City slicker: Las Vegas

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

With $8bn spent on designer hotels, restaurants and shops, the gambling capital of the world is re-inventing itself – again. Kate Simon reports


Why visit?


You don't need to be a gambler to go to Las Vegas. At least that's what the tourist bosses in this desert city would have us believe.

No, Vegas is for eating at Michelin-starred restaurants, shopping for luxury brands, and indulging in the latest treatments at cutting-edge spas. This is Vegas doing what it does best – reinventing itself. The demolition teams aren't yet knocking down the fantasy-style hotels that characterise the Strip, but the arrival of City Center, America's latest and most audacious multi-billion-dollar urban resort must signify that the clock is ticking.

Don't miss

A tour of the Strip to see its amazing hotels, such as The Luxor (luxor.com), shaped like a pyramid and guarded by a sphinx, Paris Las Vegas (parislasvegas .com), with its own Eiffel Tower, New York New York (nynyhotelcasino.com), complete with Statue of Liberty.

Trying your luck. The roulette, blackjack, and poker tables, plus the slots, are ready for your dollars.

The city's eclectic museums. No subject is too niche – from neon (neonmuseum.org) to atomic testing (atomictestingmuseum.org).

A free sidewalk show. The Fountains of Bellagio (bellagio.com), which dance on the lake in front of the eponymous hotel throughout the day to world-famous melodies, is the most famous. But Treasure Island's (treasureisland.com) new pyrotechnic pirate ship battle, Sirens of TI, is gaining fans.

Getting married. It might be true love, or just a love of kitsch, but this is the place to get hitched.

Getting out of town. Fly in a helicopter over the Hoover Dam to the Grand Canyon (heliusa.com).

What's new

City Center

For a vision of Vegas's future, look no further than the hottest stop on the Strip, City Center (citycenter.com). A once down-at-heel space has been transformed by eight of the world's leading architects, including Foster+Partners and Daniel Libeskind, in an $8bn (£5.3bn) project that is the largest of its kind in United States history. This new urban resort offers sophisticated accommodation in the shape of five-star hotels Mandarin Oriental, Aria, the Vdara, and the Harmon Hotel, and a shopping mall featuring luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and an outpost of Eva Longoria-Parker's Hollywood restaurant, Beso.

Cloud Nine

Take to the skies in the world's largest helium-filled, land-tethered balloon, Cloud Nine. This new attraction rises almost 500 feet (152 metres) off the ground, offering visitors with a head for heights panoramic views on a "ride" lasting 10 to 12 minutes.

Details: cloud9vegas.com

Pink Jeep

Check out Vegas's truly wild side on a new off-road trail with Pink Jeep Tours to the Springs Preserve, site of the spring that sustained the first pioneers, just outside the city. Meanwhile, Day Dreamin' Exotic Tours has a new experience where punters can drive five sports cars on a 90-mile trail through the Red Rock Canyon and Spring Mountain Peak.

Details: pinkjeep.com; daydreaminexotics.com

Swim-up gaming

You don't have to stop gambling in this town even if you fancy a dip in the pool – Caesar's Palace now offers swim-up blackjack.

Details: caesarspalace.com

Viva Elvis

Cirque de Soleil gives the king of rock'n'roll its unique treatment in its latest Vegas show, Viva Elvis, at the new Aria hotel. It's a typically spectacular display of dance, acrobatics and music.

Details: cirquedusoleil.com

Bellagio Gallery

The Bellagio hotel is offering new docent (guided) tours of its fine art collection. But enthusiasts must make sure they get there sharpish – the new 45-minute tour, which runs from Wednesday to Sunday at 3.30pm, is limited to the first 20 attendees.

Details: bellagio.com

Insider’s secret: John Power, Executive Vice President, Heli USA Airways

"Follow the locals to Mount Charleston, just 40 minutes' drive from the Strip, which has hiking trails and skiing. And take a picnic to the Valley of Fire State Park, 50 miles north-east, in the Mojave Desert, with its red sandstone formations and petroglyphs [ancient rock art]."

Compact Facts

How to get there

British Airways (0844 493 0758; ba.com/lasvegas) offers four nights at the Bellagio in Las Vegas from £995 per person and from £1,069 staying at the Mandarin Oriental. Both prices are based on two sharing and include return BA flights from Heathrow and accommodation only.

Further information

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (visitlasvegas.co.uk).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Sport
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam