Reginald Johnson, Examiner

Travel: Las Vegas, a true sight to see in person

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Las Vegas is the largest city in Nevada, surrounded by baron hills and majestic mountains in the far distance. Where in New York City one might expect to see skyscrapers, in Washington DC one would see monuments, in Las Vegas one can expect to see huge resort hotels throughout this desert oasis.

This is no secret oasis because Las Vegas drew 42.6 million visitors in 2016, reaching a record number. The number was more than even the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) officials had predicted. Kevin Bagger, director of research for the LVCVA remarked the LVCVA predicted 42.5 million people would visit in 2016. While the overall number may only be slightly more than predicted, it does show the third consecutive year a new visitation record was set in Las Vegas.

Vegas local Diane Merriweather says it only goes to show showcasing Vegas as a tourist destination is working. “I’ve live in Las Vegas for the last twelve years,” she said, “and I’m definitely seeing more tourists. In a city that’s dependent on tourism, that’s a good thing.”

Bagger has recently remarked Las Vegas’ secret is the city continually reinvests in amenities people tend to want; a constant reinvestment in the city’s infrastructure. One of the other reasons Las Vegas tourism has increased is because its labeled as a great place to visit is year-round. The winters are cool, making it perfect for sightseeing; the summers can be a real scorcher though with temperatures reaching over 104.

Bagger’s already predicting 43.2 million people will visit Las Vegas in 2017, and that’s a pretty steep feat to achieve.

ON THE STRIP

The Strip is located along the central section of Las Vegas Boulevard, which runs through the city from northeast to southwest; from Mandalay Bay Hotel to the Treasure Island Hotel. In the strictest sense, it refers only to the stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard that is roughly between Sahara Avenue and Russell Road, a distance of 4.2 miles. Seeing the Strip at night is really cool because of the endless succession of glittering neon signs that seem to help the city come alive. If there’s something a tourist is looking for, chances are, its on the Strip, and if it’s not, chances are someone on the Strip can find it (or at least pretend to). The hotels that align the Vegas Strip are massive towers of endless excitement and wonderment. In fact, fourteen of the world’s 25 largest hotels by room count are on the Strip, thats over 62,000 places to sleep. With some many options where do you go? Here are my top six spots on the Vegas Strip:

THE MGM GRAND HOTEL

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The gaming floor of the MGM Grand is one of the largest in all of Las Vegas, measuring 171,500 square feet with more than 2,500 machines for gaming as well as 139 poker and table games. (Photo: Reginald Johnson, Examiner)

The iconic luxury MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas is across the street from the New York-New York Hotel and kitty corner to the Excalibur Resort Hotel. The Grand has everything from luxury suites, a multitude of restaurants, an amazing pool area, and plenty of entertainment options (in Vegas its not uncommon to have a recording artist to take up residency at a hotel, meaning he/she will play there for a certain period of time). The MGM Grand is the largest single hotel in the United States with 5,124 rooms. One of the MGM Grand’s most popular exhibits is CSI: The Experience, based on the popular CSI TV series, where participants can test out their detective skills.

THE BELLAGIO RESORT

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The interior design on the Bellagio was designed by Architectural Digest 100 four time winner Roger Thomas. Roger Thomas is the executive vice president of design for Wynn Design & Development, and principal of the Roger Thomas Collection. (Photo: Reginald Johnson, Examiner)

This spot is considered one of the finest resorts you’ll ever check out. The Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas is also one of the few AAA 5-star-rated hotels. The hotel is amazing. Its owned and operated by MGM Resorts International, and built on the site of the demolished Dunes hotel and casino. It has an art gallery, spa, salon, and botanical gardens. The showroom next to the lobby constantly changes themes that range from spring botanical displays to fascinating shows of art. And then there’s the fountain show, where water dances for the viewers enjoyment. Also inside Dale Chihuly‘s Fiori do Como, can be viewed. It’s composed of over 2,000 hand-blown glass flowers, covers 2,000 sq. ft of the lobby ceiling. And if you’re looking to check out Cirque du Soleil‘s aquatic production O, you’ll be doing it at the Bellagio.

THE MIRAGE

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Its construction is also considered noteworthy in that Wynn had set a new standard for Vegas resorts, and is widely considered to be the father of today’s Las Vegas. (Photo: Reginald Johnson, Examiner)

Any hotel that has an active volcano in front of it, has to be cool-this describes The Mirage. Tourists and locals alike say the night time show provided by the volcano is the best. From the sidewalk viewers watch it erupt in regular intervals. Once inside the historic hotel visitors have been thrilled to see the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. The Dolphin Habitat has several trained dolphins in its 2.5-million-gallon pools.
The hotel has 3,044 rooms and built by developer Steve Wynn and is another property currently owned and operated by MGM Resorts International.The original marquee sign in front of the Mirage is the largest free standing marquee in the world.

NEW YORK-NEW YORK LAS VEGAS HOTEL & CASINO

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he idea of a casino modeled after the New York skyline was conceived by Sig Rogich (a former White House staffer and United States Ambassador to Iceland) and Mark Advent. (Photo: Reginald Johnson, Examiner)

It’s yet another property owned and operated by MGM Resorts International. New York-New York Las Vegas Hotel & Casino uses the New York City influence of its name to entice and thrill visitors. The entire hotel and casino is actually made up of the New York City skyline of the 1940s, like the era; the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, a lake representing the New York Harbor and a 150-foot-tall replica of the Statue of Liberty, and replicas of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Main Immigration Building on Ellis Island, and Grand Central Terminal. It has all the usual features of hotels on the strip: gambling, lounges, restaurants, and meeting rooms (which are named after New York City neighborhoods or landmarks).

CAESAR’S PALACE

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Casear’s Palace is a fine place to visit. (Photo: Reginald Johnson, Examiner)

When people talk about hotels that truly have everything, Caesar’s Palace is that place. It’s easily one of the best known hotels on the Strip, filled with every imaginable entertainment option, and shows at its huge concert venue known as “The Colosseum” where the likes of Celine Dione and Elton John have performed. Scoring tickets has to be done well in advance because they go quickly.

THE PALAZZO

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Its construction is also considered noteworthy in that Wynn had set a new standard for Vegas resorts, and is widely considered to be the father of today’s Las Vegas. (Photo: Reginald Johnson, Examiner)

Elegance and class is what you can expect from The Palazzo. It’s called the tallest completed building in Nevada. It’s designers, the Dallas based HKS, Inc. wanted to take visitors back in time to the grand days of Italian Renaissance ambiance. In its first year of eligibility, The Palazzo was awarded the AAA Five Diamond Award for 2009, in its first year of eligibility, and kept it up every year until 2014, after management has refused further AAA inspections .Both the Venetian Resort and Casino and the Sands Convention Center are connected to the Palazzo, and both are owned and operated by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. The Guinness Book of World Records has named the hotel complex as the largest hotel in the world.

FREMONT STREET

If the Strip is too much, then why not check out old downtown Las Vegas, try the FREMONT STREET EXPERIENCE down on Fremont Street, the second most famous street in the Las Vegas Valley after the Las Vegas Strip. It’s a four block section of Fremont that’s pedestrian only. The highlight is its been covered over with a canopy of LED lights which light up the sky in a ray of different colors as you walk below. Locals call it the Fremont Street Experience. One of the staff members at the MGM Grand mentioned he liked going to old downtown because it’s where many locals go for excitement. He said the people there are genuine and real; they’re the salt of the earth. One of the great attractions is the SlotZilla Zip Line, a 12-story, slot machine-inspired zip line attraction, where two levels of zipping takes place. The op line is 114 feet up, and the second is line is 77 feet up. The upper lines go the entire length of the mall (1,750 feet) ) and the lower lines travel halfway down the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian mall. If you’re looking to shop, there’s Neonopolis, a shopping complex that’s independent from the Fremont Street Experience.

Vegas, with its abundance of lodging options, street side entertainment, dancing fountains, and erupting volcanoes, is best experienced in person.

There was also a record met with convention attendance, with 6.3 million people attending conventions in 2016.

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