|Las Vegas demands the suspension of
disbelief - the moment you start to take it seriously you miss the point. It's
glitz for its own sake, over-the-top hustle and flash as means and end. It's
crowds of people in polyester pantsuits, big hair and gold chains, staring at
neon signs and spinning lemons like deer hypnotized by headlights. Not that
Vegas doesn't have a serious side: billions are at stake on the craps and
blackjack tables and in the battle of the theme parks - but you're given enough
distractions to ignore it - until you lose. If you tire of pulling the handle
on that one-armed bandit and drinking watered-down (albeit free) screwdrivers,
the surrounding area has some of the region's most beautiful scenery.
(metropolitan area - 2,027,828)
Area: 85 sq mi (215 sq
Elevation: 2175ft (650m)
Zone: Pacific Time (GMT minus 8 hours)
Telephone area code:
(the name is Spanish for "the meadows") was originally a camping ground for
travellers making their way across the desert from Sante Fe to California.
There was no real settlement until 1885, when 30 young men were sent by the
government to Las Vegas to "build a fort there to protect immigrants and
Indians and teach them how to raise corn etc." But they didn't stay long and
the area remained uninhabited until it was announced that a new railroad was to
be built through Las Vegas to the south-west. On May 15, 1905, a land auction
was held and in two days 2000 lots of land were sold at a total price of
$265,000. Soon a huge tent city had grown up, and these tents provided Las
Vegas's first saloons and gambling houses.
The city of Las Vegas,
population 3,000, was incorporated in 1911 and that was 32 years after Reno
achieved that status 400 miles to the north. The most notorious section of Las
Vegas was called "Block 16," an anything-goes red-light district in the
downtown area. Dating back to 1905, Block 16 and its gambling parlours were
ahead of their time; Gov. Fred Balzar didn't legalize gambling until 1931. But
that was a mere formality. Gambling, in fact, had been legalized once before,
in 1869, and then outlawed in 1910.
In 1931 the state
of Nevada legalized gambling, but though Las Vegas had its share of small
gambling houses there were no luxury hotels or casinos until 1941. On April 3
the El Rancho opened with 63 rooms and on Oct 30, 1942, the Last
Frontier with 107 rooms.
Also in 1931 came the Hoover Dam project, the
biggest single kick to the southern Nevada economy. The project, embraced as a
part of President Franklin Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration, was seen
as a way to create jobs and bring water to the southwest desert. Over a
four-year span, this massive federal project brought 5,000 workers and a
veritable cascade of money into the area. . For Las Vegas, the damming of the
mighty Colorado River was indeed a watershed event. The Hoover Dam provided the
first reliable source of water, along with cheap electricity to meet the
growing city's prodigious demands. It left the region with a recreational jewel
called Lake Mead and a quaint suburb named Boulder City.
The first real
resort opened in 1946. In that year the notorious New York gang leader and
speculator Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel opened a club called the Flamingo on what
was then a three-mile desert strip between Las Vegas and McCarren airport. The
desert didn't worry him, he filled 40 acres of it with imported lawns, cork
tress, live flamingos and artificial ponds. He was either going to be a
visionary or a crank.
Siegel's reign in Las Vegas was short-lived. A
year after the opening of the Flamingo he was murdered and it wasn't long
before his successor, Gus Greenbaum, suffered the same fate. Alarmed by the
evidence of the underworld's power in Las Vegas, the Gaming Control Board
decided that it was high time they took firmer control. They made it a law that
all casino owners must apply to the State Tax Commission for a
state matters it is interesting to note that the Nevada Test Site is
located about 65 miles northwest of the City of Las Vegas. The Test Site
encompasses 1,350 square miles of desert and mountainous terrain. The site is
surrounded on three sides by the 4,120 square-mile Nellis Air Force Range,
which provides a substantial buffer between the site and surrounding
communities. Prior to the signing of the Limited Test Ban Treaty on August 5,
1963, which effectively banned atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, the
Department's predecessor agencies conducted more than 1,100 nuclear tests at
the Nevada Test Site.
But Vegas had been launched, and nothing
could check its progress. Once the Flamingo had proved itself, other hotels
began to spring up. In 1950 the Desert Inn was opened, in 1951 the Horseshoe
(Downtown), in 1952 the Sahara and the Sands, and by 1956 there were 12 luxury
hotels with casinos along the strip. In 1961 Vegas had 9,000,000 visitors and
notched up a gambling profit of $107m, it had been $50m in 1954.
By 1960, the city's population had
grown to 65,000. One of the newcomers was Howard Hughes. The eccentric
billionaire started buying up casinos, including the Desert Inn (where he
lived), Sands, Landmark, Silver Slipper, Castaways and Frontier. Paying top
dollar for the properties ($14 million for the Sands and $13 million for the
Desert Inn), Hughes sparked an intense round of speculation and opened the door
for corporations to get into the gambling business.
The MGM Grand was
built in 1973, and its 2,100 rooms made it the largest hotel in the world at
that time. With funding from the deep pockets of well-known corporations, such
as Hilton, and local start-ups like Circus Circus, gambling projects have been
getting bigger ever since. In 1990, Circus Circus opened the 4,032-room
Excalibur, which claimed the distinction of being the world's largest
hotel-casino. In 1994, a new MGM Grand was built with 5,005 rooms, and that
hotel recaptured the "world's-largest" honours.
In 1995 Clark County
surpassed the 1 million population mark, attracting newcomers at the rate of
4,000 to 5,000 a month. Tract-home developments sprawled toward the mountains,
giving Las Vegas the feel of a new Los Angeles.
One of the newest
chapters in Las Vegas history is being written by Steve Wynn. Arriving in the
late '60s from New Jersey, this son of an East Coast gambler is credited with
taking Las Vegas gaming to the next level. With financing from junk-bond king
Michael Milken, Wynn built The Mirage for $610 million and set new standards
for opulence and cash flow. His $1.3 billion Bellagio resort opened in October
of 1998 on the land once occupied by the Dunes Hotel.
Major hotels that opened recently include Mandalay
Bay, located at the south end of The Strip; Paris, located next to Bally's at
The Strip and Flamingo Road; and the Venetian, located centre-Strip where the
Sands Hotel-Casino once stood. The new Aladdin Hotel was opened late in 2000.
The World's Largest Casino is the mammoth structure of the Venetian,
the $2.5 billion, 12 million square foot casino, convention centre, holiday
resort and entertainment complex built on the site of the former Sands Hotel in
Las Vegas, which was destroyed in a spectacular implosion in 1996.
"must see" attraction on the strip for every Las Vegas visitor is the $550
million Stratosphere Casino Hotel and Tower which boasts the tallest
free-standing observation tower in the United States. The tower is the tallest
building west of the Mississippi River and is more than twice the height of any
other building in Las Vegas, standing 1,149 feet.
| Casino Hotels
|Most resort type casinos are situated on The Strip and
the older more basic casino/hotels are sited off the The Strip or Downtown
where Binion's Horseshoe is, along with the Golden Nugget and the railway
The links below will take you to the individual Casino/Hotel
website but for a comprehensive Vegas Guide and excellent room booking service
we recommend vegas.com.
Also good for room information/booking is vegas
|Some personal views
Aladdin Resort and
It's new and we like the layout. No longer do
you have to walk through smoky casinos to get to your room. It is more like any
other hotel; guest elevators can be reached from either side of the reception
Blows anything else out
of the water. There is no comparison; not even Paris, The Venetian, anything.
Smoke and noise-free casinos!!
Caesar's Palace Hotel and
One of the oldest hotels that has not been blown
up and has tried to survive among the latest Mega Resorts. Our advice? Skip it.
Although they tried to maintain it, they missed. The only redeeming quality is
the Forum Shops; designers from all over the world have set up shop, and it is
truly a shopaholic's dream.
Mandalay Bay Resort and
They tried -- it's new. A bit 'cheap' but there
is a sperate part known as "The Four Seasons Hotel" in Mandalay. They have
their own entrance on the side of Mandalay Towers. It's expensive but well
worth the service, rooms, excellent staff, and concierge, complete with its own
private pool area. Mandalay does have a cool bar called Rum Jungle, with 100
varieties of rum imported from all over the world, and Salsa dancing from 10pm
until dawn. Mandalay does offer up some of the best sports events around
Pretty on the
outside, but a mess where the staff and rooms are concerned, and there is no
concierge. Poor customer service.
The Tropicana Hotel and
On the other side of the spectrum... this hotel
is meant for a party! Always known as the bachelor party destination, it offers
up a fun pool, and decent enough rooms at more reasonable
| Night Life
|Vegas has plenty to offer the weary
traveller who just can't sleep in the thin altitude air. If it can be done then
you can find it for a price in Las Vegas.
There are night clubs that
are separate from the resorts and good ones in them. Adult clubs exist on the
Strip and Downtown and all the large resorts have show rooms with top
entertainers performing nightly. Top shows are imported from around the world
and play alongside home grown American acts. Bars and Cabaret Bars litter Vegas
like confetti. There are also Jazz and Blues venues and of course there is the
Hard Rock Hotel is you want institutional music. If you can drive then you can
get to the cinema or bowling alley.
If you want sophistication then you
will have to hunt a bit harder than the norm but the Venetian will take care of
Visit this site for up to the minute
information on everything that there is to do in sin city
|The Grand Canyon
National Park is the number one attraction that you must get to when you are in
L.V. Visit the Grand Canyon
National Park Service website. Grand Canyon National Park receives an
average of 5 million visitors a year; this means the park is crowded most of
the year. Expect heavy crowds during spring, summer, and fall months.
Alternatively take a plane trip through the Canyons.
The National Historic Landmark that is the Hoover Dam is also
popular. Visit the Hoover Dam
website. The Bureau of Reclamation started conducting tours through the Hoover
Dam and Power Plant in 1937. More than 1,000,000 visitors a year take the tour
and millions more drive across the dam. The dam is located 30 miles southeast
of Las Vegas on U.S. Highway 93 at the Nevada-Arizona border.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area (NRA) offers a wealth of
things to do and places to go year-round. Visit the
website. Its huge lakes cater to boaters, swimmers, sunbathers, and fishermen
while its desert rewards hikers, wildlife photographers, and roadside
sightseers. Three of America's four desert ecosystems--the Mojave, the Great
Basin, and the Sonoran Deserts--meet in Lake Mead NRA. As a result, this
seemingly barren area contains a surprising variety of plants and animals, some
of which may be found nowhere else in the world.
|Virgin-Atlantic has the only direct flight from
British Midland has the only direct flight from Manchester
(Thurs and Sun only).
British Airways go via Los Angeles.
United Airlines go via San Francisco to Las Vegas.
Airlines go via Chicago (our favourite non direct route).
Lines From Manchester via Atlanta.
US Airways From Manchester via
Continental Airlines From Manchester via New York
airport is close to the heart of Las Vegas, approximately a mile east of the
southern end of the Strip.
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