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Las Vegas is a city that is always reinventing itself. The casino hotels and resorts are always changing.  Not only are new ones being built, but names are changing, and decor is changing, and new wings are being added.  Renovations are constant as the casino hotels and resorts compete for customers.  New restaurants and shops are also being added -- and others were not popular are being replaced.  Here's where we will tell you about some of the big changes being made.  And there are always lots of changes going on in Las Vegas.

CAESARS PALACE IS RENOVATING ITS PALACE TOWER

Update July 8, 2017  Caesars Palace is now renovating its Palace Tower and the renovations are being made to several floors at a time. If you are staying in a room in the Palace Tower try to get a room that is several floors away from the construction especially if you want to sleep late when construction is active. The Palace Tower is convenient to the pools and to the ballrooms and convention areas of Caesars but it's a distance from the main and Augustus VIP valet areas and it's a hike from the main desk. See my report about staying in a Palace Tower room by clicking here.

TRIP REPORT: A STAYCATION AT THE FLAMINGO HOTEL AND CASINO

Update June 23, 2017  Earlier this week I had a staycation at The Flamingo Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. This resort is part of the Caesars Total Rewards family but while the one-bedroom suite was fantastic there were too many problems ranging from in-room dining to how the casino was operating. Read the complete trip report with plenty of photos by clicking here.

CAESARS PALACE ADDS MORE HIGH-LIMIT SLOTS BUT CHANGES SOME PLAYER COMFORTS TO DO IT

Update April 28, 2017  Below is a photo of the new high-limit slot machine area inside the Palace Court high-limit slots room at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The room is large, with comfortable seats at games that require a healthy budget to play. To make room for this new high-limit slot area, Caesars altered some of the player comforts that not too many players really used. This area used to be a closed-off players' lounge with a large TV and a snack bar that had nuts, cookies and bottled water for the taking. There was also a sofa and nearby were private restrooms where one person could lock the door for privacy. (For more about the restrooms please click here.) Also removed from the Palace Court was a small office for casino hosts to meet with players, and frankly I never saw that office used.

Now there is a snack area that has been opened at the rear of the Palace Court slots area. The snack area still has bottled water for the taking as well as snack items such as cookies and fruits. There is a TV mounted on the wall and some comfortable chairs, but the walls that closed it from the gaming floor are missing.

Caesars Palace added new high-limit slots.
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They removed a players' lounge with snacks to do it.

IN-ROOM DINING, ROOM SERVICE TIPPING, FEES VARY BY HOTEL

Update February 5, 2017  One of the most common questions about staying in a Las Vegas resort hotel is how much to tip room service or in-room dining when they deliver your meal? There are various guidelines for room service tipping and generally they are to tip a minimum of $5 (five dollars) and to generally tip 18% of your bill and up to 20% of your bill for exceptional service. For poor service you can tip less than 18% and there is no rule that you have to tip anything. But that's where the general advice ends because in Las Vegas some casino resorts automatically add a tip for the server on your room service check and if you add a tip onto the check amount you will be double tipping.

Let's take Caesars Palace, for example. Caesars has an automatic tip added onto the room service check. Sometimes the server will point out that a gratuity is included in your check, but sometimes the server will not point that out. On the Caesars room service check is a separate line for a gratuity and if you didn't notice that a gratuity was already included you might be inclined to include a dollar amount on the gratuity line.

During my last four visits to Caesars Palace over the last six months not one of the room service waiters pointed out that an automatic tip had already been included on the check.

You will also see on the check a service charge but at Caesars that room service charge is an additional fee just for the service and is not a gratuity. Room service charges might be a flat fee per room or it might be a fee per person. At Caesars Palace if you order room serice for two people there will be two room service charges, so if two people are going to share one basic of bagels and cream cheese say you are ordering for one person and there will be just one room service charge.

If you are using Total Rewards points or "Reward Credits" to pay for your room service you should note that the sales tax must be paid in cash and comp dollars or Reward Credits cannot be used.

At some other resorts a room service charge might be a gratuity so you will have to ask the server or the order taker when you call in your order.

I think it's a very good idea to ask the order taker when you call in your order what their tipping policy is. Ask if a gratuity is already included in the check and ask if there is a room service charge and what that covers. The hotel's menu is likely to tell you if there is a room service charge but it might not indicate the tipping policy.

If you expect your room service check to be covered by comps or by "points" from your players club account ask if the service charges and the gratuities are covered. Generally tips are not covered by comps or players club "points" and the guest is expected to leave tips out of their own pocket. I found that at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas the room service charge can be paid for with players club "points" but the room service charge generally cannot be comped by hosts so your points will be needed to cover that small charge.

Room service at The Bellagio in Las Vegas.
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Gratuity is up to the hotel guest.


At Bellagio in Las Vegas gratuities are not included in the room service check and if you are being comped or using your MLife points to pay for your room service your gratuity will not be covered. Again leaving a tip means money out of your pocket.

Wynn Las Vegas has a $7.50 room service charge per order (not per person) and a gratuity of 18% is added to the in-room dining check.

At the MGM Grand, the in-room dining service charge is $4.50 per person and the gratuity is left up to the discretion of the guest.

At the Venetian and Palazzo their room service fee is called a delivery charge and that's $5.00 per order (not per person) and a gratuity of 18% is added to the check.

At The Rio, the off-strip property owned by Caesars, there is an $8.00 room service fee on each check regardless of the number of persons or the number of items and the gratuity is left up to the discretion of the hotel guests.

Across Flamingo is the off-Strip Palms Casino Resort. The Palms has a $1 service charge if your room is in Palms Place, but if you are staying in the Palms there is no service charge. However the gratuity is added on to all checks and the amount is 19-percent.

And way off-Strip at the Red Rock Resort Casino and Spa in Summerlin the service charge is $4.00 per order, but Red Rock adds a 20% gratuity to the check.

"CHARGE IT TO MY ROOM, PLEASE."

Update February 4, 2017  One of the conveniences of staying at a Las Vegas resort is charging purchases including restaurant meals, and gift shop items, and show tickets and even drinks at the cocktail bar or from your in-room convenience bar to your hotel room. It's not only convenient, but it also gives you one place to check and keep track of all of your spending whether for pleasure or for business. However, when you check into your hotel or resort be sure you can charge to your room. Most hotels require a credit card to be kept on file when you check in, and some hotels will place some sort of "hold" on your card to cover anticipated expenses.

Whether or not you can charge expenses to your room might depend on the card you present when you check into the hotel. Some hotels will not allow room charges if you present a gift card or a debit card because those cards have a fixed value and only if you present a credit card will room charges be allowed. Some hotels, however, do accept debit cards to be kept on file and will allow room charges.

Some hotels will allow a cash deposit when you arrive and check into the hotel, but again a cash deposit might not be viewed as sufficient to allow room charges which might easily exceed a $200 or $400 cash deposit. So, be sure you know what the policy is when you arrive and before you choose which plastic you will give to the desk clerk or if you opt for cash.

ABOUT THAT CREDIT CARD DEPOSIT AT CHECK-IN

Update April 19, 2016  It's pretty standard for most Vegas hotels to ask you for a credit card as a deposit for room charges. Even if you are getting a free or comped room because of a casino or players club promotion it is not unusual for the hotel to still require a credit card as a deposit for charges such as using room service, using the in-room mini-bar, movie rentals or charging restaurant meals to the room.

When you check in, be sure to ask how much of a hold will be placed on your card. The hold or preliminary charge can vary. 

It's also important to find out when the hold on your card will be released if you don't use all of the hold. Some hotels will promptly release a hold and others might wait a day or two based on their procedures.

I had an unusual experience at one hotel. The hotel put a $200 hold on my credit card and that amount was normal. When I checked out, my total room charges were only $37. What was strange was that instead of revising the initial $200 hold on my credit card, the hotel made a second charge of $37.

Sometimes when you have a small charge pending against your room you might want to stop by the main desk and pay cash, but then again, you want to find out when the initial hold on your card will be released.

UPDATE ON PAID PARKING AT CAESARS PALACE

Update February 5, 2017  There are now pay stations at the valet parking areas of Caesars Palace. Caesars followed the lead of various MGM hotels which started to charge for parking in late 2016. The self-serve parking at Caesars Palace is still free but that's because the equipment including the gates have not yet been installed. The pay stations for valet parking were installed within the past week.

TREASURE ISLAND SAYS IT WILL NOT CHARGE FOR PARKING... FOR NOW

Update December 13, 2016  There is one mid-Strip Las Vegas casino that says it will not start charging for parking, and that's Treasure Island, which is also known as TI. This casino resort used to be part of MGM but now it is privately owned. I asked management if they had plans to follow the lead of MGM and then Caesars to charge for parking, but in an email their public relations department told me there were no plans to charge for parking. "The owner of Treasure Island has decided not to charge for parking at this time," was the exact wording of the email message.

This will probably benefit Vegas locals who now could make TI their parking spot and from there it's a relatively easy walk to neighboring casinos including those owned by Caesars and MGM. However, for arriving visitors with luggage it will be a major inconvenience to park at TI and then walk to their hotel to escape a daily parking fee.

I wonder how long Treasure Island will stick to this plan if too many Vegas locals make use of the free parking but walk to other nearby casinos to spend their money? I also wonder if TI's decision not to charge for parking might increase its business and might help stop the spread of parking charges to other casino-resorts?

MORE CASINO RESORTS ANNOUNCE PAY TO PARK

Update December 9, 2016  It's sad but now it's hard to find a casino resort on the Las Vegas Strip that is not charging for parking. The latest casino resort to announce the start of parking fees is the Cosmopolitan which is near MGM and Caesars properties and the Cosmopolitan will start charging fees in early 2017. The MGM casino resorts were first to start, followed by the Caesars properties and then Wynn announced it would start charging for valet parking.

If you gamble and reach certain levels of gaming, parking is free at the various properties. But for first time visitors, for "low rollers" and for convention goers and non-gamblers who just want to enjoy the shows and the restaurants and for locals who want to visit and shop at the casino resorts, parking fees are a reality.

Until a few months ago, parking fees at casinos in Vegas were unheard of. Casinos even offered free valet service so there would be no delay getting you to the tables and the machines when you arrived at the door. Those days are over. Now, be prepared to show your high-level players card or be prepared to pay as much as $18 to valet your car.

I think asking casino visitors to pay for parking is a negative sign. Casinos already have the advantage over you as soon as you drive up and walk in the door, but now they are going to reach into your pocket as soon as you show up and the parking fee that they extract from you outside of the casino has no chance of hitting a winner -- or even getting a push (break-even). Parking fees send a signal to players that they just can't win.

This parking nightmare started with the construction of the new MGM T-Mobile Arena because when the Arena was built a specific parking garage for it was not built. The lack of Arena parking meant Arena-goers were left to park at nearby casinos. Had MGM built a garage for the Arena and had a parking fee just for the Arena garage I think Arena-goers would have happily paid for the convenience of parking at the venue. But no -- an Arena parking garage was not built and to handle the demand at nearby casinos where Arena-goers were not necessarly gambling, parking charges were initiated.

I was hoping Caesars would not follow MGM's lead but Caesars is about to start charging for parking too. And why not? I am sure Caesars doesn't want to offer free parking to those who will simply park at Caesars or Paris or any of the other Caesars properties and then walk next door or across the street to play at an MGM property.

Cosmopolitan said it was starting to charge for parking because it didn't want non-players to park at its property and then walk to a nearby MGM or Caesars property to gamble.

Off-strip and locals casinos aren't charging for parking -- yet. But it wouldn't surprise me that they might start a parking charge in the future -- perhaps as little as $1 -- just to take advantage of the new "norm" in Vegas.

While Vegas is always reinventing itself sometimes the new inventions aren't welcome. Gone are the days of cheap hotel rooms, cheap buffets, $1.99 steak and eggs and even free use of the pool. The start of resort fees were the first shock for travelers and now parking fees. 

What's next, an admission fee to enter a casino? I suppose the casinos could justify a resort fee saying that some gamblers bet so little that they don't lose enough to pay for the air conditioning or to keep the lights on or to pay for the free drinks.

Oh, the free drinks? They are quickly going away. Some casinos are now monitoring play to be sure you play enough in order to get a free drink.

CAESARS ANNOUNCES PARKING FEES TO START IN MID-DECEMBER

Update November 30, 2016  Well, it was bound to happen. Caesars has announced that nearly all of its casino resorts will start charging some guests parking fees. Guests who have higher levels of casino gambling will continue to have certain levels of free parking including free valet for the highest level of players. The parking fees will start being implemented in mid-December and so far The Rio is the only casino resort that will not have parking fees. Valet parking will cost as much as $18 at certain casino resorts. This was posted on the Caesars website:

As the demand on parking facilities in Las Vegas continues to grow, Caesars Entertainment is dedicated to ensuring our hotel guests, local residents and Total Rewards® loyalty members have accessible and safe parking.

Starting late December 2016, Caesars Entertainment will charge valet parking fees at select Las Vegas hotels. In the first half of 2017, select Las Vegas hotels will also begin charging for self-parking. This change is based on developments in the Las Vegas market and is consistent with Caesars Entertainment properties in other cities. Valet fees vary by hotel and length of stay. Please check our guide below for details.

Whether you visit for a few hours or a few days, we will provide convenient and secure parking for your stay.

Hotel Guests

  • Registered hotel guests will receive a valet ticket when they enter. Your valet parking fee will then be charged to your room.

Valet Guests

  • Guests will receive a valet ticket when they enter and then pay their fee at a kiosk before collecting their car and exiting the facility.

Total Rewards® Members

  • Valet is complimentary for Total Rewards members at the Platinum, Diamond and Seven Stars levels.
  • If you are at a qualifying level, you will use your Total Rewards card to access free valet.

 

THE MGM PARKING FEE PLAN HAS NOT SPREAD TO OTHER CASINOS... YET.

Update October 12, 2016  So far there is no sign that any other casino or hotel company in Las Vegas is going to follow the MGM casinos in charging parking fees. When MGM first announced it would start charging for valet and even self-serve parking there was immediate speculation that the Caesars casino resorts which also dominate the Las Vegas Strip would follow. So far, they haven't.

Meanwhile there is no sign that MGM is going to reverse its decision to charge for parking despite complaints and comments from some employees that they have been receiving complaints from patrons. In particular, the poker room at Bellagio has seen a drop in the number of local Vegas residents who play there since the parking fees started.

I was chatting with a valet supervisor at Caesars Palace who told me that management has not made any moves that would lead to parking charges. To have parking charges some sort of system for payment and for regulating access to the garages would have to be set up and installed. If there were any signs that management was moving in that direction employees would see it first.

My opinion has always been that parking charges would be penny wise and pound foolish. Vegas casinos were always known for free parking and even for free valet services. To ask casino guests to pay to risk their money just makes no sense. The only thing worse than asking for gamblers to pay for parking would be to ask them to pay an entrance fee to walk into the casino.

I've always avoided shopping malls that have paid parking lots. I even think twice about visiting doctors and dentists who are in office buildings with paid parking when there are plenty of office buildings with free parking nearby. I think most casino customers would prefer to visit a place without parking fees, too.

CAESARS PALACE PROVIDES A DISCOUNT CARD FOR UBER

Update September 12, 2016  When you get your room key at Caesars Palace you'll also be given a discount card for Uber. It appears that Caesars has a deal with the ride sharing service. The discount applies to new Uber customers. See the photo below. A couple of weeks ago when I was waiting for a friend to arrive at Caesars I noticed a constant flow of "Uber cars" dropping off passengers at the front entrance at Caesars Palace. I guess there are a lot of travelers who take Uber from the airport to the Vegas resorts and hotels, and now it appears that Caesars wants you to use Uber to travel around Vegas during your hotel stay. I wonder what the various Vegas taxi companies think about this promotion? I'm guessing they're not happy about it.

Uber discount count from Caesars Palace
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given to hotel guests with their room key card.

DON'T BUMP YOUR HEAD ON THE NEW LAMP

Update September 7, 2016  Caesars Palace has been remodeling its hotel rooms and in some of the rooms there is a new hanging lamp that goes over a small dining table in the room. The lamp is attractive and modern in design but it has corners. If you aren't aware of the lamp as you stand up or lean over to see something you placed on the table, you might bump your head on a corner. I'm surprised they didn't choose a round design, without corners, which would be safer. Hotel rooms should be set up the same way someone "baby proofs" their home to prevent injuries. See the photos below.

New hanging lamp in an Augustus Tower room
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at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. See the corners?

Don't bump your head on the corners as you get
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up from the table or lean over to see something.

My friend and I both bumped our heads on this lamp in this August Tower room in Caesars Palace on our last visit. We did not get hurt but it brought this bad design to our attention. When you baby proof a home one of the things you do is remove things with corners because corners cause injuries. Let's be practical about this. While few babies are staying in casino hotels, adults who have had too much to drink or may be in a rush to get to the casino or to a show or restaurant reservation can be as clumsy as a baby.

HOW CASINO RESORT HOTEL LOBBIES ARE SO VERY DIFFERENT

Update July 28, 2016  There's something I've noticed about most of the lobbies at Vegas casino-resort hotels: they lack places to sit. When I say places to sit, I mean places to sit and relax such as lounge chairs, sofas, or even benches. A few days ago I was in the lobby check-in area at Caesars Palace and the place was packed. There were long lines for the check-in clerks, and the floor space was filled with small groups of conventioneers who were talking with one another. But no where in the lobby was there a place to sit. In the photo below you'll find one hotel guest perched on top of part of the fountain that was made to look like a giant vase.

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There was a fountain in the center of the lobby but you couldn't sit along the side of the fountain because there were spikes, and you can see those ornamental spikes in the photo below of the side wall of the giant fountain inside the lobby at Caesars. In fact, the closest place to actually sit was at a slot machine outside of the lobby area.
webassets/20160725_195206spikes.jpg

I don't recall any seating area at Bellagio either. However, that doesn't mean all casino-resorts lack seating in their lobby areas. Caesars Palace, for example, does have comfortable sofas in their VIP check-in area for Seven Stars and Diamond members of the Total Rewards Program. In San Diego, California, Harrah's Resort has sofas in its large hotel check-in area. But for the most part, it seems that the casinos don't want you sitting in the hotel lobbies talking -- they want you sitting at the slot machines and video poker machines in the casino, or sitting at the blackjack or roulette tables.

 

THE NEW JULIUS TOWER AT CAESARS PALACE

Update July 27, 2016  Caesars Palace in Las Vegas is now marketing a new hotel tower called the Julius Tower, but it's not really new. It's actually a remodel of one of the original hotel towers at Caesars. To see a review of a room in the Julius Tower at Caesars Palace, please click here.

MGM CASINOS GET READY FOR PAID PARKING

Update May 30, 2016  Even during the Memorial Weekend, workers at the various casino and hotel properties owned by MGM were getting ready for paid parking which starts June 6th in Las Vegas. In the photos below, carpenters built in one day a place for valet workers to handle the paid parking customers at the Flamingo entrance to Bellagio Hotel & Casino. The Flamingo entrance is the side entrance, and the main entrance to Bellagio on Las Vegas Boulevard already had the proper facilities to handle payments. Equipment for exit gates were also in place at Bellagio but the actual arms for the gates were not yet installed as of Memorial Weekend.

In the meantime, guests at Bellagio have been asking hotel supervisors and the MLife players club representatives about the fine points of the paid parking program. For example, is their a "MLife companion card" that can be given to a friend or relative so they wouldn't have to pay for parking? The answer was "no" according to one MLife representative. Las Vegas locals are also worried about the paid parking and understand that they will have an exemption only for a short time in self-parking but they will be charged right away for valet parking unless they are a higher level casino player. Many Las Vegas residents go to the casinos for their restaurants and shopping but not for gambling and they will now have to pay for valet.

Carpenters at Bellagio in Las Vegas construct
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valet stand to handle paid valet parking.

THE FINE PRINT OF THE MGM PAID PARKING POLICY

Update May 20, 2016  For a look at the fine print of the new MGM paid parking policy and some notes about it, click here

 

MGM PARKING FEES COULD CAUSE PARKING PROBLEMS AT NEIGHBORING CASINOS

Update May 16, 2016  There are more ripples coming from the decision to implement parking fees at the MGM casinos in Las Vegas for visitors and low-level gamblers. On various Internet message boards, frequent Las Vegas visitors who are not immune from the MGM parking fees because of their gaming are saying they wil park at neighboring casinos and walk to the MGM properties they intend to visit. This could create new parking headaches at nearby properties. For example, the free valet parking service at Caesars Palace which is a short walk from Bellagio (across a pedestrian bridge) is already limited to 7 Stars and Diamond players, so additional MGM customers parking at Caesars will crowd the self-parking area. Casual players probably have no problem parking where it's free and then walking to a casino for limited gambling because walking from casino to casino is part of their entertainment. The MGM decision to charge for parking only means that these casual players will start their tour of casinos at some casino besides an MGM casino.

June 6, 1944 is the anniversary of the D-Day Invasion of World War Two, and June 6, 2016 is the day that paid parking will begin and it is the day of an invasion of a long tradition in Las Vegas -- free parking at casinos.

MGM honchos say they need the money to pay for and maintain new parking garages for their facilities including casinos, hotels and shopping and convention and entertainment spaces. And the MGM honchos point to parking fees charged in cities like New York and Chicago and Los Angeles to justify their parking rates. But when you pay $30 a day to park in Los Angeles you're not paying for parking at a casino where you might put several hundred dollars into a slot machine.

Not everyone will pay parking fees at the MGM facilities. If you have a history as a player in the casino you will get free parking. Local residents will also get free parking, at least for a while. But if you are coming to Vegas for a once-a-year vacation and you have a low-budget for casino action you can expect to pay.

Besides low-budget gamblers, another victim of the parking charges will be the car rental companies. Now if you rent a car you have to factor in the additional cost of parking that car if you are at a MGM facility.

Free parking was always held to be a given for casino players not matter their play level. Now free parking will continue only if you are willing to gamble and lose hundreds of dollars a day to maintain a certain level of play with MGM. That's a shame. It means that low-rollers who have a budget of maybe $100 a day now have to figure in the additional parking charges which could be $10 or more per day at certain casinos.

Another concern is that if MGM gets away with this, why wouldn't Caesars and the other big casinos implement parking charges also?

And there is another concern: if the casino companies will start charging for parking, what will they charge for next? Will there be an hourly charge or a daily ticket just for walking into a casino? A charge like that, the casinos might reason, would cover the cost of those who just stand around watching the action at the craps tables but don't bet.

I can understand the need to pay for new parking facilities and I can understand the need to pay for the upkeep of parking areas, but isn't there another way to do it? And if there isn't another way, do the casinos have to charge fees of $10 or more per day? Would a parking fee of $1.99 similar to the cost of a budget breakfast be enough?

MGM casinos might find that their parking fees could have a real impact on budget travelers and budget gamblers. And they might find that the parking fees might prevent high rollers from other casinos from trying out the MGM properties because these players wouldn't be entitled to free parking when they start gambling.

Parking fees do not offer a winning game for players and I don't see how it can make the casino company a winner either.

SOME PERSONAL THOUGHTS ABOUT CAESARS PALACE, LAS VEGAS

Update May 3, 2016  I have a special page with some personal thoughts and personal experiences at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Click here for that page which I will update from time to time. It has a collection of stories, photos and videos about my years playing there.

CAESARS PALACE EXPANDING ITS SELF-SERVE HOTEL CHECK-IN

Update May 10, 2016  This is an update of my original article from March. Back in March I reported that Caesars Palace in Las Vegas added self-service hotel check-in machines in the main lobby. I said that a lot of frequent visitors to Caesars Palace would appreciate this because frequent visitors of Caesars know that the hotel is notorious for slow check-in service and very, very long lines. Even VIP guests including Diamond and Seven Stars players sometimes have long waits. And if you are not part of the Total Rewards program or have a lower level Total Rewards player ranking it is not uncommon to wait an hour or more to check-in. Diamond and Seven Stars players -- the highest in the Total Rewards ranking -- can sometimes wait a half-hour or longer to get their room keys. But now, in the main lobby you can check yourself in.

The first of the self-serve check-in machines were located right in front of the check-in desks and you could see a big sign right in front of where humans would regularly sit. My original photo from March is below, and below that photo, is a photo taken in early May.

By May there were now 8 of these self-serve check-in machines and they were now moved towards the center area of the hotel lobby. As I noted in the original article in March, it appears this might be a way to also lower the employee head-count at Caesars. See the photos below.

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The self-serve check-in machine reminds me of the self-serve ordering machine at Jack In The Box restaurants. You simply scan your government ID such as a driver license or passport, and enter your credit card into the slot, and provide some basic info, and out pops the paperwork and a printed room key card. There are some drawbacks, namely you can't debate with the machine over what room you're getting and whether or not there is a view of the fountains at the Bellagio. If you like to have a room near the elevators or on a lower floor you can't discuss that with the machine either. But regular visitors to Caesars, including those who are Diamond and Seven Stars players and usually get the block of hotel rooms reserved for active gamblers probably won't have to debate with a desk agent about their room anyway.

 

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I didn't try it out because I was stuck standing in line for a half hour waiting to check-in and I didn't see the self-serve machines till later in my visit. Had I known they were there I would have gladly tried them because I am not really particular about my room to begin with. My only concern about getting a room assigned at Caesars Palace is that I hope no one else is already in the room. About a year ago my son and I went up to Caesars, arriving at about 2-AM and we were given a room. When we opened the door there was a loud cry "who is that?" It turns out the room was occupied.

About a year or so ago, Caesars Palace eliminated its separate check-in area for the Augustus and Octavius Towers and now guests with a room in those towers have to use the main check-in lobby if they aren't Diamond or Seven Stars players. Diamonds and Seven Stars have a private check-in area but it is not open after about 10-PM and there can also be a half-hour wait during certain weekends and holidays.

Below is a photo of the new kiosk of eight self-serve check-in machines in the center of the lobby at Caesars Palace.

Now there are 8 self-serce check-in machines
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in the center of the lobby at Caesars Palace.

BELLAGIO VS. CAESARS PALACE HOTEL BATHROOMS

Update August 24, 2015  The two biggest rivals in the Las Vegas hotel and casino business are MGM and Caesars -- and the rivalry is as close as Caesars Palace and Bellagio which are separated by Flamingo Avenue on the Las Vegas Strip. In the past few months, Caesars Palace has cut many of its offers and trimmed some of its "features" for hotel guests because of the bankruptcy filing that included Caesars Palace. Besides less valuable offers of free play and shopping trips, frequent guests at Caesars Palace have seen some items eliminated from hotel rooms including robes, slippers, and even some common bathroom convenience items such as sewing kits, shower and bath gels, and vanity kits that included Q-tips and cotton swaps, and sewing kits too.

I just returned from a quick trip to Vegas and I was able to check out a room at arch rival Bellagio to see if Bellagio, which could be described as the crown jewel of MGM, also downgraded its convenience items. I found that Bellagio still offers some of the convenience items that rival Caesars Palace eliminated. But at the same time I discovered that Caesars Palace still offers some "better designed" and "better equipped" bathrooms than Bellagio. For example, Caesars Palace has two sinks in the bathrooms while Bellagio has one; Caesars has bathtubs with jets -- similar to a Jacuzzi but Bellagio does not; Caesars has a separate "toilet closet" but Bellagio's toilet is in the open bathroom layout.

Watch my "walk through" of a bathroom in a 12th floor room of Bellagio below -- a room with a "fountain view" or "lake view" that is frequently reserved for VIP players. I think the design and convenience items in a bathroom shows a lot about how a hotel cares about serving its guests. Please use our Forum link above to go to our Las Vegas Forum to leave your comments about bathrooms and tell us just how important they are to you.

MGM GRAND TO OFFER "STAY WELL" ROOMS

Update October 2, 2012  This sounds different.  Usually when you request a hotel room in Vegas you ask for a non-smoking room (if you're not a smoker) or you ask for a pet-friendly room if your dog is coming along, or you request a particular view, or a bathroom with a seat in the shower or special railings.  But MGM Grand is going to soon open what are called "Stay Well" rooms and these are designed with special features that are supposed to help you rest better, adjust your internal time clock, and perhaps help you recover from the smoke in the casino better.

The "Stay Well" rooms come from Delos, the pioneer of Wellness Real Estate, and that company has incorporated wellness features into all sorts of hotel, residence and office properites.

Delos and MGM Grand Hotel & Casino have announced that the first-ever STAY WELL Rooms will be completed this month. The MGM Grand says that "Delos-designed STAY WELL Rooms are the first of its kind and will integrate the best of medical science and technology to create hotel rooms that optimize and support the physical and emotional health and well-being of guests, including more than 12 health and wellness features in each room."

One of these features is a special alarm clock that simulates dawn breaking.  I'm going to guess that the light comes on and increases to simulate the sun rise.  See the photo below.

Dawn Simulator Alarm Clock
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for the STAY WELL rooms at MGM Grand, Las Vegas.

There will be 42 new STAY WELL Rooms, located in the hotel’s main tower, and the MGM Grand says the rooms "will help guests reverse jetlag; reset the body’s internal 24-hour clock and regulate melatonin levels to promote better sleep. What is also interesting is that the rooms will incorporate an advanced water filtration system which infuses Vitamin C into shower water. Really, and what's that all about? For room service there will be healthy food and beverage options. I'm going to guess that these will be "no smoking rooms" and I wonder if the TV will be automatically shut off at 11-PM so you get a good night's sleep?

Wakeup Light Therapy
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In the Stay Well rooms at MGM Grand.

So here are some of the "extras" that go into the new STAY WELL rooms.  For a start there is advanced room lighting that is said to improve the body's internal clock.  It has something to do with the regulation of melatonin production for your sleep and wake cycles.  And then there is "wake up light therapy" that will expose the guest to short periods of "blue shaded lighting to increase energy and reverse the effects of jetlag."

Now here's a thought: why not put that wake up light therapy on the casino floor to keep players at the tables and machines longer?  What's also interesting are the "dawn simulator alarm clocks" that will be in the rooms that gradually awakens the guest.  To be honest, I don't set alarms when I'm in Vegas.  I wake up when I want to wake up-- and that's what "do not disturb signs" on the doors are for.  In fact, a "stay well" feature that I would like is having maid service on my schedule.

Vitamin C Shower Head
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In the STAY WELL Rooms at MGM Grand.

These STAY WELL rooms will also feature aromatherapy but MGM Grand says this will be optional.  I wonder if you can choose a particular scent such as "new money" or "pina colada."  Personally, I love the "pina colada" scent that my car wash offers.  I'm not much of a drinker but a virgin pina colada is my summer drink of choice.  By the way, a lot of casinos pump certain aromas into the casino gaming areas.  But they don't pump oxygen -- that just isn't true.

The STAY WELL rooms will also have an air purifcation system to reduce allergens, toxins and pathogens, "creating better air quality and breathing," says MGM Grand.  Well, now that they put it like that, why would anyone leave their room to go into the casino?

And that Vitamin C shower water?  Well, we have a picture of the shower head, and the Vitamin C infusion is to neutralize chlorine to promote healthy hair and skin.  And the in-room water is also purified with a water filtration system.  There is also EMF coating that protects guests "from electrical equipment that emanates sleep-disruptive Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)."

Gosh, once you find out what these rooms have and why, would you ever hold the dice, touch the cards, or touch a slot machine again?

Grand King Room
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at MGM Grand Las Vegas.

THE RESTAURANT THAT WILL REPLACE BRADLEY OGDEN'S AT CAESARS PALACE

Update July 26, 2012  Caesars Palace has announced what will replace Bradley Ogden's restaurant in the Forum Casino at Caesars.  The restaurant will be opened by TV personality and Chef Gordon Ramsay and this will be his second Las Vegas restaurant.  It will be called Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill and will open later this year.  It is being called a "contemporary yet casual restaurant and bar" that will serve lunch and dinner.  The restaurant will be in the Forum Casino at Caesars and across the casino floor is The Colosseum, where Celine Dion and others perform.

Curiously, it's another casual dining venue for Caesars which seems to be going more casual than formal.  Bradley Ogden's restaurant was relatively formal, almost on the scale of Neros which has closed and has been replaced by a casual steak house, the Old Homestead Steak House.  Caesars is definitely changing its image.

OLD HOMESTEAD STEAKHOUSE -- THE RESTAURANT THAT REPLACED NERO'S

Update March 26, 2012  I loved Nero's, the elegant steak and fine dining restaurant that used to be the top restaurant at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.  But several months ago, Nero's closed and now a new restaurant -- Old Homestead Steakhouse -- is in the same place.  This was a very big change.  Nero's was definitely upscale and elegant.  Old Homestead Steakhouse certainly has an upscale menu with a fine steakhouse menu, but there is no way you could call it elegant dining.  Now, I don't mean to say there is anything wrong with Old Homestead Steakhouse -- it really is a great restaurant with great food and you will love enjoying their huge portions and delicious foods.  It's just that it is not a place for a quiet, romantic, intimate dinner sipping champagne and enjoying caviar.  Old Homestead Steakhouse is a loud, bustling, active place with folks having a great time in a comfortable and casual setting.  I saw customers dressed in casual attire including shorts, tee-shirts and athletic shoes -- but this is also the kind of place where you can dress in cocktail attire or dress to impress.

Let's talk about the food.  When I said huge portions I wasn't kidding.  The steaks are big enough to share -- with two others, not just one.  The desserts can be shared by the entire table.  The side dishes are big enough for a family of four.  So there is a lot of value here.  And speaking of value, Total Rewards members -- that's the loyalty club program for the Caesars casinos -- actually get slightly reduced prices.  Dinner for two set me back about $240 and this included two appetizers, two side dishes, two steak entres, plus dessert and soft drinks, and that included the tax.  Yes, you can dine on some of the lower priced items too.

The appetizer that filled my eyes -- and my stomach -- was the shrimp cocktail.  These really are Texas-sized shrimp and you might mistake them for chicken legs or entire lobster tails.  Yes, each of the three shrimp in the shrimp cocktail is about as big as a lobster tail or a chicken leg or what you might call a drumstick.

I had a filet mignon steak that was prepared just the way I wanted it, and it was about triple the size of what I was expecting.  See the photo below.  That steak was bigger than a man's fist.  I also got to see the prime rib that was delivered to customers at nearby tables.  With each prime rib delivered the customers had the same reaction -- shock that the prime rib slice was as huge as it was, filling just about the entire dinner plate.

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I'm a big fan of Key Lime Pie -- and look at the photo below for the slice I tried to finish.  Huge, of course.  But also very delicious and different because it is topped with a meringe as if the pie were lemon instead of Key Lime.

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CAESARS PALACE HAS ITS OWN STARBUCKS

Update March 26, 2012  Right off the main lobby there is a new Starbucks at Caesars Palace.  We shot this picture in the very early morning hours when the floors were being cleaned.  As you might expect there are long lines in the morning and when we checked the food items and coffee menu it appeared to be a regular Starbucks.

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THE OCTAVIUS TOWER OPENS AT CAESARS PALACE: A REVIEW

Update January 22, 2012  Earlier this month the new Octavius Tower opened at Caesars Palace.  This is the new tower that sits behind the Augustus Tower along Flamingo Boulevard near the I-15 Freeway.  If you recall, this tower was actually constructed a couple of years ago, but it wasn't until a few months ago that management decide to complete the interior, furnish the rooms and lobby areas and open the hotel.  Along with the Octavius opening there are some other big changes.  Below is a photo of the new bar and Central 24-hour cafe that is open in the lobby area at Caesars.  This replaced the Augustus Cafe which had been the 24-hour casual dining spot at Caesars.  It is a bright and vibrant addition to the casino hotel.  You will also find that the "Diamond Check-In" has been moved to the office that previously was exclusively a 7 Star Check-in.  What used to be the "Diamond Check-In" is now a regular check-in for the Augustus and Octavius Towers.  Soon there will be valet and luggage service at the Flamingo-side entrance to the Augustus Tower that will also serve the Octavius Tower.  Caesars is a big place, and this additional check-in will relieve some of the long lines at the main lobby desk.

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In the photo below, you see one of the new rooms in the Octavius tower.  Note the new sectional sofa in the corner and the new decor can be described as contemporary.  Sure there are accents that remind you of the Caesars' theme, but these accents are modern and you feel that you are in a modern, stylish contemporary and luxury hotel room.  Caesars is known for utilizing circles in its decor and design because circles give the feeling of comfort.  Notice the circular mirrors that are wall accents in the photo.  But gone are the circular wallpaper designs that are prominent in older parts of Caesars.

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Here is another angle of the room, and that's the king size bed.  It is a high bed, with lots of pillows for an impressive look.  And what's really good about this bed is that there are lamps and reading lights on both sides.  The bed is directly in front of the TV so you don't have to be at an angle to watch TV while you're in bed.

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The bathroom in this Octavius room had his and her sinks, nice hardware, and a spa tub with jets.  It is a large tub that can easily accommodate two.  The tile work and wallpaper is again contemporary.  The back-splash above the sinks is too low for a hotel where guests aren't always the neatest, so I expect that Caesars will have some maintenance to do on the wallpaper behind the sinks after a few months of water damage.  What really impressed me is that Caesars now has individually packaged disposable plastic cups in the bathroom -- not glasses anymore.  I think this was done after various news reports about how in certain hotels the glasses aren't really cleaned and sanitized.  It is also part of Caesars' "green program" for using recyclable materials.

The toilet is in a side room of the bathroom and this housed a water-saving toilet which worked well.  There might be some complaints with the shower, however.  The shower is a bit smaller than what I remember in the Augustus Tower, and I couldn't find any water pressure or water stream controls in the shower head.  I was on one of the lower floors in the Octavius and the water pressure was not strong.  I suspect that there is a water saving device used in the shower head as well.  Also, I would have enjoyed water with a higher temperature.  A bigger problem for some is that the shower lacks a shelf for holding shampoo and soaps -- there is only one small holder for the complimentary soap and tubes of shower gel and shampoo, and this lack of a convenient shelf or holder might be a problem if you bring a lot of shampoos, soaps, conditioners and brushes from home.  If I recall the shower in the Augustus tower was larger and there was a shelf in the shower that could be used. 

One of the pleasant surprises in the bathroom was the towels.  The towels in this room seemed to feel better, thicker and richer than the towels I've had before and I wonder if Caesars upgraded the towels in the Octavius Tower to match the higher prices it charges for these rooms?  Yes, these towels certainly are more luxurious than before.  The Caesars robes that hang in the closet are the same as those I've seen before, so there was no upgrade on that item.

There is also a small screen TV in the bathroom and a phone by the toilet for brave souls who like to talk on the phone while occupied on the toilet.  And yes, two rolls of TP with the corners folded into the triangle for the "welcome new guest" look.  Question: do you ever use that end piece that has been folded into the triangle or is that put immediately into the trash because someone folded it that way?

There was one trash can in the bath-- a stylish piece-- by the toilet and not under or by the sink where you would most likely use it for cotton swabs, tissues, wrappers from a toothbrush, and so forth.  I've often wondered why hotel rooms have a convenience bar with snack foods and soft drinks, but they don't have in their convenience bar things like toothbrushes and toothpaste and cotton swabs and deodorants and mouthwashes?  I think a guest is more likely to purchase a toothbrush than three golf balls from an in-room convenience bar.

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I didn't have a tape measure with me but it certainly seemed that the Panasonic flat screen TV is larger than what Caesars has in other parts of the hotel.  As I mentioned before, the TV is straight ahead of you if you are watching in bed.  I watched four different movies while I was in the room (all movies my wife would never go see in a theater -- you know, guy movies) and they all appeared to be crisp and fantastic on the TV screens.  Below the TV is a desk and this desk has various power plugs and cables to connect a computer.  Be sure you ask about the room charge for Internet access, and in the room you will see plenty of refreshments including bottled water, nuts, candy, an "intimacy package" and other items that are very pricey.  The price guide is there.  There is a warning that you can be charged if you use the room's refrigerator for personal items -- but you can get a room refrigerator by calling housekeeping.

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Some other notes about the new Octavius Tower: I used room service on two nights for dinner and both times I was told that the food would not be delivered for about 45 minutes because it was a busy weekend -- and I can understand that.  That's why I always order room service in advance, usually about an hour before the hunger pangs hit.  But what I found really interesting is that when I called in my order for room service and again when the waiters handed me the check to sign, it was pointed out that an 18% tip or gratuity was already included in the check.  I wonder if they point that out now because some customers complained that they didn't realize this and may have added a second tip?  Both times the room service delivery was fast, efficient, and the food was good -- but it wasn't as hot as I would have liked it (like the water temperature in the shower).  I wonder if the food might lose some of its "heat" because the Octavius tower is farther from the kitchens?  Yes, be prepared for a walk to and from the Octavius Tower.

The Octavius Tower is farthest from the casino action but some guests will enjoy this.  I did but for a reason you might find strange:  I actually enjoyed the long walk because I get too little exercise when I am in Vegas.  Walking through the casino gets the blood flowing.  From the Augustus Tower there is a connecting hallway to the Octavius Tower but some of the guests I talked to complained that this hallway with its low ceiling felt small and stuffy and claustrophobic.

I was there for two days and whenever I saw housekeeping staffers in the hallway they asked if I needed anything in my room and if I was enjoying my stay or if there were any problems -- which Caesars management likes to call "service challenges."  Housekeeping always rang the doorbell before entering.  Yes, there are doorbells for each room which is a nice touch, and when you are in the room you can signal either for "privacy" or to have your room made up.  Housekeepers do come by each evening to turn down the bed and deliver some of the famous and complimentary Caesars chocolate coins.

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