Vegas: Ever-Changing Fantasyland Offers Great Deal More Than Gaming

Bruce Beggs |

LAS VEGAS — One thing is certain about Las Vegas: it changes on an almost daily basis.
It’s not the same city that the laundry industry visited at Clean ’03, and definitely isn’t the same as it was for Clean ’97. It has grown from a small desert town to one of the fastest growing cities in the country.
Gone are the dark, velvet-walled hotels and casinos of Bugsy Siegel’s day. The new Las Vegas continues to add larger, more elaborate and elegant hotels and towering condominiums to its skyline.
While casinos and glitz are still predominant, and some of its amazing architecture is “over the top,” the city’s growth has brought world-class dining and entertainment, cultural venues, and great shopping.
“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” doesn’t necessarily refer only to what people do there. It also refers to the many things happening there, and the many people who stay there to enjoy and benefit from them. The metro area’s population has grown from a small getaway for Hollywood celebrities to almost 2 million people.
And who wouldn’t want to come to this city that has everything?
Where else in the world can you view the city from the Eiffel Tower, have a Roman holiday, take a gondola ride through Venice’s Grand Canal, enjoy a pastrami on rye in a New York deli, watch dolphins frolic in blue waters, and sip a cool drink in a tropical paradise – all in one day?
Add an abundance of restaurants and entertainment venues, plus the educational value of products and services to be found at Clean ’07 this week, and you’ll know you shouldn’t miss this biennial opportunity to attend this all-industry trade show, says Riddle & Associates, its longtime management firm.THE STRIP: FOUR MILES OF EXCESS
From the Stratosphere hotel on the north to the Mandalay Bay Resort on the south, The Strip is four miles of excess: huge themed hotels, extravagant displays, neon, amusement attractions, billboards and souvenir shops.
Crowded sidewalks outside and hotel casinos inside provide some of the best people watching anywhere in the world – 24 hours a day.
Beautifully landscaped walkways along The Strip with pedestrian bridges over Las Vegas Boulevard make it safe and pleasant to maneuver through the inevitable crowds of people.DINING CHOICES ABOUND
Food in Las Vegas can be anything you want it to be. You can still find an inexpensive steak-and-egg breakfast and a $1.99 hot dog and beer. You just have to look for them. This is one place where fast-food chains are not necessarily the best bargains.
Las Vegas has become a world-class dining city with prices to match. Some of the country’s most famous chefs have opened eateries in Las Vegas.
To keep you inside their walls, most hotels have a variety of restaurants – from snack bars to white tablecloths – and most have outstanding food.
Each of the Clean ’07 hotels offers a wide variety of food, ambiance and price – both ethnic and American, Riddle & Associates says.
At Paris, for example, you can have a $6.99 crepe from a sidewalk creperie, a filling and delicious meal for less than $25 at a sidewalk café, or enjoy five-star French cuisine at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant – among the hotel’s other offerings.
Almost all hotels offer a buffet with an incredible variety of food, which is the best value if you like a lot to eat. Prices have increased, however. Breakfast usually is $6 to $10. A dinner buffet can run from $13 to nearly $40 at the Wynn. The least expensive buffets are at smaller, older hotels.WORLD'S ENTERTAINMENT CAPITAL
When Clean ’07 closes each day, there is a wealth of entertainment available to suit every taste, Riddle & Associates advises.
Tickets to big-name entertainers can be expensive (up to $225 for Celine Dion or Barry Manilow), but one doesn’t have to spend money to have fun in Vegas. Free entertainment is everywhere as well.
Some name acts scheduled to be in town during Clean are Dion, Howie Mandel, David Copperfield, Blue Man Group, George Wallace, Toni Braxton, Rita Rudner and Joe Piscopo.
Danny Gans – singer, comedian, impressionist – has been the city’s mainstay act for several years.
Some shows recreate old favorites. Barbra & Frank: the Concert That Never Was brings sound-alikes of Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra together. Fab Four Mania sings the Beatles. There is a Musical Tribute to Liberace, and The Rat Pack is Back.
If Broadway shows are your preference, you can dance in the aisles with Mamma Mia!, sing along with Forever Plaid, laugh out loud with Menopause: The Musical or Monty Python’s SPAMALOT, marvel at the music of Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular, or be amazed by David Hasselhoff’s singing and dancing in The Producers.
For spectacular production, Cirque du Soleil offers five shows around town with O, its aquatic tapestry of artistry, surrealism and romance, its most popular, and LOVE, its newest, celebrates the music legacy of the Beatles. Another aquatic spectacular, Le Rêve at Wynn, has gotten rave reviews.
Las Vegas is well known for its variety shows and burlesque reviews. They’re everywhere, but the longest running and probably the showiest is Jubilee at Bally’s, featuring Las Vegas showgirls, comedy and more.
Remember that a show may be “dark” on a day you wish to see it. It’s a good idea to order tickets in advance.
If shows aren’t for you, view a collection of priceless artwork at the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum or see Madame Tussaud’s Celebrity Encounter at the Venetian.
Downtown Las Vegas is home each evening to the $70-million Fremont Street Experience, a five-block pedestrian concourse featuring 2.1 million lights and 208 speakers in a special light-and-sound show. You’ll also find the Neon Museum downtown.
For no-cost entertainment, one merely needs to walk up and down The Strip. In addition to great people watching, you can see the Sirens of Treasure Island, an erupting volcano at The Mirage, talking Roman statues and changing lighting at Caesars Forum, a beautiful water show at Bellagio, a harbor rainstorm at Aladdin/Planet Hollywood, and a light, water and sound show at Bally’s.
Inside the hotels are free shows with good, but lesser known, entertainers, and don’t miss the flair bartenders at Harrah’s.
You can also visit botanical gardens, aquariums, a lion habitat, and see Siegfried & Roy’s famous white tigers.VENTURE OUT OF TOWN
Time permitting, Las Vegas is surrounded by unlimited natural beauty.
Nearby you’ll find Mount Charleston and Red Rock Canyon, the world-renowned Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, the Valley of Fire State Park and the Mojave National Preserve.
Within a day’s drive, you can reach such popular destinations as the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and the cities of Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Palm Springs.SHOP TILL YOU DROP
For shoppers, The Strip is a bonanza for those who prefer to stay inside. Shopping venues designed to replicate the great cities of the world allow one to browse the stores of Paris, Rome, New York, Cairo, Venice and the South Pacific.
More than 100 stores and 11 restaurants occupy the Forum Shops at Caesars, featuring an array of the finest upscale designer shops.
The cobblestone streets and alleys of Rue de las Paix at Paris open to a number of French boutiques.
The cobblestone walkways at The Venetian house the Grand Canal shops around a reproduction of that famous waterway.
Browsers at the Desert Passage at the Aladdin/Planet Hollywood will find 170 reasonably priced specialty stores and 15 restaurants in a newly renovated marketplace.
Bellagio features an exclusive collection of high-end jewelers and fashion boutiques.
For just plain mall shopping, Fashion Show Mall houses 140 stores, including most usually found in a typical upscale mall.

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.


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