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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.

Population: 603,488 (metropolitan area - 2,027,828)
Area: 85 sq mi (215 sq km)
Elevation: 2175ft (650m)
State: Nevada
Time Zone: Pacific Time (GMT minus 8 hours)
Telephone area code: 702
Las Vegas (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.
The First Las Vegas Strip Hotel/Casino
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 license.
1957 Nuclear Test

On 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.
Howard Hughes
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.

The "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 station.

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 Also good for room information/booking is vegas hotelguide


South Strip
Rooms - 2567

Heart of the Strip
Rooms - 2275

Heart of the Strip
Rooms - 3003

Rooms - 380
US-866 678-2582
Caesars Palace

Heart of the Strip
Rooms - 2454
Circus Circus

North Strip
Rooms - 3000+

South Strip
Rooms - 4032
Flamingo Hilton

Heart of the Strip
Rooms - 3638
Golden Horseshoe

Rooms - 380
Golden Nugget

Rooms - 1907
Hard Rock Hotel

Off Strip
Rooms - 667

Heart of the Strip
Rooms - 2600
Hilton Las Vegas

Off Strip
Rooms - 3174
Imperial Palace

Heart of the Strip
Rooms - 2700

South Strip
Rooms - 4962
Mandalay Bay

South Strip
Rooms - 3735

Heart of the Strip
Rooms - 3000
Monte Carlo

South Strip
Rooms - 3014
MGM Grand

South Strip
Rooms - 5005
New York New York

South Strip
Rooms - 2035
Paris - Las Vegas

Heart of the Strip
Rooms - 2916

Off Strip
Suites - 2548

North Strip
Rooms - 2100

North Strip
Rooms - 1720

North Strip
Rooms - 1550

North Strip
Rooms - 1444
Treasure Island

Heart of the Strip
Rooms - 2900

South Strip
Rooms - 1963
The Venetian

Heart of the Strip
Suites - 3036
The Wynn

Heart of the Strip
Suites - 2,700
US-888 320-7123
Some personal views

Aladdin Resort and Casino
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 desk.

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 Casino
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 Casino
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 town.

Monte Carlo
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 Casino
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 prices.
 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 you.
Visit this site for up to the minute information on everything that there is to do in sin city Night Guide
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 Lake Mead 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 London.
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.
American Airlines go via Chicago (our favourite non direct route).
Delta Air Lines From Manchester via Atlanta.
US Airways From Manchester via Philadelphia.
Continental Airlines From Manchester via New York Newark.

The airport is close to the heart of Las Vegas, approximately a mile east of the southern end of the Strip.
Check on the weather in Vegas right now and for the next ten days - click here