I miss a lot of the Classic era of the Las Vegas Strip, I miss the neon probably most of all, but this last trip to town made me realize that I really do miss that era for more than the neon. I miss the customer service of days gone by and the feeling that you were entering a special place that wanted to help ensure that you had an enjoyable vacation.
My husband and I just returned from a week in Las Vegas as he attended the National Association of Broadcasters convention.
We stayed off the Strip at the Orleans. We enjoyed our stay at the Orleans and what follows should not be considered a slam against that property as it is not meant as that.
But, after staying at various Strip hotels over the last 14 years that we have been going to NAB, I am tired of getting nickeled and dimed to death by the hotels.
In the old days, you pulled in your car to the Valet area so that you could then go to Hotel Registration. A bellman brought the luggage cart and loaded it up with your suitcases and accessories. That bellman then took your bags up to your room. You gave him a good tip.
Today's new improved Strip idea is that you pull into Valet Parking. A bellman still unloads your luggage and your accessories onto the luggage cart. You tip him. He takes your bags about 500 feet where they will be stored while you register. Once you have registered, another bellman will take your bags to your room and unload them for you. You have to tip him as well.
You have to pay $12.99 a day for internet access. If you need a small refrigerator in your room, that will cost you extra as well.
Everytime you turn around, it feels like you are paying and paying and paying.
I understand the reasoning behind mega-resorts, the more people you can house, the more money you will make. But the down side to mega-resorts is that everything is larger and it takes twice as long to get anywhere in the hotel.
We stayed at Bally's last year. Balley's, of course, is the old (and original) MGM Grand Hotel. While the hotel has two towers it never has that meg-resort feel to it. You can valet your car (be sure to tip coming and going), walk across the casino to the hotel elevators and not feel like you just hiked 10 miles from the front entrance to the elevator. Once you get to your floor, your room is not an additional 5 mile hike.
There's something to be said for hotels that understand that concept. For years, we enjoyed staying at the Rio Hotel. When they built the Masquerade Tower, they at least included a parking garage with an elevator and walkway that connected to the hotel. You could park in that garage and the walk from the side entrance to the hotel elevators didn't leave you feeling like you were in a marathon.
Too often today, staying in the newer hotels, everything feels like a hike, an not a short one.
The restaurants in these mega-resorts are not always good. As I said, we enjoyed our stay at the Orleans. One of the big reasons was because the various restaurants had good food and good service, from the Coffee Shop to the Prime Rib Loft and the other eateries in between, we didn't have a bad meal.
Last year at Bally's we were hard pressed to find a single restaurant in that hotel that we liked. From the Coffee shop to the Steak House, all were forgettable.
We've stayed at the Rio and had some great dining experiences there and some miserable ones. Same goes for the Venetian, which does have my favorite steak restaurant, Delmonico's. We ate in the high-end Circo at Bellagio one year and have never returned because it wasn't a memorable meal.
I guess all this is just a long-winded way of saying, I really miss the old-style service. I liked when hotel owners took pride not only in the casino but in the entire experience and wanted their guests to have a memorable time.
I don't like having a miserable dining experience. It turns me off the hotel. I really enjoyed staying at Bally's but I don't like the idea of having to go over to Paris to have a good meal. Surely, Harrah's could do something to improve the dining experience at Bally's.
Not likely, though, in the current economic crisis.
So, I guess I'll have to walk down memory lane when staying on the Las Vegas really made you feel special.