17 MAY 2012: Just when you thought Vegas had pulled out all the bunnies from its top hat, it come up with another surprise. Room occupancy numbers are skyrocketing at 150,000 at last count. So we gotta ask, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right?”

Kelly Sawyer, the illustrious rep from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, recently arrived at the lofty quarters of the Westin Harbour Castle’s restaurant-in–the-sky Toulà, with a huge delegation of reps (19 total).

“We have 100,000 (hotel rooms) represented in this room so it shows you how important the Canadian market is to us,” she said, adding Canada continues to be Las Vegas’ biggest international market.

On the heels of the upcoming foodie extravaganza Vegas Uncork’d set for May 10-13, it was à propos for the tourism office to hold a VIP Luncheon and marketplace for various tour operators and media. In addition, LVCVA and company toured Vancouver and Victoria later that week.

The event was organized by LVCVA’s Canadian PR agency, VoX Communications with the amazing account director Patrice Bell, who added, “Last year the Canadian market had 16 percent more seats (capacity) to sell compared to other years due to partners such as Air Canada, Sunwing and WestJet flying non-stops to Vegas.”

Excitement built when Patrice announced door prizes were slated après lunch. It felt like Vegas. See some of the happy snaps.

Here’s a Vegas 411.

Wedding Bells

Graceland Wedding Chapel general manager Brandon Reed loves his job. Who wouldn’t if they worked with a guy playing Elvis?

Ever since he first oversaw this landmark wedding site 18 years ago, life has been on the ultra cool side. Averaging 9,000 weddings a year with about 23 a day, the wedding business he says continues to thrive and remains a big reason people come to Vegas.

“Everybody has a story it doesn’t matter if you’ve been married 25 days or 25 years it’s how they met. I love it,” he says about the popular vow renewals.

Even celebs have been known to frequent. Musical artist Jon Bon Jovi married there and has had a couple of vow renewals over the years. Achy Breaky Heart singer Billy Ray Cyrus renewed his vows with star daughter Miley present. And then there are the band members from the Thompson Twins, Moody Blues and the Beastie Boys who visited on separate occasions.

“My business partner who plays Elvis is a dead ringer,” he says. You might have seen him on the TV talk show circuit with Oprah and Ellen.

The chapel might look familiar to movie buffs too. It’s been showcased in Fools Rush In starring Canadian actor Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with Johnny Depp playing Hunter S. Thompson. “He stayed in his Hunter S. Thompson character the whole time through, even when they weren’t filming.”

Brandon’s seen it time and time again when prospective nuptial seekers have no clue on the wedding location. “There are 30 chapels in Vegas. Picture sitting in a cab and if you don’t refer the wedding chapel you will be left to the mercy of the cab driver for the most important day in your life.”

For chapel bookings, agents can reach Brandon by calling the Graceland Wedding Chapel at toll-free 1-800-824-5732. “For all of our packages we give 25% to travel agents.”

Family Fun

Fernando Hurtado, director of sales at The Orleans Hotel and Casino is prepared to see your clients especially those with a family have the time of their lives when staying at his 1,886 room property. Why wouldn’t they?

The Mardi-Gras themed venue boasts a 9,000 seat arena, an 18-screen movie theater, a 70-lane bowling alley, and a child care facility on-site. “We fit that bill of family casino,” he says, adding a long list of arena events which will be announced shortly. Be prepared for concerts and competitions like a massive cheerleading competition.

Located off The Strip, the property offers complimentary guest shuttles.

Circus Act

What did the Las Vegas entertainment scene look like before Cirque du Soleil? Hmmm, I had to think about this one.

Undoubtedly the iconic Canadian-made circus franchise has changed the entertainment landscape of Sin City, and in the process, remade the way America and the world does multimillion-dollar shows.

Aaron Hinterleitner, a Cirque du Soleil rep, is excited about a couple of future productions ready to launch in Las Vegas. “Our show Zarkana playing in NYC’s Radio City Music Hall is on a six month stint but after it will have its permanent home at Aria and is slated for a late October early November opening.”

Other Cirque news: In June 2013 the highly anticipated show Michael Jackson The Immortal Tour recounting the great Michael Jackson’s musical genius will have a permanent home in Las Vegas.

For agents interested in establishing BtoB relationships contact Aaron Hinterleitner directly (1-866-353-5625)

Terminal Bliss

Next time you arrive to the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, you will be in for a surprise. The major airport has undergone extensive renovations with more than just a few nips and tucks. A US $2.4 billion state of the art terminal 3 is scheduled to open on June 27, and the new 14 gate terminal promises plenty of reasons for extra splurges.

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

Read more from Ilona Kauremszky

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