Las Vegas: How to enjoy a disappearing act in Sin City
Bright lights, big city: Las Vegas at night
I haven’t the foggiest how he did it. The audience gasped as a classic convertible suddenly appeared on stage from nowhere. The world’s greatest illusionist then sat in the driver’s seat and gave a wave.
Although he looked pleased with himself, making cars suddenly appear out of thin air is nothing special for David Copperfield. After all, the great Jewish entertainer famously once made the Statue of Liberty vanish. His 90-minute Las Vegas show at the MGM Grand — one of several marvellous productions in Sin City — was so much fun, I felt glad he had ignored his grandfather’s advice years earlier.
Copperfield, who has sold more tickets than any other performer, was urged by his much-loved relative to pursue a steady job. David didn’t listen and, sadly, the two never spoke again.
When his grandfather died, the family sorted through his possessions and came across a ticket stub from one of Copperfield’s early shows. His grandfather had watched him perform one night without anyone knowing. It was his way of giving his blessing He needn’t have worried about David making a living. In 2006 the multimillionaire performer treated himself to 11 islands in the Bahamas.
Despite our slight differences in wealth, I felt quite a connection to Copperfield. We both enjoy a form of escaping. He does it rather well from tanks of water and balls of fire, while I like a few nights in Las Vegas to escape the “real world”.
After our 10-hour BA flight to Nevada, the taxi ride to the famous Strip was only about 15 minutes. For me, the hotels are worth the trip alone.
Two of the newer ones are the Wynn and Encore — both the creation of another distinguished Jew, Steve Wynn. Even if you are not staying at these properties, make sure you pay a visit for the stunning colours and designs. The restaurants at Wynn and Encore are not too shabby either. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at Sinatra, a fine dining experience certainly befitting ol’ blue eyes.
It is the only restaurant in the world named after Sinatra after his family gave Wynn their permission because he and Frank were great buddies.
The Wynn also boasts an incredible show set on water. Le Reve tells the story of a young lady’s romantic dream. A few hundred yards away are The Palazzo and The Venetian — again, two beautiful hotels and, again, the work of another Jewish genius in Sheldon Adelson.
Alas, I cannot make the same connection with this entrepreneur as I did Copperfield. My last gift to my wife was a nice box of chocolates, whereas Adelson had The Venetian built as a present for his wife, Miriam. At The Venetian you can enjoy a ride on a gondola amid a replica of St Mark’s Square, while the Rialto Bridge is just like the original. Adelson had his team of designers and architects spend time in Venice to get things spot on.
Another of my favourite hotels is the Italian-like Bellagio — a stylish property made famous by its enchanting musical fountains.
A perfect way to enjoy the fountains and great food is by booking brunch at Jasmine, right in the centre of the Bellagio.
It’s a feast fit for a king and is held every Sunday. Talking of wonderful brunches, make sure you try the one at Bacchanal inside Caesars Palace.One of America’s greatest-ever defence lawyers makes a rather tidy defence for experiencing all the delights that his home city boasts.
Oscar Goodman saved the day for some of the most notorious mafia figures in history. In later life, this proud Jew decided to run for Mayor and ended up serving his city for 12 years — during which time he made Vegas a much more attractive place. Oscar, now 74, is quite a character — and not short of chutzpah. He played himself alongside Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone in Casino and enjoyed the role so much that when he became Mayor he demanded that anyone wanting to film in the city had to give him a part first.
He told me: “Vegas had to readapt because gambling became commonplace in the country.“There had to be other things to attract people; we used to have good shopping and now we have great shopping, we used to have good restaurants and now we have great restaurants. Our entertainment has always been the number one.’’
One of the best shopping areas is at the Grand Canal Shoppes. This is an emporium of designer outlets like Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors, Chloe and Christian Louboutin as well as entertainers and restaurants.
Away from the Strip, a memorable trip to the Grand Canyon is provided by Maverick Helicopters with live tour narration. The excursion takes about four hours door-to-door from your hotel (if you drove it could take about four hours).
Mr Copperfield caused a sensation when he floated over the Canyon back in 1984. After our excursion, I seemed to feel his presence when playing the roulette tables — that’s the only way I can explain how my chips disappeared so quickly.
FLY: British Airways flies to Las Vegas Heathrow and Gatwick. Flights from £622 www.BA.com
STAY: Rooms at The Venetian from £82 per night www.venetian.com
Rooms at MGM Grand from £48
AIR TOURS: Air trip to Grand Canyon www.maverickaviationgroup.com
MORE INFO: www.visitlasvegas.co.uk