Category Archives: Las Vegas

Get 5x Amex Points in Las Vegas!

I recently received a post card-type mailer from American Express and MGM Resorts letting me know that every dollar charged to my Amex at any MGM-branded resort in Las Vegas would earn 5x points. You can also view the deal online.

Get 5x points at MGM Resorts in Las Vegas!

Get 5x points at MGM Resorts in Las Vegas!

It does not appear to be a targeted offer and there’s no registration link anywhere I could find. The terms and conditions don’t specifically state that we need to book through them, either. The terms simply state that “to be eligible to earn bonus points, you must be enrolled in the Membership Rewards program at the time of purchase…”

This offer is valid for everything charged to your room (including the room rate) during your stay in Las Vegas. Food and gift store items can definitely be charged to your room, and I believe that show tickets can also be charged if you can wait to buy them at the hotel. And no, I’ve not yet found a way to charge black jack or slots to the room. Note the maximum points you can earn per transaction for this promotion is 100K points, or a ridiculous $20K per transaction!

This offer is valid from 9/4/12 to 2/28/13, so there’s plenty of time left.

I’ve been to Vegas several times recently and I happened to get a free stay at one of the 13 eligible resorts. If you’re going to Vegas anytime soon I think you’ll find my reviews to be somewhat useful. I reviewed the Mandalay Bay as well as a Cirque du Soleil show, and my friend B.Positive did a write-up of some pretty good food.

MGM Resorts Las Vegas List: Aria, Bellagio, Vdara, MGM Grand, The Signature at MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, THEHotel at Mandalay Bay, Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York New York, Luxor, Excalibur, Circus Circus.

Official Terms and Conditions: 

Points offer valid 9/4/12 to 2/28/13. To be eligible to earn bonus points, you must be enrolled in the Membership Rewards program (“Program”) at the time of purchase and you must charge your purchase on an eligible, enrolled American Express Card. Maximum 100,000 points per transaction during promotion period. Bonus points will be credited to your Program account within 6-8 weeks after charges appear on your billing statement. Terms and Conditions for the Membership Rewards program apply. Visit membershiprewards.com/terms or call 1-800-AXP-EARN (297-3276) for more information. Bonus ID: A3AR.

Purchases can be made at any eligible vendor on location at the 13 Las Vegas MGM Resorts International resorts and must be charged to your room. Your final room bill must be paid with your eligible, enrolled American Express Card to receive 5X points. Offer is subject to promotional availability, and blackout dates apply. MGM Resorts International® is unable to guarantee specific room types and locations; however a sincere effort will be made to accommodate your needs. Offer is not available for existing reservations. This offer is non-transferable, subject to availability, not available to groups or persons attending meetings or conventions, and may not be combined with any other MGM Resorts International promotion. All prices are subject to taxes and/or resort fees and based on double occupancy on a per-night basis. You must be 21 years of age or older. MGM Resorts International reserves the right to cancel or modify this promotion at its discretion and without prior notice.

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Las Vegas – Mandalay Bay Review

A few weeks back I took a quick weekend road trip down to Las Vegas with a couple of friends. The decision to go was simple because I got free nights! How? Well, that’s an interesting story…

About a year back, I was in Vegas with my family. While waiting for my Dad to finish up playing blackjack at Circus Circus, I decided to put $20 in a nickel slot machine. I’m not much of a gambler at all, but within a couple of minutes I turned that $20 into $100 and was ecstatic. I cashed out and went back to where I was staying at the MGM Grand.

There, I put that $100 back in to another nickel slot (same type of game for good luck) and again that $100 turned into about $500. I was shocked, and started having fun, so I decided to go all out. I did the max bet ($4-$5) on each spin from that point on because I figured that I was playing with free money anyway. A casino employee saw me spinning like a high-roller and said “Hey, you’re playing a lot of money! You should sign up for a players card!” I politely declined, saying “I don’t really care…I’m just messing around” or something to that effect. She REALLY insisted, and actually signed me up for an MGM players club card on the spot.

I did finally stop winning more money and ended up at $300 or so, but that was after a lot of fluctuation up and down (I played for many hours over two days). But over the next 12 months, I started getting all kinds of email offers for free nights, including buffets and all kinds of other discounts.

I took advantage of one offer for two free nights at Aria with two buffet passes, and it was fantastic. I played a little bit of poker and a little bit of slots, but ended up losing a few hundred on that trip.

A few months later I get an offer for free nights at Mandalay Bay…this trip. Okay…now on to the review.

We left after work on Friday, so we didn’t get to the Mandalay Bay until after midnight. Valet parking was full but if you’re staying at the hotel they were happy to valet.

The lobby area was pretty empty and there was no line for check in. I decided to do something I’ve never done before… the so-called “$20 trick.” If you’ve never heard of it, you’re probably not alone. Here’s what it is: when checking in, you hand your credit card and driver’s license/ID with a folded $20 bill in between the cards (the “sandwich”), ask for a “complimentary” upgrade, and then get upgraded to a much better room while the person checking you in pockets your $20. Shady, absolutely, but this website shows that it’s clearly done all the time.

I’m not gonna lie…I was really nervous trying this. It feels slightly unethical, but I figured worst-case scenario is that I lose $20, best case is that I get an awesome room for the weekend. The reviews on the website noted that the later you checked in the lower the chances you had for an upgrade, so I wasn’t expecting much. I handed her the sandwich, asked if any complimentary upgrades were available, and was told that the hotel was booked for the weekend. The entire sandwich was handed back to me, with no mention made of the cash (though we both clearly knew what was going on). It didn’t work, but I’d try it again.

After a long walk to the end of the hallway we finally got to the room.

View of the Entry

The room looked great on entry. You can tell it was a little bit worn as we were in the older part of the hotel, but it was definitely good for what we needed.

The room – everything you’d expect and need.

The room had two queen-size beds as I requested, along with a coffee table and two chairs. Internet is free as part of the resort fee (I HATE these fees), but thankfully was covered as part of my complimentary accommodations. The lighting in the room was pretty good and the temperature control was easy with the thermostat. As I mentioned, this hotel is a little older, so the curtains were showing some age and had to be drawn manually (oh how lazy I’ve become).

Bathroom entry view (looking from the room towards bathroom)

The bathroom was great. Very clean, decked out in marble, had a flat panel TV on the wall in the sink area, a huge Roman tub, separate shower, and a the door ahead is for the toilet.

The shower was my favorite. The water pressure was AMAZING, and temperature control was perfectly precise. When it’s 100+ degrees outside, it’s nice to be able to take a shower the exact way you want it (yes, I love showers).

The bathtub, which I didn’t make use of but looked great.

The sink was everything you’d need, and plenty of towels.

Again, the bathroom was great. The only thing I take issue with, and I’m absolutely nitpicking here, is that the toilet was REALLY loud when flushing. You know the sound a flushing toilet makes on an airplane? A really loud, sucking sound? It was sort of like that. It scared the hell out of me the first time I flushed, and when I woke up to go in the middle of the night it happened again. Be wary of the Mandalay Bay toilet!

My terrible picture of our view.

Sadly I didn’t realize I took such an awful picture of our view. Still, it’s somewhat useful to give you an idea of where things are. The big, green-ish building towards the left is the MGM Grand. The Mandalay Bay is the first major casino on the Strip, and if you rarely come to Las Vegas, I would NOT recommend this casino (unless it were free, of course). Location-wise, I’d pick a hotel near the middle of the Strip. Aria, Bellagio, The Venetian, The Cosmopolitan, etc. are all great choices.  You can walk to nearly anywhere you want from these hotels, but from Mandalay you’ll need to drive to get to where you’re going.

On the plus side, the hotel is right next to the Las Vegas airport (LAS). Honestly though, it doesn’t make a difference. Spend the extra five minutes or $20 to get a room in a hotel with a prime location.

As for activities, unfortunately I wasn’t able to do much because I was sick all of Saturday, the only day I really had there. You can see B.Positive’s post here regarding some awesome food we ate.

KA logo, from the MGM Grand website.

Aside from that, we watched the show “KA” at the MGM Grand. I got discounted tickets from my membership with MGM loyalty program (recently renamed M Life) for the three of us that went. The show was great, and everything you’d expect from Cirque du Soleil. I’ve seen several of their shows in Vegas, and this is one of my favorites. This is one of the few (possibly the only) that actually has some semblance of a story line, which is a huge plus for me since I’m not big on art or the abstract.

Sunday afternoon we left a bit early to avoid traffic. Because I didn’t feel well all of Saturday, I ended up not spending a single penny gambling. That was good and bad.

Good because I didn’t lose any money. Bad because the free hotel offers stopped! I actually got an email with another free offer, but when I called to redeem I was told I essentially didn’t spend enough and was not eligible. When I asked how much I needed to spend, I was told “$150 a hand for 4 hours a day.” I seriously doubt that number because I definitely didn’t spend that much EVER, so I’m thinking it’s more like $150/hour.

BUT, I checked my M Life account recently and found some new offers for free and/or discounted nights! I’ll have to call in to see if it’ll work, but my fingers are crossed!

If you take away only one thing from this post, let it be this: SIGN UP FOR A PLAYERS CARD AT EVERY CASINO! It’s free to sign up and could potentially be very valuable (I value my free nights at about $230).

 

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Las Vegas – Max Brenner and Wicked Spoon

This is a guest post written by frequent contributor B.Positive.

August 2012 Las Vegas Trip Report:

In the late summer of 2012, marZ took advantage of a free Mandalay Bay room offer and we had a chance to visit Vegas on the cheap (the key to free rooms? Get a player’s card and play like you don’t need money). MarZ will have more details and pictures on the room and the hotel stay.

Friday: We drove down on Friday night, got in and waited for Saturday (we like to live life on the edge in case you’re wondering..).

Saturday: We went to Max Brenner for lunch. If you’ve been here a while ago, there’s a good chance it’s changed significantly since you’ve been here. No longer is it primarily focused on desserts and sweets, but it now carries an excellent food menu as well. If you do happen to visit again, the following were excellent:

Hazelnut Cream Chocolate Milkshake: The best milkshake I’ve ever had (not kidding).

If you go to Max Brenner, you MUST try this milkshake. MUST! Don’t try the smoothies, sodas, or anything else. Just this! Maybe the tea as well.

Went back the next day for Sunday Brunch and had blueberry tea.

The most flavorful entree I tasted was the tomato mozarella panini. It’s seasoned with bits of basil (my favorite). The dish from bottom to top was made well and is something I’d get again.

Tomato Mozarella Panini from Max Brenner.

Aside from Max Brenner, the remainder of this post is picture-less.

Max Brenner overall gets my endorsement. Located right in the Forum Shops, the ambience, decor, service, and food made it a great experience. The restaurant has a candy shop inside and is decorated like the inside of a Willy Wonka Factory.

Saturday was also filled with the dinner buffet at Wicked Spoon (located in The Cosmopolitan) which had long lines, small servings, and slightly bland dishes and desserts (perhaps it taste better… not-sober). The Cosmopolitan itself seems to be contained within a relatively small footprint (everything is centered around a huge chandelier and lots of escalators) but I didn’t spend a lot of time there before we rushed off to see KA by Circque de Soleil at the MGM.

Personally, I enjoyed KA much more the second time around after having a friend explain to me what was going on (critical thinking isn’t my strongest character trait). KA and O, both by Cirque de Soleil, were very enjoyable. For those of you with an appreciation for raunchy theater, check out Zumanity ;).

Overall, Vegas was fun. I aimed to have a less touristy experience, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. I still very much enjoy the hotels, the restaurants, and the glamour, so  the authentic local Vegas experience will have to wait for another time.

Until next time.

– B.Positive.

Music video of the week.

P.S. I played at my first open mic in my life! I played this song (but probably didn’t sound as good):