New York-New York vies to be king of the hill


as Vegas is my beat, and over the last six years, I've stayed at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino many times. As a veteran of this property, I thought I'd seen it all.

But on this latest trip, I stayed for the first time in a room that presents a close-up view of the Manhattan Express Roller Coaster, an amazing device with a track that winds in impossible twists and turns through a veritable forest of skyscrapers.

I stood at the window for a New York-New York minute: no whoosh of wind, no screams from riders penetrated. Satisfied no sounds would disturb my sleep that night, I took myself to the box office to pick up tickets to a comedy show.

And here's where I confirmed what I now like best about the property, which is in its seventh year: Like most 6-going-on-7-year-olds, it's full of surprises.

There behind the counter, standing alongside the ticket agent, was the star of the act, Rita Rudner, clad in a pink strapless ballgown, joking with guests and offering someone advice on seating arrangements.

Another thing about this hotel I like is that it doesn't take itself too seriously.

New York-New York's front view rearranges New York geography, with the Statue of Liberty near the Empire State Building. Take the exterior: A 300-foot-long, 50-foot-high replica of the Brooklyn Bridge leads visitors into a cluster of jewel-toned skyscrapers modeled after some of New York's most famous buildings, scaled down to one-third the size of their Big Apple counterparts.

I was able to pick out the two most obvious, the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, but beyond that I was hopeless. Because I live but an hour from Manhattan, I made a vow to pay more attention to the iron giants the next time I'm walking in their shadows.

Gazing out at all this, surveying the scene, is a 150-foot-tall Statue of Liberty, complete with a water feature and fire boats.

Inside the resort, a diorama of the Manhattan skyline at night and an animated rendering of the New York subway system greets registering guests.

And here's a real insider's tip: Even if they don't have to use it, female visitors should duck into the Rockefeller Restroom to examine the Murano crystal chandeliers and wall sconces, the pedestal sinks with their ornamental faucets, the gilded mirror frames, custom tile and silk flowers. They should also note the tiled walls between stalls and the paintings of Mae West over the fireplaces.

Although I could have stayed and marveled at the bathroom's decor a while longer -- how many times in my life will I ever be able to say that about a public rest room? -- I wanted to get back to my room.

It was a small suite that, over the course of my two-night stay, suited my needs well.

The L-shaped layout included two queen-size beds; an armoire that stored clothing and also housed one of the suite's two TV sets; a small, round dining or conference table; a sofa and a coffee table; a desk and yet another small entertainment center with a TV.

There was a Jacuzzi tub tucked into the corner by the bathroom, separated from the bedroom area by a low wall.

The property's art deco theme was repeated in the room decor, through the light fixtures and jewel-tone accents.

The room had been refurbished, as had all of the 2,023 guest rooms at the property, as part of a renovation project that began in 2002.

But nice as these rooms are, they're not the main attraction for guests. So I ventured out. My first stop was Nine Fine Irishmen, an addition to the property that opened in early July.

Described as an authentic Irish pub -- it was built by Irish craftsmen with Irish materials -- the venue is most impressive, with rich-looking dark woods and ample seating throughout its two levels.

It also offers outdoor patio seating that provides views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Strip.

The pub serves lunch and dinner daily, but I was surprised to note that breakfast is available Fridays through Sundays starting at 6 a.m.

Entertainment, such as music and storytelling, is part of the pub's attraction, and, according to the property spokeswoman, it's not unusual to see people dancing on the tables.

I didn't stay late enough to verify that fact. Instead, I wandered around the casino.

I felt as though I were on the sidewalks of New York. The place was packed, and to get anywhere I had to bob, weave and throw the occasional elbow.

The 84,000-square-foot casino has many features that carry out its New York theme, including the Park Avenue area of retail shops, cashier cages decorated to resemble buildings in the Financial District and a food court done up as a Greenwich Village neighborhood, complete with sidewalk dining, fire escapes and an old-fashioned, elevated subway platform.

There are even street grates throughout that blow air like those in New York.

And, like the real city, the property is always changing.

"Zumanity," the much-anticipated Cirque du Soleil production, opened in mid-August, while at the same time "Boo!", which showcased performers from the Los Angeles Theatresports troupe, closed.

The property also welcomed a Ben & Jerry's ice cream outlet in June and is expanding both the Bar at Times Square and Gallagher's Steakhouse.

Room key: New York-New York Hotel & Casino
3790 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, Nev. 89109
Phone/Reservations: (800) 693-6763 or (702) 740-6969
Commission: 10%
Rates: $69 to $249, guest rooms; $599 to $2,500, suites
No. of Rooms: 2,023
Noteworthy: Hotel check-in facility at McCarran Airport; pedestrian bridge spanning Las Vegas Boulevard that connects New York-New York to the MGM Grand.
Not Worthy: Needs better signage to direct newly arrived guests to registration area.

To contact reporter Amy Baratta, send e-mail to [email protected] .

Get More!
For more details on this article, see Sharp-witted comic perfect fit for property.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI