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Dan Ippolito

As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and he writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports.

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Top 10 memories from my second trip to Las Vegas

24 May 2021

By Dan Ippolito
Most Las Vegas casino floors are mask-free and have returned to 100% capacity. I was able to witness and experience this first-hand when I was on my vacation last week in Sin City. It was great to see Vegas feel like its old self for a chance. During my trip, some of my friends and I made some memories along the way and here are 10 things about our trip that we will look to do again our next time around.

10. Presidential limo
In the weeks leading up to our trip, we noticed that many were complaining about the wait times at the airport for taxis and ride share services. This was understandable since there are a limited number of drivers available. To avoid such a long wait time when we first land, we decided to go with the limousine route.

We booked through Presidential Limo and for $160 total, we were picked up in a stretch limo and greeted by our driver, Louie, at baggage claim. As part of our package, a bottle of champagne was served to us in the limo as well. The $160 price included round trip, so on our departure date, the limo scooped us up from our hotel and took us to the airport.

The company and drivers were great and we had no issues or wait times for commuting to and from the airport which was one less thing to worry about.

9. Mask-free resorts
Our group landed on Wednesday morning, so at the time we still had to wear masks inside the hotels and casinos. However, on Friday morning we woke up to an announcement that MGM Resorts properties were getting rid of the mask mandate for those who are fully vaccinated.

The four of us on the trip were all fully vaccinated so as of Friday, we were able to ditch those masks where they were not needed. We also found out that Caesars and MGM gaming floors were also returning to 100% capacity which was helpful to find seats at some tables when things got crowded at night.

It was nice to lose the masks for a bit and feel like that part of the COVID-19 recovery is nearing the end where we can all return to our normal everyday lives again.

8. High roller
Now, normally I stick to the $15 blackjack tables during the day and when they move to $25 at night I cap myself at that limit. However, after starting off hot, I decided to pocket my original buy-in and take a step into the “high limit” section during the afternoon when it wasn’t extremely high.

The minimum was $100 for blackjack and I sat down for a couple of hands. It was an experience that I get to say I have tried and luckily the risk was minimal since at worst I would break even for that session. Fortunately, I stayed ahead even after a couple of hands there, but because I typically play $25 hands, I quickly saw how quickly you can get ahead or behind by playing $100.

I don’t know when I will find myself at a table with a minimum like that again, but I am glad I ended up doing it and ended up meeting some people at the $100 table we later had a drink with on the trip.

7. First Fremont Street experience
During my first trip to Las Vegas, one thing I regretted was not making it over to Fremont Street and seeing the nightlife there.

This time around, I had another reason to go down there because I wanted to see Circa Resort & Casino, which opened in October 2020, and the sportsbook and Stadium Swim that is located there. I wasn’t going to have the same regret when I left Las Vegas this time.

We didn’t make it into Stadium Swim because of how many people were there already, but we did get to see it from afar and I am sure, despite how great it looked, our view didn’t do it justice by the way people talk about it. Making it inside there will be on the agenda for my next trip.

As for the rest of Fremont Street, it was an incredible experience to walk through it at night, see some of the street performers and the crowds around them, and hit some of the bars and pubs.

6. Cigar bars
I went here my first trip and there was no way I wasn’t attending again. Rhumbar is one of my favorite spots to go for a nice drink paired with a cigar.

Located at The Mirage, Rhumbar has a great vibe. With couches and music playing, the outdoor cigar lounge put me at peace with my cigar lit, paired with a glass of scotch in my other hand looking at the Strip completely lit up.

There are also several TVs outside if there is a came you are trying to catch as well, or have money on.

5. Lily Bar & Lounge
Staying in the Bellagio, my friends and I were in search of a bar where we could have a casual drink after dinner before heading out for the night.

Lily Bar & Lounge located next to the casino floor inside the Bellagio ended up being that spot for us each night.

Lily Bar had several high top tables and couches with the lighting turned down low and music playing accompanied by the music videos on the screens throughout the venue.

It was the perfect place to meet new people, enjoy the music and hangout with your group before the night takes off.

4. The Preakness
For those who wagered on the Preakness I hope you had a better outcome than I did.

Watching it in the Bellagio sportsbook, I was screaming for the No. 5 Midnight Bourbon as he took the lead coming around the final turn. Little did I know that No. 6 Rombauer, an 11-to-1 shot, was turning on the jets and burned by my horse.

Even though I took the loss on the race, the experience was a win. It was awesome to find and meet others who picked the same horse as I did and have our own cheering section against others who picked No. 3 Medina Spirit to win.

While I do still wish Midnight Bourbon could’ve cashed, it was great to see the Preakness in Las Vegas after I had seen the Kentucky Derby on my first trip there. I guess I will have to go to Vegas next year when the Belmont Stakes is taking place to complete my own Triple Crown.

View from the 23rd floor.

View from the 23rd floor.

3. The fountain view room
I was already excited to stay at the Bellagio and get to have a fountain view room, but I didn’t fully realize how incredible the view would be.

We had two rooms for the four of us and they were connecting fountain view rooms on the 23rd floor, which is one of the Bellagio’s new wellness room floors.

The room had two queen beds, with a large HD TV, and the bathroom was great sized with two sinks and a massive shower.

The view was the selling point of this room. During the day it was great to look out and see the Strip and at night, that we could watch the fountain show from our room with the Strip lit up in the background.

I would definitely stay at the Bellagio again not only for the great hotel and service, but for the view itself.

2. The pools
When on vacation, I am big on the relaxation portion of the trips and that is exactly what the five pools at the Bellagio brought me.

Waking up in the morning and heading down to find four chairs in a good spot was a fine way to start my day. An umbrella by your chaise was important to have, even if you want to tan as much as possible, you want to give yourself a little break and lay in some shade once in awhile and get out of that heat.

The drinks by the pool were also an added relaxation boost for me. Personally, I am a Frozen Mudslide guy when I am at the pool or beach and that was my drink of choice for the pool on this trip.

The heated pools were perfect for taking a quick dip and cooling off from the sun for a few moments.
The music added a great vibe around the pools and you couldn’t find anyone around the pool without a smile on their face.

1. Vegas Golden Knights playoff game
I had never been inside T-Mobile Arena, but going to Game 1 of the Vegas Golden Knights playoff series was a perfect way go inside the venue for the first time.

Vegas Golden Knights playoff game.

Vegas Golden Knights playoff game.

Despite only being allowed around 8,600 fans, the place was absolutely rocking for its hometown team. The Knights ended up losing 1-0 in overtime but it was a goalie battle to remember.

The pregame light show the Knights have one the ice before the game was a sight to see and the entire experience was something I will never forget.

The next event I’d love to attend at T-Mobile Arena would be a UFC bout, but that will hopefully be in the future trips.
 
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