Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Sin City rocks: Great shows, superb shops and casinos... Las Vegas has it all

LAS VEGAS: Great shows, superb shops and casinos...
LAS VEGAS: Great shows, superb shops and casinos...
THE RESORT THAT HAS IT ALL: Planet Hollywood
THE RESORT THAT HAS IT ALL: Planet Hollywood
MEAT AND GREET: Our man Martin with Meat Loaf
MEAT AND GREET: Our man Martin with Meat Loaf

Everyone knows Las Vegas is way over the top — the pictures of a naked Prince Harry partying there were a testament to that.

It is this hedonistic side of life that attracts millions of visitors to this ‘Disneyland for adults’ in the middle of the Nevada desert every year — for the casinos, partying, the big shows or other vices.

On a recent trip, flying with United Airlines, Sin City was as extravagant as ever, and probably appeared even more so to me as the visit coincided with Spring Break in America and a chance to see Meat Loaf perform in Vegas in a way that only this rock legend can.

His intimate RockTellz & CockTails show, in a 1,500 seat theatre on the Strip, features a mix of magnificent music, sexy showgirls, crazy clowns and some surprising stories from this music and acting veteran.

I checked into the trendy Planet Hollywood Resort, where the show was taking place and where it will be returning to for a third run from May 6.

Whether you are there for shopping, swimming pools, nightlife, casino or dining Planet Hollywood offers endless such options.

Every one of their rooms features one-of-a-kind movie memorabilia items.

Staying in a 450 square-feet, Hollywood Hip Room, mine was themed on the Get Shorty film and featured memorabilia from the movie framed on the walls. Where else could you stay in a room with Gene Hackman’s jacket hanging on the wall?

For me, Vegas will always be about fun, fast-living and fabulous food. The Strip — the main neon-lit thoroughfare — is home to the world's largest and most extravagant hotels. On a walk along here expect to see a replica of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Statue of Liberty, the pyramids of Egypt and the canals of Venice.

A sightseeing must a little farther afield has to be a trip in a to the 277 mile long Grand Canyon — one of the world's premier natural attractions — and the historic Hoover Dam. Flying into one of the natural wonders of the world is something everybody should do before they die.

The casinos are obviously one of the biggest draws for the millions of visitors each year. Last year casinos in the ‘Gambling Capital’ of the world reported revenues of $24billion last year so, of course, those partial to a round of blackjack, poker, roulette and slot machines will be right at home.

Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino has nearly three acres of gaming including thousands of the latest slot machines and 80 table games.

But don't imagine you have to love gambling to enjoy Vegas — it's a shopaholic's dream.

Favourites will include the Fashion Show Mall with Macy's — pick up the ten per cent discount card for visitors — and Bloomingdale's among the 250 shops spread out over three floors. Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops and the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace are also worth checking out if shopping is your thing.

Also worth the ten-minute cab ride downtown is the Premium Outlet Mall with great discounts on a huge number of brands.

All that shopping will give you an appetite which is perfect for Vegas which now boasts some of the best restaurants in the world.

During my stay I sampled a few at Planet Hollywood including Gordon Ramsay’s new BurGR restaurant which was superb. Their vanilla powdered sugar sweet potato fries were just something else.

Everywhere you look in Vegas you will recognise movie scenes, whether it is the Bellagio and its famous fountains (one of the largest water features in the world, shooting as high as a 24-storey building) which appeared in Ocean's Eleven starring George Clooney or the various locations from The Hangover film franchise.

That wasn’t my only taste of showbiz while in Vegas as the highlight of my trip was Meat Loaf’s spectacular theatrical rock show.

Having been a bit of a rocker in my youth, checking out the Grammy Award winner on stage was a must on my to do list in Vegas.

Headlining the aptly named RockTellz &CockTails, the star, who still counts a 1982 gig at Antrim Forum among the best of his career, take audiences on a rock and roller-coaster journey through his 47-year music, stage and film career in this over-the-top production.

Describing the ‘bombastic’ show, he has said: “I'm able to bring together music, acting and theatre and do things you can’t normally do when you're on the road.

“I get to have a lot of fun, and it definitely shows.”

The audience also get to have fun with Meat in this sensational show but I won’t spoil any surprises for those who plan to see it. I can tell you however that, if you don’t already know the answer, he explains what the ‘That” is in his 1993 hit, I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That).

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In true Vegas fashion Meat Loaf headed off after the show to a local wedding chapel where he walked one of his biggest fans up the aisle as she and her husband renewed their wedding vows.

If you’re planning a trip to Vegas make sure his show is the one you see. I also have it on good authority he will be bringing it to London’s West End next year. How do I know for sure? Let’s just say What Happens in Vegas...

STAYING IN VEGAS

Planet Hollywood, 3667 Las Vegas Blvd. |S.Las Vegas, NV 89109. Check out www.planethollywoodresort.com, www.facebook.com/phvegas and www.twitter.com/phvegas

EATING IN VEGAS

Gordon Ramsay BurGR

The Gordon Ramsay BurGR menu takes the traditional burger, fries and milkshake comfort food combination to an entirely new level with selections like pork belly bao buns, sweet potato fries with vanilla powdered sugar and pudding shakes — a heavenly combination of thick milkshake and silky pudding. Recently named the “Best Burger Joint” by InVegas.

Strip House

Strip House at Planet Hollywood was voted one of America’s Greatest Steakhouses by GQ Magazine and named one of the 10 best American Steakhouses by Maxim Magazine.

Planet Dailies

Located just off of the main casino floor, Planet Dailies, the ultimate coffee shop, has a trendy and hip atmosphere with 48 flat screen high-def plasma televisions mounted onto the restaurant walls featuring news of the day, sporting events, and entertainment news. Planet Dailies features an extensive menu of over 150 menu items and is open 24 hours daily.

WHAT TO SEE IN VEGAS

RockTellz & CockTails Presents Meat Loaf at the PH Showroom at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from Tuesday, May 6 until Saturday, June 21. All shows begin at 7pm. Tickets are $69, $89, $109 and $149 plus tax and applicable fees. An exclusive meet and greet package, including a VIP ticket, signed Meat Loaf signature red scarf and souvenir photo, is available for $750 plus tax and applicable fees. Tickets can be purchased in-person at the Planet Hollywood Box Office or through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com. For more information and a complete show schedule, visit www.RockTellz.com.

FLY TO VEGAS

Belfast to Las Vegas with United Airlines. Visit www.united.com or call 0845 607 6760.Fares start from £543 for outbound until June 24 (and also from August 23 – October 31) and from £884 for outbound from June 25 – August 22. Fares are inclusive of airport tax and charges.

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