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The City Of Glitter And Glamour

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       WEEKEND GETAWAYS - Friday, January 4, 2008
    Make The Most Of Your Vacation - From Coast to Coast!


Greetings Getaway Lover,

Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas! The glittery, glamorous 
Strip, from Mandalay Bay up to the Stratosphere, is the 
heart of the city, and the hub of the action is at the 
Flamingo Road intersection. Here's where you find Paris, 
Bellagio, Caesars Palace, and the Flamingo. You can walk 
from this area to the Mirage, Treasure Island, and the 
Venetian, though it's a bit of a schlep to walk all the 
way to Wynn. Anything north of Wynn (the New Frontier, 
Stardust, Westward Ho, Circus Circus, and the 
Stratosphere) is out of the way from the rest of the 
Strip; because this area doesn't have much going on, 
you'll probably end up taking cabs or driving to the 
middle of the Strip. The southern part of the Strip, in-
cluding Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Excalibur, New York-New 
York, and MGM Grand, has a lot more going for it. It's 
easy to get around (there's a small, free monorail that 
runs from Mandalay to Excalibur, with a stop at Luxor) 
and most casinos have restaurants, shopping, nightlife, 
and shows to rival those at the casinos mid-Strip. 

Happy Trails,

Jan

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--DESTINATION: Las Vegas

Off the Strip. Though some people would never dream of 
staying off the Strip, staying a few blocks to the east 
or west (along Paradise Road, which runs parallel to the 
Strip, or on Flamingo Road west of I-15) does have its 
advantages. Some of the coolest casinos -- Hard Rock, the 
Palms, and Rio -- are all off the Strip. Because these 
properties want to keep you on-site (so that you won't 
take your money elsewhere), they have great restaurants 
and nightlife, player-friendly rules and good payouts in 
the casinos, and lively atmospheres. Other properties, 
like the Westin Casuarina and Renaissance Las Vegas, 
provide calm, serene settings -- something you don't find 
a lot of on the Strip. The downside to staying off the 
Strip? Staying off the Strip. At some point you'll prob-
ably want to get yourself over there, which means you'll 
be taking cabs if you don't have a car. That said, this 
area is far less congested than the Strip -- for instance, 
if you need to get to Wynn Las Vegas, sometimes it can be 
more difficult, depending on traffic, to get there from 
Mandalay Bay than from the Palms. 

Downtown. It's obvious that the area where Fremont Street 
meets Las Vegas Boulevard has seen better days: hotels and 
casinos tend to be older (but less expensive) than those 
on the Strip, and there are far more street hawkers. The 
whole area is just a bit rough around the edges. But don't 
write downtown off completely. It's home to the Fremont 
Street Experience (a light show centered around the world's 
largest electric sign), which is a nice free activity, and 
there's also a developing arts district, with art galleries, 
restaurants, and bars slowly cropping up. 

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--WHAT TO DO AND SEE:

Bellagio Conservatory 
Garden/Arboretum, Center Strip 
 
The flowers, shrubs, trees, and other plants in the 
atrium are fresh and live, grown in Bellagio's 5-acre 
greenhouse. They change each season. www.bellagio.com. 
COST: Free. OPEN: Daily 24 hrs. 

Address: Bellagio, Las Vegas, NV, USA
Phone: 702/693-7111 or 888/744-7687
 

Casino Legends Hall of Fame 
Museum/Gallery, South Strip 
 
Old Las Vegas chips, slot machines, photographs, post-
cards, movie posters, album covers, and entertainer 
contracts and paychecks are just a few examples of what 
you can see here. The Hall of Fame has the world's 
largest collection of Nevada casino memorabilia. You'll 
also find a mock-up of a showgirl's dressing room and 
numerous video monitors running documentaries about 
casino implosions, celebrities, hotel fires, and organ-
ized crime figures. Look for free-entry coupons in the 
casinos. www.tropicanalv.com. COST: $4. OPEN: Sun.-
Thurs. 8 AM-9 PM, Fri. and Sat. 8 AM-midnight. 

Address: Tropicana, Las Vegas, NV, USA
Phone: 702/739-2222 or 800/634-4000
 
  
CBS Television City 
Local Interest-Sight, South Strip 
 
Screen potential new shows for parent company Viacom's 
networks, which also include Nickelodeon and MTV. A 
survey following the 45-minute previewed program lasts 
about 15 minutes, so you should expect to spend an hour 
total. www.mgmgrand.com. COST: Free. OPEN: Daily 10-10. 

Address: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV, USA
Phone: 702/891-7776 or 800/646-7787
  
------------------------------------------------------------

Other Places of Interest:

Cyber Speedway at Sahara 
Sports, North Strip 
 
Did you ever want to be a race-car driver? Well, here's 
your chance to get a taste of the action without having 
to risk your neck on a racecourse. First you get into a 
car about the size of an authentic stock car. Then you 
buckle your seat belt and prepare for a ride that 
simulates the driving experience by moving your car on 
hydraulic bases. Meanwhile, you see the speedway rush 
past and under you on a 20-foot wraparound movie screen. 
Each ride can feel different because you can customize 
your vehicle's horsepower, braking, transmission torque, 
and suspension. www.saharavegas.com. COST: $10, unlimit-
ed day pass (Speedway rides and roller coaster) $19.95. 
OPEN: Sun.-Thurs. 10-9, Fri. and Sat. 10-midnight. 

Address: Sahara Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV, USA
Phone: 702/737-2111 or 888/696-2121
 

Eiffel Tower Experience 
Viewpoint, Center Strip 
 
Built exactly to a half-size scale, the Las Vegas ver-
sion of the Parisian landmark rises above it all; the 
Eiffel Tower Restaurant is on the 11th floor, and three 
legs of the tower come right through the casino roof, 
resting heavily on its floor. A glass elevator ascends 
to the tower's small observation deck (a caged catwalk) 
at the 460-foot level. Although you can catch a better, 
bigger view of the Las Vegas Valley and have more walk-
around room at the top of the Stratosphere, the Eiffel 
Tower offers an incomparable view of the mid-Strip. The 
elevator only holds 10 passengers, so there is a wait 
to get to the top. But once up there, you can stay on 
the observation deck as long as you want. After dark, 
watch for the dancing-waters show at Bellagio, directly 
across the street. Wait 15 minutes until the next show 
begins to get an unobstructed view. www.paris-lv.com. 
COST: $9. OPEN: Daily 9:30 AM-12:30 AM weather permit-
ting. 

Address: Paris Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV, USA
Phone: 702/946-7000 or 888/226-5687
 

 Elvis-A-Rama Museum 
Museum/Gallery, North Strip 
 
The quintessential Elvis experience can be found at 
this spot on Industrial Road (behind the Fashion Show 
Mall). The must-see museum (for Elvis fans, at least) 
houses four of the King's cars, including his purple 
Lincoln and his 1955 Fleetwood limo. More than 2,000 
of Elvis's personal items are on display, including 
some of his jewelry, clothing, letters, and records. 
Every hour an Elvis impersonator croons to fans on a 
small stage; various impersonators cover different 
decades of his career. Buy Elvis clocks, key chains, 
pins, books, and other collectibles in the gift shop. 
Call the museum to arrange for a free shuttle pickup 
from any major hotel on the Strip. www.elvisarama.com. 
COST: $9.95. OPEN: Daily 10-6. 

Address: 3401 Industrial Rd., Las Vegas, NV, USA
Phone: 702/309-7200
 
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------------------------------------------------------------

--WHERE TO SLEEP:

Fiesta Henderson 
Under $50 to $110, Henderson 
 
A relatively small and inexpensive counterpart to the 
fancier casinos and resorts in Henderson, this Mexico-
inspired property is patterned loosely after a Latin 
American rain forest, tending to draw an older, value-
minded crowd that appreciates the compact layout. It's 
as economical as most downtown properties, but in better 
condition and without the dinginess that sometimes 
characterizes those facilities. 

Hotel. Having undergone a major renovation in early 
2005, this budget-oriented property that's part of the 
Station Casinos family stacks up well with any other in 
Vegas with such low rates. Rooms have Mexican-inspired 
beds with carved-wood headboards, tables with wrought-
iron chairs, and pastel prints of tropical seaside 
scenes. Bathrooms are strictly ordinary but decent in 
size and have tile floors. Rooms facing north take in 
the spectacular Strip skyline in the distance. A big 
draw here is the cheerful and enthusiastic staff -- 
it's a bit friendlier in these parts than is often the 
case in LV proper. The hotel's sister property, on the 
northwest side of town, offers a similarly good value. 

Casino. The southern Valley counterpart to the popular 
Fiesta Rancho replicates the Festival Buffet and 
Garduño's Mexican restaurant, and because it shares slot-
club points and privileges with its sister property, it's 
just as good a spot for video poker as the original Fiesta. 

henderson.fiestacasino.com. 224 rooms. In-hotel: 4 
restaurants, bar, pool, parking (no fee). AE, D, DC, MC, 
V. 

Address: 777 W. Lake Mead Dr., Henderson, NV, USA
Phone: 702/558-7000 or 888/899-7770
 

Flamingo Las Vegas 
$50 to $230, Center Strip 
 
Prior to 1946, when Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel imported 
Miami luxury to the desert, Las Vegas was still trying 
to keep alive the last little sliver of the Wild West. 
But Bugsy was intent on introducing a class joint to 
the new casino town, a place where his Hollywood buddies 
and Manhattan partners could gamble legally, where the 
lure of big-time entertainment would bring the beautiful 
people to play, and where the ordinary Joe would show up 
because he wanted to feel like a big shot. Although 
things didn't work out exactly as Bugsy planned, the 
Flamingo of today is the classy joint that he dreamed of, 
snazzy and elegant -- if relentlessly pink. The last 
remnant of the complex originally built by Bugsy Siegel 
was torn down, but a monument in the pool park pays 
respect to the Flamingo's notorious founder. 

Hotel. The Flamingo is pervasively pink, from the outside 
neon sign to the lobby carpeting to the in-room pens and 
vases. The pool, with little islands anchored by swaying 
palm trees and ample room for sunning and splashing, is 
one of the largest and prettiest in town. Although the 
Flamingo lacks the panache of some newer properties, it 
provides a first-rate menu of amenities and services, 
from tennis courts to a fine spa to a foliage-choked 
wildlife habitat replete with penguins, turtles, and -- 
you guessed it -- some 300 graceful Chilean flamingos. 
Only a lack of particularly noteworthy dining options 
disappoints. Accommodations, which were handsomely up-
graded and modernized in 2004 and offer plenty of room 
to kick back and relax, have cushy couches and armchairs. 
Those on the upper floors afford expansive views of the 
Strip. Bonus: the registration area is near the elevators, 
so you won't have to carry your luggage through the casino. 

Casino. Two large gaming areas have scores of tables and 
machines, but the casino is surprisingly plain-Jane: the 
sports book is proportionately small, and there is no 
live music lounge. Like other casinos run by corporate 
parent Caesars Entertainment, single-deck blackjack 
players will have to settle for a 6-to-5 payoff on 
"naturals" unless they're willing to bet $50 or $100 per 
hand. The Flamingo is not completely devoid of charm, 
however. Unlike many strip casinos, it's built right up 
to the sidewalk for easy pedestrian access, and the oval 
Bugsy's Bar is only a few feet from the tables, letting 
imbibers vicariously experience the action. The Flamingo 
as a whole is being gradually remodeled in order to 
expand its appeal beyond the older crowd with which it 
has long been associated. The Irish-theme casino annex 
next door -- the two-story O'Sheas Casino -- is the place 
for low rollers and small-time racing and sports bettors. 

www.flamingolv.com. 3,466 rooms, 176 suites. In-room: 
safe, dial-up. In-hotel: 8 restaurants, bar, tennis 
courts, pools, gym, spa, no-smoking rooms. AE, D, DC, 
MC, V. 

Address: 3555 Las Vegas Blvd. S, Las Vegas, NV 89109, 
USA
Phone: 702/733-3111 or 888/308-8899
Fax: 702/733-3353
 

Four Seasons Hotel 
Over $230, South Strip 
 
Although it occupies the top (35th through 39th) floors 
of the main hotel tower at Mandalay Bay, the separately 
managed, nongaming Four Seasons focuses on providing an 
intimate, quiet experience cushioned from the general 
casino ruckus in town -- it has its own check-in, 
express elevators, pool, health club and spa, recreation 
area, private parking, and posh restaurants, including 
the acclaimed Charlie Palmer Steakhouse. Guests here get 
to enjoy their own distinctive and exclusive hotel 
experience but can still partake of the rest of Mandalay 
Bay's first-rate facilities, shops, and restaurants. The 
Four Seasons offers a refined take on Mandalay Bay's 
vaguely South Pacific theme -- rooms have rattan and 
varnished-wood furnishings and overstuffed chairs with 
ottomans. The beautifully appointed marble bathrooms con-
tain deep soaking tubs and separate showers. All units 
have floor-to-ceiling windows, taking in fabulous views 
(you'll pay a good bit more for a Strip vista). Afternoon 
tea, served daily in the Verandah lounge, consists of a 
lavish array of delicious savories and sweets. The pamper-
ing policy here even extends to the smallest guests: every 
child will find a stuffed animal and milk and cookies on 
arrival. 

www.fourseasons.com. 338 rooms, 86 suites. In-room: safe, 
VCR, dial-up. In-hotel: 2 restaurants, room service, bars, 
pool, gym, spa, concierge, laundry service, public 
Internet, parking (no fee), no-smoking rooms, some pets 
allowed, minibar. AE, D, DC, MC, V. 

Address: 3960 Las Vegas Blvd. S, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA
Phone: 702/632-5000
Fax: 702/632-5195
 
--WHERE TO DINE:

Bahama Breeze 
Caribbean, $10 to $27, Paradise Road 
 
No worries, mon; Bahama Breeze is a casual spot with 
tropical flavors and flair -- a bit of Jamaica, a bit 
of Cuba, a lot of fun. Signature dishes include the 
satisfying jerk chicken pasta, with asparagus and 
mushrooms in an herb cream sauce, as well as such 
classics as ropa vieja (shredded beef stew), steak 
churrasco (barbecue), conch chowder, and black beans 
and rice. Starters are tropically flavored, too, such 
as the tostones con pollo, in which crispy plantains 
are topped with chicken and cheese, or Jamaican grilled 
chicken wings. And watch out for those tropical drinks. 
Reservations not accepted. AE, D, DC, MC, V. 

Address: 375 Hughes Center Dr., Las Vegas, NV, USA
Phone: 702/731-3252
 

Bouchon 
American, $10 to $35, Center Strip 
 
Famed French Laundry chef Thomas Keller -- widely noted 
as among the best in the country -- runs this stunning, 
capacious room in the Venezia Tower at the Venetian. 
Velvet banquettes, antique light fixtures, and painted 
tile lend a sophisticated take on French country design. 
Bouchon's folded brown-paper menu opens to reveal French 
bistro classics like steak frites, roasted chicken, and 
Croque Madame. Finish with profiteroles, pot de crème 
(rich little custards), or crème caramel. Breakfast 
options include sweets from the wondrous bakery. AE, D, 
DC, MC, V. No lunch. 

Address: Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino, 3355 Las Vegas 
Blvd. S, Las Vegas, NV, USA
Phone: 702/414-6200


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