My husband and I lived in casino hotels in Las Vegas for 2 consecutive months this year. We love being in Las Vegas, and we enjoy gambling. We’re platinum level players club members, so we wanted take advantage of that too. It seemed to be a fun to place to hang while we had some downtime from travel.
Players clubs reward players for their amount of play. There are 2 major players clubs on the strip: M Life and Total Rewards. We became M Life Players Club members many years ago and have stayed at most of the properties, which include MGM Grand, The Mirage, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Monte Carlo, Aria, Luxor, Excalibur, and Circus Circus.
The rewards system has different tiers depending on your play. The higher the tier, the more benefits. Once you get to a certain tier, you are a “VIP.” This basically means you’ll never have to wait in a line or wait for service again. For example, when you check into the hotel, stroll on past the winding lanes of people at the front desk, and instead head to the dedicated VIP check-in room.
Each hotel also has “slot hosts & hostesses” who give you free stuff based on your tier and your current and past gambling. When we gamble, our room and most of our food is “comped” (made complimentary/free)… because they want us to stay and gamble more, of course.
Hotels vary greatly. We are not “high rollers,” and we’re also not trying to be as cheap as possible. Our spot is in the middle. We like a comfortable bed in a secure, quiet, clean hotel room. Out of all the M Life Properties, we feel that Monte Carlo is the most affordable hotel while still providing enough comfort, security, and service. (Lower-end hotels tend to have uncomfortable beds, which is a deal breaker for us.) Monte Carlo was our base this year, and we moved to other M Life hotels now and then to a.) take advantage of free room offers from that specific hotel and b.) get a change of scenery and slots.
Because we chose a reasonably-priced hotel, we never paid for our room. To avoid paying for the room, we spread out our gambling money. It’s important that the room is completely comp’ed because the taxes and resort fees on top of the room costs can be ridiculous.
Having a partner in crime is quite useful too. Many Vegas hotels have a policy that you cannot reside there more than 2 weeks in a row. My husband and I found a workaround by separating our players memberships during our stay (it’s typically a joint account so we can build up points faster), so we change the name the room is registered to every 2 weeks.
Rooms vs. suites: A suite at the Monte Carlo provides a bigger room, a couch, a refrigerator, and a 2nd bathroom. However, all suites are directly next to the elevator, so we heard a lot of loud, drunk people going to their rooms in the middle of the night. For us, the benefits didn’t outweigh the noise. The VIP check-in staff let us choose our room based on a floor plan. We chose a standard room on a high floor at the very end of the hallway. This room location provided the most privacy and the least noise. We also learned to ask for extra amenities, such as down pillows, to improve our comfort.
Food and water is plentiful and free. Several times a week we ate at the hotel café or buffet because those meals are most easily comped. Also, we play a free Facebook slots game called myVegas to earn buy-1-get-1-free buffet meals.
Almost every restaurant has a happy hour. We learned when this was, so we could get good, quality food for the least price. Our favorite restaurant at the Monte Carlo is Dragon Noodle. They have excellent deals on Chinese food during the week and sushi on the weekends. For delivery, Kung Fu Thai and Chinese restaurant is high quality, low cost, and a well-known reputable business. Delivery is especially useful if you have a fridge in your room (suite) . Vons offers local online grocery delivery service in Las Vegas. However, I prefer ColdLife, which is an excellent online service for organic and healthier food, and they ship via FedEx. (I love their healthy prepared salads.) There is also a Farmer’s Market at Town Square on Friday afternoons.
We visited our friends (the staff) in VIP check-in every morning and enjoyed free water, juice, coffee, and tea. Bottled water is also free in the high limits slots area. We also have a useful filtering water bottle so that we can safely drink the sink water in our room.
Gambling is fun! The higher denomination you play, the higher payback you can expect. However, we don’t want to spend thousands, and we want to spread our budget out. So we stick to quarter machines, and sometimes a hot penny machine. To maximize our players club points, we try to find a machine that pays back often so that we could either win extra money, stay even so we can play again with the same money tomorrow, or lose it slowly.
We also enjoy bingo, Texas Hold Em, blackjack, craps, and other table games. However, it’s generally more difficult to earn players club points on those games.
Non-gambling activities are also abundant. Most of what Vegas has to offer is either on the strip or downtown. There are a couple of city express buses that can get you around this area easily.
There are also several nearby movie theaters and plenty of options for live, quality entertainment all types. Pools and workout room are free for hotel guests. As an M Life guest, you can use the pools at any M Life resort. So if you stay at a lower-end place like Treasure Island, you can walk across the street to MGM to use their grand pools.
Alcohol is free when you gamble, so when I wanted a drink, I found a fun penny machine to plop down on. Granted, penny machines don’t pay well, so I play a minimum bet… such as 5 cents/spin on Texas Tea. I could play with $2 for a half hour, enjoy my time, and enjoy a “free” drink.
Want a drink immediately? Try sitting on a machine near the drink servers’ service station. Whoever services your area will be going by you, so they won’t miss your drink order.
Want a premium drink? Drinks are free at casino bars when you play a little video poker at the bar. As I sat there, multiple people came to the bar to order and pay for drinks. Margarita for Joe Schmoe: $12. Margarita for me: $2 (assuming I didn’t win at video poker.). One time I did this, and I hit a 4-of-a-kind. In that case, they paid me $15 to drink that margarita. I love that. :). Finally, if you tip your server (even just $1/drink) while gambling, you will find that you can suddenly ask for particular brands and doubles. It pays to be nice.
Leaving Las Vegas couldn’t be easier as a VIP. Our slot hostess arranged a free limo to take us to the airport!
Our departure was bittersweet. On one hand, I was leaving a fun time. On the other hand, there are only so many buffets, so much free booze, and so much gambling a person can take! Time to recover. 😉