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Thread: My Seven Stars Retreat to Harrah’s New Orleans (Very Long)

  1. #1
    I learn a lot from this forum so I wanted to finally share my activities and experiences during my Ceasars Seven Stars Retreat trip to New Orleans last month.

    I only made Seven Stars for the first time in December 2013 so I am always learning something new about the benefits. Moreover, it looks like CET benefits are often a moving target. Last year people who made Seven Stars (150,000 Tier points) got two retreats, one was the “regular” retreat to be used before March 30, 2014 and a second one to be used before June 30, 2014. There is no longer an automatic second retreat this year as they use “Experience” Credits instead for every 50,000 Tier points after making Seven Stars. As many of you know, a 7 Stars Retreat consists of the following: (1) air travel up to $1,200; (2) Room; (3) Limo; (4) $500 folio credit which varies on what you can charge with it depending on the CET property.

    I was too busy to use the first retreat before March 30th came and went. But in late May I contacted my Las Vegas host to set up the Seven Stars Retreat to New Orleans for Wife and I. No kids since grandma and an Uncle kept them company. I did my homework and looked up available flights including a late non-stop back on Sunday June 15th. I then gave him screenshots of a bunch of options for flying from San Francisco to New Orleans on Friday June 13th. He heroically worked with Passport Travel (CET’s designated travel agency for Retreats) and got two round trip tickets even though they cost $1,650 ($450 over the budget). I saw the “paid” ticket receipt on some Mastercard payment on United Airlines so I know that actual transaction amount. When I got the confirmed reservations, I logged on the United Airlines website and added my frequent flyer numbers and selected seats.

    My Las Vegas host also made room reservations at Harrah’s New Orleans and booked a limo for us. The security lines were a breeze since we were both “Global Entry” cleared so went through the TSA Precheck line. When we arrived at New Orleans airport the stretch limo was waiting. I also noticed that unlike Las Vegas which only had water bottles in the limo, there was a dark liquor as well as a clear liquor in decanters in the limo. I stuck to the water bottles so I do not know which kind of alcoholic drink were inside. It was about a 25 minute ride to the hotel.

    Harrah’s New Orleans is a handsome small property across from the Casino near the French Quarter. I never stayed there before, but I did stay at the nearby Hilton (where Drago’s Restaurant is located). We were assigned a suite but Leigh, the young woman front desk clerk assisting us, told us it was not yet clean although it was already 3:00 PM. No matter as Wife and I left the bags with the bell desk then walked to the recently renovated Riverwalk outlet mail along the Mississippi River and got a snack and did some shopping until we were texted that our room was ready. It was a nice suite with a view of the river on a high floor.

    We really appreciated the service of the hotel front desk staff. Every time we walked by on our trip, they smiled and said hello. The manager usually stood near the alcove which lead to the elevators. Maybe it was for informal security checks for guests but since they were smiling it may be just good hospitality. More on Leigh my favorite front desk person later.

    For dinner we went to the Casino (you can use an underground walkway from the Harrah’s Hotel to the Casino). We then walked around the Casino then went to the “Palm Room” – the diamond lounge inside the high limit table section. It was a nice lounge with leather seats, small tables, paintings on wood walls and looked with a cigar lounge. There are about 40 seats with a lot of people but there was always a seat available. I believe Diamond holders are entitled to four drinks and two appetizer sized – prepared to order dishes. But Seven Stars have no limit to either. The dishes are listed on a menu card given to you at the tables by the waitress. We had an outstanding waitress who explained to us what a Sacerac drink was – essentially a Mojito with whiskey instead of rum. Of course I had to try them out. We had barbeque turkey slider sandwiches (po boys), gumbo, cheese appetizers and some other dishes I no longer remember. We made it our dinner and made sure to tip the waitress well for her outstanding service.

    We then walked around French Quarter. I used to hang out like that when I was young but it certainly is not my cup of tea anymore. A lot of history and happy people though.

    Based on VPFree I understood that there were some triple or five play VP in the high limit area at the one dollar level. After our walk, we played the 9/6 Jacks and 8/5 Bonus available on these machines. We put in our $200 free play code from a coupon that was mailed long before my Seven Stars trip was planned and after that had to keep sticking in Benjamins. We put on 1000 Tier points (which would be matched with another 1000 points by CET) that night but there few four of a kinds or pat hands which paid well. A woman host walked up to introduce herself to me and asked if there was anything we needed. I said “no” and she pointed out the host station off to the side of the Diamond lounge and said to visit if we wanted anything. I now know based on Ahhcraps suggestion I should have asked for a free comp for an outside affiliated Harrah’s restaurant but I had assumed like most hosts she could not really do anything before she/we burned through the 50,000 reward credits placed in my account before I arrived on the Retreat. Unlike most properties, you get to keep the points even when you leave. In other CET places the $500 is put in one’s hotel room folio and it is use it or lose it.

    Eventually, after much VP bleeding, I left Wife to try the craps tables. The New Orleans craps table layout used to have “BAYOU” instead of field on the layout but I only saw “FIELD” on the $15 minimum table I saddled up to. You pay the vig up front when you buy the 4 and 10. Free odds are a generous 10 times. When I approached, there were already two “Fire Bet” hits on the roll. I jumped in with a $500 buy-in and there were quite a few numbers hit – and more than got my money back before he seven outed after the third “Fire Bet” hit. I then started putting $10 Fire Bets (the limit) on each new shooter. I started with $15 pass line bets with $50 odds and $30 six and eights. The shooter kept repeating numbers and eventually hit 6 points (3 Fire Bets hits) as I pressed my odds to $100 then up to $150 odds and was making money on a hot table while pressing the 6 and 8. Oddly, the player to my right was a Don’t player and getting killed so he wanted to walk but had placed a $3 Fire Bet (at this time there were 3 Fire Bet hit). He told the box woman that he was walking but wanted to transfer his Fire Bet to the dealers, the box women said it was probably OK, but a minute later told him that that the Floor man said he could not transfer it to the dealers after all. When the next point was a repeat number already hit by the Fire Bet (the five) he just walked away. The shooter hit the five and was working on the fourth unique Fire Bet when he sevened out. I had turned almost all my red chips into green as the payoffs came in.

    At this point the table was rockin’ and I had a nice profit and decided to just ride the buckin’ bronco on the next shooter so I placed $15 pass line bets with full ($150) odds, $30 six and 8’s and aggressive presses and hardways bets. The player to my right was winning too but he only had double odds on the pass line and smallish bets on the numbers and commented to me “I wish I had been betting as much as you as I would have won a lot more.” I wish I had said something memorable or witty in return but I think I only mumbled something to acknowledge what he said but designed not to irritate him – just in case he might take it the wrong way as I sensed more envy than good fellowship in his comment.

    Twice the point was six and I had placed $25 on the hard six and they hit! I enjoyed handing off a red chip in exchange for two black on my passline bet as well as taking two blacks on my hard sixes. I started to turn my green chips into black on this streak. There were a lot of repeat numbers which was great but only three Fire Bet number were hit before the dreaded (unnamable number) showed itself. I was the only one who clapped for the great shooter at the end – I guess New Orleans differs from Vegas in that respect.

    I was the next shooter and had a quick seven out and I cashed out (with a tip to the boys). I was handed three purple ($500), three black $100 and some green and red – approximately $1860 (so $1360 profit). I had some $1500 in profit prior to my own dismal roll, but no tears. When I walked up to Wife still suffering at the VP game (and occasional slot action), I enjoyed splashing the chips in front of her. It took her a while to figure out the denominations but she was happy! We then called it a night and retreated to our suite for some “rest.” The VP gods punished us so even with the craps win we were still down but the nice comeback at the craps table gave Wife some $1360 reasons to display her eager appreciation that evening to her husband. Did I mention no kids on this trip?

    The next day I watched the movie “Noah” on pay for view while Wife was sleeping in. Seven Stars get free Wifi plus two movies a day. During the movie, I munched on the pralines left by the housekeeper when she did turn down service (no plebian turn-down chocolates at Harrah’s New Orleans). The pralines when well with the in-room coffee. That movie was disappointing and I am glad I did not pay for it – really weird tangent on Noah’s family dynamics. We then walked to the French Quarter and we took a horse drawn carriage ride at Jackson’s Square. We choose a private carriage which cost $100 per half hour but the driver was a New Orleans native who knew a lot of history and took us to the historic creole/black section. I do not remember his name but his horse was named “Shine.” Since I love history, it was great for me and even Wife liked it.

    We then went to Acme Seafood on Bierville in the French Quarter and had their charbroiled oysters followed by fried softshell crabs (the Acme branch in the Casino had neither). The oysters were outstanding. I have a photo of them below. The crabs were even better as they were huge. There was a line outside but we arrived at 11:00 am just as it was opening and we walked into the end of the line then stopped walking only when we got to our table.

    We then did some walking about the French Quarter (very different at night) and came upon a T-Shirt that said “D.A.D.D. – Dad’s Against Daughters Dating.” Wife took a photo and we had a laugh. Our teenage daughter did not think it so funny when we showed it to her. We then went to Riverwalk for more outlet shopping.

    Since it was warm we were a bit worn out and took a nap until it was time for dinner. We had an earlier mail coupon from Harrah’s New Orleans for a $150 dinner at Besh’s Steakhouse located at the Casino building. Wife broke out her new slinky red dress with matching stiletto heels and we headed out for Besh’s. I am NOT posting a photo of Wife in said dress. When we got off the elevator, Leigh, the hotel desk clerk told Wife how beautiful the outfit was -- which pleased Wife. The only challenge was that when taking the escalator leading to the Casino through the underground walkway from the hotel, Wife’s stiletto heel on one of her shoes got caught in the metal grid– but was extricated without damage. The risks women take for fashion.

    I wish I could praise Besh’s Steakhouse but I cannot. The ambience was nice and we had a good side booth location. The food, however, was meh. I have cooked better steaks in my backyard grill and the service was spotty. I am glad it was free due to the $150 coupon (except for tip). The one thing I liked was the pate served with bread (instead of butter). Wife asked for an extra pate bowl which the waiter brought for our use later. We put it in the refrigerator in the room and then brought it home. In short, without the comp I would never eat at Besh as New Orleans is a city full of outstanding restaurants.

    After dinner we “rested” in the room. Did I ever mention that we did not bring the kids? Then eventually changed to walking attire and walked along the French Quarter and Mississippi including a stop at Café Du Monde for its famous Beignets (like a doughnut with a heap of powdered sugar) with a cup of chickory infused coffee– a must do in New Orleans.

    We then hit the casino. We concentrated on VP playing 3 and 5 play 9/6 JOB and 8/5 Bonus Poker at dollars. After more losing than anything else, I was dealt four to a royal on 5-play. I only needed a 10 of hearts to complete. I happy held the A, Q, J and K of Diamonds, gave up the Jack of Hearts and the pat pair then took out a camera and Wife and I held our breath. We have a 5/47 chance (almost 1 in 9) for a Royal! Then on the draw we saw -- a flush and a pair! I bet you thought that at this time in a Trip report I would explain how I hit a royal. I wish. You can see visually our tale of woe on the bottom in two frames.

    There was a guy playing to Wife’s right who was playing 10 play DDB for dollars who told wife that he had already put in $2000 just in that machine that day. Periodically, he would ask Wife to watch the machine and he would then disappear and reappear with more money. He finally gave up and walked. Meantime, a woman two to the left hit a royal while holding only one King. She left after she was paid.

    When Wife and I play VP, we usually cash out the credits after a four of a kind to get a feeling of accomplishment and remind ourselves not to play a win back down to zero right away. Well Wife asked me to turn her tickets back into cash so I left my VP machine with $10 in credits to go to the cashier as Wife directed. When I came back, Wife tells me that when I left a guy she never saw before and was not playing until then swooped in and tried to play my machine. Since we were the only ones playing on row of 5 identical machines, Wife was convinced that the guy did so only to grab my credits. Wife tells me that he even smiled at Wife as he was sitting down before Wife provided “guidance” to get the hell away from her husband’s machine with our money in it! By the time I came back the guy was long gone. So everyone – keep your head on a swivel as there are some crooks around.

    Eventually we accumulated 5,000 tier points (to be matched with 10,000 bonus tier points) that day but it was down, up, then down, followed by down, up then down. By the time the smoked cleared we had lost $1,900 this is including losses from the first night. We did not gamble again this trip. I am telling you guys this because in three of my last four trips I actually made money but I thought it was only fair to honestly share the bad results too. Since we hit 5,000 tier points and there is no daily bonus after that, we called it a night.

    The following day (last day) we got up late and then ate an early lunch at Drago’s Restaurant. It had the best charbroiled oysters I ever had. Even better than Acme. We then visited Mardi Gras World – to see how Mardi Gras floats are made. They have a free shuttle bus that you call to pick you up from your hotel that brings you to their facility. There are a bunch of Mardi Gras floats built and stored there. For a $20 fee (or so) you get to dress up in different outfits and take photos next to their exhibits, then they show an interesting 20 minute documentary about Mardi Gras and floats over the years. You are then handed a piece of “King Cake” which did not impress me – for a refreshment. You then get a guided tour of their workshop. It was pretty hot due to the time of year. You can see a photo of a Mardi Gras float I took below. I think I would go again, particularly with the kids.

    Wife and I then watched a Kevin Costner movie “Three Days to Kill” in the room before we late checked out of the hotel. Good movie. Leigh again helped me as the room charge showed we watched eight (REALLY?) movies -- far beyond our two a day allowance. I do not know how that false charges happened but Leigh straightened it out. We hopped into the limo and headed home. I was so impressed by Leigh that I actually wrote a letter when I got home to the Harrah’s Hotel Manager and praised her. I seldom do that. I sent it snail mail as I did not have an email address for him and besides I think it shows a level of sincerity when a formal letter is posted.

    I look forward to visiting New Orleans again. Throughout the entire trip Wife and I felt we were treated right and liked the benefits we were able to utilize on this Seven Stars Trip.
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    Last edited by FABismonte; 07-18-2014 at 04:41 PM.

  2. #2
    Having never been to NO, this is a nice trip report to read except for the part of not getting a Royal anywhere. I've felt that agony many times in many parts of the country, so I now see that NO isn't any different in that regard.

  3. #3
    Good report. I took my Seven Stars trip to NO in December, and I will compare my experiences a little later.

    If you go back, try taking a swamp tour in Slidell.

    In the warmer months, you will see lots of gators.

    In the winter months, you won't see gators, but it's still interesting. We saw some wild boars and the trees/swamps/swamp houses were cool. Just dress really warm because the wind chill on the boats freezes you in the winter.

    Biloxi is only 90 miles away, and it's an interesting side trip. You can actually book at the Grand Biloxi (I think it has a different name now) at the same time you're booked at Harrah's NO, as they're considered different markets. I booked my Biloxi room and just let my Harrah's NO room sit empty for a night!
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  4. #4
    Thank you for an excellent trip report.

    I am curious about being limited to only two free movies in your room. This must be an NO thing because at Caesars the number of free movies each day appears to be unlimited.

    I think we all feel the agony of missing a royal, especially on a multi-hand machine. Ouch.

  5. #5
    Hi Alan

    I believe Rincon has a $50 a day "media credit" for Seven Stars which covers Wifi and Movies. So New Orleans is not unique in its limits.

  6. #6
    Rincon rules are actually set by the Tribe. I don't think Caesars has anything to do with the hotel. Even the Tribe tells Caesars how to run the casino. The Tribe wanted the $100 VP machines out... and they came out.

  7. #7
    Originally Posted by Alan Mendelson View Post
    Rincon rules are actually set by the Tribe. I don't think Caesars has anything to do with the hotel. Even the Tribe tells Caesars how to run the casino. The Tribe wanted the $100 VP machines out... and they came out.
    This is how I believe it works at Rincon:

    The Rincon Tribe owns the casino, meaning they are the ones who actually experience the wins and losses. That's why they wanted the $100 machines out. They didn't like the variance.

    Caesar's manages the property. I'm not sure how they are compensated. It's either a flat fee (a very high one, obviously) or something tied to the revenue. But that's not really important here.

    So who is really the boss there?

    Well, it's complicated.

    Since it's a Caesars/Total Rewards property (and that brings in a lot of the clientele), they have certain standards to which they have to adhere. So basically Caesar's has power in that respect, in that the Rincon Tribe can't just give the middle finger to the Total Rewards program or screw the customers there. Rincon has some sort of contract/agreement with Caesars that requires them to provide service consistent with Caesars/Total Rewards standards.

    Recall when I got cheated out of time at the spa at Rincon. I threatened to make a big deal about this to the powers-that-be at Caesars, and they got scared about that threat. This sort of thing would be in violation of their contract with Caesars, as existing Total Rewards customers are supposed to be treated fairly and respectfully, and not cheated/scammed.

    However, at the same time, the Rincon Tribe has control of everything else. So if they want to stop letting people take food out of their restaurants, they can. If they don't want to provide unlimited media to Seven Stars, they can limit it. If they want to charge non-Diamond-or-higher members to use their pool during peak times, they can.

    So basically Rincon can do what it wants, provided they don't screw people and honor all systemwide Total Rewards benefits.
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  8. #8
    I'm still not sure that Caesars has anything to do with the Rincon hotel.

    In NO did you see similarities to hotel services in Vegas?

  9. #9
    Great TR. We just got back from NOLA yesterday and despite some very heavy rain we had a ball. We have found the hotel service to be excellent and the suites very nice. We were spoiled with different little goodies each night. Went to a "Sin City" event with lots of booze, food, music, drawings, and Vegas like sexy girls. That was fun. Even left town with a good bit of money in the pocket so we have no complaints at all. Will be heading back down in October after trips to Tahoe and Tunica.

  10. #10
    Originally Posted by Alan Mendelson View Post
    I'm still not sure that Caesars has anything to do with the Rincon hotel.

    In NO did you see similarities to hotel services in Vegas?
    I didn't see similarities, but to be honest every CET property seems to operate differently hotel-wise, even in Vegas.

    I think that the hotel at Rincon is indeed operated by the tribe, but they have to adhere to the TR standards. If the operate below CET standards (and especially if they act shady or cheat people), that is likely a violation of their contract with Caesar's. Obviously Rincon would suffer big time if Caesar's pulled out and dropped the TR connection, so Rincon has to toe the line to some degree.

    I have had three bad experiences at Rincon in the past year or so:

    1) The aforementioned massage-shorting and subsequent coverup

    2) Giving away my pre-reserved Garden Tower room simply because I was showing up late (which I told them a week ahead of time), despite my following of every instruction they gave me on how to avoid this happening. Even worse, while I was driving there, I called up to check if my room was going to be ready upon arrival, and they realized they accidentally gave it away (and no more were available). Rather than being honest with me, they repeatedly lied to me about it, and two different front desk employees left me on "endless hold" hoping I would go away.

    3) They used to charge $81 if you were checking in after 8pm. They would reverse this $81 if you actually showed up. I have no idea why they didn't just charge the $81 if you no-showed, rather than charging it and reversing it. Anyway, one of the $81 charges never reversed, and the operator at Rincon refused to let me speak to the front desk about it. The operator got in a lengthy battle with me (she was the only one answering the phone), and told me my only option was to leave a voice mail to the billing department -- a department notorious for never calling people back. The operator fought with me on various phone calls for about 20 minutes. I was told that they were on the alert for me, and would not transfer me to the front desk under any circumstances. Eventually I got through to the front desk by using a fake English accent and pretending there were bedbugs in my room. The front desk admitted that the operator made a mistake by refusing to transfer me, and said they would take care of the $81. BTW, I even spoke to the operator's supervisor, and she also completely backed and supported what the operator was doing. Despite the front desk's promise, the $81 remained, and it took two different calls to the hotel manager to finally get it reversed. The hotel manager apologized, said that this whole battle should have never occurred, and that "We are making some changes service-wise here. I was brought in to help solve these types of problems. Soon things like this won't happen anymore." The $81 charge has since been eliminated completely, and I heard through the grapevine that my incident was the catalyst for it.

    I haven't been to Rincon in a few months. My last visit there was uneventful (thankfully), so perhaps they've gotten their act together.

    Up until at least the end of 2013, Rincon's hotel was notorious for bad customer service and obnoxious back-and-forth battles between the employees and customers. A host there complained to me that "the hotel is driving away my Seven Stars".

    They did fire the previous hotel manager in October 2013 and hired the one I dealt with during the front desk issue. The firing was exactly because the hotel was being run poorly and the customer service practices were terrible.
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