Laughlin resort features 'Heroes' program for seniors

LAUGHLIN, Nev. -- The Ramada Express Hotel & Casino here offers an American Heroes Program for the 55-and-over age group.

The resort casino, nestled on the shores of the Colorado River, is a popular reunion and vacation retreat for World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm veterans.

According to a Ramada spokeswoman, features such as swing music, pin-ups, war memorabilia and a "living American flag" planted annually from 10,000 flowers enable guests to revert to the exciting times of their youth.

A typical program day begins with a 7 a.m. flag-raising ceremony with coffee and doughnuts in the "canteen," where guests can view the collections of World War II insignia, medals, patches and uniforms.

In the multimedia showroom, the 15-minute "On the Wings of Eagles -- A tribute to American Heroes" video is shown every hour on screens measuring 1,200 square feet.

Ramada's American Heroes Foundation, approved as a nonprofit organization by the federal government, has donated $10,000 to the National D-day Memorial Overlord Arch in Bedford, Va., and supports other veterans' causes. A speakers program draws authors and decorated servicemen and women.

All components of the American Heroes program are free.

The Gambling Train of Laughlin, which surrounds the 27-acre property, has carried more than 2 million riders since the resort laid the tracks in 1988.

A replica of the Genoa, which hauled freight and passengers along the Virginia and Truckee Line in western Nevada a century ago, the train is operated by retired railroad men.

Casino action is lively at the Ramada, where slot machines serve up double and triple jackpots all day. The 53,000-square-foot casino offers 30 table games, and a Grand Junction lounge features reel and video poker and keno machines that pay from 50 cents to $25.

Video poker is the game in the Conductor, Caboose and Grand Junction bars.

The property's six restaurants include an award-winning steakhouse and the Passagio Italian Garden, as well as a 24-hour dining car and the Roundhouse for Ribs, which offers a Cooler-on-the-Go meal with beverages available for take-out.

Although the resort has nothing against kids, its focus is on adults.

"People are here to relax, and don't want kids under their feet," said the spokeswoman. "Our East Tower is for adults only; kids stay in the West Tower."

Adults and kids also have separate hours at the locomotive-shaped pool.

Entertainment showcases the music of the early '50s, with headliners such as the Platters.

The Pavilion Theater stages a "Shout!" tribute to the bygone era, a Broadway revue and an Arizona jamboree country music show.

The resort, an Aztar Corp. property, offers a free shuttle service to the nearby Horizon Outlet Center.

"[Clients] can stay here for under $20 midweek, or have a suite for $75 midweek to $150 weekends. And it's safe to walk the streets here at 2 a.m.," she added.

For more information on the American Heroes program, contact the Ramada Express Hotel at & Casino at (800) 243-6846 or (702) 298-4200.

The hotel's Web site is at

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI