Viva Las Vegas: Conducting, Canyons and Cake

By: Maxine Sheppard

June 17, 2010

I knew I was in Vegas when I woke up this morning: my hotel room’s lights faded in over a 60 second period, the TV greeted me with a personal message and my curtains drew back automatically, revealing a replica Chrysler building outside my window. Not my normal start to the day.

Press Call

First stop of the morning was the Bellagio where a press conference took place to announce Virgin Atlantic’s long-term partnership with Panasonic for full connectivity throughout its eX2 in-flight entertainment and exPhone products. This means that passengers will be able to email, SMS, make calls, play content direct from iPhones, iPods and other mobile devices, and even share holiday snaps – all at 35,000 ft.

Virgin Atlantic & Panasonic's Press Conference at the Bellagio HotelVirgin Atlantic & Panasonic’s Press Conference at the Bellagio Hotel

By the time the conference was over, crowds had gathered outside the front of the Bellagio, where the world-famous fountains shoot into the sky every half hour. They’d obviously heard that a rather bombastic stunt was just about to take place. For the first time ever, a jet-ski was allowed onto the Bellagio’s lake and Richard Branson whizzed around a few times before taking to the podium to conduct the fountains. He then picked up one of our lovely crew, sped around a bit more… and fell in. All in a day’s work.

Richard Branson conducting the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas

Richard Branson conducting the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas

Richard gets a passenger


If you can't stand the heat...fall into the lake

From City to Canyon

If you’ve read our feature on the best side-trips from Las Vegas, then you’ll know that a visit to the Grand Canyon is the ultimate excursion. Today we took to the skies and flew over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter, and the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead before it. This really is one of America’s most thrilling adventures and if you’re coming to Vegas any time soon, make sure you don’t miss out.

Flying over the Hoover DamFlying over the Hoover Dam

And over the Grandest of CanyonsAnd over the Grandest of Canyons


We landed at a different canyon – El Dorado – and were greeted by mustachioed cowboys on horseback and taken to the Techatticup Mine; the oldest and best known gold mine in the state of Nevada. From here it’s possible to tour the mine (genuinely fascinating), kayak, go quad-biking or take a horseback ride through the desert. The owners Bobbie and Tony are knowledgeable and fun and want to share their stories with you, including how the mine has been featured in numerous films, music videos and photo shoots. Old props and remnants are littered throughout the surrounding landscape, including a smashed-up plane from Kevin Costner’s 2001 thriller 3000 Miles To Graceland.

Ed Dorado Canyon is Cowboy CountryEl Dorado Canyon is Cowboy Country

Eldorado Canyon's Techatticup MineEldorado Canyon’s Techatticup Mine

Birthday Cake

Our celebratory barbeque took place in the afternoon, with a live band, dancing horses and even a cowboy fire juggler. Richard cut the very special cake to mark 10 years of flying to Las Vegas, and we all melted a little in the heat and dust before heading back to the city.

Richard cutting the cakeRichard cutting the cake

View with a Room

Tonight we put on our gladrags and made for the Palms resort and casino where our birthday party proper took place. The Moon nightclub, on the top two floors of the Palms, is a rather unique venue – not only does it have two balconies offering unrivalled views of the Las Vegas strip but it also has a retractable roof for the ultimate star-gazing experience. A fitting place to finish off an amazing couple of days.

The balcony at Moon, the Palms Resort and Casino, Las VegasThe balcony at Moon, the Palms Resort and Casino, Las Vegas

The view over the Las Vegas strip from Moon nightclubThe view over the Las Vegas strip from Moon nightclub

If you want to experience the Las Vegas magic for yourself, then be sure to check Virgin Holidays’ range of Vegas breaks, or visit theVirgin Atlantic website for flight-only deals.



Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the co-editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.

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