Harrah's Gulf Coast
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If you're approaching the casino on Beach Boulevard from the Interstate, watch carefully when you see the casino and there's a traffic light. While it looks like you should turn there, resist the urge and drive a little bit further where you will see the parking garage entrance on your left. This will take you both to self-parking and valet.
There is no special VIP check-in, but look for specially designated Seven Stars lines at the front desk.
You'll be asked for a $50 hold on your credit card – no cash accepted – and you'll have to sign an acknowledgement that it may take 7 to 10 days for the funds to be redeposited.
Security guards, bartenders, servers and other personnel go out of their way to greet you and be friendly. Self-parking in an adjacent garage is complimentary for all guests, but complimentary valet parking is available for Seven Stars cardholders.
All of the hotel's nearly 500 guest rooms have been completely renovated with upgraded bathrooms, new
plumbing and lighting fixtures, custom bedding and furniture, and 49”
wall-mounted high-definition televisions, among other enhancements.
The elevators, hallways and lobby also were upgraded.
Taking a cue from the predominant color in Harrah’s logo, purple is the primary accent color in the redesign.
Part of a $14 million renovation, the hotel upgrades complement the rebranding that includes new restaurants and a revitalized pool deck.
All rooms have refrigerators and coffee-makers, and many of the larger suites have Keurig coffee-makers with complimentary coffee pods. [Hear that, Caesars Palace? There is a charge for the pods there.]
Though the hotel faces the Gulf, it is not on the beach.
Harrah's pool is open daily at 8 a.m., but after 8 p.m., it's adults (21 and older) only. The pool closes at midnight, except on Fridays and Saturdays when it's open until 2 a.m.
Harrah's, probably one of Caesars smallest and least distinctive casinos, offers all the standard table games (and a separate Asian gaming area) and the usual slots. Complimentary drink service is relatively frequent; and dealers, slot attendants and servers all are extremely friendly and helpful.
Lb's Steakhouse has been replaced with Magnolia House by Kelly English. (Ask for Debra as your server.) In addition to the Flavors Buffet, Mix & Mingle and the Corner Café in the lobby are two other options for food. Harrah's also boasts a 24-hour Steak 'n Shake, right. Note, though, that while Reward Credits are accepted at Steak 'n Shake, it's 2:1, i.e., $5 = 1,000 Reward Credits.
The buffet is open for dinner daily, and serves lunch only on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Consequently, your options for breakfast are Mix & Mingle, the Corner Café – open 24 hours – which serves breakfast Monday through Friday from 7 to 10:30
a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7 to 10 a.m., Steak 'n Shake (see above) and room service which serves breakfast daily from 7 to 10:30 a.m.
The Blind Tiger on The Great Lawn is the newest addition to Harrah's dining options. The open-air bar and restaurant is patterned after its Bay St. Louis, Miss., location. A favorite among locals since its opening in 2013, The Blind Tiger offers "quality food and simple, yet unique, cocktails in a casual, waterfront setting," according to Harrah's. Reward Credits are accepted, but at 2:1, i.e., $5 = 1,000 Reward Credits.
Special Seven Stars Benefits*
Once each month, Bellissimo Spa & Salon offers Seven Stars cardholders up to $120 credit. Additional charges may be paid with comp dollars or cash. Three terrific massage therapists I've had are Paula, Jules† and Michael†. Guys, try the full-body sugar exfoliation. Alternatively, play two free rounds of golf at the Jack Nicklaus Grand Bear Golf Course each month (you can invite a guest once or play twice as a single).
There are four dedicated Seven Stars parking spaces (one handicapped) on the third floor in the self-park garage across from the entrance to the hotel and casino. (There also are 10 spaces reserved for Diamond cardholders.)
In addition to two free buffets daily, Flavors Buffet (formerly the Grand Buffet) offers Seven Stars cardholders and a guest, a complimentary grilled-to-order 8 oz. steak (a $9.99 value) at lunch and dinner. You won't always be told about this, so ask if you're not offered the steak(s). The beautifully seasoned and trimmed boneless rib-eye is cooked to perfection, but delivered almost as soon as you sit down.
Seven Stars and Diamond cardholders get cloth napkins at the buffet – a nice touch I wish all Caesars buffets offered.
Unlike some Caesars buffets, there is no special designated Seven Stars seating area, and servers tend to be overwhelmed with too many tables. When the buffet is busy, don't expect a coffee or drink refill without extra effort to signal your server.
Seven Stars Lounge
There is no Seven Stars Lounge, but the small comfortable Diamond Lounge is open only until 8 each evening. (Opening hours vary, but, during the week it's usually 4 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. and Sundays, noon.) There is a small bar seating six people. Premium liquors comprise the impressive bar selection. Food service is limited to assorted cheeses, crackers and fruit, and one hot item, e.g., catfish, chili cheese nachos, but, when it's gone, it's gone! Look for long-time bartender Kim. She makes not only terrific cocktails but great conversation.
Should You Choose This For Your Annual Retreat?
Two or more days here could get awfully boring. Other than the buffet, there is really only one decent restaurant (Magnolia House), and it just serves dinner.
When you check-in, be sure to verify that your $500 comp account has been set-up. Alcohol charged to the room counts toward your $500 in expenses, but sometimes requires a host to tweak your account in order for it to be counted. Gratuities for meals and spa services may be paid in cash, or charged to your room and settled at check-out with your credit card on file. Any taxes on food, liquor and spa services are waived, and not counted toward your $500 in allowable expenses. Best advice is to keep all your receipts until you settle your final bill.
If you don't drive, consider renting a car – even if you fly directly into the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, and especially if you fly into New Orleans' Louis Armstrong Airport. It's nearly a two-hour drive from New Orleans (not the one-hour that's on the casino's Web site or the announcements you listen to when you're on hold), but it's mostly all Interstate. While your Seven Stars package includes round-trip airport transportation, Caesars will not credit you the cost of round-trip limo service – even though, in many cases, a rental car would be less expensive. If you don't have a car, and want to visit area shopping and some of the other casinos, there is a Casino Hopper bus that runs Monday through Saturday every 15 minutes and costs $1.50 per trip (75¢ if you're 60 or older, or free if you're 91 or older) Exact change is required and a Medicare card or a Coast Transit Authority ID card is required for discounted fares.
*subject to change, revision or cancellation
†employee may no longer work at subject property or be unavailable due to his/her specific work schedule
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