Not everything went like clockwork on our Atlantic City trip, but we are big on having fun and not letting small glitches spoil things for us. I like what Abraham Lincoln said: “I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.”
I have found that detailed pre-planning helps to side-step many problems, and then frequent double-checking will help to avoid or smooth out last-minute snags. Fortunately we had an extremely helpful host, one from another casino where we play but who was on property while we were in Atlantic City, who gave invaluable support both before and during the visit. A good host is golden!
Another thing that helped us was that I had read on Internet forums about previous Seven Star events and knew that there were always some problems when you have several thousand customers in one area and all are high-level players who have been promised – and expect – VIP treatment. Sometimes lower expectations will decrease the disappointments.
But with all that said, we did have some rough spots and sometimes it was a little difficult to make lemonade out of the lemons.
- Transportation #1. We encountered problems first with Southwest Airlines. In the beginning it looked as if we might be able to take a bump on the non-stop flight from Las Vegas to Philadelphia. That would have been good since we were going a day early for the event anyway and the reward would have been substantial. However in the end, the plane was not overbooked – but it was delayed for two hours. That was not so good since our already scheduled arrival at midnight – which we had reluctantly chosen to keep from changing planes – was now 2 a.m. And just as we predicted, that caused confusion about our previously-scheduled limo ride from the Philadelphia airport. I didn’t want to wake up a host in the middle of the night to solve this problem. Fortunately another couple on the same flight was already calling Bally’s when we met up at baggage claim and there was no Harrah’s rep there as we expected. Finally after a long walk to the limo pickup area – thank goodness we didn’t have too much luggage – and a short wait, our limo appeared and we finally arrived at Bally’s about 3:30 a.m. Two very tired seniors!!!!
- Transportation #2. We would have had big transportation problems on the return trip since our pre-arranged limo was wrongly scheduled. But I am experienced enough to always check on that the day before. So our limo ride from Bally’s to the Philly airport was pleasant and got us there with plenty of time for what turned out to be a long security line. One new wrinkle – travelers over 75 do not have to take off their shoes or light jackets any more – I guess they realize that Brad’s age group doesn’t have the energy to be terrorists. I have just a year and a half to join this privileged group – although I am already too tired for any dangerous activities. Although Brad didn’t have some restrictions, security still became a time-consuming activity because he has a pacemaker. Philly doesn’t have any of the new scanners, so a lengthy pat down was necessary. But fortunately we had plenty of time so no problems here. The trip home took longer because we had to change planes in Chicago, but we almost enjoyed this break with a walk to get the cramps out of our tired long-flight legs.
- Parties. They were a mixed bag, the welcome pool party and the big dinner. The one at Harrah’s pool had little seating room, although we finally found plenty of tables in a “secret” outdoor area on the second level. That turned out well in the end since that was where we were having a Frugalite get-together. The food selection was rather limited and “strange” but after all it was just a cocktail party. It was fine for us to “pick” on, and others went elsewhere for full meals. The big dinner had wonderful food and we enjoyed the surprise guest, Tony Orlando. He sang all the old songs that brought back so many good memories. Also it was impressive that the top Caesars company honcho, Gary Loveman, was there and said a few words. As usual at many of these events, the biggest problem was music that was too loud. We like to socialize with other people at our table but this was impossible. We exchanged names with the couple next to us, but gave up on meeting the rest – you didn’t want to shout. The music was very danceable but, although this used to be one of Brad’s and my favorite activities, our legs have given out on us. (We get our exercise by swimming now!)
- Fees. We did get an unwelcome surprise at hotel checkout. We assumed since our room was fully comped there would be no bill, like at Harrah’s properties in NV – advertised as no-resort-fees hotels – and other places we have stayed. Instead we owed $65 for the six nights. I checked with a host and she told me that these were state “taxes” that could not be comped. We paid the bill, with a Harrah’s gift card we had from a promo from a previous visit at another property, but found out later that other people have had different experiences with these fees, not all required state taxes it seems. Some could pay them with Reward Credits; some could get all or part of them comped off. And the amount of the fees seems to vary at each Atlantic City property. We probably won’t take the long trip to AC for a long time or even ever again, so I’m going to forget about this. But if you go there you might want to investigate this in advance.
If you are interested in more details about this Atlantic City Seven Star event, including the good and the bad and the ugly, I suggest you go to the excellent SevenStars Insider Web site, where there is a very detailed report.
“Hey,” you may be saying to me now, ”you haven’t said anything about gambling yet.” Yes, we did play video poker on this trip and the next blog entry will cover that important part of our trip.