By Roli S
“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”… these famous lines have always popped up in my mind whenever I have thought about Las Vegas. What exactly happens in Vegas that needs to stay in Vegas? Why do people come to Vegas? The temptation is always to think of Las Vegas as a gambling mecca, but is it only gambling that happens in Vegas? Does it have nothing to offer to families and children and to the people who are not much interested in gambling? I needed to find out many more such things when we flew into Vegas from Orlando. The vast stretch of desert that I noticed from my aircraft made me more curious about the idea of Vegas and the experience that it was going to offer us.
Our cab driver who took us to our hotel from the airport told us that our hotel, ‘Vacation Village’, is near the Las Vegas Strip and I thought, ‘so we are at the famous Strip of Las Vegas after all’ – the days ahead were going to be exciting.
In the following days, we explored Las Vegas at our pace focusing on things we were interested in. The Life in Vegas revolves around the two main streets, The Las Vegas Strip and Fremont Street.
In the strictest sense, “The Strip” refers only to the stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard that is roughly between Sahara Avenue and Russell Road, about 4 miles. However, the term is often used to refer not only to the road but also to the various casinos and resorts that line it, and even to properties that are not on the road but are in proximity to it. Many of the largest hotel, casino, and resort properties in the world are located on the Strip. The boulevard’s cityscape is highlighted by its use of contemporary architecture, lights, and a wide variety of attractions.
We soaked in the four-segment panorama of The Cosmopolitan, Bellagio, and Caesar’s Palace on the Las Vegas Strip, across from the Bellagio Fountains. At first glance, the city of Vegas presented itself to us in the form of a medley of resorts of sorts. The luxurious high-end segment of resorts and casinos, both, old and new, are present in every nook and corner of the city and one must choose the resorts and casinos that one wants to experience. All resorts come with their own theatres that showcase many shows throughout the week and poker rooms, with numerous slot machines fitted for gambling!
We chose quite a few to visit just to enjoy the grandeur and architecture, such as Bellagio, Venetia, Palazzo, Luxor, The Mirage, Excalibur, to name a few.
Bellagio Casino and Resort is inspired by the Lake Como town of Bellagio in Italy. Bellagio is famed for its elegance. One of its most notable features is an 8-acre (3.2 ha) lake between the building and the Strip, which houses the Fountains of Bellagio, a large dancing water fountain synchronised to music. We thoroughly enjoyed the show of light, water and music!
The Venetian Hotel uses Venice, Italy, as its design inspiration and features architectural replicas of various Venetian landmarks, including the Palazzo Ducale, Piazza San Marco, Piazzetta di San Marco, the Lion of Venice Column and the Column of Saint Theodore, St Mark’s Campanile, and the Rialto Bridge.The Venetian is home to 4 theaters: the Opaline Theatre, The Palazzo Theatre, The Sands Showroom, and The Venetian Theatre. The shows at these theatres are very highly priced – one can choose the shows according to one’s taste and budget limitations! Likewise, all the resorts are built on some theme like ‘Luxor’ has glimpses of Egypt, whereas ‘Excalibur comes with the magic of old castles! We also enjoyed the High Roller Ferris Wheel opened in 2012 and a retail district called The LINQ Promenade. This probably is an attempt to diversify attractions beyond that of casino resorts.
The visit to Las Vegas is null and void if one does not experience Fremont Street. Fremont Street is located in the heart of downtown, directly outside the Fremont Casino. This world-famous venue is home to Viva Vision, the largest LED screen in the world. There are many free concerts, special events, and roaming street performers entertaining people throughout the year on this street.
At the Fremont, you can take a flight on the Zipline, watch roadside magic shows, shop for souvenirs, listen to music, dine at the epic eateries or simply take a stroll down the Street absorbing the multitudes of activities that are happening on it.
We decided to people-watch and take in the light shows sitting at the Starbucks in the Golden Nugget Resort sipping our iced sugar free Vanilla Latte with Soy milk. We sat and watched the ultimate free thing to do in Las Vegas, the Viva Vision light show that happens each night at Fremont Street. The visuals are spectacular, and the 550,000-watt speaker system is world-class. We also can’t forget the most obvious free diversion at Fremont Street, the experience of people-watching. Visitors from around the world come to Fremont Street, and its denizens are truly a sight to behold. If you like to sit and watch people and festivities this is the place to be.
My brief on my visit to Las Vegas will be incomplete without the mention of Poker rooms, slot machines and gambling. Yes, I visited a few poker rooms and touched few slot machines, but I neither had any intention nor the know-how about gambling. None in my group was interested. We inserted a few dollars in slot machines as if to complete the ritual and mostly watched people playing and losing their money!
I can very confidently say that I discovered a Vegas that I can talk about without bringing in its dark under belly, its reputation for prostitution and crimes. I enjoyed Las Vegas as the ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’! I enjoyed the lights, the architecture and the fun and frolic. The vast open deserts that I saw from my aircraft window began to make sense and I thought that just because you can see for a hundred miles doesn’t mean that there’s nothing there to see, open desert allows you to see things in a different way. There is nothing to block your view, and nothing to hide behind.