Monday 26 February 2018

Pol Ó Conghaile: Even without direct flights, the Irish love Las Vegas

Travel Insider: Las Vegas Special

Conor McGregor in Las Vegas (composite image).
Conor McGregor in Las Vegas (composite image).
The MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. With over 5,000 rooms, it is the largest hotel in the US. Photo: Deposit Photos
Excalibur, Las Vegas
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

When the first punch is thrown between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather at the T-Mobile Arena next Saturday night (roughly 4am GMT), the spotlight will be blinding.

But whatever the result of this bizarre boxing match, two things are certain — both men will be richer and Vegas will beam brighter than ever.

This week’s travel special is a deep dive into Sin City (Vicki Notaro visits on Honeymoon, Nicola Brady checks out the old downtown, and Gillian Tsoi has a good ol' fashioned splurge).

Since the first casino hit the Strip in 1941, Vegas has mushroomed into one of the world’s weirdest  cities, but also one of the most compelling. Hotel fronts feature rollercoasters and replica Eifel Towers. There are real gondolas on fake canals. It’s a place that changes with blistering speed and surreality.

New arrivals? A Walking Dead ride hits The Freemont Street Experience this summer, while a 5,000-square-foot Minus5 Ice Experience helps guests ‘beat the heat’ at The Venetian and Palazzo.

And that’s not even starting on The Hangover...

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Atomic Vegas

There’s no direct flight from Ireland (although Aer Lingus has been examining a seasonal service from Dublin). Despite this, Irish visits are growing, according to the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority.

In part, I think this is because those who make the 13-hour schlep realise there’s a lot more to it than McGregor and money-chomping casinos.

Sin City has diversified to add some of the best food and shopping in the States — in addition to stunning shows. It’s on the honeymoon radar, particularly on twin-centre trips with Mexico, Caribbean cruises or other US destinations.

What happens in Vegas used to stay in Vegas. Now the word is spreading.

On a budget

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Excalibur, Las Vegas

There are no direct flights from Ireland to Vegas, but packages are surprisingly good value.

Tour America (touramerica.ie) has flights plus four nights at the 3-star Hard Rock Hotel from €499pp departing next February, for example. Sunway (sunway.ie) has a three-night package from €545pp in January, with accommodation at the 3-star Circus Circus and a helicopter night flight.

Longer stay? GoHop.ie has seven nights from €665pp departing October 20. The deal includes a room at the 3-star Excalibur Hotel (above, upgrade to a 4-star from €745pp).

On a splurge

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The MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. With over 5,000 rooms, it is the largest hotel in the US. Photo: Deposit Photos

Fancy bumping your trip up a star or two? Cassidy Travel (cassidytravel.ie) has flights plus five nights at the 5-star Bellagio from €879pp, or the 5-star Aria from €729, both departing next January 15.

Meanwhile, ClickAndGo.com has flights plus five nights at the 4-star MGM Grand (above, which owns the T-Mobile Arena, where Mayweather v McGregor is scheduled to take place) from €629pp, based on travel in December. See itaa.ie/offers or your local travel agent for more Vegas offers.

NB: All prices subject to change.

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