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Some thoughts on Tunica

Last edit: wpsteel66 on Friday, 9th November 2012 3:58 pm
Last response by paulstory77 15th November 1:01pm

I mentioned in a prior post that I used to go to Tunica frequently. Then I took a 4 year break. During the past 12 months, I visited Tunica three times, most recently just the other week. Below are some comments from my trip.

• I did not venture out of Casino Center (Gold Strike, Horseshoe, Roadhouse) during all three trips. In my opinion, I prefer this area since all three hotels/casinos sit next to one another and easily can walk to each.
• Two of these three trips have been short (one night) and I visited some historical sites in Memphis during my two-night stay. So I did not have a lot of time to drive out of my way to visit the other casinos. Yeah, call me lazy, but again not worth it to spend my limited time at the other casinos.
• Nothing at the other casinos attracts me to visit. Resorts and Ballys have been foreclosed on and the last time I was at each of these two, I was turned off by the conditions, atmosphere, and service. I have not heard of anything that would change my impression since my last visit.
• The Shoe still continues to be a very nice and kept-up casino. Hardly any smoke.
• The last time I stayed at Shoe hotel was in 2007. I had some free room offers so decided to stay here instead of Gold Strike (last two trips hotel). Gold Strike has nice rooms, but the Shoe is much better. Horseshoe premium rooms are much larger, comfortable bed with flat screen TV, huge couch with another flat screen on the wall, and very spacious bathroom with mini flat screen TV.
• Drink service is good at both Gold Strike (GS) and Shoe, but after 2am the waitresses at the Shoe were not seen as frequently plus the drinks were warmer.
• The buffets are good, but nothing to brag about. I still think Shoe buffet is better than GS.
• A few food options have changed at the Shoe, but only the diner is at the Roadhouse (no more buffet, coffee shop, steakhouse). Roadhouse also no longer has the mechanical bull.
• The first of these three trips included a Friday night. Casinos were so crowded. The past two trips were during the week and much lighter crowds, but not dead. Roadhouse usually is pretty calm, especially in the mornings. This is a good time to play craps if you like an empty table or only one or two others playing also.
• The Shoe fitness center is pretty good and better than GS, but not as nice as Aria’s. Have to pay $13 for wi-fi at the Shoe but part of the resort fee at GS.
• I do not play any slots in Tunica. These are the tightest in MS (Biloxi has the “loosest”).
• The wife does not like Tunica, so she does not come along and thus usually just a single night trip for me.
• I used to go to Vicksburg, MS for a quick casino fix. But at this time I am getting much better offers in Tunica. So for now I will go back to Tunica to ‘get satisfied’.

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 stevie responded on Friday, 9th November 2012

We used to go to Biloxi when everything was comped (including flight) and stay at the Beau, but never did any good at all on the slots. Our only Tunica trip (last February) paid out more than 5 Biloxi trips combined. The biggest part of our winnings came from GS, then Harrahs. Hopefully going back to Tunica before our spring Vegas trip. I will agree with your wife, though. If it weren't for the casinos, Tunica would be a big soggy cotton field. I wish I could have seen Biloxi before Katrina wiped the place off the map-it looked like a fun place.

 wpsteel66 replied on Monday, 12th November 2012

We visited Biloxi (Beau) for the first time in June 2005… had such a great time we booked the Beau again for the second weekend of Sept right after getting home…but could not use those reservations until fall 2006…the major changes to the Beau were they did not re-build the on-site brewery and some different restaurant selections…the Grand was a monster of a campus with a large casino… I recall one night on the Beau sun deck looking out into the gulf and then looking east along the shoreline seeing all the casino lights and thinking that was pretty cool… no longer that way after Katrina.

 vespajet responded on Saturday, 10th November 2012

Even though Tunica (along with Gulfport/Biloxi) is a short flight away for me (The airport in Tunica does not currently have any scheduled service and AirTran did service UTA from Atlanta until last year. So if you want to fly to Tunica, you have to fly to Memphis and drive to Tunica from there, which is about an hour's drive.), I tend to stick with going to Vegas. I could drive to Tunica (or other casinos in Mississippi), but I drive for a living and the last thing I want to do on a vacation is drive, so I would prefer to fly to wherever I am going to. I've could easily take a day trip to Harrah's Cherokee to get my gambling fix (and it is more attractive to me now that they do have more Vegas-style gaming), but don't feel like driving close to 4 hours each way to get there.

I think that Vegas spoils many of us from going to gaming destinations closer to home as you tend to use Vegas as a measuring stick to other destinations. I have considered treks to Tunica in the past when I could get some really good TR rates back when the Harrah's was still the Grand but never took advantage of them. Same has been true for me in regards to other casino destinations in Mississippi like the Gulf Coast as well as the Golden Moon/Silver Star in Choctaw. I do plan to check out the Golden Nugget in Biloxi once they get that done (I haven't heard too much in recent months on that project) since I am a fan of the Golden Nugget in Vegas.

Colony Capital's troubles are not surprising considering sister resorts in Las Vegas and A.C. have also been foreclosed on. Hopefully someone will take them on (Maybe we'll see a Golden Nugget Tunica down the road.)and reverse things.

 wpsteel66 replied on Monday, 12th November 2012

Hhmm… Resorts Tunica converted to a Golden Nugget Tunica does sound interesting…a lot of work will be needed…but possible since Resorts used to be a Harrahs…I do not see Ballys Tunica changing to Golden Nugget due to the hotel not connected to the casino and this is the smallest casino in Tunica.

Yeah Vegas is the measuring stick but I still have a great time in Biloxi with less travel logistics than a Vegas trip.

 lewintn responded on Saturday, 10th November 2012

Just a few comments as I stay in Tunica often for work in Memphis...

The Shoe premium (Tower) rooms ARE nicer/bigger than the regular GS rooms but the regular GS rooms are much better than the regular (low) rooms at the Shoe. Also, how can you say the fitness center is better at the Shoe? The one at GS has more machines, attendants who bring you waters and towels, an indoor pool and two jacuzzis, etc. Perhaps you got that backwards as there is no contest on that. Beyond those, you are correct, there is no real reason to go to the other casinos...GS and the Shoe are the best in Tunica.

 wpsteel66 replied on Monday, 12th November 2012

No, I did not reverse the properties. IMHO the Shoe fitness center is better than GS; more machines, weights, and space compared to the cramped, small GS room with a few machines and equipment. My comments are on the fitness center, not the Jacuzzi and pool. I am glad to hear that you had attendants bring you towels and water at GS; that has not happened with me at GS.

Yes, GS has an indoor pool. But you basically can call this an oversized bathtub. GS has no outdoor area to enjoy the sun; we do not prefer to sit at an indoor pool on a great weather day outside. Then toss in screaming children in an enclosed, confined area … not ideal for us.

The Shoe pool is nothing to brag about, but at least this is outside and much larger than GS. Yeah, the pool is on a roof top and you are surrounded by hotel room windows, but at least you are outside. Roadhouse has no pool and their workout center is literally a renovated closet. Harrah’s has a nice pool along with decent fitness center and much better spa than GS.

The wife tried GS spa once and was not impressed; then combine that with the GS pool, she is not a fan of GS. She prefers Harrah’s spa, but need to drive to Harrah’s if staying at the Shoe. Combining all of these factors, she prefers the much better accommodations and facilities in Biloxi instead (ie, gulf coast vs. cotton field as you mention).

 paulstory77 replied on Thursday, 15th November 2012

Agreed re. the rooms at GS and Horseshoe. I just returned from a two-nighter in Tunica; stayed at the 'Shoe for the second time, also have stayed at GS once and Harrah's once.

I don't rate an upgrade at Horseshoe, and I really dislike the standard rooms there compared to Gold Strike, or even to Biloxi or Vegas properties. The Horseshoe hotel was clearly built in stages. The main tower, where the upgraded rooms are found, has room numbers running from x01 to x29. Then, there's an entirely different section, with four-digit room numbers, x101 to x250-ish. It's easy to tell that you're walking into a different section.

The add-on section is a U-shaped building, maybe ~8 stories or so. There's absolutely no view to be had -- rooms on the interior of the small "U" face each other; rooms on one outer edge face directly at the side of the 'Shoe's main tower or parking deck. Rooms along the bottom of the "U" face the parking lot; rooms on the other edge face the side of the Gold Strike.

I guess perhaps because they know there's no views to be had, the windows are small, taking up maybe 1/3rd of the outside wall. Sure, maybe I'm spoiled by the floor-to-ceiling glass in most Vegas rooms. But the rooms at the 'Shoe have smaller windows than what you'd find in a regular ol' Holiday or Hampton Inn. The result is that the room seems dark and depressing.

Because that section was added on later, it's a LONNNGGG walk to and from the elevators. On this trip, I was in room 3115, which wasn't too bad. Last time, I was somewhere in the x200s, and I passed 50+ rooms between mine and the elevator. No exaggeration.

Bed is comfortable, bathroom well-stocked and clean, flat-screen TV is nice. But a good night's sleep is interrupted by the fact that Horseshoe has some of the loudest-slamming doors I've ever experienced in a hotel. There is hardly any way to close one of the doors quietly, even if you're trying. And of course, most people don't try. Which means that all night and into the morning, it's a lot of SLAM! SLAM! SLAM!

When I stayed at Gold Strike last year, I got a complimentary upgrade to a lovely 25th floor standard room, looking out over the delta and Sam's / Fitzgerald's in the distance. At Harrah's two years ago, I had a nice room at the Terrace Tower. Only second floor, so a lot of my view was the entrance porte-cochere, but I could see the casino lights in the distance.

Casinos at both GS and 'Shoe were hopping, especially on Friday night. It was almost uncomfortably crowded -- hard to find a seat at a machine, a table, a VP bar, etc. Roadhouse was dead.

Ate at the GS buffet for the first time -- dinner was good, if not spectacular. Treated myself to a steak the next night at Binion's at 'Shoe. No bar seating, so I had to take a booth, a bit awkward for a solo diner. The steakhouse at GS (Chicago) does have a small bar where you ca eat; what used to be the Range Steakhouse at Roadhouse (now the Roadhouse Diner) has a bar as well.

Overall, a good time. Tunica isn't Vegas, and I don't expect it to be. But it, like Biloxi, can be a decent fill-in between Vegas trips, for those of us within driving distance.