The Birth of The Vegas Tourist


The Vegas Tourist?

One of the questions I get is “What was the idea behind starting this website and podcast?

The easy answer is that as a Las Vegas chauffeur, I got tired of battling against the Las Vegas propaganda machine and wanted to give those traveling here, a real look at what is the Las Vegas tourist scene.

An insiders look behind the curtain on how this town really operates and what is really going on. Then it kind of expanded and changed as I switched from being a Las Vegas chauffeur to be a tour director.

The one thing that has not changed in all these years is my love for not only the history of this town but for the people who have come here and made something out of it… The business side of what makes Las Vegas famous can be as exciting for me as the tourist side.  I love telling people about the who, what, why, and where of not only Las Vegas, but the entire southwestern United States. “Las Vegas and Beyond”
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Out of Frustration, Comes Brilliance?

I moved here from Minnesota in 2001. Las Vegas was in the tail end of its last major boom.  Over 5,000 families were moving here every month and only 3,000 were moving out.  Every month we had 2,000 more people living here than we did at the end of the previous month. After 100 years of booms and busts, Las Vegas finally hit the one million mark for the population.  Five years later we hit the two million mark.  We literally doubled our population in five years and it wasn’t slowing down.

The daily occupancy rate for any hotel in the nation in 2001 was about 55% on a good day.  Here, 95% occupancy was considered a bad day!  We were building and adding hotel rooms as fast as we could get the permits printed.

There was something here for just about everybody. From the twenty-five cent roulette at the Klondike to the High Limit Poker rooms at the Bellagio and the Venetian.  From the ninety-nine cent shrimp cocktail at the Golden Gate to the three hundred dollar dinner, (minus the eight hundred dollar bottle of wine you watched the beautiful “wine angel” working on a pulley system on the wine tower, get for you) at Aureole in the Mandalay Bay.

Moving here?  In 2001, about 90% of all jobs here were tourism-related positions.  If you showed up here on Monday morning looking for work, there was a pretty good chance you could have a good-paying job by Monday afternoon. It most likely wasn’t what you had a degree in or what you were doing before, but it would be a good job sometimes with benefits and a flexible schedule.  Many people I knew then had several jobs.  The keyword being “flexible”. If you expecting Monday to Friday, 9-5 with weekends off, you were laughed out of the office. Literally.

On the other side to that “flexibility” it was often easy to work a schedule around other things. You were often off on days other people were working.  We could travel midweek pretty cheap!  Living here, the stores and support services off the tourist corridor, worked with our hours. Walmarts open 24 hours seven days a week, dentist offices open until 9 pm. Last call in the bar? No such thing.

The first question you were often asked in the job interview was “will you show up when scheduled?” If you answered “Yes”, they were already filling out your time card and figuring out what locker to give you.

There was one catch when moving here.  Moving here, you needed to understand that you did not move into a new state, you moved into a different universe.  You will hear me say this a lot and its true; Las Vegas operates in its own little universe. Unlike any other city, state, or country you have been in.  Vegas is nothing like where you came from. If you don’t understand that, it will eat you up and spit you out really quickly.  You will not survive here.
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Minnesota Nice 

For me, I had a little problem getting into the whole Las Vegas tourism culture.  I was born with a deformed gene. Its called the “Minnesota Nice” gene. I can’t lie to people for the sake of making a buck and I don’t like people who do that to me.  I swear that if I could neutralize that gene living here, I would either be a multi-millionaire or buried 8 miles out and six feet under… Nothing in-between.

I loved the town. Las Vegas was a really fun city and for me, it held a certain vibe I couldn’t get anywhere else.  But the way it operated, the behind the scenes part of what made the bright lights sparkle, started to rub on me and went against my Minnesota Nice morals(?). The more I worked the Strip, the more I developed a love/hate relationship with the universe of Las Vegas.

One thing I learned talking to the old-timers here, Las Vegas, like the state it sits in, was created by corruption and that corruption, the good and the bad of it all is always evolving. Staying the same, yet in many ways changing with the times. What you see here is not always what is real.  Steve Wynn named his first mega-resort on the Las Vegas Strip correctly.  The Mirage!

Why This Website?

Like I said at the beginning, the idea for this website and podcast was born out of frustration. As a chauffeur, I was always irritated when I picked up a guest outside one of a resort and as we drove to their hotel, they complained about the time and money they wasted on a horrible show that the reviewer said: “The best I have seen all year!”.  To them, the reviewer was 1000% wrong and they had just wasted one night out of their three-night stay, seeing a horrible show.  (average stay in Las Vegas is three nights).

I would get frustrated when I heard those stories.  I felt bad for my guests.  You, the Vegas tourist (get it?), took time out of your busy lives to travel to Las Vegas. You spent a lot of money and time planning your trip. You were wanting to have a good time when you did get here. You wanted to leave the real world behind and escape into the fairytale land of Las Vegas. You wanted to drink too much, eat too much, party too much, and gamble responsibly.  Not spend time in a theater seeing a show that was nothing like you were expecting and you based your decision to buy tickets on what many would assume was an unbiased “professional” reviewer.

Unfortunately, I heard a lot of bad stories all because the guest didn’t know how Las Vegas tourism really worked.  So I wanted to counter that narrative or at least give another viewpoint to what was being pushed by the modern version of the Las Vegas propaganda machine. (a website maybe?)

I would ask my guests which reviewer did they read?  They would tell me and I would smile.  Then I would explain to them why the review they read was what it was.  At the time, the people still relied on major newspapers, TV and radio as their main sources of information. There was no The explanation I gave was usually well received and helped in my tip as they would thank me for my honesty and that they wished they talked to me first!
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Here’s How The Vegas Media World Works

Here in Las Vegas, we have two main newspapers:  the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Las Vegas Sun.  Meaning we had two primary “show reviewers” and gossip columnists. Because they were the big dogs in the world of Las Vegas media, their reviews held a lot of power over the success or failure of a new Las Vegas production. And each reviewer had different criteria for how they reviewed a show. What the uninformed reader didn’t know was that neither one based too much of their reviews on the actual show.

When a show is to open on the Strip, they would hold a media event. The show on that night was not open to the general public, or if it was, the media and other invitees would have the front row seats. These people were not only the media people (local, national, international) but the city’s entertainment VIPs, the doormen, concierges, and anyone else seriously involved in the selling or promotion of the show tickets around town.

At the media event prior to the show, you usually got to meet the primary cast, hear some words from the show’s director or producer, be able to interview the people behind the production, etc, etc…. And you were usually served complimentary food and beverage.

Being a chauffeur, like cab drivers and such, I was considered an important marketing person for these shows, thus, “freebies”!!  So having been to many of these events, I started to notice why the published reviews were how they were.  Speaking to others at these events, I would hear the same or similar comments.  Of course, always “off the record”.

Here is what I learned. One reviewer based a lot of his opinions about the show on what food was served at the media event.  The other reviewer would base part of his review on how well he was served a certain brand of drinks at the media event by a certain flavor of a young cocktail waitress. These points were not highlighted in the review itself, but it set the mood and tone for what they were going to write.  Bad time at the media event meant a bad review of the show.  A good time at the media event meant a good show review.

So to sum it all up, for all their glorious words of praise or their words of scorn about the show, the cast, or how the show was put together, the review was really based on how or what they were served at the media event before they were escorted to their front row or box seats. Or as another media type joked to me one time: You could put a (heavily overweight) lady wearing nothing but a tutu reading the Las Vegas phone book in french, standing on a dark stage, and if you did your media event right, both of these people would give the show a five-star “best new show of the decade” review!

My Frustration

So why would they not review the show for the quality of the show? Easy answer. Follow the money.  In 2001, when I started chauffeuring here, the Stip was controlled by five different companies.  No one resort company controlled more than 25% of the market.  You had the MGM competing with Mandalay Bay competing with The Wynn competing with… You get the picture…

By 2005, you had the MGM owning 55% of the Strip and Caesars owning 40% of the Strip. The other 5% were The Wynn, The Venetian, etc… Now, as a local media company, newspaper, or TV station, you survive by selling local advertising.  Selling advertising as a media company when your town is controlled by only two companies means you will everything in your powers to make sure you do not print anything that offends anyone in the management of these two companies!

So when a new show opened in a resort and it sucked, the review will never really say it sucked. Even when the Chris Angel debacle opened at the Luxor in 2008, they never really said the show sucked!  They danced around it in so many different ways, saying everything they could but “it sucked”! BTW, It Sucked!!

If they say anything bad about something the resort spent millions of dollars on, that resort stops advertising with your company for a while.  So you dance around it and claim that it was good even if it was bad.  But not in those exact words.

If being a Las Vegas local and you knew something bad happened on the Strip, you had to read the LA Times to know what happened!

So I needed to say something.  I needed a place to let off my frustrations. A place to let others know what real people living and working in Las Vegas felt about what to see, do, and experience while visiting here and traveling around here.  Talking with another chauffeur who was making a great side business marketing Las Vegas weddings on the Internet, he told me to start a website. With the warning that if I want any of the money from the two golden gooses, meaning Las Vegas casino advertising money, I needed to kiss the golden ring of the marketing people over at MGM and Caesars marketing people.  Yea, that ain’t going to happen!!

That’s It! I will start a website talking about Las Vegas tourism and beyond!  So if I am going to build a website where I talk about Las Vegas tourism, what do I call it? Who is it for?  Hmmm…..

The Vegas Tourist was Born

Looking at the registration, I registered the domain name on July 4, 2006.  Why that name?

Because my first choice for a domain name, was already taken.  That domain was basically a website showing a bunch of affiliate links for Las Vegas and other cities’ hotels and shows. No real content. Wanting that name and without much more thought or reason behind it, I added the word “the” to the domain name and it worked.  Looking back, I like this name better than what I first wanted!  Fate!

Ironically, after a few months of operation and publishing some content as well as a Podcast, I was at a networking event and was talking with a group of people.  One of the men huddled in the group was raving about his new “Vegas” website and telling the others how wonderful it is and why they need to check it out and to advertise with him.

Someone asked him the name of his website and he told them  “That’s the best part, its really easy to remember.  It’s the Vegas Tourist Dot Com” .  As others were writing it down, he had to clarify that the word “the”is not part of the domain name. Causing several to ask what happens if they typed in “The Vegas Tourist Dot com”?  I smiled and said “You get my website” and I walked away smiling!!  I knew I had the better name!


I’m Moving to Vegas Where Should I live?

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So you want to move to Las Vegas?

A lot of people want to move here and a lot of people do move here.  The first question people like to ask online is always “Where should I live?”.  Yes, that is the entire question.  The problem is that the question is just that. Where Should I live? As if Las Vegas is a one size fits all everywhere kind of a town. It’s Not!  Las Vegas is a big town with a lot of moving variables and to help, we need a little more information than that.

When people do respond to the question, its more of a personal point of reference, not an informative type of answer.  Because we don’t know YOU!   Are you married? Have a job? Have kids? Want kids? Want to travel? Be near people? Want to be far from people?  It’s here.  Las Vegas has something for just about everyone.

I live in Henderson.  Homes in my neighborhood are older, for families and are middle income.  Five miles away we have brand new multimillion-dollar homes hidden behind big iron gates. It’s in the same town with different settings.  Some people like Summerlin.  Summerlin, ten years ago was strictly for wealthy Snowbirds.  It isn’t like that anymore. The same goes for just about any of the other nine communities or suburbs in the valley of 2.1 million people. It’s always changing here.

Be Here, Be Local

The best way to get that question answered is to be here and be a local for a week or two.  To do that, you need to get off the Strip.  Rent a Sienna Suites or a Budget Suites (or similar).  They are fully furnished apartments, with all the modern amenities. They have locations all over the valley.  The nice thing is that you pay by the week or by the month. No long term commitments or contracts.  Find one in an area where you think you may be working or near a school you want to checkout.

Then while living off the Strip, in the real Las Vegas, drive around the entire valley. Experience it all and see what fits your needs, your pocketbook, and your lifestyle.  Meet up with some of the people you have chatted with online, talk to them here, and see what they are recommending.

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A little Something For Everyone

Las Vegas is NOT a one sizes fits all kind of a town. Yet we do have almost everything here people want to have in order to live an active, full life. Some people live here for a few months and move out. People come here with an RV and live in camper villages for months, even years. We have people who like to live in small clustered units and those who like to live in large, gated communities.  You may have animals, horses, things like that. We have homes, apartments, and estates for those people as well.

That’s why it’s so hard to answer such a simple question. Where should you live?  We don’t know because the short question never gave us any of those important details!

And for someone to blindly say “you need to live here and not there” is silly and not really helpful. Like I said earlier. I live in Henderson. I would love to live in Boulder City, but my family dynamics won’t allow for that to happen yet. You may want to be there or maybe because of your family dynamics, you need to be in Summerlin. That’s what You need to decide!

Friends and Agents

When people first move here, they find it’s not easy to make friends.  You may wonder why and you may even feel it’s undeserved. It’s often not you, its the Vegas culture. We are a very transient society. People are always moving in and moving out.  So making and keeping friends here is not often easy.  Its been that way for decades.  One of the main reasons people move out is that they find the summers here are unbearable. You don’t really get used to them, you just get to the point of tolerating them!  So we like to wait to see if you survive the summer before we may want to make the effort and be your friendly neighbor or not.

Real Estate Agents?  I have a few of them as friends and they hate when I say not to use them at the beginning.  But it’s my opinion after years of experience.  They have something to sell and want to sell it to an uninformed buyer. Or a buyer they are influencing.  So I say not to include one into your moving agenda until you have been here yourself and have experienced the valley on your own.  When you have more of an informed idea of where you want to live and what you need to have in order to survive here, then call in a professional!

Las Vegas is one of those towns where you can not easily answer the simple question on “where should I live”.  You really need to be here and experience the real Las Vegas to know where you really want to live. I hope this helps.

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Ask: From Vegas Chauffeur to Vegas Tour Guide

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With all this downtime, I am starting to get back into the website and do some clean up as well as catching up on website projects. The one project I would like to start again is my series of “Ask The Vegas Tourist”. Answering your questions not only about Las Vegas but also about traveling the southwest, things to do, see, and experience. As well as the “why” and “how” of tours and travel.

I want to start off the series with a question I get a lot on tour as well as on the website.

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Question:  How did I go from being a Las Vegas Chauffeur to a Las Vegas Tour Guide?

I moved to Las Vegas from Minnesota in 2001.  My first job was as a chauffeur on the Strip.  At the time, Las Vegas was BOOMING.  To understand what I mean, Las Vegas was founded in 1905.  In 2001 we hit one million residents.  It took us almost 100 years to get one million people living here.  By 2006, we literally doubled our population to 2 million people!

The Las Vegas Strip was a steady boom as well. always building, adding, and growing.  It was an amazing time being a chauffeur. I worked mostly nights from 4 p.m. To 2 a.m.  In those hours, you see a lot of crazy things.  I learned really early never say that you’ve seen it all, because the moment you say that you’ve seen it all, someone jumps into your limo and shows you that you really have not seen it all…

By 2005 I was starting to feel burn out.  Just too much of everything. Remember, I’m a simple man from Minnesota!

After Burnout?

So one day, a fellow chauffeur friend of mine told me that he had just interviewed for the perfect job for me.  For Me? I asked.  He said yes, for me. Why me?  He said that I have a head full of useless trivia. That I would be perfect for this job!  I took that as a compliment!

I went ahead and applied for the job that he had applied for and he didn’t take it,  but I took it because it sounded interesting and got me off of the strip. Let me add this, I have always had a love for modern American History and this area is loaded with it!!  I love everything that happened in the last hundred or so years and Vegas has packed a lot of stuff in those hundred and some-odd years.

As a chauffeur, I got to meet people from all over the world and that fascinated me. I’ve always wanted to know why people are where they are. How and why got to be where they are.  How do things happen? So this gig as a tour guide was right up my alley!  I knew people did tours, I just didn’t know people actually made a career out of it. Now, here I was, hired to do tours.

— Checkout All The Las Vegas Tours Available —

Tour Guide Mark

One of the first companies that I applied for hired me. The first tour that you train for is Hoover Dam.  It’s a simple half-day tour.  Easy!  On a Hoover Dam tour, I was told “there’s not much there” to learn. Yea, maybe for you!!

This particular tour operator used buses and I was the step-on guide.  It was the guides’ job to get everyone on board the bus then get them off the bus and on the actual Hoover Dam tour. They also did all of the narration along the way while somebody else drove.

But First, You have to do a ride-along.  They send you out with an experienced guide and you observe them.  Well, it really bothered me because the person that they sent me out with, I thought was a freaking moron.  I mean, it’s about a 40-minute ride from Las Vegas to Boulder City to Hoover Dam.  He talked for about 10 minutes then he played a video about the building of Hoover Dam. That was it.

I’m thinking that if we’re going to go see Hoover Dam, why are we seeing a video on the building of Hoover Dam?  Then I find out that once you get there, on the actual tour, you see another video about building Hoover Dam. So this format made no sense to me.

Then on the way back, he’s talking about the concrete in the dam!  We have left the dam and ar heading back to Las Vegas and the tour guide is talking about the concrete!  Meanwhile, there’s a lot of stuff I want to know about along the way home that I am sure the guests were wanting to know about as well.  I didn’t say anything I was just there to observe!

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My Tour My Way

So when they assigned me my first Hoover Dam tour,  they handed me the script and the DVD and I got on the bus.  I talked to my coach driver and on the way out, I just put all of that stuff in my bag and I talked about what I wanted to talk about; The history of Las Vegas, Boulder City, and Hoover Dam. I talked about what brought people out to the middle of nowhere to build a dam in the middle of a depression.

I did the same on the way home. I talked about what THEY wanted to know about. More history, more information about what it’s like to live here and ideas on what they should do next!

After about four or five of these tours, my boss called me into her office. She says “look, I’ve been told that you’re not following the script on how to do the Hoover Dam tour.  So I’m going to ride with you.  I want to take your Hoover Dam tour and I don’t want you to change anything just because I’m on board. Ok?”

I didn’t understand why I would change what I say just because she is on board, but Ok. Let’s do this!
The day comes and she gets on board, she sits towards the back with a notepad. I do my Dam Tour. We get back to the office and she looks to me. She said she had a great tour and loved how I did it.

Now she wanted me to write down what I said and make it into a script that she can pass to the other guides. Yea, right! That ain’t happening.  It’s my tour. They need to deliver their own tours.  She reluctantly agreed.

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George and the West Rim

Next, I was trained on the Grand Canyon West Rim (home of the glass bridge!).  My trainer was named George.  He was a retired military man who spent most of his career in Japan. After I was trained by him, the boss wanted to ride along with me on that one too.  So we do the tour.

We get out to the West Rim and she is talking to me about the format of the tour. Being a longer tour, there is a format on how the drive out and back is done. There is a photo stop at the Dam and there is a stop for bathrooms at a convenience store in the middle. George did a third stop. So I did the third stop.

She informed me that I was not following the format. She was curious about who trained me? I told her it was George.  She looked at me and smiled. It now made sense to her. Why I did the third stop. George was the only tour guide who made three stops.

My boss tells me George has a serious nicotine habit and so when he needs a smoke break, he gets the driver to pullover, gets everyone out of the bus and he will go into a very well detailed and informative description of what ever we are looking at on this “special stop”.  He spoke very intelligently about the mountain chain, the flowers, and the trees around us. The stop was not for information, it was George’s smoke break!

Hoover Dam Revelation

After a while of doing tours, I’m on a Hoover Dam tour. we get to the Dam, I get everyone off the bus and the driver and I are in the bus parking area just reading the newspaper and talking. Another driver walks over, looks up, and sees me.  He smiles and says loudly “You Got Mark!” My driver smiles back and tells him in a matter of fact style that “Yes I do”.

This got my curiosity up and I need to know if that was a good thing or a bad thing.  Apparently, it was a good thing.  In the morning, our office faxes over the trip sheets to the bus company. The drivers look to see what tours we have and who are the guides. When they see Mark Anthony, they begin to argue over that tour.

Why? Because they make more tips with me as the guide than they do the other guides.  I am told the guest really likes how I tell them stories, the information, and how it seems more personal than other tours.  So their tips are higher. I make them more money!

Finding My Passion

After a few months of being a Las Vegas tour guide, I found myself in San Jose, California for about six months. I discover that there is a school for International Tour Directors in San Francisco. In two weeks, I get certified and started doing over-the-road tours (multi-day tours).   I can do tours from The Candian Rockies all the way down to Copper Canyon Mexico.   My Specialty is the Southwest.  National Parks. California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Right now, I am focusing on day trips or overnight tours out of Las Vegas.

I prefer the Southwest. I love the Grand Canyon. I love Yosemite and Yellowstone National Park.  Utah has a ton of State Parks I love touring.  Of course, being in Las Vegas,  we have Death Valley,  Zion, Bryce Canyon, Valley of Fire, Grand Canyon South Rim, Grand Canyon West, I can even do North Rim if you have the right itinerary.

I really love what I do and it has gone from being a job to being a passion of mine. I will explain this in a later video.  I love what I do. I love to help people discover new things to see do and experience while visiting Las Vegas (and beyond).

To be honest, I wish more people who visit here, had the time to really experience the entire Southwestern United States. Not only for its beauty but also for its deep history.  The whole West Coast is an amazing place to experience.

I always laugh when someone tells me “I’ve been to Vegas a thousand times, there is nothing new here!” Oh, Really? Take a look at my website and see the Vegas tours and tell me that you have seen it all.  I’ve lived here for almost 20 years and I haven’t seen it all!

Final Thoughts

So that’s how I went from being a chauffeur on the Las Vegas Strip to be an international Certified Tour Director living in Las Vegas. I do some awesome tours up and down the west coast (so I am told). My specialty is the Southwest United States, Las Vegas, and the National Parks. And I love to show you them as we go along here.

Las Vegas is my home. I love it here. Over the last 19 years, I have seen a lot of changes in this city.  Some I like, most I don’t.  But it has never changed the fact that I love living here.
There are lots of things to see, do, and experience. As a tour professional, I love to help others see that as well. Just Ask!

Ask The Vegas Tourist

Do you have a question about Las Vegas, tours, and travel?  Ask me. I have lived here since 2001 and love to help people know more.   Click Here


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West Rim? South Rim? Grand Canyon Tours

One question I am asked often as a Las Vegas Tour Guide, is “Which Grand Canyon tour is the best?”  The Grand Canyon West Rim tour?  Or the Grand Canyon South Rim tour?

So here is a quick guide to understanding the basic differences in a tour from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West Rim and Grand Canyon South Rim.  You can’t go wrong with either one. They both offer amazing views of one of the greatest natural wonders on earth.  Yet, they are polar opposite of each other as well.

How to Decide What Tour

My simplest advice to guests is that if you are short on time and want to see the Grand Canyon.  Go west. As in taking the Grand Canyon West tour.
If you really want to experience the beauty and grandness of the Grand Canyon, go south. The Grand Canyon South Rim tour.

Grand Canyon West is a two and half hour drive from Las Vegas
Grand Canyon South Rim is a four and a half hour drive from Las Vegas

Grand Canyon West tours, we leave the Strip by 7am and return usually between 4 or 5pm
Canyon South tours, we leave the Strip by 7am and return usually between 8 and 9pm
Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Distances

Both tours offer helicopter upgrades
Both tours usually offer 3 hours at the rim

Grand Canyon West is on the Hualapai Nation Reservation
Grand Canyon South is part of the Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Cayon West is the Grand Canyon at its rawest form.  Mostly flat, barren, no guardrails and not too much shelter from the elements
Grand Canyon South is more developed, has the guardrails, paved walkways and is handicap accessible

Grand Canyon West has the Skywalk/Glass Bridge
Grand Canyon South has more conveniences

Grand Canyon West is narrow, yet deep
Grand Canyon South is wide and shallow

Grand Canyon West Tours


Tourist Tip:   If you do the helicopter upgrade at the west rim, there is no need to do the skywalk, because you have just seen the best part of the canyon from the sky and most people agree, seeing it from the skywalk after doing the helicopter, is kind of a letdown.

At the west rim, you move around on their shuttle system to the two canyon overlooks plus a “western ranch” stop
At the South Rim, you can walk the rim of the canyon or ride from overlook to overlook on your tour vehicle

The views

This is what you are paying for, to see one of the greatest wonders of Mother Nature, the Grand Canyon! Don’t worry, both canyons will offer you unbelievable and breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon West – The end of the Grand Canyon is here, the Colorado River enters Lake Mead just passed the last overlook.  Here the canyon is narrow but deep. A downward “awe”
Grand Canyon South – The postcard shots you see online are usually from the south rim.  It’s wide and shallow, an outward “awe”

Either tour you choose, the Grand Canyon is an amazing sight to see.
West Rim is a short day, more rustic
South Rim is a long day, more developed (you also usually spend some time on Historic Route 66)

Fly Maverick Helicopters to the Grand Canyon

Although the tour components don’t change much from one tour operator to another, please read the details to make sure they offer what you want. Check the stops, amount of time they offer at the rims and if meals, water or snacks are included.

A small group tour usually means the tour vehicle seats less than 13 people. Gives a more intimate and tailored tour to the people on board.
A bus tour is usually the large tour bus that seats up to 55 people, equipped with bathroom, less intimate, driver/guide narration is usually routine.

I hope this helped and if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.

Also, if you have done either tour, I would like to know your thoughts on them.


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Ask: The Big Wheel Before The Linq | Video


Some people have asked: just what those two concrete poles are that sitting in that dirt lot across from the Mandalay Bay Resort?

Ask The Vegas Tourist

Those are the remains of what was supposed to be “Skyvue”.  A hotel resort and entertainment complex that was to be anchored by a 500-foot  big wheel type of a ride. The Big Wheel was not only going to be the world’s largest observation wheel, but it was also going to be the largest LED advertising sign as well.

SkyVue is the first phase of a larger 3-phase project—London, Las Vegas. As its name aptly suggests, London, Las Vegas combines the same excitement and sophistication of Europe’s most prestigious city, with all the thrills of the entertainment capital of the world.
The entire, 3-phase project uses London, England as its design inspiration. When completed, the 38.5-acre property will feature 1,300 hotel rooms, a casino, a 500-foot-tall observation wheel, and 550,000 square feet of restaurants and shops—all of which will be architectural replicas of various British landmarks and neighborhoods.

Phase I of London, Las Vegas—SkyVue—is comprised of the construction, management, and operation of a 500-foot-high observation wheel, including 122,000 square feet of LED advertising signage and approximately 550,000 square feet of retail space with more than 600 feet of frontage on the Las Vegas Strip.

Yea, you know where this is going, don’t you??
The ironic thing is that all this happened long after the worldwide and Las Vegas economic meltdown.  This was proposed and started to break ground in 2011.  People were still not confident in the Las Vegas real estate market.  The project went overseas looking for money by getting it designated as an EB-5 project.  “EB-5 provides 10,000 foreign nationals annually the opportunity to obtain permanent residency (a green card) by investing in the U.S. economy and creating jobs.”

Skyvue Las Vegas is for sale

The developers seemed to be chasing money and needed to prove they really were going to build. So as they got some investment money, they would work on the project until they ran out of funds instead of waiting to get all of the financings first. Thus, two poles and a big hole is all the farther they got

What finally killed the project?

As the poles were being built in May of 2012 and the developers still hustling for money and getting semi-favorable media coverage, Caesars Entertainment robbed the spotlight with the announcement of their “Big Wheel” to be built near center Strip.  Yes, Caesars was deep in debt, but they still could be counted on to finish a project they started.  So if you were an investor, where would you put your money?  On a project with shaky financials and was located at the south end of the Strip?  Or one that had a track record and a better position for attracting tourists?  The Skyvue project was toast.

So if you were an investor, where would you put your money?  On a project with shaky financials and was located at the south end of the Strip?  Or one that had a track record and a better position for attracting tourists?  We know the answer.  The Skyvue project was toast.

January 2014, The Linq Entertainment District opened for business along with the Worlds Largest Observation Wheel.  In mid-2015, the Skyvue land was put on the market for an undisclosed price.

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