Viva Las Vegas
While known for its gambling, Las Vegas is constantly upping its game by offering bigger and better hotels and food as well as spectacular, and cultural, shows
The Smith Center for the Performing Arts
Cirque du Soleil
There are 5,000 rooms in the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas – one of the biggest in the world – and as we booked in on a recent Monday night there wasn’t a single one to spare. Despite the recession, Las Vegas is still breaking records: 2012 saw 39.7 million visitors come to try their luck and walk the famous strip. Vegas, in all its glam and glory, is hotter than ever.
And it’s changing too. The strip is sparkling, with the new New York, New York centre thrusting its “Manhattan” skyline proudly to the sky, its very own statue of liberty daring you to leave to see the real thing.
For Irish travellers a New York/Las Vegas pairing is probably the ultimate combo, with both cities vying for top billing on most of our lists. And now, flying out of Ireland makes this dream trip more accessible than ever.
I’ve been lucky to fly to the US a lot in recent years and only one thing has marred the journey – the often two-hour long queue, Stateside, to get through immigration just to make a connection. Tight airport security makes us all safer but we’re often left high and dry when it comes to speedy transfers. Until now.
Flying with Aer Lingus on its JetBlue partnership out of Dublin’s terminal two, I wandered through a deserted US immigration in minutes. I didn’t realise it until much later but in those few minutes in Dublin I had cleared every hurdle the US was going to throw at me. No more checks, no more removing my shoes and belt, no more queuing and, since I was transiting through JFK’s terminal five, I got to make use of all the extra benefits that JetBlue’s terminal has to offer: fast transfers – 60 minutes is plenty of time – and the terminal itself is really well served. It’s a domestic terminal connecting with destinations all over the US so landing an international flight there, with immigration completed in Dublin, is a fantastic benefit. It actually felt easier than taking a flight within the EU.
While Las Vegas is known for its gambling, there’s so much more to see and do.
Americans love celebrity and they also love food so it’s no surprise that the celebrity chef holds a very special place here.
The choice of great restaurants is quite amazing and the locations are true Las Vegas – each better and bigger and more beautifully designed than the last. But when it comes to food, flavour and presentation is everything, such as with the sushi at Mozen Bistro at the Mandarin Oriental. The menu is designed as a trip through Asia five-star style. Or there is the fantastic lunch at Table 10 at the Venetian, a modern take on New Orleans cuisine in a terrific relaxed setting. The décor is infused with atmosphere and gates of houses found after Hurricane Katrina hang on the wall above us.