During the time of my visit in Las Vegas, the city held the 2 largest hotels in the world, along with another 26 of the top 50. Oddly enough, the #1 largest is not the one I thought it was.
Frederick W. Smith, the founder and CEO of FedEx, saved his company by gambling in Las Vegas. He took FedEx’s last $5,000 to Sin City and won $27,000 while gambling on blackjack, paying for the company’s $24,000 fuel bill.
Exploring The Southern Strip
It’s one of the biggest cities in the world, yet Las Vegas has again managed to make a casino resort out of something amazing. New York-New York Hotel & Casino is one of the first places you see along the strip (coming from the south, of course), Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Excalibur, and Tropicana are the only ones before it. New York-New York holds the 50th place for the 50 biggest hotels on earth! However, on the opposite side of the street is the enormous MGM, which grabs 2nd place as the largest hotel in the world with over 6,800 rooms (this was my original guess for the largest hotel in the world, which is a title it actually did hold from 1993-2006). It’s glowing green hue and the mammoth lion that guards it, it certainly draws you in! Inside the MGM is nothing spectacular, but what you do get is basically the “Vegas Standard” that will set a good standard to compare all the other resorts/casinos to. It’s huge, 1000’s of games, 1000’s of hotels rooms, entertainment, and a “feel good” atmosphere, the basics of Las Vegas!
The Bronze lion outside of the MGM Grand Hotel weighs 50 tons,
making it the largest bronze sculpture in the country!
New York-New York is obviously a themed resort, from the outside you see the faux New York skyline and inside you walk the streets of a shrunken city. The doors to fake apartments and stores are slightly smaller than normal, but they do throw in the occasional actual shop like coffee shops, merchandise stores, and restaurants. The gaming floor is pretty good size, but nothing special. Depending on where you’re at in the casino, you may have an occasional roller coaster train flying over your head, as there is a roller coaster that goes through both the interior and exterior of the “city”.
Right next to the New York-New York is the Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino; this probably had my favorite casino floor along with the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, and Wynn. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but it certainly stood out and I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it pulled together that perfect “casino design strategy” just right, something made me want to stay, and upon leaving and hopping around to more casinos, I kept wanting to return to the Monte Carlo. I also forgot to cash in my stub which gave me a good reason to return. Across from the Monte Carlo is Planet Hollywood which has an awesome interior design and after a certain hour, some of the table game areas bring out “dancers”… If you know what I mean. So I can’t recommend Planet Hollywood for a family trip unless you go during the middle of the day.
The Mirage Hotel’s iconic golden windows
actually got their coloring from real gold dust.
Stuck In The Middle
While both the north and south ends of the strip try a lot of tricks to draw you towards, the center really attacks you with some of the best that Vegas has to offer and it’s hard to pull yourself away from it. This is the reason the north has the tall Stratosphere and the south has Luxor and New York-New York. You can see, that many of the things I suggest on my list of 10 Free Activities in Las Vegas are in the center area of the strip. Some may disagree, but I consider the “center” to start at Cosmopolitan/Paris and end at Treasure Island/Venetian.
In my opinion, I think Paris catches more attention than anything else when you’re in the middle of the strip; the Eiffel Tower can be seen from almost anywhere. Though at night the fountains at Bellagio steal the entire show! The Flamingo is one of the oldest Hotel & Casinos in all of Las Vegas and the oldest on the strip (opened in 1946). Its extreme amount of bright pink lights is sure to catch your attention. When you enter it though you’ll see its age, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Visiting the Flamingo was a must for me, as it’s where Hunter S. Thompson stayed while attending a seminar by the National Conference of District Attorneys on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs which is part of his book “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas” along with the film of the same name.
There is a total of 2374 restaurants in Las Vegas.
Across from the Flamingo is the epic Caesars Palace which considering both interior and exterior, blows away almost everything else on the strip and gives the other big guys a run for their money! I cover Caesars Palace in detail in my Want To See 15,000 Miles Of Neon Lights article.
Michael Jackson had plans to build a 50 foot tall moon walking
robot replica of himself to roam the Las Vegas desert.
It was intended to be an advertisement for a planned comeback.
One place that catches your attention on the strip is actually not a casino at all. The Fashion Show Mall didn’t draw me in (wasn’t in the mood for shopping; this is Las Vegas baby!), but it certainly grabbed my attention; it’ll catch you slightly off-guard because it looks like a friggin’ UFO!
In addition to The Linq, there’s another slightly newcomer to the Las Vegas strip which is the Cosmopolitan. This place doesn’t really jump out at you very much, as they’re style lies inside. The front wall is all windows, many other walls inside are leather cushions, the chandeliers are enormous, the bars are plentiful, and there’s a giant high heeled shoe and a Lucky Cat that you can check out! There are 4 floors of games, bars, and entertainment inside the Cosmopolitan that you can check out, so give yourself at least a few hours for this place. Looking straight up gives you a pretty insane view of lights, glass shards on strings, and a lot of pink hues. Let’s also not forget what I called the “Hall Of Vinyl”!
In 1980, a Las Vegas hospital had to suspend workers who were betting
on when patients would die. One nurse was even accused of murdering
a patient so she would win.
The Big Empty
There’s a long empty area between the Fashion Show Mall and Circus Circus on the west side of Las Vegas Blvd. This is where New Frontier and Stardust used to be; I always wanted to see the Stardust casino, but unfortunately I’m about 9 years too late. I can’t wait to see what’s going to be taking up that space though! It’s currently a combination of empty land and a structure half completed which turns out was a failed project called Echelon Place. It seems the company stopped construction in 2008 due to the recession and never recovered. The old New Frontier spot is currently owned though by Crown Resorts Limited and construction on a new resort currently titled “Alon Las Vegas” is supposed to start this year! Whether it’s another lavish elegant place like Wynn, or some modern edgy place like Linq, or some place that transports you to a different time and place like Luxor, I can’t wait to check it out! And if it’s anything like the company’s casino resorts in Australia, it should be pretty impressive! I personally would like to see an Asian themed hotel and casino like a giant pagoda, or maybe a Russian cathedral looking place!
So Which Hotel Is The Biggest?
The Venetian Hotel & Casino is the largest hotel in the world with 7,117 rooms and suites and a 120,000-square-foot casino! (this changed on August 21, 2015 as the First World Hotel in Pahang, Malaysia reopened with 7,351 rooms and suites, knocking Venetian to 2nd place and MGM Grand Las Vegas to 3rd).
I almost forgot that I promised you all pictures of the pool area of the Luxor in my previous Las Vegas post, so here they are:
The largest sum won on the Las Vegas slots was at the Excalibur.
After putting in $100, a 25 year-old software engineer won $39 million,
beating the odds at the time for 1 in 16.7 million.
Among the 10 free activities I mention in my post 10 Free Activities in Las Vegas there are also some very fun cheap activities to do. One that I have to suggest is the Coca-Cola Tastes Of The World. What is it? It’s a world tour of Coke products for your taste buds! It’s located on Las Vegas Boulevard (aka. The Strip). It’s hard to miss, as it is a giant Coke bottle about 5 stories high.
For under $10 you get 16 different Coca-Cola products to try, the variety will take your taste buds from Costa Rica to Djibouti to Peru to Greece!
Here’s the complete listing (I had to shrink the original images):
1. Inca Kola from Peru
2. Guarana Kuat from Brazil
3. Stoney Tangawizi from Tanzania
4. Sprite Ice from Korea
5. Vegitabeta from Japan
6. Fanta Melon Frosty from Thailand
7. Thums Up from India
8. Fanta Pineapple from Greece
1. Lift Manzana from Mexico
2. Fanta Kolita from Costa Rica
3. Bibo Kiwi Mango from South America
4. Jamaica Sun from Mexico
5. Sunfill Mint from Djibouti
6. Bon Bon Anglais from Madagascar
7. Beverly from Italy
8. Mezzo Mix from Germany
A few of my favorites were Sprite Ice from Korea, Fanta Kolita from Costa Rica, and Sunfill Mint from Djibouti; which oddly enough I thought I would hate, but I think Sunfill Mint was actually my overall favorite! They were all drinkable though except for one… Beverly from Italy, this was absolutely awful! I even warned the father and son sitting a table over from me when they were about to try it. Initially the son liked it, then after about 5 seconds his face changed and said “oh wow, I see what you mean, it IS pretty bad!”. Regardless though, if you have the chance to visit the World Of Coca-Cola you should check it out and give all these flavors a try! Including Beverly, you might actually like it!
For those of you wanting a little mystery in Las Vegas, I just noticed that in one of my pictures of the Excalibur exterior; there is a rather small door at the base of one of the smaller castle towers. I was simply trying to capture the fountains and almost dismissed this picture since it was a pretty bad shot….. Who do you think lives there? Gnomes? Hobbits? Fairies? Considering it’s Las Vegas, it could very well be a Leprechaun camping out and looking for his gold!
Well, that’s the end of my Las Vegas stories for now. I hope to return once some new resorts get put up! Back to my home state of Ohio now! Bye Vegas!