One way to travel the strip is via the Las Vegas Strip Trolley. First of all it isn’t a real trolley they are buses made to look like trolley cars. The trolley stops at most of the strip hotels and is $1.75 each way exact fare only. It runs from Mandalay Bay at the south end of the strip to the Stratosphere on the north end of the strip. I have taken it a few times and it never seems too busy. One reason why i don’t take it more is because most of the stops for it are at the back or parking area of the hotels which means you have to walk to the front door or casino; Also because the trolley stops at every casino mostly around the back its not a speedy way to get around. The hours it runs are usually 9:30am to 1:30am and last time i rode it you could get a unlimited day pass for $5.
A few years ago a high rise condo with four towers was built called Turnberry Place. More recently luxury high condos are being built all along the strip with many more planned even downtown. These gated luxury condo’s often have pools, private clubs and gyms inside the complexes. All of these high rises are changing the skyline of Las Vegas and are sure to add the traffic. Donald Trump is building one and his former wife Ivana has one planned next to the Saraha as well as many others people have planned or are under construction. Maybe one plus for visitors to Las Vegas is it will bring service businesses to the strip such as supermarkets and stores.
Traffic on the strip is bad and at peak times can be a parking lot, one alternative is the Las Vegas Monorail. Soon after it openned it was closed for many months but is now reopened. The route of the monorail is on the back side of many of the large hotels on one side of the strip. It runs from the MGM Grand to the Saraha with stops also at Paris/Ballys,Flamingo,Harrahs/Imperial Palace,Convention Center and the Las Vegas Hilton. Because its behind most of the properties the stations for most are at the back of the hotels. The fare is $3 for one way or $10 for a day pass or $20 for ten rides or $25 for a three day pass.You buy the tickets at machines on the station platforms or in some casinos it runs daily from 7am to 2am. Trains arrive and depart every few minutes with more at peak times. I use it often because it is air conditioned fairly quick and cheaper than taking taxis. It was privately funded and they originally talked about extending it to downtown as well as to Mc Carren Airport but either is probally years off. I like staying at the Las Vegas Hilton which is off the strip by the convention center which was a drawback because you would have to take a taxi to the strip but now with the monorail it makes it a lot more conveniant.
Several of my friends stayed at the San Remo recently and said it was a little run down. It is going to be remodelled and reopened in Feb 06 as The Hooters Hotel & Casino. The fact the hotel is being remodelled is good but my question is about the new theme. Its named after the restaurant chain that has “Hooters Girls” who serve the food and drinks in uniforms of tight orange shorts and tight white t shirts. Myself being a single guy it sounds good to me but with all the options to stay or gamble in Las Vegas are women going to want to go to a Hooters hotel or casino. The restaurant chain does good so maybe there is a big enough market to support it i guess we will have to wait and see.
Binions is a downtown property that for years was known as Binions Horseshoe. Binions Horseshoe got in financial trouble and was closed for many months in 2004. Harrahs bought the property and reopened it bringing a historical Las Vegas casino back to life. One of the things Binions Horseshoe was famous for was The World Series of Poker which always drew good crowds. Harrahs moved the tournament to a off strip property it owns The Rio and this year only the last two rounds were played downtown and this was only because the mayor asked them because this is Las Vegas 100th Birthday Year. Next year all of the tournament will be played at The Rio . Harrahs sold the Horseshoe and took the name with them and now its just called Binions. When i was there a few weeks ago there was big blank spots on both ends of Binions where Harrahs had taken the huge neon Horseshoes signs off the building. It was kind of sad and there is talk that Harrahs is going to rebrand Ballys on the strip as the Horseshoe, we will see what happens. When i first started going to Las Vegas half of what is now Binions was The Mint. When Binions took over The Mint they knocked holes through the wall to combine the two casinos. So now you have the former Mint side which has higher ceilings then you have the Binions side which has lower ceilings and has lots of wood panelling and looks kind of like a saloon in the old west. At the back you used to be able to get your picture taken for free in front of a million dollars but they have stopped that, maybe they needed the money. The coffee shop here is in the basement at the back of the casino and its panelled in wood and is a pleasant place to eat. The Ranch Steak House is twenty stories above the casino and offers great views and decent food. The pool is small and nothing like the huge landscaped pools on the hotels on the strip but is okay and as most properties downtown don’t have pools this is a plus if you are staying there. The hotel usually has good food specials at odd hours so if you want to have steak in the middle of the night for example this is a good bet. The rooms are nothing special but better than i expected. This is a property with a lot of history and i hope the new owners can spend some money to upgrade this property without loseing the charm or history of this property. If you plan to stay downtown this wouldn’t be a bad choice.
The Engelstad family recently sold the Imperial Palace on the strip to Harrahs for $360 million. Harrahs hasn’t decided what they are going yet with the hotel; Most likely they will knock it down and expand the two properties on each side. The Imperial Palace is an older property and the rooms were okay but the big advantage for visitors was the fact you could get a room for a decent price in a high room rate section of the strip. With Harrahs taking over i can see these discount rooms not being available anymore. I enjoy going to the Auto Collection which is a car museum in the Imperial Palace which the hotel doesn’t own so i hope it finds a new home if Harrahs decides to demolish the Imperial Palace. One unique thing the Imperial Palace does is in the evenning hours they have celebrity impersonators as dealers on several of the tables. Its weird you can be playing blackjack and have a Madonna or Micheal Jackson impersonator as a dealer which is weird but fun. The Micheal Jackson impersonator creeped me out a little but thats just me maybe. Either way it would be good to visit the Imperial Palace if you haven’t been before while you still can.
I visit Las Vegas several times a year for business or pleasure. First of all i should tell you that i prefer to stay downtown or at the smaller properties. I’m not a big fan of the huge crowds at some of the strip hotels. I also don’t like long check lines or taking half an hour to get to your room from the strip. I mainly play blackjack and a little slots and other table games.