Sunday, June 26, 2011

El Cortez Cabana rooms

from the site:
Please note, the hotel has a policy restricting the length of stay for each guest to 7 days per month.

While currently I am distanced and put off by the restriction in the number of rooms that can be rented in a calendar month, I loved these rooms in my May 2011 trip and reviewed them as my best places for the trip:

This includes some photos.

Discussions of rooms (some with photos or videos):

I took this offer and it worked great:
It is only good for certain dates.  Check the website.

I searched here for the best discount broker price:

and I booked at

where they don't take all the money upfront for the booking.  They were great when the EC changed its policy, and let me know what I needed to do.

In June 2011 the El Cortez  limited purchased rooms to 7 in a calendar month.  Later they decided to honor booking of more than 7 nights, but to charge $25 a night at check-in for additional nights.  This is a ripoff more egregious than resort fees, especially if it comes as a surprise at check-in.

from i4Vegas discount broker site:
The El Cortez has instituted a new policy of a 7-night maximum stay during any one calendar month.  Guests staying longer than 7 nights during a calendar month will be charged a daily fee of $25 plus tax beginning on the eighth (8th) day.  The fee will be collected by the El Cortez and is NOT included in the i4vegas room rates. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

An Answer to the guy who dislikes 20 somethings

I find them fun, but not at the pool.
I search them out at the poker tables if they are not talking about "outs" and arguing about hands or hidden in hooded caves of sunglasses and walkman.
What they have over my peer group is I never find their conversation cluttered with every single doctor visit they have experienced in the last ten years and a detailed whine about aches and pains. Sure, we old ones are all sick and falling apart and preparing with the rest of our peers to die as soon as we have some free time in our schedule of funeral and wake visits, but so we go out to party to be reminded of that?
And once the youngsters find they can tease me, I delight in the banter that happens at a poker table.
My last group were perhaps even under 20 at Turning Stone (18 and up allowed) at 2 am, and in between good humored poker remarks they talked about their plans to be up and out by nine to go rock climbing the following day.
Nice. Life was still a delight for them, not an ordeal.
Not to mention those two young Minnesota blonds at O'Shea's who hugged me every time they won a hand and whose boyfriend came around a bit tipsy and put me in charge of seeing they got on the bus safely.
Or that girl Vanessa from Houston at the Flamingo last May who told us her name when I asked, but looked at me with a coquettish smile and said in the most sultry voice, "But I love it when you call me Texas."
Once at El Cortez I had a partially senile 80 plus woman rub her hand along my leg, and she wasn't looking for her walker either.
"You should just rub your own leg, Ma'am."
Somehow that was not quite as pleasurable as flirting young twenty somethings.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

El cortez establishes new limit on rooms

Just when you thought resort fees were a huge rip off, along comes this new angle.
It now costs an extra $25 a night for bookings over 7 nights in a calendar month booked at the El Cortez.
And what do you get for that fee?
Well, on your 8th night you get just what you got on your 7th night, only it costs you an extra $25.

Are they telling people?
I don't know. I saw it in the very fine print of Hey, its in the fine print so everyone should see it, huh?

My advice is just do 7 nights. Anything over that risks this fee.
I'm not yet saying to abandon this place, but the Gold Spike (with resort fee figured in )is about the same price as an EC Cabana room and has free wifi and a pool.

I think the bean counter theory is that after about 4 days or so, our bankrolls are fleeced, so they want us to move on and not take up space in their hotel.  Actually on the Wizard of Odds board where I also posted to inform any readers, quite a few answers supported that casino/hotel policy as a good one, I suppose as opposed to me immorally using the hotel without being fleeced even comparing me to one of the homeless on an SRO handout program.
I'm more steamed about that than about the EC itself, although letting this sit for a while has pretty much turned my emotions around.

What it is really about for me is the El Cortez was one of the places where we did not have to play those games, and I was just at the point of deciding to pay for rooms there and just do my whole 17 nights in one spot.

Almost anywhere else it might make sense. We had come to the idea that the El Cortez was managed to treat the customer rather than just compute the beans. Jackie set that standard. And most of the other folks follow it or at least they appear to follow it. No resort fees in spite of getting kicked around by the practice in press rankings. Pretty easy interpretation of that freeplay/freefood deal, a poker room brush who writes me a food comp without me asking because he hears I might wander over to Mamacita's for some horchata and sopa 7 Mares.
At the same time that they are doing this pull back on rooms allowed to rent, they offer for up to five nights at certain times of certain months a deal that makes rooms virtually free, and when I did that deal my last trip, it did what it was supposed to do. It opened up the Cabana rooms to me for the first time, and I liked them so I was willing to pay in November to stay there. 
It also softened me up, and I played well beyond anything I have played in years there, and thought I might make that a pattern, start staying downtown again for my full trip, stop hopping from place to place. They had me.

And now they don't.

I find it strange that the emotional part of this does affect my reason, but I see it does.
I'm thinking about South Tower Vegas Club because the Plaza pool should open next year, and if renovation does not start at the Vegas Club there still will be deals there and i can use the pool at the Plaza. And part of feeling open to that place is they let me play my Vegas Club and Plaza ACG coupons back to back on my last trip at the same craps table and on the same day. 
That craps dealer roped in an emotional part of me that I always deny is there. 

Jackie knew that if he offered people a place where they felt comfortable, where instead of having to watch for every trick, folks could let down their guard and relax and not expect to be tricked except by the slot machines, that he would build a loyal and supportive customer base that could feel good about losing money. This trick disrespects everything that Jackie was as a man and might be still as legend if the EC wanted that to happen.

So I wonder if anyone will book a week in the beginning of a month, then book a few days at the end of the month and at check in find out they are to be charged $25 a night for the second booking, and shown the fine print to explain the charge. Anyone in that situation is going to feel tricked and angry, just as those paying resort fees without knowing they might pay them have felt.

As for me. Well, they may lose me for most of what I've booked already. If I am going to hop around, I might as well hop from free place to free place, and I won't be thinking about seeding the EC with play for a few free nights to add to my paid nights because I can't build enough nights there to really settle in and stay. I'll just use them as 7 nights where I can stay cheaply and not have to worry about my daily gambling average falling off.

I'll be playing in the places with better odds and offering free rooms. I'll be paying in places I have not yet seen, like the Suncoast that is now open for casino hopping with the new WAX running from downtown to there and a place that for the summer shows room prices less than El Cortez prices. I read there is great VP there. There is a shuttle to the airport so it might make a good place to start or end my trip.

EC will lose me because this new strategy of theirs makes my frugal hairs bristle. I won't be softened; I'll be alert and in the poker game of frugal room renting.

But maybe me and my kind don't matter to them in the long mathematical run and the uninhibited tourist with four days and $200 to gamble away in slots is better meat. I don't know how they figure my emotions in the mathematics. Jackie knew how to figure them in, but he is gone into the senility of old age now without the ability to add his thoughts on the matter.
One other thing they lose when they lose me is an advocate. I have written thousands of words in the past year praising the El Cortez, including a long justification on why a guy should book there rather than the Golden Nugget on their promotional Facebook page. They lost not only my meager play, but my free promotional prose.
All to force me out of their casino a few extra days a year

Another of my responses to this question.

I made a one week reservation.
Then I made a separated three day reservation.
All through accepted the reservations, but two days later called and said the the EC would not honor the second one.
That was before they started honoring all the reservations but simply charging $25 a night for any nights beyond 7 in a calendar month, even if the first 7 were 1-7 and the other nights 28-30.
I talked to the hotel manager three times.  
The one way to get around this is if your "play" is good enough when you go to check out, they will drop this  charge, which is basically a resort fee with no pretend amenities and another carrot on the stick to keep your gambling up there or else pay more for the room.
I asked if husband and wife (I know some trying this) could book back to back in different names, but the hotel manager told me in most cases they know these folks are connected  and would charge the fee.
My play was live poker for the most part until last trip when I started seeding for the next trip with VP, but I'm not putting myself in a position to be constantly wondering if I'm good enough for day 8 at the EC.  I want firm upfront reservations, not genuflection to a host for favors.  If I get drunk and drop a few hundred, they win.  If I remain disciplined and frugal, I win, but they still make profit on the room at those rates. If I get sick and need days in bed, I have the comfort that it did not cost me anything extra.
Meanwhile there are still a few days a month when you can stay free on their popular promo.  I'll pay $60 a night for Cabana in October and get back $35 in freeplay and $25 in food each night I pay it.  Then the ACG coupon still gets you 2 Pavillion for $34 with tax or $50 plus tax for Cabana.  So, I did that.  My 8 nights or more that I intended to book at $34 average a night evolved into just 4 nights, 2 on the free deal and 2 Pavillion on the $34 deal.
My other nights I booked at the Gold Spike at $12 plus $9 resort fee for weekdays and $27 plus $9 for weekends.  I have not stayed there, but I have been curious.  
Last trip the EC promo pulled me out of a Gold Spike reservation, and my play gave them a few hundred dollars profit.  This trip I have no incentive to play a dime in VP and slots beyond my freeplay run through just once.  The way I do the math, EC lost.  And the way I do the math, they lose by not paying attention that I pay rakes for maybe 10 hour of live poker.  I'm not saying they should comp me rooms like Harrah's does, but they might guarantee no latent acting resort fee for that sort of play.
Don here on the board said it is all, "Who you know." I don't know anyone.
English Dave after calling his travel folks a few times did manage to get assurance that his 2 week stay is still okay.  
So there are exceptions.
I'm just soured by the whole hassle.  I know the casino wants to fleece us and get us out of there quickly and the bean counters have figured that we take up space after a few days, but to be so blatant about it and so unwelcoming is just against all EC images I know, the kind established by Jackie and followed by most staff there.
Gold Spike has no such limitation.  I have 9 nights booked there.  I may shorten those if I get freebie come ons from other places.
Stratosphere charges a $7.50 resort fee and that includes tower access, but after 5 nights it caps "as a convenience to our customers" and you can book 28 nights in a row there and pay just 5 nights of resort fee.
For much less money I got an open pool and free wifi at the Gold Spike.  Their gambling is not very good. (Well, I guess the BJ is not so bad and I'll probably play a bit of that. I hate staying at a spot and playing nothing there) However, there is nothing to make me play anything.  If I get sick and have to stay in bed for a week, I will still have my wifi and not be pressured to play for some resort fee that will kick in if I do not.
I will have a dawn to dusk open pool.  Unheated. But I'm pretty brave about cold water and I may just bring along a wetsuit.

I am currently booked 22 nights (Oct/Nov) at an average expense of under $21 a night fees and taxes included.  How the EC expects to attract folks like me and soften us up for a kill in this market I can't speculate.
However, I will say that board posts where I thought I was just informing folks of this new hidden and renamed resort fee to avoid having them find a surprise at checkout, have elicited plenty of support for the [B]casino's side of the issue.[/B]  
I'm amazed at that.  
Much of it is from folks who don't stay at the El Cortez or can't imagine anyone staying for more than 7 nights.  Some of it is rather naive suggestions that the EC is swamped with the near homeless and so must keep them at bay.  Why would anyone suffering a financial setback book a Cabana room for $34 a night when they could rent a three bedroom apartment in Vegas for that by the month and get a laundromat in the basement or when they could for $110-$125 get a week right down the street at the Eden Inn and in both cases not have to worry about their rent increasing when the next convention comes to town?
However, like the inflation of drink prices at the new glitzy bar, this sort of move indicates that the EC is moving on up along with the whole Fremont East neighborhood.  I celebrated this until I remembered again that it just eliminates one more frugal alternative as the clientele evolves into the "its only money" folks. 
The only way around the fee is to book 7 nights at the end of one month and 7 at the beginning of another which the hotel manager admitted I could "technically" do.
But I suppose they are working on that loophole as well.
Or perhaps saner minds will emerge.  One post on the Facebook page said that for now they had to abide by this new restriction which meant the person writing it thought it was a bad idea too.  It is a bad idea.  Perhaps they will rescind it.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Springs Preserve

note:  Elizabeth and I toured this Springs Preserve in Las Vegas last November.  I know I wrote it up at the time.  But it seems to be missing from my TR Snippets, so I am writing from memory.  6-2011re 

A Flashback post to November 2010
We were going to go out to Red Rock, but my wife just has not been feeling well enough. The Springs Preserve was a good compromise getting us out into the desert without taking us very far from Vegas.
I was less thrilled with it than she was. There seemed to me to be too much emphasis on buildings and the quiet I hoped for was interrupted by working earthmovers beeping beyond barriers and even by music piped out from the giftshop.
I also thought it was overpriced. Two of us paid $29 with a $4 each coupon from one of the magazines. Locals pay much less.
To give it its due, we could not expect to see much of nature in November. In the garden area I was surprised to see so many plants in flower. In the desert it looked more like November. Perhaps in April it would have seemes a more dramatic adventure.
I did enjoy the pathway in the desert. Even midday we saw birds that were new to us there. The path also went between the barren desert and growth from what at least once was water from the springs and the contrast was interesting.
Had we come a little earlier, we would have seen the practice for a raptor show to be given the day before. So perhaps gearing a visit to a day when something is happening is a good strategy.
I could see how beneficial this place is for children. One room in particular took an interesting approach and offered children the opportunity to bring in some unspoiled bit of nature and trade for a different kind. So a child who had found an unusual rock or pine cone, might enjoy it a while and then trade it for another. One boy had brought in a rock with a vein of tourquoise and labeled it from a closed mine.
I was also unimpressed with the Wolfgang Puck cafeteria, but my wife liked having a tasty bowl of soup and time to sit outdoors with a Vegas view a long way in the distance.
So it was a mixed trip. I probably would not go solo again, but my wife thought it a highlight of our time together.

Elizabeth really had a fine day there and enjoyed it all. She was delighted I had found it for here.  She does not gamble and for five days in November I managed to get her because I had comped nice Harrah's rooms and promised to not gamble that week. 

It might be more interesting in the spring where more things were in bloom.  There was on garden area that was full of flowers, but these were clearly cultivated and cared for and while nice enough did not seem to reflect natural desert.

The day after we visited there was to be a show with raptors.  They had the birds out and had just finished a practice session when we arrived.  I was sorry not to see that.
I thought the price was a bit steep.  We had a coupon from some display and still it was pricey.
We ate at the Wolfgang Puck Cafeteria and could see Vegas in the distance. It was good enough food, but nothing that seemed outstanding.
I am not certain if it was just that I was not open that day to being impressed, or that the place was less than impressive.  I do remember that down part of the hike we could see the contrast between desert and a place where green things had access to water, and that contrast was impressive.  I noticed a similar sort of thing hiking the Calico section of Red Rock in May.
Perhaps that is part of my trouble as well.  I love Red Rock and try to hike a section each time I go. So I suppose that I wanted to compare this to Red Rock and it was, of course, not anything like that.  Here is my last TR snippet on Red Rock.

My wife remembers best sitting at the Wolfgang Puck deck looking out.  She remembers a good tasting squash soup that was good and thought the deck was beautiful.
We saw a few birds, but not too many.
Perhaps she liked it because we were outside rather than in a casino.
"It was a good break from the indoor cranky noises and the damn Wheel of Fortune screaming at me."
So you get where she is coming from.

But, we did see some fine things at the Springs Preserve and take a few nice photos.  Here they are:

These last photos were all from the Springs Preserve in 2010 November.

As another comparison, we also spent a day in 2007 walking around the Nevada college campus and there were small desert gardens there and some displays of interesting things in cases in the buildings. I had a great time that day. Perhaps I liked it because it was free.

The students were on break so it was a deserted campus. We poked around and finally found the outdoor desert garden and the Natural History museum. We enjoyed both. In the museum were cases of icons from Mexico, gods and godesses of long ago. I took lots of photos but include a few.

I would also compare this experience to the Henderson Water Preserve

which we had also visited.  This is not a desert experience, but it is good birding and there is a large area to walk around.  Ironically, to me, this addition to a water quality plant seemed more natural than the Springs Preserve.  Here we brought a sandwich and binoculars, there was no music and only one small building.  We could hike about five water ponds and sit next to them and have a sandwich and watch the waterfowl.

Perhaps the Springs Preserve will become a more interesting destintion when this Museum is moved and established there.
I don't know how that is going.

This is the last I read about it.  I want to see the state fossil that will be there eventually.  In November I will try to see where it is and go see it.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Planning for November


I have air booked from Oct 30 to Nov 17.
I have tentative booking through of the Cabana suite rooms at the El Cortez for the first 9 nights, but I can cancel and punch in any freebies I want to as they become bookable.

The first week is one booking.
Then I have two nights on the ACG for Pavillion.
I had to cancel my second booking thru because it put me over my 7 night calendar month limit in booked rooms at the El Cortez Cabana.
I kept the first week Oct 30-NOv 6 in Cabana, and they let me add the ACG coupon two nights in a Pavillion room, so I can stay until Nov8. Then that's it folks for the EC and me for the month of November. It may change how long I stay downtown since I can't come back as I had planned.
Gold Spike has competitive prices on even with the resort fee figured in the math. Free wifi as well. I may end up there.
Four Queens wants me for two or three nights free. Usually an extention is not much money.
So I won't be homeless.
But it does take the edge off my newly building delight with the El Cortez.
And I won't play VP there this next trip. Just live poker. They even lose a part of me in that because this makes the Harrah's rooms look good for the end of my visit and it I am there, I will play at IP.

My play last time should generate some offers from Sam's Town, El Cortez, Four Queens, Orleans, CET group.  My losses should make me a desirable candidate for some free nights.
According to a host, the 4 Queens will definitely offer me two or three nights but the details won't be out until August.
If 4Qwould give me three nights 11-12-13 and I booked the El Cortez with the ACG coupon for 14-15, I could stay downtown the entire trip and leave on the free shuttle from the EC.  That would leave just 9-10 uncovered and perhaps the EC would comp me those nights, or I could find a cheap price or add them cheaply on to the 4 Queens offer.
If the 4 Queens only give me the weekend nights, then I should try to get a comp for 13-14-15 by a host at the EC and book using the ACG coupon for 9-10.  If I can't get 13-14-15 covered, then it is off to Imperial Palace for the $20 special.  It might be anyway if I manage two free nights at Harrah's or IP for 13-14.
If the 4 Queens donesn't give the weekend nights, then look at the Orleans for those followed by three nights at the IP at $20 ( or less with freebies)

for $20 a night I can finish off the trip at Imperial Palace and be near the early morning games with cracked Aces and Kings.
I am interested in good rates from Gold Coast or Super 8 Koval as they have heated pools.
It might be easier for me to see relatives if I spent some of the time on Boulder.
But part of me wants to just stay downtown for most of this next trip.
And if the 4 queens would give me the weekend of 11-12, I'd stay downtown.
It is very premature to be looking for deals.  They come a bit closer to the time.