Tuesday, October 8, 2013

myVegas and our Vegas trip

We just returned from a short getaway weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was there for a business conference and I brought my wife along for the trip.  Here are some details from our trip.  

You have probably seen some of your friends on Facebook play the myVegas app.  MyVegas is an app that rewards its users for playing casino games like blackjack or slots for real Las Vegas rewards. This app is affiliated with MGM Properties and their loyalty program, Mlife.  Many of the big properties in Las Vegas are actually owned by MGM, including: Bellagio, Aria, Vdara, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York – New York, Luxor, and Excalibur.

While the myVegas app was launched on July 17, 2012, me and my wife did not start playing the game until after January 2013.  With some regular playing here and there, we were able to redeem these pretty awesome free rewards by July 2013 for our recent trip:

- 2 free tickets to Zarkana, the cirque du soleil show at Aria ($143 value)
- 2 free tickets to KA, the cirque du soleil show at MGM Grand ($143 value)
- 2 free lunch buffet passes to the Bellagio buffet ($43.98 value)
- 2 free entrance tickets to the Shark Reef exhibit at Mandalay Bay Hotel ($36 value)

This was a total value of over $365!

To earn rewards, game play (with slots or blackjack) is required. MyVegas offers you daily free chips to play with. While playing these casino games, you can earn or lose chips, just as you can earn or lose money when you play casino games. As you play, you earn loyalty points whether you win or lose chips. You can then use your loyalty points to redeem real Las Vegas rewards. You can read more about earning chips and loyalty points here: http://www.justmyvegas.com/tip-guides-strategies
My favorite slot machine game on myVegas
I also recommend joining some Facebook groups such as: 

There you can get more personalized help with any questions you may have about myVegas. You can also get free chips from these groups to help you continue to play for more loyalty points.

A few tips I can think of:
  • The more you play, the more automation you can incorporate, such as setting the slot machine on “auto spin” for up to 200 spins. This allows you to do other things and have myVegas app running in the background, earning loyalty points.
  • There are a limited amount of rewards you can redeem per month, so choose your rewards carefully!
  • You max out at 2,000 loyalty points a day, playing more won't earn any more loyalty points
  • This program is constantly going through changes, including devaluations of rewards, so don't delay in redeeming rewards.
Redeeming these rewards was extremely easy. Once we had enough Loyalty Points, we just selected the rewards that we wanted and then “paid” for the rewards with our earned points. Once we redeemed the show tickets, a simple phone call to the reservation number connected us to an Mlife service representative who helped us choose our seats for our shows. Once we arrived in Las Vegas, we just went to the Mlife desk at each hotel redeem our buffet passes and Shark Reef tickets.
Giant octopus at the Shark Reef
We had a great time in Las Vegas, watching two amazing shows, enjoying the food there as well as doing a good amount of window shopping. It was amazing to see how expensive some consumer luxuries can be.  We got to take a close look at some Richard Mille watches, with starting prices of $90,000
We also got to walk by and take a look at the prices of steak at Craftsteak, where you can pay $260 for an 8 oz. filet of Japanese A5 Wagyu steak.

For one dinner, we got to enjoy a nice meal at Mastro's Ocean Club, where my steak was only $50 (sarcasm).  Normally we don't like to spend a lot of money dining out, but I received a nice gift card for this restaurant (courtesy of my company) to offset the dining expense.  I also made sure to make reservations through Opentable, and we got 1,000 Opentable points for dining here ($10 restaurant credit for use at Opentable restaurants).  Plus, we used my wife's Chase Sapphire Preferred card to earn 2x points on dining!
While dinner was undoubtably delicious, the lasting effect of the experience was short lived. Expensive food just doesn't do it for me. Spending 5x more on a meal doesn't offer me 5x more satisfaction.

We had a great time in Las Vegas and we definitely avoided the biggest trap of all: gambling.  I learned my lesson a long time ago that gambling is just throwing away money. I don't even consider it a form of entertainment.  And while it was fun looking at all the expensive consumer luxuries on display, I can honestly say that I have no desire to own them.

Westin Las Vegas
We stayed at the Westin Las Vegas.  Whenever I think “Las Vegas” I imagine the big popular properties like: Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, Venetian, Aria, Cosmopolitan, Mandalay Bay, etc. The Westin is far from the first hotel you think about when booking a stay at Vegas, but it does offer tremendous value. 
Priceline categorizes the Westin Las Vegas as a 4 star property. Starwood categorizes the Westin Las Vegas as a Category 5 hotel, so a free night here would cost between 12,000 to 16,000 Starpoints, depending on whether it is peak season or not.

While the Westin is not directly on the Las Vegas strip, it is only about half a mile down the street from Caesar’s Palace, on the corner of Koval Lane and E. Flamingo Road. This is a smaller hotel and the atmosphere is a lot more relaxed and less pretentious than some of the larger Las Vegas properties. While there is a small casino on the property, it’s usually fairly quiet.

There are several reasons we enjoy the Westin Las Vegas.  The parking garage is very close to the main property.  There is free wifi for all guests.  The hotel offers a happy hour (5:30pm to 6:30pm) with unlimited free beer, wine, and light appetizers.  The hotel also offers complimentary bottled water, coffee, and tea - replaced daily.  

Staying here allows us to earn Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Starpoints, one of the most valuable point currencies available.  When paying at an SPG property with our SPG credit card, we earn 2 Starpoints per dollar spent.  With SPG properties, we always take advantage of their Make a Green Choice promotion.  For each night you decline housekeeping service (except day of departure), you can get a $5 property voucher or 500 Starpoints.  Our 3 day trip earned us an extra 1,000 Starpoints. Plus, we normally don’t like housekeeping entering our room during our hotel stays.  We like the Westin so much that we have stayed here the last 2 times we’ve been to Las Vegas.

Here are some random pictures from our trip:

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