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Tourist mecca prepares for party of the century

Nevada tourism officials invite Taiwanese travelers to explore U.S. state's historic sites, join Las Vegas' 100th birthday celebration

Tourist mecca prepares for party of the century

Nevada is much more than the glitter, excitement, and extravagance of Las Vegas, visiting state officials said last week.
"That's where most Taiwan's visitors go first. Las Vegas is, in a sense, the most exciting city in the world because of its fabulous resort hotels, celebrity entertainers, elegant shopping, and fine dining," Bruce Bommarito, executive director of the Nevada Commission On Tourism, said at a media gathering in Taipei last week.
The news conference was part of an Asian roadshow drumbeating Las Vegas' 100th birthday. The grand celebration is scheduled on May 15.
"I want to emphasize that there is a world of things to see and do in Nevada in addition to Las Vegas," Bommarito continued. "In fact, visiting Nevada and seeing only Las Vegas is like visiting Taiwan and seeing only Taipei. Would you say there is more to see in Taiwan besides Taipei? Well, it's the same way in Nevada."
The rest of Nevada has beautiful mountains, forests, rivers, lakes and the vast wide-open spaces of the American West, he said.
"Did you know that Nevada is the most mountainous U.S. state? It is. We have at least 314 mountain ranges and peaks in Nevada, and Nevada is the seventh largest U.S. state. The wide open spaces are made for outdoor adventure of all kinds," the tourism promoter said.
"There also are fascinating historic and cultural sites to see, and plenty of just plain sightseeing of the dramatic scenery."
Travel to Nevada with its two international airports - one in Las Vegas and the other in Reno - is a breeze. The airports are close to the resort hotels, and are only 10 or 15 minutes away from the airport. Rental cars are plentiful, and visitors can easily find their way around outside the cities easily, Bommarito said.
"Our wide-open spaces and all of the interesting things to see and do are very accessible by car. The open desert begins just beyond the city lights of Las Vegas and Reno. The highways that lead to adventure are good roads, straight and uncrowded. When you are on the road, you can see for many miles in all directions," said the official.
Nevada's three national parks are a must-see, he added.
"The Grand Canyon is a short sightseeing flight from Las Vegas and it attracts at least half a million visitors a year. The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and well worth a visit," he said.
Death Valley National Park and Great Basin National Park with its deep limestone caves shouldn't be missed, said Bommarito. The latter is also home to the ancient bristlecone pine trees that are thousands of years old - the oldest living things on the planet, he added.
In addition to its scenic spots, Nevada is also a place for golfers. The state has over a hundred golf courses, at least 60 of which are in the Las Vegas area, he said.
Skiing and snowboarding are also popular in Northern Nevada, the official said, adding that the area has 15 downhill ski resorts at and near Reno and Lake Tahoe. The region gets about 34 feet of snow a year and averages more than 300 sunny days.
"The ski resorts are within an hour or 90 minutes from Reno-Tahoe International Airport, accessible by good highways and convenient to resort hotels and Nevada's famous 24-hour entertainment," Bommarito said. "There even is a ski resort area in the mountains near Las Vegas, and helicopter skiing in virgin snow near the city of Elko in the northeastern corner of Nevada, which has air service from Las Vegas and Reno."
Those who love spaghetti Westerns should visit the Old West - the heart and soul of those American cowboy movies. The largest and most famous, said Bommarito, is Virginia City near Reno.
"This Old West town is filled with the colorful history of Nevada's gold and silver mining boom of the late 1800s. Shops line the old wooden sidewalks and you can buy all sorts of gift items, from Western wear to souvenirs," he said.
The American state has more than 575 ghost towns - remnants from its gold and silver mining days. Many of those deserted towns have buildings that are still standing to this day.
Those hankering for loads of fun and excitement, of course, should spend a few days in surreal, fabulous Las Vegas.
If you happen to be in the entertainment capital of the world, make sure that you drop by The Mirage, said Hiromi Ando, hotel leisure sales manager.
"The Mirage introduced the concept of a complete destination resort," Ando said. "The Mirage captures the imagination of its guests with its Polynesian motif - a nine-story tall atrium filled with palm trees and other south seas horticulture, Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and the Dolphin Habitat, a 20,000 gallon aquarium and, of course, the eruption of its world-famous volcano."
There are many new and exciting things taking place at The Mirage, she said, from its dining and shopping facilities to its star-studded entertainment menu.
"Reflecting the exotic romance of the tropics, The Mirage is home to Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. The secret is that the world's most exotic animals can live side by side with one another here," said Ando.
"The lush, tropical pool area at The Mirage consists of two pools and surrounds a series of wandering, interconnected lagoons. Swim or walk to either of two palm tree-lined islands to bask in the sun or stroll between cliffs where water streams into deep grottos. Wander over one-quarter mile of shoreline, unwind in one of three jacuzzis, enjoy a water-aerobics class or take a plunge into the clear water by way of one of three water slides."
Next year, a new show - celebrating the musical legacy of The Beatles - will be brought to The Mirage in cooperation with Cirque du Soleil and Apple Corporations, she continued.
"Guy Laliberte, founder of Cirque du Soleil, stated that, 'The show is about living the Beatles,'" Ando said. "We are very excited to have the Beatles and Cirque du Soleil come together at the Mirage."
A nightclub occupying 14,000 square feet will also open at The Mirage this year. Located at the North Entrance of the hotel, the club could be accessed by guests without going through the casino, said the hotel executive.
Even its "erupting" volcano will get an expensive makeover.
"Since the Mirage's opening in 1989, we have been well known for the erupting volcano. Well, with our hotel always improving its image and maintaining its beauty, we are going to do an enhancement," Ando said.
"Wet Design's, creators of the fountains at the Bellagio, will start the project this year. There are currently 15 fire cannons in the water and we are looking to increase by 10 times the amount to about 140 fire cannons."
Foodies would also discover that Las Vegas' dining scene "is hotter than ever," said Cam Usher, director of tourism of the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority.
"Late last year, Mandalay Bay saw the opening of famed chef Hubert Keller's newest restaurant Fleur de Lys. Then, in December, world-renowned French chef Alain Ducasse's restaurant Mix opened atop the hotel at Mandalay Bay," Usher said.
"Sixty-four floors above the Strip, the restaurant features a lounge with panoramic view of the glittering Las Vegas skyline, outdoor balcony seating, and some of the finest French cuisine available this side of the Atlantic."
She added that the party of the century - Las Vegas' 100th birthday - would take place on May 15 of this year.
"Events will run throughout the year and range from the world's largest birthday cake to 100 couples getting married at once under the Fremont Street Experience canopy," Usher said.
Las Vegas is also turning heads in the art world, she continued.
"Together with the changing, world-class exhibitions on view at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art and the Guggenheim-Hermitage Museum, Las Vegas has spawned a bevy of local artists who are attracting the attention of art collectors the world over," Usher said.
"New galleries in downtown Las Vegas include Godt-Cleary Projects and Dust Gallery, both of which feature exhibits of top-tier artists from both Las Vegas and around the world."
First Fridays events - performances and exhibitions are held during the first Friday of each month - have been attracting thousands of people, she said.
This year, the first mega-resort to open its doors since 2000 will also have its debut, the promoter added. Wynn Las Vegas is the most expensive hotel in the world to be built at US$2.5 billion.
The resort will have more than 2,700 suites and will be the latest signature resort by legendary developer Steve Wynn, whose Las Vegas credits include The Mirage, Treasure Island and Bellagio - all now owned by MGM MIRAGE.
"The property will feature a multitude of world-class restaurants and shopping, a golf course designed by Tom Fazio and Wynn, an onsite Ferrari and Maserati dealership, and its own mountain," Usher said.
Wynn Las Vegas, which is slated for an April opening, has also lined up two exciting shows: The Tony award-winning production "Avenue Q," a critically acclaimed musical for adults featuring singing puppets; and Franco Dragone's "Le Reve" or "The Dream."


Updated : 2021-10-26 16:12 GMT+08:00