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Travel Bulletin discovers the real deal in Las Vegas

Natalie Chalk discovers how Las Vegas has changed into an oasis of art galleries and foodie hangouts.

Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas and how times have changed. There's much more to it than just casinos. The desert city is now filled with art galleries, world-class restaurants, luxury shops, glitzy shows, and live sports experiences. 

With the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority keen to showcase its changing image, I join a three-night trip and seek out some of these new experiences.

It’s December and the Nevada sun has cooled and the Boulevard has been transformed into a winter wonderland. 

There’s an ice rink at the Cosmopolitan, an ICEBAR on the LINQ Promenade, a life-size edible Gingerbread House at the Aria and even the Bellagio has turned into a walk-in advent calendar. 

I stay at the Flamingo, one of the original hotels, built in 1946. It has everything you’d want from a mega resort, with more than 3,000 rooms, a big casino, a headline residency – currently drag queen RuPaul – and flamingoes living in a tropical wildlife habitat. 

You also can’t beat the location in the centre of the Boulevard close to all the action. We kick off our trip visiting as many resorts as possible. In a few hours we’ve covered the Vdara hotel, one of the few not to have a casino; the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in the Bellagio, to see the festive fairytale fantasy florals, plus we catch the famous dancing fountains. We then head to the Waldorf Astoria for its views straight down the Boulevard from its Sky Lobby. 

We dine at Scarpetta in the Cosmopolitan on tagliatelle with lamb bolognese and truffle burrata. It’s paradise on a plate.

Another recommendation is NoMad, which specialises in American classics, and whose star dish is spectacular roast chicken. 

Where to go from here? Ice skating of course on the hotel’s rooftop.

On Day 2, we get sporty and arty with an hour-long indoor hike at Aria. Not only do we see its $40 million art collection, we burn calories doing press ups and lunges along the way. 

Later, it’s showtime and we’re off to an ice hockey game to see the Vegas Golden Knights take on the Chicago Blackhawks. Even if you're not a sports fan, the showmanship, “ice girls” and half-time entertainment make it a must-see. 

On Day 3, we leave the Strip for the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas to see the largest digital display in the world and then strap in for a zip-line ride with SlotZilla.

Our last night is spent sampling more of the creative and hip restaurants that are central to the new Vegas experience. With so many options, finding your way around can be tricky so we join a Lip Smacking Foodie Tour

We try the roast chicken sandwich at Bardot, the paella at Julian Serrano Tapas and the Greek salad at Milos. The four desserts at Cucina are my favourites. I still dream about them.

The night ends with cocktails at pop-up bar Miracle on Spring Mountain.

With experiences like these, this is why you should come to Vegas.

las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority

www.lvcva.com/

Flamingo Las Vegas

www.caesars.com/flamingo-las-vegas

Scarpetta at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com/

www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com/restaurants/scarpetta

Ice skating with fire pit and s’mores at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com/

www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com/ice-rink

Aria Resort and Casino Indoor Hike

aria.mgmresorts.com/en.html

NoMad

www.thenomadhotel.com/las-vegas/

SlotZilla Zipline

vegasexperience.com/slotzilla-zip-line/

Lip Smacking Foodie Tour

vegasfoodietour.com/

ICEBAR experience on Linq Promenade

www.minus5experience.com/icebar/

Gingerbread house and Holiday Tea experience  at Aria Resort and Casino

aria.mgmresorts.com/en.html


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