Seven Stars Insider August Edition

Here’s the latest edition of Seven Stars Insider.  This is an easy read and an excellent resource for Harrah’s players.  Head over to Seven Stars Insider to sign up for the newsletter.  There is lots of new and useful information in this edition (some of which I’m going to reference in future posts), so read on for all the goods.

Seven Stars Insider – August 2010

NOTE: While this newsletter was originally designed exclusively for Seven Stars members, there is useful information for anyone who has a Total Rewards® player’s card and/or plays/stays at a Harrah’s property.  Please feel free to pass this on to your friends.  Back issues of the Seven Stars Insider newsletter are available online at http://sites.google.com/site/sevenstarsinsider/ .  You will need Adobe Acrobat to view them, but this is a free program available at www.adobe.com.

Seven Stars Hotline
Since I started the Web site and this newsletter I’ve been surprised – but not really! – how many Seven Stars (and Diamond) players have contacted me with questions or problems that their local Total Rewards desk and/or host cannot (or will not) answer.  Wouldn’t it be a nice benefit if Harrah’s introduced a dedicated toll-free hotline and/or email address where Seven Stars members could turn for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems?

Harrah’s Reports Loss; Confirms Discussions Regarding New Philly Casino
Citing reduced customer spending in all of its U.S. regions and asset write-downs, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. has reported a second-quarter net loss of $274 million, compared with a profit of $2.29 billion a year earlier, Bloomberg News reports.  Sales fell 2.2 percent to $2.22 billion, the news service said.  Harrah’s said that, for the quarter ended June 30, it recorded a $52.3 million charge related to an investment in a Foxwoods casino project in South Philadelphia.  Last month Harrah’s confirmed that “discussions have opened up again” regarding its role to take over as a 33 percent investor, in addition to developing and managing the property; however, the company said it was not at liberty “to discuss the substance” of those talks at this time.  The statement was in response to an earlier report by the Philadelphia Inquirer.  According to the Inquirer, Harrah’s holds a promissory note of $67 million for the 16-acre parcel from a group of local investors.  Harrah’s said it acquired the note when it purchased Caesars Entertainment in 2005.  “Over the years we have had numerous discussions around different deal structures involving the note and other roles,” Harrah’s said.

Las Vegas Diamond Clubs
It’s official. . .you now can take out your favorite cocktail (in a plastic cup) from the four Diamond Clubs in Las Vegas.  The policy was quietly changed about a month ago.  Up until then, only beer and bottled water were allowed out of the clubs – unless, of course, you were able to sneak one past the employee at the door.  [Some folks were known to ask the bartenders to fill an empty Perrier or water bottle with gin or vodka, or decant their clear drinks themselves.]  It’s about time.  Most other Diamond Clubs allow drinks to be taken out; plus, it seems to me that Harrah’s would prefer their customers to be out on the casino floor rather than warming a seat in the club.

Sports Bar or Diamond Club?
It’s bad enough that nearly every television in the Vegas Diamond Clubs (and practically every other club in the country) is tuned to ESPN or some other sporting event, but, according to one of the bartenders at Caesars Palace, the TV over the bar must be tuned to sports.  The “policy” came to light recently when two customers sitting at the bar asked for the channel to be switched to CNN.  [The other two sitting at the bar didn’t care which channel was on.]  Whatever happened to listening to the customer?

Atlantic City Seven Stars Club
Popular Player Services Supervisor Aaron McMurray is no longer working at the Seven Stars Club in Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City.  While all the employees there – from the managers to the servers and bartenders – do an outstanding job, Aaron was a classy presence with his crisply starched dress shirts, tailored suits and articulate manner.  He is sorely missed by many of the “regulars.”

July 4th ‘Fireworks’
Speaking of Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, the fireworks attracting the attention of guests and the media weren’t necessarily all outdoors this year.  When, according to The Press of Atlantic City, “overwhelming and out-of-control crowds” appeared to welcome Sean “Diddy” Combs to The Pool that evening, things got a bit out of hand and Harrah’s was forced to cancel the event and close all its bars.  The raucous scene also disrupted a party at The Pool’s Loft attended by many Seven Stars cardholders, some of whom were compensated for their inconvenience with spa credits and free slot play.

And One More Thing About Harrah’s AC. . .
Have you seen the signs now posted near the self-parking lot elevators?  “It is NOT permitted to take ALCOHOL into the casino.  No BYOB or Coolers Allowed.”  Well, duh, maybe this was part of the problem!  (By the way, I haven’t seen this sign at any other Harrah’s-owned – or any other – casino.)  Harrah’s “insiders” tell me that the Atlantic City resort is trying to woo a younger crowd to compete with the Borgata.  Apparently, it’s backfiring.  Many of the rooms feel “trashed”. . .and then there are those Pool events which attract a rather unseemly crowd.  [As a frequent Borgata guest, I can attest to the much classier “younger” crowd that Borgata attracts.]

Forum Tower Renovation Gets It Right
At least they’re learning as they go.  After the disastrous and gaudy – not to mention hard-to-keep-clean – white, pink and orange “Go Rooms” at the Flamingo in Las Vegas, Caesars Palace has reopened its Forum Tower near the entrance to the Colosseum.  The dark woods (which could use minor touch-ups in some of the rooms), understated use of color, generous seating area, automated bedside drapery/sheer controls and built-in “business-friendly” work space make the accommodations not only comfortable, but efficient.  Even the television-in-the-bathroom mirror gets it right.  Rather than the tacky – no pun intended – Velcro-backed remote control (both at the Flamingo in Vegas and Caesars in Atlantic City), there is a small touch pad on the wall to the left of the sink.

Atlantic City Harrah’s Hotels Charge Highest Taxes and Fees
To paraphrase an old saying, “There’s no such thing as a free room in an Atlantic City casino hotel.”  According to Publication ANJ-17 from the New Jersey Division of Taxation, casino hotels are required to collect a $2 per night “tourism promotion fee” which they remit back to the state.  In addition, the state imposes a $3 per night fee on complimentary rooms in casino hotels.  At Bally’s/Wild Wild West/Claridge, Caesars, Harrah’s and Showboat, though, the nightly taxes and fees total $13 – the highest in Atlantic City.  (By the way, fees to use ATMs at Harrah’s casinos in Atlantic City also are the highest in town – $5 per transaction.)  While most Seven Stars cardholders don’t pay these hotel fees and taxes – they can be waived by a host – it’s not always a standard “perk”.  So, why the difference in fees and taxes?  Harrah’s spokesperson Ed Tagliaferri responded, “The other $8 are specific Harrah’s Entertainment fees and are charged to cover the cost of doing business and transacting.”  The method of paying these fees and taxes also varies from casino to casino.  At the Borgata, Hilton, Resorts and Tropicana, guests may use their comp dollars, while at Trump’s three casinos – Marina, Plaza and Taj Mahal – guests may not use comp dollars.  (At the Plaza, the $5 is waived for Signature cardholders.)  At the Harrah’s properties, comp dollars may not be used either.

Ditch the Door Hanger
Ever thought about the information you are broadcasting when you order your breakfast using that door hanger in your hotel room?  By placing your order for room service this way, you could be letting anyone know you will be in your room and expecting an order at a certain time.  [An order for one person lets someone know you are in the room by yourself.]  Let’s say you place an order for 8 a.m.  At 7:50 there’s a knock on the door.  Not thinking – because you were expecting Room Service about this time – you open the door without even checking the peep hole to see who’s there.  Bam. . .a perfect opportunity for someone to get inside your room and commit a crime.  In other words, place your order by phone if possible.

Question of the Month
Is it true that Harrah’s now has a card one level higher than Seven Stars?  Wikipedia used to have an entry under “Total Rewards” for some super-duper card that was issued only to one person – the highest roller of them all, so to speak – but this has been removed.  [Trump’s One Card now has a card higher than its Signature Card (which is comparable to Harrah’s Seven Stars) called Prestige, but I’m not aware of anything Harrah’s has done to match this.]  Someone has written me about a so-called “Manager’s Card,” but my guess is that this may be a temporary card issued by a casino manager, and it’s probably limited solely to the casino where the card was issued.  If anyone can shed some light on this, please send me an email.

‘Have you ever earned the requisite 100,000 tier points (or more) in a calendar year, but were denied the Seven Stars player’s card?’
There are lots of postings on Internet chat sites and list serves – mainly video poker sites – claiming that this has happened, but no one responded to this question directly to me.  I’m not a video poker (VP) player, but, apparently, because there is a bit of skill involved with VP, some folks actually can “beat the house” and make money every year by playing video poker.  [Video poker also generates only half the number of tier points that regular slots do.]  Because of this, players claim, Harrah’s – and possibly other casinos – don’t want to give them any more than free rooms and the comp dollars they actually earn.

Where Would You Like To See a Future Signature Event?
Did you enjoy the weekends at Lake Tahoe, Atlantic City or New Orleans?  [Las Vegas is on deck for a September event.]  Where else would you like to go?  Send me an email (sevenstarsinsider@gmail.com <mailto:sevenstarsinsider@gmail.com> ) and I’ll share your thoughts – anonymously, of course – with everyone in a future newsletter.

Darryl D. McEwen, Publisher
Seven Stars Insider

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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.