12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
For whatever reason Las Vegas has always been in the news over the last 50 years. Whether it be the unlikely named Bugsy Siegal who built the original Flamingo resort in the barren desert wastelands of Nevada in 1946, and was murdered a year later, Frank Sinatra and the ”Rat Pack”, or the recent proposal for new gaming laws in the UK, the ”City of Sin” gains exposure. Nevada has seemingly unrestricted gambling rules. The UK”s secretary of state for culture, media and sport Tessa Jowell wants to bring in new regulations permitting huge British casinos open 24 hours a day with hundreds of slot machines paying unlimited prizes up to one million pounds.
However Las Vegas is not all about gambling. In fact it is a huge leisure resort, America”s and the world”s largest bringing in 25m visitors a year, the home to over one million people.
Recognising the appeal of Las Vegas in June 2000 Virgin Atlantic Airways introduced a twice weekly non-stop service from Gatwick, which has grown significantly and will soon go to five per week. bmi has now become the second airline from Europe offering scheduled flights with a three times weekly service from Manchester. bmi will quickly profit from the proposed new regulations, nearby Blackpool certain to become a British gambling centre and of course Manchester the star of the north as far as night life is concerned. Both airlines are benefiting from executives and entrepreneurs travelling from either end.
If you want outstanding shows, top rate children”s activities, are into nature, or just want to return with a nice suntan after sitting besides the pool Las Vegas is still for you. However unlike the seventies and eighties when all the promoters wanted was to get you to the gambling tables LAS is no longer cheap. The restaurants are of top quality and offer extremely varied cuisines but the prices you pay, whilst not up to London extravagance, cannot be said to be bargain basement. If your need is to see Tom Jones, Elton John, Celine Dione and the like Las Vegas is for you. Mind you the Canadian nightingale comes with a premium. $338 (”182) for two including taxes. Most of the world”s great music stars still appear from time to time. You can actually get into Mama Mia, not easy in London. The superb acrobatic show Mystere at Treasure Island costs $95 (”51) for the best seat. However the pirates fight, which you can watch from the sidewalk, comes for free, as does the spectacular water ballet outside the Bellagio every 15 minutes in the evening (see above). On any given day, Las Vegas offers at least 50 different casino shows, in addition to numerous lesser shows at various bars, nightclubs and theatres around town.
Las Vegas has some of the world”s finest and biggest hotels and it would be impossible to comment on them all in a short piece. The Venetian has an indoor canal and (electrically) driven gondolas, whilst the Luxor looks like a huge pyramid and New York New York is dominated by the Statute of Liberty outside and Broadway within its cavernous interior. ABTN recently stayed at the MGM Grand 5,000 plus rooms. More than 170,000 square feet of gaming area, a 17,000 seater arena, 20 restaurants, Paul Anka in concert at that time. In a glass cage (and brought in every day from a local game farm) MGM”s famous lions roared at children and adults alike. Full marks to MGM in the way they are presented and looked after. They are just as beautiful, and at the same time vicious, as their cousins in Africa. We also visited the Four Seasons only 425 guest rooms situated on the top four floors of the Mandalay Bay (36 to 40) with gambling banned. Very reserved. It is a bit like comparing the Princess Caribbean cruise liner, 3,000 passengers, and Silversea, 300 passengers. Each caters for its own market very smoothly. Checking in at the MGM Grand was easy and everyone was so friendly. The elevators (sorry lifts) were just near the lobby, around a central core in four banks of six. One never waited for more than a minute or so. The rooms are large, American style but no coffee and tea was provided. You must not linger in the suite. It”s the gaming machines they want you by. Checking out was very easy. Automated. MGM Grand want to come to the UK and are serious. They will make some British operators look like amateurs.
One hotel that you cannot visit although it is only ten years old is the Desert Sands. It”s on its way to oblivion, replaced by Steve Wynn”s Las Vegas Wynn. Expected to be ready for April 2005 the gold coloured 50-storey tower with 2,716 rooms and suites is being developed by the man who created the Bellagio, The Mirage and Treasure Island. At 62, and not short of a penny, he has put together an hotel that will set new standards including an18-hole championship quality golf course actually within the downtown confines of the city of Las Vegas.
If you want to get out of Las Vegas and are into golf there are 16 courses locally with rates from $30 to over $250. The Grand Canyon is a nearby attraction, 45 minutes away by helicopter (and you get to see the Hoover Dam and a ride over The Strip) to a whole day out including a ride down the Colorado River and a visit to a ranch with an opportunity to demonstrate your equine skills. Papillon Helicopters operate turbine powered five passenger Aerospatiale Squirrels. The secret to keeping cool in Las Vegas during the hot summer months is a trip to Mount Charleston and Lee Canyon, located just 45 miles north west on US-95. The contrast between the mountains and the desert is amazing. As you drive into the mountains you notice two things: it gets cooler and the environment around you changes from desert to forest. In 20 minutes, you can go from a 105 degree desert to an Alpine forest. Mount Charleston and nearby Lee Canyon are part of the Spring Mountain Range, which forms the west side of the Las Vegas Valley. Located in the Toiyabe National Forest, Mount Charleston stands at 11,918 feet and offers a tranquil contrast to the excitement and high energy of Las Vegas.
With $100 now only costing ”53.86 (or E76.80 - with OAG”s Worldmate PDA you have any conversion at your figure tips ” more in a future edition) Las Vegas represents good value. If the dollar were to get more expensive LAZ would not seem such a bargain. Now is the time to go. A three night trip is practical, four nights a little more so, and with a week you might be able to just scratch the surface.