Las Vegas

Las Vegas – you have to see it to believe it!

It’s never been easier to get to Las Vegas. From 2019 Virgin Atlantic alone will have four non-stop flights per week from Manchester. It’s popular as a stand-alone holiday destination with UK visitors spending anything from a long weekend to three weeks in ‘Sin City’. So what’s the attraction?

As the World’s number one gambling destination Las Vegas caters for highrollers and ‘nickel & dime’ slot machine players alike. Glitzy ‘Center-Strip’, with its landmark luxury hotels such as The Bellagio and Caesars Palace, mainly caters for the higher end of the market with prices and stakes to match. $25 minimum for Black Jack is not uncommon!

Some seven miles to the north, the older, original downtown Las Vegas around Freemont Street still offers low stake gambling coupled with complimentary drinks and a free light show every night. Perfect for the novice!

It’s also number one for entertainment with headline artists and a host of regular shows on every night.

Cirque Du Soleil alone has no less than seven different shows across Las Vegas! Discounts for same day and next day shows can be had from ticket outlet booths along the strip, so, if you are flexible in what you want to see, wait until you get there! If shows don’t grab you then how about leaping off the top of the 108th floor of The Stratosphere in a ‘controlled’ freefall most of the 855 feet down to the strip?

Hotels are amazing! Some offer suites, amazing pool decks, restaurants, bars, wedding chapels and entertainment. The great thing is that adults (21+) are free to wander around the public areas and casinos of most hotels although the pool decks tend to be guest only. Most hotels have casinos where smoking is generally permitted. If smoking bothers you consider one of the non-casino, no smoking properties such as The Vdara. Beware that almost every resort hotel in Las Vegas charges a locally payable ‘Resort Fee’ to cover a host of benefits such as wifi, local phone calls, gym access and pool towels. At typically $30-$40 per room per night this is just one of many ways Las Vegas will burn a hole in your pocket!

In the summer months (June-September) the desert heat often exceeds 40 degrees in the shade. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s always hot – Winter (DecemberFebruary) can drop below freezing at night and only hit the low to mid-teens by day and it goes dark as early as 4:30pm! That aside, with careful planning you can probably find weather that’s ideal for you.

Whilst very much a self-styled resort destination, there are an abundance of sightseeing opportunities beyond, and en-route to Las Vegas. The Grand Canyon is the big one – literally! Personally I recommend taking a plane trip, rather than helicopter as an aircraft has the range to cover the 180 miles to the more dramatic, and scenic South Rim within the National Park taking in the Hoover Dam on the way.

With other non-stop U.S. destinations from Manchester (such as Boston, New York, Orlando, San Francisco and new for 2019 – Los Angeles) Virgin Atlantic enables some very imaginative itineraries to be put together. Some routes even offer free flights between cities. Las Vegas is also a fly drive gateway to some of America’s most spectacular National Parks including Bryce, Zion, Arches & Canyonlands taking in Route 66 and maybe a detour to Monument Valley.

Las Vegas is a bit like Marmite – you’ll either love it or hate it – but, if you don’t try it you will never know!

Time Difference: -8 hours Currency: £1 = approximately US$1.30

Flying Time: 10 hours

Top Tips:

·         Book your Grand Canyon flight before you leave the UK.

·         Use the ticket booths on the strip for discounted shows and dining.

·         Always carry photo ID.

·         Under 21s cannot consume alcohol and have very restricted access walking through hotel casinos.

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