New York New York

New York New York, Las Vegas. Kodak DC-260 photo by Alex Forbes

A couple of weeks ago we splurged on a weekend in Las Vegas. I had really intended to note a couple of surprising and delightful things. If you visit Vegas and don’t mind a bit of a spree, we felt pampered and treated like genuinely important customers at New York New York. When we go back to Las Vegas, and we will, New York New York will be my first choice, and I’ll go further and recommend it. Here’s why.

Now, as an old Stat 101 student, gambling casinos and the luck of the draw have no fatal attraction for me. I know the odds. I’m perfectly content if I can manage to stretch a $10 roll of quarters for half an evening on the slots. As casinos go, I’d be hard pressed to say whether I actually preferred New York New York to the Luxor or to Excalibur.

New York New York, the hotel: you would of course expect the rooms to be first cabin, and they are. Service and amenities are tops. What impressed me was finding that the level of service is a couple of cuts above what you find elsewhere. From the doorman to the desk clerks on the way in, to the cashiers and employees in the in-house shops, people are genuinely glad to see and help you. They cheerfully go out of their way to assist.

At the NYNY Newsstand, which is also the local sundries resource, I had to explain that I was nursing a barbeque burn which had become an open wound, and did they have NeoSporin, Band-Aids and hydrogen peroxide? The motherly clerk actually escorted me over to the right shelf and showed me they stock all those items, explaining that her bandaids had the antibiotic built-in.

As a former retailer, I know that good service costs nothing but the paybacks are incalculable. I was hooked.

New York New York is best described as a city within itself. With four distinct side-by-side hotel buildings with countless shops, a huge full-floor casino and even a Harley-Davidson dealership (in name, at least), the idea is that you might never need to leave the hotel. Coming down the escalator into the casino, the eye catches a panorama consisting of about four indoor city blocks … the most vast indoor space I have ever seen. If this idea of never leaving still sounds confining (we caught a dinner show at Excalibur), it is nonetheless conveniently tempting.

“America”: the main NYNY captive eating establishment turned out to be the biggest surprise. Perhaps I am too jaundiced and cynical. Red, white and blue everywhere (even employee neckties), veiled exploitative references to the sometimes overly reflexive patriotism associated with “911”, a gigantic cafeteria-style seating arrangement, floor walkers with wireless headsets … is this a formula for cafeteria-style service?

The place is huge. They can seat 200, easily. Service is not “fast” but we found it very reliable, AND it is faster than other restaurants we patronize. Once they connect with the customer, they stay connected and they deliver great food and service.

The servers are animated, intelligent, personable and friendly. The menus offer a greater variety than Carrows. The food, it turns out, is fantastic and served piping hot. Floor walkers come by to make sure everything is OK. At first I cynically assumed this was the same thing as you get elsewhere, a meaningless show of concern where no intent at followup is actually intended. At “America”, they follow up. The headsets are a great idea.

We ate there three times. All three times were a delightful dining experience. The last time, at breakfast, a different employee singled us out of a crowd of perhaps 150. I noticed her name badge was brass and had the word “Manager” on it. She stopped by to make sure our breakfast was everything we hoped for (it was wonderful), and to thank us for our repeat business. In other words, she knew which of her customers were returning patrons!

You would expect all this at the “Top Of The Mark” (Mark Hopkins) on Nob Hill … but we didn’t expect it in Las Vegas. We’ll be back, and we’ll look no further than New York New York as our home for the duration of our stay there.

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