Easy Escapes: Las Vegas

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  • Lisa Potter shops but never drops in a desert city born to party

    Lisa Potter shops but never drops in a desert city born to party

    Why go? Because Las Vegas offers an unashamedly only-in-America experience. Everyone’s there to have a good – and often – wild time. It’s brash, bright, loud and a bit crazy – but also a regular city of half-a-million people living in the Nevada desert. Oh, and an annual 40 million visitors…

    When? Anytime – the casinos never close, and don’t have windows. Summers are hot, when it’s pool party time. Winters can be rainy, but that’s never stopped the fun.

    Feel the buzz: fly over the Grand Canyon with Maverick Helicopters

    You really must… Party, gamble if you like to, dine in top name restaurants, catch a show. Britney Spears is the latest star to join the fray, and has just signed up for a two year residency at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Las Vegas (planethollywoodresort.com), doing 50 gigs a year. An easy way to hit the town is on a Vegas Rock Star VIP nightclub tour (from £61, vegasrockstarvip.com), which takes you to three clubs on a party limo bus with a complimentary bar on board. Yay!

    Among many unusual museums, including ones devoted to erotic heritage and atomic testing, two that stand out are the Neon Museum (neonmuseum.org) and The Mob Museum (themobmuseum.org). For an overview of the city, jump in a chopper – a 15 minute scenic flight over the Strip costs £74 with Maverick Helicopters (maverickhelicopter.co.uk), or for a once in a lifetime thrill book a Wind Dancer tour (£314) where you take a 45 minute flight out to the Hoover Dam then descend into the Grand Canyon for a champagne picnic.

    Fountain of delight: everything’s big at Bellagio

    Stay at: Bellagio (bellagio.com, doubles from £143), with its famous dancing water fountains, is one of the most iconic hotels on the Strip. Ready to cater to your every whim 24/7, night owls need never leave this 3,933 room mega-hotel thanks to a host of casinos, clubs and restaurants. After a few frenzied and sleepless nights seek recovery at the seriously good house spa or soak up the rays, with frozen margarita in hand, by one of its five outdoor pools. A 50 minute Signature Stone Massage cost £109, or take a pal and indulge in a ‘Girlfriends’ Italian Bliss Package’ which offers a pampering manicure and pedicure in a private suite with a gourmet meal (£218 for two).

    Dine at: Vegas is not just about fast food and hangover cures – big name chefs have become a star attraction of the city’s dining scene. Gordon Ramsay’s here (parislasvegas.com), along with Joël Robuchon (joel-robuchon.net) and Wolfgang Puck (wolfgangpuck.com). For a serious meat moment head to Smith & Wollensky (smithandwollensky.com), a classic New York-style steakhouse with wooden floors and white tablecloths that offers comforting fare such as filet mignon (£26) and coriander-seared tuna (£24). When you’re out shopping, grab a burger (£9) or grilled chicken Caesar salad (£10) at the Italian-American The Palm (thepalm.com) in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.

    Bring home: Bargains. Just a ten minute taxi ride from the Strip, fashionistas will find the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North and South shopping centres (premiumoutlets.com), where there are impressive savings to be had at the likes of Burberry, Ralph Lauren and Kate Spade amongst others. There’s 290 outlets altogether, so do some planning first – the discounts on designer brands range from 25-65 percent and there are all sorts of promotions and discounts going on. You might want to end at the Samonsite suitcase store to get another bag to put it all in…

    Brands patch: sunshine and shopping, that’s what we like © Las Vegas News Bureau

    Want more? Forum Shops at Caesars Palace (simon.com) has another 160 luxe boutiques including famous designers like Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Louis Vuitton next to high street favorites like H&M and Nike. For Vegas T-shirts and tacky souvenirs, head to Bonanza Gifts (worldslargestgiftshop.com). If you get lucky on the roulette table, it’s very easy to spend your bucks on anything from summoning up a stretch limo (omnilimo.com) to a dawn balloon ride (vegasballoonrides.com). For more shopping options, see here.

    Book now: Virgin Atlantic (virgin-atlantic.com) has direct flights from London Gatwick and Manchester, from £720 return. Virgin Holidays (virginholidays.co.uk) offers a five night package staying at Bellagio from £1,779 per person based on two sharing, including flights from Gatwick with Virgin Atlantic in October. Taxis to downtown cost around £15 or book a shuttle (shuttlelasvegas.com).

    Info: Get in the mood by watching some Vegas-set films, such as Ocean’s Eleven, What Happens in Vegas and Casino. Discover Las Vegas (£13.99; Lonely Planet) is a comprehensive guide, or check out visitlasvegas.co.uk. Always carry photo ID, and don’t forget you’ll need a visa-style authorization to enter the US (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/)


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