Monday, February 25, 2013

Worried About My Next Trip to Vegas? Hell NO!

Caesar's Palace casino in Las Vegas- is terrific to visit, but be sure not to miss the many shows as well - including some that are free.

The shootout and fiery early morning crash last Thursday on Las Vegas’ famed Strip (intersection of Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Blvd.) has many previous visitors turning into ‘nervous Nellies’ regarding future trips. One theory bruited in yesterday’s paper (Denver Post, p. 14A) is past location recall and identification. Basically, as the news story flashed on, some fraction of the 40 million yearly visitors will look and say: “I was THERE! I walked that part of the Strip! It could have been ME in the middle of it!”

Errrr…..not quite! The shootout and crash actually occurred at 4.20 a.m. and most good little do-be’s that visit Sin City are bedded down in their respective hotels and firmly in the Land of Nod, not out skylarking on the Strip. (As one long time Vegas’ hobo put it when interviewed, “Nothing good happens at that hour of the day!”)

But that’s true in ANY city, from San Francisco to Colorado Springs, to Milwaukee. Check their police logs and the greatest number of bar fights, stabbings, assaults and shootings occur after midnight. It’s when basically all the losers and n’er do wells come out and well,…..start trouble.

The interesting aspect here is that Vegas’ crime stats are actually falling, this despite several violent incidents so far this year. As the Post article notes:

“Violent crime, which includes murder, rape, robbery and assault in the city’s main tourist hub fell 13 percent in 2012, from 256 to 223 incidents, and is down 11 percent for the first part of 2013.”

In other words, the perception is worse than the reality.

Hence, it is clear that the inflation of one or several incidents (like the Thursday morning shootout and crash) have the potential to inflate the psychological identification and derivative perception, but this is wrong. The chances of anyone being shot or blown up in Vegas are likely many times lower than any other major U.S. city, precisely because Vegas has an investment in protecting its image as an adult “Disneyworld”.

The recent incident, we now know, was a case of two rappers head-butting. The altercation actually started at the nearby Valet service of the Aria Hotel and spilled over into city streets. (Jeebus, some rappers, like certain "pastors", have a real pathological ego problem!). Like the Tupac Shakur incident back in 1996 it was basically a one-off, certainly for another long while.  Would -be visitors need to put these sporadic, oddball bursts of violence behind them.

Having visited Vegas three times in the past eight years, the most disturbing incident wifey and I beheld was the collapse of a sixty -something guy near the exit of the Excalibur casino back in 2005. He’d evidently dropped dead from a heart attack. The most upsetting event was a very pathetic buffet breakfast taken at the Wynn Resort in 2009, with all the eggs and ham, bacon etc. at lukewarm temperatures. When my wife complained, the chef gave her a fast pass ‘voucher’ to the next day’s breakfast. She tore it up. Thereafter, though we were guests at the neighboring Encore, we took our breakfast buffet at the superb Bellagio. (All primary breakfast foods, such as meats, eggs, regularly have their temperatures taken.)

But by and large, all our experiences in Vegas have been fantastic, from enjoying the Bellagio’s musical fountains, to the sexy Sirens of Treasure Island, to seeing Cirque de Soleil shows, to enjoying the Fremont Street attractions (including the light shows) and seeing the whole city at night from the overlook at the top of the Paris Hotel. Oh, we also thoroughly enjoyed playing the slots – penny slots! – where we won most of our money (an average of $100 net gain on each of our visits). The last time we even faced off at the Encore against twenty other guests in a slot competition, to see who could ring up the most points in ten minutes.

What’s your biggest physical danger when visiting Las Vegas? Easy! It’s gorging on rich foods at too many buffets and clogging your arteries! The food at any of the hotel casinos is generally fantastic, and there’s plenty of it: whether you go to the Luxor’s breakfast buffet (or the Bellagio’s), or the Bally’s lunch buffet. The temptation always is to “get your money’s worth” although truth be told, the prices are already rock bottom.

Bottom line, if you’re planning a trip to Vegas, don’t let the recent bad press deter you. All you need to do is use a grain of sense, as you would visiting any other place.

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