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"A fortune won and lost on every deal
All you need's a strong heart and nerve of steel
Viva Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas!"
Elvis Presley's famous song sets the scene for a visit to this 21st century Disneyland for grown-ups.

Staggering money is continually spent upgrading the competitive cutting edge casinos for a truly remarkable experience for visitors to Las Vegas.  Hotel casinos including the Bellagio and Caesar's Palace are instantly recognizable from movies such as Ocean's Eleven and more recently, the Hangover.

hotel strip Las Vegas
The alluring hotel strip in Las Vegas

Walk down the famous glittering Las Vegas strip and you'll see grand architecture including a realistic looking Eiffel Tower at the Paris casino, and even the canals of Venice with singing gondoliers at The Venetian resort.

Venetian canals Les Vegas
Canals at The Venetian that continue inside the resort

One of the oldest still standing resorts in Las Vegas, The Flamingo, is a landmark casino that can't be missed. The beautiful pink neon lights have been featured in a wide variety of Vegas movies like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Casino. Not only does it offer a vast variety of games, the accommodations are spectacular as well. In the late 90's Hilton Resorts opened Hilton Grand Vacations Club at the Flamingo , a luxurious timeshare complex behind the resort. The suites come complete with Hydro Spas, multiple bedrooms and kitchens....definitely great places to stay for a large group of friends, and you can find deals online for under $100 a night depending on when you want to visit.


YouTube Video of Las Vegas Hotel Casinos

Nearby Caesar's Palace is a stunning recreation of ancient Rome with pillars, fountains and even carved Roman centurions on high, beneath an artificial blue sky that looks so very real.

At the MGM Grand, a Disneyland-type monorail curves out and along the Strip to the Las Vegas Convention Centre from 7am till 2am. At New York-New York, a twisting rollercoaster runs around the hotel with an elevated view of the Las Vegas strip below.

But our favorite hotel is the Bellagio, with its grand entry, huge internal shopping mall and five star spacious rooms overlooking the city and desert beyond. The water fountains synchronized to music are world famous and a highlight of any Vegas visit, particularly if you're watching with piped music from your Bellagio room.  More on the Bellagio later.

Photos of The Bellagio hotel Las Vegas
The Bellagio's famous entry

The beauty of Las Vegas is that it's visually exciting, the shopping is excellent and the prices are cheap for quality accommodation and food.  The obvious reason for this is to attract gamblers to each casino.  It has to be said that behind the glittering façade of Las Vegas is the sad reality of gamblers losing their money and seedy sex brochure peddlers on the strip.

This is a city of contrasts and great irony - material riches constantly trying to overpower spiritual riches in a dazzling arena.

 Photo inside Caesar's Palace Resort Casino
Photo inside Caesar's Palace Resort Casino

Las Vegas is a 4 hour drive into the desert from Los Angeles or a 1 hour flight.  The aerial view descending onto this glittering city of 2 million people is certainly memorable.

WHAT TO DO IN LAS VEGAS

A taxi from the busy nearby McCarran Airport to the strip is only a short ride costing around $11.  There are hotels to suit all budgets, and you can get an internet deal at top five star hotels such as the Bellagio for as little as $149.

Take a walk down the strip to get your bearings and marvel at the continuing spectacle of endless hotel casinos.  If you've had enough of walking, take one of the open red double decker bus tours that show you everything from the northern end of the strip to the southern end.  If you want to go further, take a helicopter or light plane ride to the nearby majesty of the Grand Canyon or the man-made wonder of the Hoover Dam.

If you want nightlife, New York-New York offers the $25 Value Passport which includes entry to a number of nightclubs, a specialty cocktail in one bar and three more drinks in three other bars, a ride on New York-New York's roller coaster and more.

 Photo of Bellagio indoor garden
The Bellagio's remarkable indoor garden

Free attractions are everywhere on the Las Vegas strip. The Volcano at the Mirage hotel casino erupts into a lagoon filled with waterfalls and palm trees every 15 minutes from sundown to midnight.  Next door at Treasure Island, you'll see the free "Sirens of TI" show every 90 minutes, where pirates battle sexy sirens in a popular pyrotechnic war.

The world famous Fountains of Bellagio delight visitors nightly with a thousand choreographed fountains spouting to the music of artists such as Sinatra, Elton John and Andrea Bocelli.  Inside the Bellagio, the world-famous Cirque du Soleil has a permanent show featuring the world's best acrobats. 

At the other end of the scale, if you want a cheap wedding, you can go to instant wedding chapels to get hitched for as little as $150, but cheap is the key word here.

LAS VEGAS RESTAURANTS

Las Vegas's buffet meal deals are great value with great variety including those at the Bellagio, where full breakfast with an endless array of quality cuisine is only $14.95, lunch is $19.95 and dinner $27.95.

 Bellagio
Breakfast at the Bellagio buffet, complete with early drinker

The best bargains for food are at Las Vegas's oldest hotel The Golden Gate where a filling shrimp cocktail will cost you $1.99.  MGM Grand offers diners an all day meal pass for only $29.95 including breakfast, lunch and dinner.

If you want a good steak, go to Vic and Anthony's Steakhouse in the Golden Nugget, where a dining experience will cost you between $30 and $80.

For good Italian, try Casa di Amore (House of Love) on East Tropicana Avenue for its fresh fish (try the Sea bass) and memorable Cioppino.  For a romantic experience, take a reasonably-priced stretch limousine.

The Eiffel Tower restaurant serves the most-acclaimed French cuisine in Las Vegas, from inside the Parisian landmark 100 feet above the strip. On ground level, try Le Provençal for regional French cuisine in a lively, old European village setting where waiters dress in traditional French peasant garb and sing French and Italian songs

Restaurants near the Eiffel Tower at Paris Resort Casino Les Vagas
Restaurants near the Eiffel Tower at Paris Resort Casino Las Vagas

Across the road, the Bellagio features Le Cirque restaurant for fine dining (near the Cirque du Soleil theatre) through to casual dining at Café Bellagio with delicious food available 24 hours a day.

We would highly recommend staying at the Bellagio as the best accommodation in Las Vegas. Try to stay on the same side as the front entry to see the exhilarating synchronised fountain show at night.

But the great alternative on the other side is a view down the strip and across to the mountains of Nevada in the distance.

The rooms are five star luxury with big beds and superb fittings in the bathrooms. There's always a concierge in the lobby to direct you to which bank of lifts take you to your particular high rise floor level.

Photo inside Bellagio hotel rooms Las Vegas
Spacious Bellagio rooms

The concierge will also give you advice on where to go in the huge Bellagio complex including the colourful indoor garden, the gaming floor, the many restaurants including the great value buffet, and of course, where to find all the big brand names - inside the Bellagio complex - for some shopping therapy.

Retail prices here in Las Vegas are often cheaper than the same brand name items in New York.

Photo Bellagio swiming pool
The Bellagio's swimming pool overlooking the Las Vegas strip

Las Vegas has come a long way since Elvis sang about the bright light city setting his soul on fire.  It's known as sin city; exciting, but with an undercurrent of artificiality.  For those who seek material pleasures, it's one of the world's best holidays.  For those with soul, it's something different.

Photo Caesar's Palace Las Vegas
Caesar's Palace Las Vegas - this is actually inside with an artificial sky

Footnote: Flights between Las Vegas and Hawaii are also a great holiday option with 6 hour direct flights between two of the world's best holidays.

Hawaiian Air flies direct but isn't cheap, while Vacations-Hawaii offers great value return packages between Hawaii and Las Vegas for as little as $499, including three meals a day and accommodations at Boyd Casinos such as California and The Orleans.  You'll fly on Omni Air which has an impressive record for safety and being on time, and it's a casual atmosphere on board with the friendly Vacations-Hawaii staff.

Vacations-Hawaii flight from Las Vegas to Honolulu
Vacations-Hawaii flight from Las Vegas to Honolulu

It's an all-inclusive package with Vacations-Hawaii who have a strong association with Boyd Gaming in Las Vegas and a choice of five hotel casinos to stay at in Las Vegas included in the package price.

A great tip is that you can sometimes pick up one way fares with Vacations-Hawaii between Vegas and Honolulu that are much cheaper than Hawaiian Airlines prices.

Omni Air 757 operated by Vacations-Hawaii
Omni Air 757 operated by Vacations-Hawaii


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