Las Vegas – December 2013

The original city of lights

In early December, I attended the Usability week hosted by the Nielsen Norman Group in Las Vegas and got to stay at the glamorous Caesars Palace and visit the beautiful Downtown Las Vegas.

Having spent the past five years of my life in Dubai, I’ve grown accustomed to considering Dubai as the definitive city of lights. That opinion quickly changed after landing in Las Vegas. The lights, the architecture and the fact that no one ever seems to sleep, are all things you’ll find in common with Vegas and Dubai.

Walk down the Vegas strip and you’ll find all sorts of characters (I’m using the word ‘characters’ very loosely) roaming the streets. Elvis Presley, the Minions from ‘Despicable Me’ and Spongebob Squarepants are popular here.

My favourite people to interact with in Vegas are the cab drivers. Each one has their own, unique story of how they got there and they don’t mind sharing that story with you. They also make really good tour guides, so don’t worry about asking them directions if you’re bored and looking for local hotspots.

If you ever visit Vegas, walk down over to M&M world which is located next to the MGM Grand. This building is four stories tall and includes a massive gift shop, a 3D movie theater and and a replica of the M&M’s NASCAR race car.

Obviously, since you’re in Vegas, you also get a chance to get your hands on some Vegas-themed memorabilia, like an M&M’S slot machine candy dispenser

Walk around the Las Vegas strip around sunset and the mixture of lights from the street lights and the sunset creates this almost magical glow with a mixture of blues and oranges around the horizon which are really prominent and gorgeous.

There is a minute around when the sun sets, where you’ll notice this slow transition when the horizon gets darker and the street lights and the lights from the cars get brighter.

 

Caesars Palace

The Vegas experience wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Caesars Palace, which is a massive Hotel and Casino right in the heart of the Vegas strip. Caesars palace recently became even more popular, after the third installation of ‘The Hangover’ was shot here.

The Caesars palace also hosts the Forum shops, which is a 636,000-square-foot shopping mall, and is ranked as one the most successful shopping malls in the world, and is the highest grossing mall in America. You can also walk from the Caesars palace to the Bellagio and the Mirage through the Forum shops. [Source].

Facts and Figures

  • 129,000 square feet of gaming space.
  • 636,000 square foot shopping mall
  • 270+ stores in the shopping mall
  • 3,960 hotel rooms in the Caesars palace
  • August 5, 1966 – Opening date of Caesars palace

 

Zappos Headquarters

Zappos re-defines the idea of an office environment. They just moved into a huge office in Downtown Las Vegas that used to be the old Las Vegas City Hall. On my way there, the helpful cab driver couldn’t stop raving about how Tony Hsieh (The CEO), was working on the Downtown Project, which would re-develop downtown Las Vegas and convert it back into a bustling area.

If you ask them nicely, they offer tours of their offices where they explain the amenities provided to the employees and what makes this US$1 billion revenue company different than all of the other corporations out there.

 

Fremont street experience

The Fremont street experience is located in downtown Las Vegas, a 2 minute walk from the Zappos headquarters or a ten minute car drive from the Vegas strip. The street consists of an open pedestrian mall, a Neon Museum and obviously a lot of casinos and really cheap food and drinks.

Walk back down the street towards the Vegas strip and you can stop by the Gold and Silver pawn shop which is where the popular TV show “Pawn stars” is recorded.

Las Vegas is a lot like what I expected it to be. The lights, the casinos, the architecture were all things I was familiar with from pictures and stuff I’ve seen on the internet. But the friendliness of the people, the deep rooted culture and the chaos of the casinos were all things that I could have never experienced from a picture. And neither can you.