photo credit: Keystone Press

The economic downturn is apparently doing someone good, but that wouldn’t be you if you’re running a large hotel in Las Vegas. According to one hospitality industry insider, many of the prestige hotels make their big bucks on convention and conference business and that’s been hit hard. Suddenly, FITs (frequent independent travellers, who aren’t part of an organized group) matter. To attract these suddenly important folk, hotels have dropped room rates considerably. (This in spite of the fact that 37 million visitors are expected in 2010.) The Vdara Hotel and Spa or ARIA Resort Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, both new 5-star hotels currently offer amazing value. (See Las Vegas Tourism for rates.) Add in a flying-high Canadian dollar and Las Vegas is looking like a pretty hot destination for Canucks.

Insider’s Vegas
Locals head off the Strip to the Suncoast Casino for a little gambling, a nosh at the Oyster Bar and a movie. A 64-lane bowling centre, open 24 hours a day, is a fun way to get some exercise.

The menu at any of the several In-N-Out Burger locations in Las Vegas features fresh, unfrozen, un-microwaved ingredients. It focuses on hamburgers, freshly cut French fries and shakes made from real ice cream. A supposedly “secret” menu offers a 4×4 — four beef patties and toppings on a bun — but if you ask for “protein style” your burger will come swaddled in lettuce leaves so you can virtuously limit your carbohydrate intake.

Who would have guessed that Las Vegas has a significant Hawaiian population? “We can’t afford to live in Hawaii,” one resident quipped. For Hawaiian food, she suggested checking out Roy’s.  Two locations in Las Vegas serve a unique Hawaiian-fusion style of cuisine; aloha hour starts at 4:30 p.m. Hawaiians congregate at the California Hotel and Casino. Dine there at Aloha Specialties, a favourite among Hawaiians. Best bet is to go in off hours to avoid lineups.

- Jayne MacAulay

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