Monthly Archives: December 2012

Las Vegas: Venetian Hotel American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts Review Part 2

This series is a continuation from Las Vegas: Venetian Hotel American Fine Hotel & Resorts Review Part 1

One of the benefits of booking a Vegas hotel on an American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts rate is the hotel amenity, which can be in the form of a $100 spa credit, $85 worth of lunch at Olives (Bellagio), complimentary lunch or dinner (Venetian & Four Seasons), or a $100 resort credit (Palazzo) which can be used on pretty much anything. In this case at the Venetian, I chose the complimentary dinner for 2 at Pinot Brasserie.

Page 1: Venetian American Pre-fixe dinner menu

Page 2: Venetian American Express Pre-fixe dinner menu

For the three course pre-fixe dinner, I chose the Onion Soup Gratinee, Market fish (Salmon), and Ice Cream

Onion Soup Gratinee

Blackened Salmon with pesto cous cous

Cinnamon Espresso & Chocolate Ice Cream

My friend ordered the Caesar Salad, Roasted Chicken, and Croissant Pudding.

Caesar salad w/ serrano ham & white anchovy

Roasted Chicken w/ Mushroom fricasse

Croissant Pudding

Overall, the food at Pinot Brasserie was top notch and everything tasted like a French Brasserie in Paris. It was tough to get a reservation at Pinot Brasserie because the main dining room was fully rented and booked for a private event. The host told me that they were fully committed, but I voiced my concern that I wanted to use my Amex FHR dinner voucher for tonight and a reservation time magically appeared.

Part 3 of this series finale will be posted in tomorrow’s blog which will conclude with the American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts complimentary breakfast and I will sum up my experiences at the Venetian.

Las Vegas: Venetian Hotel American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts Review Part 1

I started off New Years weekend in Las Vegas by checking in yesterday afternoon to the Venetian Hotel. I booked the Venetian Hotel using the American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts rate, which offers invited guest check-in, complimentary noon check-in, room upgrade if available, one time complimentary lunch or dinner for up to 2 people, room service breakfast for two, and 4pm late checkout.

Venetian Gondola Ride – Photo Credit:

I promptly arrived at noon and fully utilized the “Invited Guest Check-in” desk which bypasses the long regular snake line. I originally booked a $209 standard 1 King bed, but asked the agent if I could switch it to two queen beds. In addition, I asked if there were any complimentary upgrades available. Without checking her computer, she informed me that we were sold out, but I pressed the question further asking if she could kindly check. She made a phone call to her supervisor and I overheard her saying that the guest is booked under Amex and she promptly upgraded me to a 2 queen beds with a strip view. The agent informed me that she was doing me a favor and upgraded me twice. In the end, I was given a Bella Suite with a beautiful strip view.

              Venetian Hotel – Bella Suite with two queen beds

                            Bella Suite – Sunken Living Room

                                  Bella Suite with a Strip View

The agent informed me that there was a $20 resort fee on top of that which includes pool access, gym, newspaper, and wi-fi internet. She told me that the wi-fi was spotty and that if it didn’t work in the room, she would gladly waive the resort fee. The wifi internet was blazing fast in the room, but it stopped working for 15 minutes and kept disconnecting my devices. With a phone call to the front desk complaining about the wifi connection resulted in having the resort fee waived. Apparently this is a huge problem with the hotel, but it was a non-issue during the rest of the stay after my brief 15 minute disconnection.

                       Bathroom shower with a tub

                        His and hers bathroom sinks

After settling into the beautiful suite with a spectacular view, I decided to make dinner reservations at Pinot Brasserie, which hosted a pre-fixe menu for the American Express complimentary dinner. I am saving the restaurant review for Part 2 of this series which will be posted tomorrow. I want to leave with one final picture:

          Venetian Hotel Ground Rules for New Years Weekend

Top 5 Travel Essentials

Since I’m a frequent road warrior, I tend to know what to pack and don’t need to pack the night before the trip. I can put together a bag for a 2 day or 1 week trip in less than 15 minutes. For domestic and international travel, I only use a carry on bag and a small personal laptop bag. Here are my top 5 necessities while traveling domestically and overseas in no particular order:


1. A great durable and long lasting suitcase for a road warrior. I just bought a new 20″ Hartmann hardside carry on luggage from Macy’s for $269.99. It was well worth the money since Hartmann has lifetime warranty and has a prestigious heritage brand.

                        13″ MacBook Air

2. A 13″ MacBook Air laptop for its beautiful aesthetics and super long battery life. I love my 13″ Macbook Air because of its superior 7 hour battery life for watching movies on the airplane. When I’m not watching videos, it can provide me with 8-9 hours of battery life when I’m using wi-fi on the plane. I suggest replacing your Macbook Air every year when the new model comes out because if you’re like me, you’re constantly recharging your laptop and battery life decreases with every charge.

                      Louis Vuitton Wallet

3. I can’t leave home without my wallet, but not just any wallet. It’s always a good investment to buy a durable and long lasting wallet. I used to buy Salvatore Ferragamo wallets and I’ve gone through 3 of them in the past 3 years before buying my first Louis Vuitton wallet earlier this year. After heavy usage for the past year, my Louis Vuitton wallet still looks brand new with no frayed edges. Even though I love Salvatore Ferragamo, the wallets I had would have the edges frayed out over time resulting in a beat up wallet.

              Durex Condom

4. You never know when you will need one and when you do, it will come in handy. For men and women, this is self-explanatory so never leave home without one.

          Portable USB Charger

5. I never leave home without a Concept Green Portable USB Charger. This is such a lifesaver for me because you never know when your USB electronics start to go into the red zone. I am a heavy iPhone 5 user and even though the battery life is amazing, I still carry the portable usb charger whenever I’m on the go.




Turkish Airlines: Los Angeles – Esfahan, Iran. $601. Roundtrip, including all Taxes

This is a very good sale to Esfahan, Iran. Turkish airlines is a member of the Star Alliance and an United Airlines partner. This fare is booked in W coach fare class and will earn 100% with United Airlines. This is an unbelievable mileage/vacation run deal to Iran since it provides 16,526 elite qualifying miles for a low price of $601, which turns out to be 3.6cpm (cents per mile).

Esfahan, Iran – Photo credit – Iran GashtTour Travel & Tour Agency

Sample Date:
February 19th – March 4th, 2013

Fare availability:
Valid for travel from January 1st – March 31st, 2013. Use the ITA Matrix Software calendar to find more dates. Bookable on

LAX – IST (Istanbul) – IFN (Esfahan) – IST – LAX



Visa Requirements:
A visa to Iran is required for US Citizens

Upcoming Trip to Las Vegas this New Years Weekend

This is an annual tradition for me to get away and spend New Years in Las Vegas with friends. I’m going with two of my best friends from college and I’ve planned a three nights stay utilizing a combination of AAdvantage Miles and American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts program.


For Saturday, I booked a $209 Fine Hotel & Resorts rate at the Venetian Hotel, which includes room service breakfast for 2, a complimentary lunch or dinner (amenity benefit), noon check-in, late checkout, and a complimentary upgrade if available. I’ve attached my Priority Club Platinum membership number by calling the hotel in advance to utilize the “Invited Guest Check-in” priority line. On Sunday evening, I booked a standard suite at Mandalay Bay’s THEhotel (all suites property) on a $200 Fine Hotel & Resorts rate, which includes a complimentary upgrade if available, noon check-in, $100 spa credit, $80 worth of breakfast vouchers, and a late checkout. For Monday, I am staying at the Westin Lake Las Vegas on 10,800 American Airlines AAdvantage Miles, which is a superb value since rates on New Years are sky-high in Las Vegas. I value AA miles to be 2cpm (cents per mile) and since I have a mid 6 figure AAdvantage miles balance, I will gladly spend the miles. The Westin Lake Las Vegas is going for $256, which I gladly will pay in miles. I used to book my hotel using AAdvantage miles and since I am an American Airlines Executive Platinum member, I get discount prices. In addition, I called the hotel in advance and asked the front desk agent to add my Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum number to my reservation. It’s a gamble to see if they will honor elite benefits on a 3rd party stay, but it’s Las Vegas after all! Stay tuned……