Starling Travel

November 30, 2007

Hotel SWAG: Las Vegas Hilton in Las Vegas, Nevada

Filed under: Hotel SWAG,Nevada,Places To Visit — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Las Vegas Hilton 11-27-07 from Flickr

After our horrible stay at Buffalo Bill’s the Las Vegas Hilton felt like a blissful home. We have stayed here many times before and have loved the Internet access (despite the $12 a day charge) and the Star Trek Experience. We ate at Quark’s every night.

Here is the room key:

Las Vegas Hilton 11-24-07 from Flickr

Here is the swag setup with lotion, shampoo, facial soap and shower soap.

Las Vegas Hilton 11-24-07 from Flickr

You can drink this water, but it will cost you four bucks.

Las Vegas Hilton 11-24-07 from Flickr

We had a great stay at the Las Vegas Hilton and I didn’t want to leave it.

November 29, 2007

Hotel SWAG: Buffalo Bill’s Hotel and Casino in Primm, Nevada

Filed under: Hotel SWAG,Nevada,Places To Visit — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I’m never staying at Buffalo Bill’s again, but I wanted to show you the hotel swag from it.

It took three sets of these card keys to get a room where we could sleep. It wasn’t worth the effort.

Card Key from Flickr

Here is the soap for the shower. If you notice, there is water on the floor. We thought that the shower might have leaked, but it turned out that the toilet had overflowed. It was so clogged we couldn’t get it unplugged with the “precious” plunger that they deigned to loan us.

Shower soap from Flickr

It was really hard not to be offended by this little sign telling me of what they will charge my card when I steal from them. Who would want their sandpaper towels? Thanks for trusting me…

Take a little something from Flickr

Here is a closeup of the lotion, shampoo and soap. The second day, they gave us conditioner as well, but it wasn’t included the first day.

Lotion, soap and shampoo from Flickr

Swag, plastic cups, ice bucket and the sign assuming I’ll steal.

Full swag photo from Flickr

Here is the coffee setup.

coffee setup from Flickr

The swag at Buffalo Bill’s was typical, but the hotel rooms were miserable. We left as soon as we could.

November 28, 2007

Don’t Stay At Buffalo Bill’s Hotel and Casino

Filed under: Lodging,Nevada,Places To Visit — Laura Moncur @ 7:56 am

Self Portrait Sunday 11-25-07 from FlickrI don’t like to do bad reviews, but I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you about Buffalo Bill’s Hotel and Casino in Primm, Nevada.

It is about a 45 minute drive from Las Vegas, so I thought it would be a good place for us to stay. We have sorely missed Nevada Landing since it closed earlier this year and we were trying to find a replacement for our favorite hotel.

Buffalo Bill’s is NOT it.

We decided to take Buffalo Bill’s Hotel for a test run on 11-22-07 and 11-23-07. It was a nightmare.

The staff at the checkout counter was understaffed, but friendly. We had to wait 30 minutes in line to get our room. The staff was very helpful when we finally got to see them, but there just weren’t enough of them to handle the line of people checking in.

Unfortunately, the room we were given was unpleasant. The toilet was clogged before we were able to use it. I called down to the desk to have someone bring me a plunger. The maintenance man who showed up, wouldn’t let me keep the plunger (is there only ONE for the entire hotel?!). He insisted that he wait while I get the toilet unplugged. Unfortunately, he had brought a sink plunger, which would turn inside out every time I applied pressure. I was disgusted as the thing flipped sewer water on me every time I turned it right side out. Despite all I did, I was unable to get it unclogged. The maintenance guy said he would get someone with a snake to unplug it. I told him that we were going to get a different room.

I waited in the room while Mike went down to get another one. He waited another 30 minutes in that long line. They gave him keys for a different room on the same floor.

We took all our suitcases, left the previous room and headed to our new one. The key cards didn’t work. Now, we were stuck in the hallway with all of our suitcases and no room. I waited in the hallway with all of our belongings while he went down AGAIN to have them fix the problem.

He barged to the front of the 30 minute line and they gave him cards for a third room. It was one floor above ours. When we arrived in the room, the smoke detector was beeping, the window was stuck open (cold wind blowing the curtains) and there was only one chair instead of two. Frustrated with the line at the checkout desk, we called housekeeping and maintenance.

A woman arrived at the door about thirty minutes later. She didn’t have a chair, so we assumed she must be maintenance. Sadly, she didn’t speak enough English to communicate to us that she had been sent to our room from housekeeping and no one had told her that she should bring a chair. We told her the smoke alarm was beeping (you would think it was obvious) and that we couldn’t get the window closed. She suggested that we put bath towels along the crack to block the air.

That was the point where I lost it.

Maintenance showed up and replaced the battery. Mike and I finally forced the window shut (most of my rage was used up on the window). It was almost 2 am by that time, so it was too late to get a room somewhere else.

Once we finally had a non-beeping, non-freezing room, we had even MORE issues. The next morning, we were greeted by the noisy ruckus that was housekeeping gathering right outside our door. Apparently, they gave us the room right by the housekeeping area. After all the trouble we had, they gave us that room. I understand that it’s just a job and it’s fun to talk and laugh with your coworkers, but we had been up for HOURS last night just trying to get settled into a room. We arrived a little late the previous night, but that was aggravated by changing rooms so many times. We just wanted to sleep.

Even worse, the wireless Internet was slow. Okay that’s a lie. It was almost non-workingly slow. Mike took the readings and it was slower on upload than a telephone modem. I had to upload two pictures about seven times just to get it to work. You shouldn’t brag about having wireless Internet if it’s unusable.

After all the trouble, we just wanted out of Buffalo Bill’s as soon as possible. I made a reservation for the Las Vegas Hilton as soon as they had rooms available (11-24-07) and we checked out of Buffalo Bill’s three days too early.

We were so angry, we didn’t gamble at all. We saved our gambling money for the Hilton.

The staff were all very nice, but the hotel has some SERIOUS deferred maintenance. We were going to book a week’s stay there during CES and go the extra drive every day to Vegas, but now we are looking at hotels in the city. Terrible Herbst might be a great car wash, but they are running a miserable hotel.

Read this entry to hear about Primm Valley Casino Resorts’ “apology”:

November 16, 2007

Why Smart Travelers Should NEVER Book With Expedia

Filed under: Travel — Laura Moncur @ 1:08 pm

Say No To Expedia

Tara Hunt travels a lot. No, I travel alot. Tara LIVES on the road. Here is her experience with Expedia and why she believes they are no longer good for setting your travel plans.

Expedia charged her credit card for a hotel room that never came to be and it will be WEEKS before she can get a refund.

We showed up at a hotel the other night that had no record of our reservation. We understand that mistakes happen. This hotel receives their reservations via fax machine (yep, old skool), so perhaps there was a paper jam that day? Either way, I just wanted options as the hotel was fully booked. I got on the phone with Expedia, who refused to take any responsibility for the mishap. “But ma’am,” I said, “I booked at Expedia.com, giving you my credit card and trusting this to be taken care of, yet you say you can’t rectify it now? You can’t put us in a similar hotel?” Nope. In fact, she indicated that it would take a couple of weeks to refund the money I paid for this hotel room and I would have to pay for whichever replacement hotel room I could find.”

I don’t know about you, but there have been times in this last year when I’ve had to travel because of family emergencies. If Expedia had taken my money and left me high and dry like that, we would have been sleeping in our car. We barely had the money to go there, but pay TWICE and wait for weeks for a refund?

Completely unacceptable!

Here is a site with links to the problems that Expedia has been having:

Me? I use Expedia to find out what hotels are where I need to be and then I book with the hotels directly. I’ve had my own issues with Expedia and I refuse to use them any longer.

Plus, Tara is right. Booking with the hotel, car rental or airline directly is usually cheaper.

November 6, 2007

Sex In A Tent by Michelle Waitzman

Filed under: Camping — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Sex In A Tent at Amazon.comWith the approach of winter, there are fewer places where camping is pleasant, but with the colder weather, there is much more reason to cuddle up, right? For a how-to on discrete noogie while camping, there is Sex in a Tent: A Wild Couple’s Guide to Getting Naughty in Nature by Michelle Waitzman.

Michelle did an article for Men’s Health with these handy tips:

  • Get away. Go off the beaten path to make sure you’re at least somewhat isolated. Getting vocal while getting it on might not go over too well in the middle of a family campground.

  • Keep it simple. Movements should be small and controlled. “This is not the time to try out the entire Kama Sutra, because those walls are closer than you think,” says Waitzman.

  • Use a condom. This isn’t a safe sex lecture. Even if you don’t normally wear protection, it can make clean-up – of yourselves and the tent – that much easier.

  • Bag it up. If you’re shopping for sleeping bags as a couple, invest in a pair designed to zip together. “It gives you added warmth and the convenience of being able to actually touch each other under the covers,” says Waitzman.

  • Be obvious. If you want to get laid under the stars, flirt under the sun. Waitzman advises “a little wink-wink behavior during the day to get everybody on the same page.” She says many people don’t even consider sex in the tent, mainly because they’ve never tried it.

Tip # 4, Bag it up, has been the most important one to me, mostly for warmth. When it gets to be November, even camping at Lake Mead in southern Nevada is just a little too cold to be alone in a sleeping bag. I’m so grateful that Mike and I have the kind that can be zipped together.

Via: Two-Heel Drive: “Sex in a Tent” author on tour

November 5, 2007

The Red Crabs of Christmas Island

Filed under: Places To Visit — Laura Moncur @ 2:56 pm

Between Indonesia and Australia is a tiny island. When Captain William Mynors of the British East India Company landed his ship on 25th December 1643, he named the island after the appropriate holiday and Christmas Island was christened.

Right now, its most endearing feature is the yearly migration of the red crabs. They are forest dwellers, but once a year in October, they return to the ocean for mating. They cover every square inch of land from the rain forest to the beach, including homes, roads and even golf courses. This video treats them like they are “scary,” but it shows the extent of the migration.

The locals take it in stride:

On the golf course, which is on the migrating route, during the migration, they have a special rule that means the animals… the crabs belong to the game. Which means if a crab pushes a ball into the hole, it’s in.

Of course, with all that mating, comes the progeny twenty-three days later, which means the land is red with the baby crabs returning to the forest after their initial water-bound existence.

Which time is it better to visit Christmas Island, the adult migration or the baby crab migration? Unfortunately, the Christmas Island Tourism Board doesn’t give us the answer.

Sadly, a visit to Christmas Island is not cheap. The flight from Perth to Christmas Island is expensive enough to put this frugal traveler off the visit, but something in me wants to see the migration. Considering the threat from human ineptness and animal/insect predators, this might be the only time I can ever see something this dramatic.

Via: Damn Interesting » The Crabs of Christmas


For more videos on Christmas Island from TravelOz: (Continue Reading…)

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