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Editorial: Ebbs And Flows

By Chuckmonster on Friday, 5th August 2016 12:33pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 9


Eleven-time Trippies winner, walking #VIMFP event and self-professed "thinking man's Cookie Monster" BigHoss is here to share words of wisdom. Take it away Hoss:

Hoss Limo
Dear Las Vegas,

Saying something like this is never easy, so I'll just do it. I've been seeing other cities.

Surely, you've suspected it for a while now. I'm know it was awkward for you to see my Instagram feed after our four-day fling last July with the progression of interactions I had with Reno, Tahoe, Yountville and San Francisco.

It's time you knew. My frequent visits to Houston and DC are not by chance. And, most importantly, Charleston and I are not just friends.

I won't go in to my close-to-home booty call, Asheville, or even Spartanburg when I'm feeling a little dirty.

It's just getting a little more frequent for me to forget to give a shit about you.

. . .

I started writing that maybe three years ago. I was done. I was bored with Vegas and I was about to declare something I would have regretted.

It wasn't anything in particular, but more of a general malaise for the city. It wasn't even the recent trip. Quite the contrary, it was a really fun visit with small exception.

I arrived on Craps Day, or 7-11 for the uninitiated. Our customary car service picked us up at McCarran. The ride was a not-yet-fully-ironic stretch Escalade, complete with a bottle of bubbly and a driver who tolerated my hijinks with the LED lighting system and radio on the way downtown to the Grand -- two nights there before a little upgrade to Aria.

Four nights goes quick in Vegas, a blurry haze of searching out speakeasies old and new with Middleclassbuzz, long days vegging at the pool and chasing down a few nice craps sessions.

Hoss Aria Sportsbar

The only real bummer of the visit was a smarmy bartender at the bar in front of the Aria Sports Book who gave me a pre-PGP glimpse of things to come.

I won't go into great detail but he made a big deal about comping a gin and tonic at a greater frequency than one per half-hour.

Forget the fact that my friend and I were playing max bet quarter video poker very intently, each with a hundred bucks plus or minus in the bartop machines.

Forget the fact that we had spent the previous two hours playing dollar machines down at the Lift Bar where one of my favorite bartenders in town brings me Bombay Sapphire almost faster than I can drink it.

Forget the fact that the first bartender at the sports book bar gave us great service and several drinks the first 45 minutes we were there while he was finishing up his shift.

I'm not a high roller. I just like playing cards or dice or machines and getting some free drinks. I tip well and usually enjoy a great rapport with whomever is serving me.

This guy, though. Ugh.

No, sir. You have to wait seven more minutes before I can give you a drink.

A quizzical conversation yielded little besides some condescension and a bad attitude. Seven minutes passed. I got my drink and continued to play. But, by the time it was gone, I was so pissed at the little jackass on the other side of the empty-except-for-me-and-my-friend bar that I cashed out and moved on.

We walked over to another MGM property and sat down at the bar in front of the sports book there, fired up the vp and resumed having a good time. I questioned one of the bartenders there whom I've known for years if he knew of any of the MGM properties having a time limit on comped drinks.

Nope, sounds like you just got a turd,” he said.

For whatever reason, that whole interaction at Aria just flew all over me. The more I thought about it, the madder I got. How could they expect to run a casino in that town with piss-poor people like that guy on the front line?

Hoss Wine

We left the next day and went to Napa Valley for a few days of unmatched experiences - a really nice end to a vacation.

Yet, the memory of the bartender kept gnawing on me. Fuck that guy, I thought. I went as far as contacting the F&B manager at Aria to lodge a complaint. Despite the highly appropriate and cordial response, the whole thing just left a bad taste in my mouth.

How's that for not going into great detail?

Hoss Royalflush

"Why do I need Vegas?" I wondered. I like gambling. Other than that, I can go to lots of places for good food, cool rooms and nice service. I'm not saying drink service is the only reason to go to Vegas, but it doesn't hurt. Couple diminishing drink service with endless barrage of cartoon characters and porn slappers parading on the Strip or the thonged and duct-taped masses on Fremont, and I'm starting to question my vacation choices. Is it getting to be more of a pain in the ass to go there than it's worth?

I don't know what brought me out of it. I almost made up my mind to never return, or at least to give it some time.

Hoss Bellagio

All I know is I just got back from a seven-night trip – three nights at TI, upgraded for free to a Tower Suite; four nights at Bellagio, two comped, upgraded to a Salon Suite for $25 per night. The gambling was great. The food was great. The spa was great. The pools were great. The drink service was great, although I still cast a stink eye over at that Aria sports book bar when I walk past it.

But mostly, the camaraderie was great.

We traveled there with two of our favorite couples from home and met up with another couple from two-thirds of a continent away. We spent some time with MikeE at Hyde, Mandarin Bar and Baccarat Bar. We split a cabana at Bellagio with MeltYourSelfDown, his sister and one of his best friends. I randomly ran into Vegas Fanboy. I went to breakfast with Dr. Dave at Harrie's Bagelmania, which – he informed me as we drove away – is next to one of the most crime-ridden intersections in Clark County. They made a fantastic omelet, though.

My point is that Vegas has become about much more than a vacation for most of us. It's where we've made memories and friends. It's where we'll continue to make memories and friends. It's where informed visitors can stay in four- or five-star rooms for less than what they might pay for a night at the Holiday Inn Express down the street. It's always changing, yet mostly the same.

I listened to the latest VegasTripping podcast yesterday (Episode 23 - Ledge) and heard Chuckmonster's plea to talk him off the ledge. I thought back a few years ago when I was ticked off about my attitudinal bartender. Chuckmonster told me I'd be back. He told me there was an ebb and flow with Vegas. One minute, you're done. The next, you are buying a return ticket.

So I looked back to see if I saved my "Dear John" letter to Las Vegas and I did. It seems silly to read after the great trip I had a few weeks ago. I figure Chuck will do the same with the latest podcast in a few years.

Ebbs and flows, pal.

Tagged: big hoss   trippies   editorial   podcast   aria   bellagio   pgp   


Comments & Discussion:

In recent years, I've found myself gambling less and using some of that money on nice meals and really good cocktails. It used to be that cocktail service at all casinos was pretty consistent across the board, so even if you were having a bad run of luck, the "free drinks" weren't so damn expensive. A few years ago, I blew through $300 playing VP at the Cromwell so quickly that I barely finished two drinks. Then there are places like O'Sheas where if you get a good bartender, you can easily get 2-3 drinks in rapid succession with a $20 buy in, especially if you ttip well to start with. A few years back, Donnymac and myself were sitting at the VP bar at O'Sheas and the bartender kept us in Irish Margaritas in the short time we were there. That same night, we were at Bellagio playing VP and slots at the bar by the sportsbook and that bartender kept the drinks flowing (When we were back there a few nights later, the same story.). With PGP and whatever changes Caesars is doing, that sort of stuff is going by the wayside and it sucks. I'll still go to Vegas, but I'll buy my own drinks or pack supplies and mix up in the room.

I too, cast a stink eye at that Aria Sports Book Bar. I used to play it every day at when Aria. It was great - crowded, good playing machines and drinks. As I told the current turd last visit, "This was a great bar back when the place opened". I had put in a %20 and was curious what the PGP rap would be. Then decided to buy a drink and play at my own pace and replaced the $20 with with a $5 as I listened to his answer about what would be in my Margareta. They used to be really good - Bellagio/Wynn recipe and presentation. I looked around at the empty bar and told him "I don't have to play here" and cashed out the $5 and left.

I've only encountered genuine turd bartenders twice at Vegas VP bars — at MGM and the Golden Nugget — and yes, that can be a real buzz-kill. I gotta say I've never had a problem at Gustav's Bar at Paris, which has become my "home" VP bar for my last three trips, crappy pay tables and all. Service has always been good to excellent for me there. Of course, we'll see what happens on our trip next Spring after Caesars implements their new system.

Nowadays, I buy in with $50 or $100 to let the bartender know I'm settling in for a while. That's gotta help. At least you know you won't drop under $10 before a bartender gets to you.

count me among the people who now dislike the Aria sports bar. 2 weeks ago staying at Bellagio we decide to venture over to Aria with the idea of playing at the sports bar as we have had a great time there in the past. We get distracted by the live music at Bar Moderno err Lift Bar. We play video poker at the bar and have excellent professional service and cocktails. After a few drinks we head to Five50 for some excellent pizza and great service. After dinner we head directly to the sports bar. What we find is a dirty uninviting bartop. We assumed that they just had a big crowd and were getting cleaned up. What we found was a disinterested bartender who was more interested in watching tv and ignoring us. When we finally got his attention he did me a favour by pouring me a Jack and ginger, as he was leaving I asked him to serve my wife as well which he reluctantly did. We were hoping that the initial wait for service would get better now that he had noticed and served us, it did not improve. We had one drink and headed back to Bellagio Sports bar which always has excellent attentive service. The whole incident has soured us on Aria's casino, bad service, filthy machine and broken buttons are not something we expect at a property of that caliber.

I never know how to respond to this sort of "never coming back to town" attitudes, because they usually are about value for money, and obviously being a $3 bus ride away from the Strip with a familiar bed just a dozen miles I really can't contribute anything to determine whether the cost is worth it for you.

The Strip is definitely slowing down and incrementing by degrees, and the photos of cranes all over the skyline seems so distant and ancient now. If you're fueled by the next major megaresort, there's not much to see.

The gambling odds aren't as good, but also gambling is now secondary and the town's primary product is avenues for young straight people with money to fuck (note I didn't say you had to be attractive, as you just need more money to take care of that.) Booze is monitored because booze isn't simply a comp to be given away to gamblers anymore, instead booze is now the product and the gambling is something for people to do while they're drinking the booze they bought. Because booze gets young people fucking, while 2:1 pays on blackjack does not.

More importantly, y'all come to Vegas more frequently than I do my vacation destinations. I've always made it clear that I prefer my vacations more saccharine and all-ages than Vegas, and I can tell that 2011 was the only year of my life that I made several visits to the most magical tourist trap on earth and it almost killed me on the whole thing. In a lot of ways, I almost like being new to something and being a rube rather than being an old veteran with a story about something that happened for every corner of a resort.

On another thing, though: it does seem from comments that the Aria sports bar is pretty shitty. And it doesn't even seem like a plot by the Masterfully Gouging Money corporation so much as it is the people HR put on that one bar.

Very nice article. There is no doubt even with all the 'new things' that Las Vegas can get stale for those of us, who have been going for a while. Even those fascinated by new casino openings, have their limit on how many new 'great' openings they can stand. It's just human nature. And while I know that many of us who travel often, try and fill our trips with new things, as they are made, eventually we just wear out on that. It's good then that you found that part of your current enjoyment is in meeting the people, you've met through your interest in Las Vegas.

I've found myself booking more trips with other people over the last couple years, and going forward, I also think it's far more likely that I'll have a trip with someone rather then solo, more often then not.

I'll also say that the strip overall is less and less appealling to me ever time I visit. I'm not one to say DT's better, but I enjoy myself more, probably due to having a lot to still explore down there, before I feel like it's home. On the strip, if I go, i find myself craving offers to stay at Cosmo or the other high end hotels and planning on not leaving the complex on the days I'm there. I've done the strip walk, I've visited 20 casinos in one trip, I just find it far easier now to enjoy my experience almost completely at the place I stay during a trip on the strip.

Again though, just another phase for Las Vegas.

I may not make it to Vegas at all this year. Shitty economy, too much work, and the reasons the most talented gravy drinker around has mentioned. I will always return tho. It's the people you get to see, why last year around this time, I got to spend some time with Hoss, his amazing wife, and the super dapper Mike E. It was great, and I will always return for those hook ups. Ebbs and flows for sure!! Thanks Hoss, great read

The Aria Sports Bar staff is comprised completely of laughable dunce clowns. ESPECIALLY the bar tender who closely resembles The Amazing Jonathan. If he is still employed - do society a favor and stiff him on the tip, decreases his chance of reproduction. We owe the Planet better than that.

Every other trip I take, I say it will be the last. I even quit visiting this site for 6-7 months after getting a taste of the Dominican. But I finally quit lying to myself and booked two Vegas trips this month a week apart from each other. It NEVER ends...

I was just thinking this on my last trip to Las Vegas, is that there always seems to be one thing I don't get to do each time I come to town. Like I finally made it to Triple 7, which I hadn't been to in a while. Yet, I never got the chance to roll the dice with the boys over at the Cal.

I have a trip coming up in a few weeks and I've got so many fantasy football drafts to do, I'm not sure what I'm going to be missing out at this time.

But I always find that if I ever get burnt on one part of town, I'll just switch it up to another. As in, if I'm downtown, I don't go to the strip. And vice-versa. That way, if we've logged too many miles on Fremont, we'll mix it up with a trip to the Trop or something. Or hell, we might even do a Sam's Town weekend. But only when there is a WWE PPV going.

Damn, now I'm even more excited for my pending trip.

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