Las Vegas Trip Report: Wynn’s Le Cave, Panavino, Triumph (show), Zen Magic, More!

I just had to write to tell you we just returned home to New Jersey from Vegas. We were there visiting my daughter from Dec. 20, 2010 to Jan. 4, 2011. We go every year and this year we enjoyed ourselves more then ever. My daughter and husband took us to so many places. They are performers, daughter is in American Superstars as a dancer and her husband is in Zen Magic at Planet Hollywood and Triumph at the Hilton.

Both American Superstars and Zen are great shows if you haven’t seen them. Zen was a different magic show then we have seen before since it was more of a production with dancing, acrobats, silks and the hoop. Ai and Yuki are the cutest ever. We didn’t get to see Triumph since it was dark during the holidays and will be back the middle to end of this month and we hope to see it next time. We also saw the Sinatra show and it was fantastic.

We really didn’t expect the cold that you had but when we saw what back home in Jersey was going through we figured we still came out ahead. đŸ˜‰

We went to some new restaurants this year and one was really special called Panevino (246 Via Antonio Avenue, Las Vegas). We went in the evening and the view was beautiful and the service exceptional. I used to work in New York City and have been to many good restaurants but I have to tell you the food, service and atmosphere here was exceptional.

Another place we liked was Le Cave which is in the Wynn. It is like a small winery and my daughter loved it. I think it was made better for the waiter we had. I don’t know his name but he was from Poland. It did not outdo the Panevino though, I think it is going to be hard to top that place in my mind. đŸ˜‰

Anyway, just thought I drop a line and tell you we love visiting Vegas and who knows maybe might end up moving there one day. It is a very nice city, from the strip to the mountains. The views you have are beautiful. The people are also very friendly.

Thank you for your newsletters, I enjoy reading them and want to wish you a very happy and prosperous new year.

Enjoy and be happy,


Ted Responds:

Wow, thanks for the detailed report! I’ve indeed dined at Panavino. In addition to the great food and service, the distant view (about 2 miles from Mandalay Bay) of The Strip is incredible, especially around the time the sun sets.

Have not been to La Cave at Wynn, but it is getting rave reviews from all who go and is on our short list to check out.

Fortunately, the unusual cold we had around the end of the year has ended. Unfortunately, not in time for your visit. But let’s hope for better weather on your next trip!

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor

When Is Las Vegas Spring Break In 2011? Want To Avoid The Crowds…

Hello Ted and Team,  Happy New Year to you all. Thanks as always for the continuing updates, has helped get us through a horrible winter here in the UK!

I have a quick question for you – do you know when Spring Break is this year? We are hoping to come around the end of March/beginning of April but would prefer to avoid the younger crowd!

Many thanks,

Claire & Daryll Young


Ted Responds:

College spring break in the U.S. stretches from late February to early April, peaking in March. The more important dates to avoid more have to do with the NCAA College Basketball playoffs (March Madness). March 15-27 and April 2-4 is prime time here with the combination of Spring Break and March Madness.

Also, MTV is doing a week of spring break coverage from The Palms March 6-10. The town will be flooded with students who actually think they’ll be able and get into the Palms pool and get on TV (fat chance) who may come here that week (or part of it) even if it isn’t their spring break.

If pool weather is a must, hold off until April for your visit. If you want to just get somewhere warmer than the UK and are itching to get over here, do it in later February. Our average February high is 63F. Average for April is 78F.

Hope this helps and thanks for reading!

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor

Riviera Las Vegas – Access Vegas Readers Love It!

My sister and I stayed at the Riviera last spring and the room we had there was excellent. They have indeed been re-doing the rooms. We stayed in the Monaco tower which had all new refurbished rooms. The staff there was great and we had a great time. The food was also great at Kady’s with large portions and very tasty.

Novel from Frisco, TX

I stay at the Riviera & one other Casino every Month. Yes,  EVERY Month and have for many years. When the good times were rolling, other Strip Casinos treated people like we were lucky they let us in their precious door. Since I go to Vegas every Month, I have stayed at 90% of the Strip Casinos. I will no longer step foot into an MGM Mirage property due to the insulting treatment I received from their hosts. Harrah’s properties destroyed their players club and their Slot & Video Poker pay tables. Now, of course, they want me back. Too bad.

I was always treated as a welcome guest at the Riviera, even when times were good. To me, that’s the measure of who gets my business. Over the years, I have gotten to know most of the employees in most departments. The Riviera is struggling to stay alive right now & as such has had to make a lot of cuts in personnel. Many of my friends are on lay-off call back status. This naturally translates into less service in every Department.

The housekeepers are killing themselves to clean many more rooms with less staff but I still get a big smile, sometimes a big hug and a big welcome back from them. That’s much more important to me than how often the carpet gets deep cleaned. Every department treats me like they’re glad to have me back.

Yes, you will notice some things that are not up to snuff, but they’re doing to best they can to stay in Business during these tough times. I’d rather have an elevator floor not cleaned as often as it used to be than to have no Riviera at all.

You want clean elevator floors, go stay at the Wynn where 2 Months ago it took me 3 HOURS to check in and the service was terrible. OK, they had a phone in the bathroom. I was too exhausted from checking in to use it. I’ll trade in glitz and pretend glamor for genuine hospitality any day.

The Riviera gets my business and I hope, I hope they make it through these dark days. I overlook the little things they just can’t help and enjoy the friendly spirit in spite of their fear of losing their jobs.

Judy Hinkley

Hi, love your newsletter and I just went back a couple weeks and read that you needed some people that stayed at the Riv recently to write a quick review…..My girlfriend and I stayed there Easter weekend, and I had heard that a number of rooms were renovated, most notably the Monaco tower, and I was going to ask to get upgraded to that tower when we checked in, but we were put in there anyways. We were quite happy with it, carpets looked almost brand new, flat screen tv, and clean. Ya the view was of the back end looking at the Hilton and stuff like the air conditioner looked like it was 50 years old….didn’t matter I knew not to expect a 5 star room for the price, like I said it was clean and updated..

A couple of the towers looked like they hadn’t been updated though….can’t remember which ones and I was looking from the outside anyways, but for sure Monaco is OK

Keep up the good work, hope to be back in the summer

Dale from BC Canada

Ted Responds:

Lots of love for The Riviera. No question that it is an older property but with so many people wanting to do Las Vegas “old school” it sounds like an option to check out.

Readers, what has your experience with The Riviera been? Add comments below!

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor

Retiring To Las Vegas, Looking For A Safe Apartment Complex Until We Buy, Advice Wanted!

First off I love reading Access Vegas Insider Vibe. We are a retired couple 62 and loving it. We are in the final stages of making a move to the area in 10 months, we need help in finding a safe apartment complex (not destinations, we fee they are too pricey for our social security & pension checks).

We have been checking on some unit that are run by Camden Properties. If you know anyone who can help us secure a place for a year until we find where we want to buy a condo, we would greatly appreciate it! We had family in the area, but they divorced and moved out of this area, so we are concerned.

Thank you so much, keep up the good work!

Pat & Allen (moving from Parma, Ohio)

Ted Responds:

Especially in this economy with housing prices not projected to increase much (if at all) in the next 18 months, renting is an excellent way to get a “lay of the land” before you finally decide what are of Las Vegas you’ll want to eventually settle down in.

The one I’d do is come out for an entire week. Rent a car. Spend the week looking at apartments in various parts of town and really get a feel for what is available.

Past that, I unfortunately don’t have much of a handle on retirement housing in Las Vegas. Hopefully, some of our readers do and will post their comments below:

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor

Las Vegas Slots Are Too Tight, When Will The Casinos Wake Up?

After all the comments of slots being tightened, meals too high priced,unfriendly casino employees,and resort fees,my wife and I were ready to try Vegas again. BUT then we just talked to some people at our local casino that just returned from Vegas. The conversation was how all casinos are tightening payouts, but these folks said “If you think its bad here in Illinois, it’s nothing compared to Las Vegas. They have been regular Vegas goers for years and now say they will never return. It has changed my wife’s and my decision to return.

When are the casino’s going to learn that the majority of people going to Vegas on a regular basis go there to play the slots?

If the return on slots is so bad that it is no fun anymore the people will eventually stop playing them. The casinos in Illinois have noticed a dramatic drop in slot play, and when you talk to people at the casino’s its always the same complaint, they have reduced the payouts to a point where there is no hope anymore. No hope means No fun, which in turn means we quit playing.

Other things mentioned by the couple that just returned from Vegas were casino’s were dirty, food too expensive, unfriendly employees, and lack of comps.

I hope the casinos wake up before it’s too late.

Ted Responds:

Not much I can add to that. Casino employees who should be happy to just have a job need to brush up on their customer service. I disagree about the expensive food. Bargains still abound (especially downtown). A celeb chef restaurant is going to be expensive anywhere in the country.

Readers, the comment box below is all yours!

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor

New Years Eve Las Vegas 2010 – Any Suggestions, Tips?

My husband and I consider Vegas to be our home away from home. We’ve already been there twice this year. Once for the UFC fan expo in May and for the last week in July, for the whole week. That was our relaxing week and yes, we did relax.

We will be back for my birthday on Dec. 30th (I’m turning 50) and for New Year’s eve. We will have a couple of friends with us this time. We are looking for a place to go for New Year’s eve, but we are not sure where to go. We are trying to find out what bands are playing where etc. I can find no listings anywhere. I realize it may be too early for the bands to be booked, but we would like to have some idea on what’s going on. We don’t want the really expensive parties, just something fun and enjoyable. Can you please tell me what is going on where and what will be happening in those places.

We have been there before for New Year’s eve (Millennium 2000 at The Plaza) and while we had a good
time, we are looking for something for somewhat younger people like us. Yes, I will be the oldest in our group, but I can still party and out party the people I will be with. Where can I look for events for that night in Vegas? Any suggestions? We do realize anywhere will be packed, but we just want a great experience.

We will be staying at our time share, so rooms are not an issue. Please help guide us in the right direction.

Thank you for your time.

Ellen Harper

Ted Responds:

We always have a comprehensive list of what is happening. As you might guess, nothing is announced yet and generally isn’t until 4-6 weeks out. So, if you stay subscribed to our Insider Vibe newsletter (sign-up is free at the top of, you’ll know when we know!

Downtown for New Years has gotten a little younger (and you are now 10 years older) so I wouldn’t completely write that off. Having said that, there are always so many other options available. Good not to do the same thing twice.

The biggest party is simply right on The Strip. See video (PG-13):

If you want more of an organized event with live music, one of the themed restaurants or Voodoo Lounge (Top of Rio) may be up your alley.

Staying off-strip, getting to The Strip and parking will be your biggest issue. Many of the hotels restrict parking to their guests on that night. You’ll want to purchase the tickets for your event in advance and have the printed proof (computer receipt or similar) with you when you get to the parking garage. And don’t forget that The Strip sometimes starts closing down before 9 PM. I’d plan to be parked by 6 PM and try to find somewhere for dinner that doesn’t have an impossible line (or hit the food court in Casino Royale or O’ Sheas).

Stay tuned!

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor

Trip Report – Elvis, Rio, Slots, Are Las Vegas Shows Running Around Christmas?

Just arrived back home from 7 days in Vegas. Had a great time!!!! Watch the Elvis program at Aria and it was excellent. I tried the $20.00 trick to the desk clerk and it worked, had a room facing the strip on a HIGH floor and she was so sweet to me during check in process, even wished me a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! (stayed at The Rio).

I found the slots machines were really tight, until Friday night. I also found that Vegas was very very busy! Hopefully that is good sign that things are moving back up! We are going back for Christmas this year and never been there during that time. Are most of the shows running during the week of Christmas? How is the weather during that time?

Thanks for your wonderful info!

Connie from Florida

Ted Responds:

Very happy to hear you enjoyed your stay! It never hurts to mention a special occasion upon check-in and combined with a try at the “$20 Trick” (putting a folded up $20 bill between your ID and credit card and asking in there is a higher floor or preferred view available) probably has a good chance at success. They return the bill to you if they can’t accomodate you.

I do want to squelch a misconception many visitors have: It was long throught that the casinos loosened up their slots during the week, then tightened them up on weekends to “stick it” to the weekend visitors (who are paying higher room rates and airfare to fly in for weekends, a time of higher demand). Not true. The vast majority of slot machines have a computer chip in them to determine payouts, and that chip must be manually swapped out to change the odds. Doing this twice each week would be cost-prohibitive.

So, it was interesting to see that you actually experienced looser slots on Friday. The reason? Lady Luck. Hot and cold streaks and happen at any time. Glad you caught an upturn with your luck.

Las Vegas experiences the slowest two weeks of the year from the time National Finals Rodeo ends (Dec. 11 of this year) until Christmas. Christmas Eve falls on a Friday this year, so I expect a pretty good influx for the Christmas weekend. Traditional “family holiday” weekends like Thanksgiving and Christmas have seen a real uptick here over the past few years as far-flung family members agree to meet in Las Vegas.

To answer your question: Many (if not the majority) of shows choose to take this slow period and use it for vacation. You’ll still have a selection of shows, but it will be significantly reduced. Look at the bright side: Being here during the slowest time of the year means fewer (or no) lines, often lower gambling limits, less crowded tables and slots, a rare chance to almost feel like you have Las Vegas to yourself!

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor

Female And Thinking Of Visiting Las Vegas Alone – Any Thoughts?

I was wondering what you and your readers thought of people who travel to Vegas alone. I have been coming to Vegas alone for several years now. My husband never cared for the gambling scene, he died approx. 4 years ago and now my boyfriend doesn’t care for it either.

I know my way around and wouldn’t go places I shouldn’t and times that I should not be there either.

I love slot tournaments and I love the spa’s during the day. This give me MY time and I can gamble morning til night. I only stay a few days and always ready to go back. Do I sound pathetic? Are there other people out there like me?

I always feel safe in Vegas, never had any trouble.



Ted Responds:

First of all, there is nothing pathetic about coming to Las Vegas alone regardless of your gender. In fact, because of the large number of conventions we host, it is very common for people to be here “alone” (sans their significant other) and outside of the convention simply doing what they want to do and see on their own.

And while maybe a little more common for men to do, taking off and hitting Las Vegas for a few days is absolutely nothing new.

As you noted, Las Vegas is incredibly safe as long as you don’t wander way off down a dark street or otherwise get careless. (You wouldn’t just leave your purse lying around or go somewhere with a stranger or similar at home, and obviously shouldn’t in Las Vegas). With SO MANY cameras both inside and outside the hotels, you are probably more safe here than most other destinations.

One tip for dining alone (if it makes you feel strange in any way, which it shouldn’t): Most of the great restaurants we have will serve you the full menu at the bar. No reservations required and usually no wait to sit at the bar, and you usually aren’t completely “alone”.

From personal experience living here, I venture out alone more than I do with someone else. The freedom is wonderful. You can just go at your own whim, see what you want to see, stop and play a machine if you hear it “calling” you. Stay out if you want. Go back to your room if you are tired. See a show at spur of the moment (good single seats to a show are often available day-of-show at the box office).

Now… granted, you should at some point introduce your significant other to Las Vegas because there is so much more to do and see than gamble. He can go to Pawn Stars or watch a game or have a scotch and cigar (or whatever he’s into) while you hit the spa or do your slot tournaments. And today’s modern slot machines are more video games than slot machines. People who otherwise aren’t “gamblers” have fun on the penny slots.

But I absolutely wouldn’t think twice about it. Sometime we all need our “me” time, and the few days apart from each other may provide a nice break and make you “miss” each other just a little bit and put some fire in the relationship when you return.

Readers, do you visit Las Vegas alone? Have you considered it? Any thoughts or suggestions? Hit us with a comment in the comment box below!

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor

Retired And Thinking About Moving To Las Vegas, Senior Housing Questions?

I am considering a move to Vegas. I have a sister who has lived there for about 25 years. Presently I live alone in Florida. One of my daughters lives in Reno and the other in Sacramento CA, so Vegas would bring me closer to them. I am retired on Social Security and 1/2 of my husband’s pension.

I am 77 years old, mobile and in good health. I am seeking a place with a lot of volunteer opportunities as I volunteer 4 places where I live in FL. I would love to get some info from Vegas on housing or apartments for Seniors. Can you steer me to the right places to obtain info regarding this? Thanks in advance.

Barbara from Florida

Ted Responds:

You are obviously a great candidate for moving to Las Vegas with family here plus in Reno and Sacramento. As you know, Reno and Sacramento are both a one-hour flight from Las Vegas or a full but manageable one-day drive away (8 hours to Reno, 9.5 to Sacramento).

Housing is dirt cheap right now. Decent two-bedroom condos are going for $40,000. 1500 sq. ft. homes in decent areas for $100,000. If you are not in a position to buy, keep in mind that rent is subject to market demands. It went way up during the boom but is now at moderate levels.

Given that you have both Social Security and a pension, you are in one of the best positions to move here. Since your income isn’t dependent on needing a job in the current economy here, you can take advantage of the low cost of living and be closer to your family.

Volunteerism is a great way to give back, stay busy, and make new friends, I agree! Right now especially in this economy, you’ll find no shortage of charities and other organizations that would love to have you.

Because Las Vegas is a full-size city, you’ll probably be able to find the same kinds of volunteer opportunities here that you currently have in Florida. I personally support the Rescue Mission and other charities and appreciate others like yourself who do charitable work. Plus, you are living proof that it helps keep you young!

To be honest, I’m not up on senior housing. Your best resource for where you might want to live would probably be your sister and her friends. However, we also may have readers who can help with their two cents and will give their comments in the box below.

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor

Just Returned From Las Vegas: $20 Trick Worked, Loved Viva Elvis, Too Many Kids

I have been receiving your newsletter for some time, and I enjoy reading it every week as it has lots of helpful information. We just returned from four days in Vegas, and I would like to make these comments:

1. The $20 “Sandwich Trick” worked great at our hotel. The young man at Bally’s was very appreciative and immediately upgraded our room to a Diamond Level room in the North Tower.

2. Don’t believe what the critics say: the Elvis tribute show at the Aria City Center is fabulous! Our entire party thoroughly enjoyed it, and we plan to go again the next time we’re there.

3. There are WAY too many children running around the casinos, sidewalks on the strip, and restaurants. There were children on the edges of the casino floors as late as midnight — their moronic parents pulling and tugging them along! I have always believed there is a time and place to take children on vacation, and Las Vegas is definitely NOT the time nor the place!

Thank you,
Gatesville, TX

Ted Responds:

Thanks for the great report. Bally’s Las vegas is often overlooked but it is still a decent hotel with an incredible location!

Since a few people still don’t know what the $20 trick is:

The “$20 Rule” is always worth a try. Many Las Vegas hotels charge a premium for a Strip view, higher floors, better rooms, etc. The desk staff often has some latitude on upgrading guests. Place a folded up $20 bill on the counter partially under your ID and/or credit card so that the denomination is visible. As you slide them across, ask if a room with a Strip View or other upgrade may be available.

If they can’t accommodate you or insist on an extra charge you can simply retract the bill (they will only pick it up if they can take care of you). If they accommodate you, a small price to pay to see one of the most famous views in the world out of your window. If not, you are out nothing. You came to Las Vegas to gamble!

Cirque du Soleil’s Viva Elvis is getting a 100% thumbs-up from all our readers. Critics didn’t seem big on the show when it opened, but what really counts is what the audience thinks.

While some parents will argue that they can do a successful vacation with their kids in tow, let’s face it: Las Vegas is a LOT more fun if just you and your special sweetie. Take the kids to Panama City Beach. Leave them with grandma when you come to Las Vegas.

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor