Las Vegas - Luxury Travel Magazine
Las Vegas Family Style
|By: Helen McKenzie, Issue 43 – Winter 2010|
|(Las Vegas, United States of America) |
|LAS VEGAS MAY NOT BE AN OBVIOUS FAMILY DESTINATION BUT HELEN MCKENZIE SAW FABULOUS SHOWS AND EXHIBITIONS THAT ENGAGED THE CHILDREN MAINLY BECAUSE, LIKE LAS VEGAS ITSELF, THEY WERE ALL HIGHLIGHTS WITH NO BORING BITS.|
|Don’t tell anyone, but we didn’t put a dollar in a slot machine, nor did we take a seat at a black jack table. We were just too busy. Besides travelling with children is a gamble in itself.|
Arriving in Las Vegas, you find yourself saying out loud “only in America” as you pass the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Venetian Bridge of Sighs, a pyramid and a couple of sphinxes allong a two mile strip. The children who have not seen any of these sights in their original form are amused, if a little confused. What is this place? Well children, it is a playground.
With limited time and a lot to do, we hit the ground running. First stop was the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. So cleverly put together, it is not vast but holds the A-list of the water world. Crocodiles, stingrays (you can touch), all the weird looking varieties of fish plus the beautiful, colourful, tropical ones and plenty of sharks. Have a family photo with a mock shark attack, it is very funny.
Next was Titanic: The Artifacts Exhibition at the Luxor Hotel. It was sombre, full of interesting individual stories and gave a great overview of the mistake and the triumph that was the Titanic. As you step in to the exhibition, you are given a boarding pass assigned to a Titanic passenger. At the end, you find out if your passenger survived. There was a large piece of the ship’s hull and many salvaged items including jewellery, a hand basin from first class and an almost complete set of perfume bottles that an enterprising passenger was taking to New York to start a new life in the perfume business. The bottles survived, but the entrepreneur did not. It was too tempting not to have another family photo on the Grand Staircase.
While at the Luxor Hotel we also slipped in to The Body Exhibition (men should be warned, Elle Macpherson is not on display). To be frank it was a little too gruesome for this chicken. It is, however, amazing and informative, particularly if you have a thing for seeing how sinews, respiration, gestation of babies, blood, bones and other things bodily, function. This was not deemed a family photo opportunity.
At the other end of the strip at the Mirage Hotel is Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden, where a small scale sea world meets the king of the jungle. Again it was a case of the clever idea of selecting just what people want to see with no boring bits. From dolphins, which are everyone’s favourite to the who’s who of big cats, there was something for everyone. It was a real treat to watch two white lion cubs just play. A perfectly staged and totally improbable family photograph was taken with both the big and small lions looking stately and not at all menacing.
Cirque Du Soleil is the dominant live attraction in Las Vegas and there are seven different shows currently running, including the immensely popular “O” and “Love” (a tribute to The Beatles). Aria Hotel is hosting Cirque’s latest offering Viva ELVIS. It is up to their usual stunning quality and then some. Extraordinary circus accomplishments, brilliant singing and dancing and then at its heart is Elvis. There is so much footage it makes the audience both heartsick and astonished at the sheer charming genius of the man they called The King. Again, true Vegas style, there are no boring or really sad bits.
The biggest gamble we took in Las Vegas sadly was not a winner. A scheduled fixed-wing flight to the Grand Canyon fizzed when landing was made out of the question by an icy runway. We were looking forward to the Sky Walk and a gawp at the awe inspiring natural wonder, but had to settle for a buzz over it and the Hoover Dam; damned disappointing. No funny family photo unfortunately
|Aria Hotel and Casino opened in December 2009. Built by Pelli Clarke Architects for the MGM Mirage Group it has over 4,000 guest rooms, including 500 suites. The rooms are spacious and beautifully appointed. With floor to ceiling windows our room had great views of the Strip and all the way out to the desert. Room service breakfast of perfect blueberry pancakes pleased the younger members of the family. The Julian Serrano restaurant with its tapas menu ticked all the boxes for a family with a variety of tastes at dinnertime. The gym satisfied the gym junkies in our party. The business centre helped with a faxing issue. Hiccoughs at check-in were all forgotten and forgiven under the experienced hands of the masseuse in the hotel’s spa. The Thai poultice massage was worthy of the accolade - direct from Las Vegas – all highlights and no boring bits.|