Las Vegas

Star Travel Rating

5/5

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Date of travel

March, 2015

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Las Vegas simply refuses to be beaten by any of the upstarts seeking to take its crown as the most exciting destination on the planet. Dubai and Singapore might have their own share of awe inspiring attractions, but Vegas will always seek to come back at them and never allow itself to be in their rear view mirrors.

Take the present trend for huge ferris wheels which double as observation decks. Our own London Eye at 135 metres, over 400 feet, started the trend. The Singapore Flyer positively dwarfs it at 165 metres (541 feet). But the behemoth that is the High Roller is simply bigger, better, more awe inspiring. a full 167.6 metres (550 feet) capable of holding over 1,100 people in its 28 huge cabins and with a spectacular light show thrown in for good measure. And when the action outside of the windows is the Vegas strip, you have a true world beater. Some of the pods even have bars in them with a resident guide cum drinks dispenser!

There is a draw back to being the biggest and best of course, well two actually. Pricing and queues. Getting on board the High Roller in daylight hours isn’t too bad on either front, but why would you want to miss out on all that Neon, it defeats the object. No, experience seekers gravitate like moths around a lighthouse after dark. At this point you can stand in line for an hour or more and be charged a pound a minute for the 30 minute ride. If you’re in Vegas with your spouse and two children you’ll blow £100 or thereabouts in very quick time. If you want to jump the queue and pay for an Express pass, you better have had great luck on the roulette table the night before. The price almost doubles. It’s a fantastic visual treat from the sidewalk and many people save themselves time and money by admiring this engineering wonder from ground level and then moving on. After all, there is so much to see at floor level.

Indeed right next door to the Flyer is The Linq, a centre strip outdoor shopping centre which boasts the usual hotel, casino, restaurants etc. And it all comes under the Ceasar brand name so you can expect quality.

I never tire though of one attraction that now seems like a good old favourite. Vegas moves on so quickly anything installed a decade or more ago seems positively ancient. The fountains of the Bellagio are surely considered timeless by many however. Again, Dubai has its own version situated next to the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. I believe they were designed by the same person. But the Italian setting for these 8.5 acre fountains seems perfect and I can sit and listen to the evocative music that accompanies them for hours. Yes, you can pay a small fortune to go on the Roller and some other attractions in Vegas (the Gondolas in the Venetian for example), but it’s still the greatest free show on Earth if you want it to be.

We pushed the boat out and stayed in one of Vegas’ posher hotels. And no, that isn’t a Venetian pun, it was the Aria. We had a sky suite for a couple of nights as a celebration treat and it was an attraction and experience in itself. Music, temperature, lighting and TV all set by computer and floor to ceiling windows that give us a magnificent view of the mountains. We wanted a Strip view but they sell out FAST. Despite our love of Vegas we aren’t gamblers, nightclub buffs or pool partyists, but we did enjoy the superb food in the three restaurants and the evening floor show, Zirkana by Cirque De Soleil is right up there with best Vegas offers. Absolutely top drawer.

We moved into New York New York for the remaining nights to keep the cost down a little. This has always been a favoured hotel of ours because of its location, handy for the furthermost hotels like the Luxor and Mandalay Bay, right opposite the landmark MGM Grand and a good base to head up the strip to the Tropican, Bellagio, Treasure Island etc. And of course it’s close to the airport when your holiday sadly comes to an end.

Fremont St is as far as you can get from the New York New York but a trip down town is always worth the slow bus ride. The overhead video screen remains the largest in the world donkeys years after it was first installed. As I say, I’m sure if one of the middle or far Eastern technological upstarts ever constructs a bigger one, Vegas will have its whizz kids and planners sat around a table by the weekend. The riot of colour that is Freemont St sums up everything that LV is about, OTT fun, pure entertainment.

We stopped off at the Stratosphere on the way back up so friends of ours could tick one of their must-do boxes. A tilt at Big Shot, the highest thrill ride in the world. It all seems old hat to us nowadays having done these 1,000 feet plus white knuckle rides many years ago. But we noted the Stratosphere had added some even more terrifying rides. In their own words …….

Earn your bragging rights now!

Leap into history with a dive off the Stratosphere Tower at SkyJump — the Guinness World Record holder for highest commercial decelerator descent. It’s a scream-inducing, adrenaline-pumping jump from an official height of 829 feet.

And …

Insanity – The Ride Acrobat or Acrophobe

The best Las Vegas thrill ride has 3 ‘G’s of pure Insanity. Insanity the Ride is a truly mind-bending experience! A massive mechanical arm extending out 64 feet over the edge of the Stratosphere Tower at a height of over 900 feet, this Vegas ride will spin you and several other passengers in the open air at speeds of up to three ‘G’s. You’ll be propelled up to an angle of 70 degrees, which will tilt your body into one position – straight down! If you’re brave enough to keep your eyes open, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of historic downtown Las Vegas. Experience Insanity and walk away to tell the tale!

Well that word INSANITY is enough for me. I didn’t indulge this time. In fact just watching people had me wishing I’d taken a bottle of valium or a half bottle of Scotch.

Of course there’s so much more to Vegas than I’ve described, both in the city and the surrounding areas. The majesty of the Grand Canyon, the jaw dropping scale of the Hoover Dam. Eerie Monument Valley.The wedding chapels with their Elvis impersonators. Incredible shows with white lions and tigers, world title boxing at the MGM Grand, the finest dining and high rolling table play. And the best collection of hotels on the globe without doubt with swimming pools and gardens to match, even beaches.

I’ll give it another five years and be back once again. By which time I’m sure Vegas will assail our senses with another eye-popping collection of man made wonders. Because that’s what they do.

JD22

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