Honeymoon in Vegas
"I love Vegas," he said, emphasis on the verb, his voice a mixture of awe, enthusiasm - and relief at finding himself (again) in the world’s most spectacular adult playground.
We were high above the city, on the 64th floor of THEHotel at miX Lounge where the kaleidoscopic view of the Strip appears as an amalgam of Peter Pan’s Neverland and Pinocchio’s Pleasure Island as designed by Busby Berkeley on acid. The Luxor’s pyramid beams blue into the night sky while the Sphinx smiles cryptically; in the near distance, there’s the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State and the MGM lion.
Las Vegas is nothing less than a set designer’s fantasy unleashed without budgetary restrictions or logical constraints. Who wouldn’t succumb to the illusion that everything is within reach if only you want it?
"I can make that happen," the charming hotel rep assured a client. In Vegas, anything is possible and the city’s m.o. is most definitely "I can make that happen." If you want it in Vegas, you got it.
One of the most refreshing qualities of an already extraordinary city is the enthusiasm of Generation X and Y for the city’s future. It’s a city filled with youthful professionals, an army of civic boosters who work to have fun and have fun while they work. If you haven’t been to Vegas recently (and that means since last year, given that the city’s transformation happens at warp speed), then you’ll be spellbound by the spectacle of gorgeous youth parading up and down the Strip, confident of their starring role in their own reality show, as they partake of Sin City’s latest temptations.
Nearly $4 billion of new development is scheduled for this year alone, including the Linq, the new $550 million district designed by Caesars Entertainment. Located in the heart of the Strip, the Linq will feature a 550-foot giant observation wheel, the world’s tallest, called Las Vegas High Roller. The Linq’s diverse mix of retail, dining, entertainment, and hospitality is designed to appeal to Gen X and Y, ages 21 through 46, whose market share of Vegas spending will increase to 52% by 2015.
But then, Las Vegas has always been a city of youth. Abandoned by the Mormons in 1857 (bless them for that), Las Vegas legalized gambling in 1931- two years before the end of Prohibition, a harbinger of the city’s uncanny ability to read the zeitgeist.
After WWII, Vegas became the "Entertainment Capital of the World," attracting the world’s top entertainers, including Eartha Kitt, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Peggy Lee, Kay Starr, Sophie Tucker, and, in the late Fifties, "the Rat Pack." Elvis was 21 when he first played Vegas, billed as "the Atomic Powered Singer," which was a reference to the Manhattan Project, which filled the Nevada desert air with atomic bomb tests.
Las Vegas today is focused on the 4.2-mile section of Las Vegas Boulevard known as "the Strip," which is, technically, beyond the city limits. The Strip also happens to be one of only 31 "All-American Roads," designated by the US Department of Transportation for its exceptional features. Fifteen of the world’s largest 25 hotels are on the Strip, which is one reason why there’s always a parade of some of the world’s most style-obsessed consumers.
Our Vegas-bound plane included more gay boys than families, verifying that Vegas has rebounded from its romance with children and returned to its roots as Sin City. "What Happens Here, Stays Here" has been the city’s slogan since 2003, ultimately morphing into "What happens in Vegas.." - and the ubiquitous phrase has become a knowing wink about embracing Vegas’s grown-up pleasures. Of the Seven Deadly Sins widely celebrated in Sin City, gluttony is right up there, alongside lust and sloth - and rarely have you seen so many happily sinful celebrants.
A recent gay weekend celebration called "Fabulous," now in its third year, brought an all-star gay cast to the desert, including performers and deejays such as Cazwell, Chris Cox, Sherry Vine, "Gay Pimp" Jonny McGovern, Vito Fun, and British singer Neon Hitch. Vegas’s Gay Pride celebration happens in September and New Year’s Eve in Vegas has become "America’s Party." The continuous re-invention of the city has resulted in a projected 40 million visitors for 2012.
While the city has been called the "Marriage Capital of the World," that designation does not yet pertain to same-sex marriage - one of the few oversights in a city that celebrates individuality and difference. Nonetheless, same-sex couples that marry in one of the nation’s more forward-thinking states might consider a honeymoon in Vegas, one of the world’s premier luxury destinations. Fine dining has become synonymous with Vegas, thanks to the influx of celebrity chefs in the past decade and Vegas spas are among the world’s best. Why not celebrate your same-sex nuptials in a place that reminds you that the world is your oyster and life is a banquet?
Christened by 19th-century Spanish explorers, Las Vegas (meaning "the meadows") was named for the lush green meadows that were once supported by the area’s artesian wells. Today, the water most associated with Vegas comes from the fountains in front of the Bellagio or the multi-thousand-gallon tanks employed in the service of Cirque de Soleil shows. As for the green, Vegas is all about the money - and even if you’re not particularly flush, merely walking through a town of such conspicuous consumption can make you feel like Midas.
In short, Vegas is the perfect adult playground, existing solely for grown-up fun - and for that, we should be grateful. Far from the restrictions of our Calvinist forebears, a sybaritic paradise sprang up in the desert and broke all the rules. Reap the bounty and have a ball; Vegas exists for our pleasure.
(Feature continues on next pages: Where to Eat, Where to Stay, Where to Drink and Be Seen, Where to Play, etc.)