In Sin City for a combo bachelor party followed by family meeting.

Summary of my view: still keeping up a brave face, seeing a tiny bit of light in the tunnel, but the cracks are getting fairly wide.

Flight in:

3 month-ahead buy price was $169

3 week-ahead price was $248

11 day-ahead (last minute special) price was $139

All prices above round trip. Wound up paying $114 (coupon).

Hotels:

Rooms for this past weekend were more expensive than I expected. Although not as stratospheric as might be, nonetheless was into the $150/night at 2nd tier place like TI and $230/night for 1st tier like Mandalay Bay

My comp rooms, however, were first rate. Was offered and given a room at Caesar's Augustus tower despite my lowest tier 'gold' Total Rewards status. I did get squeezed in that previously I could book any number of free rooms in different hotels if I had different offers, but not this time. Possibly because I was Diamond before or a tightening up of the Total Rewards network hotels.

$20 upgrade tip didn't work - hotel was pretty full and suites were all accounted for.

Gambling:

Caesar's had $10 and $15 blackjack in the main gambling area. I have not seen that seen since pre-millenium. In 2000 the lowest was $50.

Similarly the Wynn had $15 blackjack and $15 pai gow poker tables - admittedly this was midweek. Also Wynn was promoting for its frequent gambler program. In the past the Wynn would not even give you an account until you stacked up 500 points ($1000 gambled in a slot machine). Now they're offering a free spin with a guaranteed something ($10 free credit to $10000 free credit) at 100 points.

TI had $5 tables and craps. The low end places had $2 tables and $3 craps.

Rio was quite full but had $15 blackjack and $25 poker tables despite World Series of Poker tournament going on.

None of places visited were very full - i.e. tables not at 100% operation in the entire time I was there.

Entertainment:

Moorea was pretty full - this is the exclusive 'European style' pool at Mandalay. Cabanas were sold out, but this was the first time in at least 2 months.

Wet Republic (MGM) - supposedly the hottest pool in Vegas now - was packed.

Body English (Hard Rock club) was packed (PACKED), but was able to get a 2 for 1 bottle service and premium table. Club was full but this place also has free drinks from 11pm to midnight for women.

Pure (Caesar's club) was also really packed - possibly due to some Vivid party. Had to get 3 bottles for a table (and 1 free), but wound up on the main floor VIP area - 1st time.

Overall impression is a lot more locals than typical.

Impressions around town:

Cabbie 1: "Things are picking up - it was really dead in the past several months"

Cabbie 2: "Economy is really bad." "I can't understand why anyone wants to come to America"

Cabbie 3: "Taxi business not bad, but nothing like before."

Several cabbies obviously new and clueless, plus got taken for a ride (dropped at wrong place, took long route)

In the gentlemen's club: more aggressive than typical, also seemingly more inexperienced workers.

Foot traffic seems fairly heavy - possibly as heavy as ever.

Caesar's forum shops: Every single boutique had a sale going on. Even the highest end - Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, etc. Cavalli stores shutting down as of June 28. Discounts from 50% to 75%, selected to storewide - topping out at 80% to 95% at the Cavalli stores (highest end Roberto Cavalli with Just Cavalli as 'mainstream'.

Total Rewards had a promotion going on with free $500, $750, $1200, and even $3000 shopping cards for a selection of forum shop boutiques - the sales people were saying that it was probably the combination of this plus Father's day that drove traffic. Traffic totally dead for months before this weekend.

Food:

Food in buffets continues to go downhill.

Wynn buffet was still good - but at $40/head...

Rio seafood buffet down to 1 langostino shrimp offering (from 6 at peak).

Caesar's buffet quite poor. What was there was quite decent, but there wasn't much selection at all.

Dinner at Nove (Palms 50th floor) on Saturday was respectable - restaurant not full at all

Dinner at Steakhouse in TI on Friday - place was at least half empty.