Vegas4Visitors.com Weekly Column by Rick Garman

Want to know what's happening in Las Vegas? You've come to the right place.

Each week you can come here to get the latest news, the juiciest gossip, and the best reviews for the most fabulous city in the world, Las Vegas. Hey... it says "fabulous" right on the welcome sign!

The latest weekly column will always be on this page, but you can go back through the archives (all the way back to 1999!) or take a look ahead and what's coming up next for Vegas by using the navigation on the left hand sidebar.

Thanks for visiting! Enjoy!

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Mega Cirque Tickets Now On Sale

So you want to see all of the Vegas Cirque shows but you didn't feel that the Cirque movie "World's Away," the 3-D spectacle from director James Cameron now playing in select theaters, was good enough. No, you want to see all seven shows live in one theater in one night.

Have I got a good cause for you!

One Night for One Drop is the name of the event being held on March 22, 2013 in the O Theater at Bellagio. Acts from all of the Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil shows including O, Mystére, , Zumanity, Zarkana, Believe, and Love will come together to raise money for One Drop, a global initiative that aims to ensure access to clean drinking water to people everywhere.

Individual tickets start at $150 and go all the way up to $2,500 with sponsorship packages going all the way up to $250,000. What do you get for that kind of coin? 12 VIP tickets to the show, pre- and post-show parties with Cirque big-wigs and cast members, and special access events designed to make you feel like a real Cirque insider.

Tickets - especially the more affordable ones - are going very quickly so if you want one visit One Night for One Drop website now.

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Neon Wedding

Forget the Elvis impersonator or the drive through vows - this is what I call a REAL Las Vegas wedding: the Neon Museum is hosting a limited number of Valentine's Day ceremonies amongst the classic signs of the in the Boneyard.

The package includes a ceremony inside gates of the Neon Museum, surrounded by the rescued neon signs from around Las Vegas; a 30-minute "walk-thru" where you can have your photos taken in front of the classic works of art; a champagne toast and cupcakes; commemorative t-shirts; professional photography; and fresh flowers.

The cost is a nod to Vegas at $777 and includes the presumably happy couple and up to four guests.

Space for this package is extremely limited. To make reservations for Valentine's Day, or for any other day of the year, e-mail Events Coordinator Cynthia Behr Warso at cynthia@neonmuseum.org or call 702-387-6366.

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Palms to Pay $1 Million in Fines for Nightclub Misbehavior

Drugs and prostitution; just another night in Vegas, right? Well, not if you get caught, which is what has happened to The Palms in an undercover sting operation designed to crack down on illicit behavior at the city's high-end nightclubs.

Employees at The Palms' nightclubs like Moon and ghostbar are being accused of arranging the purchase of cocaine, prescription, and other drugs; providing private places within the clubs to do the drugs; and arranging for prostitutes for VIPs. The Gaming Control Board has levied $1 million in fines on the hotel for allowing the bad behavior to occur on the property.

Representatives for The Palms have agreed to pay the fines and say they have already taken steps to alleviate the problems including taking over management of the nightclubs and replacing security and other staff with Palms employees. They are also instituting the practice of "amnesty boxes," which will be placed outside of the nightclubs and allow patrons a chance to get rid of any illegal substances without fear of being punished for having them in the first place.

The Palms is currently in the process of renovating its nightlife line up after the closure of the Playboy Club and Rain and expected revamps to ghostbar, Moon, the pool club, and more.

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Vegas4Visitors Weekly Awards

The Without a Hitch Award of the Week goes to the New Year's Eve celebration in Vegas a couple of weeks ago. There were fewer arrests than usual and those that did happen were mainly of the drunken stupidity variety. There was one incident where a guy shot off a gun inside the Circus Circus casino, but that seemed to also be related to drunken stupidity and no one was injured. An estimated 300,000 people rang in the New Year's in Vegas.

The Augmentation Award of the Week goes to Hooter's, which is getting some much needed remodeling in 2013. The casino will get a revamp, the pool will be redone, the rooms will be remodeled, and new restaurants and entertainment will be added. About time, I say.

The End of the Road Award of the Week goes to Boyz II Men, the 90s era R&B supergroup whose road is leading them to a weekend headliner gig at The Mirage. The group will play when ventriloquist Terry Fator is away, currently adding up to about 80 shows from February through the end of the year.

Speaking of headliners, The Oops She Might Really Do It This Time Award of the Week goes to Britney Spears, who is rumored to be circling a Celine Dion style headliner gig at a major hotel in Vegas. This is not the first time that Brit has been the subject of such rumors so don't hold your breath, but it seems like there is enough buzz behind it this time that it might really happen. Which hotel you may be asking? No one is saying but my money is either on The Palms, The Hard Rock, or Wynn Las Vegas.

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Staying Healthy in Vegas

Almost everyone I know, including me, is sick right now with a cold or the flu. With health officials trumpeting the onset of the flu season, which they are saying could be a bad one, I thought it was time to remind everyone of some basic ways to stay health when visiting Las Vegas.

Note that the flu does not seem to have hit Vegas all that hard yet, but health officials there are saying it's probably only a matter of time.

Going to Vegas poses unique health risks for a few reasons. First, the sheer number of people from all over the world means you are more likely to be exposed to all manner of illnesses. Second, you're touching a lot of stuff that someone else just touched and we're not talking about the usual door handles or sink faucets. Instead, we're talking about slot machine handles or buttons, cards, gaming chips, and more.

There is no way to ensure you won't get sick while visiting Las Vegas short of not visiting... or perhaps wrapping yourself in plastic. But that would be uncomfortable and not terribly stylish. However, there are a few tricks you can use to reduce the chance that you'll bring home a cold or worse.

Wash Your Hands

Washing your hands often with warm water and soap is one of the simplest and best defenses against catching someone else's germs. You don't need to be obsessive about it, but when you get up from a gaming table or change slot machines, stop by the bathroom for a quick scrub. And definitely wash your hands thoroughly before eating anything, especially if you have just come from the casino as so many people do.

More Hand Care

Other options for keeping your hands free of germs is to carry around a bottle of hand sanitizer or anti-bacterial wipes. Again, you don't need to go crazy - no need to wipe down between every hand of blackjack - but if the soap and water isn't easily accessible this makes a good backup plan. If you really want to go to an extreme, you could also wear gloves. Ladies can evoke their inner Audrey Hepburn and there are several stores that sell special "gambler's gloves." They look a little silly but if you're serious about not wanting to get sick they are hard to beat.

Listen for Sniffles

If you're in a casino or a showroom or at a restaurant pay attention to the people around you. If you hear or see someone sniffling or sneezing or coughing, you may want to consider a different blackjack table or another station at the buffet. I once sat next to a woman at a gaming table who kept coughing without covering her mouth and despite my repeated requests to cut it the hell out, I finally had to move. Unfortunately I didn't move soon enough and a couple of days later I was in bed with a cough of my own.

Re-Sanitize

Most major hotels do a good job of sanitizing the bathrooms, which is where the bulk of the nasty stuff that can get you sick lurks. But despite their best efforts, bacteria and viruses can stay behind even after the cleaning crew leaves - note the multiple outbreaks over the years of the norovirus at Strip and Downtown hotels. So, remember those antibacterial wipes I mentioned above? Why not give your faucet handles, toilet seat and handle, light switches, and other similar surfaces a quick wipe before you use them? It only takes a minute and trust me, the maids won't be offended.

Don't Stop at the Bathroom

And by that I mean, keep the sanitizing going in the rest of your room. Again, there's no need to go crazy but a quick wipe of things like light switches, phones, and especially the TV remote can get rid of any lingering bugs that are lurking around.

Water, Water Everywhere

One thing that a lot of people don't get enough of while in Vegas is water. It's easy to get distracted by the general hubbub and the constant on-the-go nature of the town and people don't remember to drink as much water as they should, especially when it gets hot. Worse, I've heard a few of you may have an alcoholic beverage or two while you're in Las Vegas, which only dehydrates you more. Drinking lots of water helps your body's natural defenses and could help you fight off disease.

What Do You Mean Pulling a Slot Handle Isn't Exercise?

I know, I know... the last thing you want to do in Vegas is exercise. You're on vacation! You want to sleep until noon and eat too much at the buffet and order too many free cocktails at the blackjack table and stay up until 5 in the morning partying. I hear you. But here's the deal: getting even a moderate amount of exercise can give your body that boost it needs to stay healthy. Most hotels in Vegas have a gym so go spend 15 minutes on the treadmill or, if you prefer, forgo the cab to that casino up the street and walk instead.

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Attraction Review: Las Vegas Mob Attraction

The saga of the mob in Las Vegas is nowhere near as complicated and twisted as the saga of the mob-related attractions in Las Vegas. This one, located at The Tropicana, opened as the Las Vegas Mob Experience and almost immediately fell into financial difficulty, went bankrupt, saw accusations of financial malfeasance by its executives, and wound up involved in multiple lawsuits. Meanwhile, the fantastic Mob Museum opened Downtown and immediately confused visitors over which one was which. Then this one got new owners, a new name (the Mob Attraction), and a new lease on life.

Regardless of the juicy background stories, the question remains whether or not this town is big enough for two attractions about the mafia. My opinion: yes. While the Mob Museum is fun in a brain-stimulating way, the Mob Attraction is fun in a wacky Vegas attraction kind of way. It's like the difference between the Bellagio Fountains and the Mirage Volcano - both are fun but the Fountains could work in any other city in the world while the Volcano is so purely Las Vegas that you can't imagine it anywhere else.

To be sure, there is a lot of ground to cover when it comes to Sin City's complicated relationship with the mafia. After all, modern day Las Vegas probably wouldn't exist without the money that the mob brought to town to build all of those fantastic resorts back in the 40s and 50s. Without places like The Flamingo and The Stardust, the city may have remained focused on Glitter Gulch and The Strip may not have ever become the playground it is today. So on the one hand, Las Vegas owes a debt a gratitude to the mob.

The Las Vegas Mob Attraction conducts its examination of organized crime with a fun, high-tech, interactive concept that places it firmly in the "attraction" category and not in the "museum" category. Yes, there are exhibits of memorabilia and personal effects from big figures in the world of organized crime. Bugsy Siegel's Packard and a desk belonging to Lucky Luciano are two big ticket items but there are guns, clothes, notebooks, photos, and much more to examine.

But before you get to all that museum stuff, you go through the attraction part first.

The facility is done as sort of an interactive dinner-theater experience, only without the dinner. You are assigned a passport as you enter the Ellis Island set that is intended to pay homage to the mafia's entry into the US. Then you are greeted by one of several celebrity hosts - James Caan, Mickey Rourke, and various actors from "The Sopranos," or at least virtual versions of them. Videos and 3-d holograms of them guide you through the experience, giving you tips, history, and a more than a few wise-guy cracks along the way.

They'll point out the people you need to talk to on your journey, from a shadowy figure in an alley who gives you an envelope to take to "Big Leo" to an Irish brogue spouting police officer who wants to know what you know! All of the actors are great character types who would be at home on any episode of "Boardwalk Empire."

I'm lousy at this kind of interaction - my brain just doesn't move quickly enough to go with the silly fun of it - but I recommend that you jump in with both feet and just be amused. Ironic detachment will get you nowhere here, especially since your actions during the experience will dictate how it ends. You might get "made," "whacked," arrested, or put into witness relocation.

The technological wizardry of the place is also impressive. In addition to the aforementioned holograms, there are motion activated videos and interactive displays including one that allows you to depress a plunger to watch implosion videos. Cool!

There are a couple of downsides. First, it's darned expensive for an attraction, especially when you've got a bunch of free ones all over town. You do feel like you've gotten your money's worth so if you've got the extra cash, using it here is not a bad idea, but if it means you can't afford to go to the Mob Museum, which is the superior all-round experience, than it becomes an issue. The other downside is its location in the exhibition center at The Tropicana. This is really only a big deal if you have mobility issues because it is located about as far away from the entrance to the hotel as it can possibly get and still stay in Nevada.

But those are pretty minor quibbles. Overall this is a fun, lively, and entertaining way to engage with your inner Sonny Corleone.

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