Las Vegas is the metropolis of the future. By the end of this millennium, after stuffing every acre of viable land with skyscrapers and strip malls, humans will be colonizing other planets, undoubtedly using Vegas as a blueprint. Las Vegas is a bona fide constructed reality—rising from the Nevada sand like the Emerald City of Oz. Atmosphere is manufactured, water is pumped through its veins and infinite attractions are squeezed into a small square mileage.
Vegas is the city of non-stop fun and over-the-top glamour: slinky showgirls, notorious headliners, and men with lions and tigers and bears (oh my). Neon-soaked boulevards, world-class cuisine, luxury boutiques and blocks of blackjack tables. All your senses are guaranteed to be stimulated or your money back, if you play your cards right…
In the city of the future, the passage of time is no longer marked by the movements of the sun and moon, but by the eternal glow of casino lights. The borders between virtual and veritable become porous. Who needs the real thing when you can float down the banks of the Venetian Hotel in a gondola, or feast on a four-star, five-course meal at the Eiffel Tower—in Paris, Las Vegas?
In the city that never sleeps, there is a sense of freedom and a certainty that anything goes. You have 24 hours—what will you do?
Your limo pulls up to the Bellagio Hotel entrance, where one thousand fountains dance to Swan Lake in greeting. As you enter the lobby, your jaw drops slightly at the sight of a monumental chandelier of hand-blown glass flowers by Chihuly. Check in to the room, lingering just long enough to hang your hat. Then take a tour of the glorious grounds: lush conservatory and botanical garden, Mediterranean-flavored pools and courtyard, upscale boutiques, full-service spa and casino. Grab a double espresso at the Palio coffee bar—fuel for the whirlwind that awaits.
Whether or not you ride is immaterial. Anyone can appreciate it, and most people flip over the Art of the Motorcycle exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum at the Venetian hotel. The show packs a dramatic punch housed in the massive gallery designed by the pope of modern architecture, Rem Koolhaas. The 210-foot-long, 70-foot-high gallery displays over 130 two-wheeled machines of the modern age. Guaranteed to raise your adrenaline levels, you can almost feel the wind in your hair and the road zipping past your feet.
Since you’re already at one of the most elegant spots in Vegas, The Venetian, stay and lunch at Zefferino Ristorante. Sit al fresco while feasting on dishes like Astice alla Zefferino (translation: delicioso). You’ll have the perfect view of the gondolas passing by, including the one you’ll occupy directly after your exquisite meal.
Go with the Italian flow by heading to the Forum Mall at Caesar’s Palace. Ancient Roman merchants may not have peddled Vuitton and Versace, but this forum does have a distinctly authentic vibe with classical columns, gorgeous fountains and the requisite statue pantheon. If you forget anything, don’t panic—the shops are open until midnight.
Visitors to Vegas who don’t gamble are considered infidels. Or at the very least, not cool. This is a good time to do your civic duty at the New York New York Hotel and Casino. Times Square, Greenwich Village and Lady Liberty herself cheer you on as you try your hand at over 80 tables, from Stud Poker to Keno.
Hail a cab and head over to the Riviera Hotel to catch Joan Rivers. Well, not Joan herself, but brilliant female impersonator Frank Marino, who has had so many surgical alterations to look like the talk show hostess that she sued him. “Joan” shares the stage at La Cage with “Cher” and “Madonna” in wardrobes that would have made Liberace swoon.
Next stop: Paris Las Vegas, for a spectacular dinner-with-a-view at the Eiffel Tower. Take the glass elevator to the 11th floor of the 50-story replica of the famous landmark. Whet your appetite with roasted foie gras in a port reduction or the grand seafood platter, then sink your fork into the sautéed veal medallions or classic sole meuniere. Leave time for the banana soufflé and a peek at the other City of Light monuments: the Arc de Triomphe, the Opera and the Louvre.
The name “O” comes from the French word for water, but it might also derive from the shape your mouth takes during this breathtaking Cirque du Soleil performance. If you’ve seen the Cirque before, you have some idea of the magnitude of this beautiful flood of trapeze artists, dancers, fire-throwers and synchronized swimmers enacting epic tales of life, love and death.
If you think Tom Cruise’s moves in Cocktail were impressive, wait until you see the mixologists at the sexy VooDoo Lounge. Accented with day-glo serpents and other under-worldly paraphernalia, the VooDoo is located choicely on the 51st story of the Rio Hotel. Sip one of their magic potions on the patio and absorb the full impact of the city abuzz.
Every year the entertainment ante goes up, challenging developers to create even more revolutionary nightspots to wow the jaded Vegas crowds. Rain in the Desert at the Palm Hotel succeeds with a 25,000-square-foot club/concert venue with cinematic special effects. A Very Important Person such as yourself has already reserved a cabana or a patent leather water booth to cradle your hind-quarters. But you’ll soon be cutting the rug and quenching your post-boogie hunger on crab cakes, tenderloin skewers and oysters on the half-shell with all the fixings.
Your third wind arrives just in time to cap the night—er, morning—at the recently unveiled Light back at the Bellagio. Shadows play against a backdrop of dramatic tufts of saturated silk as you sip a rare liqueur and drink in the elegance of this luminous, seductive nightclub. As you sink further into the velvet banquette, sleep whispers your name. Luckily, your room is just a few steps away. As you draw the curtains, have a last look at the panorama before you—much of Vegas is still awake and hopping at this hour. Your head falls on the pillow and…
…who requested a wake-up call? Pry open your eyes because you’ve got one last hurrah at the House of Blues Gospel Brunch. Your good cholesterol may suffer for the all-you-can-eat buffet of biscuits and jambalaya. But your soul gets double brownie points with heart-soaring gospel and the satisfaction of knowing that part of each ticket sale goes to promoting education, racial harmony and the artistic legacy of the Blues. After a hair-of-the-dog mimosa, you’ll be singing along, too. Hallelujah.