Impressed with South Coast
Just returned from Vegas (Feb. 21 - 24, 2006). Spent first night at South Coast and next 2 nights at Mandalay Bay. I was very impressed with South Coast! From the moment we arrived EVERY EMPLOYEE of the hotel/casino we were involved with was extremely nice, helpful, and johnny on the spot. The entire place was very clean and did not have the traditional individual casino smell. No stray glasses or dirty ashtrays laying around, bathrooms clean and smelled good. Hit a $1,000 jackpot on video poker that night after checked in (royal flush on 25 cent machine)!!!! The rooms were very large and spacious, very clean, great view, comfy beds, nice plasma tvs with separate wireless computer keyboard, for contacting front desk etc., directly from the tv. My only complaint was the mexican restaurant. Didn't have time to eat at the buffet, but the mexican restaurant staff was lacking. I had the fahitas which were very good and could have easily been split into 2 but my friend had enchiladas and stuffed peppers, which he did not like at all. Watch out for the salsa and dip that they give you - it is actually a bean dip, not cheese dip, and needless to say stomachs were very lively for several days after that!!!!! But the South Coast casino/hotel is a very good new, clean, hospitable, comfortable, friendly, reasonably priced place to stay if you rent a car to go other places as you wish.
Nice Stay at the South Coast (Steak & Eggs paradise)
We stayed at the South Coast for four nights during the week of 03/13/06.
When they say “south,” they ain’t kidding! It’s about 8 miles south of the airport on Las Vegas Blvd (The Strip). I guess it’s not so bad, once you get used to it, but the people in our party kept saying stuff like, “Where on earth IS this place?!”, etc.
Once we found it and figured out how to navigate the traffic scheme into the front area, we found check in to be friendly, efficient, and the bell service to be very quick and attentive.
Rooms were spacious and decently appointed, including iron and ironing board. Missing: In-room safes. Also the in-room coffee had ridiculously small 1-cup servings, obviously meant to steer you to the Seattle’s Best stand by the front door, which features excellent coffee and pastries.
Housekeeping and bell service was on the spot with special requests.
The Coronado Café is a pretty standard 24-hour coffee shop. Standard fare, along with a Chinese menu. Food was good, but the Chinese selections were about average. Prices O.K, especially the specials.
The bright spot at the Coronado is the best “Graveyard Special” steak & eggs ever. At $3.95 it is the best quality and value I’ve found for this in 25+ years of travel to Las Vegas. A large thick cut of sirloin without and fat or gristle. Well worth a visit during the special’s hours, midnite to 6 AM.
The Big Sur Oyster Bar was another story. Slow service (took 40 min. from the time I sat down until I got food) and high prices will keep me out of this place for years to come. They seemed understaffed, but the configuration just didn't lend itself to efficiency, IMHO.
The Garden Buffet had average buffet fare at prices I wouldn’t consider low, by any means. I don’t know who coined the phrase for them “Upscale in everything but price,” but they ought to give them a bonus for exaggeration.
On the other hand, Baja Miguel’s was a real find. Quiet, pleasant, with quick, attentive service and decent prices. The only change we’d make would be to split the meals as their portions are gut-bustin' big!
The casino is attractive, well ventilated, and with a friendly staff of dealers. The only thing that puzzled me was that, since opening in December of ’05, how come all of the tables in their unimpressive poker room got so beat-up and worn looking. Did they buy ‘em second hand? An upgrade in this area would do a lot, as the rest of the casino is really pretty. Oh yeah. You'll have to keep all of your spare change, as the slot machines are the ticket-in/out types.
They run a free shuttle up to the Barbary Coast on the Strip during much of the day, so travelers without a rental car aren’t left stranded and out of the action. The ride takes about 20 min. Cab fare from the center Strip is about $20.00. South Coast is also a Trolly stop.
The hotel has an equestrian center attached, which was hosting one of their first events the week we were there. A nice, well-heeled and similarly well behaved crowd gave us someone to rub shoulders with other than the standard-issue locals and retirees.
On the way back to the airport, the “Where on earth IS this place?” comments were replaced by, “Wow! That was nice. We’d stay here again anytime.”
I'll second that nomination.
Great off-strip hotel for returning visitors to Vegas
For those of you who have been to Vegas and want to stay at a quality hotel off the strip, this is the hotel for you. Even though the swimming pool area is not completed yet, with the 64 lane bowling alley, 16 screen movie theater, casino, arcade and horse show arena, there is plenty to keep you busy. The rooms are a good size with very comfortable beds. It is only about 4 or 5 miles south of Mandalay Bay Hotel. It has a reasonably priced buffet, and excellent Oyster Bar and a Seattle's best coffee shop. It is away from the crowds and traffic. If you rent a car like we did, you will have no problem driving to the strip and parking in one of the hotels parking lots either on the strip or downtown. If you don't rent a car, this hotel has a free shuttle to the Barbary Coast on the strip. But, don't miss the Bass Pro Shop on RT. 15 across the way from the South Coast. It is attached to the Silverton Casino and it is HUGE!! Highly recommend this hotel.
"Monday, September 28th"
After a long day of work, I drove to O'Hare to jump on a United flight for our annual trip to Vegas. This was to be an extremely light visitation year - Dave had dropped out due to work concerns a few weeks prior to departure, and so it was just me, Greg, and Doug. Greg and Doug had already been in town since Saturday, and Doug was only to be in town one more day. I killed a little time at O'Hare, including watching a send off of the Chicago Olympic Committee, and enjoyed an ice cream cone from McDonalds. The flight was uneventful, and I landed just shy of 11:00 pm, and caught a cab to the MGM. I was sort of glad I did, too, because the cab ride for just that short trip was $16! I walked across the MGM, across the Strip, and through NYNY to the front desk. We had gotten the NYNY for a low, low price of $70 a night after tax. Since the brothers were already sleeping, I decided to forgo any late night activities in hopes of a full Tuesday.
"Tuesday, September 29th"
As usual, I awoke on Chicago time, which meant about 6:00 am Vegas time. Knowing I'd be unpopular if I made a call this early, I got dressed and walked around the casino. As my years have gone on, my appetite for risk has shrunk, so I played a few bucks in the machines and window shopped (for some reason, the gift shops don't follow my schedule.) Eventually, I got bored, and called upstairs and learned the boys has woke up and were getting ready. Greg and Doug had passes on the monorail that would expire later in the day, so we decided to head north (not that there was much to do south.) We ducked in and out of a few places along the way, including taking a break at our favorite bank of video machines in the Bellagio, where we got a few drinks.
Next, we cut across the street and headed north to Encore, which had opened since we had last been there. We found another bank of machines, got a little more booze, then headed over to the gift shop. I'm a collector of the used decks of cards, and scooped up a deck with the Encore insignia. Later, I learned that these were "souvenir" decks, and the Encore/Wynn and Palazzo/Venetian no longer sell used decks for security reasons :(
For lunch, we sallied forth to Mirage, home of the Cravings Buffet. Since reinventing themselves, Cravings has become one of my favorite lunchtime standbys, and this year was no different. We feasted for a while, topping the seafood and Chinese dishes that dominated my runs with a few scoops of gelato and agreed to grab the monorail at Harrah's and head north to the Sahara. We didn't find too much to play there, so we started the trek back to the north end of the strip. Along the way. we passed the defunct Fountainbleu project, which looked like it would be a neat place, but died after being 75% complete. We cut through Circus Circus and Slots of Fun, but not finding happy people in either place, we pushed onward. This time, past the defunct Echelon Place project, which was being done by Coast Casinos (my personal favorite) before the economy collapsed.
We hit Caesars in time for the statue show in the Forum shops, then hit Bellagio again to check out the display in the conservancy, which included a scale model Bellagio, complete with fountain show. Time for a little more machine gaming (and another drink), before traipsing back to NYNY and deciding on dinner. After a few false starts: we almost went to Diablos, but checked out the online ratings, then almost did the Brew Pub, but decided we weren't in the mood, we landed on Dinner at Raffles Cafe in Mandalay Bay. Having been there a few times, we knew we'd be in for a decent meal, and this year was no exception. We ended the day by walking back up to Planet Hollywood's Miracle Mile shops and grabbing Ben and Jerrys, followed by a Gatorade run at the ABC store there before it was time to give Doug a sad goodbye and call it a night. On the day: 1 buffet, 5 free drinks, and up an astounding $4 from the various games.
"Wednesday, September 30th"
Greg and I decided to spend the early part of the day off strip over by Rio/Gold Coast. First, I needed some Carmex from the nearby CVS, and while there, also got Vitamin Water and a candy bar - the breakfast of champions. We grabbed the monorail again up to Harrahs, where we could then try to catch the free shuttle over to the Rio. We timed it perfectly, and jumped on the shuttle just as it was pulling up. Soon, we were in the land of the Gold Coast, Rio, and Palms. Still unwilling to commit to table games, we played a little bit, enough for a couple of drinks, then had the dilemma of what to do about lunch.
We finally decided to give Guardunos in the Palms another shot. We had eaten here a few years prior when they had a breakfast buffet and I was fairly disappointed. However, this time it was a full menu - I went with fish tacos and a Mango margarita. Spectacular lunch, and the place was fully redeemed in my eyes. We went across the street and caught the shuttle at the Gold Coast back to Bills on the strip. From there, it was time to hit Bellagio again to replenish our liquids, and play a little more VP and VBJ. I was up a little again, and we started the trek back south.
I needed souvenirs for the kiddies. We stopped in the Coke store first, where I picked up a golf ball, then headed next door to the M&M World where I got a snow globe for Katie. Then, we went to the Vegas World store in NYNY and I got an Elmo shirt for Jack (a regular Elmo shirt, but with the words "Las Vegas" at the bottom.
We dumped our goods off in the room, then it was time to start wandering the south side of the strip in search of dinner. We played a little at Luxor and Mandalay Bay in between (another drink or two for fuel as well.) Eventually, the sign at the Tropicana advertising two Lobster tails for $20 won us over. We trooped up to the Legends Steakhouse and ordered the special - which of course we needed to supplement with a glass of wine and a salad...by the time it was over, the $20 special was a $47 bill apiece, but we like to eat, so we didn't mind.
We did a little gambling on the way back to the rooms...which netted us one more drink. That forced a quick run to CVS for real liquid refreshment, then time to shut it down. No buffets, but two awesome meals, 6 free drinks, and up another $11 on the games. Yes!
"Thursday, October 1st"
Having spent time on and off the strip already, we decided our next conquest was to go downtown. We grabbed a cab early in the morning, then spent time wandering around. We played for a while on nickel roulette at Fitzgeralds, and did some machines at the Four Queens as well. I picked up golf balls at Binions (they threw in a free deck of cards, nice!) and Main Street Station. I marvel at what happened to Binions. Our first few trips downtown, that was our favorite spot - I hit my first Royal there, and we played $2 BJ for hours. It's a shell of its former self - very sad :( We also took a slight detour off of Fremont street to El Cortez and the Gold Spike. Both look much, much better than they used to, (probably because we were visiting in daylight as opposed to the last visit, in 1996, which was at night.)
For lunch, we knew there were really only two viable buffet options downtown - Main Street Station and Golden Nugget. We decided on the Nugget. We got to sit with a view of the pool and the um, interesting people that were swimming there. Lunch was decent for what we paid - nothing was great, but there was enough to fill you up nicely. Afterwards, I irritated Greg by stopping at Mermaids for free beads, then displayed them proudly.
We caught a cab back to the north end of the strip, then road the monorail back to the NYNY. After a quick run down to the Luxor for some gambling (and the freebies that come with it), we started debating about dinner, and decided to head up to Ellis Island for their best-in-town steak dinner deal. As usual, we got on the list, and had an hour to kill in the casino (full pay VP, though, so no regrets...other than the $20 I lost while waiting.) And, as usual, dinner was great - salad, green beans, potatoes, steak and a beer for $10 after tip.
We did a little Bellagio time, then we went to check out the new Mirage volcano show. Lots more pyrotechnics, but like all things that are "improved" - it wasn't as good as the original show to me. Very popular though - the lines along the fence were pretty heavy. Having not gotten ice cream the night before, we stopped at the Haagen-Dazs in the Venetian before heading south to call it a night. The machines came back with a vengeance today - I lost $43, made up in part with 5 free drinks and one buffet.
"Friday, October 2nd"
The day started with the news that the Chicago Olympic committee failed in their bid. While Olympics in our backyard would have been neat, this city is incredibly broke, so maybe it was a blessing in disguise.
We had been on strip, off strip, and downtown, so today was a day to go way off strip to three new locals casinos. We rented a car at NYNY, and began our journey. First up was the Eastside Cannery. We had visited it's sister property a few years back, and this one was built on the site of the former Nevada Palace (which was a true dump.) We got the cards, got some chips, and wandered around the spacious casino. I would end up staying here a month later.
Next, we took the long drive to North Las Vegas and the new Alliante Station. Another very beautiful casino, but I wonder how many people will make the trek way out here. I guess this may be a real locals place, but it was quiet while we visited.
Our final stop was the M resort. We joined the slot club for $ off our lunch, and were also rewarded with free T-shirts. The Studio B Buffet is definitely high on our list after this visit. The food lines seemingly go on forever, with many great options. It is capped off with a great dessert selection, including a dozen flavors of gelato. I gorged myself at this one - there were just so many dishes and sides to try that I couldn't stop!
We decided to make a stop at the Orleans. Greg jumped in on the Craps table, but I wasn't seeing anything I wanted to do, so I went over to the bar and bought a beer (figuring it was easier and cheaper than waiting for a waitress.)
We headed back to NYNY and saw the beginning of a traffic jam. Not thinking ahead, we parked the car at the garage and went in to relax. Out our window, we saw the mess was being caused by repairs to the roller coaster. The line in the parking garage extended all the way up to the top, meaning we were stuck without our wheels for a while. It finally cleared up about two hours later, and that meant dinner time.
Our new experience for dinner was to be the prime rib special at the Coronado Cafe in the South Point casino. This is another off menu item - salad, 12 oz. prime rib, and potatoes for $13. While not the cheapest special in the world, it certainly was a good dinner. We took a cursory look around the casino, and had we not been at the end of the trip, it probably would have been a good place to stay - plenty of $5 tables with room. As it was, we pretty much called it a trip at that point. With all the travelling, I stayed away from the gaming, and thus the drinking. I finished up a whole $1, no free drinks, one buffet.
"Saturday, October 3rd"
I returned the car early. As I was passing through security, they looked long and hard at my bag, then took me out of line. I had no idea what the issue was, then they asked "do you have a snow globe in here?" Because they can't validate the liquid in there, I had the choice of tossing baby girl's souvenir or going downstairs to check my bag. I chose the latter, not remembering until getting down there the $20 fee to check a bag. Oh well - a lesson I won't soon forget. I grabbed a breakfast pizza at California Pizza Kitchen in the airport before boarding. Not bad - we did really well with all the meals this trip. Totaling it up: 16 drinks, three buffets, and only down $27 at the gaming. Woo-hoo!
Viva Las Vegas!
"Welcome to Las Vegas!!!"
Without a doubt, Vegas is my favorite vacation destination. After making this our senior spring break, my friends and I have returned at least once a year for over 15 years. Since it is always changing, there is always something new to see and do. It's one of the few places that truly does have something for everyone. We're partial to eating, drinking, and a little gambling on the side. We do our best to stay somewhere new every time we get out there.
November of 2010 was my 22nd trip to Vegas! Several of these places are no more (I'd say sadly, but who really misses the Vagabond Inn?)
1) 1995 - Circus Circus
2) 1996 - Excalibur
3) 1997 - Frontier
4) 1998 - Motel 6 (I-15), The Orleans
5) 1999 - Vagabond Inn, Imperial Palace
6) 2000 (1) - Comfort Inn (Koval), Ballys
7) 2000 (2) - Vagabond Inn, Tropicana
8) 2001 - Vagabond Inn, Westward Ho
9) 2002 (1)- Motel 6 (Tropicana), Luxor
10) 2002 (2) - Flamingo, Ballys
11) 2002 (3) - Treasure Island
12) 2003 - San Remo, MGM
13) 2004 - San Remo, Monte Carlo
14) 2005 - Barbary Coast
15) 2006 - Gold Coast, Harrahs
16) 2007 (1) - South Point
17) 2007 (2) - Planet Hollywood
18) 2008 - MGM
19) 2009 (1) - NYNY
20) 2009 (2) - Encore, Eastside Cannery
21) 2010 (1) - Mirage
22) 2010 (2) - Aria, Sam's Town
Check out my travelogues for blow-by-blow accounts of our group trips to Vegas. The dizzying highs! The stunning lows! Random comments made to complete strangers and all the groping of wax statues we've ever experienced are accounted for here.
Because I'm limited to 10 travelogues, you can visit my homepage for the archived reports. I don't do write ups for business trips and didn't start until 2000 (which means you can't read about the origins of Tram-boy or find out what the stench was in our room at the Circus Circus...)
Thanks for stopping by!