Travel Tips Trip Reports

Trip Report – The “Math Nerd”

My wife and I visit Las Vegas 2-3 times per year. We’re long time heavy users of myVegas rewards and as such we have been pretty loyal to MGM Resorts and MLife. We usually stay in the lower-to-mid tier properties, Excalibur and Monte Carlo. We went in April for the Vzzzt trip and we paid up for a nicer suite at Monte Carlo. Coincidentally, we spent most of our annual “travel budget” on that trip. But… when Eggslut announced its opening date of June 10th at the Cosmo, we just HAD to be a part of that! But because I’m pretty strict (anal) about our household budget, if we were going to make another Vegas trip so soon after our Vzzzt trip, we were going to have to do this on the cheap!

A couple of things worked out in our favor to make this happen. We have the Delta Airlines Skymiles American Express card, which comes with one “Companion Certificate” each year, so that means my wife could fly for “free” (Just have to pay the taxes on her ticket). Delta pretty much has a monopoly in the Minneapolis market, so we’ve gotten good value out of having this credit card (the $200 annual fee is easily made up for with the companion certificate). Airfare from MSP to LAS ranges from the mid-$250’s for red-eye flights to close to $500 for busy prime time flights. My rule is, if the fare is in the $300’s, book it. Flights for the weekend of June 10th were in the mid-$300’s – a good start!

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Now for the hotel. Whenever we need to book a budget trip, we pretty much land on Excalibur. We always stay in the Contemporary Tower (a.k.a. Tower 2, a.k.a. Resort Tower), and the best I could find for a 2-night stay was $97 / night in that tower using our Pearl MLife rates. Not bad, until you add on the taxes, and the (gulp) $30 nightly resort fee. $30!! For Excalibur!! I could stomach the resort fee when it was $20 or under (hell that even seemed like a “deal” compared with MGM or the Mirage). But $30, that’s just ridiculous. Add on the growing disappointment many of us have with the 6:5 blackjack, horrible video poker offerings, cheap booze, small pours, and parking fees (which don’t really impact us since we don’t rent a car). At any rate, I’d reached my tipping point, even though the “better” myVegas rewards require an MLife property stay, we needed to look elsewhere. Stickin’ it to the man!

I have a personal distaste for Caesars Entertainment following a horrible stay a dozen years ago and vowed never to stay with them again. Downtown was looking like a serious contender for the first time. My wife and I like going downtown, we like the better gambling down there, but have never stayed there. The noise, I think would get to me, and my wife requires “pool time” which drops our options to really just 1 or 2 properties downtown. But… they’ve got resort fees, too. Argh…

I went to my Hyatt account to see if there are any Hyatt properties close to the strip. Surprisingly, I had over 10,000 points I wasn’t aware I had! It turns out MLife and Hyatt have a partnership, so all of the trips we had taken recently staying at MLife hotels, we had been getting Hyatt points, too! There is a Hyatt Place hotel near UNLV and the Hard Rock Hotel and I could use 4000 points plus $55 cash per night! We have never stayed off strip before (unless you count the Westin which I could argue either way is on or off-strip) but the deal was there, only $123 (tax included) for 2 nights and a bunch of Hyatt Points I didn’t even know I had! Plus… the Hyatt Place has NO resort fee, NO parking fee, a FREE airport shuttle, and FREE hot skillet breakfast each day! Daaang! It was too good to pass up; we booked it.

Upon arriving at McCarran we went to find the hotel shuttles; the next shuttle would be arriving in 10 minutes, no biggie. We were also both armed with Uber and Lyft codes given that we would need to find additional modes of transportation rather than the typical strip offerings. It turns out the Hyatt’s shuttle van also makes 4 trips to Planet Hollywood between 2:00 pm and midnight. We didn’t use that service because Lyft ended up being so damn awesome, but it’s good to know the shuttle is there if those times work for you.

Thankfully they had a room ready for us, even at 9:30 am on a Friday, so we didn’t have to bother with luggage storage. They even gave us a “welcome gift” which was a bag of BBQ chips, some cookies, and a bottle of water. Hey, you won’t get that at Excalibur! The room was quite nice, larger than your basic “king” or “two queen” room on the strip. It had an L-shaped couch in the living area, mini-fridge, and a coffee maker in the room (although the coffee packets were all decaf, wtf?) The pool wasn’t anything special, but it was open from 8 am – 10 pm. We did spend an hour sunning ourselves. It was kind of nice not having the “oontz” to contend with. The hotel seemed mostly popular with families and flight crews.

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Lyft and Uber were awesome once again as many have already attested to. Just use the service, don’t think about it, you won’t be sorry. We used Uber and Lyft a combined 9 times for a total cost of $34 (not including tips). Four of those rides were to downtown and back! Tip: refer your spouse/friend and your free promo rides effectively “double”. As I mentioned above, our myVegas reward options were severely limited since we weren’t staying with MGM Resorts. We did each use the MGM dinner buffet reward ($80 value), which is still a great reward since it doesn’t have ANY restrictions on date or hotel stay. We also used the Camelot Steakhouse $50 credit reward (we had already used the $75 Tender credit during our April trip which we prefer to Camelot). Also, we used at Monte Carlo: the whiskey tasting, BOGO Sambalatte beverage, and the BOGO Boulevard Creamery booze-infused milkshake reward which was fabulous!! Our myVegas rewards amounted to $200 in “savings”. MyVegas still provides some excellent value even if you’re not staying at an MLife property! MyVegas dissenters, be damned! This was our 9th trip using MyVegas!

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Back to Hyatt Place. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was clean and the breakfasts were great. More than a typical “continental” breakfast. There were pancakes, egg bake, sausages, ham, yogurt, bagels, toast, fresh fruit, juice, etc… All for free! Our room was quiet which was surprising since we were on the ground level facing Swenson Street. Not one emergency vehicle siren, no horns honking all night. And something that is easily overlooked but that we appreciated was that the window blinds did an EXCELLENT job of blocking out the morning sun. My wife says when the “Sun’s up, Todd’s up” so I enjoyed having a dark room for some extra shut-eye. The only problem we had was our shower head broke the final morning. It was held on by cheap plastic which had cracked and gave way as I adjusted the shower head. But overall we were definitely happy with Hyatt Place Las Vegas. I’m sure we will stay there again, and YES – Eggslut was AWESOME!!

About the author:

20160610_105441Todd and his wife Amanda are big fans of Las Vegas and visit 2-3 times per year from their home base of Lakeville, MN.  We highly value a good deal, and Vegas certainly has those if you look for them.  We love the Vegas podcast community and enjoy providing content from time to time!

Editor’s note: Big thanks to Todd and Amanda for sharing notes from their trip and plenty of great tips. If you’d like to hear Todd’s thoughts on craps and get some betting strategies, be sure to download his free ebook “How a Math Nerd Plays Craps“. If you’d like to share your own trip report or Vegas tips, I’d love to hear from you!

About the author

Travel Fanboy

Adam is the host of the Travel Fanboy Podcast, editor of TravelFanboy.com, and a super famous travel influencer. He's no expert, just an enthusiast who enjoys having a top-shelf trip at a happy hour price. Formerly of Vegas Fanboy fame.