Caesar’s Entertainment (herein: CET), you’re one sneaky SOB! I love Vegas, anyone who’s listened to a handful of podcasts or read these blog posts knows I’m nuts for Sin City. But, God love my wife, she’s starting to tire of all the neon and longs for other places around our great country. Thanks to CET and its multiple locations around the country (and soon, the world), we have been able to take vacations and STILL haven’t had to pay for a hotel room! How is that, you ask? Simple, we vacation in major metropolitan areas which host some CET owed hotel/casino. I have no doubt that this was exactly what CET intended when they started buying out properties across our fruited plains.
Thanks to CET’s multiple locations, my wife and I have vacationed in Chicago, Louisville and New Orleans (with a quick shout-out to Windsor, Canada. But that was just as overnight trip, so that doesn’t really count as a vacation).
The Harrah’s Joliet (IL) hotel/casino is not the closest CET owned casino to Chicago (that distinction goes to Horseshoe Hammond [IN], where you can literally see the Chicago skyline from their fabulous buffet), but it is the closest to Chicago with a hotel. [Note to CET: You’ve *got* to figure out a way to build a hotel at/next to your property. I’ve driven around the casino’s grounds, that property can’t be going for that much.] However, the major downside to the Harrah’s Joliet location is that Illinois has such an oppressive anti-smoking policy that not even the casinos are exempt. Which is why (take note, Illinois) when I’m deciding between a day trip or an overnight trip, if all things are equal, I will forego a trip to IL for an overnight and will simply day trip it to Horseshoe Hammond. But I digress. Joliet to Chicago is approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on where in Chicago you’re going and the traffic you encounter. But if you plan on making a day trip out of Chicago, you simply park your car around 10 am, spend the entire day shopping/sightseeing/eating (drinking) and then head on back to Joliet and your hotel room!
Over this last Memorial Day weekend, my bride and I decided to forego my annual Vegas birthday trip (since I had just gotten back from Vegas in March for the 360 Vegas Vacation and knew I’d be out again in October for the Vegas Internet Mafia Family Picnic) so we decided to go somewhere within a reasonable driving distance. That location: Louisville, KY. Mint juleps, bluegrass, the Kentucky Derby…oh yeah, and a Horseshoe Southern Indiana to boot! As a brief tangent: This is where Jason hit is first of MANY Royal Flushes at video poker. If I’d only have known what I was starting. But back on point, it’s a six hour drive from Lansing, MI to Louisville, KY so it’s not exactly a “hop, skip & a jump” to get to, quickly. It is, however, a great casino. It’s a riverboat with 4 levels, the bottom level is completely non-smoking you Nazis. The top floor is the high limit area, which pretty much relegates you to the middle two floors (if you’re smoking a delicious cigar and need an hour or so). But we spent only the evenings at the casino itself. During the day, my wife and I went and checked out all the fun things to see and do in Louisville, which is on the other side of the Ohio river which separates Indiana (where the hotel/casino sits) and Kentucky. Of course, my wife turned everything she touched to gold when she bet on it. She’s probably the only person I know to come home from vacation with as much (or more) money than with which she left home.
Most recently, we celebrated Labor Day in The Big Easy (New Orleans, LA). This city is Vegas-lite. All the alcohol debauchery with none of the casinos (well, except one, Harrah’s New Orleans). Originally my wife and I wanted to go to Vegas, but flights from Detroit Metro to McCarren were running $500 per person! As dumb luck would have it, my wife happened to search Detroit to New Orleans and found ticket prices were $250 per, essentially a “Buy One, Get One Free” if you compared it to what we were about to pay to fly to Vegas. So, we popped over to the CET Total Rewards site (their player’s club hotel reservation page) and bippity-bobbity-boop, we were booked with one of their affiliate hotels (in this instance, The Sheraton) for three nights at practically a comped stay. As you well can imagine, we replicated our Louisville stay by sightseeing during the (incredibly humid) day and gambled with reckless abandon at night. Thanks to CET and their “we’re everywhere” spread of casino locations, we can vacation on the cheap (sorta, we still “pay” for our rooms via gaming losses…well, I do, not the wife) and get to go to cities we may not otherwise have gone to but for the inexpensive, upfront costs (to wit: our airfare).
Now, to be clear, this is NOT me schilling for CET. They’ve taken enough of my money that they can afford to pay their marketing staff handsomely. The point of this post is to share with you what works for my wife and I. Between Louisville, KY and say, Miami, FL? Yeah, we’d take Miami. But if can go to a city that is legitimately on our bucket list (like New Orleans was), then yes, we choose a less popular city in exchange for simply needing cash for airfare. That may or may not work for your vacation schedule, but thus far for us, it’s worked wonderfully!
What say you? Have you vacationed somewhere specific because it was “too good to pass up”? I’d love to hear how your pick your vacation destinations, especially ones that are alcohol, cigar or gambling infused!