Viva Las Vegas!

Eiffel Tower in Vegas?

Eiffel Tower in Vegas?

Las Vegas is a happening place this week! My guess is that it’s always a hotspot. Tourists of all kinds migrate to where the action is. I just returned from a tour of forty+ adults for a few days of gambling and entertainment. However, there is so much more to Vegas for us “non-gamblers”.

The “Vegas Strip” is full of history. The 4.2 mile stretch runs from Russell Road (or the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino) on its’ south end to Sahara Boulevard and the towering Stratosphere on the north end.

I enjoyed researching the history of each hotel site or casino building; one such example is The Venetian. An original Howard Hughes’ hotel, The Sands, was home to the original Venetian site. Just imagine the hotel & casino’s operation under his eccentric directions!

So much history revolved at The Sands.

A young Elvis Presley first saw the tune, “Hound Dog”, performed at The Sands. Elvis decided to record the song himself, and well, you know, it became an immediate hit.

During the 1950’s, The Sands Hotel was the first hotel in Vegas to allow Nat King Cole, an African-American singer, to not only perform in their popular Copa Room, but to also lodge there, and gamble in the casino. This action was one of many around the country serving as first steps to the huge cultural shift in America. As an integration follow-up in the 1960s, Sammy Davis, Jr., also a regular performer at The Sands, convinced the hotel casino to hire more African-Americans and to allow them into the casino to enjoy the gambling.

JFK was a regular VIP guest of Frank Sinatra while at The Sands.

However, the hotel’s biggest claim to fame was a three-week period in 1960 during the filming of the original “Ocean’s 11”. During that time, the movie’s stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford performed on stage together in the Copa Room. Their performances, described as the “Summit at the Sands”, was the birth of the Rat Pack.

Prior to The Sands’ demolition, the Las Vegas scenes of the Nicolas Cage movie,”Con Air”, were filmed there.

Today, with The Sands gone, its’ casino chips are now valuable collector’s items. An average $1.00 chip gets $30.00. However, some rarer Sands chips range from the $100s to over a $1000.

Todays’ Venetian is home to performances by the husband and wife country western artists, Faith Hill and Tim MacGraw, an extremely popular Vegas show.

And I’ve just described a partial history of one single site in Vegas! Taking a tour of this popular city will tell you of much more of it’s gangster roots, Hollywood’s elite actions (and misdeeds), current & historical performances, as well as more film locations, elegant shopping, family activities, and plans for the future of The Strip.

Why not consider a tour to Las Vegas this spring? It’s hot, hot, hot!


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