Travel Tips and Tricks

Terrible's Primm Valley Resort and Casino

31900 Las Vegas Blvd S.
Primm, NV 89019-7002
(702) 386-7867

I recently attended an ATA Tournament in Primm, NV, and after reading all the reviews on the web I made the easy decision to stay in Vegas and just make the short drive to Primm for the tournament, because the reviews of all your options for both food and lodging are indeed terrible. And as it turns out, they are all correct. But a last minute schedule change for both a Friday Night and Saturday Morning events persuaded me to just stay in Primm and save the extra commute time. That was a terrible mistake.

All the terrible things you are reading all over the web about all of the Terrible's property's in Primm, NV are absolutely true, if not completely understated. But like you, perhaps, I thought that nothing could be that terrible and still be in business. Turns out, it can!

Check-in at the Primm Valley Casino and Resort was typical of all Vegas area casinos. You'll have to walk through and then stand in line in a smoke filled casino. And while I know that the smoke isn't going to be an issue for most casino goers, I'm traveling with two young athletes that are pursuing a world championship and they just don't need the smoke in their lungs. And frankly, I hate the smoke too. So I was thrilled to find an automated check-in kiosk just to the left of the long line, and no one was using it!

The check-in via the kiosk was fast and easy and even allowed my to select the number of keys that I wanted (up to two). And as I walked through the casino towards my room I thought just briefly that the reviews might of been wrong. But they weren't.

Upon arrival in our room we found if in complete disarray. I was so flabbergasted by the condition that I didn't even think to take a picture! The beds were un-made and pulled away from the wall, the headboards were removed from the wall and leaning on the beds, and the makeup bag and prescription medicine bottle of the previous occupants were laying on the bed.

So back to the casino we went, and this time we had to stand in the long line to get human help. Our human wasn't really the happy type, but she did her job and got us a new room. This one was clean and prepared to what I imagine to be Terrible's mediocre standards. Like your average "budget motel", this room was short on electrical outlets, and at least one of them was badly damaged - what a firefighter might just call a fire and/or shock hazard. Meanwhile, my daughter found a hole in the wall. Seriously, a hole in the drywall. But it was only on our side of the wall so we decided to just stay with this room and vowed never to return.

The pool at Primm Valley Resort and Casino was both large and clean. And the hot tub was totally hot. Both were properly chlorinated so as to not burn or smell of chlorine. The poolside life guards and employees had us outnumbered, and that's pretty much a good thing. And they were surprisingly social, particularly in light of our experience inside just about 30 minutes previous. The fountain in the pool was either broken or turned off, and while I certainly would have enjoyed seeing it on, it really didn't take much away from the experience. The only place the pool really fell short was with the towels. Those things were the scratchiest, flattest, least absorbent towels I've ever encountered. Truly, they sucked. They need new towels, and they need to take better care of them in the laundry. But they were in abundance, and there were plenty of employees available to make sure they weren't going to run out of them.

The reviews that I've read on the three buffets at the three casinos probably aren't written strongly enough. To say that they are overpriced crap would be an understatement. We tried "Miss Ashley's Boarding House Buffet" and found it to be the worst meal I've even tried to eat. And that's after 4-years of Naval Service, including 2 meals in the Navy that gave me food poisoning. Yeah, that bad. All the food is straight out of a can and simply reheated. All of it sucked. And for four of us it cost us nearly $60 to be completely disappointed. On a lighter note, it mostly ruined my appetite. Friends of ours traveling to the same tournament chose "The Greens Valley Buffet" at the Primm Resort and Casino with pretty much the same results. In short, the best food in Primm can be found at the likes of McDonald's, Carl's Jr. and the food court in the outlet mall. But really, you shouldn't even be here. Just take that extra 34 miles and find a place in Vegas. Anything you find in Vegas is going to be better.

The entire facility, much like the room, is in a state of disrepair. Doors hanging off-axis so that the overlap each other, requiring the "top door" to be opened first. And because they were hanging off-axis, they were also heavy and noisy. I also noticed electrical fixtures just hanging down from the ceiling, entirely exposed, inviting nitwits everywhere to reach up and grab on to what I imagine would be a very shocking experience.

That just leaves a quiet nights sleep in a room no better than a "budget motel", and a check-out that was both painless and easy via the TV remote. Sadly, if you want a printed copy of your bill you'll still need to stand in line and wait your turn at the registration desk on the casino floor. I decided I could just do without and get the hell out of Primm!

I'll never stay at any of the properties in Primm, and my advice to you would be the same. Perhaps I should have taken the "Terrible's" name at face value and realized that all those negative reviews floating around the web are absolutely true.

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Posted by Michael Worth at 08:27 PM on August 23, 2011 | Comments (0)" | TrackBack (0)"

Excalibur Hotel and Casino

3850 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(877) 750-5464

About a week ago I was given just 12 hours notice that I would need to take off for Vegas for about 4 days. Since I needed to keep the costs down where I could, I decided to give the Excalibur Hotel and Casino a try. The rooms were inexpensive, and the hotel is conveniently located for my specific needs on this trip. Sadly, that might be the nicest thing I have to say about the Excalibur Hotel and Casino.

Upon arrival I discovered that I'd have to park far away from the Hotel to check-in, unless I'd like to pay for Valet Parking. I did not. I needed to have easy access to my truck, and I didn't need the added expense of having someone else park my truck. Furthermore, I preferred to have my truck in the garage. The Valet Parking is outside. This meant I'd be parking across the street from the farthest side of the Hotel & Casino possible in relation to the location of my room. And that I'd have to schlep my bags on my own, without the benefit of one of hotels luggage carts as they were reserved for the Valets. Several trips and a Jericho Mile later I made it to my room.

Like most Hotels and Casinos in Vegas, the check-in line is long and it moves slowly. But unlike the more modern hotels on the strip, the Excalibur is doing nothing to abate the smoke in the building. The whole place reeks of it. You are going to have to stand in it to check in; and then walk through it to get just about anywhere while you are there. If you are a non-smoker, chances are you are going to hate this place for the smoke alone. I know that Vegas is something of a Smoker's Paradise, and that it's something us non-smokers must deal with when visiting Vegas, but there are definitely other Hotel and Casinos where the smoke is being dealt with much more effectively.

Upon settling in to my room for the evening I noticed that I'd been given a coupon for $10 off tickets to the Tournament of Kings Dinner Show. Since I purchased my tickets online the night before I wondered how I might go about getting a credit for the coupon. When I inquired about that the next morning I learned that I could refund the tickets I had and buy other tickets in seats that weren't as good. Not because certain seats were unavailable for use with the coupon, but because that's the only way they could do it. I liked the seats I had and didn't want to change them; and the computers and/or their operators left me uncomfortable about doing so anyway. So I asked for a credit to be given to my credit card for the amount of the coupon, or even a casino credit for the same amount. But nothing doing. If I was going to benefit from the coupon ($30) I was going to have to give up my good seats and sit somewhere else. No Thank You.

So I sent a quick tweet in an effort to reach someone at the Excalibur that might be able to put and end to all this nonsense and make me happy. And while I did receive a quick return tweet asking what the problem was, I was from that point forward ignored by @ExcaliburVegas. And the problem remains unsolved to this day.

Another problem we encountered was a lack of internet service in our room. We were charged a resort fee for each day of our visit, and part of that fee was to pay for Internet access. We never had any internet during our stay. Likewise, the safe in our room did not work.

Perhaps the most unsettling thing about my stay was the constant trash and dirty dishes that remained in the hallway outside my room for periods of up to 24 hours. One of my neighbors was apparently a fan of room service because there was never a time I walked down the hallway and didn't see dirty dishes outside his door. They were always there; everyday, all day. They changed from time to time, but there were always dirty dishes on the floor waiting to be collected. I also found plenty of trash like cigarette wrappers in the hallway. The common areas simply aren't being kept clean. And if they aren't clean, how clean are other areas of the hotel that are less visible? How clean is the kitchen preparing the meals that used to reside on all those dirty dishes?

Housekeeping did an okay job on keeping the room clean. For the most part they don't bother arriving until about 3pm, probably taking care of the rooms that are being vacated first. And they didn't make a lot of effort to make the beds to the same standard on a daily basis that they do when you are checking out. But overall I found the service to be acceptable.

We didn't spend much time in the room, and I suppose very few people do. But my wife likes to turn the TV on for a short while when returning to the room at night to wind down a bit before turning in. Think was, there really wasn't any TV. Just ads and infomercials. No real TV channels to be found.

I imagine that most hotels of this size have a problem with water pressure; and probably lack tubs for the same reason. But it's worth mentioning just the same. The water pressure sucks; the fixtures in the bathroom are old - like everything else; and there is no tub. I didn't miss the tub, but my wife did. And you might too.

Then there's the Time Share Sales people. They are all over the place, in the Excalibur and on the surrounding properties. Good Grief! I must have been offered show tickets in exchange for a Time Share pitch 25 times! Which is probably another reason not to buy show tickets online. Just find a salesperson, take the tour and enjoy a free show.

Just prior to checkout, while making multiple trips across a Jericho Mile to get my bags back to my truck, I was approached by a panhandler in the hotel (rode the elevator with him twice before being approached) for $17. On my way out I reported the incident to security and for the most part got ignored. Again. But that seems to be the theme here.

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Posted by Michael Worth at 05:57 PM on October 11, 2010 | Comments (0)" | TrackBack (0)"

Hotel Keys

Ever have one of those moments when you just HAD to get into your hotel room like NOW? If you had to wait another minute something embarrassing was going to happen? Well, I had one of those moments on my recent trip to Disney.

My arms, amongst other things, were full; my 3½ year-old daughter didn’t have a care in the world; my wife (and more importantly, her room key) were nowhere to be found; and my room key wasn’t the least bit concerned about the sense of urgency I had about getting into the room quickly – as in NOW!

Making matters worse, the door lock apparently belongs to the same union as the key because it was taking as long as 5 seconds in-between failed attempts before allowing me to try again.

So with my arms, amongst other things, full; my carefree 3½ year-old daughter entrusted to my care; my wife (and more importantly, her room key) currently lost in Neverland; Mother Nature increasingly upping the ante on my own physical needs; and my crappy key not working; who’d of thought the very same Sister-in-Law that is mostly responsible for creating this lovely trip to Disneyland might actually come to my rescue? Certainly not me! But she did.

It turns out that simply rubbing the magnetic side of your key on your shirt prior to inserting it in the door lock gives the union what it’s looking for, thereby granting you hasty access to your room via a key that was, just moments ago, on strike.

So if you’re planning on having one of those urgent moments at your hotel door, maybe you should consider going on the trip with your Sister-in-Law after all.

Or you could just read our Travel Tips on a regular basis, learning at my expense, all while leaving all the In-Laws at home.

You be the judge.

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Posted by Michael Worth at 01:33 PM on May 14, 2005 | Comments (0)" | TrackBack (0)"

"Energy Surcharges"

It all started back in 2001, right around the time of September 11th. Times were tight and travel was something that a great many of us stopped doing. At least for a while. The travel industry was having DESPERATE economic times, and in their own short-sightedness they created a new scam called "Energy Surcharge".

Hotel "Energy Surcharges" are about one thing: lying to you about what the room rate is. They quote you a nice rate to get you to stay there, but then expect you to pay a "surcharge" for a standard amenity (like the lights!) to get a few extra bucks out of you. If a hotel can't afford its power bill it should be honest about it and raise their nightly rate to cover it.

By any other name, the "Energy Surcharge" would be considered "Bait and Switch". The hotels have found a way to make Bait and Switch legal. You can, and should, refuse to play their game. Insist they charge you ONLY the rate they quoted to you.

This post inspired by one of Randy's Rants in This is True.

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Posted by Michael Worth at 11:47 PM on November 18, 2003 | Comments (0)" | TrackBack (0)"

Travel Tips and Tricks