Las Vegas – the city of sin, gambling and entertainment that never sleeps. The city overflows with life, attractions and fun. After arriving in Vegas we were amazed by the local atmosphere and way of life. It is really a completely different city and you immediately feel the atmosphere of the casinos, games, shopping and entertainment. Spectacular and pompous hotels, shopping centres and omnipresent casinos. We had our initiation right in the arrivals hall at the airport. Our accommodation was arranged in the Hard Rock hotel, a short way from the airport. We travelled there by taxi and were offered 2 prices. One was in cash and the other by payment card, around 30% higher. When we wanted to pay by card the terminal included a compulsory tip of around 30% of the price. It was immediately clear to us where we were.
The city appeared relatively recently in the middle of a desolate, almost lifeless arid desert scorched by the sun in the south of Nevada. The first railway arrived in 1905 to connect Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. The first hotel opened in 1906 (Hotel Nevada) and gambling has been permitted here since 1931. Turnover took off in the 1940s, when organised crime gangs took over the casinos and hotels, and controlled the city for several decades. The city began to grow and get richer.
Today’s Las Vegas is saturated with luxury, pomp, fun, unbelievable possibilities and experiences. On our stay in the USA we only spent six days in Las Vegas, and that is really not enough for such a city. Yet on our business trip we still tried to find time for ourselves and to soak up and try to understand the city. Of course we could not resist leaving a dollar or two at one of the omnipresent casinos. You are served by austerely clad young ladies while several beautiful women perform acrobatics above your head. As long as you play and feed the one-armed bandits you drink for free. We thought this was a good deal on the whole and so stayed for a couple of glasses of wine.
There are fantastic walks and shopping locations in the Las Vegas malls full of stores that connect the hotels such as Wynn, Mirrage and Caesars Palace. We were able to spend two days here and in the Ceasars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, a splendid Roman-style palace from which you go directly to some of these gorgeous centres – The Forum Shops at Caesars. You can look inside on a virtual tour. Here you find a whole range of luxury boutiques such as Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabana, Prada, Hugo Boss.
The artificial ceilings with skies evoke beautiful summer days, while you are actually inside a fully air-conditioned space with fountains, stores, cafés, restaurants, an accompanying programme and thematic buildings. While walking through this magnificent centre you feel you are in a real palace. Apart from the Coliseum and the magnificent interior you will be captivated by the huge pillars, replicas of famous statues and sculptures, which are really everywhere. Nothing is ‘normal’ here, everything is exceptional and the enjoyment is enhanced by the lighting and wonderful atmosphere. Even if you don’t buy anything, the walk itself is undoubtedly worth it.
We made a reservation one evening at the famous LAGO restaurant by Julian Serrano with its beautiful view directly over the Bellagio fountains in the very heart of the main street, the ‘Strip’, lined with the world’s largest hotels and casinos. You enter the restaurant directly from the promenade of stores and casinos at the luxurious five-star Bellagio Hotel and Casino. Take a look inside on the virtual tour. If you want to spend the evening in a restaurant with a view over the Bellagio fountains, we recommend reserving in advance otherwise they will be hopelessly full. We of course left the restaurant after an unforgettable culinary experience from the multiple-course menu enhanced by the wonderful performance of thousands of huge fountains accompanied by grandiose lighting and music, from classic opera to popular Broadway music – all the while sipping selected French wine. When thinking of romantic locations, many think of Paris, Rome, London or Madrid and their fountains. Here you have all these places right in front of you. You can gaze at the Eiffel Tower or the London Eye accompanied by thousands of dancing fountains over 300 metres in length and shooting water 140 metres into the air. The aquatic performance is every 15 minutes in the mornings and every 30 minutes in the evenings. If you find yourself in Las Vegas, don’t miss this amazing spectacle – you can even watch it from the street.
If you walk from the Ceasar hotel through The Forum Shops at Caesars and cross the main street, a few metres after the Madame Tussauds wax museum you will find yourself in the real Venice in Italy. Sitting in a gondola winding through the narrow Italian canals, the gondolier will sing beautiful romantic songs just for you. This imposing replica of Venice is part of the luxury The Venetian Las Vegas hotel, built by American billionaire Sheldon Adamson, who fell in love with Venice and spent his honeymoon there. He opened the complex in May 1999, and here you will find everything just like the real Venice. Narrow streets with typical bridges across the canals, gondolas and replicas of Venetian monuments like St Mark’s Basilica with its bell tower, the Grand Canal with gondolas and the Doge’s Palace. The atmosphere is enhanced with Italian specialities in the restaurants and cafés. The Venetian Las Vegas including part of the Palazzo is, with over 7,000 rooms, the largest five-star complex in the world. It of course has a casino where you can choose from 140 games and with a bet of one dollar can play for a bank of over USD 30 million! You can taste food from all over the world in 20 international restaurants and shop in the mall again, of course, built in the Italian style.
As a child I dreamed of seeing the breath-taking landscape of the Grand Canyon, and now this dream has come true. I have seen and been in America’s most famous natural miracle. We reserved a half-day helicopter flight and couldn’t wait to start. A limousine collected us from the hotel early in the morning, a long black limousine like the ones in films, and took us to McCarran airport, from where we continued in a modern six-person sightseeing helicopter towards the Grand Canyon. We got headphones through which the pilot gave us information about the flight and the places we flew over. On the way there we flew over Hoover Dam, a concrete arch-gravity dam on the Colorado River, one of the largest in the United States, on the border with Arizona. It is around 40 km from Las Vegas, is 379 m long and 220 m high. Flying over this imposing structure, still a symbol of the USA after over 80 years and visited every year by thousands of tourists, is an amazing experience and it would have been wonderful to stand on the dam itself or enjoy the view from the bridge opposite, the Hoover Dam Bypass. We continued over the Grand Canyon and the gorges inside the Canyon itself – I wanted to see absolutely everything. We stopped for a light snack on the floor of the canyon with some refreshing champagne.
After taking some pictures, we started the return journey. We circled Lake Mead and the Colorado River and drank in a bird’s eye perspective of Las Vegas. It was only then that I fully comprehended that it is a luxury city in the middle of nowhere, an arid desert. The outskirts of the city are an enormous housing district and it is only in the centre of Vegas, along the Strip, that at high altitude you pass the tops of a series of hotels rising from their surroundings. The highest hotel, with a lookout tower 350 m above ground level, is the Stratosphere Hotel, Casino & Tower, followed by the gold Trump International Hotel, Wynn, Aria Resort & Casino, and The Cosmopolitan or Bellagio. These are genuinely beautiful architectural gems and it is amazing to see them from above. After landing we had a group photo taken as a souvenir and another luxurious limousine took us back to the hotel. There are various local airlines providing diverse services and tours, so make sure you choose the exact one you want. On the Victoria Holiday Club platform in the Activities tab you will find hundreds of offers from night flights over the city, through a whole range of Grand Canyon tours by off-road buggy, helicopter or individual or group tours, to tickets for various performances, concerts, parties and experiences. On the Victoria Holiday Club platform you can even order your own wedding in a beautiful chapel – Las Vegas Wedding at Paradise Wedding Chapel.
Nor could we refuse an invitation from our friends to shop in the local outlets. In all sincerity I can say that not all outlets are created equal. The stores and outlets we know in Europe simply cannot be compared to those in America, or at least those at Las Vegas Premium Outlets. I am sure even somebody who hates shopping would soften up here and get some great deals. Brands like Hugo BOSS, Michael Kors, Armani, Polo Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and many more we don’t even know in Europe offer their luxury and most importantly very high-quality products at amazing prices - often for less than a quarter of what you would pay in regular stores in the Czech Republic. What more can I say? Only that fortunately you can buy a really large suitcase here to bring it all back home.