LAS VEGAS -- When someone says they haven't been to Las Vegas in
years, or even months, I cringe at the thought of recounting the
changes that have taken place since their last visit.
This is a place that's continually reinventing itself -- day by
It's not easy keeping up with the municipal equivalent of a
perpetual-motion machine, but let's try.
JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort, Spa &
Vegas pop quiz: Because everything is bigger, better and
over-the-top here, what resort holds title to the longest name in
The answer, it seems, is slightly complex -- and with a history,
What was originally the Resort at Summerlin and then the Regent
Las Vegas is now the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort, Spa &
That massive moniker actually represents a beautifully
appointed, upscale resort and spa -- with a diverse assortment of
restaurants -- located only 20 minutes from the Strip.
Word has it that in 1999, during its original incarnation, the
hotel's marketing team practically ignored locals, which is a
surefire way to a quick demise for any off-Strip property.
After Marriott assumed hotel management duties, casino
operations and some food and beverage concessions went to local
operator Rampart Casinos.
The casino was revamped to improve foot traffic, and Rampart
loosened up slots and developed moderately priced restaurants to
draw local clientele.
Those improvements, coupled with Marriott's name recognition and
marketing muscle, are powerful incentives for clients seeking a
deluxe getaway in a serene, desert setting.
Featuring oversize, luxurious rooms, beautiful grounds and a
full-service spa, the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort Spa & Golf
is a Scottsdale-like, Southwestern resort, with all the cachet that
the comparison implies.
Restaurants run from the de rigueur buffet to an Irish pub to
the standout Carmel Room -- a fine-dining oasis just a
beveled-glass door away from the casino.
At night, the lights of the Strip glitter in the distance,
beckoning guests to make the short drive away from tranquility into
Contact 800-228-9290 or visit www.marriott.com.
Penn & Teller at the Rio
Calling Penn & Teller's new show at the Rio "edgy" may be an
understatement on the caliber of calling Las Vegas a "lively
To put it bluntly, these two characters are alternately
hilarious and outrageous while performing some amazing illusions
and lightning-quick sleight of hand.
Their mix of magic and comedy, which often involves debunking
their own act, has entertained and shocked audiences for years.
The duo currently is in the midst of a long-term engagement at
the Rio's Samba Theater. Tickets cost $65 plus tax.
Throughout the 90-minute show, they goof on each other and the
audience while mercilessly skewering other Vegas acts with biting
And as talented as these guys are, it's refreshing to note that
they don't take themselves -- or magic's old-line fraternity -- too
According to Penn Gillette, the lure of performing here is that
Las Vegas "serves as a sort of artistic gymnasium" where "the
demanding nature of the audiences forces us to keep sharpening the
old tricks and coming up with new, more spectacular stunts."
After all, who but Penn & Teller would agree to have their
signing bonus -- 25 tons of quarters -- dropped on them from a
crane in the Rio parking lot?
The amazing "Magic Bullets" finale -- performed with twin,
loaded 357-magnum revolvers -- epitomizes Penn & Teller's brand
of dangerously crazy, in-your-face magic.
When further pressed about whether performing in Vegas allowed
the team more creative latitude, Penn Gillette grinned broadly and
replied, "We can get away with anything here." And they do.
For tickets, call (888) 746-7784. For details, visit www.riohotelcasino.com.