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Summer 2007 | Las Vegas: What Happens Here Stays Here

Summer 2007 | Las Vegas: What Happens Here Stays Here

If you haven't been to Las Vegas in the last five years, you haven't been to Las Vegas.

If you haven't been to Las Vegas in the last five years, you haven't been to Las Vegas. I discovered this truism for myself on a recent trip to Sin City for a weekend with my boyfriend.

My last visit there about a half decade ago included tours of the still-new super-huge hotels like the opulent Mandalay Bay, the gay-welcoming MGM Grand (which hosted a huge queer party the weekend I visited) and Luxor. I checked out some of the new restaurants, the shopping at Bellagio, the Venetian's cannily accurate Piazza San Marco and O, Cirque du Soleil's water-based phantasmagoria.

The elements were all in place for a fantastic adult vacation, but at the time there was a perception among travelers that Vegas was catering to families, thus losing its allure as a grown-up getaway. So the experience was perhaps a bit muddied. Much development and refinement of the brands and one successful marketing campaign later, and I'd say the water has cleared. Repeat after me: What happens here stays here. Today's Vegas is forthright about its strengths and plays to them.

It's also incredibly gay-friendly. The two big hotel groups, MGM-Mirage and Harrah's Entertainment are among the most progressive companies in Las Vegas in their outreach to the LGBT community, in terms not only of the benefits they offer gay employees but also in the hospitality they show their lesbian and gay guests. One of my current favorites is the Paris-Las Vegas (3655 Las Vegas Blvd. S; 702/739-4111 or 877/796-2096;, which for a Francophile snob like me to say is incredible. It boasts an irresistible Continental charm along with great French food (see below). Plus the operators answer the phone "Bonjour!" (sometimes with a thick Southern accent!)

While you may get a few looks if you walk hand-in-hand with your partner through the casinos, you have to remember that Vegas attracts folks from all strata of society, many of whom may have no conscious contact with lesbians or gay men. But also bear in mind that most people are way too focused on their own adult entertainment to fret about yours. So hold his hand in Paris, steal a kiss on a gondola ride at the Venetian and win her heart at the Wynn's fabulous waterfall viewing area.

It's showtime
Vegas offers the over-21 set a wide range of tempting attractions. Of course there's gaming. I'm no gambler but I couldn't resist a few, OK, a bunch of hands of blackjack. Beyond that, you'll find world-class shows. During our three-day whirlwind tour, Robb and I took in The Producers (at the Paris), (a Cirque du Soleil spectacle at MGM Grand) and Le Rêve (at the Wynn). Best part (for impatient types like me anyway) is that to get patrons back out to the gaming area and restaurants, the shows are usually shortened and don't include an intermission.

Eat out
Long gone are the days of the all-you-can-eat buffets in every hotel (to the chagrin of some, like my boyfriend). Dining in Vegas has become a food lover's paradise. Craftsteak at the MGM Grand serves up mouthwatering meat dishes, and yummy sides, so good that a vegetarian could enjoy a perfectly delightful meal with these options alone. A wide and deep wine list will help you wash down those succulent slices of Kobe beef. The Paris' Mon Ami Gabi creates delicious French cuisine. (Ask for a table on the cool-misted patio overlooking the strip and in the shadow of the replica Eiffel Tower.) For a quick snack, tuck into Le Nôtre just off the Paris' lobby for some authentic French patisserie. I did. (A bunch of times!)

So much more
Vegas offers loads more fun activities, from the sublime Mystère at Treasure Island (702/894-7722 or 800/392-1999; to the kitsch Liberace Museum (1775 E. Tropicana Ave; 702/798-5595; Or try a spa treatment. The Spa at Bellagio Bellagio (3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S; 702/693-7111 or 888/987-6667; features more than 50 treatment rooms and a really good couples massage with male therapists available. The MGM Grand Spa (702/891-3077 or 877/880-0880; offers a fabulous treatment called the "Morning After," a caffeine-infused head-to-toe massage session ($75). Catch Celine or Elton or one of the many other Cirque shows I didn't mention. If you haven't been to Vegas in a while, now's the time to test its proudly adopted new slogan. Just leave the kids behind.

You may wish to check out the gay goings on at: And Lonely Planet offers loads of information in their Las Vegas Encounter guidebook.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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