Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pictorial: Chinese New Year in #Vegas

You gotta hand it to the Harrah's peeps. Staging their lion dance for Chinese New Year on Sunday under the main porte-cochere was brilliant for ... Donny & Marie! I knew the minute I snapped this it would become THE shot that AOLNews.Com would used for my piece on the second-biggest gambling event of the Vegas year.

It's a fun time around Vegas, with lion dances galore and decorations that, frankly, are more impressive than what Vegas does for Christmas. I mean, what does the Venetian-Palazzo do quite like this:

There's something amusing to me about arraying a 16.5-foot-long tiger in front of a restaurant called Cut. Not sure about the feng shui of that. And, of course, I needed a closer shot of the girl in the huge Chinese-debutante-prom dress. Wow, huh?

Here's Caesars' main entrance and the Augustus Tower...

...and Wynn Las Vegas:

Chinese New Year is such a big deal, it's one of the five (or is it six?) seasonal decoration changes that Bellagio's Conservatory observes. I didn't make it over there, but reader Mike Dobranski (Follow him on Twitter) did and gave me permission to use these shots. The tiger's fur is dried botanicals.

It's no surprise, really, given the huge business Chinese players provide. I counted at least 15 resorts doing lion dances this year -- ARIA and the Orleans were the last, doing them tonight -- but I caught the ones at Caesars and Wynn on Sunday for my story.

Caesars deserved the love because it was their idea first. They did the first Chinese New Year celebration in 1975. The lions and dragons first set off firecrackers in the porte-cochere, then shimmy through the casino. They stopped at the threshold of Beijing Noodle No. 9 and the high-limit gaming parlors to fling lettuce -- a symbol of prosperity that hit me in the back -- and then went through both. Most folks were entertained...

...but the lady in the blue in that last shot maybe not so much.

At Wynn, the dance began in the south porte-cochere, where executives including Wynn President Andrew Pascal and high-roller special guests painted the eyes of the dragons, part of the ritual.

After this, about 2,000 special guests were treated to a banquet in a ballroom in which Wing Lei executive chef Richard Chen served up abalone that costs about $2,000 a pound and other delicacies.

Today, I went with a blog reader for Wing Lei's fabulous Chinese New Year's dim sum menu. If you're around, they're offering that until Thursday, Feb. 18, but it costs $58.88 a person.

Finally, my favorite. It may be the Year of the Tiger...

...but somehow this panda is making it ALL about her, huh?


Michael said...

Great coverage on the event Steve. Enjoy the on the ground feel of the report for this one. I'm hoping the conservatory at Bellagio is still under the New Year theme in 2 weeks when I arrive. I always seem to miss that display.