Travel Weekly's Vegas E-Letter: March 18, 2003

THE GOLDEN NUGGET is offering, through June, a suite package starting at $99 per couple, per night. The price of the plan varies by suite accommodation and includes one spa pass per person per day, one cocktail per person at any of the property's casino bars or lounges and nightly turn-down service. (800) 634-3454

VISITS TO Las Vegas numbered 35.1 million people in 2002, a 0.2% increase over 2001, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Convention attendance, meanwhile, rose 1.8% to a record 5.1 million delegates, while non-gaming revenue associated with convention visitation increased by 1.9% to $5.9 billion. Average daily automobile traffic on all major highways around the city increased 7.4% in 2002, while the number of emplaned/deplaned airline passengers at McCarran Int'l Airport decreased by 0.5%.

THE COURT OF MASTER SOMMELIERS named Paolo Barbieri, wine director at the Bellagio's Le Cirque and Circo, a master sommelier. Barbieri, who along with four other candidates passed the three-part exam earlier this month in San Francisco, joins the ranks of just 56 master sommeliers in the U.S. and 112 worldwide.

DESERT BREEZE PARK, a 20-minute drive northwest of the Strip, will host the 10th annual Las Vegas City of Lights Jazz Festival on April 26. Tickets are $54 for general admission, $85 for VIP seating, $15 for children ages 12 to 18, and free for children 10 years old and younger. Tickets can be purchased at all five Mr. Bill's Pipe and Tobacco Store outlets as well as at the Nellis Air Force Base ticket office or via phone at (800) 969-VEGAS. In the Los Angeles area, tickets are available through Inglewood Tickets at (310) 671-6400. More details can be found at www.mspjazz.com or by calling (702) 228-3780.

CONSTRUCTION will begin soon on Earnhardt Terrace, a 21,000-seat grandstand at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway that is named for Dale Earnhardt, the late seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion. Besides overlooking the speedway's 1.5-mile track, which has hosted the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 for the past six years, the new grandstand also will offer views of the Strip as well. The grandstand will feature "flip-down" seating and a mezzanine level with concession stands and restrooms. Weekend ticket-holders to this year's race will get first crack at buying seats in the new grandstand for next year's event. The public sale of tickets will start in September, but fans can call the speedway ticket office at (800) 644-4444 and ask to be placed on a waiting list for the new seats.

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