Access Vegas Insider Vibe – May 16, 2001

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THIS ISSUE: Wolfgang Puck’s Cili

EDITOR’S NOTES: I’m back after a much-needed vacation. The amount of news and info I sift through each week is mind-boggling but I love Las Vegas! I added a short section about my trip for those who might be interested in a nice place to take a beach getaway.

Also, we’ve added four new cities to the 120+ destinations we offer with guaranteed low rates: Edinburgh (Scotland), Nice (France), Madrid (Spain), and Munich (Germany) at and our city on sale this week (listed above) just happens to be Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS NEWS – of interest to tourists:

HOT WEATHER – We just had a string of 100 or near 100 degree days, somewhat unusual for this early in the year but no indication of an unusually hot summer. However, bringing heavy clothes or a jacket to town between now and the end of September is pretty much unnecessary. Weather story at

POOL PARTY – New York, New York as cranked up their Sizzling Summer Saturday Pool Party which is running now through Labor Day Weekend. It runs Saturday nights from 5 – 9 PM and features a DJ, dancing, contests, food specials, beer and cocktail availability, prizes and giveaways. Admission is $5 but includes a $3 off coupon for the Manhattan Express Roller Coaster. Hotel guests showing room key enter free and you can check New York, New York room prices and availability at (New York, New York link).

MORE ROOMS – Caesars Palace announced Friday plans to build a 900 unit all-suites tower that will be ready for guests in 2004. This is on the heels of the all-suite Venetian finalizing their plans to go ahead with doubling their room inventory with a new tower. Story at

COINLESS SLOTS – are coming, and there really isn’t a way to stop them. Fortunately, the technology is already out there that let’s you cash out on a machine, and take your receipt and stick it in another machine for play, eliminating waits for change and dirty hands. Full story at

CBS TELEVISION CITY – is open at the MGM. You can watch a preview of a possible TV show and be part of audience research. Screenings, which begin daily at 9 a.m. and are conducted every 20 minutes, are free. A booth outside the center takes sign-ups from participants. Coupons for $10 off on items in the retail shop are given out for watching the screenings. Full story at

ALADDIN BUFFET – A reader recently wrote telling me that the Aladdin buffet had gone downhill to the point that the food was comparable to Denny’s. Because I often note that the Aladdin is one of the top three buffets on the Strip (along with Bellagio and Paris Las Vegas) I stopped in a few days ago to check. I’m pleased to report that is still well worth the $20 price and that the quantity and quality of the food from seafood to deserts continues to be topnotch.

BALLET – is coming to The Rio. In a rare alliance between casino and cultural entities, the Rio will host several Nevada Ballet Theatre performances at its $35 million, 1,500-seat Samba Theatre, including the holiday perennial “The Nutcracker.” Full story at

WETLANDS PARK – Phase one of the park is completed. The 130-acre nature preserve includes paved trails, ponds and wetland areas for wildlife. This first phase also features retaining rock walls to control flood erosion of the Las Vegas Wash. It is a real oasis in the middle of the desert, and they are recreating a wetlands that once filled the area. The park is in the Southwest part of the valley near Sam Boyd Stadium. To get there, drive east on Tropicana Avenue one mile past Boulder Highway, then turn left on the marked, unpaved road. Story at

BEST ANIMAL EXHIBIT – Question: I know there are lots of animal exhibits in Las Vegas, but which ones are the best? Answer in a story at

EX-FL – Although very popular in cities like Las Vegas, Orlando, and San Francisco, UPN backed out from broadcasting XFL games next year. This left the XFL without a network television outlet and thus the demise of the startup football league. The XFL was a weekly work-in-progress during the early part of the year, and by the time the talent started to gel and football announcing crews (as opposed to WWF-related broadcasters) were in the booth, people had tuned out and refused to tune back in. Stories at and

ART IN VEGAS – Can Picasso and Renoir compete with topless revues and video poker? Will a museum exhibit draw the same crowds that scramble to see fighting pirates, dancing water fountains and exploding volcanoes? Las Vegas resorts are betting on it. Full story at

$25 HOTEL REBATE — you pick the hotel! Our partners at Hotel Reservations Network are giving you $25 back on any 2+ night stay in Las Vegas or any major city they reserve. (Full details and list of all eligible cities at ). Claiming your cash is simple:

1. Print out:
2. Book a room online at
3. Send in for your rebate when you get home.

It doesn’t get any easier than that, and you get their low price guarantee
to boot!

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


CELINE DION – A long-standing rumor (which we first mentioned last November) has come to pass. Celine Dion has indeed finished negotiation with Caesars Palace for a two year run in the new 4,000-seat Coliseum-themed theater built for her. Story at

JUNEFEST 9 – features Bad Company, Billy Squier, Journey, Molly Hatchet, Night Ranger, Styx, and Joe Stark. More info at

MADONNA – is coming to town and tickets go on sale May 19 at Story at

SHOW REVIEWS – Recent reviews appearing in the media:

* Scintas (Rio) –
* Storm (Mandalay Bay) – and


* SHOW TICKETS – See which shows are playing during your stay and book reservations EVEN if the tickets aren’t on sale yet. Let ShowVegas takes care of all your needs directly online! Search by dates at
* GOLF RESERVATIONS – BookVegas let’s you grab that tee time GUARANTEED before you get to town! Click to
* DINING RESERVATIONS – For a small service fee, you can now guarantee reservations for that “special night out” during your visit at


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

RESTAURANT REVIEWS – Recent reviews appearing in the media:

* 808 (Caesars) –

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!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is not a regular feature, I have no plans to make this a general travel newsletter. I’m sharing a pleasant travel experience and in keeping with my editorial policy, none of this is a paid endorsement. If you are only interested in Vegas info, skip ahead.

MY VACATION – People often ask me where someone from Las Vegas goes to vacation. I go to see two things we don’t have here: a beach and green scenery. Last week, a number of friends of mine from all over the U.S. decided to spend an extended weekend on Florida’s Emerald Coast. It is an area that some Floridians teasingly call “L.A.” (lower Alabama) as this area is located on the Florida Panhandle directly below Alabama. However, this part of Florida is truly a best-kept vacation secret.

The beaches of the Emerald Coast consistently rank among the best in the U.S. by the Travel Channel because of their sugar white sand and the warm, turquoise Gulf of Mexico water. You actually get the best of the deep south with the wonderful southern hospitality and the best of Florida with the fantastic beach. Testament to this is that a number of people in our group were from Florida (South Beach, Ft. Myers, etc.) and pleasantly commented that they didn’t even know this area existed but would be back.

We stayed at the stunning Ramada Plaza Beach Resort right on the Gulf of Mexico between Ft. Walton Beach and Destin, FL on Okaloosa Island. None of our travel partners book this resort, but you can go directly to their site at and check it out for yourself.

Besides the ability to stumble out of one’s room and directly on to the beach (what a wake-up!) the hotel features beautiful grounds and Northwest Florida’s largest swimming pool accented with a five story Polynesian island where one may swim through the waterfall to the Grotto Bar. The best thing was price as resorts with similar surroundings and amenities in a more well known destinations can cost considerably more.

Destin, FL has been a second home to the well-off for quite some time. It wasn’t uncommon to see private jets flying out of the municipal airport and luxury cars on the road of this upscale beach town and you golfers may recognize the name of the neighboring Sandestin golf resort village ( ). As in Vegas, that meant that there was a great selection of fine dining ( ) and shopping opportunities.

However, if listening to Jimmy Buffet style music play while you sip a drink at an open-air beach bar or dancing at a club is more your style, you won’t be disappointed. Places like The Back Porch ( ) and Pompano Joe’s ( ) are a couple of great beachfront restaurants that let you enjoy the cool breezes and beautiful Gulf whether you dine indoors or out.

For partying, AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar features dining in the day and evening and it turns into a party bar at night ( ). The Swamp Club on Okaloosa Island ( ) is a huge, rustic, two story totally club that features live bands and / or a DJ from 8 PM to 4 AM every day. If your raging party days are a little behind you, Howl at the Moon ( ) is on the same boardwalk and has a “dueling piano show” nightly. Me? I took it ALL in and never ran out of things to do the entire week.

Getting there is simple. Driving: It is within a days drive of all of most of the southern US. Flying: Okaloosa Regional Airport (airport code VPS — ) is a scenic 20 minutes from Fort Walton Beach and 30 minutes from Destin. Air service is provided by Delta, Northwest, AirTran and US Air and major car rental services are available.

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LAS VEGAS WEATHER – This 5 day forecast is courtesy of Weather.Com:

Thursday – 96 ░F / 71 ░F Sunny
Friday – 95 ░F / 69 ░F Sunny
Saturday – 96 ░F / 69 ░F Sunny
Sunday – 97 ░F / 69 ░F Sunny
Monday – 99 ░F / 70 ░F Sunny

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FEATURE STORY: Wolfgang Puck’s Cili

Just a half mile south of Mandalay Bay sits what is now the only golf course on The Strip: Bali Hai. Course developer Billy Walters never does anything second rate. The course itself is a 7,015-yard, par 72 tropical golf paradise inspired by the landscape of the South Pacific with seven acres of water including an island green, 2,500 palm trees and over 100,000 tropical plants and flowers.

However, that wasn’t enough. So onboard came Wolfgang Puck to build the clubhouse restaurant. This isn’t your average “19’th hole” burger and beer stop, but a gourmet restaurant that happens to serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus Sunday Brunch. The dining area is Polynesian themed with water, exotic relics, high arched ceilings, palms, and waterfalls. The dining area has a beautiful view of part of the course, overlooking foliage and water (patio seating is available).

Lunch features appetizers in the $10-16 range including standards such as poached shrimp “martini” cocktail to more unusual fare such as Balinese style satays with pork, chicken and shrimp. Lunch entrees and sandwiches run $12-18 and include sandwiches (with only twists a Puck establishment could think of) to rib-eye steak.

A bar menu is available from 3 PM to close and includes selections like Atlantic oysters on the half shell with mignonette, Herbed goat cheese with roasted peppers and olives, and Prime steak tartare with chopped egg, mustard aioli and sourdough croutons. The bar menu averages $12-15.

Dinner gives you a choice of American or Asian cuisine, although fans of Pucks restaurants know he takes liberties in mixing a wide variety of flavors. Highlights are the Grilled porterhouse steak with creamed spinach & potato gratin and Grilled salmon with stir fried rice, prawns & spicy bok choy. Of course, a wide variety of meat and seafood dishes prepared in various tempting configurations are available. Dinner entrees range from $21-38.00.

Cili is open seven days a week from 7 AM to 9 PM. It is open to the public and located in the Bali Hai Golf Club at 5160 Las Vegas Blvd. South (The Strip) 1/2 mile south of Mandalay Bay. Reservations are suggested but not required at 702-856-1000

EDITOR’S NOTE: I was swamped with letters (both pro and con) about kids in Las Vegas and will be printing those next week. We’ll let the “best view” poll go one more week, then introduce a poll asking how you all feel about kids in Las Vegas. This week, we’ll answer a pervious question: If someone only has one day in town, what would you show them?


John Krogh wrote:
> A night helicopter ride over the strip…

Jessica Lehnert wrote:

> Take her to Caesars palace. The shopping alone is beyond belief but
> the casino, pool & shows are fabulous. You can sit in one place in
> Las Vegas & get a show! Lehnert

Jean H. or Waukesha, WI wrote:

> If you can drag yourself away from the tables and slot machines–I’d
> walk to visit and see every major casino on the strip. They all have
> such different themes and each one seems to be more spectacular than
> the next! I’d also watch the Pirate show at Treasure
> Island but I’d get there early and have a drink at the Battle Bar and
> enjoy the show from there. Also, I’d go downtown and eat at Hugo’s
> Cellar–one of my favorite restaurants in the US.

Madeleine from Canada wrote:

> Having been to Las Vegas regularly, since the late seventies, I think
> a newcomer to “Sin City” would enjoy the view from the top of the
> Stratosphere, at night. It’s magnificent!

Diane Podemski wrote:

> To answer Allen Waterman’s question of what one thing would you show a
> newcomer….it’s impossible to list only one!! I’ve been going to
> Vegas at least twice a year since I turned 21 (I’m 45 now) and there’s
> always something new and exciting to see. The cactus garden at the
> Ethel M chocolate factory is beautiful, the atrium at Bellagio is
> awesome, the Pirate Show at Treasure Island impressive and Danny Gans
> show at Mirage is great! Allen, you need to take more than one trip,
> make a list of “must sees” each time you go, it’ll take quite a few
> years before you can cross off everything!

Mick & Lyn of Essex, London wrote:

> I have only been to Vegas once and that was in Nov 2000 but I am
> looking forward to going back next year, we had a great time and
> everything was good but the thing that I really liked was walking
> along the strip at night and watching the fountains at Bellagio they
> were just great.

Allen Goenawein wrote:

> What you want to show someone depends on their
> interest. And there is plenty to show in and around
> Vegas. If you are the outdoors type, Red Rock Canyon
> is a nice half day trip. You will get to see wild
> burros, Indian pictographs, maybe some wild horses,
> plus a lot of great scenery. Or maybe Hoover dam would
> be more your style. Or take a flight over the Grand
> Canyon. In town are a host of new casinos to visit,
> one more beautiful than the next. Some of the finest
> shopping can be had at the Fashion Show Mall shopping
> center. All of the big names are located there. My
> favorite place to visit in the Fashion Show Mall is
> Centaur Galleries on the lower floor of the mall.
> There you can see art work from some of the greatest
> masters of the world. You can just look or if you are
> so inclined, you can purchase a fine art treasure to
> enjoy the rest of your life. Mr. Richard Perry is the
> owner and has resources all over the world that
> enables him to present some of the best art work from
> around the world. If you want to gamble, any of those
> above mentioned beautiful casinos will be glad to take
> your money, after all, that’s what they are in
> business for. But, maybe, the best thing to do is to
> hang out by a pool for three days, relax and let the
> world go by.

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All contents copyright MM Ted Newkirk. All Rights Reserved.
May 16, 2001 ISSN: 1529-2770