Cool Stuff: USA Sevens Prep Notes

Dave McNamara serves up an awesome Prime Rib at the "M Hotel's" magnificent buffet...way down the I-15, one of the first major hotels as you drive in from Southern California. [photo: Barry Markowitz]

Those of you that have been there, done that...know that the USA Sevens is one huge party Fa'a Samoa style...oh yeah, with a bit of rugby thrown in.

I told organizer, Dan Lyle former USA Eagle rugby great, that now I can look forward to our Tuioti Mariner family reunions, since now they won't be so boring....instead of made up goofy family games...we get to go to watch Manu Samoa, NZ 7's, Fiji, Tonga and the Pomes (Prisoners of Mother England for you non Commonwealth Coolio's) play real cool games.

So you have your Hawaiian Airlines ticket from all the miles you accumulated or ai afu from your friends and family, and you are off to Las Vegas in early February. You land, your cousin picks you up at McCarran Intl. Airport. and immediately takes you to an all you can eat buffet. If you decide to pay to thank him for his kindness, take him to Terrible's Hotel & Casino.

Terribles is a cool blue collar place because the owner owns gas stations with quickie marts, car washes, etc. So he understands us regular kind mativa guys (in my case I am mativa, in your case your wife may have limited your budget to just three Vailimas before breakfast)

So since you are an in the know Coolio, you will go to the check-in desk on the ground floor and ask for a free "Player's Card."

With card in hand, you amble up the escalator to the 2nd floor buffet and cafe. The buffet has fish, spaghetti, salads, fruits, desserts, roast beef, rolls, and lots of accessories to perfect your culinary assemblage. Guess what? You only paid $8.95 per person with your "Player's Card". If they opened one in Pago you know they would be out of business in a week.

So feel free to pillage the buffet for all you and your cousin can without guilt...they will just keep loading up the trays with more and more.

Next, where are you going to stay? You could hang with your cousin, Frank Manumaleuga, George Tuioti, or that palagi guy you met on the plane... but then you find out that you are just in the way. Their wives are not happy when you come back oga waving your Samoan Flag, with your new Kiwi mates that want to drink Koko Samoa and play suipi all night.

So try some of our unofficial Samoa News hangout hotels.

The Tuscany on Flamingo, www.tuscanylv.com,, a couple blocks off the main Strip action, is usually between $42-$69 with a $14 "Resort Fee". You may have seen my recent photo of the the icicle frozen Tuscany water fountain....heck...why am I paying a resort fee? Not using the pool, the jacuzzi. I returned this week, dropped my camera equipment in the room, and dashed down to the hotel's Cantina for a therapeutic $4.95 "House Margarita", and a $14.95 "Seafood Chile Relleno."

Other options in this price range are the older smaller rooms of the Golden Nugget, the Stratosphere, and the California Hotel. The Tuscany has an incredible 600 square feet...which translates into two usos one (only hopefully) on each of the big queen sized beds, and the rest of THE cousins on the floor, couch, comfy chair, and bathtub....until they find out that there are 11 of your cousins and mates in the room with you and they charge you extra or toss you.

So if you go legit like us, you will love the fresh tasteful decor, the modern flatscreen TV, the kitchenette (no stove, microwave on request), the desk, spacious seating area, and free parking. Front desk, concierge and bell captains provide top notch service...no better at three times the price.

My vote is the Tuscany, unless Sepp Steffany is your mate and you end up at the Venetian, Mandalay Bay, or some glitzy Wynn property.

So you have already fa'a lata'ed your cousin at Terrible's $8.95 buffet, so it’s his turn at the "M Hotel" buffet. Breakfast $10.99, lunch $15.99, Dinner $23.99, www.themresort.com/dining//dining.html. Free beer and wine and nobody told me? An adjacent showroom _with a huge full wall sized screen showing food prep, if you are a Coolio wanna be "Foodie."

Dave McNamara, a delightful employee, sliced me a slab of Prime Rib, rare fa'a manu style. Got heaps of crabs, mussels, Chinese basics, Italian, salads, ribs, rolls, ice cream, desserts, shrimp, etc. The food was excellent because it tasted cooked to order, rather than bland institutional rubbish. I hear rumors of discount coupons...so go online and investigate.


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