Access Vegas Insider Vibe – April 11, 2001

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This Issue: Jimmy Hopper

Curious about a show, restaurant, or other Las Vegas attraction that looks fun? Let us review it for you first! Suggestions are always welcome at (click)

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!

EDITORS NOTE: It looks like last week’s $100 Suggestion Contest generated a healthy response. The deadline just ended so this week we’ll be taking our time to carefully review each one before selecting a winner. Also, some of you have noticed that our concerts and events pages (noted every week in the middle of the newsletter) are behind in getting updated. We have reassigned that task and things should be back up to speed in the next 7-10 days.

LAS VEGAS NEWS – of interest to tourists:

CHEAPER VEGAS VACATION? – Airline service to Las Vegas continues to grow, but weekend room rates at Strip hotels are showing their first decline in months, a precursor to weakening demand in the leisure travel industry. Good news for those of you who have cut back on your visits due to high hotel and air costs. Story at and this week’s poll at asks you if you are planning to visit Las Vegas less often in light of the soft economy.

CAPS – stands for Certified Airline Passenger Services and it is a service that let’s you check your bags in and get your boarding pass for flights on eight airlines serving Las Vegas at Aladdin, Bally’s, Bellagio, Flamingo, Imperial Palace, Las Vegas Hilton, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Paris, Riviera, Sahara and the Stardust.

NEW AIRLINE? – Billionaire financier Carl Icahn, who owns the Stratosphere, Arizona Charlie’s and Arizona Charlie’s East in Las Vegas failed in his bid to buy TWA, an airline he once owned. He is now talking about taking the $400 million of the money he was going to spend on acquiring TWA to start a low fare airline serving Las Vegas. Story at

COURT TV – ironically isn’t available on basic cable here but a recent string of notorious “true life crime story” trials centered in Las Vegas have made the Clark County courthouse downtown a stop for visitors wanting to see the action live. Story at

THE MONEY AND THE POWER – The new book by Sally Denton and Roger Morris is said to read like a novel while it chronicles the rise of Las Vegas and digs up the real dirt on many who are purported to have made the city great over the years. Story at and the book is available at discount from Amazon at

GOLF – We’ve got golf! You can now view the prices of and reserve tee times online in advance of your visit for many area golf courses at

CHEAP HOUSING – is becoming a thing of the past in Las Vegas. The average Las Vegas family makes about $51,000 a year, and yet the average home price in Las Vegas has jumped to $140,000 which is higher than the average home price in Phoenix. Story at

URBAN RENEWAL? – The City of Las Vegas owns 61 acres of prime real estate in the heart of the city (just west of Fremont St. Experience downtown) and have been accepting various proposals on what to do with it. They range from a movie studio to building the world’s tallest building. Story at In a related story, Race Rock “Supercharged” Restaurant has closed downtown. They are unable to sustain continued losses while waiting for Neonopolis and other downtown redevelopment to be completed but they hope to open back up in 2002. Full story at

LIVING TO GAMBLE? – Station Casinos CFO Glenn Christenson notes: “Well over 50 percent of the adult population of Las Vegas lives within a three-mile radius of one of our properties,” and with Las Vegans spending an estimated $1.8 billion on their hometown pastime, he doesn’t need out-of-towners to boost the bottom line. “People here have pretty high propensity for gambling or they wouldn’t be living here in the first place,” he said. Full story at

RETIRE TO VEGAS – About 20 percent of Clark County’s 1.4 million people are 55 and older, attracted by the world-class restaurants, entertainment and warm climate. Nevada’s favorable tax structure is also a draw. By living in Nevada, retirees avoid state income taxes, inheritance taxes and gift taxes. (Of course, that savings probably ends up in slot machines!) Full story at

PONDERING GAMBLING – Howard Schwartz, the marketing director of the Gambler’s Book Club in Las Vegas recently wrote an interesting column called “Ten Gambling Questions Worth Pondering” at

VIVA LAS VEGAS – With the Ocean’s Eleven film remake well underway, word is out that Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez might star in a remake of Viva Las Vegas. Full story on both at

HOTEL SPECIAL – Book The Sahara online from $55.95 per night Sun-Thurs. for stay 4/08/01-4/30/01. Limited Availability so check rates and gook 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. 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


STORM – The new Latin-themed show which features aerial acts and actual rain (onstage) and light snow (in the audience) is finally slated to debut April 18, 2001, at Mandalay Bay.

SHOW REVIEWS – Recent reviews appearing in the media:

* Showgirls of Magic (San Remo) –

SHOWS – 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

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

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


RESTAURANT REVIEWS – Recent reviews appearing in the media:

* Commander’s Palace (Desert Passage @ Aladdin) –

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

Wednesday – 65 ░F / 49 ░F ░F Partly Cloudy
Thursday – 64 ░F / 47 ░F Partly Cloudy
Friday – 74 ░F / 50 ░F Mostly Sunny
Saturday – 78 ░F / 54 ░F Mostly Sunny
Sunday – 84 ░F / 58 ░F Mostly Sunny

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Because of the amount of news and letters this week, we’ll go back to full reviews next week. Coming reviews here: Excalibur Tournament of Kings (fun for those who like horses, action, getting a little rowdy, medieval stuff, or to take the kids to), Second City Comedy Troupe at Flamingo (very funny comedy and worth seeing, which for me is saying something because I’m not much for improv), Skintight at Harrah’s (One hour and 15 minutes solid of topless women and nearly nude guys) and more. To hold you over, here’s a short on one of Las Vegas’ most talented up-and-coming performers.

JIMMY HOPPER – We caught Jimmy Hopper last week at one of his shows in Bellagio’s Fontana Room. If you haven’t seen this act yet, you are missing out. He’s not a “lounge singer” but a full-fledged musical showman putting his own stamp on standards, pop, and rock hits in an energetic fashion. Jimmy has sung the national anthem at major sports events, performed at major political functions, and composed commercials and music for major corporations.

He plays Bellagio’s Fontana room (schedule at, which I consider to be the best intimate room in town to see music with plush surroundings and view of the Strip over the lake. The price is right: two drink minimum so catch him before he’s a main showroom draw at headliner prices.

We have two copies of his latest CD “Live in LV” to give away in our contests section. You can read more about Hopper, download a free MP3 of one of this songs, or order his CD’s at Bring them to his show and he’s happy to sign them and pose for photos.


EDITORS NOTE: The “smoking in casinos question” brought a record number of responses to our poll (results listed later in the newsletter) as well as email. I need to move on, so I can’t print additional letters but this is obviously something people feel strongly about on both sides of the issue. For the record, new casinos have made clean air a top priority. Bellagio has an air system where ALL air introduced into the casino is taken from outside the building and then heated or cooled. No air is recirculated.

I once read something interesting in a “How To Win At Blackjack” book which I have taken to heart: if you are winning and someone next to you starts to smoke, deal with it as long as you are winning. It’s a small price to pay. If you are losing, you should be leaving that table or machine anyway and you can usually find a table or machine somewhere else where the air is cleaner.

Gloria wrote:

> We have just returned from a week in Vegas. Did we have
> a good time? Yes, but Las Vegas is now going the way of
> all other resorts areas. I go to gamble and enjoy the
> weather, nothing else. Times are changing, Vegas no
> longer cares or needs to have us there. At one time
> this was a reasonably priced vacation. You got a break
> on the room OR the food OR the airfare OR the gaming,
> which gave you the money to gamble more. Now all
> aspects of Vegas are squeezing you dry. Is it worth
> going back, probably, but instead of our usual 2 wks a
> year, we are now thinking of 4 days there and several
> day trips to casinos near by. Is this a loss to Vegas?
> No, they have plenty of people from around the world
> willing to pay what ever they ask, and take the rudeness
> and don’t bother me attitude as they take our money.
> Thanks for listening, guess I just needed to vent a
> little. Gloria

Guess what — I agree with you! Room rates are starting to drop because of the soft economy and people like yourself who don’t come to have their wallet hijacked. Even though my income is off a little because of the cheaper rates (I make a commission when you book through the links in our newsletter just like a travel agent does, so lower rates equal less money), if that brings rates and service that will bring people like you back more often, I’ll grin and bear it. BTW, you will find our guaranteed low rates often beat the rates the hotels quote you directly.

Rayn of Rego Park, NY wrote:
> My wife and I are hoping to return to Las Vegas this summer. On our
> last trip, we flew with National Airlines, and we loved it. Now I
> hear that they are having some severe financial problems. While they
> have filed for protection against their creditors, they are still
> operating as before. Do you think it is safe to book summer flights
> with National now, or will they go out of business?

National appears pretty strong, and I personally would use them if they served the destinations I frequent. They are reorganizing, continuing to advertise (companies almost out of business usually get refused when they try to buy advertising), and have solid leadership, a fantastic maintenance and safety record, and (unlike most airlines) are flying a relatively new fleet of planes. Having said that, I must note that those are personal opinions. I have no stock or stake in the airline. If using a travel business that is under bankruptcy reorganization concerns you, use another carrier.

Allen Goenawein wrote:

> This is my first issue of your newsletter and I found
> it “right to the point, with no holds barred.” I have
> spent a couple of hours reading different articles and
> have enjoyed everything. I just returned from Vegas two
> days ago (one of 7 or 8 trips I make a year). My wife
> has always wanted to see EFX and almost talked me into
> it and after reading your review, I’m really glad we
> did not go. Our favorite show is Lord of the Dance.
> Compared with the prices they get for some of the
> other shows, it is a real bargain. Keep sending the
> weekly letter, it is really enjoyable.

Thanks for the kind words. EFX still has some strong points, which I noted. Since I’m not a snotty “critic” with a huge artistic performance background and my income comes from hotel room commissions from our travel links, my aim is to give you the honest scoop so you can tell if a show suits your interests. (I mention that on a regular basis for the benefit of the hundreds of new readers we pick up each week.)

Sue Entwistle from Wisconsin wrote:

> Good Morning! My husband and I just returned from a very enjoyable
> five day stay in Vegas. We were married at the Little Church of the
> West 12 years ago, and return every March and have also come back in
> October for the past five years. We’re always looking for something
> new to do, and this time went to see Steve Wyrick
> (magician / illusionist). We ordered our tickets about 6 weeks in
> advance and were in the front row! But at the Saturday 10:00 P.M.
> show, only about 75 people were in the audience. What’s up with that?
> Although Steve is very personable and several of his acts were
> excellent, we didn’t feel it was worth the price! I was wondering if
> you have reviewed any of the helicopter companies. We would like to
> take a helicopter trip into the Grand Canyon next time we come to Las
> Vegas. Thanks…….and we sure enjoy your newsletter!

Wyrick has drawn very mixed reviews, and we have been put off by his PR company as far as coming and seeing his show. I can only think it is because the show (from what I hear) is still very much a work in progress. That is precisely why I have not reviewed or given it much mention yet. Try Lance Burton next time — for a few more bucks, he provides a little more “bang.”

This summer, I am going to start reviewing some tours (especially the ones that we offer). For what it is worth, spend the extra money on a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon if at all possible. Avoid the bus trips at all costs — you spend most of your day on the bus. The air trips are better but you still fly high above the Canyon. The helicopter tours generally not only get you close to the canyon for spectacular views as well as much closer to the scenery on the way over and back, but many land right in the bottom of the Canyon for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Jim Swain of Luton, Beds, United Kingdom wrote:

> Thought I’d drop a mail to say thanks for the great newsletter. My
> wife and I got married at the MGM Grand on Valentine’s Day 1996 – it
> was our first visit to Las Vegas and got us well and truly hooked. We
> have been back another 4 times since — the latest being Valentine’s Day
> this year and we hope to return again in August/September.
> However finding a reasonable price for a flight in from the UK is
> proving difficult. Even booking this far ahead we cannot find a price
> lower than 600GBP (approx. USD 950) per person. If you or other readers
> have found lower prices than this or can recommend a booking agent
> could you send details to me at (click) or
> (click) Thanks in advance.

We certainly hope you check out travel partner air rates at but unlike our main hotel travel partner, they don’t offer guaranteed low airfare so shop around.

Bob & Cindy Sobczak wrote:

> Saw the Blue Man Group
> Monday, March 26, 7 PM show, it was great. Had the
> perfect seats, center mezz. row qq seats 47 & 48 dead
> center stage, second row in the mezz. The music is very
> loud and for those who might be sensitive, I suggest
> ear plugs I had some for my wife and they helped. Also
> don’t forget your camera. Although you can’t take
> pictures during the show, the Blue Men will be in the
> lobby after the show and pose with you for
> pictures. Also buy your tickets at least 2 weeks before
> you get to Vegas or you will be sorry as were a lot
> of people who could not get tickets for the 6 days we
> were there.

Blue Man, as well as “O” and Mystere are very hot tickets and we suggest purchasing your tickets at as far in advance as the site will let you (different shows have different maximum purchase dates). The service fee charged is well worth guaranteeing seeing that special show while you are here!

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Your input is welcome. Write us a “letter to the editor” at (click) While space doesn’t permit publishing every letter, we do certainly read them all and they help shape our content. Please include your name if you wish to have it published (stating your city is optional). Also, guest article submissions are welcome with full credit to you, your website, etc., if accepted.

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


RULES: (unless otherwise noted or link to outside contest): You may enter every contest, but only one entry to each. Send a blank email to the specified email address — we’ll get your mailing address from you only if you win. Also, please do not enter if you have won within the past month.

JIMMY HOPPER CD’S – We have two Jimmy Hopper CD’s to give away (see story earlier in newsletter for Jimmy Hopper info). We’ll give them to the 20’th and 40’th entries to (contest closed)

ONLINE POLL – The Las Vegas Sun recently published an article at asking people if the slower economy is going to curtail their Las Vegas trips. This week’s question is “Are you rethinking your Las Vegas vacation plans in light of the economy”? Let’s hear your opinion at — results will be published in two weeks!

Results from our last poll “How do you feel about smoking in casinos?”

Casinos should be forced to have nonsmoking areas. 27%
It should be banned. 22%
If I can’t smoke while I gamble, forget it. 17%
I don’t smoke, but Vegas is about freedom to do what you want. 15%
I’d use nonsmoking areas, but they shouldn’t be mandatory. 11%
I smoke, but I can hold back while I gamble. 5%

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Have a request for a review? Boggled when you come to town and see the hundreds of dining, attraction, and show opportunities? Let us know what you’d like to hear about! Unlike the tourist magazines where all of the “articles” are really paid ads, we give you the honest scoop. If you appreciate this service, please consider booking your rooms and rental cars for ALL destinations with us at You get secure ordering with the convenience and savings of booking online!

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All contents copyright MM Ted Newkirk. All Rights Reserved.
April 11, 2001 ISSN: 1529-2770