Food, Glorious Food


Eat dessert first. Photo by: meerbabykat

In the mood for meatballs?  Dying for dim sum? Craving chicken enchiladas? Mouth watering for something sweet?  The new Bacchanal buffet at Caesars Palace has begun serving up a few of your favorite things.

With 500 food items, many prepared to order at nine different kitchens spread out over the 25,000-square foot restaurant, half the size of a football field, it might be difficult to decide where to start.  There’re Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, and American cuisines, vegetarian, seafood, and grilled meat specialties, as well as designer pizza and gourmet deli.  And save room for dessert.  Oh, heck, life is uncertain: eat dessert first.

All-you-can-eat buffets have been a staple in Las Vegas since the El Rancho Vegas, the original resort casino on the Strip, opened in 1941.  The “Buckaroo Buffet,” so-named in keeping with its Wild West theme, was basically an all-night chuck wagon.  For a dollar or a dollar fifty, a hungry gambler could have his fill of an assortment of cold cuts or a choice of a few hot dishes. Everyone was satisfied, management, especially, as they didn’t have to keep a full staff standing by and good customers never left the premises.

Over time different courses were added to the menu. Steak, lobster, and shrimp have always been popular.  The casino resorts built over the last twenty years, of course, from Atria, Bellagio, and Cosmopolitan to Wynn, have buffets.  None of them are cheap, but they’re all well attended.

Caesars is hoping their new arrangement delivers that something extra exceptional, not just a second, third, or fourth trip for more.  The decor is modern – all glass, wood, and steel.  The view is spectacular; it overlooks the pool complex known as the Garden of the Gods.  And the level of service and quality of the offerings promise to be outstanding. Customers are able to watch their meal being prepared.  Chefs have been trained to relate to the customers and give mini demonstrations of interest to diners.

Shania Twain will be performing in the showroom, but morning, noon, or night, eating is the new entertainment.

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved



If They Build It… You Will Come

Any history of Las Vegas is incomplete without the story of Benjamin Siegel. He was called “Bugsy,” but never to his face because he hated the nickname. He thought it made him sound crazy, dangerous, too, but mostly crazy. He was credited with founding Las Vegas. Some believed he was mayor. Neither was true. He wanted a career in the movies, but had to settle for creating the Las Vegas of the movies.

Standing guard at Caesars Palace. Photo by: Susan Marg

The Flamingo, the casino in the desert named after Bugsy’s girlfriend Virginia Hill’s long, birdlike legs, was his vision, creation, and extravagance. We don’t know whether he was murdered for overspending on its construction or for claiming some of the investors’ monies as his own.  It doesn’t matter. When the Flamingo opened ceremoniously on December 26, 1946, it was obvious that every penny that had gone into the place had been well spent.

Bugsy had replaced the atmosphere of the cowboy casinos found down the road  with an ambience of sophisticated luxury throughout the resort. On the first night and every night thereafter, first class entertainers, such as Jimmy Durante, Xavier Cougat, and Rose Marie, performed in the showroom.

Since that time entertainment has always been a big part of the Las Vegas scene.  Edgar Bergen with sidekick Charlie McCarthy on his lap kicked off the festivities at The Desert Inn in 1950.  Ray Bolger, the famous scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz, launched the Sahara Hotel and Casino in 1952.  Liberace starred in a musical comedy revue that included a “candelabra ballet” at the Hotel Riviera’s gala on opening night in 1955.  And Andy Williams headlined at Caesars Palace’s Circus Maximus in 1966.

For decades Caesars’ 800-seat showroom hosted such celebrities as Judy Garland, Shirley MacLaine, Freddie Prinz, Petula Clark, Diana Ross, George Burns, Julio Iglesias, Tom Jones, Wynonna, Ann-Margret, Natalie Cole, Eddie Fisher, David Copperfield, Tony Bennett, and Sammy Davis Jr., to name a few of the famous names.

When Frank Sinatra left the Sands (drunkenly cursing, fighting and driving a golf cart through a front window after his credit was cut off by new owner Howard Hughes), he signed with Caesars.  In 1981 he was appointed its Vice President of Entertainment.

In 2000 Circus Maximus closed down and reopened as The Colosseum two years later.  The new 4,000-seat showroom reportedly cost $65 million, but like The Flamingo, it was worth every cent.  Sell-out crowds turned out for Celine Dion and later Cher, Bette Midler, and Elton John, before Dion returned for an encore.   In December Shania Twain, “the best-selling female country artist of all time” states the publicity, will take her turn.

If past performances dictate future success, Caesars Palace is “Still the One.”

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved


Celine Dion: She’s Back!

Some people really know how to throw a party.

"I heard Celine is back." Photo by: Adam Jones, Ph.D.

International pop diva Celine Dion, and her longtime manager, René Angélil, married in 1994 in front of five hundred guests at Montreal’s Notre Dame Basilica. At the $500,000 reception at the Hotel Westin, artificial snowflakes drifted to the floor, reminding everyone it was a cold December day.  However, a twenty-one piece orchestra kept everyone movin’ and groovin’.

In 2000 the couple renewed their vows after five years of marriage in a quiet, private ceremony at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.  They were celebrating love and life. Angélil had just recuperated from cancer.  Afterwards they threw a $2 million extravaganza for two hundred friends and family members.

The Moroccan-theme event was part Marrakech street scene and part desert nightlife. The walls of the hotel ballroom housing the event were draped in jewel-toned fabrics, fostering the fantasy of being inside the tent of an Arabian prince. For the five-course meal guests sat on cushy pillows at lowered tables and ate off  China flown in from Morocco.  For entertainment belly dancers danced, snake charmers charmed, and magicians made magic while a camel caravan paraded around the perimeter of the room.

Even for a Las Vegas wedding or renewal of vows ceremony it was over the top.

Three years later Celine returned to Vegas to put on a show.  Collaborating with Franco Dragone, the original director behind the success of Cirque du Soleil, “A New Day” featured world renown choreography for forty-eight dancers, acrobatic interludes, theatrical lighting, dramatic staging, state-of-the-art technology, and Dion singing her heart out at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on a stage built just for her.  Between 2003 and 2007 she performed more than seven hundred shows for over three million fans.

"Where do we get tickets?" Photo by: jasejc

And now Celine is back, and everyone’s invited.

Critics can’t stop raving. “A magnificent masterpiece,” wrote the Las Vegas Sun.  ”It’s the show of shows,” stated the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  “Dion isn’t here to perform.  She’s here to kill it,” declared USA Today.

Celine sings her biggest hits and covers timeless classics backed up by a full orchestra and band.  An opulent, twinkling chandelier appears against a backdrop of blossoming flowers when she sings, “You are the Reason.”

A circular waterfall surrounds her when performing “My Heart Will Go On.”  It’s romantic.  It’s classy.  From start to finish, it astonishes and delights.

Opening night on March 15, 2011 sold out within minutes, and the crowds have been filling the 4,000 seats at Caesars’ ever since.  She is under contract to perform seventy shows per year for three years.

Celine is going to break records.  There’s no doubt about it.  Elvis Presley, watch your back!  You, too, Frank.

© 2011 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved