Approximately $200 million dollars have been pumped into the Tropicana Las Vegas’ recent transformation, converting The Strip resort into a South Beach–inspired hot spot. Guests can try their luck in the 50,000-square-foot casino, outfitted with all the usual suspects—craps, blackjack, roulette, slots, and more—plus a high-limit area where big spenders place their bets amid custom Latin artwork and high-definition TVs. Beyond the casino, three distinct restaurants match every taste and budget, from the old-world Italian fare at Bacio to fresh seafood and top-cut steaks at Biscayne. At night, guests can rest their heads in luxurious, penthouse-style Sky Villa suites and single-bedroom Pool Villa bungalows.
While nightlife and gambling are the draw of Vegas, Tropicana hosts plenty of daytime carousing as well. Named the best Las Vegas pool by KLAS-TV in July 2010, the two-acre Tropicana swimming pool sparkles in the sunlight with crisp South Beach-esque furnishings, waterfalls, and private cabanas. Should it get too hot to doggie paddle, guests can trade in their swimsuit for a terry-cloth robe and head to the 10,000 square-foot Glow, a Mandara Spa, for a bamboo massage, lime and ginger salt glow, or a luck-restoring oxygen facial. Starting in May 2014, patrons can also grab seats for one of seven-weekly shows of the hit musical Mamma Mia!.
For an additional fee, special add-ons are also offered to allow for an elegant experience. Lodging includes The Paradise Suite, which allows customers to choose their perfect sleep setting, and The Club Spa Suite, a high-class couples suite. In addition to wedding floral arrangements, wedding photos can be taken by the pool, courtyard or chapel.
The hot air balloon has been in use since the 18th century, and the pilots of Vegas Balloon Rides enjoy introducing the public to humankind's oldest form of air travel. Customers hover into the Las Vegas airspace on traditional ballooning flights manned by FAA-certified pilots, which end with celebratory champagne toasts and the balloon silently blushing from all the compliments. The flights tour Las Vegas and its surrounding wilderness in rainbow-patterned inflatables composed of durable rip-stop nylon ideal for safe flying. Coasting along at the same speed as the wind, pilots steer their propane-powered flying machines an average of 10 miles per ride.
Susan Gomez channels more than a quarter-century of photo-snapping experience during Light Images’ fully customized photo sessions. Men, women, couples, and future graduates strut their stuff with unlimited outfits and pose beneath the natural-looking light and free-roaming fireflies of her 2,400-square-foot studio. While capturing stunning poses, Susan brims with energy, drawing from a grab bag of chairs, couches, and props to fill frames and accent each client's natural beauty. Once the final click has subsided, Susan expertly retouches customer-chosen photos to ensure maximum beauty and minimal bunny ears.
Between palm trees and casinos sits one long, narrow acre of greenery that could be the town square of the quaintest village west of the Mississippi. At least if you ignore the sign towering almost as high as the little brown church's steeple. That sign reads Little Church of the West Wedding Chapel, and it's a remnant of the days when Las Vegas was known for a kind of kitschy glamor and, of course, whirlwind weddings. Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret said "I do" here in Viva Las Vegas, and celebs from Judy Garland to Richard Gere have made legally binding vows inside.
The interior still looks largely as it did in those days, and pretty much as it did when Little Church of the West was built in 1942. Below stained-glass windows and old wood, couples today unite in ceremonies ranging from ultra-simple to fully accessorized with flowers, limo service, and champagne.
Multimedia master Shane O'Neal and his crew of photographic artists, film directors, and videographers turn clients' visions into reality in an 8,000-square-foot production facility. One of the Playboy Club's staff photographers and a marketing mogul to the stars, O'Neal has memorialized high-profile and celebrity clients that include Blue Man Group and Paul “DJ Pauly D” DelVecchio of MTV's Jersey Shore. He has traveled from the Sunset Strip to European shores honing his craft and canoeing skills, and he has also taught photography classes at a local college. Recently, he spearheaded projects for UFC and MMA fighters. Generally, O'Neal's images depict subjects in motion, capturing candid facial expressions and body language in highly saturated color or muted black and white.
Allure Wedding Chapel guides lovebirds toward wedded bliss with traditional wedding or vow-renewal ceremonies and receptions, performed by licensed and experienced ministers. Professional wedding coordinators scurry about, tending to details and teleporting in Elvis impersonators to ensure proceedings move forward smoothly. One of the chapel's ministers leads affianced pairs through the rites of marriage as videographers capture every romantic moment. The chapel can also outfit couples in rented gowns and tuxedos and take pictures following their union, providing admittedly nonconclusive evidence that they didn't accidentally marry each other's clone.