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TR: Visit to Harrah's Council Bluffs

New York
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TR: Visit to Harrah's Council Bluffs

Hello there! If you, like me, came to this forum to find some information about a visit to Harrahs and all the details, you probably didn't find much information. So I will provide the info I learned by my own visit to the area for a brief three day stay.

How did I end up in Council Bluffs? I received an offer from CET. For those of you who don't know, CET is Caesars Entertainment, who run both Harrahs and Horseshoe casinos in Council Bluffs. My offer was airfare, accomodations, and free play during the balmy months of January-March. Since I had MLK day off from work, I thought this would be a great time to take advantage of the offer.

I called and made my ressies in late December. Unlike other junkets, I was given $300 per person for airfare. Any excess would have to be paid by me. That was fine. I actually sent a message via Facebook to Harrahs to get in touch with someone there who could help me with more info prior to my trip. I was contacted by the guest relations, who helped me figure out how to maneuver my trip.

Upon a late arrival into Omaha (which I did not realize was just across the river from Iowa), I was expecting to be met by a Harrahs driver. I couldn't find him, but I did find the Harrahs shuttle and its driver, Nathan. Nathan gave us a quickie tour as we made our way through Omaha, across the river and onto Harrahs property.

Checkin was quick and we were placed in a lovely room on the 10th floor. My view at night, looked to be a baseball field, which I later learned was the outdoor concert venue. Beyond, there was a view of the icy river and the Omaha skyline.

8 replies to this topic
New York
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1. Re: TR: Visit to Harrah's Council Bluffs

After dumping my jacket and luggage in the room, I proceeded to go downstairs to the casino. It was much smaller, much darker than I had anticipated, but I was willing to work with it. FIrst stop, the Total Rewards desk, where I received my coupons for $150 in slot play. I did like seeing the beverage stations, where you could help yourself to free coffee, tea and soda.

I put my first coupon into an older favorite machine called Wicked Winnings. Upon two spins, I got an entire screen of ravens and the machine started singing. I had won a jackpot! My first ever, winning a total of $4800 on a $2 spin. The slot attendant was super quick and he took my information for the necessary paperwork. The state of Iowa took their cut of 5%, and I was promptly paid in cash.

Never enough, we played well into the wee hours. I found the beds in the room to be very comfortable and I slept through until late morning. By that time, we just had to wait a little bit before the Diamond Lounge opened.

The Diamond Lounge is hidden down the hall behind non-descript doors. The food provided was make your own tacos! There was also chicken soup and salads, and the requisite sweets. The far windows looked out over the "baseball field", which I found out was the concert stage. While there, I also made reservations for the next evening at 360 Steakhouse, located on the 12th floor of the hotel.

The casino host had made arrangements for us to go to Kimberly Spa on 144th street for massages. Located in a strip mall, the spa itself is very warm and inviting. The services and their staff were wonderful. We rode the Harrahs' suburban both ways, very comfortable and the driver was so nice. Instead of returning to Harrahs, we asked to be dropped off at the sister property, Horseshoe.

New York
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2. Re: TR: Visit to Harrah's Council Bluffs

Upon checkin, I had received a welcome packet with two pins in them. I was instructed to wear the pins, as they were a symbol of privilege on property. The pin itself is three 7's in red. This pin became my best friend.

Horseshoe casino is far larger, brighter, livelier than Harrahs. Lots of machines in various denominations. We played for a while until 5pm, when we ventured to the GM Club, which is a club more exclusive than the Diamond Lounge. Inside, it is warm and dark, very similar to a hunting lodge feel. Drinks and food are complimentary, and the food was extraordinary! We had petite sirloin with blue cheese, fried shrimp, fingerling potatoes, Caesar salad, and various desserts. It was nice to be able to relax in relative quiet after the insanity of the gaming floor.

We proceeded to play until 7pm, when we caught the shuttle back to Harrahs. Harrahs was having a promotion of giving away a trip to Hawaii that I was hoping to win. (I didn't). But we enjoyed an evening gambling and having drinks ordered from the machines, which I found quite convenient. They do have last call, so make sure you get your drinks before 2 am.

New York
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3. Re: TR: Visit to Harrah's Council Bluffs

Saturday we awoke early and headed down for brunch at the Buffet. There was relatively little customers at 10 am, but the food was fresh and plentiful. One of the better buffets I've been at. The service was impeccable and everyone was friendly.

We had another spa appointment at one, this time at Urbane Spa, located near the Old Market. I was looking forward to exploring the Market a bit, but the winds were just chilling and made sight seeing quite difficult. We did have lunch at Michael's cantina, which was some wonderful Mexican fare!

Urbane Spa was quite busy on a Saturday, and the reservations were for facials. I did not find the atmosphere very relaxing, but the treatment was wonderful, despite the hard sell of Aveda products afterwards.

Greg and his limo were waiting for us after the facials and again, we were brought to Horseshoe. I sat down at a slot I haven't seen before, the silver sheriff, and I hit for a good spin for $1,100. For those of you who gamble, taxes get taken out over $1200. so a win of $1100 was quite welcomed.

Again, we decided to eat at the GM club. We were so full from our dinner of pork chops with apple compote, au gratin potatoes and steamed corn, we ended up cancelling our dinner reservations at 360. We played until about 8 pm and took the Shuttle back to Harrahs.

The shuttle runs every half hour and meets at the West entrance. It also makes stops and nearby hotels, which is convenient. The ride itself takes about 10 minutes from one property to another.

I found my trip to be quite enjoyable. The slots were generous and plentiful and I found it easy to earn tier points quickly. In fact, I made diamond on this trip. Ordinarily, it takes 15K points to get to Diamond, but with some strong play, I was granted Diamond in less than 48 hours. It did help there were promotions for tier point multiplies, and on my second play my multiplier was 6X. Also, there were bonus points upon reaching a certain amount.

With this brief trip, I experience a level of service that was extraordinary. The people we met were so kind and accommodating. The food, excellent. It was nice to stay at a hotel that wasn't loud with drunken patrons at all hours. I ended up renewing my Diamond status and going home with money! I didn't touch my gambling budget once.

The only drawbacks would be if you're a table player, I am not. But there didn't seem to be many tables. There was a large poker room at Horseshoe. I would also say that when I asked for my play to be evaluated, they took my reward credits from my room charges, which I was assured would be returned to me. Other than that, I look forward to my next visit to Council Bluffs, hopefully during warmer weather, so I can explore some of the cultural offerings the Omaha area has.

Daytona Beach...
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4. Re: TR: Visit to Harrah's Council Bluffs

that was a wonderful trip! and I loved all the details .. and the big win right away!! woohoo.. and your other great hit right below tax level :) glad you had such a nice trip!

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5. Re: TR: Visit to Harrah's Council Bluffs

Thanks for the interesting report. Glad you had fun in Iowa and Nebraska.

I am sure you will report your $1100 win to the IRS as required, even though you did not receive a W-2G.

Des Moines, Iowa
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6. Re: TR: Visit to Harrah's Council Bluffs

Glad to hear about your trip! I grew up in the area and got a kick out of someone coming from NY to Council Bluffs.

All jokes aside, the Omaha/Council Bluffs area has a lot to do. That Old Market area you were near is a pretty cool place

Dublin, Ohio
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7. Re: TR: Visit to Harrah's Council Bluffs

Thanks for the report! Come back in the fall when it is beautiful. There are a couple of other Iowa casinos for you to check out as well.

Omaha, Nebraska
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8. Re: TR: Visit to Harrah's Council Bluffs

Nice Trip report. The new Harrah's land based casino is pretty weak - I doubt I will ever go there again. The Horseshoe is much nicer with some great food at Binion's steakhouse. The Ameristar boat is not bad either but does not have the nice feel of the land based Horseshoe.

If you are used to Las Vegas and other casinos just beware that the Council Bluffs casinos have the poorest payback on the machines of all the casino properties in Iowa ( according to the American Casino Guide and the State of Iowa commission ). Your winning percentage will be about 2% lower ( 90 versus 92%) than on the Vegas strip - which is not all that great to start with . So if you are looking for long play and loose slots - look somewhere else.

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