Whether you call it Sin City or Paradise Found, there is no place quite like Las Vegas, which in Spanish means fertile plains.
It had been almost 20 years since I was last there and the changes have been enormous. And enormous certainly is an apt word as everything is oversized and bigger is better in Las Vegas. Fertile plains, indeed. Fertility abounds there as does change.
The first big change I noticed is in the hotels.
Gone are the Sands, the Desert Inn, Aladdin and many of the other famous resorts which extended from downtown along the Las Vegas Strip. The Riviera and the Sahara are still there, but seem to have lost some of their previous luster. Caesars Palace still stands and rather than lose luster it seems better than before and certainly bigger than before.
Among the newer “palaces” are the Bellagio, the Mirage, the Palazzo and so many others that it is astonishing that appropriate names for them haven’t been exhausted.
Perhaps that is why some have names that sound more like amusement parks than hotels.
There is a Circus Circus, a Treasure Island, a Planet Hollywood, a Hard Rock and even a Hooters. I wonder if they have bell girls there instead of bellmen? That would be a hoot.
There is a Mandalay Bay and a Flamingo Bay. There is a Stratosphere and an Aria.
There is a Polo Tower and a Trump Tower. And there is a Tower of London and an Eiffel Tower, where you can ascend, but not sleep.
There is a Monte Carlo and a Venetian and even a Luxor (in the shape of a pyramid). There is a New York-New York, but no Naples-Naples, not even just a plain old Naples Hotel.
But there is a Paris Hotel and of course a Hilton and even a Paris Hilton, who was arrested while trying to attend a party at our hotel, the Wynn. For her it was not a win because she was accused of possessing a banned substance and was arrested, although later released.
Purportedly she wanted to enter the Wynn for privacy and to get away from onlookers. She must have been kidding because just inside the entrance is Tryst, the most popular night club in Las Vegas where dozens of people line up nightly just to wait for their turn to get in.
Fertile plains certainly is what the city is for those who operate the casinos and the shows. The casinos offer just about any game you might want and at a range of stakes to fit all wallets. The shows range from individual headliners to remarkable original productions.
Big name headliners who are so popular that they are known by one name such as Barry, Cher and Garth, are booked months or years ahead and may stay the whole season.
And even with reserved seating, the lines to get in are long.
And with all the night clubs, shows, casinos and other forms of entertainment, it is no wonder that the streets are virtually deserted during the day. Even the casinos seem empty compared to their nighttime traffic.
No lines during the day. But lines have been the custom in Las Vegas as far back as I can remember. The longest ones used to be for the buffet lines when hotels tried to induce you to enter by offering inexpensive buffets. The buffets and the lines are still there, but forget the inexpensive. The prices today are more than tenfold what I recall them.
Today the inducements are the casinos and the shows. And the shows are spectacular.
During our brief stay we attended a great production of “Jersey Boys,” were entertained by Terry Fator, an outstanding performer who excels as an impressionist, a ventriloquist, a comedian and a singer, and were thrilled and mesmerized by a performance of Le Reve, a remarkable ethereal experience performed in and under water and up in the air all the way to the rafters.
They say what happens in Las Vegas should stay in Las Vegas. For us we are taking our memories as our souvenir.
Adios Las Vegas. Viva Las Vegas.