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April 2, 2005

Circus, Circus is Lousy, Lousy

April 2, 2005 | By |

Warning: the following post has no transcendent meaning and no flights of poetry whatsoever. Rather, I offer the following sad tale of woe for the benefit of any fellow travellers to Vegas who might avoid the difficulties we encountered. . .

We booked a room in Vegas at Circus, Circus, (named by the Department of Redundancy Department) through hotels.com because it was said to be close to the convention center (not really) and was one of the recommended hotels for Jack’s conference. Plus the roller-coaster and clown shows sounded fun for the kids. And, the price for a three-star hotel was pretty good.

Question: have you ever been to a three-star hotel that didn’t have a coffee-maker in the room? Shoot, have you been to any kind of hovel in 2005 that didn’t have one?

Well, Circus, Circus doesn’t. But I get ahead of myself.


First, we pull up to check in and the Penta-Posse is thrilled. A huge clown towers over the front entrance — the place looks really nice. Clowns aren’t exactly mine and Jack’s taste, but, hey, this wasn’t about us. . . Jack and I were patting ourselves on the back. This was going to be a real cap to our grand western adventure.

We completely missed the first sign of our impending doom. Jack came back with the keys and said that they actually had several buildings and we were over in “the manor.” Okay. We set off with a sense of expectation.

Woah. Big time not okay. Behind the sparkling high-rise of the main hotel, was the dingy, dark, low-rise “manor.” We stepped over trash on the sidewalk as we walked in.

Entering the room, the first thing I noticed was a general sense of decay and a musty smell; then, the hand-prints on the window. Next, I gingerly walked over and tested the mattress. Springs. In the bathroom, cigarette burns on the vinyl.

After the manager and I went two rounds — the first time, he told me they were “sold out” — we finally got moved over to the “skyrise.”

It was definitely better – at least we’d moved up to marble in the bathroom — and at first I thought our troubles were over. We had a good laugh with the nice bell-man who helped us move. “So they stuck you in the barracks?” he said, “I’m so sorry.” He said everyone on the staff was embarrassed by the bait-and-switch.

But midway through the night, I realized Jack and I were listing to the left. In the morning I looked under the bed and discovered a broken bed frame, cigarette butts and a beer can (not ours).

Feeling increasingly tense, I wanted to get a post up quickly before we headed to the conference. The “in-room internet access” turned out to be low-rent internet through the cable television. I headed to the business center to use their $15/hour internet access.

While online, I read up on the Schiavo crisis; coming back to the room, I wanted to check in on the television coverage. No such luck. We had two channels devoted to in-house Circus, Circus propaganda programming and one news channel — CNN headline news. Great.

Now, time was a-wastin’ and we needed to get to the conference. But everyone was hungry. Hey, we could pick up a pizza on the way out. Noooooo. . . .as it turns out, you can order take-out pizza, but you cannot call ahead so that it will be ready when you get there.

Later that night, after a long day, we’d promised the kids a pay-per-view movie. Do you think that worked? Only after forty-five minutes and an engineer visit later. I felt trapped in a very unfunny farce.

Finally, next morning, time to leave. I got up and went out to get everyone coffee and breakfast. Stood in line for forty-five minutes. No kidding. Came back and check-out time was bearing down. No big deal; just call and ask for a little more time.

Hah! Every hour over the 11:00 check-out costs an extra $10.

As I checked out, I asked to speak to a manager, but the woman at the front desk said she hadn’t seen him. No wonder.

To be fair, the woman who checked me out took off the mandatory local phone usage fee — I never used the phone — and her kind and helpful attitude, like the women I got to know at the business center, was typical of the staff people we met at Circus, Circus. They all seemed caught in the clutches of horrible management, counter-productive systems and oppressive policies. The woman at the front desk said a colleague had spent the morning in tears after dealing with a woman from England who had booked a room through Expedia and was none too pleased to arrive in America and discover the elusive charms of “the manor.” It was a fascinating first-hand lesson in the importance of good management in any business enterprise.

In conclusion, let me sum up with two words: Hampton Inn! Clean, bright, attractive rooms, internet that works instantly both in the rooms and in the lobby, nice televisions, hot breakfasts, heated pools. They are terrific properties and I highly recommend them for families. The one we are in tonight even has pool toys for the kids.

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