Travel Weekly's Las Vegas E-letter: September 6, 2005

HURRICANE KATRINAS WRATH reached even sunny Las Vegas where hotel chains with properties in Katrinas path -- such as MGM Mirages Beau Rivage and Harrahs Entertainments Grand Casino Biloxi, Grand Casino Gulfport and Harrahs New Orleans -- were feeling the effects. MGM Mirages Chairman and CEO J. Terrence Lanni said Beau Rivage sustained "significant" damage and the hotel will remain closed for "in all likelihood, ... months," as repairs are made. Meanwhile, Harrahs officials expect the New Orleans property to remain closed for at least four weeks and cannot provide an estimate on the Mississippi properties. Regarding damages, the company said "the Biloxi and Gulfport properties have suffered extensive damage" and is still unable to estimate the full extent of damage in New Orleans. On the Las Vegas front, Harrahs six properties are offering free rooms (up to two nights) to assist current guests from the Katrina-affected region who are unable to return home as a result of the devastation.

ALTHOUGH HARRAHS ENTERTAINMENT announced it would acquire the Imperial Palace Hotel & Casino by the end of the year, it is business as usual at the Auto Collections at the Imperial Palace, one of the propertys major attractions, according to general manager Rob Williams. Based on conversations with certain people, were very positive [about our future], said Williams, whose father, Don, and partner Richie Clyne have owned and operated the attraction for the past six years. Were not going anywhere. The Auto Collections, a collection of more than 250 vintage vehicles, is billed as The Worlds Largest Classic Car Showroom and draws upwards of 3,000 visitors daily, according to the Imperial Palace. Meanwhile, the Auto Collections plans to sell the 1954 Chrysler New Yorker once owned by Howard Hughes at the 2005 Hershey Auto Auction, which will take place Oct. 5 through 8 in Hershey, Pa. The sky-blue vehicle, owned by Hughes while he lived at the Desert Inn, has just 1,600 miles on its odometer and has been customized with an air purification system that cost more than the cars original purchase price. The car will be on display at the Imperial Palace until Sept. 25. For more information about the vehicle or the car collection, call (702) 794-3174 or visit www.theautocollections.com.

AN OLD-WORLD ITALIAN-STYLE WEDDING CHAPEL will open in November at Lake Las Vegas Resort in nearby Henderson, Nev. Chapel Fiorenza, translated from the Italian the flowering chapel, will be located on the Pontevecchio-themed bridge that spans the resorts 320-acre lake. The chapel will feature authentic Italian decor, including beamed ceilings, wrought iron chandeliers and sconces, stone floors, and wooden pews that will be able to accommodate up to 225 people. The chapel also will offer several wedding packages, which start at $3,000 and will include the use of the brides room, which is located within the chapel itself; an officiant for the ceremony; services of an in-house floral designer, photographer and videographer, and a choice of music. For more information, phone (702) 566-9797 or visit www.chapelfiorenza.com, which is expected to be up and running in mid-September.   

THROUGH SEPT. 22, THE HOTEL SAN REMO will celebrate its transformation into Hooters Casino Hotel with a Block Party Vacation Giveaway promotion from noon to 8 p.m. daily. The promotion aims to make the renovation process entertaining for guests while at the same time educating them about the property transition, which is expected to occur early next year. Guests checking into the Hotel San Remo during promotion hours will receive prizes and gifts at the Block Party Vacation Giveaway area located just south of the hotels front desk. Participants can spin a prize wheel and receives gifts as well as don a hardhat and construction belt to have their photograph taken in front of a mock Hooters Casino Hotel construction site complete with sawhorses, a toolbox, yellow construction cones and a Hooters Girl in construction attire. For more information, call (702) 739-9000.

DESIGNED AND CREATED BY LOCAL QUILT-MAKER MIMI SHIMP, a centennial quilt made up of 90 photos taken between 1905 and 2005 will be on display this month at the rotunda in the Clark County Government Center. Located in the center of the coverlet is a photo of the historic 1905 land auction that essentially created Las Vegas. The photo is surrounded by dozens of other historic images that radiate outward, with the most recent images positioned on the outer edges of the quilt. The photos were donated by the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority News Bureau, as well as by several local residents and photographers. The quilt will be displayed next month at the Grand Sawyer Building and at City Hall in November. Starting in December, the quilt will be permanently exhibited at the Clark County Museum. 

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