My wife and I were able to cross something off our Bucket List this last Labor Day holiday: New Orleans. While we really wanted to go to Vegas, flights from Detroit to Vegas were $500 per person, whereas Detroit to New Orleans was a scant $250 per, that made the decision far easier! Now, before you click off this blog post, let me be clear and say this is NOT a blog post about New Orleans, per se. It is a trip report about Harrah’s New Orleans.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post here, because of the Total Rewards program, inexpensive vacations can be had, so long as you’re willing to travel to destinations with a Caesars Entertainment (CET) hotel/casino. Since CET is set-up in many of the major metropolitan areas, it’s not hard to find a place to visit.
Harrah’s New Orleans has its own hotel with the casino, but something else they do (which is cool and they should do more of) is they’re affiliated with four other hotels in the immediate vicinity. So I simply logged into my account and set myself up with three nights at The Sheraton hotel, a scant 5 minute walk from the hotel to the casino. Alas, I was rebuffed at the opportunity to stay at the Harrah’s hotel as they were charging a minimum $300/night over the holiday weekend.
The first day in town we did the usual touristy things, so come the evening hour (I believe 8 pm) my wife and I finally ventured into the Harrah’s casino. One quick humorous (I think) observation: The original Harrah’s in Las Vegas is designed around a New Orleans/Marti Gras theme…now that I’m in New Orleans at a Harrah’s, you’d almost have to wonder if their theme should have been Las Vegas. I digress.
The casino itself is one floor, but very large at 115,000 square feet of gaming floor plus their restaurant and shopping space. Once you get to know the layout of the casino, however, you can break it up into section in your mind. When you first come in off Canal St. (the popular entrance for most foot traffic) you are immediately in a large section of slot machines with a small blackjack pit in front of you and to your left. Actually, once you get past the security boothling, you can’t help but see the Sizzling Sevens machines where my wife hit the progressive for $250. Next to them is a bank of Alice in Wonderland slots that enraged me so much I drunkenly tweeted out profanity-laced messages I subsequently deleted the next morning.
Going forward into the casino, you will come to an intersection where you’ll see the Total Reward booth to your right, a large bulk of table games in front of you and a video poker bar to your left with the already mentioned blackjack pit (look for their paltry food court). Now, I have to thank our friends over at the Denton, Dallas & Beyond podcast as it really was their trip report which gave me a jumping off point for reference. Roux had specifically mentioned that we needed to go sit at the video poker bar, specifically if Billy Ray was bartending. Everything Roux said we should expect from Billy Ray was spot on. Great drink service, informative, entertaining…I could go on and on. He was such a gentlemen, he refused to allow my wife to light her own cigarette, for heaven sake! This guy is a class act and immediately become the “Diane” of New Orleans. If I had one complaint (and to be clear, it’s a complaint against Harrahs, not Billy Ray) is that the video poker bar should be reserved for video poker players. My wife and I really wanted to play some VP one evening when Billy Ray was tending bar but couldn’t because people were sitting there watching a college football game. I guess the upside for the casino is that those idiots have to pay for their over-priced alcohol.
Speaking of alcohol, interesting bit about the comped drink policy. If you’re sitting at the slot or VP machines, there are two beers (High Life & 64) that are comped and basic well alcohol. However, once we played enough to get ourselves up to Platinum status, it was like playing a video game where you move up in ranking and all sorts of other weapons, et al get awarded to you! Same thing here, once we made Platinum, the bar was our oyster and everything (within reason) became available to us. Here’s what I mean: in New Orleans, unlike Vegas, you don’t order from a server who makes their rounds. Instead, there is a touch screen from which you order your drinks and then the server comes to deliver whatever you ordered. So when we were Gold status, you could order a “Vodka & Cranberry”. But once you were Platinum, all of a sudden the word vodka disappeared and a selection of vodkas (ie. Grey Goose) became available to you. Sadly, their Scotch selection was Dewars and some other low grade brand.
The table games were a bit high (for me), ranging between a table minimum of $10 to $15. I never saw a $5 the entire trip. But as busy as the casino was, and especially the table games, they clearly have the demand which warrants those minimums. One time I played at a $10 blackjack table and seriously lost $100 in less than 10 minutes. Even I don’t make that kind of scratch as an attorney! But I couldn’t complain too much as the night previous, I had won about $90 and drank a TON of Bacardi. So, I figured it was a wash.
Their slot machine selection was very impressive, particularly as it related to newer games. My wife and I played Spider Man, The Godfather, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the new slant top Wizard of Oz machines, Family Guy, 2-3 different Monopoly machines and a few others that aren’t a specific name brand (per se) but were new and a lot of fun. My wife said she’s found the sweet spot on slots and that’s to play the next to highest amount possible per spin. I try to explain to her that the higher you bet, the more frequent the bonus (and higher the win). She refutes that by claiming when she plays the highest amount per spin, she doesn’t hit as frequently. Hey, when she’s putting $20 in and cashing out $300+, who am I to second guess?
We ate the buffet one morning, the night first night when we gambled/drank for 12 hours. The breakfast buffet was exactly what our drunkness needed. Never have eggs, bacon, biscuits/gravy ever tasted to good. I would have liked to have tried lunch or dinner, but when in New Orleans, it’s hard to justify eating at a buffet. That said, we did break the one rule we set for ourselves: No eating at Ruth’s Chris steakhouse, we can get that back in Michigan. Our last night in town were (again) drunk and in the casino. Dinner time came around and we were supposed to go eat at Acme Oyster House, a staple of New Orleans cuisine. As a matter of fact, they have an outpost at Harrah’s. But my wife was worried that eat raw oysters with a ton of alcohol in our bellies might be a very bad idea…what can I say? Even with a keg of beer in her, she’s still able to make wise decisions. So, I proposed Ruth’s Chris and since it’s her absolute most favorite restaurant, she was completely game! If you’ve ever eating at a RC, you know what to expect and this place did not disappoint. The only real regret we had was that we were too intoxicated to truly appreciate what we were eating. In the moment, we knew we were enjoying it, so that counts for something.
We really loved Harrah’s New Orleans and will go back, just not between the months of May through September. It was so bloody hot and humid; we were relegated to the cool 65 degree atmosphere of the casino. We did a fair amount of sight-seeing while in town, but we just kept coming back to the casino because of how comfortable it was and we didn’t have to pay $15 for a drink. If you can get a good deal on a flight to New Orleans and have built a relationship with CET through Total Rewards, this is a great destination vacation. Harrah’s New Orleans: Thanks for a great time!