For my annual retreat, I had planned to take it to Atlantic City again as it’s a great summer destination. Alas, my terrible host once again told me “no problem, I’ll get it done,” and then didn’t reply for two weeks.
So instead, I decided to get max value for the Annual Retreat and that meant New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA). I called the property and spoke to a host who booked me for the next week.
The main advantage to taking the Annual Retreat in NOLA is receiving the $500 food and beverage comp as Reward Credits. Upon arriving, I checked my account and wala, 50,000 reward credits.
Be careful though, the casino rips you off when using your reward credits at the rate of 2 for 1. A $20 meal would run you 4,000 reward credits, or $40 worth.
I luckily discovered this the first time I ordered a burger, so instead I ate outside the casino and visited a grocery store and had meals in the room, and saved the 50k reward credits for my upcoming visits to Tahoe.
The rooms are sweet. Better than any room I’ve stayed in for Total Rewards. Good thing too since I spent a lot of time in it.
Annual Retreat Airfare
While you have the option of a host booking your airfare, the other option is getting freeplay credit for the price of the ticket. Well, getting help from my host seemed futile so the free play option it had to be.
Knowing NOLA’s video poker was much lower EV than other destinations, I thought of how to minimize my exposure.
I booked first class with American Airlines and applied for an AA credit card which offered 40k miles and a $100 statement credit. The $1140 ticket price got me almost halfway to clearing the bonus.
Of course, I will make sure to cancel that credit card before the first annual fee is charged.
Alas, I ran a little bad and pocketed only $960 from my $1140 free play. But with the credit card statement credit, it was only an $80 loss which I will have earned about 45,000 AA miles from. I had 20k already, so a South America vacation is likely in my near future.
NOLA Diamond Lounge
An advantage to having a Seven Stars card in NOLA is the ability to have 8 free cocktails per day anywhere in the casino, instead of only in the Diamond Lounge like other properties.
But I thought the lounge was nice and the best place to have the drinks anyway. The food selection for the 4pm handout was decent as well, though far from Atlantic City’s selection.
NOLA is a nice place to visit, especially if you like to drink. I don’t, but I made the rounds through the French Quarter and civil war sights like any respectable tourist.
I wouldn’t pick NOLA for the Annual Retreat if not for the 50k in reward credits. This provides so much flexibility and $500 in food comp can be difficult to get through for a solo traveler anyway.
The poker in NOLA was decent… if you like that live poker stuff. Though like most properties has gone to the $5+$2 rake structure.