Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Prima - MGM Grand Privilege Program

MGM Grand now has a Guest Privilege Program...and it's not cheap. You have to post $500 to your room account at check in (and if I understand the information correctly, this does not include the cost of your room). Your purchases at any participating restaurant, lounge, nightclub, spa, retail outlet, pool, etc. are deducted from this prepayment. It doesn't look like I'll ever be a Prima guest since I spend way too much time running around trying to get keys to ever spend $500 on food, etc. (that's a LOT of Starbucks coffee).

Your name and dates of your stay are printed on the key, similar to the light type of printing used for slot club cards. The names/dates have been digitally removed from the picture above. Also, the card appears "dusty" in the scan above but actually it's glitter in the card that makes it sparkle when the light hits it. It's a pretty classy looking key.

My Pre-Christmas Trip to Las Vegas (Part 2)

A Night at Aria

Less than 24 hours spent at Aria were at times frustrating, infuriating, exhilarating and astonishing. Given that the casino/resort opened on December 16th, staying there only five days after the opening may have been foolish, but I wanted to check things out when they were pretty much brand new.

As I was already in Las Vegas prior to the night at Aria, I arrived at Crystals (the retail district at City Center) without any luggage via free shuttle...well, it's actually a new Suburban...from MGM Grand. It was a fun ride and the driver described various areas along the route including The Mansion at MGM Grand, etc. Once at Crystals, not being much of a shopper, I quickly made my way over to Aria.

The registration desk at Aria had several employees eagerly waiting to check in guests. The young lady that handled my check-in was very friendly and provided me with a room on the 14th floor (I had reserved the lowest level room available - the deluxe room). I was given a couple of the RFID keys and went off my room.

Upon arriving at my room, I found a housekeeping cart near the door and the door was slightly open. I knocked on the door and then opened it. One employee was sitting by the window, reading the complimentary magazine and joking around with two other employees in the room. I said that I was checked into this room. One of the housekeepers said that it would be five minutes before the room would be ready. I said I would wait down the hall by the windows.

About 10 minutes later, they said the room was ready for me and I proceeded down the hall to make my grand entrance into one of the new technologically advanced rooms. Keep in mind that with the RFID keys, you no longer insert the key into a slot - you tap it on a pad on the door and it unlocks.

I entered the room to find that it was beautifully decorated and looked very comfortable. I tried to turn on a light...nothing. I tried to close the privacy screen/curtain...nothing (it's electronically powered, you just can't pull on it...darn). I tried to make the room a little cooler by adjusting the a/ wouldn't change. At least the water was running in the bathroom so I could wash my face to cool off a little and then I was on the phone to the front desk. "Maybe I just don't understand all of this new technology stuff, but I can't get anything in the room to work" -- yes, I felt foolish saying it, but it was true. The woman on the phone asked if the TV came on when I entered the room. "No"..."well that's your problem". She said that someone would be up to fix it as soon as possible. After about 20 minutes of waiting, the room wasn't the only thing that seemed to be getting hotter and hotter by the minute. I headed back to the front desk.

The nice young lady that checked me in was there and I said that it had nothing to do with her, but I needed to speak to a manager. She phoned for a manager...and it turned out that the people standing next to me at the front desk were also waiting for a manager. About 20 minutes passed before two managers arrived - one for each of us that was waiting lol.

I explained the problem with the room, the unprofessional behavior of the housekeeping staff in my room (naturally I had to throw in a comment about how valuable it is to even HAVE a job in Las Vegas right now so new hire housekeepers should spend more time working and less time reading and joking around), and so on. The manager was very nice, and provided me with another room which was upgraded to a Deluxe Room with a City View (a $50 upgrade) on the 35th floor. She asked which room I was in originally - "Oh, there's the problem, we aren't supposed to be checking anyone into the 14th floor right now - we're having technical problems with that floor". She proceeded to make my keys...nothing. She tried again...nothing. The key encoding system was completely down. She apologized for the problems and said it would be 20 minutes until I could get my keys and offered to have security take me to my room, but since I didn't have any luggage with me at the time, I said I would simply come back to the desk in 20 minutes and pick up my keys.

Hmmmmm...what's the best way to spend 20 minutes in a casino? Yep, gambling. I have to admit I'm not much of a gambler so I popped $20 into a "Invaders from the Planet Moolah" slot machine and started to play. The machine is normally very entertaining but this particular machine decided to go nuts, giving me LOTS of bonus rounds. Next thing you know, about a half hour has passed and I'm cashing out the machine for $446.25. Now I'm in a very good mood - go figure.

I head back to the front desk, show my ID and ask for my keys. Again they were very apologetic about the problems and proceeded to make my keys...or not. Tried again...nope. Went to another computer and finally they were able to make my keys. They gave me a $50 credit against my bill for all of the problems with the keys.

I made my way up to my room, tapped the key on the pad on the door and the door unlocked. As I entered the room, the curtains opened, the lights went from dim to full bright, and the TV turned on with a display of items you can control in the room. The room was magnificent with a wonderful view. I can only imagine what the Sky Suites are like. Virtually everything in the room can be controlled via the TV remote control -- you can turn on/off all of the lights individually or as a group, you can open/close the blackout curtains and screen curtain. You can adjust room temperature. Oh, yeah, you can control the TV and listen to radio channels as well.

All in all, it's easily one of the best rooms I've ever stayed in anywhere. It was not only beautiful but comfortable. I'm pretty picky when it comes to the lighting in a room and this room had more than enough lighting. While the shower may be designed to conserve water, you wouldn't know it by the velocity of the water (note to South Point - ditch those horrible showerheads). I tried room service and it was quick and the food was delicious...and even somewhat fancy considering that I ordered pretty much basic "grub".

I can't wait until I get the chance to stay there again someday...once they've worked out all of the bugs.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Pup Rio

While I was away in Las Vegas, my pup Rio passed away on Wednesday, 12/23. She was the most wonderful, sweetest pup ever. I can still remember when she was small enough to walk under the side rails on the kitchen chairs. Debby said it perfectly in her blog posting, so I'm just posting a link to that here...

P.S. She sure liked chewing on her bowls :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Pre-Christmas Trip to Las Vegas (Part 1)

A very nice part of my trip to Las Vegas was spending one night at Aria - the new casino/hotel at City Center. While there's a long story associated with my stay, I'm still tired from my trip so for now I'm just uploading a scan of the keys being used at Aria and Vdara. I wasn't able to obtain the Aria SkySuites key (I didn't even SEE the key, but was told about it), I did get these.

You'll notice from the drawings on the back that these keys are not inserted into a slot on the lock. Instead, these use RFID technology -- you simply press the key against a "plate" on the door, it senses the key, and the door unlocks. Once you enter the room, all kinds of things happen (curtains open, lights go on, TV turns on, etc.) All of the technology revolves around the TV and the remote, or a LCD control panel next to the bed. Cool stuff that I'll describe in better detail later.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Will there be a new PH Peepshow key in January?

December is the final month for Aubrey O'Day appearing in Peepshow at Planet Hollywood. Will a new key come out only listing Holly Madison (or will they simply go back to the earlier key only showing her) -- only time will tell.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hard Rock John Varvatos Bowery NYC Key

In September, John Varvatos opened one of his Bowery Concept stores inside the Hard Rock in Las Vegas. The "model" in this picture probably looks familiar to some of you as ZZ Top was selected as the face of the fall 2009 advertising campaign.

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