Access Vegas Insider Vibe – December 18, 2001

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MESSAGE BOARDS – Help others and share your Las Vegas opinions! Our boards are new so let’s fill them up with the good, bad, and just general comments on your last visit. Plus, we now have a section for trip reports. New boards at

Rental Cars – Don’t pay top dollar! Enter the dates of your visit and compare prices from virtually every major rental car agency (most US cities). Book the lowest price company or your regular agency. Save the hassle and some money – Car Rental Savings Search. Few regret renting a car. Free shuttles and city bus rides can be slow and smelly. Taxis can cost what a rental car costs. Your vacation time is valuable — make the most out of it!


Wheel of Fortune has been very, very lucky. The Harrah’s win was in November, and the December win just happened a few days ago. You could be next!


Bryan Sundblom says that the first thing he’s going to do with the $2.5 million he won Sunday evening at Harrah’s Las Vegas playing Wheel of Fortune(R) quarters is buy his wife a new car. The Arizona microbiologist said the jackpot came as such a surprise, he had to be told several times that he had hit the progressive.

In Las Vegas on business, Sundblom said he had invested $22.00 in the
machine when the Wheel of Fortune(R) logos lined up. In addition to the new
car, he says he’ll pay off bills and looks forward to enjoying his millionaire


Honolulu resident David Tokunaga is the latest of Las Vegas’ big winners, grabbing a stunning $2.5 million jackpot at the California Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Mr. Tokunaga was playing the “Wheel of Fortune” slot machine.


Association Five Diamond Award, the first Las Vegas hotel and casino and the largest resort in AAA history to receive this honor. The AAA Five Diamond Award, presented to fewer than one-half percent of the approximately 40,000 lodgings and restaurants in the AAA TourBook guides, has been the most coveted symbol of excellence in the travel industry since its inception in 1977.

“The Five Diamond Award is only given to establishments that exemplify an impeccable standard of excellence,” said AAA spokesman Atle Eriingsson. “What makes Bellagio even more impressive is its ability to achieve such a standard with over 3,000 rooms, far more than any other Five Diamond winner, which until now have included properties with 10 to 896 guestrooms.”

To be considered for AAA approval and rating, lodgings and restaurants must undergo a thorough, unannounced, inspection by one of AAA’s s 60 full-time professional evaluators. Five Diamond establishments go through the most extensive reviews.

Inspired by the beautiful villages of Europe, Bellagio overlooks a Mediterranean-blue eight-acre lake in which fountains perform a magnificent aquatic ballet choreographed to music and lights. Bellagio offers 3,005 deluxe guest rooms and suites featuring sweeping vistas of the resort’s lake, surrounding mountains and Las Vegas skyline. Each room is elegantly appointed with custom European-style furnishings, fine art and conveniences such as computer and fax accessible data ports and multiple telephone lines.

Within Bellagio are award-winning dining experiences including the world-renowned Picasso, a year-round botanical conservatory, a world-class art gallery, Cirque du Soleil’s stunning performance of “O”,” luxurious spa services and an elegant casino. The resort’s shopping promenade, Via Bellagio, features upscale shops including Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Prada, Fred Leighton, Hermes, Moschino and Yves Saint Laurent.

With Las Vegas room rates still down a bit, this is the perfect time to indulge on your next trip and be one of the few that can say “I stayed at a 5 Diamond Resort”! Link to Bellagio information and rates / availability at

THE STEAK HOUSE – CIRCUS CIRCUS: This special guest review by reader Jenny Wyatt

This was our 5’th visit to Las Vegas but our first visit to The Steak House which is situated in Circus Circus. This restaurant isn’t exactly what you’d expect inside a hotel which is aimed at children and circuses but I was pleasantly surprised!

When you enter you are faced with slabs of meat and lobster behind glass and it struck me as looking very English (I say very English as being from the UK I felt like I was walking into a Steak House back home). The bar come waiting area is very comfortable with settees to sink into while you wait for your table. This bar area is quite dark and has a very Victorian feel to it.

The restaurant is very well set out and is very reminiscent of Victorian England. They say on their menu that they “offer exquisite dining in a warm atmosphere of casual elegance” and this is quite true it does have a warm atmosphere and the decor is very tasteful.

There is a “cooking area” where you can actually see the steaks being cooked which is always a good thing as you then know that they have nothing to hide in their kitchens!

There is plenty of choice on the menu and for appetizers we tried the Shrimp Cocktail, the Mushrooms and the Crab Cocktail. The Shrimp Cocktail was nothing like we get in the UK. A crock shell was put in front of me filled with ice and jumbo prawns were placed on top together with lemon and a cocktail sauce (why they called it a shrimp cocktail when you were served giant prawns I don’t know!!). The mushrooms were very tasty and so was the crab. The appetizers started at a price of $4.95 up to $18.95.

When you order your main course you are also given the choice of Black Bean Soup or Salad. We all plumped for the salad of which there was mountains, but not wanting to spoil the main course I don’t think it was all eaten.

The steaks were delicious. This is one of the only steak houses I have got what I asked for — “how would you like yours cooked?” asked the waiter — “VERY well done” was my reply and yes, it was VERY well done — I’m one of these people who does NOT like ANY red showing in the meat and it came to the table in exactly the way I liked, delicious it was too.

If, like my friend, you’re not into steaks then the chicken breasts were very nice and the selection of Garlic Mashed Potato, Rice Pilaf or Baked Potato was a good choice. The steaks range from $17.95 up to $27.95, the chicken was $16.95 but they also offer Salmon and Halibut at $18.95. The Lobster and Crab legs were market price, so it’s worth asking before ordering. Lamb Chops are also on offer at $27.95.

There are deserts on offer but after an appetizer, salad and a main course there was not room left for a pudding!! They offer freshly baked goods — which if you have room looked delicious.

I will definitely be visiting the Steak House on my next visit to Las Vegas as it has a very relaxing atmosphere to all the hustle and bustle of the casinos and you can take your time over a delicious meal. Although the cost is slightly higher than your average restaurant (if you are on a budget) but I would recommend saving those pennies and have a nice quiet evening in a relaxed and very nice Steak House.

LOCAL NEWS – updated daily at

LAS VEGAS DEALS – for December / January:

* Luxor From $55.95 until 01/31/02
* Monte Carlo From $55.95 until 01/31/02
* Sahara From $35.95 until 01/31/02

All of these and more available at

SECURE ORDERING – We frequently get asked how safe giving your credit card over the internet is. When you buy on the internet, the information is scrambled in a way that is virtually impossible to unscramble except by the receiving computer. That computer then checks with a computer to confirm product availability and then gets credit card approval from another computer.

No humans involved, and your reservation is confirmed in seconds. Compare that to giving your credit card to a waiter at a restaurant (where they vanish for 5 minutes with it) or a live reservations clerk that obtains tons of info about you. Who is more likely to commit fraud with your card, 3 computers or a live human making a possibly low wage?

CONDO SPECIALS – Driving in or renting a car, enjoy the luxury of a condo at prices that rival a hotel room:

Westgate Flamingo Bay features over 200 villas in a lush tropical oasis style complex. You’ll be only minutes from the world famous Las Vegas Strip. While on site, you’ll enjoy soaking in the hot tub or taking a swim in the outdoor pool. For your convenience laundry facilities are available on site.

Special Internet pricing and accommodation info for Westgate Flamingo Bay at

PREFER NOT TO FLY – and Vegas is too far to drive but you still want to visit a REAL gaming destination? We offer the same great discounts, guaranteed lower rates, and the $100 Rebate Spectacular for rooms in Atlantic City, Gulfport / Biloxi, and Reno as we do in Las Vegas!

Atlantic City:
Gulfport / Biloxi:

WINNERS! – The winners of the Calvin Brooks CD’s (smooth jazz artist appearing regularly in Harrah’s Range Steakhouse lounge) are: Diane McDonald – Bradenton, FL, Jimmy Salyers – Lexington, KY, and Ying Mah – Wichita, KS.



* SHOW TICKETS – See which shows are playing during your stay and book reservations EVEN if the tickets aren’t on sale yet. Search by date at


* SHOW REVIEWS – Read our unbiased, archived show reviews at

* GOLF RESERVATIONS – Grab that tee time GUARANTEED before you get to town! Search by date, see prices at

* DINING RESERVATIONS – For a small service fee, you can now lock up reservations for that “special night out” during your visit at



* SHOWS – listings available at
* HEADLINERS – listings available at
* CONCERT – listings available at


Your best hotel deals are the weeks when convention traffic is light. If you are flexible, check our convention calendar at before choosing the dates of your Las Vegas visit!

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ALL VEGAS TV: Is our new, long awaited monthly online TV show. We got a bit behind schedule with the Sept. 11 fallout, but the official premiere will be the February episode, launching mid-January. It’s already in the can and we are thrilled with it. We have a great interview with Wolfgang Puck, we show you the inside of the Guggenheim Museum, and more.

Now that we are rolling, we are looking for the following people who would like to be involved. See if you fit the bill and contact info will be at the end. Aspiring talent is welcome — this is great exposure. We will direct you to our media preview (already online) so you can get a better understanding of what All Vegas TV is.

ACTOR AND ACTRESS: For parts in two commercial spots which will be used to promote booking travel at AccessVegas.Comááá Hundreds of thousands will view (over time) and we will post your contact info if desired.

SWIMWEAR / BIKINI MODELS: It is a little brisk in Las Vegas right now but fun and pool weather is right around the corner. Still and motion photography will be used as “bumpers” (short segments between major stories) promoting Las Vegas fun and sun. Hundreds of thousands will view (over time) and we will post your contact info if desired.

CAMERA OPERATOR: If you enjoy playing around with your video camera, have some real fun shooting Las Vegas with us. A couple times a month (and with advance notice) we need someone behind the camera while I’m in front covering the “party” side of Las Vegas. Clubs, New Year’s Eve, Spring Break and the like. If you aren’t energetic, or balk at the thought of getting a little beer spilled on you, this one isn’t for you.

If interested, drop me a line at (click) mailto:ted@accessvegas.comááá I’ll get back to you with detail after Christmas as well as the location of our online media preview so you can see the full scope of this project.


NEWKIRK’S NOTES – comments on Las Vegas and travel from AccessVegas.Com publisher Ted Newkirk:

We’ve gotta talk about New Year’s Eve! I especially want to talk to those of you on the West coast who are within driving distance. You have a golden opportunity this year that I’ve never seen before, and we probably won’t see again. Because a fair number of people from the East coast are too concerned about long-haul flights to come out, rooms are not only still available for New Year’s Eve, but cheaper than in years past.

Plus, those of you that drive in really have the advantage because you can stay off The Strip. There are thousands of rooms (some in casinos, some not) within a few blocks of The Strip as well the “local’s” casinos. What’s it going to be this year, another year of watching Dick Clark and people in New York City freeze to death on tape delay (it’s 9 PM here when midnight strikes there) or being in the middle of this party:

At midnight on December 31, the city will celebrate with a spectacular fireworks show billed as “America’s Party: Las Vegas New Year 2002.” A five-mile stretch of sky above the Las Vegas Strip will be transformed into the canvas for a feat of pyrotechnic mastery. Fireworks with names like Comets, Plumes and Oscillating Flares will illuminate the sky above the Las Vegas Strip, for seven minutes and 11 seconds.

Don’t take my word for it. Our photos from last year are at and we have booking info there as well. One note: most hotels are requiring that you stay at least Dec. 28 – Jan. 1 (4 nights or more) so remember to enter those dates for maximum availability. If last year was any indication, you don’t want to miss this one!

New casinos are opening — the party doesn’t stop in Las Vegas! The Palms recently opened, and must be seen to be believed. Upscale with the feel suited to South Florida, this new resort is kitty-corner from The Rio just off The Strip. Of particular note is the Ghostbar lounge, one of the most amazing views of The Strip in town. Green Valley Ranch opens in a matter of hours (as I write this), so we’ll size it up in the future. We have links to info on both hotels at

Speaking of, we were at the grand reopening of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in The Forum Shops (Caesars Palace) a couple of weeks ago. The food is superb, the atmosphere fantastic, and Puck and his staff (as always) the gracious hosts.

I’d tell you more about it, but instead we are going to show it to you in the premiere episode of All Vegas TV in January. Including an interview with Mr. Puck conducted by our very own Elizabeth Rizzo. We are still looking for great additional people who want to get involved with All Vegas TV.

Puck is offering a free bottle of wine at his Las Vegas restaurants Spago (702-369-6300), Lupo (702-740-5522), Postrio (702-796-1110), and Chinois (702-737-9700) with every meal in December. Simply inform the hostess when making reservations or upon arrival.

Cheval (mentioned last issue, archived at ) is drawing great reviews all around. If you like Cirque du Soleil style entertainment, enjoy horses, or appreciate a good show this is one to see before the run ends!

Attendance at Comdex was reported to be way off — as little as 1/2 of the usual 250,000 people due to terrorism fears and the bottom falling out on all those crazy Dot Com companies. (Funny, here in the internet travel business, we did business the old fashioned way. We sold a good, real product at a great price. We’re still here and growing). Anyway, I digress!

I have mixed thoughts on this. Yes, it is good to expose Las Vegas to as many people as possible with conventions. But hotels have to charge top dollar for hotels during Comdex to make up for the fact that computer industry people are least likely to gamble. This ties up rooms, and drives up rates during a November week we usually have flawless weather (highs around 75-80) and depriving the regular visitors of the ability to get a room that week.

Sheena Easton is returning to the Las Vegas Hilton, where she had a great run this summer. My review and ticket information are at

Tours have resumed at Hoover Dam, but unfortunately the $25, one hour “hard hat” tour was a casualty of the new security precautions. Having the pleasure of taking the hard hat tour last year, I can understand why. They took you into the bowels of the dam and quite a bit of the operation. Hoover Dam is still a marvel that must be seen in real life. Visitors are allowed (and tours conducted) during daylight hours. Go earlier in the day to avoid crowds.

Nevada’s jobless rate was the highest in the nation last month. Quit moving here (unless you are retired or independently wealthy) until things get better. As you can imagine, longtime residents with a work history here are going to be hired back before someone new and Las Vegas is no fun when you are struggling with cash.

The Bootlegger Restaurant continues to be a local secret, but obviously not for long. Nevada Lt. Governor Lorraine Hunt and her husband “Blackie” run the family owned Italian eatery and are joined by “Sonny” King every Friday and Saturday evening at 10 PM for a true, free-form, old style Las Vegas lounge show. Lorraine and Sonny sing while Blackie plays the piano. Although not of that era (I’m 36), it is a fun, relaxing time to enjoy quality entertainment that brings Las Vegas’ past to the present.

Word is getting around. Last Friday, John Ratzenberger (Cliff Clavin on Cheers) was enjoying the show. A few weeks ago, Hugh Hefner and his seven girlfriends (Mandi, Brandi, Candi, Sandi … or something like that) stopped by for dinner. The Bootlegger is easy to find. Simply drive south on the Strip past Vacation Village and go a couple more miles The Bootlegger sits just south of the Belz Factory Outlet Mall on your left. Lorraine, Blackie, and Sonny start the show around 10 PM and perform 3-4 hours.

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Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Scenic Southwest Tours – by plane, bus, or even helicopter! You’ve seen the glossy ads in the tourist brochures. You’ve thought about it. You come all the way to Las Vegas — why not see one of the some of the most famous landmarks in the world! Don’t by tricked by web sites & magazines that offer discount tours. Taxes, park fees, permits can almost double the price. Our prices are inclusive – no hidden charges! Best Las Vegas Tours

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All contents copyright 2001 Ted Newkirk. All Rights Reserved.
December 18, 2001 ISSN: 1529-2770