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(2016 - Fall/Winter Issue)


Just when you thought Las Vegas had no more to offer, surprise, surprise, the gambling and entertainment mecca has found a couple of more cards to play, at least one of which will surely appeal to Canadians.

A few years ago, there were concerns about whether Vegas would make it through the economic downturn, when the country as a whole was reeling. Instead, like a champion fighter, it has hauled itself up from the canvas to score an impressive knockout. More than 40 million visitors will pay their respects—and maybe a chunk of their paycheques—to Vegas this year.

Early April 2016 saw the launch of two new MGM Resorts International projects, The Park and the 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena, with more on the way. Then, short weeks later, Vegas was welcomed into the NHL fold by commissioner Gary Bettman. The still-to-be-named team (the Knights, Black Jacks, Sinners, Outlaws and Cutthroats—after the state fish—are among the possibilities) won’t commence play until the 2017–18 season, when it becomes the league’s 31st entry. The icemen will be the prime tenants of the spanking new arena.

Vegas has had other pro teams in the past—even a Canadian Football League franchise known as the Posse if you remember—but never a team in a league like the NHL.


As for The Park, it sits between the MGM-owned Monte Carlo and New York-New York resort-casinos, just steps from the Strip. At the opening, MGM chairman Jim Murren called it “a place to congregate with family and friends.” It’s a welcome change from the concrete and neon that so dominate the city, an “oasis,” as another bigwig aptly put it.

It fuses foliage with fun and fine dining, namely Beerhaus, Sake Rok, California Pizza Kitchen, Bruxie and Shake Shack. The entrance takes you through a double cooling water wall, where approachable on-site artists are engaged in their work. A mammoth sculpture of a swirling dancer, called Bliss Dance, can’t help but move you. It has quite a history already, as it debuted at the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert north of Reno back in 2010.

The Park runs smack dab into the T-Mobile Arena, which the city sorely needed for those blockbuster shows and sporting events it may have missed out on before, prompting a local politico to dub it a “game changer.” It will be hopping at least 100 nights annually, more when hockey arrives, with music makers of all bents slated to perform. Local favourites The Killers shared the bill with legend Wayne Newton on opening night, with Guns N’ Roses and Billy Joel following shortly afterward. October brought The Rolling Stones, Keith Urban and Kanye West.

For those who like to mix it up, there’s UFC aplenty on offer, not to mention the rough-and-tumble Pro Bull Riders World Finals. Hockey lovers had a sniff of what was to come in early October, when the two-time Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings hosted the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile. NBA and college basketball are also on the sked.

Adjacent to The Park, the 5,300-seat Park Theatre is opening in December 2016, featuring special engagements from celebrated performers such as Stevie Nicks.


MGM is the town’s biggest player, with a couple of handfuls of properties on the Strip (in alphabetical order, the Aria, Bellagio, Circus Circus, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, The Mirage, Monte Carlo and New York-New York). Harrah’s, with its flagship Caesars Palace, is another big player, as are Trump and Wynn.

The luxurious Aria is among the newer resort-casinos. Opened in 2009, it is noted for its use of the latest in technology. If you saw the film Last Vegas, with an all-star cast including Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Robert De Niro, you’ve already had a taste of what it can offer. Speaking of which, it boasts a number of fine-dining choices, including the Herringbone for seafood lovers and the hip Italian-American joint Carbone.

It’s a big plus for visitors when there are so many establishments under one ownership, as it makes accessing them so much easier. For example, there’s a dedicated tram, dubbed “The Aria Express,” which shuttles guests a little more than a mile from the Aria at Tropicana Avenue to the adjoining Monte Carlo and Bellagio at Flamingo Road.

A block-long section of the Strip still appeals to strollers. It overlooks the famed dancing Fountains of Bellagio, a water, music and light extravaganza, with shows scheduled every half-hour during the day and every 15 minutes after 8 p.m.

Of course, if you wish to take the plunge, there are pools aplenty in Vegas, which is welcome news if you have kids in tow. The Aria has three pools, including an adults-only “playground” that’s definitely not for toddlers. It gets a little spicier at the Mirage, which allows “Euro-style bathing.” You’ll have to ante up if you want to frolic at either, and men pay as much as four times as the ladies.

What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but the memories will never fade.



It’s been nearly 50 years since the Beatles last performed on the rooftop of their London offices and two of the four are long gone. But they live on at the Mirage in Vegas, where LOVE, a theatrical production by Cirque du Soleil, traces the band’s all-too-brief history and has thrilled audiences for a decade at two nightly shows from Thursday through Monday. There’s more for Beatles’ buffs at a fab gift shop next to the specially built theatre.


Team owner Bill Foley has high hopes for hockey in “Sin City,” telling the world, “Las Vegas is hockey ready. I’m convinced we’re going to be full every night.” He’s promising a “fast-skating” and “tough” team. As for the team’s prospects, one player who has made the rounds went so far as to suggest that it will be especially tough to be beat at home, with visitors falling prey to Vegas’s many distractions. Early odds of it winning the Cup in its inaugural season are 100 to 1. Don’t bet on that happening, though.


Fans of the History Channel’s hugely popular program Pawn Stars will want to visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, otherwise known as Rick Harrison’s place, where the show is filmed. It’s at 713 Las Vegas Blvd. S. Open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, it can get quite busy, so arrive early.

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Plan your Vegas getaway at lasvegastourism.com.

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