Here is the Seven Stars Insider for May. There are a few interesting notes here. I’ve read that Atlantic City is no longer giving cash back, but I received a nice sum when I made my last minute trip last week. Perhaps that’s just leftover from last year. Go to Seven Stars Insider to sign up for the newsletter. Enjoy the Insider.
Seven Stars Insider – May 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 Brochure Online
For those of you receiving this newsletter who no longer have Seven Stars status or are interested in attaining it, a copy of the brochure outlining all of the current Seven Stars benefits is now online. Click here. New benefits this year include a complimentary cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines (from Miami to the Eastern or Western Caribbean, New York to the Bahamas or Bermuda, or Seattle to Alaska), discounts on private jet services through XOJET, and – after you earn 125,000 or more tier points between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2010 – the opportunity to participate in a Seven Stars “Signature Experience”. (“Level I” experiences start at 125,000 points; “Level V” experiences max out at three million points.) Follow this link for complete details. You must book your experience at least 30 days in advance, and it must be redeemed and used by March 31, 2011.
Fall Signature Event
The fall Signature Event has been scheduled for Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.
Pooling Caesars Resources – Caesars Palace has opened its new Garden of the Gods pool collection, debuting five new pools that join the hotel’s three existing pools. The five-acre Garden features an 18-foot waterfall, swim-up gaming and 45 “technologically advanced” cabanas.
Rincon Upgrades – Harrah’s Rincon Casino & Resort has revamped its 24-hour Café, but has closed its buffet for a $6.2 million renovation. It’s scheduled to reopen later this summer.
Margaritaville Still On Hold – A planned spring opening of Harrah’s Entertainment’s Margaritaville Casino Resort has been derailed by the poor economy and remains in limbo. The Grand Biloxi Web site contains this statement: “The Margaritaville Casino Resort project in Biloxi is currently on hold. Harrah’s Entertainment remains committed to the project, but at this time, we do not have a date for when construction will resume. Please check back for further updates.”
More and more casinos (and other businesses, e.g., banks, airlines, etc.) are going this route, but, according to one reader, Showboat has formally announced a policy to no longer send promotional offers by mail – only email. It’s not clear what happens to folks who don’t have a computer, or don’t want to give their email addresses. Hopefully, there will be some exceptions. (Again, look for similar policies from other Harrah’s casinos.)
Question of the MonthI designated my boyfriend for my Companion Card. He wants to join some of his buddies on a golfing trip to Las Vegas next month. Can he take advantage of my free room and other offers? He can use the Diamond Lounge, check-in at the Seven Stars reception desk, and go to the head of the line at a buffet, but unless you accompany him, your boyfriend – Companion Card not withstanding – cannot take advantage of your comp room and other offers. He has to have his own Total Rewards account and offers of his own. (Companions who have their own Platinum or Diamond cards will have their cards “upgraded” to Companion Cards, but the account number will be theirs.)
Frankly, it’s not surprising because they don’t want you just to walk away with the money, but all four Harrah’s properties in Atlantic City (Harrah’s Resort, Showboat, Caesars and Bally’s) no longer issue “cashback” slips from its kiosks. Approximately two weeks after your latest visit you will receive “Express Play” coupons (similar to what they currently send). Trump and Borgata have similar policies, but with Trump you can take all your cash out from any slot machine (no need for a paper coupon) and with Borgata you can just download your FreePlay/cashback (in increments as little as $1), and keep whatever you win. (The money appears approximately 48 hours after your trip, and you have three months to use it or lose it.) Apparently, Harrah’s machines are not set-up to do something similar, because those coupons are a real nuisance. If you forget them, you’re out of luck; and many times they don’t work and you have to get a replacement. Also, when they run certain kiosk promotions (as they are did for some players every Sunday in April), you have to get a coupon from the kiosk and then trade it in at the Main Cashier for Express Play coupons. It’s not that big a deal, but it’s an extra unnecessary step.
Using Comps For Airfare
When you travel to a Harrah’s casino, before you check out, ask a host about using your comp dollars to reimburse you for your airfare. Not every casino will do this, and decisions are made on an individual basis. Several Seven Stars cardholders have reported success with this.
Parking At Caesars – Valet Confusing
Several readers report confusion over valet parking procedures at Caesars in Atlantic City. Both hotel guests and casino visitors drop off their cars at the main entrance, but retrieval locations are different. At the second floor valet cashier (moved from its former location near the main entrance), once you scan your parking ticket – a service available only to Seven Stars and Diamond players, if you were a hotel guest, return downstairs where you dropped off your car. . .don’t follow the large sign on the second floor near the cashier that shows an arrow pointing toward the garage. This is strictly for casino visitors. The problem is that no one tells hotel guests this, and you’re liable to be waiting quite a while for your car up on the second floor of the parking garage.
Nero’s Grill: Organic, Local and Cheaper
Nero’s Grill at Caesars in Atlantic City is trying to purchase as much local organic produce and locally harvested seafood as possible – plus it has reduced menu prices. Sounds like a winning combination. The problem with Nero’s – as well as many of Harrah’s casinos’ restaurants – is inconsistency. Sometimes it’s a totally satisfying experience. Other times food is excellent and service is bad, the next time service is excellent and food is marginal, and – occasionally – both are bad.
What’s Cooking At Harrah’s
The end of this month, a Viking Cooking School is expected to open at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. Located in the former Innovations space in the Waterfront expansion, the school will feature four complete kitchens, including stoves and prep areas, as well as a retail section where students and visitors can buy Viking and other kitchen products. The school will offer various theme nights, and will appeal to all skill levels, according to Harrah’s Director of Food Service and Executive Chef Edward Batten. The goal, he added, is to completely prepare a three-course meal from start to finish, and then be able to replicate that meal at home. Class prices range from $99 to $139, and the fee includes the meal the class created. Comp dollars cannot be used to pay for these classes – though this policy may change. (You may be able to get your host to make some sort of special arrangements for you.)
Vegas ‘Buffet Of Buffets’ More Expensive Now
Introduced last month, the 24-hour pass for all of Harrah’s buffets in Las Vegas is already more expensive. For Total Rewards members it now costs $5 more ($34.99). Without a player’s card, it’s $39.99 per person. Harrah’s claims the increase was necessary because response was so great, it was creating long lines, further justifying the increase as a way to “maintain. . .standards of service”. Comp dollars are accepted for this; however, there are two separate lines at the buffets – one for those paying full price and the other for those who bought the 24-hour pass. If you’re Seven Stars, you’ll jump to the head of the line in either case, but, if not, be prepared for long waits, according to those who’ve experienced it.
Travel Deals Between New York and Atlantic City
Other than the ACES train (co-owned by Harrah’s and Borgata) where fares start at $29 each way, through May 28 you can ride the Hampton Luxury Liner from Long Island and Manhattan stops to Harrah’s Resort and Caesars in Atlantic City for $50 round-trip. For $25 more (except on Saturday) you can get a complimentary room at Harrah’s. Details are at http://hamptonluxuryliner.com/harrahs.html.
New Air Service To Tunica
Starting May 6, Air Tran is beginning direct flights from Atlanta to Tunica.
‘Are You Exclusively A Harrah’s Player?’
Response to this was pretty even. About one third of the respondents wouldn’t play anywhere but one Harrah’s casino. These people play primarily in Las Vegas and Atlantic City where there is a choice of Harrah’s properties. Another third stick exclusively to Harrah’s, even though they have a choice of local casinos – or, again, in the case of Las Vegas and Atlantic City players – other major “chains” (like MGM-Mirage properties in Vegas; Hilton and Resorts, or the three Trump casinos, in Atlantic City). The rest of the respondents “play around” depending on where they get the best offers. Several claimed they qualify for two or three top-tier cards (Borgata’s Titanium, Resorts and Hilton’s Ultra, Trump’s Signature) nearly every year.
‘Did You Attend The Signature Event In New Orleans?’
Choosing probably the second largest annual event – after Mardi Gras – JazzFest, Harrah’s hosted its annual Seven Stars Club Signature Event in New Orleans last month (and part of this month). Did you attend? What did you think? Send me an email (email@example.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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