percent or more.” Read his entire column here.

Signature Event

The Good, The Bad and the Freebies
Depending on whom you speak with, the Seven Stars Signature Event either was “a fabulous experience” or “a disappointment”. Compared to previous events, I received surprisingly little feedback from those who attended. I’m not sure what the final numbers were, but I would be curious how they stacked up against similar events, and it also would be interesting to know the demographics – or should I say geographics because no one I know from the Atlantic City market attended (not that this is any accurate measure of who may have flown in from the East Coast!).

Here’s a sampling of comments I received:
Event Check-In:

  • Very well organized.
  • Wish we’d known they were going to serve food, or we wouldn’t have eaten before.
  • I liked the jackets [that were given away], particularly that they were going to be sent to everyone’s home.
  • Because many guests arrived the day before the event, Caesars opened registration a day earlier than scheduled. This was a very thoughtful accommodation for guests.

Chocolate Reception:

  • We just thought it was kind of odd. It was well done, very inventive use of chocolate and, of course, all the champagne and chocolate one could consume. Beautiful set-up. Perhaps it was the fact that we had just come from dinner at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant that we were not more enthused.
  • The entire evening appeared disorganized. Lines were ridiculously long and seating was limited. One had to wait for the chefs to refill the dishes with food and dessert selections. We departed about 30-45 minutes after we arrived. Much to our surprise, on Saturday we found out gift bags (split of champagne, gourmet popcorn and a selection of gourmet chocolates) were being distributed later in the evening. Upon asking the host on duty, we were told they ran out of gift bags and there was nothing that could be done.

Saturday Brunch:

  • Overall, the food and service were outstanding.
  • Way more variety than I was expecting and all of it good.
  • The musical group was very good and entertaining.
  • Downside was the heat if you were in the sun. It was dicey to have it outside at this time of year.

Saturday Events:

  • At the Flamingo’s Wildlife Habitat, an animal trainer met us outside and described the fish and birds that were present. Then she invited us behind the scenes, into the wildlife department’s area in the hotel basement. Present were a large parrot, a hawk, and several small birds, as well as various types of feed and medical supplies. I was interested to see that the birds are entertained by TV cartoons (they were watching the Three Stooges while we were there).
  • At Guy Savoy, the manager showed us the Krug Room where expensive champagne-paired dinners are held. He then led us into the main dining room and the kitchen, giving descriptions and answering questions along the way. The restaurant’s butter is imported from France, and we were shown the separate small refrigerator that keeps it at the proper temperature. Each of us received a delicious lemon-blueberry brioche as we left.

Don Henley Concert:

  • Transportation arrangements were great and the people directing traffic, etc., were all very nice.
  • The concert itself great! Quite frankly, I had forgotten how extensive his repertoire is.
  • I didn’t attend because I’d already seen him twice this year.
  • We didn’t attend because we weren’t interested.
  • Don Henley was very good, but I actually saw three people sleeping. Many people I knew just went to the concert for something to do. However, he sang his hits and interacted with the few who cared.

Sunday BBQ:

  • The venue – outstanding! The weather – fantastic! The entertainment – outstanding! The food – mediocre. The service – non-existent. Unbelievable. Caesars Entertainment’s premier property in Las Vegas and they have a problem executing the basics of food service: good food (hot food hot; cold food cold) and good service.
  • Sunday’s BBQ was, well, crap. First off there were no servers to clear your plates or offer drink service. Other than two types of ribs, there were tired hamburgers, pasta salad and salad. Not the best way to leave an impression.
  • The people who danced in the pool were very good, as was the band.

Overall Impressions:

  • I know many people felt the outline of events was underwhelming and would not induce them to arrange a trip for the weekend. I would certainly agree. If we had not made it our Seven Stars trip (most notably for the free airfare), we would not have attended. That said, however, if we were planning a trip to Vegas for just a vacation, I would certainly arrange it around the Seven Stars Signature Event to take advantage of all the attention, activities, etc.
  • This event would not have been worth a special trip for those who received limited free play and no airfare reimbursement.
  • The musical groups at each of three events (chocolate reception, brunch and BBQ) were excellent. Groups of three to five musicians played light rock, pop and jazz from the 1930s-1970s, well geared to the audience.
  • All in all, it was a pleasant event.

There’s No Place Like Home
Some Seven Stars cardholders discovered it was better to stay home and play at their local casinos. At Lake Tahoe, for instance, one player received nearly $200 in free play, nearly 150,000 Great Gift Wrap Up points, a Gucci gift certificate, complimentary tickets to a Canned Heat concert, and free entry into a drawing. In Atlantic City there was a four-day $250,000 slot tournament with a top prize of $100,000, plus a $50,000 sweepstakes.

Caesars Palace

Bacchanal Gets Raves
Several Seven Stars cardholders who attended the Signature Event had Sunday brunch at the new Bacchanal Buffet. “It literally blew us away,” was one reaction. “The service was excellent [and] very attentive, replenishing silverware, mimosas without asking. The decor and furnishings are fantastic. Despite the large number of tables and people, we did not at any time feel crowded, and we were sitting adjacent to the dessert station. The food displays were incredible and variety beyond belief. Lastly, and I guess most important, the food was very good – Eggs Benedict just right, very tasty vegetables. Anything we ate was very good to excellent.” Weekend brunch costs $40 and includes Wycliff champagne (from California) or mimosas.

Harrah’s

Out Of Range
The Range Steak House will close November 15, and reopen in February as a Ruth’s Chris Steak House. (The Steakhouse at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon closed September 16.)

Imperial Palace The Quad Resort & Casino

Welcome, Quad! [Quad?]
Caesars is renaming the Imperial Palace as The Quad Resort & Casino. Officials explained the name Quad is associated with the center of activity, much like the quad on a college campus. [When you have to “explain” a name, that’s a bad sign already! Plus, I wonder how much they paid some fancy consulting firm to come up with that.] Caesars hopes the hotel-casino will convey that same social feeling with next year’s opening of Linq, a nongaming retail, dining and entertainment development, anchored by the High Roller, a 550-foot-tall observation wheel. (Don’t call it a Ferris Wheel!) Gone too will be the Imperial Palace’s Asian-South Pacific theme. In its place will be a “contemporary” look – including a giant “Q” that will replace the Imperial Palace lo

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Las Vegas Writer, Marketer, Consultant. I love Vegas and everything about it. When in Vegas do 3 things: eat, drink & gamble.

Author: Marc

Las Vegas Writer, Marketer, Consultant. I love Vegas and everything about it. When in Vegas do 3 things: eat, drink & gamble.