Las Vegas Tips
 

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LIMOUSINE SHUTTLE

You have several options for getting from the airport to your hotel. Shuttle buses cost $5 to Strip hotels and $7 to downtown hotels per person (but it can take over an hour to get to your hotel). Taking a taxi will cost you about $15 to Strip hotels and over $20 to downtown hotels (but you will get to your hotel much sooner). Limousines cost $55 to $65. If you are in a group of six people (or you can get a group of six together from your flight while waiting at the baggage carousel), splitting this fee six ways comes out to about $10 a person. Note that all six people will have to be going to hotels in the same general area.

The ground transportation diagram on the Diagrams page will show you where the shuttle bus and limos are located at both airport terminals.

 If you decide to take a cab to your Strip hotel, be sure to tell the driver "don't take the freeway." Some less-than-honest cab drivers will take a round-about freeway route which will raise your fare from less than $15 to over $20.

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REMOTE CHECK-IN

If you're staying at Ballys, Caesars Palace, Flamingo, the Hilton, MGM Grand, New York New York, or Paris you can check into your hotel at the airport while you are waiting for your bags in the baggage claim area of Terminal 1.

There are two offices with registration desks just off the "Carousels 1-8" area. One handles check-ins for MGM Grand and New York New York (9 am to 11 pm), while the other handles check-ins for the Park Place properties (all the others mentioned above - 9 am to 1 am). You register and get your room key there and when you arrive at your hotel you can go straight to your room.

The location of these remote hotel registration desks are shown on the ground transportation diagram on the Diagrams page.

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LATE CHECK-OUT

Check-out time at most hotels is noon. However, most offer a "late check-out" option for a price. If your flight doesn't leave until the evening, using this late check-out option can give you another all-nighter at the tables or another day of sunning out by the pool. Simply ask a front desk clerk for check-out times and costs.

 If you have a players card for the hotel because you were getting your play rated, ask about getting this late check-out as a comp.

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GOOD HOTELS FOR....

Vegas hotel room prices can fluctuate wildly. Prices depend on how many conventions are in town and how big they are. The big computer convention, Comdex, hits town close to Thanksgiving and it's almost impossible to get a room while it's there. Weekends with big sporting events like the Superbowl (January) and college basketball's "Final 4" (March) will also see a shortage of rooms. If you check room prices and they're high, check the prices for the following week or weekend. They very well could be lower. Rooms are also always higher on Friday and Saturday nights. Monday through Wednesday nights are typically the lowest (again, providing there's not a big convention in town). However, most limited engagement performers only have shows on Friday and Saturday night.

In addition to the normal "rack rate", most places also have a reduced "casino rate" for those who patronize their slot machines and tables. You may even be able to get your room for free. See the Getting "Rated" section on the Gaming page for information on how to take advantage of that.


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TIPPING

Customer service positions are historically low-paying jobs and Las Vegas is no exception. The people you interact with count on tips for a decent living so don't forget them while you're on your trip. They often get stiffed or are treated rudely when people take their lousy luck out on them. I generally tip as follows:
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FREE GUIDE

What's On is a free magazine that lists (in most cases including times and cost) all of the shows, buffets, restaurants, shopping malls, recreation areas, etc. as well as contains plenty of ads for all of the helicopter and ground tours, sky-diving, glider rides, and oodles of other activities available in and around Las Vegas. Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, the Grand Canyon, and Death Valley are popular tours as well as local tours. It also contains numerous coupons for shows, restaurants, and other activities that can add up to quite a savings.

 Hoover Dam Tour
If you are planning on visiting Hoover Dam, do not take a car. Take one of the tour buses as efforts are made to get them in and out faster and traffic near the dam tends to be very heavy. Early morning is the best time to go to try and beat some of the rush. Also, for security reasons no purses, camera bags, pouches, backpacks, or any other bags are allowed on the tour so leave those in your hotel room.

Copies of What's On are sometimes hard to find. Ask your hotel's concierge or front desk for a copy. There are racks with copies in different areas. On my last trip, racks were located in the Excalibur tram station and in the Desert Passage inside the Aladdin.

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SHOES & WATER

By far, the single best piece of advice I can give you about visiting Las Vegas is this:

Bring along soft, comfortable shoes!

You'll be glad you did. The resorts are huge and there is so much to see and do. Even with all of the trams, shuttle buses, limos, and taxis, you will do a lot of walking and nothing will dampen a good time faster than sore, blistered feet. Plan ahead. If you don't have a decent pair of soft, comfortable shoes and you need to buy a pair, do so several weeks before your trip and wear them frequently so they get "broken in". If you're not used to doing a lot of walking, you may also want to bring along some foot powder to help keep your feet dry and reduce chafing. (Information on free trams, shuttles, and buses is given on the Shuttles page.)

With even moderate walking you lose more fluid than you think due to the dry air (which makes your perspiration evaporate fast). Your next best friend to soft, comfortable shoes is water. Drink plenty of it. If you start to feel "not quite right" after a couple days you could be getting dehydrated. If so, buy a couple bottles of water (not juice or soda), drink them both down, and then lay down for an hour or two to let your body re-hydrate.

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HOW TO BE SAFE

The Las Vegas Strip is one of the safest places in the country. I have routinely walked the Strip at 3 or 4 in the morning without so much as a panhandler approaching me. However, every city has it's criminal element and you should take steps to protect yourself from it. In addition, due to attraction of the large volume of tourists, the thieves can just as easily have come in from out of town on a "business trip", staying at a hotel, as local residents. This doesn't mean you should be afraid or limit your activities. Just follow the same simple common-sense steps you'd use when visiting any large city.
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PACK & SHIP

With all of the stores and souvenir shops it's easy to end up with more items that can fit in your suitcase. Or you may see a larger item that you'd like to buy but don't want to have to lug it back on the airplane with you.

Luckily there's a UPS Store in the back of the Flamingo right next to the escalators going to the monorail station. They can box up and ship just about anything.

They're open until 7 pm weekdays and 5 pm weekends but if you want your package to go out the same day be sure to get there before 5:00. They also offer fax and copy services.

 A tracking number for your shipment will be printed on your receipt. However, in order to use this tracking number to check the status and location of your package you have to go mbe.com (due to their Mail Boxes Etc. lineage), not the UPS Website.

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GETTING THERE

Vacation charter packages (air+hotel) are typically your best bet for your best price for a Vegas vacation. Whether going with a charter package or booking a flight on a commercial airline, keep in mind that much of the cost depends on your point of origin, and driving to a larger airport an hour or two away could save you a lot on the price of a package or airline ticket.

 If your looking for a package for a "long weekend", choosing a package with a Saturday departure and Monday return will often be cheaper (sometimes significantly cheaper) than a package with the more traditional Friday departure and Sunday return. For longer stays, choosing packages that don't include the higher-priced Friday and Saturday night hotel stays may also lower your package cost.

The Mark Travel Corporation operates vacation charters under a lot of different names all over the country. Visit their Web site at www.marktravel.com and click on the "Vacation Brands" button to see if one of their units rings a bell. They typically put ads in the Travel section of your Sunday paper. Most of these units have their own Web site as well.

 My area is served by the "Funjet Vacations" unit and Funjet's Web site has a "Hot Deals" page with some really great travel bargains that gets updated every Friday morning. Check for a Web site for the unit operating in your area and see if they have page similar to Funjet's Hot Deals page. You can see if Funjet also serves your area by going to their Hot Deals page and clicking on the "Select Your Origin" drop-down list on the right side of the page to see if a city near you is listed.

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SMUT PEDDLERS

At various places on the sidewalks along the Strip you will encounter people working for an advertising service trying to hand you brochures and cards which advertise escort services, "massage" parlors, and other sexually-oriented services. The owners of these adverstising services have defeated every legal attempt by the city of Las Vegas to stop or restrict the handing out of this material arguing that it is conducted on city-owned (public) sidewalks.

Simply IGNORE the people handing out brochures and cards. Don't take anything from them and especially don't talk to them to voice your opinion of their activity. The advertising service owners hire the cheapest labor they can find to hand these things out which, in many cases, means the people trying to hand you these things don't speak English.

The rules of business dictate that if enough people ignore the advertising it no longer becomes cost-effective and it will go away on its' own.

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"Casino" MOVIE TRIVIA

OK, so this may not be of any real value to you on your trip, but I thought it was an interesting piece of Vegas trivia. If you saw the Robert DeNiro movie Casino, you may be interested in knowing that the Tangiers hotel/casino in the movie is actually based on the Stardust (but interior casino shots were filmed at the Riviera). The Ace Rothstein character played by DeNiro is actually Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal who has a Website on sports betting at www.frankrosenthal.com. The bombing of his car actually happened in the parking lot of what is now Tony Roma's restaurant on Sahara (but was filmed near Main Street Station downtown). The character played by Joe Pesci, who was killed along with his brother outside of town, was actually Tony "The Ant" Spillotro. Mr. Rosenthal and Mr. Spillotro were often represented in court by defense attorney Oscar Goodman, who is now the mayor of Las Vegas.

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