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Imperial Palace -- Don't Expect Any Celebrity Chefs Here, Bunky

OK, we probably all know what they say about the ownership of Imperial Palace, and I for one am convinced it's true. The Gaming Commission in Nevada is not exactly an activist one, and if they fine someone for their evil deeds, then I would tend to assume that they're evil indeed. But if perchance you play to a wise man once advised me, "I see no sin in relieving the bad guys of their money."

On a less somber note, the Imperial Palace is known the world over as that place across from Caesars and the Mirage where you can actually bet $50 or $100 a hand and they treat you as nice as someone betting $500 or $1000 a hand across the street. I didn't bet low enough to test it, but the host's card proclaimed that if I gambled only $100 a hand for 4 hours, I would qualify for a free king suite, food and beverage at all restaurants including room service, spa services, show tickets, and limo. Let's check out their claim.

Here's the living room of a king suite:

And here's the infamous "luv" tub:

I will confess to being disappointed to learn that, though my "luv tub" could seat four participants and there was a mirror overhead and also mirrors on 2 sides to view the shenanigans, it was still just a tub and not a jacuzzi.

The bed had a mirror overhead as well:

The kitchenette had more area than many but no microwave or refrigerator.

And here's their rather undistinguished pool area:

All told, my king suite had 3 telephones, including one by the toilet, a "luv" tub which is NOT the same as a hot tub, 2 nice TVs, but no room safe, microwave, or fridge. Also, they do not own their own limos, so even though you may receive limo service as part of your comp, don't just drift down there expecting a limo to be on hand. They need to reserve them in advance!

And what about the food? I will confess that I didn't have the opportunity to try either of the buffets, because I feel that buffets kill your appetite for dinner. So I have no idea if the buffet is as bad as the wits would have it or if it is indeed, as Casino Player magazine claims, the most improved buffet in Vegas. However, I didn't totally slack off on the job. In the interest of fair reporting, I consumed several free meals and bottles of wine in Embers (their gourmet steakhouse), Ming Terrace (Chinese), and Seahouse (see if you can figure it out). I didn't have a bad meal. The food is traditional but well prepared. Alexander Stratta didn't come out and talk about how hard it is to stick to his diet while preparing $300 tasting menus but somehow I managed to survive. :-) If you like good old steak and seafood or good old-fashioned Cantonese dishes, I think you will be pleased with the restaurants and with how easily you will get comped.

Also, the gift basket was notable for having a nice Korbel champagne instead of the nasty zinfindel that is infesting so many gift baskets recently.

To be honest, as of mid-2001, I'm a little ambivalent about how to rate the Imperial Palace. I have to say that despite their questionable reputation, the Imperial Palace in Vegas is currently one of the friendliest places on the central strip, which simply wasn't true two years ago. It's amazing how fast things can change. In 1999, I would have rated Caesars as the friendliest, but Hilton bought them out and brought in that attitude of "we hate anyone who wins money," while IP management has really turned around their formerly negative attitudes 100 percent. I believe that the IP really wants your business and is willing to go the extra mile to get least as of the time of this writing!

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