Seven Stars Insider – December 2012
NOTE: While this newsletter was originally designed exclusively for Seven Stars cardholders, there is useful information for anyone who has a Total Rewards® player’s card and/or plays/stays at a Caesars property. Please feel free to pass this on to your friends. Back issues of the Seven Stars Insider newsletter are available online at http://www.sevenstarsinsider.com.
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Hollywood Casino St. Louis
Answers To Your Questions
There are a lot of questions regarding the transition from Harrah’s St. Louis to Hollywood Casino St. Louis. Answers can be found at this link. Several readers have expressed surprise that their Total Rewards tier status was not matched by Hollywood’s Marquee Rewards program; however, if you read carefully – at least the way I interpret it, your tier status with Hollywood will be matched based solely on your play in St. Louis. In other words, you might have a Total Rewards Diamond card, but if you earned only 5,000 of the required 11,000 annual points at Harrah’s St. Louis, your tier status with Hollywood would be based on 5,000 tier points, not 11,000. Same with comp dollars. You might have $1,000 worth of comps under Total Rewards, but Hollywood will match only the amount you earned at Harrah’s St. Louis.
Perhaps in an attempt to compete with the two new observation wheels under construction on the Strip, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman has announced plans to construct a five-block zip line where riders are spit out the “mouth” of an 11-story slot machine. Construction begins next month, with a projected opening in June.
Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon
Bye, Bye, Bill’s
Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall will close February 4 for a $185 million renovation. Bill’s will reopen in early 2014 under a new name and theme, transforming the hotel and casino into a “boutique lifestyle hotel and club” – to use the words from a statement issued by Caesars Entertainment. The conversion includes the complete remodeling of the guest rooms, the casino floor and common areas, the addition of a new second-floor restaurant, and construction of a rooftop pool and dayclub/nightclub. The rooftop club will open later in 2014.
Great Great Gift Wrap Up!
I attended the Great Gift Wrap Up last month at Flamingo and it couldn’t have been run more smoothly. I was there on Sunday, the day before it ended, and there were no lines, as well as plenty of signage to direct people – not only to the event itself, but also within the ballroom, showing where different types of gifts were located. There also were lots of employees to help you find things, answer questions, etc. The second leg of this popular annual event takes place at Caesars Palace and ends December 3.
Evening In Paris
Not that it needs my endorsement or recommendation, but I can’t think of a more perfect evening than dinner at Gordon Ramsay Steak followed by a performance of Jersey Boys. For those of you who don’t mind eating early (6 or 6:30 p.m.) and seeing a show late (9:30 p.m.), check out this great combination on Tuesday nights. [You also could see a 5 p.m. show on Saturdays, followed by dinner.]
The Total Rewards Web site has dropped Imperial Palace and replaced it with the new name and logo. Plus, I just got my first promotion – a $100,000 bingo tournament – with the new Quad name and logo.
[Human] Nature Calls For Last Time
If you planned to see Human Nature at the Imperial Palace – oops, The Quad – you’ll have to travel to Florida or Australia. The group performed its final shows last month. Las Vegas entertainment columnist John Katsilometes claims that Recycled Percussion will take the singing group’s place starting next month.
Advertising Hope and Appreciation
Caesars is using some valuable real estate to welcome back customers and employees after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the area in late October. Rather than advertising upcoming entertainment, celebrity chefs or other promotions, the billboards lining the causeway at the end of the Atlantic City Expressway, as well as other locations, offered messages of hope, as well as appreciation to those who risked their lives for others in need. Caesars also donated thousands of dollars to the Red Cross and other local charities. Nice!
Winter Sweet, a new 3D light and sound show that is projected onto Boardwalk Hall, has replaced Duality, the show that’s been featured on the outside of the hall since July. Shows will play every half hour from 6 to 9 p.m.
The Early Bird. . .Gets Charged Extra
Perhaps taking a cue from the airlines and all their extra fees, but for those arriving before 4 p.m., Caesars Atlantic City hotels are now offering early check-in for a “nominal fee”. (I wonder if Caesars will rebate a portion of the room rate when guests check-out earlier than noon.) I know companies are looking for all sorts of ways to increase revenues, but this just seems a little cheap. If a room is ready for occupancy, why not let a guest check-in and avoid a 4 p.m. rush at registration?
More Name Changes?
Several readers received a survey from Caesars asking “Which is your main casino for the New Jersey market?” Among the choices:
Borgota Hotel Casino
Harrah’s Restort Atlantic City
Buffets On Holiday Schedules
Caesars Boardwalk Buffet will open during regular hours this month, but Showboat’s Mardi Gras Buffet will be closed December 10-13 and 16-24, and Harrah’s Waterfront Buffet is scheduled to close Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays through December 24. It’s always wise to reconfirm these dates before you show up, though.
Climb and Dine
Popular Harrah’s Resort chef Luke Palladino is partnering with the Absecon Lighthouse. Through December 17, climb the lighthouse, show your “I Climbed” card at Luke’s Kitchen & Marketplace at Revel, and get a bowl of soup for $4, or a soup and sandwich combo for $8. Details at www.abseconlighthouse.org or call (609) 449-1360.
Diamond Lounge December Hours
The Diamond Lounge at Bally’s will be closed on the following days this month: December 3-4, 10-14 and 17-24.
Be sure to stop by the Bally’s Diamond Lounge December 8 to sample its “mean” egg nog station.
Gift Shop Sells $1M Powerball Ticket
One of the eight $1 million Powerball tickets sold in New Jersey came from Picks and Wicks at Bally’s
December Seven Stars Lounge Hours
Unlike the lounge at Harrah’s (see below), the Seven Stars Lounge will be open Thursdays during regular hours – at least for the next two weeks; then the schedule will be re-evaluated. Fridays the lounge will be open from 5 p.m. to midnight through December 21. The Seven Stars lounge will be open on New Year’s Eve from 1 p.m. to midnight and New Year’s Day from 1 to 8 p.m.
December Diamond Lounge Hours
Unlike the other Diamond Lounges in town, Caesars will be open every day during regular hours. On New Year’s Eve the lounge will be open from 2 p.m. to midnight, and New Year’s Day from noon to 7:30 p.m.
Former Seven Stars Lounge chef Tim Davis is now in the kitchen at Nero’s.
Seven Stars Hours To Change
Starting this month and continuing through January, the Seven Stars Lounge will no longer be open on Thursdays. In addition, the lounge will close the weekend before Christmas, December 21-23, but be open on New Year’s Eve.
Diamond Lounge December Hours
The Diamond Lounge at Harrah’s will be closed on the following days this month: December 10-13 and 17-20.
Up All Night – Not
Despite what it says on the Harrah’s Resort and Sammy D’s Web sites – “An all-day, all-night, all-you-could-ask-for eatery. . . .” – Sammy D’s is no longer the 24-hour outpost originally envisioned. Currently, it’s open until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, but closes at 10 every other night. (There is a disclaimer on the site which says, “Hours subject to change, please call to verify.”) The Sammy D’s Web site, though, publishes totally different hours (Monday & Tuesday: 7 a.m. – 10 a.m., Wednesday: 7 a.m. – 12 a.m., Thursday: 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday: 7 a.m. – 3 a.m., Saturday: 24 hours, Sunday: 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.).
You Need To Get Out More, Mr. Reservationist
I’m not sure where I was calling, but when I spoke with a reservationist – supposedly working at Harrah’s Resort – he told me things were “pretty bad down there” (meaning Atlantic City) and that “the Boardwalk around the casinos was destroyed.” I proceeded to update him on conditions, but this is certainly no way to bring back business if Harrah’s reservationists are painting such a glum picture of conditions at the Jersey Shore.
You Also Need To Get Out More, Mr. Smith
I pointed this out more than a year ago, but in “A Few Words From The General Manager” John D. Smith writes, “You’ll enjoy a dining experience where the delicious cuisine and attentive service are only surpassed by breathtaking ocean views.” Which restaurants offer these “breathtaking ocean views”?
From Dust To More Dust
Apparently I’m not the only person to experience poor housekeeping and maintenance at Harrah’s. A reader sent me photos, along with some commentary on his experience there:
I stayed in the Waterfront Tower last month. There was no clock radio, only one ashtray in this “smoking room”, no pen/paper, horrible Wi-Fi service, and no do-not-disturb sign. I was not spending much time in the room but I had mentioned to housekeeping a need for more ashtrays, paper/pen, clock radio and do-not-disturb sign. I returned to the room at 4 a.m. and everything was the same. Needless to say, I was awakened by housekeeping later in the morning at which time I then demanded a do-not-disturb sign. I mentioned all this to the front desk when I checked out, but it didn’t seem like they were going to do anything, even making jokes about it. I would hope they’d get someone to at least clean that filthy air filter before the next guest checks in.
Ironically, less than a week after I received these photos I experienced the same problem. When I checked into my room the thermostat was set for 50º, but the temperature was showing 73º. I called the front desk and when the maintenance person showed up he found a similarly clogged filter. Shouldn’t someone put these things on an ongoing maintenance program? Harrah’s promotes these Waterfront Tower rooms as “premium”, but even basic rooms at most national hotel chains have clean filters, plastic laundry bags, sinks that drain properly, soap dishes, pads and pens, more than four hangers in the closet, and other basics – none of which did I have in my room. Also, once again, my room had a missing towel ring. (Why not just remove these or replace them with something else?) Admittedly, these are little things, but just reflect poorly on a hotel where rooms retail (plus tax) – on average from December 1-28 – nearly $105 (some nights as high as $183.20, and that’s not including December 29-31 where the lowest average rate is nearly $365 – $567.20 on New Year’s Eve). Now let’s talk about all the dust on top of the Diamond Express sign at check-in. I’m tall, so my eye level focuses right on top of that sign. It was covered with dust. . .plus an earlier guest must have spotted the same thing and ran his finger across the top of the sign, even further emphasizing the lack of basic housekeeping. This is not a good way to begin a visit.
False Sense Of Security
It’s bad enough that no one seems to care about all the drunk young ladies walking around without shoes outside The Pool. Let’s talk about “security” going to rooms in the Waterfront Tower. Unintentionally, to get into the elevator bank I showed the “guard” a key from a recent stay at the Water Club. He waved me through, only for me to discover that I didn’t even need to insert my room key in order to ascend to my floor. Why bother?
Diamond Lounge December Hours
The Diamond Lounge at Showboat will be closed on the following days this month: December 10-14 and 17-24.
BarleyQue Finally Gets It Right
While I don’t know if it’s going to attract more business, the still unfortunately-named BarleyQue – clever and cute, but meaningless to a lot of people – has modified its menu again, bringing back items from its former End Zone days, and adding some variety to what was once all too dependent on smoked and barbecued foods. Opening the wall behind the host station also should help, as will moving the host desk out onto the casino floor.
Starting late last month word began circulating through the Internet (on message boards such firstname.lastname@example.org and on the Web site, www.vegastripping.com) that tier levels were being increased. The information is incorrect and, at best, incomplete. The lesson here is, “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet” and its corollary, “Don’t further distribute information you read on the Internet without being sure of the source and its accuracy.”
Frankly, it verges on false advertising. . .or bait and switch. Anyone earning the requisite 10,000 tier points between July 1 and September 30 to qualify for TR Insider status in the fourth quarter of 2012 has been sorely disappointed by the lack of events and benefits. [In Atlantic City, there was one cocktail party on November 10; there were no events at Harrah’s Philadelphia; and one event in Tunica. (Those are the only lists I’m on, so if the situation was different in other parts of the country, please let me know.)] After much hoopla last year – at least in Atlantic City where they had to add a second dinner to announce this supposedly great new program – it seems as though the TR Insider program is just going to quietly disappear. Don’t such loyal customers – as we keep being told we are – deserve some sort of announcement on the status of the program or, at the very least, some closure? And what about the people who qualified for fourth quarter 2012 “benefits”? I know several, and they are not very happy. Caesars owes these players something, in my opinion.
Great Race Point Discrepancies
A number of people wrote to say they didn’t feel they got all the credits they deserve for this year’s Great Race. Check “Promotions” on your December My TR eStatement to see how many Reward Credits you received. If that number is inaccurate, then use the “Contact Us” form on the Total Rewards Web site to send an inquiry. If Caesars does this promotion a third year, perhaps they could add a line on our eStatements indicating how many checkpoints we hit during that month. That way, if there is an error, the problem can be solved within a 30-day framework, rather than waiting until the program ends. [A running total of how many Great Gift Wrap Up points we’ve earned would be a nice feature, as well. MGM’s M life Web site shows a player’s current tier score, available comp dollars, Holiday Gift Shoppe points and free play right at the top of the Home page after log-on.]
Some Seven Stars Benefits Are Not The Same Everywhere
I’ve heard from several Seven Stars cardholders who were angry about being charged for local and toll-free calls, as well as in-room movies, and even angrier that they were not upgraded to suites on their annual Seven Stars trip (or any stay) – or never received any sort of in-room amenity. None of these are corporately-mandated “benefits”; however, some casinos do extend these courtesies to Seven Stars cardholders. Always check first to find out what the casino policy is regarding benefits you “think” you are entitled to.
Total Rewards Rewarded
Congratulations to Caesars Entertainment and Total Rewards! The casino loyalty program won the 2012 Master of Enterprise Loyalty, an award which “recognizes one company that stands apart for having an enterprise-wide, holistic approach to using data to transform the consumer experience and improve both financial and customer performance.” The award is presented annually by Colloquy, a collection of resources devoted to the global loyalty marketing industry. Read details here.
Question Of The Month
I want to take five guests (six total) for my annual celebration dinner, but I’ve been reading that there is a limit of four people. Is this correct? No! Once again, don’t believe what you read on the Internet – unless it’s in this newsletter. (I know someone who took 11 guests to the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace.) The only limit is the amount of the bill. Caesars will pick up $500; if it’s more than $500, the rest you can pay with cash, credit card or Reward Credits. (Some restrictions may apply regarding the purchase of alcoholic beverages at certain casinos.) You’re also responsible for the gratuity, but you cannot use Reward Credits or anything left over from the $500 Seven Stars dinner credit. My memory is a little fuzzy, but there might have been a four-person limit in the early years of the program, but it’s always been a $500 credit, which, considering how prices have gone up, is due for an increase.
Guys, if you’re lucky enough to receive an invitation to one of the Caesars-sponsored New Year Eve parties, please dress appropriately. At last year’s party at Caesars in Atlantic City, I saw several men wearing baseball caps, shorts, T-shirts and flip flops, or some combination thereof. A friend received an invitation to a New Year’s Eve party at Wynn in Las Vegas. At the bottom of the invitation was this caveat:
“Cocktail party attire is required. Dress code strictly enforced.”
I wish Caesars would do something like this – and enforce it.
Don’t assume that your favorite restaurants and lounges will be open during regular hours this month. Many will observe reduced hours due to the holidays. Call ahead before making plans.
Caesars has given up on efforts to open a casino in Macao. Five years ago Caesars paid $578 million for a golf course in Macau, hoping to use the land for a casino, but the company still hasn’t received permission to build the casino. Consequently, Caesars is now trying to unload the money-losing golf course and leave Macau.
Caesars Financial Report
Here’s a link to a transcript of a conference call with Caesars executives regarding third quarter earnings.
Survey Says. . .
I may unintentionally have skewed the results of last month’s survey because Total Touch was by far the number one biggest irritant that Caesars puts in front of its customers. “I’ve had to go to as many as six machines before the system recognized my card, sometimes getting to the point where I thought I could download my free play, only to be ‘told’ my request couldn’t be completed.” Beverage orders were another sore spot. “Have you tried to find coffee with Bailey’s?” one person wrote. Another said she ordered a cocktail, but, after winning a big jackpot, wanted to move to a different machine. “There went my drink order! At least if I’d ordered from a ‘real person’ I’d know who to tell that I was moving.” Diamond and Platinum members chimed in with the second biggest complaint – not enough cashiers. Third was from Seven Stars cardholders who wanted exclusive lines at events and restaurants. “Why should I share with Diamond and Platinum cardholders?” was a common complaint.
This Month’s Survey
The Total Rewards Web site has gone through more “facelifts” than Joan Rivers. In my opinion, I think they finally got it right, but what do you think? Do you use the site to check your tier points and comp dollars, plan future trips, get answers to your questions? Or, do you even use the site? Send me an e-mail (email@example.com) and I’ll share your thoughts – anonymously, of course.
Darryl D. McEwen, Publisher
Seven Stars Insider