Despite Sea Of Controversy, Paula Deen Cruises Will Sail On

Paula Deen Cruise – Alice Travel Inc, Facebook

As Paula Deen’s history of using racial slurs has come to light, the celebrity chef has been dropped by the Food Network, Caesars Entertainment, Smithfield, Walmart and Target. But despite a sea of controversy, it looks like two cruises boasting her name will set sail.

ABC News writes New Jersey-based Alice Travel has put together two Deen-themed cruises for 2014, one in January on the Celebrity Reflection and a second in July on the Royal Caribbean. Cruises with Deen have been organized for the past four years, and plans for 2014 were already underway before the controversy erupted – but if anything, the recent turn of events has made them even more popular.

“People are calling and saying they want to support her, even people who have never been on a cruise before. They’re saying they definitely want to go,” Phyllis Loverdi, vice president of Alice Travel, tells the news outlet.

On the Paula Deen Cruise Facebook page, a notice says the company expects both of the 500-capacity cruises will sell out. It’s a win-win for the cruise lines, too; they have no direction association with Deen since the cruises are marketed and sold exclusively through Alice Travel.

Harrah’s All Stage Pass offers 2 days of unlimited access to 17 Vegas shows

Almost every visit to Las Vegas revolves around three activities: gambling, eating/drinking and shows. Nobody ever needs any help finding ways to gamble away their money, and unless you are too drunk to locate a restaurant, you’ll also never go hungry in Vegas. Shows are a little more complicated . there are a lot of them and their pricing is often a bit steep (especially if you don’t know where to find discount tickets).

Vegas visitors can save a pretty decent chunk of their gambling budget by purchasing the Harrah’s All Stage Pass. This all-you-can-see show pass builds off the success of their buffet-of-buffets promotion, offering 48 hours of unlimited access to 17 Las Vegas shows.

The pass costs $119 and drops to $99 for members of their Total Rewards loyalty program. Once you’ve purchased your All Stage pass, you can walk up to any of the box offices for the shows and get yourself free tickets.

There are obviously a few caveats – the promotion does not include Barry Manilow, Cher, Donny & Marie or Penn & Teller – though you do get access to $40 tickets for those shows. And while not all the entertainers in the lineup may appeal to you, there are some very worthy shows on offer – including Anthony Cools, Rita Rudner and (if you are into that kind of thing) The Chippendales.

Also – you’ll really need to spend some time doing math and scheduling before dropping cash on the passes, because unless you manage to squeeze in as many shows as you can, you’ll end up paying more than you would if you found some discounted tickets.

To learn more about the shows on offer, the pricing and where to purchase the All Stage pass, head on over to the Harrah’s promotion page.

Living the high roller Diamond Life at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino

Last week, I spent a couple of days at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Now, I’ve been to this hotel quite a bit, but on this visit, I had been invited to enjoy the life of a “high roller” Diamond card member of the Harrah’s Total Rewards program.

The “Diamond Life” starts at the airport, where a limo driver is waiting to pick you up and drop you off at the hotel. To check in, I was able to completely skip the long lines, and walk into the diamond registration lounge.
About the Total Rewards program

Total Rewards is the Harrah’s loyalty program for their casino properties. Any time you spend money on entertainment, slots or tables, you present your loyalty card, and computers behind the scenes calculate how much of your money you are handing over to the casino. The program starts with gold, and grows through platinum to diamond and Seven Stars. Obviously, the more you spend, the higher your status will be. The program currently has over half a million elite tier members.


Gratuitous photo of the 24 layer cake at Striphouse – because nothing says luxury like 24 layers of cake.

The perks of the Diamond Program are quite generous – access to a dedicated diamond lounge with complimentary food and beverages, room comps and upgrades, gift shop discounts, free exclusive tournaments, bonus tier points and priority check-in.

The best part of the Total Rewards program is that it works between all Harrahs’s properties. In Vegas, this means you’ll be recognized at Caesers Palace, Bally’s, Rio, Paris, Planet Hollywood, Imperial Palace, Harrah’s, Flamingo and Bills Gamblin hall.

Indeed – Harrah’s went on a very impressive spending spree in Las Vegas, and ended up owning a large portion of the strip. Outside Vegas, there are 24 other properties where the card will work.

To earn the Diamond tier, you need to generate 11,000 “tier credits” in a year. You earn 1 credit for every $5 spent on the slots, but earnings at tables depend on how long you play, your average bet and the type of game. At tables, one of the hosts will monitor your play, and award points for your gaming.

Living the Diamond Life

Every part of the Diamond perks package is designed to make your life a little easier when you are at the casino. With your card, you don’t wait in long lines for the restaurant, you don’t wait for a cab and in many cases, you don’t pay for food.

Now, the card is not a complete free for all, but if you earned it the hard way (by gambling), you will end up with a substantial amount of free credits, which can be spent at many of the on-property restaurants. Depending on your spending pattern, your casino host can add all kinds of freebies, including free rooms, free meals and other perks. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to how much you spend with them. During my stay, I visited several of the Planet Hollywood restaurants, and my card covered all the expenses.

Of all the basic perks, the queue skipping one is probably the most valuable. During the 100 degree weather, there were at least 50 people in line for a cab, but as soon as I showed my diamond card, a cab pulled up and I was whisked away. Did I feel bad about all those people in the heat? Sure, but if I had spent enough money at the casino to earn Diamond status, I would have felt that I earned that perk – just like I don’t mind pre-boarding at the airport or checking in at the Platinum desk at my favorite hotel chain.

Comparisons with the airline industry

It is obvious that a lot of the marketing behind the Total Rewards loyalty program borrowed inspiration from the airline industry. When you are loyal to one airline, they’ll reward you with a couple of free miles and a shiny card. Once you fly a lot, you’ll board first, find yourself in a premium class cabin, get free drinks in the lounge, and get other basic perks that make the experience more enjoyable.

In the casino it is the same – the whole idea is to keep you happy with the program you picked, and to make sure nothing happens that would make you consider switching to a different property. The more you spend, the more love you’ll get back.

Are the perks worth it?

This one is impossible to answer – I’m not an active gambler, unless you count spending a couple of hundred on the slots. But I did speak to several of my friends who are Diamond members at Harrah’s, and they were quite clear – the perks of being able to use their status at more than just a handful of properties makes being loyal to this chain a worthy investment.

Bottom line is simple – if the perks and treatment make you feel worthwhile, the investment is worth it. Just like at the airlines, as long as your usual airline treats you well, you won’t ever consider switching to a different carrier.

Disclaimer: Harrah’s Entertainment paid for this trip and provided four days of Diamond status for the story. The opinions are entirely my own.

Got 20 grand looking for a destination? Play high roller at Caesars Palace!



Caesars Palace
and Discover America have teamed up to deliver the ultimate in weekend getaways – a high roller vacation package valued at $55,000.

The package has everything a high roller needs to feel pampered – private limo service from your front door to the airport, transportation on Harrah’s Entertainment private jet, 3 nights in a Pool Villa, butler service, a Cher concert with meet and greet, private poolside cabana, golf, dinners, spa treatments and more.

The price for this weekend of luxury? $20,000 – which is $35,000 cheaper than its normal price. Only one of these packages is available, and it isn’t completely impossible that when you read this, someone else snapped it up.

So, if the past 18 months of financial apocalypse didn’t leave you penniless, and you still have the cash for a $208 per hour vacation, check the offer and see whether you can still get in on the deal.

Daily Pampering: Inside the 4,300 square feet high roller suite at Paris Las Vegas

So – you just dropped $100,000 on the tables of Paris in Las Vegas? Well, you may in for a treat. Top tier high rollers at Paris may receive a room key for the Napoleon Suite. Located on the 31st floor of the hotel, this 4,300 square feet suite is a little bit of paradise overlooking the Las Vegas strip.

Five bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, a private bar, media/TV room, dining room, walk-in closets, a butler (with his own pantry) and a living room with grand piano. Best of all, two of the bedrooms are located at the end of a long internal hallway, so you can invite some friends over and send them off to their own corner of the suite.

Of course, the luxury doesn’t just end with the number of rooms – the entire place is decorated like a palace. Gold is everywhere (including the master bathroom) and the spa tub overlooking the Eiffel Tower.

The master bedroom features his and hers bathrooms – which are larger than some hotel rooms I’ve stuffed myself into in Europe. Of course, all rooms have their own phones, with instant access to the butler service and in-room massage therapy.

Walk-in shower / steam room.

60″ TV with DVD, VCR and even a cassette player – all controlled by a large AMX touch screen media remote. Sit back, have the butler whip up some cocktails, and enjoy the game.

What better way to start the day than with a nice bath – with a fantastic view of course. Notice the gold plated faucets – polished to perfection every single day!

Only the best gold bidet for the best customers of course – along with a gold plated trash can, gold plated toilet roll holder and a gold plated flusher for the toilet. Doing your morning tinkle never felt so luxurious.

In Vegas, you haven’t really “made it” until you trade in the buffet comp pass for a high roller suite, and a meal served in your own dining room. Of course, you can also request food from one of the many restaurants on property – which includes the amazing $777 burger from the Burger Brasserie.

The Napoleon Suite is not for rent – it is only available to important customers and celebrities at the hotel. And no – even though I begged and pleaded to spend the night in this room, I was politely shown the door. Still, it was quite an experience.

Want more? Get your dose of Daily Pampering right here.

Opening photo courtesy of Scott Roeben of the Pulse of Vegas Blog.

This trip was hosted by Harrah’s Entertainment. The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are 100% my own.

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