Travel Weekly's Las Vegas E-letter: May 25, 2004

THE JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION honored two Las Vegas restaurants in what amounts to winning an Oscar in the food industry. At Caesars Palace, Bradley Ogden, the namesake eatery of the famed Bay-area chef that opened just more than a year ago, was named best new restaurant in the nation. It is the first Las Vegas restaurant to win this award. In addition, Luciano Pellegrini of Valentino at The Venetian won the American Express Best Chef award for the Southwest region.

IN OTHER FOOD NEWS, John Hui, executive pastry chef for Caesars Palace, was nominated as an inductee into the American Academy of Chefs, the American Culinary Federation's honor society. In addition, Hui, one of four national finalists for the 2004 ACF Pastry Chef of the Year award, will compete in a "cook-off" in July at the 2004 ACF National Convention in Orlando, Fla.

IT MAY NOT EXACTLY BE GOURMET DINING, but for people serious about their hot dogs, the seventh annual Nathan's Famous Las Vegas Hot Dog Eating Championship is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday on the Brooklyn Bridge at New York-New York Hotel and Casino. The contest is one in a series of nationwide qualifying events; winners will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to represent the United States in the 89th Annual Fourth of July Int'l Hot Dog Eating Championship at Coney Island. For more information, visit www.NathansFamous.com.

TRAVELERS CAN RECEIVE SAVINGS, through Friday, of up to $60 per couple when they book an ATA Vacations Las Vegas package with accommodations at an MGM-Mirage property. Packages include roundtrip airfare, a three-night hotel stay, hotel taxes and 24-hour traveler assistance. Sample prices for Tuesday departures from Chicago [Midway] start at $319 per person, double, with accommodations at Treasure Island; $334, New York-York Hotel and Casino; $339, MGM Grand Hotel and Casino; $369, The Mirage; and $454, Bellagio. With air from Indianapolis, sample prices start at $339 per person, double, Treasure Island; $339, New York-New York; $344, MGM Grand; $374, The Mirage; and $459, Bellagio. ATA Vacations can be booked by calling (800) 442-8952, via VAX VacationAccess or through the GDSs.

FUNJET VACATIONS, through Friday, is offering a Hit the Jackpot sale with savings of up to $200 per couple on Las Vegas getaways. Packages include roundtrip air, a four-night hotel stay, 24-hour traveler assistance, a Las Vegas destination guidebook and coupon book and the services of a Funjet Vacations representative. Per-person samples prices, which include accommodations at the Luxor, run about $395 from Atlanta; $495 from Boston; $430 from Buffalo, N.Y.; $300 from Chicago [O'Hare] and Dallas; $400 from Cleveland and San Antonio; $370 from Detroit; $380 from Houston; $420 from Milwaukee; $555 from New York [La Guardia]; $320 from Portland, Ore., and Seattle, and $350 from St. Louis.

IN ADDITION, travelers who book a Las Vegas Funjet Vacation can save $80 per couple on the Grand Canyon South Rim Day Tour or the Grand Canyon West Rim Bus Tour offered by Showtime Tours. To receive the discount, travelers must book by Friday and take the tour between May 31 and Aug. 31. Phone Funjet Vacations at (800) 558-3050 or visit www.vaxvacationaccess.com or www.agentnet.com. Reservations also can be made via all four electronic reservations systems.

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