Finally got caught up on my paperwork so I could file this promised trip report.
Brad and I were “forced” to take a trip to a Harrah’s property before June 30, when our last Seven Star benefit from 2013 would expire. This was one of their “retreats” which included lots of perks and we could combine it with a family trip too. The best of both worlds!
So on May 25th, 5 of us jumped into a rental van – my daughter Angela, the Frugal Princess, and Steve, her retired Army Ranger hubby (who had flown in from Columbus, GA two days earlier); a friend who also had a Harrah’s Seven Star trip to “use up”; and Brad and I. (The van and gas were fully comped in lieu of the airfare which is one of the benefits on your Seven Star trip.) We headed straight for the Southern California Harrah’s Resort (a Native American casino resort, formerly called Rincon, managed by Harrah’s), about a 5-hour drive from Las Vegas – if there is not too much traffic.
This is a beautiful property, down in a valley surrounded by scenic hills. The Indians are certainly getting their revenge for being given crappy land areas for their reservations!!! The resort has recently been remodeled and expanded. We had three large suites in the new tower, all with large terraces furnished with table and chairs, a perfect place to enjoy room service breakfast while enjoying the cool morning breezes and admiring the scenery. The pool area has been increased in size and now includes a lazy river on which we enjoyed floating on the tubes provided. We alos had a comped cabana there for one day. The spa was another beautifully appointed facility we enjoyed, all five us taking advantage of comped massages and/or facials.
On Memorial Day we were provided a limo with a knowledgeable driver who took us on a 6-hour tour around San Diego. (This was fully comped, in lieu of the airfare for our friend’s 7* trip.) Our first stop was appropriate for this patriotic holiday, at the docked storied Midway aircraft carrier. Brad and Steve toured this floating museum – only $10 because they were veterans – and found it very interesting. We girls decided this wasn’t our cup of tea so the guide took us to the Seaport Village nearby where we could browse in the many shops. Then we all met again at the famous “kiss statue,” where, of course, we had to recreate our personal kissing scene.
Then it was over to Coronado Island, where it has been said that there are more retired admirals per square foot than anywhere else on earth. This small beach community looks pretty much the same as it has for many years, having been saved from too much modernization by strict building codes. The jewel of the island is the now-restored Hotel Del Coronado, the luxurious stopping-off place of the rich and the famous back in the Victorian period. Much of that décor remains, even with the more modern conveniences put in during recent renovations.
Our next stop was near the water, to eat a lunch we had packed. Now is a good time to talk about food. Between the 3 Seven Star players – Brad, our friend, and me – we had almost $3000 in food comps that we had to use on this trip or lose them. So there would be no restaurant meals outside the resort for our frugal group. If we thought we would be hungry or thirsty elsewhere, before we left we would stock up on carry-out from the Starbucks inside the casino. (At some casinos these comps could also have been used for drinks but state law in CA rules that no alcoholic beverages can be comped. This was not a problem for us since our group members were mostly teetotalers or light drinkers anyway.)
However, it was no trial to do all our meals in house. We ordered room service breakfasts fit for a king. We all were impressed by the buffet, definitely top-notch as compared to those we have visited in many other casinos. We had a wonderful meal at the upscale steak house. There were many places to pick up casual or quick meals, including the famous Pink’s Hot Dogs. On the morning we checked out, we ran up a $99 bill at Starbucks for sandwiches, snacks, and drinks for the long trip home. But despite our best efforts – I gained 4 pounds in the 5 days – we weren’t totally successful, having to leave almost $500 in food comps on the table when we left.
Now back to our city tour. After leaving Coronado, we passed through Little Italy and caught a glimpse of the old-fashion lights in the Gaslamp Quarter. We mentioned to our guide that this last section looked like it would be an exciting place to be at night, but she immediately set us straight: “Anyone over 25 is too old for that place.” Okay, cross that off our to-see list. We were interested in walking around Old Town but our limo time was running out – and our legs were also giving out – so we got just a taste of that area with a slow drive through the crowded streets. Leaving the waterfront area of downtown San Diego it was now a 30-mile drive inland back to the casino.
I’ll talk about the rest of our visit in Part 2: the Zoo Safari Park, the gambling, the meeting with other Frugalites, and the stop in Palm Springs on our way home.