The Linq Hotel Is Open

The Linq Hotel Las Vegas Entrance
The Linq Hotel Entrance

The Linq Hotel officially opens today even though it’s never been closed. You may remember it as The Quad which it’s been for the past 2 years. Before that you may remember it as Imperial Palace. This name change should stick for a while until Caesars sells naming rights to The Linq mall and ferris wheel some day.

I dig the casino at The Linq Hotel if only for Tag Bar (see thoughts on Vegas Chatter). It’s a fairly middle of the road casino but I always have fun there. That doesn’t offer anything special besides the fun you bring.

Vegas Chatter has pictures of the renovated rooms, which look nice for a mid-level hotel. Here’s the press release for more information.


The LINQ Hotel & Casino Welcomes First Hotel Guests

LAS VEGAS (Oct. 31, 2014) – Yesterday, The LINQ Hotel & Casino – the latest addition to Caesars Entertainment’s portfolio of iconic Las Vegas resorts – opened its doors to the first hotel guests and celebrated the milestone with a celebratory ribbon-cutting.

Continue reading “The Linq Hotel Is Open”

The Quad Is Out. The Linq Hotel Is In

The Linq Hotel Room
The Linq Hotel Room

The Quad replaced Imperial Palace less than two years ago. In late October The Quad name will go away and the hotel next to the Flamingo will be called The Linq Hotel and Casino. The change has been rumored for a while since the hotel flanks The Linq mall/promenade.

As far as name changes go The Linq Hotel makes a lot of sense. The Linq Hotel will finish the remodel of the old Imperial Palace that began with The Quad. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Casino renovations have already begun and will be complete when The Linq Hotel opens October 30.
  • Rooftop pool renovation.
  • Renovated hotel rooms. Caesars Entertainment made sure to renovate bathrooms unlike Flamingo Fab rooms.
  • Cabana suites with private access to the pool.
  • Slow elevators, plumbing and other infrastructure will not be updated.
  • Property-wide wifi.
  • Lots of bars. TAG Bar is an awesome beer bar. Check my Vegas Chatter article.
  • Automated check-in and concierge.
  • All Asian theming from Imperial Palace will be gone.
  • HOTEL ROOM PRICE INCREASE. Room rates are currently around $29 but will start at $89 when the name changes.

Here’s The Linq Hotel promo video to get you stoked.

Rumor: William Hill To Operate Caesars Palace Sportsbook

Caesars Palace Las Vegas Sportsbook
Caesars Palace Sportsbook

While I was away on vacation last week I received an interesting tip from a trusted source:

William Hill would take over operations of the Caesars Palace sportsbook once the current renovations are complete.

This will essentially be a trial run for William Hill only at Caesars Palace. No other Caesars Entertainment properties will be a part of this initial trial run. If all goes well at Caesars Palace then William Hill will take over operations of all Caesars Entertainment sportsbooks.

Caesars Entertainment operates the casino and sportsbooks at Bally’s, The Cromwell (kiosks only), Flamingo, Harrah’s, Paris, Planet Hollywood, The Quad and Rio in Las Vegas in addition to Caesars Palace.

This isn’t the first time that there has been discussion about an outside sportsbook operator taking over activity for Caesars Entertainment. Back in 2011 and 2012 there were heavy rumors that Cantor Gaming (now CG Technologies) would take over operations. That ended with legal problems at Cantor Gaming.

I asked William Hill for a comment and they said “We don’t comment on rumors.” I’ll pass on more details as I hear them.

Photo: Xfinity

Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar, Now Open at The Quad Resort & Casino

Guy Fieri Las Vegas
Guy Fieri

In case you haven’t heard Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar in now open  at The Quad. Early reviews haven’t been very good and pictures of the food look disgusting but I’m willing to give it a shot. I’ve never said no to Flavor Town before and Guy has actually had good recommendations on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. Besides The Yard House and Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq none of the dining options seem all that interesting.

Here’s the press release:

The highly anticipated Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar is now open at the Quad Resort & Casino. The restaurant opened its doors to customers for the first time on Thursday, April 17, with Fieri at the helm welcoming guests to his new digs.

As the first diners entered, Fieri was at the door greeting guests, thanking them for coming, signing autographs and taking pictures before jumping back into the kitchen for dinner service.

Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar offers guests a taste of Fieri’s signature cuisine, featuring bold flavors and unique twists on traditional dishes. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. for brunch, lunch, dinner and late night dining, the 200 seat restaurant features a delicious blend of casual foods including an extensive variety of burgers, wings, tacos, small bites and shareable food items.

The restaurant’s extensive drink menu features 16 craft beers, in addition to the Sonoma County wine selection and a frozen tap system shot bar that will create a one-of-a kind experience for guests. Instead of having shots strained or mixed with ice, which then run the risk of getting diluted, the frozen tap system bar will dispense eight different shots straight out of iced dispensers.

The 6,500 square foot space features a large outdoor patio and dining area to seat patrons who are able to enjoy the panoramic views of the Las Vegas Strip. The cooking space features a metal, tile, and wood theme that closely resembles Fieri’s kitchen at home. The interior design features an open arrangement with wood and steel elements along with repurposed materials.

Fieri’s tattoos are also incorporated as part of the design elements throughout the restaurant and bar, including coasters, napkins and dishware, as well as memorabilia from his alma mater, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar is open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. The restaurant is adjacent to the popular Carnaval Court and The Quad’s main entrance. Please call 702-731-3311 for more information.

Photo: Vegas Chatter

How Caesars Bankruptcy Can Benefit Everyone

Caesars Entertainment Chapter 11
Caesars Entertainment Chapter 11?

Rumors about Caesars Entertainment filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection gets louder every day. It’s easy to poke fun at a business failing but the ramifications from filing for bankruptcy can be good for both Caesars and casino customers. Read chapter 11 details here, you can read about more debt restructuring here and you can read about their unrealistic projections for Suffolk Downs here.

I want to look at the day-to-day operations that affect me and people like me. When/If Caesars files for bankruptcy they’ll be forced to deal with their outstanding debt problems. The easiest way for them to pay down their debt will be to sell off some of their assets.

Some of the assets that may be sold include Bally’s and Showboat in Atlantic City. These properties have long been rumored to be on the market for years but they may have to finally pull the plug to get some quick cash.

Las Vegas may see Caesars shed a combination of Bally’sParis and Rio. I’d be surprised if Paris was a sold but it’s one of Caesars most valuable non-core Las Vegas hotels and they need cash. I think Flamingo and Harrah’s are too close to The Linq and The Quad to be shed. These properties give Caesars a great chance of capitalizing on the traffic in the area.

I’m not sure about Caesars properties in other markets but you’d have to imagine a few of those will go too. I’m more focused on AC and LV but you probably know that already.

By shedding some properties in AC and LV Caesars will be able to focus on creating a better value for their customers at the properties they still own. In theory a leaner staff would focus on housekeeping and maintenance while corporate focused on creating a better product for the customer.

Additionally by selling properties in each market Caesars will bring in more competition. Competition always benefits the customer. Increased competition will force all hotel operators in each city to be on their toes to stay ahead. Again, that’s theory.

Not only will increased competition in Atlantic City and Las Vegas provide better casinos and hotel experiences but they will also add new players clubs that would link other cities and casinos throughout the United States with Atlantic City and Las Vegas. The new customers will benefit all casino operators – not just the property owners bringing in the customers.

When all is said and done I envision Caesars having the potential to come out of bankruptcy a tighter company able to provide more value for their casino customers. I also envision increased competition in Atlantic City and Las Vegas which will benefit casino customers by cleaning up old properties and offering new players club reward opportunities.

Even though it’s embarrassing it looks like Caesars filing for bankruptcy may be a win-win.

Note: Caesars hasn’t filed for bankruptcy, this is just speculation for when/if they do.

Aria Marquee Is A Symbol Of The Changing Vegas Strip

Aria Marquee At Night
Aria Marquee At Night

I find a lot of things in the Vegas media funny. Las Vegas is the #42 television market but plenty of people in the media and marketing departments acts as if Vegas is a top 5 market. When I saw press releases and news stories about the Aria marquee I laughed. It’s a sign. In what major market does mainstream (and non-mainstream) media go nuts over a sign? None.

I’ve seen the Aria marquee a handful of times and just thought it was another sign and nothing really special. It’s just a sign but how I thought about the Aria marquee changed a few weeks ago when I was driving to New York-New York to meet a friend for a drink. I was passing the Aria marquee around dusk and it was almost magical.

The mall across the street on the Harmon Corner has a bright huge sign that’s more annoying than useful or interesting since it’s all advertising. I don’t need or want to see advertising that big. It’s distracting and dangerous. The Cosmopolitan has a pretty cool marquee by the boulevard pool but that’s because the content on it is interesting. Sometimes you’ll see ads for the hotel and other times you can see concerts. The concept is great but the marquee is tiny compared to the Aria marquee. You can fit about 4 marquees from the Cosmo inside of the Aria marquee.

The Aria marquee is huge and juts out onto the strip. When I passed by the Aria marquee it was showing casino chips and other cool video snippets like the astronaut above. There was nothing obscene or overly promotional on the sign. It’s just a cool big sign that’s as obnoxiously large as you’d expect from the Vegas Strip (for better or worse).

The Aria marquee isn’t the dawn of the new Vegas strip but it is a sign (pun intended) that a new strip is coming.

Between the giant ferris wheel of The Linq being built across the street from Caesars PalaceThe Quad vortex lighting being installed right now, Gansevoort construction across the street from Bally’s and the park area in between New York-New York and Monte Carlo there is a lot of construction on the Vegas strip. This doesn’t even touch on the north strip construction going on.

The Aria marquee reminded me about all of this and also reminded me that the way see the strip will change drastically over the next few years. Enjoy the memory of the Vegas strip you grew up with because it will be drastically different by this time next year.

Seven Stars Insider – May Edition

Tyson Chandler Total Rewards Concert
Tyson Chandler at Total Rewards Concert

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

My Mistake. . .

Apparently only one person (other than me) noticed, but I erred when I wrote that the Diamond Celebration Dinner required 40,000 tier credits. . .it’s only 15,000.  Once you qualify, go to a designated kiosk to print your credit – or if your casino doesn’t have one, to the Total Rewards Desk.  You have until March 31, 2014 to use it, but I wouldn’t print the coupon until you’re ready.  Also, remember that you have to use it all at one time, and only at Caesars-owned restaurants.  If there’s a question, always ask first if the coupon will be accepted.

No Fooling!

Thanks, everyone, for your kind responses to the special April Fools’ edition.  I was overwhelmed by the nearly 150 emails I received – including some from top Caesars Entertainment executives (and even a phone call from a reader in Kansas!).  It was all meant in good fun and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

Harrah’s Phoenix Ak-Chin

Stocking Down

According to a reader, Ak-Chin has stopped the practice of decking out rooms for Seven Stars with a gift basket, soft drinks, water, juices and extra personal toiletry items.  “Too bad,” he writes.  “That was one of the nicest things about Ak-Chin, and they don’t have that much going for them.  They do have a nice pool area, but nice pool areas aren’t all that hard to find out here in Arizona.”

Las Vegas

Tickets To Nowhere

Once again, Caesars marketing folks are sending out senseless offers.  Why offer two free tickets to Jubilee! or Penn & Teller, and two complimentary nights at my choice of Bally’s Flamingo, Harrah’s, The Quad or Rio when, as part of my Seven Stars benefits, I can generally get these tickets (along with up to four nights in my choice of property)  any time I am in Las Vegas?  Do they really think I’m going to book a trip to Las Vegas to take advantage of this?  Another East Coast reader got an offer for two free nights and a $50 gas card.  Are they serious?  What a waste of paper and postage.

Atlantic City

‘If A Tree Falls In The Forest. . .’

Why offer special perks for Seven Stars cardholders if you’re not going to tell anyone?  It was only after I finished my breakfast at Caesars Café Roma that someone told me I could have gotten a complimentary mimosa. In honor of the Seven Stars Renewal Weekend, all Seven Stars cardholders were eligible for the free drinks that Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Meanwhile, over at Bally’s Diamond Lounge, there was a special section reserved for Seven Stars cardholders.  Friday night a chef was carving prime rib to order, Saturday there was chef preparing omelets to order, and that evening the menu featured roasted salmon with Israeli couscous.  Who knows what else may have been available that weekend?  How nice it would have been to receive an email a few days before the event with the message: “Looking forward to seeing you this weekend.  In honor of our Seven Stars guests, the following special perks will be available to you. . . .”  Or, perhaps at check-in, we could have received a small card with a list of special benefits available over that weekend.

Open and Shut Case

It’s no wonder Caesars restaurants so often are empty and under-utilized.  No one knows when they’re going to be open.  On the Friday of the Seven Stars Renewal Weekend my first choice for dinner was Arturo’s at Bally’s. According to its Web site, though, Arturo’s is open only on Saturdays and Sundays (but “Closed on May 7, 21 and 21” – huh?), so I made a reservation at Morton’s (my second choice).  Figuring the Seven Stars Lounge at Caesars would be mobbed – it wasn’t, apparently – a friend and I walked over to the Diamond Lounge to see one of our favorite bartenders, John, and have a couple of pre-dinner cocktails.  Turns out Arturo’s was open (and practically empty!), so I canceled Morton’s, and we had an outstanding meal there.  Other friends went to Nero’s and Atlantic Grill that night, and said they were pretty empty as well.  There’s got to be a better system of letting customers know what’s open and what’s not.  When you checked-in, Caesars and Harrah’s used to give you a two-sided sheet which listed operating hours for the lounges, bars and restaurants, as well as any entertainment scheduled.  It might be time to resurrect this idea.

Read The Fine Print – I

Once again Caesars is running two confusing promotions.  Maybe instead of just having attorneys review the rules, some actual customers should get in on the act.  In other words, be sure to read the fine print.

Wheel of Fortune Millionaire Maker Sweepstakes – Everybody gets one free entry daily and can earn up to 10 additional entries for every 25 Tier Credits earned from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.  However, be sure you claim those extra daily entries before 8 p.m. or they’re lost.  (Yes, the rules are pretty clear on this, but, if you’re busy playing and haven’t studied the rules carefully, the time can get away from you – as it did for me the first time I played while the promotion was running.  I lost my 10 additional entries because I tried to claim them after 8 p.m.)  Between trying to remember to bring my 3-digit codes for free slot play, swiping to opt in on a daily Reward Credit multiplier (which I also forgot one night last month and lost a bunch of Reward Credits), keeping track of my daily Tier Credits to get Bonus Tier Credits (and make sure they’re being accurately credited!), and now this, it’s just too much work.  With all its complicated promotions, Caesars has taken the fun out of playing.

$1 Million Giveaway – Similarly, with the drawings May 25 and 26, you receive entries for each 10 Tier Credits earned between May 12 and 26.  However, the rules state, “Activate your entries each day [emphasis added] by swiping your Total Rewards card at a designated Promotional Kiosk. . .between 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.”  Does this mean you have to activate your earned entries each day between May 12 and 26, or only on the drawing days?  The first time I read it, I thought it meant each day I earned entries – similar to the Wheel of Fortune Sweepstakes.  What I think the rule means is only on the two days of drawings, May 25 and 26.

Swipe Out

Related to the above, here’s a perfect example of the antics players have to go through to participate in multiple promotions, all running on the same day this month, May 19:

  • ·         To activate a progressive multiplier on my play that day, I have to swipe at the appropriate Promotional Kiosk between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., but this will multiply my play from 6 a.m. that day through 5:59 a.m. May 20.
  • ·         To participate in the Wheel of Fortune Millionaire Maker Sweepstakes, I have to swipe somewhere else between noon and 8 p.m.
  • ·         To participate in “Super Spin Sunday” I have to swipe somewhere else between noon and 8 p.m.

To complicate matters further. . .

  • ·         I can swipe at all four Total Rewards casinos – Bally’s Caesars, Harrah’s and Showboat – to get entries in the Wheel of Fortune Millionaire Maker Sweepstakes and “Super Spin Sunday”.
  • ·         I have to swipe only at one casino in order for my play at all four to count for the multiplier.

If I do all that, I won’t have time to play enough to make my multiplier worth anything, earn entries (up to 10 before 8 p.m. for the Wheel of Fortune sweepstakes; unlimited for the $1 Million Giveaway) or qualify for Bonus Tier Credits.  In case you’re not keeping track, that’s four separate promotions going on in one day, not even counting those daily Bonus Tier Credits, or any coupons you might have for free slot play and food.

Free Play Offers Reduced

Whenever slot players get together, one of the topics of conversation is generally, “I’m just not getting the free play offers I used to.”  Statistics released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement would seem to confirm this.  Comparing March 2012 with March 2013, while the Atlantic Club increased its “promotional gaming credits” by 51 percent, Bally’s reduced them by 37 percent, Caesars by 32 percent, Harrah’s by 40 percent and Showboat by 45 percent.  However, there’s an interesting explanation behind all this, detailed in an excellent article published last month in the Press of Atlantic City.

Going Online

Caesars Interactive Entertainment, operator of the World Series of Poker and online gambling sites overseas, has applied for a casino license in New Jersey, signaling its intention to enter the state’s Internet gambling market. Majority owner Caesars Entertainment already operates four Atlantic City properties, so the casino license petition would allow Caesars Interactive to operate Internet gambling on behalf of Bally’s, Caesars, Harrah’s and Showboat.  Meanwhile, the Borgata also has announced its intentions to enter the Internet gambling business, as well.

Ride ’Em, Cowboy!

Tickets go on sale May 20 for the third annual City Boardwalk Rodeo, October 5 and 6 at Boardwalk Hall.  The past two years, the rodeo was held in late March/early April, but organizers were up against Easter this year, and fall always had been their first choice.

Bally’s

Read The Fine Print – II

I’m not a video poker player, but I’ve heard from several who are not happy that some of the single line machines at Bally’s have a small plaque underneath the bill acceptor stating “This machine awards one point for every $20 played.”  Other single line machines are all still one point for $10.  If this is happening at Bally’s, is it happening elsewhere?

Caesars

Empty Chairs At Empty Tables

That popular song from the musical Les Misérables pretty much describes the ballroom at Caesars for the Seven Stars Renewal Weekend dinner April 27.  With the room set for 600, I’d guess at least 15-20 percent of the seats were vacant, maybe more.  After the salad course, I ate my shrimp and some asparagus spears, leaving what others at my table described as an inedible filet.  While it looked nice on the plate, the entrée was bland, boring and pretty tasteless – kind of like the event itself.  I gave up waiting for dessert (Baked Alaska) – which some later described as the best part of the meal.  To make matters worse, the volume on the post-dinner music was turned up as high as the heat.  “Celebrity” Mario Lopez made a brief appearance, but, like so much else that Caesars does, it set us up for disappointment.  A lucky few actually met Lopez and got a photograph, but, after some silly remarks standing next to Caesars-Bally’s-Showboat General Manager Kevin Ortzman, Lopez was whisked away, presumably to make the same stupid presentation elsewhere in town.  (I found out later that he was at Harrah’s, but the folks at Bally’s got Robin Leach.)  Plus, either no one coached him well enough, or he just couldn’t remember his lines.  He forgot Ortzman’s name, and when he put in a plug for Caesars latest promotion, he mistakenly called it “Millionaire Matchmaker”.  Why even bother to have Lopez there if he’s going stay less than 10 minutes?  People were expecting him to walk from table to table, others hoped for a dance later.  (And, OK, some just wanted him to take off his shirt.)  When is Caesars going to learn?  The attendance at these weekends has been dwindling for years.  (I remember when it was so popular, they actually had to schedule two weekends.)  There’s little incentive to attend when the only “activities” are a 7X Reward Credit multiplier on Friday, and a dinner-dance (where hardly anyone danced) on Saturday.  Even with the chance to win one of 10 $1,000 cash prizes, the $100 in free play, match play or comps we were given at registration, and the post-dinner “hot seat” from 9 to 11, it’s not worth all the time, effort and expense Caesars puts into this.  If they want to feed us, give us a $200 gift card good at any Caesars-owned restaurant.  That way we can eat when we want – and what we want.  (With the exception of Mia, most of the restaurants at Caesars and Bally’s were pretty empty Friday, so they could use the business.)  Even the Seven Stars Lounge was quiet most of the weekend, and Bally’s Diamond Lounge Friday night was like a ghost town.  Instead of last month’s dinner, I’ll take one of those Diamond coupons books any day.  When you add up the value of those coupons, it’s a much better deal than what Seven Stars cardholders got.

Morton’s Continues 1:1 Policy

Morton’s Steakhouse continues to accept Total Rewards credits on a 1:1 basis – at least through June 30.  This is negotiated quarterly, so I’ll check back near the end of June to see if the policy will continue throughout the summer.

Speed Traps

I’m glad to see that Caesars has installed some speed strips in the self-park garage.  They still don’t seem to be enough to slow down the excessive speed at which drivers maneuver the facility, especially when turning corners to get to the next floor.  Better signage (“Two-Way Traffic”, “Yield” signs, etc.) and lighting are still necessary.

To The Egress

When Diamond cardholders going to pick-up their coupon booklets last month followed signage at the base of the second floor casino stairs/escalator, they were directed to the top, and then were greeted by a security guard and another sign directing them to an entrance around to the left. . .despite the fact there was a door into that room at the top of the stairs/escalator.  Wouldn’t it have made more sense to make that “exit” the “entrance” rather than wasting an employee’s time directing players to a door 100 or so feet away?

Harrah’s Resort

Bathroom Humor

It’s not just the men’s rooms at Harrah’s that have problems.  Here’s a first-hand report:

On April 5 about noon the Diamond Cove ladies room faucet would not turn off.  There was a constant flow of water for at least 15 minutes.  Maintenance stopped the running water – I mean they stopped the water to never run.  In fact, the soap dispenser was removed and on the counter was a box of 80 wet wipes, which didn’t last through the evening.  They hung this sign on the faucet:

I am out of commission but my neighbors here are happy to be of assistance.  Maintenance has been notified.  This unit will be back in service shortly.

This sign was in the fashion of a Do Not Disturb door knob sign that was professionally printed with purple background, white lettering with some words in dark purple as noted above.  How many calls for this message is required that it was actually an official printing project?  I think if someone hand-wrote OUT OF ORDER the women would catch on to the lack of water.  The neighbors wording must have referred to the wet wipes, which were gone before Saturday morning, and women were asking the cashiers if they had any.  By the way, I left April 9 about noon and there wasn’t any running water then when I went to check the status.  Four days!

Bad Wrap

Those ugly building wraps at Harrah’s have finally been removed.  Lady Bird Johnson can now rest in peace. [Only someone as old as I will understand that last reference.]

Showboat

Leaving The Dock Without Caesar?

Penn National’s Tim Wilmott and Jay Snowden, both former Caesars Entertainment employees, were in Atlantic City last month.  According to “Pinky’s Corner”, a column in the Press of Atlantic City, they are looking to possibly purchase Showboat.  (Caesars CEO Gary Loveman was in town for a couple of days, as well, Pinky reported.)  Several bartenders, other employees and even some players say they’re “in the know”.  They claim the deal is done and will be announced this month.  Don’t believe anything until you see the official announcement. A deal this big can’t fly under the radar without public documents being filed.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

A small fire in room 544 at Showboat forced customers staying on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors to evacuate for about an hour April 24.  No one was injured, but the floor sustained some smoke and water damage, according to the Atlantic City fire chief.

Harrah’s Philadelphia

Four Stars For Seven Stars Event

While Atlantic City may have blown it (see above), Harrah’s Philadelphia stepped up to the dinner plate two weeks earlier with a classy cocktail reception, a delicious three-course dinner featuring filet mignon Oscar, and an 11-piece orchestra (with a sound technician who knew how to keep the volume at just the right level). Throughout the evening, guests could get their photos taken for new player cards (and, note this, Caesars Atlantic City, they actually work in the machines, kiosks and at restaurants!).  The event was capped by a drawing for several thousands of dollars in free play and a private fireworks show.  In addition, all Seven Stars cardholders got $100 in free play and a polo shirt.  [Kudos, too, for including a dress code on the invitation.  Most guests actually dressed up for the occasion, though there were a handful of jerks who refused to remove their baseball caps during dinner.]

Was It Real Tar?  I Thought They Cleaned Up The Gulf

One of the appetizers on the menu for the Seven Stars Renewal Dinner last month was “Tuna Tar Tar” but I think they meant Tuna Tartare.  Whoever wrote that is probably responsible for the new Philly Tap & Tavern menu with its “Corn Beef”.  Unless this is some new veggie version of a hamburger made out of corn, I think they mean Corned Beef.

Suspect Sought

Police are looking for a suspect wanted in connection with the assault and robbery of a 69-year-old woman at Harrah’s April 24.  The victim was walking to her car just after midnight.  According to police, the suspect tackled her and knocked her on the ground, rendering her unconscious.  The suspect fled with her purse and other personal belongings.  The victim was later treated at a local hospital for minor injuries.

General

Not-So-Secret Circle

Several readers got a “top secret” survey and invitation to join the Caesars’ Circle Community (or Caesars without the apostrophe, depending on the source).  They were asked not to forward it to friends.  (Sure, as ifthat’s going to happen!  People couldn’t wait to send this to me; I must have received 10 copies.)  One woman stopped after 13 pages when the survey asked for her birthdate.  The Circle is not exactly top secret and it’s not new.  Here’s a link to the site, but you can’t access it unless you are a member, and you can’t join unless you’re invited.  Not that I was invited, but, frankly, after reading the rules and regulations, I don’t think I want to have anything to do with it.  Anybody read Doctor Faustus?

Here’s a portion of the email:

Help us create a better casino experiences [sic] for you.  Your opinion is valued!  Caesars Entertainment is inviting select Total Rewards members to form the Caesars’ Circle Community, which will serve as a team of special advisors to us as we seek to improve the services and experiences that we provide our guests.  We have limited spots available, so if you’d like to join the Caesars’ Circle Community, please share some information about yourself in a brief survey; it should only take about 10 minutes.  We’re trying to get a good representation of people who love entertainment, including but not limited to gaming.

So what will you be doing if you are selected?

  • Participating in surveys and discussion forums (when you can)
  • Helping us solve specific challenges
  • Teaching us more about customers like yourself!

What you’ll get:

  • Exclusive sneak peeks behind the scenes at Caesars Entertainment
  • Opportunity to influence direction of Caesars Entertainment and Total Rewards
  • Opportunity to participate in contests

Our promise to you

  • We will listen to what you have to say
  • We will share back with you what we’ve learned
  • We will never sell your information to a third party

We’d also appreciate it if you don’t forward this invitation to your friends – this is a personalized invitation that will work only for you.

Food Fight

Up until last month, players with those $100 Diamond Celebration Dinner certificates (or any other coupon) could not take advantage of special Total Rewards pricing in any of the restaurants either at Harrah’s or Horseshoe in Council Bluffs, Iowa, at the Horseshoe in Hammond, Ind. (and, possibly, others).  The restaurants called it “double-dipping” – citing the “cannot be combined with other offers” disclaimer.  Sorry, but this didn’t make sense, and I wasn’t aware of any other casino restaurants that operated this way.  It’s like shopping at a grocery store where you have a loyalty card and being told you can’t use a manufacturer’s coupon off anything but the full price of the item.  In Atlantic City and Philadelphia, I use coupons all the time and the amount is taken off the Total Rewards pricing, not the “regular” prices.  (Talk about double-dipping, at Harrah’s Philadelphia I not only got a 30 percent “senior discount” – on the Total Rewards price, but also used a $30 coupon.  My $47 order ended up costing me $2.20 in comps.)  Since I felt Caesars needed to have a consistent policy across the country, and the restaurants in Council Bluffs and Hammond were not abiding by the spirit or intent of Total Rewards and its benefits, I contacted officials in Las Vegas.  Long story short, all Caesars-owned casino restaurants have been directed to charge special Total Rewards pricing to eligible customers – coupons/certificates or not.  Thanks, Caesars and Total Rewards!

End Of The Race

According to a posting on the Total Rewards by Caesars Facebook page last month, there will be no “Great Race To Rewards” this year.  More shocking to me – someone who does not “do” Facebook – were all the negative comments from customers.  As I’ve written many times in the past, customers are more likely to focus on the negatives rather than the positives, but if I were a corporation I think I’d rather pass on some of this social media rather than air such “dirty laundry” in public.
No More Comps Or Free Play On Free Play
It’s being phased in slowly company-wide, but you’ll no longer earn Reward Credits and cashback on free slot play.  To be honest, most casino companies’ systems preclude you from this, so it was just a matter of time before Casears execs figured this out.  Frankly, it’s not that big of a deal when you do the math, but,, again, it would have been nice if someone had told us.

Phone Home

Contrary to popular belief, local and toll-free phone calls are not always complimentary for Seven Stars cardholders.  If this is a concern, check with the front desk first – though you might not always get the correct answer.  That’s why it’s a good idea to review your bill before you check-out.  If you find errors, or you have a question, settle this before you leave.  In the event you are charged for something you had been told was complimentary, e.g., local phone calls, all you have to do is request a credit.

On The Level

Isn’t the Level I Experience worth more than any of the Level II Experiences?
Tea For To
The description of the Level II Memphis Basketball Experience on the Total Rewards Web site says it includes: “…dinner for to at Jack Binion’s Steak House of ’37.”  [Oddly, it’s correct in the printed booklet we received.]
Desperately Seeking Cruisin’
I knew Carnival was having problems, but what’s with Norwegian Cruise Line?  This past month alone I received 15 emails (practically one every other day) plus several offers to pick up free cruise certificates at Atlantic City, Philadelphia and Las Vegas casinos.

Question Of The Month

I’m totally confused!  Just when I thought I understood the “new” Total Rewards program, I see another email from a player and I get even more exasperated.  What’s the story?  There has been so much “back-and-forth” regarding the annual retreat (formerly “annual getaway”), the Diamond Aspiration $750 airfare credit (available at 80,000 tier credits), and the Level I Experience (available at 150,000 tier credits), I’ve tried to summarize the benefits using two different examples.  I hope I have this correct (and don’t confuse things even more!), but here goes. . .

  • I achieve Seven Stars status with 150,000 tier credits on June 1, 2013. I must take my annual retreat by March 31, 2014, and I must take my Level I Signature Experience by June 30, 2014.  That gives me 13 months to take two trips.  I then get another annual retreat which I must take between April 1, 2014, and March 31, 2015.  I also get a $100 Celebration Dinner which I can use at any Caesars-owned restaurant before March 31, 2014.  To obtain this certificate, I go either to the Total Rewards desk or, if available, the specially-marked kiosk in the casino.  In addition, I get a $750 airfare credit which I can use to fly to any Total Rewards casino-hotel in the United States or Canada.  This benefit is available through March 31, 2014, and restrictions apply.
  • I achieved Seven Stars status with 102,000 tier credits on November 15, 2012.  If I didn’t take it, I lost an annual retreat because I had to take it before March 31, 2013.  Now I have an annual retreat I must take before March 31, 2014, so I have about 11 months (from May 1, 2013) to complete this trip.  If I earn 150,000 tier credits at any point during 2013, I then get a Level I Signature Experience which I have to use by June 30, 2014, but only after I take the annual retreat I earned from my play in 2012.  The earlier I earn 150,000 tier credits in 2013, the more time I will have to use the two trips.  Even if I earn 150,000 tier credits as late as December 31, 2013, I’ll still have six months to use the Level I Experience I will have earned.  Worst case scenario is that I have not taken my annual retreat by December 31, 2013, and I must complete my annual retreat by March 31, 2014, but still have three more months to complete my Level I trip.  I also get a $100 Celebration Dinner which I can use at any Caesars-owned restaurant before March 31, 2014.  To obtain this certificate, I go either to the Total Rewards desk or, if available, the specially-marked kiosk in the casino.  In addition, I get a $750 airfare credit which I can use to fly to any Total Rewards casino-hotel in the United States or Canada.  This benefit is available through March 31, 2014, and restrictions apply.

Survey Says. . .

I got lots of great tips from readers, but few wanted me to share them because they were afraid they’d get their host in trouble, or worse, the little glitch in the system they discovered might be corrected.  However, here are tips some readers swear are true.  No promises if they’ll work for you.

  • If you are RFB and use all your Reward Credits, you can still get comped at least $100 per night automatically.  It appears to vary by property, but in Atlantic City it is $160.  (Above and beyond how many Reward Credits you may have earned on your trip, more may be considered.)
  • You have to ask, but the Atlantic City properties will offer rebates based on cumulative loss over a calendar quarter for all the properties, not just per trip or per casino: 10 percent of losses over $100,000, 15 or 20 percent over $250,000.
  • If you receive DirectBet, Bally’s Atlantic City allows you to hedge it in some games.  For example, in roulette bet half a $100 DirectBet on red, bet the remaining $50 on black.  If either color hits, you walk with $50.  If 0 or 00 hits, you get half the bets back on red and black, yet still walk away with a net gain of $25.  This is useful when cashing a coupon just before hitting the road.

This Month’s Survey

I was lucky enough to attend two Seven Stars Renewal events, a dinner at Harrah’s Philadelphia and another at Caesars in Atlantic City.  How about you?  Did you attend an event?  How was it?  Send me an e-mail (sevenstarsinsider@gmail.com) and I’ll share your thoughts – anonymously, of course.

Darryl D. McEwen, Publisher

Seven Stars Insider

Photo: Zimbio

The Roof At The Quad Falling Apart

I stayed at Harrah’s Las Vegas a couple weeks ago and had a suite on the top floor. It was pretty awesome for Harrah’s. You can see video and pictures at Vegas Chatter. Since the room was so high I got a pretty good look at the strip that I normally wouldn’t have. The living room looked straight out to the strip but bedroom overlooked The Quad.

Imperial Palace turned into The Quad in December but is still undergoing a lot of renovation. The construction on the streets and in the casino is apparent and should be finished this year. I’m not sure it’s on the renovation schedule but it sure looks as if the roof at The Quad could also use some work. Maybe Caesars Entertainment is waiting for the roof to collapse before they renovate the rooms. Maybe.

Cheap Hotels On The Vegas Strip

Las Vegas lost almost 300 cheap hotel rooms when Bill’s Gambling Hall closed in February. The plan was to replace it with a ultra-cool-young-hip-celebrity-friendly boutique hotel. Caesars Entertainment did that by partnering with Gansevoort and Victor Drai for the new Gansevoort Las Vegas.

As with every new casino Gansevoort Las Vegas will open with prices starting at the top of the market, currently $249, and why not? Last year at G2E a rep from MGM Resorts said that across all of their properties room occupancy is at 90% or more. Cosmopolitan says that they’re regularly almost at 90% capacity. Room rates will continue to rise with increased visitation. Last year I wrote about that the low rates at luxury hotels in Las Vegas were nice while they lasted but things are changing.

Don’t worry there are still plenty of hotel rooms on the Vegas strip (let alone downtown and off strip) that can be had for as low as $20 a night. Of course, you get what you pay for. Here are the least expensive hotels on the Vegas strip.

  • Bally’s
  • Best Western at Casino Royale
  • Circus Circus
  • Excalibur
  • Flamingo
  • Luxor
  • The Mirage
  • Monte Carlo
  • New York New York
  • The Quad
  • Stratosphere
  • Treasure Island
  • Tropicana

There are almost as many luxury hotel rooms on the Vegas strip as there are non-luxury hotel rooms. Las Vegas hotel room rates will continue to rise as demand increases with the better economy. The excess room supply that hurt Las Vegas during the recession will allow overall room rates to remain relatively stable in the future.

For the most part you get what you pay for in Las Vegas and you won’t get the same quality amenities at these hotels as you would at new and/or luxury hotels. This list is a great place to start if you’re looking for hotels with less expensive prices on the Vegas strip. If you’re looking to save even more money look away from the strip. Check out the list of cheap places to stay in Las Vegas.

For now…VIVA LAS VEGAS!

Photo: Las Vegas Guide

Rockhouse Now A 5 Star Dive Bar

I was invited to the grand opening of Rockhouse at The Venetian and since I visit The Venetian and The Palazzo pretty often I figured I’d check it out. Between the two casinos I like the sportsbooks, dining selections, coffee options, craps at The Palazzo and wifi accessibility at The Venetian (The Palazzo stopped free wifi last year).

Rockhouse Sign

 

Rockhouse is litterally located in between both The Venetian and The Palazzo in the Grand Canal Shoppes. Across the hall was First Food and Bar which was considered to be a part of The Palazzo. More than anything I was curious how the idea of a dive bar could possibly be a reality at a luxury hotel.

Rockhouse used to be located at Imperial Palace but it closed last year when renovations began turning IP into The Quad. Rockhouse isn’t a dive bar any longer…it’s an “Ultra-Dive Bar“.

WTF IS AN ULTRA DIVE BAR?!

The marketing was such a turn off that before I went to the opening of Rockhouse I was skeptical that there was any way this place could be cool. I was right and I was wrong. Rockhouse is not a dive bar. It’s located in a luxury resort and sells drinks that are competitive for the Vegas strip – not a dive bar. However…

Marketing aside Rockhouse is pretty cool!

Rockhouse Bar

Rockhouse is a bar. No more, no less. This awesome Grey Goose and soda was poured by a bartender that had must have had lead in her wrists (STRONG DRINK). I rarely feel the effects from one drink but this one hit me pretty nicely. In fact, this was the only drink I had at a totally open bar. Thanks Rockhouse, this was perfect. I hope that you can replicate this drink when I visit again.

The decor and name Rockhouse lead me to believe that I would be hearing some awesome rock jams. Unfortunately I heard no rock. The party played the most obnoxious mainstream pop music. I heard Pitbull three times in 20 minutes and I wanted to hurl. I like Pitbull but this was a bit much. The decor makes me think that there will be rock music for me when I return to Rockhouse in the future. Check out this sweet pool table.

Rockhouse Pool Table

The bartenders were I met were all nice and all good looking. There was only a short wait for drinks at a packed open bar. That’s impressive for just 3 bartenders. The back room of the bar has a few tables with views of the strip, mechanical bull, VIP area and a DJ booth. Not quite dive bar-ish. The front room where the pool table above is located has beer pong tables a nice selection of beer on tap and plenty of big TV’s.

Rockhouse has a $50 all you can drink all day deal which isn’t as bad as it sounds. The deal lasts from open to close and if you’re a boozer you and have more than 6 drinks or so this is probably a value. With all of the new TV’s and it being a new bar this might actually be a good deal to watch March Madness. Unfortunately your $50 won’t get you a sweet guitar full o booze.

UPDATE: The day before March Madness Rockhouse raised their all you can drink prices to $125.

Rockhouse Guitar Drink

$35 seems like a lot for a super sugary drink. If I’m getting a souvenir drink I prefer a 22 ounce skull of beer for $10. I walked into Rockhouse with a chip on my shoulder because of the marketing and expected to hate Rockhouse but I enjoyed it. Rockhouse isn’t a dive bar but it is a pretty cool bar away from the family chaos at The Venetian.

Now that First Food and Bar is closed I think Rockhouse will fill the void of a good out of the way place to have a meeting at The Venetian.