Well worth skylofts in Las Vegas
More than roulette and blackjack
Las Vegas is a city of superlatives: The LAS VEGAS CONVENTION AND VISITORS AUTHORITY (LVCVA) announced in spring 2013 that the destination achieved a new record of 39.7 million visitors in 2012 - the highest figure since the beginning of the records.
The fact that you can only spend your time in the desert with games and weddings is long gone. Shows, haute cuisine, nature experiences, shopping and beach holidays can all be enjoyed here. And the best: Since last spring, Las Vegas has finally been served direct from Zurich.
On this occasion, a group of journalists and some VIPs from EDELWEISS, the airline in question, and the LVCVA were invited to a short introductory advertising trip.
The program was filled to the brim; We were shown gigantic hotel complexes with casinos and pool landscapes, great shows, exquisite shopping walks, impressive excursion arrangements and we were allowed to dine in haute cuisine restaurants.
Here is our diary:
Friday June 20th
We enjoy the 12-hour flight in the newly established Business Class. The AIRBUS is piloted personally by EDELWEISS CEO KARL KISTLER.
EDELWEISS recently completely retrofitted its long-haul aircraft: Business Class was equipped with lie-flat seats and a new entertainment system with 16-inch screens and high-quality SENNHEISER headphones. In addition, the new "Economy Max" service class was introduced, with passengers enjoying 15cm more legroom and many other amenities for a comfortable journey. Economy Class has also been upgraded with new seats and a new entertainment system with touch screens.
Impressive landing approach to the city in the Nevada desert. Here the Grand Canyon.
We land at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport exactly at 12 noon local time.
As usual for maiden flights, the EDELWEISS flight from Zurich is properly christened by the airport fire brigade after landing.
Landed, we are warmly welcomed by representatives of the LVCVA. A week of the finest program awaits us - they want to show us Las Vegas from its best side.
We will be accommodated in the ARIA Hotel & Casino, whereby the term "reside" is more appropriate. The resort was built in 2009, making it one of the newer ones. The ARIA is part of the CITY CENTER development, which the MGM Group designed and built in one piece as the city center of the southern strip, so to speak. A cross street was even moved for this purpose. In addition to the ARIA Hotel, this also includes CRYSTAL Shopping, two apartment towers as well as the VDARA and MANDARIN ORIENTAL hotels and, visually, the COSMOPOLITAN Hotel. The square will soon be supplemented with a park and an arena for 20,000 visitors.
Design and furnishings are very modern - especially the technical ones. The room - in our case a luxurious "corner suite" - can be operated via touchscreen or the TV remote control. The view from the bedroom, living room and bathroom is also worth mentioning - the tub of which should actually only be used for this reason.
The hotel has 4004 rooms in price ranges between $ 149 and $ 799. There are 145 table games, 1940 slot machines, 24 poker tables and an area for racing and sports betting on approximately 14,000 m² of casino space. Also worth mentioning is the IVEY ROOM, a high-limit poker room.
Outside, a spacious pool area of almost 20,000 m² awaits water rats.
No less than 16 restaurants and 9 bars or lounges and clubs invite you to eat, dine, drink, celebrate and meet people. "Zarkana", a show with 70 world-class acrobats and artists from CIRQUE DU SOLEIL, is performed daily in the integrated 1,800-seat theater.
In addition, there is almost 28,000 m² of space available for seminars, parties, meetings and congresses as well as - common in Las Vegas - a chapel for weddings.
Like almost every hotel complex, the ARIA about a not humble casino. The casino halls and halls are usually arranged centrally between the lobby, the shops, restaurants and the lifts to the rooms - it is therefore impossible to ignore them.
The main game is playedh Black Jack, Craps, Roulette and Poker and of course on the slot machines. Today these are mostly electronic. Instead of mechanical cogs on which the symbols have to lie in a row, there are now built-in flat screens with graphically structured elements of happiness.
To get an impression of as many hotels and resorts as possible, we are taken to a different house every evening, lunch or dinner. The BELLAGIO next door, which is conveniently accessible by monorail, has its premiere. The name and architecture of this Italian-inspired hotel are based on a castello on Lake Como. The big lake in front of it is an absolute eye-catcher, from which a water game synchronized with music is presented every half hour.
The construction costs of the house opened in 1998 amounted to a whopping 1.6 billion dollars. With its 3933 rooms, it is only slightly smaller than the ARIA. On the other hand, with its 20 restaurants, including of course those with Italian cuisine, it offers more than its neighbor. An art gallery, numerous luxury shops, ballrooms and the botanical garden are further special features of this luxury resort.
The welcome meal takes place in the FIX in the BELLAGIO. There is classic American cuisine here. We are served deliciously prepared seafood.
The most beautiful place in the BELLAGIO is probably the HYDE Club. It is located in the middle of the ground floor directly on the lake with a view of the PARIS resort with the Eiffel Tower imitation.
At night, the water feature that takes place every 30 minutes is even more impressive. The highest of the 1200 fountains shoot up to 140 meters to the music of LUCIANO PAVAROTTI, ANDREA BOCELLI, MICHAEL JACKSON or the BEATLES.
(Photo: Marco Felix)
The evening ends earlier than usual. The room is now being inspected.
The rooms of the ARIA are spacious and modernly equipped, even in the affordable price range. The corner suites, of which we each got one, have separate bedrooms and living rooms as well as a guest toilet. The glass fronts run from the floor to the ceiling in the bathroom with the freestanding bathtub, rain shower and shower toilet. The operation of lights, air conditioning, curtains and sound and the mood programs generated a lot of discussion among the tour group.
Imposing: the nightly view from the window. The city actually never sleeps.
Saturday June 21st
The jetleg wakes you up early in the morning and lets you see a beautiful dawn, freed from neon signs, over the city.
You don't have to go far, you can find yourself in the middle of the Nevada desert. It is only outside the huge settlement area of the greater Las Vegas area that one becomes aware of the inhospitable area in which this city was founded in 1905.
PINK JEEP TOURS organizes various trips in the surrounding natural beauty. One of them is the Red Rock Canyon. As is usual in many US parks, you pay entry at a car counter and then explore the area on specially designed parkways. So we drive a pink vehicle through a barren landscape that is only overgrown with a few bushes and cacti. Tour guide SUZANNE explains the wild nature and how plants survive here.
Shaped by the water: the Red Rock Canyon. Hobby photographers and desert botanists find satisfaction here.
KNACKEBOUL and CHOCOLOCOCO from the TV station JOIZ record presentations for their report in this beautiful natural setting.
Here you can see where the Red Rock Canyon got its name from.
There is lunch in the BUFFET in the BELLAGIO. Such buffets are available in almost all hotels. The concept is that you pay admission and can then help yourself to your heart's content from the buffet. This proves to us that the quality of the offer does not have to be worse because of this.
Celebrity chef META HILTEBRAND from the KUTSCHERHALLE Zurich paces the counters with us.
The selection of salads is always bigger with us, she says. The choice of sauces and supplements is more extensive.
Then come the obligatory sausages and sinful slices of bacon as well as a sushi counter.
The meat counter, for which she has a lot of praise, is also impressive for her. At the BELLAGIO, pizzas come straight from the wood-fired oven, of course. META is fascinated by these skewers.
The breakfast area is extensive, with cereals, continental dishes as well as waffles, pancakes, frenchtoasts and crepes - whereby Americans often eat lunch already for breakfast.
The dessert buffet is not modest: a typical specialty: bread and butter pudding and muffins are definitely not to be missed. French desserts have also found their way into Las Vegas. Conclusion: Eating healthy would be possible here, but most do not, because there is no lack of tempting opportunities to gain weight.
At lunchtime, we are not allowed to, but do not have to help ourselves at the buffet, because the chef serves us personally.
Because I ran out of battery in the camera, I was able to gain my first experience of underestimating the distance. I thought I could quickly get a newly charged battery in my room at the ARIA during this meal. These 500m as the crow flies could be mastered in 15 minutes. In the end I needed twice as much, because it took me almost 10 minutes to find the station of the monorail in the BELLAGIO. And in the ARIA, the train station wasn't exactly central either. Conclusion: I would have been better off jogging through the 35-degree air outside ...
Flowers are a leitmotif in the BELLAGIO. Here, a lot of emphasis is placed on flower arrangements - also abstract or artificial, such as on the ceiling of the lobby.
People here are proud of the botanical garden in a covered courtyard. The gardeners spend true floral works of art here. There is also a small New England-style green house with butterflies and birds inside.
Executive Director of Horticulture ANDY GARCIA explains to us the effort involved in keeping the gardens at this level. 120 employees take care of this system every day. The flowers are exchanged every one to two weeks, after all 4700 plants, the themes are adapted to the seasons. There is no waste, everything is recycled. He can be proud of the result - and it is noticeable.
The distances covered today are short. Everything is on the Strip, as Las Vegas Boulevard is also called. The road has been gradually widened in recent years.
Overpasses were built for pedestrians, which in turn encouraged the residents to build their pedestrian entrances one floor higher. Here the view of the strip to the south, on the right in the foreground the CRYSTAL shopping center.
Inspired by European city walks was created at the level of the LINQ's CAESAR'S PALACE, a pedestrian street with shops, bars and restaurants. THE LINQ connects Las Vegas Boulevard with the HIGH-ROLLER, the city's newest attraction.
This ferris wheel has a diameter of 160m. A circumnavigation takes 30 minutes.
Lush parties can also be celebrated in the spacious, spherical gondolas. Above is the true height of the HIGH-ROLLER: You can enjoy a unique view over the city, including the roofs of the sky-scraping hotel buildings.
(Photo: Marco Felix)
In the evening we visit one of the numerous shows in town. The "Vegas Nocturne" at ROSE.RABBIT.LIE is a mixture of cabaret, theater, musical and comedy. The hall is not very big, you sit close and in a semicircle around the stage. There is no sparing with disrepute. The show is an insider tip, which is getting good reviews everywhere.
The ROSE.RABBIT.LIE in the COSMOPOLITAN is a restaurant with a club atmosphere and a theater hall. In its way it corresponds to the traditional entertainment venues, typical for Las Vegas.
The MARQUEE Club is also located in the COSMOPOLITAN in the CITY CENTER. It is probably not as big as others, but its outdoor and pool area makes it unique. Open-air clubbing definitely has its charm. Here you can party until early in the morning with mild temperatures.
The drinks in the clubs are usually slightly cheaper than in Switzerland.
Sunday June 22nd
We are expected in the hotel lobby at 6 a.m. The reason is that hiking in the desert in the morning is more pleasant because it is cooler. Thanks to Jetleg, getting up is not easy.
Thrill: The ziplining facility at Bootleg Canyon. The drive to Bootleg Canyon takes a few minutes.
Boulder City is just a 20 minute drive from the Strip. The small town was founded in the 1930s as a warehouse for the workers of the nearby Hoover Dam, whose dammed lake supplies the whole region with electricity and water.
The typical US small-town setting makes us Europeans recognize them in many US series from the '80s. The main street of this 16,000-inhabitant town with its partly picturesque facades is reminiscent of typical film locations.
The main attraction here is the ziplining facility from FLIGHTLINEZ in Bootleg Canyon. At almost 100 km / h you roll 2.5 kilometers down the mountain hanging on the rope, after having enjoyed a wonderful view over Vegas. Definitely a sparkling experience!
(Photo: Marco Felix)
In the base of FLIGHTLINEZ, the operator of this zip-lining installation, we are equipped with Gsältli and helmets, as you would expect from a rope park. The disclaimers customary in the USA have to be signed beforehand. Then the trip goes up to the mountain by 4x4 bus. Then it should go down hanging on wire ropes! The tension is great. We have to get out of the car in a parking lot above.
After seeing the view Having enjoyed the distant Las Vegas, now have to climb the rest of the mountain on foot, shouldering the not exactly light cable car.
The landscape: a picture book desert! Fortunately, we were provided with sufficient water beforehand.
Up at 2400 m above sea level when we arrive, we will be instructed in more detail. Then the ride ...
(Photo: Marco Felix)
It takes what feels like 15 minutes in four stages. The feeling of the flight is unique - a kind of preliminary stage to paragliding. Together with instructions, drive, hike and valley flight, about 3 hours must be planned for this, costs: 159 USD.
The hunger is great also the fear of not being full of the announced tapas. But it turns out differently.
We are invited to lunch at JULIAN SERRANO, a restaurant right in the lobby of our hotel, the ARIA. The menu is classically Spanish from Chef JULIAN SERRANO. Each plate was served and presented individually. The food was sufficient and excellent!
After that showed us the responsible media supervisor the CRYSTAL affiliated to the ARIA, a luxury shopping mall.
In the architectural masterpiece built by DANIEL LIBESKND, stores in the higher price segment are rented: PRADA, GUCCI, VERSACE, LUIS VUITTON, DOLCE & GABANA, etc.
The art in architecture is also worth mentioning, including "Glacia", a constantly changing ice sculpture.
Side note from male participants in the group about recommendations regarding the precautionary confiscation of wives' credit cards are making the rounds ...
One of us moves into what is probably less beautiful, but a more affordable mall on the other side of Las Vegas Boulevard, the MIRACLE MILE in the PLANET-HOLLYWOOD complex. There are shops and fast food chains for the people here. The seemingly endless, sometimes narrow corridors, some of which have artificial skies, are correspondingly well attended.
A bar catches our attention. It is jam-packed - with guests and 53 (!) Screens on which the soccer World Cup game USA-Portugal is broadcast.
And when the Americans get their opening goal, the joy of it knows no bounds. Because soccer is meaningless in the USA!
For dinner we are chauffeured to MANDALAY BAY. The MANDALAY BAY was opened in 1999. The interior design is exotic Far Eastern - and spatially huge! In addition to the main tower, which has 3211 rooms, there is THE HOTEL AT MANDALAY BAY, a second tower, which consists exclusively of suites, 1117 in number. THE FOUR SEASONS is another integrated hotel with another 424 rooms. The casino area is 12,500 m², plus two spas, three wedding chapels, the fifth largest convention center in the USA, 25 restaurants, 10 bars and lounges, numerous shops, 3 beach clubs with gaming areas, the night club THE LIGHT, the SHARK REEF AQUARIUM, a concert hall and a Theater where a MICHAEL JACKSON show is currently running.
The artificial beach is special with over 2700 tons of sand and over 6 million liters of water in the wave pool, as well as other pools and rivers.
STRIPSTEAK is the name of the integrated steakhouse here. Chef MICHAEL MINA's first steakhouse concept.Here, too, the kitchen serves us a best of their menu: oysters, a green salad filled with spicy Gorgonzola and of course a tender, bloody steak with a crispy crust. In addition, the finest sauces for a change in taste.
The second highlight of this not boring day is a visit to the show "MICHAEL JACKSON One" in the Theater des MANDALAY - an all-round experience. The stage is extended on both sides by large screens. The ceiling is also included in the action several times, be it through artistic interludes by CIRQUE-DU-SOLEIL acrobats or lasers. Screens, the rich surround sound, light and dance interludes couldn't be more synchronous. All of JACKSON's great songs are mostly played in new remixes and recited in one another. Excerpts from the video clips were collaged with new images. Elements that were originally pre-produced for MICHAEL JACKSON's "This-is i!" Tour finally find their appropriate setting in "MICHAEL JACKSON One".
Monday June 23
The morning is dedicated to downtown Las Vegas, the center and founding place of the city, which most tourists ignore, approx. 7 km north of the new city center, which is actually in the area of Paradise, on the southern Strip.
The platform on the STRATOSPHERE Tower is the highest vantage point in the city. And as an encore, the BIGSHOT, the X-SCREAM or the INSANITY offer a special kind of adrenaline kick. In the Bigshot you are shot 60m into the air with 4 times the force of gravity and then let down again. The X-SCREAM lets you tip over the platform edge towards the depth. Everything is not for the faint of heart.
Nowhere in the world is the half-life of hotel and entertainment facilities shorter than Las Vegas. Here even demolitions and explosions turn into lavishly staged shows. What remains are the neon signs that were previously removed.
And they find their final rest in the neon advertising cemetery, the NEON MUSEUM, a place of power for nostalgic people. Here they are all, the former glowing remains of STARDUST, SAHARA or FRONTIER - hotels that have lost in the competition for even bigger and even more beautiful. Terms such as "hotel", "casino" and "Las Vegas" can also be found here in large, colorful letters made of neon tubes or individual lightbulbs. A collection of imaginative and elaborately crafted advertisements from a world in front of the large LED screens.
NEON BONEYARD PARK is three blocks north of East Freemont Street. An alternative cultural scene is developing there. This is particularly lively in the DOWNTOWN CONTAINER PARK, which opened in 2013. This system was built from shipping containers on an empty site. Small shops, restaurants, bars or craft businesses populate this park, which becomes a hotspot, especially in the evening, not least because of the open-air stage for bands and cabaret - a place that can be easily combined with a stroll through Freemont Street.
The background to this system is the "Downtown Project". The intent of this initiative is to revitalize downtown Las Vegas. Since the start of 2012, 690 new jobs have already been created.
(Photo: Marco Felix)
Places of culinary abyss are not difficult to find. Advertising for (fast) food comes right after those for shows and casinos. Here are some examples:
That fast food and healthy eating not ruled out, proves the WILD on Ogden Street, the first parallel street to Freemont Street on the south side. Vegetarians and vegans will also find a selection here - including burgers or cakes ...
(Photo: Marco Felix)
... and W-LAN. By the way, you can get access to the Internet almost everywhere on request.
META HILTEBRAND enjoys a glimpse into the kitchen.
(Photo: Marco Felix)
Shopping is the order of the day for the afternoon. The FORUM SHOPS in the CAESAR'S PALACE are modeled on Italian old town streets.
The CAESAR'S PALACE is thematically dedicated to the Roman Empire. It was opened in 1966, but has been continuously expanded and remodeled since then. It has 3960 rooms and houses the COLOSSEUM, a large theater in which CÉLINE DION currently sings every day.
Above the Roman and Florentine style facades in the FORUM SHOPS, an artificial sky (together with the cooling air conditioning) creates a pleasant atmosphere. The mix of goods, providers and prices is broad. You can find both ARMANI and H&M. Fixed points are the piazza in the middle, ....
the hall with the Atlantis fountain, which provides a spectacle every half hour and attracts the audience to the "Race for Atlantis", a 3D driving simulation track, and ...
... the pompous entrance hall. Rarely seen: the curved escalators ...
The best way to experience and discover the southern strip is on foot. It is true that you only have to talk about distances from one hotel to the next, but with the dense car traffic it is much faster on foot. After all, cars also have to be parked. Whether by yourself or by the hotel's valet parking services, both take a lot of time.
There are also buses. However, they are in the same traffic jams. Alternatively there are monorails. One connects the hotels MONTE CARLO, ARIA and BELLAGIO, another the EXCALIBUR, LUXOR and MANDALAY BAY and the official LAS VEGAS MONORAIL drives 7 stops north from the MGM GRAND. Unfortunately, the latter serves more back entrances and is also chargeable.
The newer hotel towers shape the cityscape of the southern strip with modern and classicist facades.
France, Italy, Egypt - Las Vegas tourists should be spared a trip around the world ...
There is no lack of shopping opportunities. Almost every resort has a shopping area, some have malls. There are also numerous shopping centers in the suburbs and - our favorite because it is interesting in terms of price: The LAS VEGAS OUTLET CENTER by PREMIUM OUTLETS. The one to the south is by the airport and is completely covered.
The nicer one is the northern one, which corresponds to the classic image of a US outlet center: one house per shop, with walks and squares in between. In contrast to the local copies, these outlet centers still correspond to the basic ideas of this concept: factory shops with discontinued and previous year's models or production series with slight defects.
The MIRAGE connects everyone with SIEGFRID & ROY. The two carnivore dressers performed here for 10 years. Although it is almost 25 years old and is the oldest of these new, large hotel and casino resorts, the MIRAGE does not seem to be showing its age.
The MIRAGEIt houses 3,044 rooms, including 281 suites, 15 restaurants, 9 bars and lounges, plus, as usual, a casino, shops and a convention center. A large aquarium is home to around 1,000 aquatic species including sharks, stingrays, porcupine fish, eels, sea bass and puffer fish.
The outside area is tropical designed with waterfalls, pools and whirlpools, all with salt water. Further attractions are the SIEGFRIED & ROY’S SECRET GARDEN and the DOLPHIN HABITAT.
The current performance on the stage of the MIRAGE theater is called "Love". CIRQUE DU SOLEIL has created a colorful show of the highest artistic level from the BEATLES remix album of the same name.
Before we visit this show, we dine in the TOM COLICCHIO’S HERITAGE STEAK American Steakhouse in the MIRAGE. Seafood is served, among other things.
Tuesday June 24th
On a visit to downtown Las Vegas, where the city was founded in 1905, should not be omitted. Much of Freemont Street is as it was in the sixties and seventies: the legendary casinos with fronts open to the street and an infinite number of lights above them, the cocktail glass or the famous cowboy of the Pioneer Club.
Before the first big mega-resorts on the Strip in Paradise, outside the original city, life played out on Freemont Street. In order to counteract the disappearance into the insignificance of this founder's street in the city, it was roofed over and car-free in 1994. This part has since been called FREMONT STREET EXPERIENCE.
Today you can admire the old casinos that you know from old films such as the GOLDEN NUGGET, the FOUR QUEENS, the FREEMONT or the PIONEER during the day in the bearable shade and at night under a colorful LED sky. And for the brave, a fast zipline adventure beckons under the blanket.
Here are nice feelings of nostalgia:
East Freemont Street gives an idea of what the center of Las Vegas once looked like. A popular photo subject is the OSCAR'S MARTINI glass. It was restored in 2007.
In the past, advertisers had hardly any limits when competing for attention. Here the oversized shoe and the lady from EL CORTEZ ..
Freemont Street in its early years.
The famous cowboy of the PIONEER Club, whose facade currently leaves a slightly nibbled impression. On the right a picture from the 1980s, when the street was not yet covered. In the background in the right picture the LAS VEGAS PLAZA, built in 1971, whose well-known facade has disappeared from view due to the roofing. Behind him was the UNION PACIFIC train station.
In the HOGS & HEIFERS SALOON, a really authentic biker bar, has a photo shoot with actress VIRGINIA GOMEZ, also known as DJ TAP TAP. The restaurant is reminiscent of the "Coyote Ugly" from the film of the same name. It is decorated with all kinds of souvenirs from guests, including those from stars. There is hardly a square centimeter of wall or ceiling free. The many bras are visible behind the blanket. They are all from real guests, tells us host BRUCE O. HEATON.
(Photo: Marco Felix)
Virginia Gomez learned how to play poker in Las Vegas, read here.
lunch there is again in the ARIA, this time in the FIVE50 pizza bar, ...
... a modern, stylish restaurant that has really fine American pizzas on the menu.
After eating and a relaxing phase in the spacious pool area of the ARIA, we walk to PARIS.
La Tour Eiffel as an eye-catcher and the Arc de Triumph as the gate to the hotel driveway, a baroque facade with a typical street café in front of it (in which you can only sit thanks to the cooling water spray) and the entrance is designed in the style of the famous Abbesses metro exit - Paris is clearly recognizable. The view of the hotel tower is structured in the same proportions as that of a typical magnificent Champs-Elyssée building - only much larger.
Inside everything is labeled in French - or at least in such a way that it can be mistaken for French.
Shows belong to Las Vegas like casinos. Theaters are an integral part of every resort or larger hotel. In the past, burlesque performances or cabarets were more on the program. ELVIS PRESLEY was the first megastar to appear in the desert city in the 1970s. Today, in addition to concerts, you can also find musicals and multimedia spectacles such as the one about MICHAEL JACKSN on the oversized billboards. The stars often not only appear during a tour stop in Las Vegas, they install themselves here for a few months - or even years like DAVID COPPERFIELD or the CIRQUE DU SOLEIL, which is omnipresent here. Only in a place with consistently high visitor numbers like Las Vegas is it worthwhile to convert entire stages, including technology, specifically for a show.
"The Jersey Boys" is on the program in PARIS. We attend the early evening performance. The musical tells the eventful story of the FOUR SEASONS, the band of FRANKIE VALLI - with their hits, of course, including "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Walk Like A Man". The setting is deliberately kept simple, but designed to be effective. It is played live, music and singing, and this at an absolutely high level.
That evening A visit to the luxury hotel MANDARIN ORIENTAL is also on the agenda. This hotel chain stands for the highest possible comfort class. The same goes for the kitchen. Before we are asked to table, we are shown through two of the house's luxury suites. For around 16,000 dollars, the guest resides here on almost 200m², divided into a living room, a bedroom with an integrated spa area,
... a fitness room, a study with an elegant desk, a small kitchen (which should hardly be needed) and a guest room with a bathroom.
The TWIST is the top restaurant in the MANDARIN ORIENTAL. For once, we're going to be eating rather late. The interior design and the location within the hotel tower are as haute as the cuisine. Here, too, all courses are explained in detail by the Chef de Service.
Chef PIERRE GAGNAIRE has composed an exclusive menu of fried foie gras with chanterelle soup, baby artichokes, smoked ham, Tahima Wagyu beef from Lindsay Farm, Oregon with herb butter, with Arugula Purée & Tomme de Savoie cheese and stuffed beet. For dessert there was chocolate cake with dried grapefruit leaves and black sesame ice cream. Much unknown that we were able to discover here.
Wednesday June 25th
After another trip to Freemont Street for the purpose of taking photos, we just make it to lunch at FLEUR by HUBERT KELLER in MANDALAY BAY. Motto here: Small gourmet platters, inspired by dishes from all over the world.
The fact that hamburgers don't have to be equated with fast food is demonstrated here with a particularly delicious type of this American specialty. During and after dinner we watch the soccer World Cup match Switzerland - Honduras, which ends positively for us. We didn't notice much more from the World Cup, which was taking place at the same time as this trip. Somehow this topic was secondary.
One of the attractions in MANDALAY BAY is the BAY SHARK REEF. 14 main exhibits feature more than 2000 dangerous animals such as sharks, crocodiles, sawfish, piranhas and a rare Komodo dragon. The highlight is the large aquarium, in which there are also sharks. As a visitor, you will find yourself in the hull of a sunken wooden ship, from which you can enjoy a unique panoramic view of this artificial underwater world.
It is also exclusively possible to get into the water together with experienced divers and thus get even closer to the animals. The tingling, however, costs $ 650.
Immediately after the visit of the BAY SHARK REEF, the dignified VIP bus brings us to the MGM GRAND HOTEL. A bronze lion weighing 100,000 pounds on the corner of Las Vegas Bvd - Tropicana Avenue commemorates the film company of the same name, METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER, whose main shareholder opened the first MGM GRAND in Las Vegas in 1973. This was reopened after a fire in 1980 under the name BALLY'S.
The new MGM GRAND opened in 1993. With its 5044 rooms, it is the largest on the square and the third largest in the world. It was opened in 1993 and renovated in 2012. 51 Skylofts and 576 Suites in the SIGNATURE add to the number of rooms. The play area covers 15,800 m² and includes over 2500 (!) Slot machines. The smoke-free (which is unfortunately not a given in Vegas in contrast to the rest of the USA) offers 23 tables. 22 restaurants, including a RAINFOREST CAFÉ, numerous bars and lounges as well as shops, ballrooms and a wedding band are a matter of course. The convention center is over 35,000 m². The GRAND GARDEN ARENA offers 16,800 seats. Legendary boxing matches and of course many concerts by megastars such as U2, THE ROLLING STONES or MADONNA have already taken place here. In the somewhat more intimate HOLLYWOOD THEATER with 764 seats, the magic of DAVID COPPERFIELD can be experienced. The CIRQUE DU SOLEIL is also active in the MGM GRAND, with its epic production "Kà". Also worth mentioning are the HAKKASAN Club and the large bathing area consisting of pools and a current bath. Adjacent is the WET REPUBLIC, actually like a nightclub with the dance floor in the pool.
The MGM GRAND is also the namesake of MGM RESORTS INTERNATIONAL. In addition to the MGM GRAND, this group also includes MANDALAY BAY, ARIA, BELLAGIO, MONTE CARLO, LUXOR and many others.
We eat like God at JOËL ROBUCHON, "Chef of the Century" - nobody has more stars than him. The master serves us a dinner that is unparalleled, that one of us can hardly afford:
Peas with smoked duck, white mint marshmallows and pistachios, purple artichokes and foie gras salad with Parmesan slivers, semi-soft-boiled Florentine-style eggs with Comté cheese sauce, further "en aiguilettes juste caramélisés aux fins aromates et kumant" which sounds as nice in French as it feels in your mouth, then caramelized chicken with foie gras, farro risotto with white peas. Finally, "aux arômes de Saison, sabayor, à la chartreuse verte. Various sweet art delicacies form the finale. Exquisite is an understatement.
Around 11 p.m. we drive to MANDALAY BAY. After enjoying the view from the roof, presented by comedian CLAUDIO ZUCCOLINI, ...
(Photo: Marco Felix)
... those who still like are invited to the club in the LIGHT in MANDALAY.
This is characterized by its large screen wallon which club video animation art is offered at its finest.While dancers loll around on a pole in the clubs in this country, entire aerial acrobatics are performed for animation in the LIGHT of CIRQUE DU SOLEIL. With this in mind, an admission price of 70 dollars is understandable. The place is full and the atmosphere is high.
As in all clubs The dress code is strictly controlled in LIGHT: no sneakers, no oversized clothing or ripped jeans, no shorts, no hats and no flip-flops. However, it does not fit in with this - and thus we come to a negative point - that the long drinks, which are for us at the usual high price level, are served in cheap plastic cups.
Thursday June 26th
Again, wake up is early, at 7 o'clock there is "roll call" in the lobby. Then the bus takes us to the MAVERICK HELICOPTERS heliport. MAVERICK offers sightseeing and charter flights with helicopters and propeller planes, especially to the Grand Canyon.
After a few formal instructions, we get on the helicopter and take off. Las Vegas from above is breathtaking and exciting.
Outside the center are the large residential areas. From the air you can see how small properties are here and how additively they are built. In this way, however, many, even less well-off, come to their own homes. A possible answer to the land wear in this country?
And the Agglo Las Vegas continues to grow into the desert. Building land is waiting for new buyers here.
The Hoover Dam with Lake Mead behind it.
The Las Vegas Lake, the little brother of Lake Mead, so to speak, with a replica of Firenze's Ponte Vecchio.
You land in the gorge below. There is a picnic area for food - but what is more important for everyone is their personal photo shoot.
Quite a few scenes in Hollywood cartoons was inspired by the suddenly vertically sloping walls of the mega gorge, keyword “Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner”. Note: You can run over the cliffs. You only fall down when you can no longer feel the ground beneath your feet ...
Even if a helicopter flight to the Grand Canyon leaves lasting impressions. This destination is also worth exploring by rental car, namely to the east point near Flagstaff. The way there takes about four hours and can be done via the comfortable Interstate 40 or via the historic Highway 66, which is modern on this section. You can spend the night in hotels, lodges or in tents.
The Grand Canyon, even more beautiful when the sky is cloudy.
On the way back from the heliport, an obligatory stop for every tourist is made at the Las Vegas sign. In addition to the desired photo subject, the vacation photographer will also find less sought-after subjects in the form of ELVIS imitators, see bottom left in the picture.
We can't help it either - a group picture is a must!
It is now noon. There is lunch in a restaurant in the MONTE CARLO Resort, which is located right next to our ARIA. The MONTE CARLO Hotel, built in 1996, has a more classic appearance. 2992 rooms and 9 lounges and bars and 22 restaurants, including a MAC DONALD'S and a few shops. The theater is operated by the BLUE MAN GROUP.
The DOUBLE BARREL is a beer, cocktail, burger and steak eatery with a stage for live music and catwalks, on which animation is provided in the evenings.
The menu offers specialties such as the "Roadhouse Sliders", "BBQ Chicken Salad Wraps", "Mini Corn Dogs" and delicious desserts. Indoor and outdoor areas were designed by the award-winning designer MARK ZEFF.
The BLVD CREAMERY is right next door, a gelateria that offers imaginative types of ice cream, cakes, ice creams, shakes and ice cream sandwiches. Not only VIRGINIA GOMEZ is spoiled for choice ...
In the evening we should get to know the WYNN. The resort, which opened in 2005 and was built after its builder STEVE WYNN, is considered to be the most expensive hotel in the world until then. The talk is of over 2.5 billion dollars. It replaced the renowned DESERT INN that previously stood at this location. With its 2,700 rooms, it is significantly smaller than other Las Vegas hotels. The WYNN is the only hotel in Las Vegas to have an 18-hole golf course. Outside it looks cool and futuristic, but inside it is furnished in a classical style. The dominant red chandeliers in the casino are striking.
We take the DINNER in the SINATRA. The restaurant is entirely dedicated to the legendary US singer. It goes without saying that we will be showered with his songs the whole evening. The menu is Italian, with pasta, carne, pesce and of course the finest antipasti.
Then we will be greeted by a particularly classy VIP bus once again chauffeured to the MGM GRAND.
There we are guided past a particularly long line to the HAKKASAN Club. The world's most famous DJs perform here regularly. The Multifloor Club was opened in 2013. It has the latest technology on five levels, including a lounge. The outdoor area is designed in an oriental style. There is also a garden bar with an amphitheater ambience. The complete nightclub experience!
It's the last night in this glittering city. We walk to the ARIA Hotel at 3 a.m. We are here on the footbridge over the Strip with a view of the EXCALIBUR ...
... and make a detour through the NEW YORK NEW YORK Hotel opposite, opened in 1997. The skyscraper landscape, which represents 12 simplified replicas of famous Manhattan towers, is actually a single building in which the 2024 rooms are housed. It is circled by a roller coaster, which is one of the longer with its 2:40 minutes travel time. The Statue of Liberty in the front of the resort is striking. More monuments, bridges and sights of New York can be discovered inside and outside.
The interior is designed in the style of the old quarters of New York, with brick buildings and their fire escapes.
The vacant lot between NEW YORK NEW YORK and MONTE CARLO is to be closed with a park with restaurant pavilions. Public parks are rare in Las Vegas. A parkway will lead through the green to a new arena, which will have 20,000 seats, and the opening is planned for 2016.
Friday June 27th
The last awakening in this wonderful corner room at the ARIA. Because I like the view day and night so much, I never closed the curtains. It wasn't easy, because the "Goognight" program of the room electronics commands all lights to be switched off, but also forces the curtains to be closed. I helped myself with pulling the plug and turning out pears.
I could live here ...
The return flight is in the late afternoon, at 2 p.m. you have to be ready to drive to the airport in the lobby. Until then, after breakfast and an organized tour of a sky suite in the ARIA, there are still just under 3 hours. These have to be enough for one last shopping, a visit to the VENETIAN Resort and packing.
Despite - or perhaps because of the time pressure - we walk past PARIS ...
... and the BELLAGIO ...
to the VENETIAN, a replica of the sights of Venice. The way in leads over the Ponte Rialto. This can be comfortably passed using a treadmill.
Inside there are beautiful, lavishly designed alleys, streets, canals and piazzas, surrounded by restaurants and many shops.
The EDELWEISS AIRBUS takes off on time. Again we are spoiled with a fine meal.
Summarized: Once you have the annoying immigration formalities behind you, an exciting world awaits you. The city in the desert amazes everyone, even with repeated visits. It attracts shows and stars, gourmet cuisine and fast food, 5-star resorts or motels, luxury shopping or outlet centers, swimming pools, golf courses and, finally, casinos and everything superlatives. And it is a central starting point to discover the Wild West, the parks or Route 66.
EDELWEISS flies non-stop from Zurich to Las Vegas on Friday and Monday.
Bookings at www.flyedelweiss.com or in a travel agency.
General information about Las Vegas: www.lvcva.com
More about Las Vegas and why this city can also be a destination for those who like to avoid the hustle and bustle and commerce, see the printed edition of NO. ONE magazine issue 04/2014 and here.
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