The road to Vegas

‘Going to Vegas’ has long been synonymous with ‘I feel lucky’ and Sean & I were certainly feeling lucky when we flew off to Vegas last week. We had just been awarded a fantastic job shooting photography and film for the newest and most spectacular resort & casino on the strip. The shoot is not until the weeks leading into Christmas, but we needed to scout the locations with the client beforehand, and the best time for everyone just happened to be the week of Thanksgiving.

People start their holiday transit days before the 4th Thursday of November in the hope of less chaos and more legroom. Arriving at Kennedy Airport at 5.30 last Monday morning, there was not so much chaos as there were just a lot of people. It took an hour to shuffle our way through security, undressing and dressing and being zapped by the x-ray. My heart went out to the turkeys! But we made the gate in the nick of time and apart from a peanut protocol ( a woman behind me was allergic, so all nuts in the rows in front and behind had to be removed ), the five and a half hour journey back in time was peaceful.

Sean & I had driven through Vegas a few years ago en route from LA to the Grand Canyon. My memory is that after a day of driving through a moonscape of dry, red rocky terrain, we entered the valley at the peak of sunset, and the skyscrapers of Vegas reflected the blinding light, making it seem like a goldmine rising out of the flat desert. It was spectacular. This time was different, we flew in over the Eiffel Tower, giant pyramids and New York skyline, but the sight of poker machines in the airport meant we could only be in one place – Vegas!

Las Vegas is another world, a fantasy land where you can forget everything else and just have fun. You can win money or lose it – glamorously. There is something for everyone – Kris Kristofferson, Janet Jackson and Sting were performing there this week, BB King and Frankie Valli were in town for their regular shows, and there were conventions for groups as extreme as the American Beekeepers Federation, the World Latin Dance Cup and the Single Action Shooting Society.

Then there is Aria, the place we have come to scout. Just as well we bought our walking shoes. At a cost of 8.5 billion dollars and covering 67 acres, Aria encompasses 150,000 square feet of gaming, 17 restaurants, 10 bars, numerous swimming pools and luxury accommodation. It is an awesome place – huge. Big enough to showcase sculptures of Thomas Moore and busy enough to require that the felt tops of the most popular poker tables are replaced every month. Can you believe that!?

For two days we looked at locations throughout the resort for our shoot. We relished the Boab trees and the Acacias around the swimming pools, we chose freshly made omelettes rather than biscuits & gravy for breakfast in one of the 1,000 seater restaurants, browsed the Elvis shop, and felt comforted by the fact that we could always buy the type of mattress we had slept in should we feel we couldn’t leave without it.

And just before we left to catch the red-eye back to New York, we had a glass of champagne. It was about 8pm so the drinking crowd hadn’t arrived and we had the black leather couches to ourselves. The music was loud and the waitress was almost dressed. That is to say, she was wearing just enough spandex so you couldn’t say she was naked. And what a smile! We felt this rounded our whole Vegas experience – no wonder the tag line says – What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’!

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