Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Las Vegas: Strip of a lifetime

From supercars to super stars, Sin City has everything to make a magical trip.

By Stephen Gordon

I had never driven a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, or any other seriously fast car for that matter. Supercars have always been well out of the league of this Vauxhall-driving dad.

But here I was on a scorching hot day ready to take my pick from a collection of gleaming, exotic cars at a race track on the outskirts of Las Vegas.

The gorgeously lurid orange and bright green Lambos looked magnificent in the Nevada sun, as did the classic red Ferrari 458 and the American Shelby Mustang muscle car.

Spoilt for choice, I eventually climbed into a £170,000-plus red Lambo Huracan, which I was reliably told does 0 to 60mph in a fraction over three seconds and has a top speed of 201 mph — a tad nippier than my diesel saloon.

We were at Speed Vegas, a place where ordinary Joes like me can let rip around a 1.5-mile race track like Jeremy Clarkson in a fantasy supercar after receiving instructions from a proper racing driver.

After briefing room instructions, it was helmet on for a lap in the safety car and a few more tips on the art of driving — then it was into the Lambo. I suddenly felt nervous, like one of those Top Gear stars in a reasonably priced car, except I was a fat dad in a totally unreasonably priced car.

There are what Speed Vegas describes as “12 challenging turns” and/or (I’m really not sure) “12 exciting corners” to test your skills.

Let’s just say, I didn’t make the Speed Vegas wall of fame. After five adrenaline-pumping laps, I’d established that I was not a racing natural.

As we all know, there are many ways to get your thrills in Sin City, but this was one fabulous holiday memory that definitely doesn’t have to stay in Vegas. This was one to impress the kids and the mates down the pub.

I’m less keen to talk about another daredevil experience in downtown Vegas.

With a bunch of friends, we headed to the Slotzilla zipline through Fremont Street, where you can soar high above the heads of shoppers.

It looks fun and there were people of all ages loving the excitement. But it was all too much for this vertigo sufferer, who bottled it halfway up the steps. My stomach and my head just weren’t having it — and I wasn’t the only one. Three of our party chickened out, but five brave souls had a great time.

Much more in my comfort zone was the Maverick helicopter flight to the Grand Canyon — the vertigo doesn’t hit me on choppers.

My second trip to Vegas had been full of great memories. Not all were quite so spectacular as Speed Vegas, but here’s a few of the highlights.

Matt Goss at the Mirage

I have to admit I wasn’t overly keen to see the former Bros star, but the women in our party were very excited. And I was won over. The ex-boyband singer has matured into a sophisticated Rat Pack-style performer who can really banter with a cabaret audience. The highlight for me was his jazzy, rocky version of Hotel California.

High Roller Observation Wheel

Vegas’ own London Eye-style big wheel, except, of course, it’s bigger. The High Roller on the famous Strip is the perfect way to take in the city and the landscape beyond.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tour

There are so many acclaimed restaurants in Vegas that it’s hard to know where to start. The perfect solution was the aptly named Lip Smacking Foodie Tour. We took the three-hour Savor of the Strip tour, enjoying 12 signature dishes in four top restaurants, including a Mexican, a French and Greek bistro. Everyone was a winner and it was a good way to meet other Vegas visitors.

The Park MGM

The newest hotel on the strip was our base. My suite was spacious and comfortable, as you’d expect at one of Vegas’ finest. There are almost 3,000 rooms and 292 suites in the 32 floors complex, which of course has an impressive casino featuring 60 table games and 15 poker tables.

The Jupiter Cocktail Lounge

A very classy new gin joint in the casino in the new Park MGM casino. They take their hand-crafted cocktails very seriously and claim to have the largest collection of gin in Las Vegas. And at a night there’s a DJ. I may have spent too long in Juniper — it wasn’t an easy place to leave.

Hyde Nightclub at Bellagio

This sophisticated club, which boasts that it’s the “height of decadence”, overlooks the famous Fountains of Bellagio and is the perfect spot to enjoy early evening, pre-show cocktails.  After the sun sets, Hyde turns into one of Vegas’ hottest nightlife destinations. For more information, visit www.hydebellagio.com

British Airways Club World (Business Class)

On a long-haul trip, the flight is a really crucial part of the whole holiday. On the spacious seat on my flight, which converts into a fully-flat bed, I managed six hours’ sleep on the way home. And on the way over, I enjoyed four movies, not to mention a couple of glasses of champagne and superb food. It was a great start and ending to a holiday.

Travel factfile

GETTING THERE: British Airways operates up to eight flights a day into London Heathrow from Dublin Airport and up to four flights a day from Belfast City Airport.

BA operates two non-stop daily services from Heathrow/Gatwick to Las Vegas.

Its Boeing 747 from Heathrow offers a choice of four cabins including World Traveller, World Traveller Plus, Club World and First.

(www.britishairways.com)

WHERE TO STAY: Park MGM

hotel Las Vegas

(www.parkmgm.com)

WHAT TO DO: Speed Vegas (www.speedvegas.com)

÷ Grand Canyon helicopter tour (www.maverickhelicopter.com).

÷ Slotzilla Zoomline Experience (www.vegasexperience.com/slotzilla-zip-line)

÷ Lip Smacking Foodie Tour (www.vegasfoodietour.com)

÷ Holsteins (www.holsteinsburgers.com)

÷ Osteria Costa at the Mirage (www.mirage.com/en/restaurants/osteria)

÷ The Jupiter Lounge (www.parkmgm.com/en/nightlife/juniper-cocktail-lounge)

For more ideas, including shopping, dining and more, visit www.visitlasvegas.com

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