Subject: Las Vegas

I just returned from a long weekend in Las Vegas. Not really a big excursion but I thought some of you might be interested.

I always used to take taxi from the airport but now they have hotel shuttle buses. It only cost $5, and holds about 6 people. They stop at whichever hotel you need.

I stayed at the Rio Hotel. Very nice, and the rooms are very large. It's an all-suites hotel, and the room had 2 queen beds plus a sitting area with large couch &coffee table. There was also a small fridge and coffee maker.

The pool area is very nice..4-5 different pools, some with waterfalls. Good pool service, towels, lounges, etc. which I think is true of most of the LV hotels. There is a spa (pricey-$20 to use the exercise room, $60 for a 25minute massage, etc.) Buffets are very good here, along with high-end restaurants. There is a bar/lounge on the 51st floor. $10 to go up (there was a live band) but it is worth it for the view. It was spectacular at night, but packed! I heard from some friends that it was perfect at 3am...still warm but not as crowded.

The only thing is the Rio is not on the Strip which means a $6 (or so) taxi ride to get over to the other hotels. They do provide a free shuttle to Harrah's.

I got a chance to see the Paris hotel. Beautiful inside! The main casino sort of looks like being under the Eiffel tower, with the legs coming down out of the ceiling. French restaurants and shops, and it is connected to Ballys Casino. You can go up the Eiffel Tower. I think it was $8. I didn't do it...pretty much the same view as from our hotel, I'd imagine.

Also saw the Bellagio. Was disappointed to learn that since MGM took over, the works of art have been removed. There will be an art exhibit there this fall, but apparently on a small scale. The $10million blown glass flowers over the registration area is quite spectacular. Very high-end shops...Gucci, Chanel, Prada. You can walk over a pedestrian bridge to Caesar's Palace.

Caesar's is beautiful, and the Forum shops are like an outside mall (although it is inside, the ceiling is painted to look like the sky and it goes through the cycle of the day every hour or so.) There is a free show where statues come to life in a fountain every hour. Quite spectacular.

Aladdin had just opened last week, but it seemed quite finished. Their mall rivals Caesar's. It really is a huge mall, but the setting of course is beautiful. Dancers and street bazaar performers, big domes, etc. Sort of like being in a huge version of the Arabian section of the It's a Small World ride.

Ate at a local restaurant called Nora's on Flamingo. Highly recommend it. Not touristy, and they took a group of 14 without batting an eyelash. And it was so reasonable, and delicious.

That's it. It was fun and it was hot!

Natalie Los Angeles